§ Lord Francis Egerton
, in rising to move an instruction to the Committee, said, that he could hardly hope that the circumstance of this being the second occasion on which he had undertaken, in deference to the wishes of those with whom he poliically acted, to do what the House would admit he very rarely presumed to attempt—namely, to offer his suggestions as to the course which it was befitting the House to pursue on a question of great public interest and national concern—he could hardly hope that the circumstance of this being the second time of his bringing forward the motion which he should have the 658 honour to propose would bring with itself much alleviation to the embarrassment and difficulty which he felt in approaching this subject. Upon this occasion so many incidental topics had been introduced, in the first instance, by the noble Lord who brought forward the subject, for reasons which he did not impugn, and to which it was not his intention to object, that it became extremely difficult for any Gentleman who wished to deal with the subject at all to treat it abstractedly or solely with reference to the merits of the question before the House, that question relating to the manner in which they should deal with the Bill proposed by the noble Lord opposite for establishing Municipal Corporations in Ireland. It might be very difficult for him, in common with others, to avoid altogether the introduction of incidental topics which unfortunately led to irritation and animosity, and to discussions foreign to the immediate subject, but he would do his best to shun any unnecessary introduction of those topics, and he would express his anxious hopes, that, in discharging to the best of his ability the duty which he had undertaken to perform, he might not be supposed desirous of referring to any topic which could give offence to Gentlemen on the other side of the House. There were many personal reasons for his wishing to abstain from any reflections which could give offence to any Members of the Government, because that Government contained many Members for whom he entertained feelings of friendship and regard. The resolution which he had placed on the books of the House sufficiently indicated to the noble Lord (J. Russell) and the Gentlemen who supported his Administration, that inasmuch as, with some slight exceptions, the noble Lord's Bill was the same as that which he introduced last year, the course which he and those who did him the honour to act with him thought it proper to follow, without any deviation, was the same as they had adopted last year. If he could trust to the recollection of the noble Lord opposite of what occurred on that debate in preference to his own, he would certainly spare himself the trouble of recalling to the attention of the House any topic which was then advanced. But in the speech with which the noble Lord introduced this measure, he compressed in a small compass, and after a version of his own, the arguments which were brought forward in opposition to the 659 Bill, and he believed that the expressions used by the noble Lord were, that the only argument advanced in support of the views of those who opposed the Bill were—that whereas England was inhabited by Englishmen, and Scotland by Scotchmen, because Ireland was inhabited by Irishmen, Ireland was not fit to receive the particular institutions in question. The House would see—that cheer assured him that the House did see—that it was not altogether unimportant for him to disclaim the expressions, and the argument which was couched in the terms employed by the noble Lord—terms which could not be otherwise than offensive to the feelings of the people of Ireland. It might suit the purpose of the noble Lord, whose tenure of office and of power depended on the degree of the political thermometer at which he could keep up the excitement of the people of Ireland on questions of public interest, to couch the arguments of Gentlemen on that side of the House in forms and expressions well calculated to awaken the national pride and arouse a sense of injured honour in the people of Ireland—feelings which he should be the last man to undervalue, but which, when misdirected, were not likely to lead to a cool and dispassionate judgment on political questions. He never said—and he believed he might say for his Friends on that side of the House, that no Gentleman who usually sat there had said—anything which the noble Lord had a right to strip down to the naked and offensive proposition he had enunciated. He had never said that there was any thing in the national character of Irishmen, as such, which should disqualify them from participating in any benefits which Parliament might be able to confer, but that there were circumstances in the social condition and present state of Ireland which, in his judgment, made it most unwise to apply the particular nostrum which the noble Lord proposed to administer. The noble Lord spoke of his measure as one that would establish justice and promote peace in Ireland. They told him that they thought it would inflict injustice, exasperate strife, and make her condition incurable. The noble Lord spoke of his measure as one that would destroy an unjust monopoly; they assured him that it would lead to its resuscitation and transfer. The noble Lord defined justice to Ireland to be an identity of institutions and government by means of local corporations; 660 they quoted in answer the instances of Manchester and Birmingham, and, referring to the petition at Belfast, denied that the terms were synonymous. The noble Lord spoke of identity of legislation; his opponents spoke of the Assistant Barrister's jurisdiction, and told him of his own Police Bill, and he now had to thank the noble Lord for supplying him with another topic from the measure which he was about to introduce for the establishment of Poor-laws in Ireland. He believed the measure of the noble Lord was not yet printed. [Several hon. Members: Yes it is.] At all events, the report of Mr. Nicholls was now in the hands of Members, and he must say, that, whether looking at the speech of the noble Lord, which did him the utmost credit, or the report on which it was founded, increasing proofs were afforded of the difficulty of applying that identity of legislation which the noble Lord declared to be justice to Ireland. He thought that the report of Mr. Nicholls showed in every page, at least in every important page, a laudable desire, without the accompanying power to apply the identical institutions to Ireland which were established in England. To take, for instance, the paragraph in the report relating to the union of parishes under a board of Guardians, Mr. Nicholls said, that if it were desirable to establish in the several parishes of Ireland a parochial machinery similar to that which existed in England, he believed the attempt would fail, for the description of persons requisite for constituting such a machinery would not be found in the great majority of Irish parishes. And he went on to say, that the system of united parishes acting under a combined arrangement was therefore more necessary even than for England. The difference between the measure which the noble Lord proposed to introduce into Ireland, and that which was now in operation in this country, had already been adverted to in the speech of the noble Lord. The noble Lord had alluded to the difficulty of appointing county magistrates ex officio Members of the board of Guardians. But there was one feature of difference which had struck him as being rather more remarkable on account of the number of instances in which it exhibited itself when the measure was brought to bear on Ireland. He had occasion lately to inquire of one of his constituents relating to a question which he was afraid would press itself more strongly on the noble 661 Lord's attention than he could wish—he meant the introduction of the new Poor-law into those districts of the north in which it had not fully come into operation. His correspondent had told him, that for the last two years, he had never failed to attend at one of the boards which had been formed in the township to which he belonged. That correspondent of his was a clergyman, who, in the discharge of his religious duties, had always conducted himself in the most exemplary manner, and he believed it would be found throughout the country that clergymen had been most valuable assistants in working the English Bill. He did not know whether that observation could be extended to clergymen of other persuasions. It surely, then, would not be contended, at least by Protestant Gentlemen, that the Protestant clergy of Ireland were more disqualified for this office than their English brethren; but he had not the smallest doubt that the noble Lord had acted right in determining that neither the Protestant nor the Catholic clergy should be members of the board of guardians. Could there be, then, a stronger proof of that difference between the two countries which prevented the application of an indemnity of institutions to both, than that no clergyman of any persuasion whatever should be a member of the board of guardians in Ireland? It might be desirable, if they were dealing with the details of this Bill, to show that a scale of rating should rather have been adopted as the mode of qualification for the elective franchise than that proposed by the noble Lord; but as they were not dealing with those details, he would not at present trouble the House with the subject. The house would hardly thank him for endeavouring to recite from memory, or to read from Hansard, the precise language, in which his arguments were conveyed on a former occasion. Supposing, however, that the noble Lord continued to be unconvinced, and supposing that gentlemen on that (the opposition) side of the House still felt the same objections, he admitted that two very important questions remained for consideration on the present occasion. He believed them to be important, because he did not rest his opposition to the Bill on any internal or inherent grounds of objection founded on the Irish character, which would better become a Virginian planter dealing with 662 the slave question than a member of a British House of Parliament while speaking of his Roman Catholic fellow-countrymen. Of these two questions, which it would not take him long to discuss, the first was whether this Bill contained any alterations or modifications which could remove the objections which the opposition entertained to it; the next was, whether the state of Ireland had been so much altered and modified as to produce a change of opinion. With regard to the first question, the Bill seemed, with one exception, to be much the same as that of last year. On that exception he felt it his duty briefly to make a few remarks. It related to the appointment of sheriffs. He believed that in the Bill of last year the election of the sheriffs was left to the town-council, subject to the silent disapprobation of the Lord-Lieutenant. The elective nature of that appointment was objected to, and it was defended by his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, on the ground that it was likely to work extremely well, and because the number of towns which would be exposed to the infliction was limited to eight. But it was again urged that those eight cities contained the preponderating fraction of those who would be affected by the Bill, and the prayer of Abraham was preferred, that even for the sake of those eight cities that provision might be excluded from the Bill. That request was no sooner made than it was acceded to, and thus the Bill received a modification of some importance. But on the present occasion the Bill appeared to have undergone another modification. The recess afforded leisure for reflection, and an opportunity of listening to advice and acquiring information. The noble Lord had doubtless received advice from some quarter which induced him to repent of the solitary sin of a culpable act of concession to a minority, and instead of the old mode the noble Lord had adopted another modification, which left the ultimate responsibility of a veto with the Lord-Lieutenant after six names at two different periods had been proposed to him by the town-council. He could easily conceive that the noble Lord the Secretary for the Home Department, and the noble Lord the Secretary for Ireland, could not anticipate any possible inconvenience from such an arrangement so long as they held the Government of Ireland. Really the opinions of the present Government of Ireland 663 appeared so extremely liberal on the subject of qualification for officers of trust and confidence, that it would hardly come within the compass of any probability that any person could be elected under this Bill to whom the Lord-Lieutenant could offer any serious objection. It was perfectly obvious that the circumstance of a person's being a notorious and eager political partisan could not form any objection to the prevent Government, supposing that he agreed with the Government to a certain extent, however much he might go beyond their views. They might also feel confident that an occasional violation of the law would form no substantive objection to an individual's appointment, and therefore the noble Lord would anticipate no inconvenience in working the machinery of Government under this provision. But he might be allowed to suggest the possibility of a Government being established in Ireland holding different opinions to those of the present Administration. He did not refer to a Tory or an Orange Government, or any particular Government whatever; but he could imagine the establishment of a Government which would think that a character as a political agitator was not much of a recommendation for an office which was largely concerned in the administration of justice,—a Government which would be slow to act on the principle that an occasional violation of the law was in itself a qualification for the due administration of it, and that a casual experience of its minor penalties would be likely to lead to its merciful administration. This was the principle on which, as he understood, country gentlemen occasionally acted when they appointed the principal poacher in the neighbourhood to the confidential office of gamekeeper; the principle upon which in Italy the bandit became the escort of the traveller; and the gentleman who had figured in the records of brigandage, the discoverer of crime and the guard of his sovereign's person. However unlikely it might be that any Government of this description might be established, still, looking, not at particular government, looking not with reference to any particular individuals, but with a reference to the policy of any government whatever, he must say, that he wished to legislate for all possible and contingent governments; and he really thought that it would be better to leave the nomination 664 of sheriffs at once subject to the Lord-Lieutenant, instead of exposing the Irish Government to an ultimate collision with the town-council. He did not attach any extraordinary importance to this change, but it certainly contained no argument which could be instrumental in reconciling Gentlemen on his side of the House to that part of the measure to which they objected: and, to do the noble Lord justice, he did not suppose that he had framed it with any such intention. Having disposed of this question, he would next turn to the more important one—namely, whether any change which might have been alleged to have occurred in the situation and prospects of Ireland since last year could produce a corresponding change in the aspect of the question under consideration. The noble Lord who introduced this subject had drawn a very flattering picture of the state of Ireland; dipping his pencil in rainbow colours when he spoke of matters which were usually of a melancholy and sombre hue, the number and atrocity of the crimes committed in Ireland. This statement bore indirectly on the question so far as the crimes which had their origin in political animosity were concerned. In the first place, the noble Lord had taken credit for the Irish Government for the extinction of those singular disturbances which went in Ireland by the name of "fair and faction feuds," and he certainly heard with some surprise that these strange disturbances had been rather encouraged than discountenanced by the local authorities, and regarded with something like favour by the central government, acting on the odious maxim of divide et impera.
§ Lord John Russell
had not made this charge against the central Government, but he had stated that it was abetted by some local magistrates.
§ Lord F. Egerton
had not alluded to the speech of the noble Lord, but to the speech of the noble Lord, the Secretary for Ireland. [Viscount Morpeth; You should quote correctly, then.] He begged the noble Lord's pardon, but he understood the noble Lord had applied that charge to the central Government of Ireland. But he could not guess to what Government the noble Lord alluded. He was not there to answer for any of them: he was not there to defend Lord Anglesea, nor Lord Wellesley, nor any other Lord- 665 Lieutenant of Ireland; but this he would say for himself, that he would not for a moment condescend to serve under any Lord-Lieutenant who would so act, nor would he have remained one hour in communication with a Lord Chancellor who refused to dismiss a magistrate proved to have been guilty of such culpable connivance. With regard to the singular cessation of these disturbances in that country, he was glad, for the sake of the unfortunate victims who, without any intelligible reason, engaged in them, to hear that such was the case. But he might be permitted to express a doubt on one or two features of the case. As to what they had heard of the miraculous and sudden cessation of outrage, he questioned whether it would be enduring. He well recollected, when the Catholic Association was in the plenitude of its power and its influence, that they laid an interdict on this particular description of outrage, and it was, as they were told, suppressed by the Association; but when the Emancipation Bill had passed, it very shortly after revived in full strength and vigour. The same sort of interference had been now employed, and he feared that its effects would not be more lasting. He did not know whether the Shanavests had fallen into the arms of the Caravats, or whether the Black Hens had embraced the Magpies, and the Four-year-olds the Three-year-olds—for by such strange appellations were some of the factions known when he was in Ireland—but it appeared to him that there were other reasons besides the love of quiet in these people, for this sudden cessation. With regard to the flattering picture which the noble Lord had drawn as to the state of crime in Ireland, he should be most happy to find, when the returns were presented, that they confirmed the noble Lord's statements. He did not mean to question their accuracy, and he hoped the noble Lord would do him the justice to believe that no disappointment with respect to party or political views, would prevent him from rejoicing in any mitigation of outrage in Ireland; but he confessed he felt some surprise when he heard the case of that unfortunately somewhat famous county, Tipperary, cited. If the returns with which he had been furnished were true, as he apprehended they must be, the committals to the county gaol, during the last twelve months, had amounted to 666 1,557; and if it were true that out of these, making every allowance for the difficulty which presented itself to the successful prosecution of crime in Ireland, a difficulty which had been severely felt, still if, in spite of that difficulty, no less than 1,350 persons had been convicted of the offences with which they were charged, it would be too much to say that the state of crime in Ireland was altogether satisfactory. He did not mean to say that these returns might not be more favourable than those of some former years, or of any particular former year. If these returns showed any diminution in the progress of crime, no one would rejoice at it more than himself; but at the first blush of the statement made by the noble Lord, he was rather surprised to find a county which bore such a figure in the calendar, quoted as a favourable instance of the improving situation and increased tranquillity of Ireland. There were many details connected with this subject with which he might easily detain the House, and perhaps with some slight advantage, but as they were not relevant to the present Bill, and as he was not standing there to make out a case against Ireland, he would abstain from entering upon them, although the noble Lord was at liberty to inspect them if he pleased. There was another circumstance in the present state of Ireland which it was far more painful to deal with than with subjects that did not concern any individual either present or absent. It was impossible, however, for him to dismiss it altogether without some remarks. He alluded to the National Association, and which appeared to him to have exchanged its former name of Catholic for one not much improved, as it was borrowed from revolutionary times, and which called itself the National Association of Ireland. [An hon. Member: No; the General Association.] Indeed!then it was much to the credit of the Association, that, having begun with the name of national, it had changed its name to that of general; and he, for one, considered it a proof of their good taste. He believed that it was very unnecessary for him to trouble that House with any very detailed description of the measures, proceedings, and objects denounced and professed by that Association, for that description had already been given very fully and very accurately in the course of the debate which had preceded the intro- 667 duction of the noble Lord's Bill. There was one feature, however, about it that was remarkable. It might have been expected, under the popular Government of the noble Lord at the head of affairs in Ireland, controlled as it was in the administration of the law by a strong disposition to clemency—it might have been expected that whatever were the political views of the General Association, it would have left Ireland to the exertions and protection of the Government, as far as regarded the tranquillization and pacification of that country. The noble Lord had spoken of Lord Mulgrave as the pacificator of Ireland, Now, what did the General Association say upon that point? In his opinion, they treated the power of Lord Mulgrave with the greatest disrespect. One of the leading measures of that Association was to send down, by a resolution drawn up with great care, singular accuracy, and much legal refinement, pacificators to all the parishes of Ireland, He did not know whether the party who drew up that resolution, might not at the present moment be one of those parties who were officially engaged in advising the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland as to the meaning and operation of the laws which he was to administer; he did not know whether he might not at that very moment be penning an opinion about the propriety or impropriety of sending out troops to prevent the rescue of property seized for tithes; but be that as it might, he had no hesitation in saying, that be had never seen any report of that House drawn up with more cure and diligence in all its minutiæ than that resolution of the Association which sent two pacificators into every parish in Ireland. They were directed in the first place how to perform the functions to which their name more particularly applied. Those functions were the same with those which were performed by attornies, and generally by electioneering agents in England. The activity of this organization, and its extension to all parts of Ireland, together with the directions which it had received to follow the Parliamentary interests of the Association into all corners of the country, led him to suppose that the same activity which the pacificators were directed to apply to the extension of the elective suffrage among their own party in cases affecting Parliamentary elections, was also to be put into operation to carry the elections of local officer? in the new Municipal 668 Corporations. Last year, the Attorney-General for Ireland had spoken of the working of the Act of the 9th of George 3rd, and had said that sectarian influence had not been observable in its operation wherever it had been put in force. Would that hon. and learned Gentleman, if he were now in the House, venture to tell him that there was a probability, or even a possibility, that that organization which was to control the elective franchise in all parts of Ireland for Parliamentary purposes, would not be extended to the electors under this Municipal Reform Bill? He doubted whether there was any town in any of the schedules attached to the Bill, so humble as to be deemed beneath the notice and attention of these pacificators. It had been said, that it was very desirable to create in these towns a species of local aristocracy that was not in existence at present. For his own part, he was as little a friend to the centralizing system of France as could be well imagined; and he should, therefore, be glad to see that species of local aristocracy created in the towns of Ireland, no matter whether it were elected or not. But was there any chance that the local aristocracy created under the patronage of an Association which was encouraged, if not patronzied, by the Lord-Lieutenant, would take out its patent, and pay its allegiance to that noble Lord instead of the General Association? It had been said that, even after you had established these corporations as arenas for political discussions in every town of Ireland, if they attempted to turn their attention to any thing but their local concerns, their agitation would be feeble and without effect. Now, would any man venture to tell him that any of these Corporations would be anything else but a platform for a battery against the Established Church of Ireland? and it was to this part of the subject that the attention of the House ought to be most particularly directed. The hon. and learned Member for Bath cheered him for that expression. He thought the hon. and learned Member for Bath acted with the same candour and honesty that he had displayed in the able speech which he had made on a former occasion this Session. His wish and his desire was to see the destruction of the Established Church in Ireland. The hon. Member was therefore a wise and consistent supporter of the Bill at that moment before the House. The 669 noble Lord opposite (Lord J. Russell), however, had avowed himself determined to support the Established Church in Ireland. He had heard the noble Lord make that declaration; and, though he was not inclined to comment upon the demeanour of individuals, he must be forgiven for saying, that that declaration conveyed as much to his mind in its manner as in its substance. The manner of the noble Lord was not that of a sectarian, acting under the spirit of stern religious feelings; it was rather the calm, deliberate manner of an individual who had weighed all the probabilities of the case, and had made up his mind on a balance of the advantages and disadvantages to support the Establishment, and to avow his determination to support it to the public. He had had greater satisfaction in hearing that determination coolly and deliberately declared by the noble Lord, than he should have felt if the noble Lord's declaration had been more deeply tinged with religious and sectarian feeling. And after the manner in which the noble Lord had also expressed his views recently upon another great question connected with the maintenance of the rights and privileges of the Church, he had no doubt that there would be as much determination in the execution, as there was honesty in the formation, of his high resolve upon this subject. The noble Lord, however, be it observed, was determined to support that Church which the hon. and learned Member for Bath had declared his determination to destroy, upon the first opportunity; and yet the noble Lord, after making that declaration, without stating his views at all definitely respecting the Irish Church, with that great question yet open, and not at all approaching to a settlement, called upon those hon. Members who felt for the dangers to which that Church was exposed, to consent to a measure which would place weapons of power and strength in the hands of those, whose first, but he could not say, whose only object was its subversion. He was unwilling, with his own hands, to place a, stepping-stone, from which they could stride to those further measures, which they, perhaps conscientiously, deemed necessary for the salvation of the country. The noble Lord, upon a former occasion, had met him with an argument, which, if he could give to it the same credence which the noble Lord 670 did, would weigh seriously with him, That argument was couched in a few words, but those significant, for the noble Lord talked lagely of justice and peace to Ireland. There was no political opinion or attachment which he was not ready to sacrifice for ever, provided he could procure by it that justice and that peace. But would any of the hon. Gentlemen opposite favour him with a definition of what he meant by justice to Ireland? It had been well observed by a noble Friend of his last Session, that justice to Ireland was a phantom that always eluded the grasp; that it was the phase of the rainbow which was perpetually changing its shape,Omnia transformant sese in miracula rerum,and defying all the attempts of the peasant, whose ignorance hurried him on to pursue it, to arrest and secure its beautiful but transitory hues,—which to-day assumed the shape of Municipal Reform, which the next day assumed the shape of Universal Suffrage, which then changed into the shape of Vote by Ballot; but which under every shape, at all times, and under every disguise, meant the subversion of the Irish Church, and the bloodstained impost of tithes. Peace to Ireland!That was not the first occasion on which peace to Ireland had been promised. It had been promised by every voice which had hailed with acclamation, the passing of the Catholic Relief Bill. He would not detain the House by examining how that promise had been kept—how the expectations then excited had been disappointed and deceived. Such an examination would be worse than useless, for the promise was not made now. Those who promoted this Bill, and who controlled, in consequence, the central government of Ireland, did not even profess to be satisfied with this very measure, which the House was now called upon to pass, as calculated to give peace and tranquillity to Ireland. They told the country, that as long as one stone remained on another, in the Church of Ireland, so long should the storm which their breath had raised, and which their exertions had never permitted to slumber, continue to rave around the edifice. When the noble Lord talked to him of peace and justice to Ireland, it was fitting to know in what they consisted, and by what price they were to be purchased, The hon. Member for Bath, and his Friends, asserted that he was prepared to pay the 671 full price. In that they were not inconsistent; but how was it with the noble Lord, who professed to maintain the Establishment, and yet introduced a measure well calculated to destroy it? If the Legislature were to grant this Bill, for reasons of state policy—if it were so just and necessary as was represented, let the people and Parliament of England grant it; but let them not grant it in the expectation of its producing the peace which had been often promised, but had never arrived, as the consequence of concession. Let them be aware of the fact, and digest it inwardly in their minds, that peace was not to be attained by the price now offered to be paid for it. With reference to what he had said respecting the General Association, and the parties connected with it in Ireland, he had endeavoured to avoid anything that savoured of personal allusion and attack. His opinion was, that that Association, from the state of society in Ireland, was an Association of great strength, influence, and power; that its efforts had been directed, and would perseveringly continue to be directed, to compass objects, which not merely he and those who thought with him deemed objectionable, as leading to the repeal of the Union, and the separation of the two countries, but which the noble Lord and his Friends had also pledged themselves individually and collectively to oppose. On this account, the noble Lord, he thought, was mistaken in giving to this Association, by this Bill, a locus standi in every town in Ireland. Undoubtedly, it was not for him to say, that agitation would cease if you had not these corporations as a theatre for agitation; but it was not either fair or just to the numerical minority to legalise the assumption by the majority of the ground of that field of agitation which they pursued, he would not say under the sanction of the law, but almost in violation of it. A great portion of the numerical minority—he meant the Protestants of Ireland—imagining that there was great danger, and great evil to be apprehended from the existence of that Association, seeing, or thinking, that they saw its efforts at agitation fostered, instead of discarded, by his Majesty's Government, had ventured to approach the throne by the constitutional mode of petition. He regretted to say, that by his Majesty's Government, the Protestants of Ireland had been rebuked with something almost like insult. They 672 might have borne this, had it proceeded from the leaders of the opposite party, for they might have forgiven much to the recollection of the ancestral wrongs under which they laboured; but they argued thus, "If such be our treatment from a Government which is bound to protect us, what can we expect when we are subject to the strong control of a fierce and ignorant numerical majority?" Was it strange, that under such circumstances they should feel apprehension and alarm, and feeling apprehension and alarm, was it strange that they should object to the passing of the present measure? And under such circumstances, was it for him, and for those who, like him, had chided the fears, and rebuked the apprehensions of those who anticipated danger from the passing of the Catholic Relief Bill—was it, he said, for him and his Friends, who had told the Protestants of Ireland, that that measure would contribute to the better fortification and greater security of that church, whose ruin they feared—was it, he repeated, for him and his Friends now to turn round upon those Protestants, and rebuke them sternly, and say, that as Englishmen we could not see the dangers which they contemplated with so much alarm and trepidation? They feared, as well they might, the progress of the Association to the accomplishment of the objects which had been signally and significantly avowed, not only in its resolutions, but also in the violent language of their opponents. They feared that the establishment of corporations in Ireland would be the means of securing the abolition of tithes, the reform of the peerage, universal suffrage, and the vote by ballot, checked as the latter measure would be in its progress by the Catholic process of auricular confession. They might be justified in carrying their fears still further; and presuming that the questions to which he had just adverted, were carried, he did not know how soon he might be told that there was an insult to the people of Ireland, in having a Protestant Lord Chancellor, and a Protestant King. This might be deemed by some to be rather superlative fear, but with respect to the first, he held in his hand a quotation from a speech, which proved that it was not entirely hypothetical; and as quotations from speeches were now much in fashion, he hoped the House would bear with him whilst he made a short quotation from the speech in question, and 673 would recollect that it was the only quotation he had made in the course of his observations. It was part of a speech delivered in Dublin on the 19th of January, 1837:—"In 1793 Roman Catholic barristers were first made eligible for silk gowns." He need not detail the steps through which the orator pursued the progress of Catholic Emancipation; but coming to the last year, he said, "We have now got Sir Michael O'Loghlin, a Roman Catholic, Master of the Rolls"—and let the House mark what followed—" and would he not, should anything happen to Lord Plunkett, make an excellent Lord Chancellor?" He was ready to admit that if the little difficulty afforded by the Roman Catholic Relief Bill could be got over, no man could be appointed to the office of Lord Chancellor, to whom he would more willingly trust the adjudication of all legal questions. It was not for him to deny that Sir M. O'Loghlin would be an excellent person to appoint Lord Chancellor, provided he were not a Roman Catholic. It was upon these grounds, as well as from feelings of obligation and duty, and attachment to the inhabitants of the sister country, whom he had encouraged to forego all the apprehensions, and to dissipate all the fears, with which the Catholic Emancipation Bill inspired them—for humble as he was individually, he had been one of the promoters of that measure—that he came forward on the present occasion; and he would now say, that it would be better for Lord Plunkett that "anything" should happen to him now, than that he should live to forget the pledge which he gave to his Protestant fellow-countrymen, that the Catholic Relief Bill would operate as a security for the Protestant Church. He had appended his name to that security, under that noble Lord's great and powerful sanction, and he therefore felt that it was his duty not to turn a deaf ear to the solicitations of his Protestant brethren, when they approached the House under a deep sense of apprehension and danger, which he thought them entitled to feel. These feelings induced him to move the same resolution which he had moved last year, and in the very same terms. The noble Lord concluded by moving "That the Committee on the Bill for the regulation of Municipal Corporations in Ireland, be empowered to make provision for the abolition of such Corporations; and for such arrangements 674 as may be necessary, on their abolition, for securing the efficient and impartial administration of justice, and the peace and good government of cities and towns in Ireland."
§ Mr. Ward
said, it was now just one year since the noble Lord brought forward a motion precisely similar to the present, similar both in spirit and in words, resting upon the same grounds, supported by the same arguments—for the only new argument which the noble Lord had employed, was that founded upon the existence of the General Association—and leading to the same results, which would be produced by the present motion, if successful, namely, to extend and perpetuate that feeling of irritation amongst the Irish people, which the refusal of one branch of the Legislature to do them justice, had unfortunately caused. Was the House never to escape from this vicious circle when Ireland was concerned? The people complained of the want of justice, and justice was to be denied to them because they complained. If they were silent, what would be the inference? Why, that they were indifferent to the matter in dispute—that they could not appreciate the value of municipal institutions, and cared little for the been which the Legislature wished to force upon them. This was always the logic of the Conservative party; silence and indifference were always synonymous. In 1831 the people of England, according to Mr. Croker, were indifferent to the Reform Bill, because the three preceding years there had been few petitions for reform; nor was it until the table had groaned under the weight of petitions from every corner of the empire that they could be undeceived. What then was their course? Why, they exclaimed against the vehemence with which the claims of the people were expressed, and protested they would never yield anything upon compulsion. They did yield, notwithstanding, and just in time to preserve this country from a revolutionary struggle. But now, untaught, unwarned, they were repeating the same experiment in Ireland, forgetting that it must lead inevitably to the same result. Yet surely much had passed, even since last Session to convince them of their error. Was the noble Lord satisfied himself with the results of his motion? Had he put an end to agitation in Ireland, by witholding municipal institutions? What 675 was the argument upon which he had now rested his case? Why, that Ireland was one vast arena of political agitation. That although those normal schools, of which the House had heard so much last Session, had not been established, Ireland was governed not by the Lord-Lieutenant, not by the British Parliament, but by a Parliament sitting in Dublin, under the name of the General Association, debating, de-liberating, forestalling, the discussions of that House, upon every point in which the welfare of Ireland was concerned; levying contributions, and extending its influence from the capital, to the remotest corners of the country. He admitted this to be an evil. He admitted that society would be in a sounder and healthier state if no such Association existed, and if the feelings of the people found vent through the legitimate channels which the Constitution had provided. But if the Association were an evil, what had produced it? When and why was it formed? What was the result of its influence? It was formed after the failure of two successive attempts to bring to an amicable adjustment the two questions in which the Irish people took the deepest interest. The tithe question alone—odious as that impost undoubtedly was to the Irish people, and doubly odious as it had been rendered by the late proceedings in the Court of Exchequer, by which the highest powers of the law had been vested in the hands of its most ignoble and degraded function. aries—had failed in producing it. It was the noble Lord's motion negatived, indeed, in that House, but carried through, in odious perfection elsewhere, under the sponsorship of one of the noble Lord's political associates, that was the parent of the Association. No sooner were the Irish people convinced that there was a party here determined to withhold from them rights of which they saw Englishmen and Scotchmen in the tranquil enjoyment, upon the insulting plea of national incompetency, than they determined to avail themselves of every resource which the law admitted of, in order to obtain their rights from the Legislature of their country. They combined for this purpose. There was nothing illegal in this combination. There was no law under which the sittings of the General Association could be interfered with or suspended: its members simply exercised that same right, which was exercised in various ways by almost 676 every one of those whom he was then addressing. The Conservatives in 1831 were entitled to protest against political unions; they did not then belong to them. But now that they had covered the land with their Conservative Clubs, and Conservative operative Associations, with their presidents, and secretaries, and treasurers, and public discussions duly registered by the Conservative press, who saw in them nothing but the purest effusions of patriotism, with what face could they denounce an Association which differed from their own simply in this, that it represented the feelings not of a few hundreds, but of some millions of their fellow-countrymen? Was it perfectly legal and constitutional for one Association to bring the King's Government into contempt, by denouncing the measures which the Ministers and a majority of that House had sanctioned, for putting an end to the disastrous tithe war in Ireland, so little better than spoliation and sacrilege; and was it illegal and unconstitutional in another Association to pass resolutions expressing its conviction that the only way to preserve the Protestant Establishment in Ireland at all was to reform it, for that nothing but a different appropriation of the tithe fund, could reconcile the people to its existence? No; the right of combination, which always must and would exist in a free country, and which was now applied to every question of general interest, must be exercised by both sides, if exercised by either, and the party must not complain who happened to be the loser. What was it that gave to the Dublin Association its national character, but the existence of grievances which nine Irishmen out of ten had an interest in removing? Redress the grievance and the Association falls to the ground—though this, he feared, was the last mode in which Gentlemen opposite would seek to suppress it. On the contrary, whatever expectations might have been entertained previously, as to the course which the Conservative party would pursue upon the present occasion, there was little prospect now of conciliation or concession. They were determined evidently to make this not a civil but a religious question. The noble Lord had said that the Corporations, if established, would be in fact so many batteries against the Church; and the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Cumberland, had urged this argument with still greater vehemence. 677 Talk not to me of municipal institutions, he said, or of the claims of the Irish people to local government, I tell you that the Protestant Church is upon the verge of ruin. The majority of the people of Ireland are Catholics: I entertain a just dread of Popery and Catholic domination, and I will never assent to any measure by which the hands of that majority can be strengthened. What was that but to say, that because one act of injustice had been committed, injustice must be perpetual. Because the people of England, in virtue of their right of conquest, had saddled Ireland with a Church Establishment which she did not want, and from which seven-eighths of her people derived no spiritual benefit whatever, therefore they were to deny to her municipal institutions which she did want, and for which these same seven-eighths of her people expressed the most ardent desire. He admired the zeal of the right hon. Baronet, but he lamented his indiscretion. He feared that the Protestant Church was not sufficiently popular in Ireland to support the additional odium which would thus be cast upon it. Ordinary minds would have endeavoured to disconnect the two questions, and to convince the Irish people, that it was not from motives of religious jealousy that the reform of their corporations was refused; but the right hon. Baronet scorned such subterfuges. He told them fairly, that it was as Catholics that he mistrusted them, and would exclude them now and for ever from the pale of the British constitution, by denying to them rights which were denied to no man, whatever might be his creed, in any other part of the British empire. But this, he repeated, was the policy of hon. Gentlemen opposite. They meant to fight the battle as a religious question. The no-popery cry was to be raised again; the prejudices of the ignorant were to be inflamed, and the most odious imputations cast upon all who ventured to differ from them in the discharge of their political duties. If this were not their intention, for what purpose had the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Cumberland, read at that table the other night, the oath taken by Roman Catholic Members on entering that House? Everybody knew what he meant to imply by it; and what he had insinuated, other members of his party had said without reserve or hesitation. He did not allude to the noble Lord who had brought 678 forward the present motion, for his opinions were always expressed with characteristic moderation, but to a right rev. Prelate, who had very recently accused the Roman Catholic Members of that House, in a charge to the clergy of his diocese, of treachery, aggravated by perjury:—" When we call to mind that such was the nature of the measure, such the argument by which it was enforced, I know not in what milder terms the indignation of an honest mind can be expressed, than by characterising the conduct of those who demanded it as treachery aggravated by perjury. No obloquy—however it may be attempted to heap obloquy on all who thus feel and thus proclaim their feeling—no violence of invective—from whatever quarter, and in whatever place, high or low, it may be uttered—shall deter me from giving expression to similar indignation, as often as it shall be called forth by similar perfidy, exhibited in such a cause." If this was the spirit in which the contest was to be carried on—if this was the animus with which men of high ability and high standing were to enter into it, they too, whose sacred calling might inspire them—if not with a little more of Christian charity towards our opponents, at all events with more of decency and of moderation in expressing their dissent from them, he could see nothing in that contest that would not affix indelible disgrace on the national character. But be this as it might, he would never shrink from professing and defending the opinions which he held in that House in the face of the country. He had seen something of the feelings of Englishmen of late upon these Irish questions, and he knew that when the facts were fairly stated, an appeal might always be made from their prejudices to their justice. They would see the fallacy of the grounds on which the noble Lord rested his present motion—they would see that there could be no monopolizing, no exclusion, no transfer of powers from one exclusive faction to another, where the power transferred was vested in the whole body of the people. They knew the value of municipal institutions, that they taught men to respect the laws, and gave them an interest in enforcing them; and they would see no reason why the people of Ireland should be deprived of these institutons, because the majority were Catholics. If they were told that these Catho- 679 lies were hostile to England and to British connexion, they would point to the fact that the agitation of the repeal question had been dropped from the moment that Ireland possessed a Government disposed to do justice. Lord Mulgrave was what the hon. and learned Member for Bath had termed him—a lucky accident. His endeavours had as yet been unassisted by the Legislature; not one Irish question had been settled by Parliament; and yet the spirit which had been infused into the executive by Lord Mulgrave had produced both tranquillity and confidence. Of this the reports of the judges and of the assistant-barristers, afforded the best testimony. But in effecting this, the executive had been assisted by local associations, framed for the purpose of putting an end to prædial disturbance, by that very people which the noble Lord declared to be incapable of self-government. The people of England were perfectly competent to judge of these facts; and they would outweigh with them a thousand vague assertions Let the House do its duty, by rejecting the motion of the noble Lord—let it sanction the policy upon which the present Cabinet had staked its existence—and they might appeal to the country with the most perfect confidence that public opinion would ratify their decision.
§ Mr. Maclean
said, if he had risen for the purpose of replying to the arguments of the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down he certainly should not have been called on to discharge a very difficult task, for he had listened to the hon. Member with some degree of attention, and could affirm that there was in his speech but one point of an argumentative character, but one question put in such a manner as to lead the House to believe that he desired an answer to it. That question was, "What did the Administration of the present day propose to do with the Protestant Chinch of Ireland?" But, although this subject had been fully investigated by men quite competent to the task, yet he felt that it was still the duty of English Members to show, however humbly, their sympathy with the minority in Ireland—of those who were about respectfully to approach that House with proofs that they were a suffering minority. The noble Lord at the head of the Government in that House, however, had lately quoted sentiments from an authority which, when mentioned in that House, invariably re- 680 ceived the attention that was its due—sentiments which he urged on the House as those that would be the basis of this measure of Corporation Reform. The language which the noble Lord then quoted from a speech of Mr. Fox was such as must strike even the most unobservant person with no ordinary degree of alarm. The noble Lord then declared that in legislating for Ireland he would not betake himself to the theories of Black-stone or of Locke, but act upon the sentiments of Mr. Fox; that he would concede, and proceed with concession until he pleased the people of Ireland. Here was a groundwork that, if pushed to its full extent, would furnish matter of just alarm to the Protestants of Ireland and of the whole empire. But the noble Lord, in giving the observations of Mr. Fox, should at least have also-let the House hear the answer made by Mr. Pitt, and the reply to that answer which Mr. Fox thought it necessary to give. Mr. Pitt, in his answer, regretted that the hon. Gentleman had, in the warmth of his feelings, broached doctrines of a mischievous tendency, and had let fall some incautious expressions. What was Mr. Fox's reply to this? He said:—"The Chancellor of the Exchequer had asked why he who moved the independence of the Irish Parliament in 1782 should now wish to exercise a controlling power over that Legislature? His answer was—in 1782 he was for giving the Irish nation what they asked because they thought it was best for them. In like manner he did not propose the measures which he had recommended on that evening because he approved of them, but because the people of Ireland desired them." But the noble Lord did not now say that he disapproved of the measure which he was about to introduce because it pleased the people of Ireland. Yet this was a part of the declaration of Mr. Fox, on the principle of which he was to base his Irish legislation. The noble Lord made no distinction between the circumstances of the time at which Mr. Fox spoke and the present. At that time there were two Legislatures in existence, acting independently of each other. Mr. Fox, indeed, was taunted with surrendering the independence of that Parliament which he had guaranteed in 1782. Mr. Fox was for that kind of concession which Roman Catholic Emancipation afterwards granted; and in that very debate he stated that there was an 681 ecclesiastical establishment in Ireland too large for the actual wants of the people. All these circumstances, taken in connexion with the declaration of the noble Lord on a former evening, formed a ground-work sufficient to alarm those who saw in this measure not merely a reform of Municipal Corporations in Ireland, but rather that which the great leader of the Roman Catholics had declared to be its real object—the establishment of normal schools of agitation. He had good foundation for his assertion when he maintained the intimacy of the connexion of the Government with the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny and his designs. That connexion and its nature had been over and over again asserted, and it had as often been denied; but had any man yet risen in his place in that House and denied the declaration made by the hon. and learned Member for Tipperary to his constituents in Ireland at the commencement of that connexion? This was the emphatic language used by the hon. Member on that occasion? "Accordingly we entered with them into a close alliance, and at the meeting at Lord Lichfield's formed that compact, and, I trust, indissoluble junction, by which so much has been effected." On what ground was this compact now said to be based? On the necessity for corporation reform. But was that the pretext then put forward; No. The stand was then to be made on the necessity for diminishing the Church Establishment in Ireland—that was the key-stone of the arch—that was the corner-stone, then, of the building they sought to destroy. But look at the declaration the hon. and Learned Member for Kilkenny made a short time ago at that Catholic Association, which received the patronage of one section of his Majesty's Ministers, and was repudiated by others. And here he would remark that it was rather peculiar that no answer had ever been given by the noble Lord to that very material question put by an hon. and learned Member on the Opposition side of the House—what the noble Lord intended to do with respect to the Association that had recently sprung up in Ireland? An answer had been given, it was true, but not by the noble Lord. When the noble Lord was told that the noble Viscount at the head of his Majesty's Government had said in another place that he knew of no sufficient cause 682 for the existence of that Association the hon. Member for Middlesex started up, and said that if the noble Viscount had made any such declaration he had committed a great indiscretion. But, from that time to the present, the noble Lord opposite had given no answer whatever to the question so pertinently put by the hon. and learned Gentleman. The noble Lord had never yet said whether he intended to look at the existence of the Association as an offence against the laws and whether it did, or did not, come under the operation of the Act of 1792. Why did he and his Friends, basing their operations on the declarations of the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny, say that the present question was virtually the Church question masked under that of corporate reform? The noble Lord had thought fit to rest his Government, not on that principle through which he came into power, after having overthrown the Government of the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth—not on that Bill which the hon. and learned Member for Tipperary declared was the ground work of the indissoluble compact and junction between his party and the of the noble Lord opposite; but in the first week of the Session he came down to the House parading the Corporation Reform Bill, and took the opportunity of stating that he rested the existence of his Ministry upon it. Why did the noble Lord take this step? Because he very plainly saw that the majority with which he had originally come in on the Church question had very sensibly diminished; and that there was a probability that on this question of corporation reform—one that at the first glance wore a less objectionable aspect, and seemed founded on more plausible grounds—a greater number of votes would be found recorded on the Ministerial side when they came to a division. If this was the real and true explanation of recent events, and of the late change in the course of conduct adopted by the other side, then, were not they (the Opposition) justified in saying that it was the Irish Church question, and not that of the reform of municipal corporations, that ought to be discussed on this occasion? When the noble Lord entered into his general defence of the Administration in Ireland—when he told the House of the peculiar blessings granted to Ireland by the presence of Lord Mulgrave and the co-operation of the hon. 683 and learned Member for Kilkenny—he little anticipated the complete answer that was made by the hon. and learned Member for Bandon, or the strong array of facts by which that answer was substantiated. When the noble Lord taunted the Protestants of Ireland with having allowed weeks to elapse before they came to the Legislature for redress of their grievances he was asked to afford a tribunal before which the accusation could be carried; but he did not seem by any means inclined to give that tribunal. He and his Friends were taunted, forsooth, with the charge, that they took every opportunity to pour out the phials of their wrath and indignation on the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny, because he chose to give his support to the Government. But the hon. and learned Member could not, at all events say that he had met with any treachery at their bunds. What did his own Friends say of him? Let him bear in mind the words of the hon. and learned Member for Bath on the first night of the Session. Lot him look at a publication which must be in the hands of every man, in which the most positive declarations were made as to his Parliamentary conduct, and as to the views professed by him on the subject of the Protestant Church. He alluded to the pamphlet recently published by a gentleman, lately a Member of that House (Mr. Feargus O'Connor) who said, "After the acceptance of the Lords of Corporate Reform I was sitting in the Westminster Club; you arrived there, and I said, 'Well, you have sold us at last—you are as mere a Whig as any of them.' What was your reply? 'Hold your tongue, you fool; I only want the Whigs to do my dirty work, and then I'll kick them out, as I did the Tories.'" Had the political opponents of the hon., and learned Gentleman ever gone so far as this in declaring their opinion of him? Had they not carefully abstained from doing more than impugning his political conduct and views, and showing their practical effect in a legislative point of view? But Mr. Feargus O'Connor went on to show that he had communicated his views on the subject to another Gentleman, also a Member of the House, and that this Gentleman had concurred in them, thus proving that among the supporters of the hon. and learned Gentleman there had been communications on the subject of his political conduct. He 684 further said—"Your conduct upon the measure is before the public, but, as all public men are public property, I shall give you the opinion of one of Ireland's best Members relative to your support of that measure. The Gentleman alluded to and I spoke the same night, and shortly after I had concluded we left the House together. At his request I accompanied him down Great George-street to the Park-gate, when he thus addressed me, 'Well, O'Connor, what are we to do with this man? Upon my soul, I have observed him of late, and he is ruining us and selling the country.' "Here were opinions from a quondam friend!—The community must put a construction upon these words also. I give them without note or comment, and am ready to mention who the patriot was." Here he thought was ample proof that in taking the course they had done, and in impugning the motives of the hon. and learned Gentleman, the supporters of the Protestant Establishment in Ireland had done that which their duty bound them to do; and also that they had something more than mere reasoning on probabilities to show that the support of the measure of corporate reform was only a stepping-stone towards upsetting the Church Establishment of Ireland. [The hon. and learned Member quoted the opinion of Mr. G. Cornwall Lewis, in a work on the disturbances in Ireland, published recently, to the effect that any modification merely of the Church Establishment in Ireland would be insufficient, for that the sole aim of the opponents of Protestantism in Ireland was the utter destruction and demolition of the Establishment.] Why, then, give to the supporters of such views the immense power that this Corporation Bill would confer? If they were now in a situation to be able to impede the progress of the payment of tithe, by sending out from the Association pacificators into each county, who paraded with armed bands, and maintained a perfect system of despotic authority for the attainment of their objects, was it not clear that when they acquired an additional fulcrum in these Corporations, leading, as they must do, to the extension of the Parliamentary franchise on a basis similar to the municipal elective franchise, the great aim and object, of the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny would have been attained, and these Corporations would become 685 normal schools for the agitation of the ultimate question which he proposed as the result of his political exertions? Was he wrong in contrasting with these declarations and actions of the hon. and learned Gentleman the declarations made by himself and by the Roman Catholic hierarchy at a former crisis in their affairs? It could not have escaped the recollection of the House that in 1826 the Roman Catholic hierarchy had protested their desire not to attack by insidious means the Established Church in Ireland. At that time the Roman Catholic Bishops published a pastoral letter to their Clergy, to which the signature of "John M'Hale" was appended. That letter contained these expressions:—"The Catholics of Ireland, far from claiming any right or title to forfeited lands, resulting from any right, title, or interest, which their ancestors may have had therein, declare upon oath, 'that they will defend, to the utmost of their power, the settlement and arrangement of property in this country, as established by the laws now in being.' They also 'disclaim, disavow, and solemnly abjure any intention to subvert the present Church Establishment, for the purpose of substituting a Catholic Establishment in its stead.' And, further, they swear that they will not exercise any privilege to which they are or may be entitled to disturb and weaken the Protestant Religion and Protestant Government in Ireland." Here was a solemn abjuration and declaration by the Roman Catholic Bishops of Ireland. But what was their tone now as regarded the question of Corporation Reform and of the destruction of the Protestant Church in Ireland? He would for one moment turn to a letter written by one of their body—a letter that must be familiar to every Member of that House, one written in very striking language, and pointing out in the most unequivocal manner the views entertained by its writer, the rev. Gentleman from whose writings he had just quoted a passage, on the great questions now agitating the public mind. Let it not be forgotten that this was a letter from Dr. M'Hale, one of those who signed the previous abjuration, to the Bishop of Exeter—that rev. prelate who, but a few minutes ago, had come in for the vituperation the hon. Member for St. Alban's bad thought proper to lavish upon him. Part of this letter ran thus:— 686 "It is scarcely necessary to remark that, whilst I proclaim an unappeasable hostility to the Church Establishment, I entertain none whatever towards any individual for his honest religious opinions. Alter all the evils it has heaped on this devoted land it is some consolation to reflect that the legislative axe is laid to the root of the Establishment. The pruners of the ecclesiastical vineyard have not read the Roman history in vain, and already ten of the lofty plants, which poisoned by their narcotic influence the wholesome vegetation, are laid low. This, doubtless, is a prelude to a further and more enlarged process of expurgation. With every successive measure of reform existing abuses will be removed, until, it is to be hoped, not a vestige of the mighty nuisance will remain. Witness your impotent attempt against Catholic Bishops assuming their ancient and hereditary titles. Think you they have any force in binding men's consciences? The Parliamentary Church may enjoy any temporary privileges which Parliament, without injury to the people, may confer. His Majesty's Bishops may surely enjoy all those lordly titles which his Majesty, the rich source of worldly titles, can bestow. I shall freely declare my own resolves. I have leased a small farm, just sufficient to qualify me for the exercise of the franchise, in order to assist my countrymen in returning those, and those alone, who will be their friends, instead of what their Representatives usually were, their bitterest enemies. I must therefore confess, that, after paying the landlord his rent, neither to parson, or proctor, or landlord, or agent, or any other individual, shall I consent to pay, in the shape of tithe or any other tax, a penny which shall go to the support of the greatest nuisance in this or any other country." He maintained, then, that the alarm felt on that side of the House was not unfounded. It was but a few evenings since, that the House had witnessed a proposition to drive the Bishops from the House of Lords. Was, or was not, that an attempt to disturb the Protestant Church as established by law? Had not the Bishops their right to sit in the House of Lords by virtue of their temporalities? Take away their temporalities, and you take away their right, but not till then. But hon. Gentlemen opposite might say, that they did not conceive that, in doing this, they were 687 weakening the Protestant Church as established by law; yet the House had seen hon. Members voting against that motion, who would not be understood to wish to weaken the Protestant Church, but who did not scruple to support a measure which, by the declarations of some of its most powerful supporters, was to be looked upon as a mere stepping-stone to ulterior and more important measures. He had, however, another and a still more recent proof of the intentions of the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny, as to the integrity and continued existence of the Protestant Established Church of Ireland. No later than the day before yesterday, a deputation had waited on that hon. and learned Gentleman, from the Radicals of Lambeth. Now, he must say, that on some points, and in some respects, he (Mr. Maclean) really had great respect for the Radicals. They were men entitled to this praise—that they went straightforward with their propositions. They did not mince matters. They were for at once fighting out the great contest between the principle of a democracy and that of a constitutional monarchy. They had held forth the language of, he sincerely believed, men honestly believing the principles and opinions they professed. They fairly told what they meant, and, so far, and for those qualities, he (Mr. Maclean) respected them. But when they (the Opposition) wished to bring to a fair and open contest the truth of their principles, there rushed in a third party—not agreeing with either—who effectually prevented both from ascertaining the real feeling of the people on the respective principles. They acted the part of the Sabine ladies. At one time they could not bear those with whom they were now in strict communion; but having once formed the connexion, they were ready to rush on the drawn swords of their opponents. What was the reply of the hon. and learned Gentleman to the Lambeth deputation? In his letter, dated Feb. 9th, 1837, would be found this passage:—"You state twelve points of the Radical creed. To prepare you to meet me, I will tell you how far I agree with, and where I differ from, you. 1. A truly reformed House of Commons.—I heartily agree. 2. Equal representation.—I agree. 3. Universal suffrage.—I agree. 4. Vote by ballot.—. I agree. 5. Short Parliaments.—I agree. 6. No property qualification.—I agree. 688 7. A national system of education.—I agree. 8. Just taxation.—I agree. 9. No Established Church.—I agree." Now, was not this as solemn a declaration as that House could require, of the views entertained by the hon. and learned Gentleman on the subject of the Church Establishment in Ireland? By the expression "I agree," he must also be held to mean that he would use his exertions to procure those things which he thus showed his desire to attain. If the hon. and learned Gentleman would so openly urge such views here, where he was under some sort of control, how much the more would he do so where he was superior to all control? It was on a consideration of all these important declarations that he was of opinion, that these Municipal Corporations ought not to be placed under the influence of the hon. and learned Gentleman; for if the House did give him that vast power, if they did open those normal schools of agitation, they would furnish him with the means of attaining all those objects to which he did not scruple to declare all his political exertions pointed. He would appeal to the opinions which the noble Lord had expressed, not whilst speaking in that House, but when writing as a philosopher in his closet. In the noble Lord's treatise on the British Constitution, he stated, that in the concessions made to the Dissenters in the reign of William and Mary, the Roman Catholics were not included; and the same noble Lord further observed, that it was true that in the reigns of Elizabeth and James 1st, the Roman Catholics had sought for foreign assistance, had engaged in plots and assassinations, had struck at the root of British freedom and independence, and though he doubted whether the refusal of concession were wise, he fully acknowledged that it was just. With such admissions, he desired to know upon what principle, or by what maxim of prudence, could hon. Members defend that course of policy which went to place the Church Establishment in Ireland at the feet of the Roman Catholic hierarchy? There was a great demand, indeed, of "justice to Ireland." Now, if that meant equality in every respect, he admitted that, in some respects, they did not deal out equal justice to Ireland. For instance, in Ireland they were not called upon to pay assessed taxes. He admitted that when these taxes 689 were laid on, Ireland might have bee taxed as much as she could bear; but since then the condition of Ireland had materially improved, and yet Ireland was not called on to bear the proportion of this species of taxation. At the same time the analogy which had been said to exist between the Municipal Corporations of England and those of Ireland, was not a just analogy. In England, the Corporations were much older, and the people possessed a much larger interest in them. The Corporations in Ireland were in some degree, he might almost say, a sort of citadel, for the protection of the Protestant interests. Those Corporations had continued to give to the Protestant interest the advantage of being adequately represented in Parliament. Now, these and other advantages they at that side of the House had agreed to surrender. He would also remind the House, that when it had been declared as the opinion of the House and of the Crown, that it was desirable that the Orange Society should cease, those hon. Members who were connected with that society came forward in the most honourable manner, and used every influence in their power to prevail on those societies to dissolve themselves, and their efforts were successful. Were not those instances to which he had referred, a proof of the disposition of those at that side of the House to make concessions? Emancipation was granted to the Irish people, and they were told that that measure would be sufficient to ensure the peace and tranquillity of Ireland. He need not say whether that measure had succeeded or not. The Irish agitators now came forward to ask for the establishment of normal schools of agitation in Ireland, and in that he and his Friends refused to concur. They were fighting the battle of the English people, but that was not the question on which the contest was to be finally decided. The people of England were anxious to resist any measure by which the interests of the Established Church in Ireland could be injured or compromised. That was the great question to be decided, and it was their duty to see that, neither by open nor insidious means, those great and important interests should be compromised. On a former occasion, the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) had said, that no false pride would prevent him from attempting to make a satisfactory settlement 690 of that great question. He trusted, then, that the noble Lord would lose no time in bringing that question forward, in order that they might see how far the noble Lord was prepared to propose a satisfactory settlement of the question. He did not know, however, how far the influence of the hon. Member for Kilkenny might interfere with the noble Lord, in reference to that settlement which he appeared to desire so much. That hon. and learned Gentleman had made many promises an declarations, but it was unnecessary to say how far they had been realised. He had stated that this measure was necessary to the peace of Ireland, and that its rejection would lead to the most dangerous results. He would say, however, of the language of the hon. Member, "Sub risu lachrymas sub melle venenum." For the reasons he had stated, he felt bound to oppose this measure. No sufficient grounds had been stated in support of the plan now brought forward, and until he found arguments stronger and more sufficient than those on which the supporters of this measure relied, he felt bound to meet it with his most decided and strenuous opposition.
would feel very much obliged to the House if they would for a few minutes listen to the observations which he wished to make, and he assured them that he would not abuse their indulgence or trespass at any very unreasonable length upon their patience. The Catholic question was for forty years the great stumbling-block amongst statesmen in legislating for Ireland, and it appeared unfortunately that it was not yet removed, for let hon. Gentlemen disguise it as they might, the whole beginning and end of their argument amounted to this—"The people of Ireland are Catholic; we cannot, therefore, trust them with the management of local affairs; the people of England are Protestant, and they may be so trusted." For it must be borne in mind that it was not sought by any one to defend the present corporations, or to consider their total abolition as any injustice. The interests of the present Protestant corporators were most unceremoniously dealt with, just in the same way as were the Brunswick clubs at the time of emancipation. He regretted the more deeply that this feeling should continue to be mixed up with so many Irish questions, because he had the other night a most gratifying proof, when this feeling did not interfere, how anxious Gentlemen on all 691 sides of the House were to unite in approbation of the Bill for the relief of the poor of Ireland; and there was no one who more warmly or more eloquently than the noble Lord, the Member for North Lancashire, bore testimony to the kindly feeling, and the naturally good and generous sentiments of the Irish people. From all he had ever heard of the character of that noble Lord as a landlord, the persons on his estates would be ungrateful indeed if they did not evince the warmest regard and personal attachment to him. He only regretted that the noble Lord should not have an equally good opinion of the higher class, who would become possessed of the franchise under the present Bill—a class having the advantages of education, of a more extended intercourse with their fellow-citizens, and in many instances being in a situation which gave them a positive interest in standing well with their fellow-townsmen of all ranks and persuasions. Indeed the manner in which the power intrusted to boards chosen under the 9th of Geo. 4th, for cleaning and lighting-towns in Ireland had been exercised, was a practical proof that no partiality in the selection of persons, on religious grounds, was to be apprehended. In the only town in his county, namely, Dundalk, where a board of this kind existed, he would venture to say that no man of any party complained of the persons elected. He could not, for his part, understand how Gentlemen who opposed this Bill on the ground that the persons who would gain the chief benefit from it were Catholics could object on the same principle to a Bill for superseding all the magistracy of Ireland, nine-tenths of whom were Protestant, and vesting in the hands of Government the entire administration of justice in that country; for, much as they had heard of the abuse of power by the present Government, it seemed there were no objections to confiding to them all the additional power to be given under the present Bill. If religion and not fitness were to be the test for the depositaries of power in Ireland, and that such was the feeling on the part of Tories he had a right to assume from the fact that there was hardly a single instance of a Catholic having been promoted to office under a Tory Government, how, he asked, was it possible that any Government could be carried on without having one or other party enlisted in perpetual and irreconcileable hostility to it? Gentlemen were very fond, when it an- 692 swered their purpose, of referring to the peculiar circumstances of Ireland. Now the peculiar circumstances of Ireland were, that there were 7,000,000 of Catholics and 700,000 Protestants. This peculiarity was never dwelt on when the Church was in question. As Mr. Cobbett observed once, "we talk of his Majesty's army and his Majesty's navy, but we never talk of his Majesty's debt—O, no, it is the national debt." The preponderance of Catholics, though a very strong reason against their being admitted to corporations, was none in the world against their paying tithes. Indeed, the proposed reform of the corporations was opposed lest it might ultimately interfere with the collection of tithes. It was opposed expressly on the ground of danger to the Irish Church. Legislation, in fact, as far as Ireland was concerned, must stand still because they had a Church Establishment. The same argument was used against Emancipation and the Reform Bill, and, in his opinion, with considerable show of justice. But how, after having conceded the principle of this Bill—as he maintained they had done, by the two measures which gave to the people of Ireland the power of returning a majority of Irish representatives to this House—they could think that they could for any time prevent a perfect equality in every respect between the two countries, appeared to him most extraordinary. When it was stated that the effect of the Bill at present before the House would be to confer power exclusively on Catholics, he was tempted to refer to a piece of evidence in the Irish Poor-law Report, as he thought it afforded a very good illustration of the ideas of exclusive power entertained by some persons. A witness of the name of Rowan, in the county Down, was asked if many persons would emigrate if a free passage were given? His answer was—"Several would, because their privileges are infringed upon as Protestants." The explanation of this turned out to be that, until lately, the Catholics got no leases, but the Protestants had good ones; but now the landlord took whoever paid the highest rent. Just in the same way as Mr. Rowan considered that the landlord who preferred the tenant who was most industrious, and who paid him the highest rent, was trenching upon his privileges as a Protestant, did hon. Gentlemen opposite seem to consider the present Bill as interfering with their rights. That it was intended by the Eman- 693 cipation Bill to admit Catholics to corporations there could be no doubt, as there were special enactments in that Bill providing that the insignia of office belonging to the mayor or other officer should not be displayed at any house of worship, save that of the Established Church. But it was every day becoming more evident, and the late observations of the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, left no doubt of the fact, that the Ministry who passed Emancipation only yielded to a dire and irresistible necessity, under the impression that the Catholics, having once obtained an equality in the eye of the law, would not in any way interfere with the practical working of the machine of Government, and with a fixed determination on their part to retain place and power in the hands that had hitherto possessed them. Now, the Catholics of Ireland by no means acquiesced in this plan; and if it were imagined that any Government, such as might be supposed to be formed by hon. Gentlemen opposite, could exist in this country in direct collision with a large majority of Irish representatives on a question altogether Irish, it was easy to foresee that Ireland would only add one more to the number of Ministries she had already broken up. The people of Ireland were never so united as at the present moment. They were never, considering their power, so reasonable in their demands. But in addition to all further incentives to resist a Tory rule, they had now the conviction, that the hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, could not afford to act with forbearance, but must deliver himself up into the hands of the most uncompromising of the Orange party, and the rule of that party in Ireland would meet with a resistance so fixed, so decided, so temperate, but so powerful, that it would be impossible for any Government to contend with it. If the battle were to be fought, he rejoiced it was on such a question as the present; and he rejoiced the more when he contrasted the sentiments of Gentlemen opposite with those expressed by his Majesty's Ministers. After the full and clear statement made during the past week by the noble Lord, the Secretary for the Home Department, as to the line of policy pursued by his Majesty's Government with regard to Ireland, and after the unflinching determination expressed by that noble Lord to continue to carry on the Government on the same principles, he could not, as an Irish Member, refuse 694 himself the gratification of bearing his humble testimony to the blessings produced by Lord Mulgrave's government, and of expressing the debt of gratitude which he, in common with nine-tenths of his countrymen, felt to that noble Lord, and the noble Lord, the Secretary for Ireland, for the good they had already effected. Gentlemen opposite might express what opinion they thought fit; but this he fearlessly stated, that this was the first Government considered by the great majority of the Irish people as identified with their interests, and in whose administration of justice they had confidence;—by that majority recollect who returned sixty-three Members to this House, and who would increase that number on the first opportunity. The present Government, it was true, had not as yet been able to dry up the springs of discontent, but the waters of bitterness had been stopped in their course. They had prepared the mind of the Irish people for good laws by the manner in which they had administered the existing ones. They had done more to attach Ireland to British connexion in two years than had been achieved by their predecessors in the course of their whole lives; and by placing their tenure of office on the fate of the present Bill, they had shown, that as they came into power on the principle of doing justice to Ireland, they were determined not to retain it one hour after they were unable to carry that principle into effect.
§ Mr. John Young
wished to stale briefly his own view of the question. As an independent man he had hoped that parties, after engaging in the warmest opposition, might have made mutual concessions, and arranged this, as they had frequently done other questions, on the solid basis of the public good. Such a consummation seemed hopeless, and he regretted that this would but add another to the melancholy instances how difficult it was to legislate for Ireland, a country where every private interest was permitted to interfere with public interests, and where the heads and hearts of both parties were heated not merely by political but by religious enthusiasm. There were objections which had given great umbrage to the opposite side of the House, in which, as a Protestant Irish Member, he thought it his duty to say he did not participate. It had been urged that the corporations would be filled by Roman 695 Catholics hostile to British interests, and disinclined to British connexion. At first it was probable violent political partizans would fill all the offices; subsequently he hoped they would settle in the hands of the merchants and traders—bodies little likely to be influenced by religious enthusiasm, whose feelings and attachment would in all probability follow their positive and material interests. As to the question mooted by the hon. Member for St. Alban's, whether the granting or denying these corporations would cause a transfer of political power in Ireland, that should form no ingredient in the consideration of this question. Parties in that country would find their own level, and send proportionate numbers of Representatives to that House, but it ought not to be dragged in or affect the question under discussion. What most surprised him was, the undue importance given to the corporations, and the eagerness of the demand for them. Formerly they might have been useful and necessary. They implied the protection of the King or of some powerful Lord, and were a defence against feudal rapacity and unjust aggression. The consciousness which they gave the townsmen that they could not be individually despoiled of their possessions, inspired an industry and perseverance which all subsequent assaults were unable to daunt or overcome. But such defences are no longer wanting. The power of the law, backed by public opinion, has long ago stopped those excesses which prevailed in ruder ages. These institutions, therefore, though so vehemently demanded, were out of date, and ill-suited to the temper or the exigencies of these times: while, it must be admitted, all the ends and advantages of self-government could be as well and more cheaply attained by the means pointed out in the noble Lord's amendment. The violence with which they were sought begot suspicion and alarm in the minds of the Protestants of Ireland. They knew not to what uses they were to be turned, or how they might be injured by these new engines, if once set in motion. The Member for Kilkenny declared openly, "Give me Corporations, and I will do anything." What were the minority to conclude? They knew his vast powers of perverting measures to his own purpose; they saw that progress of knowledge and improvement, which had taken place in England and made reforms 696 safe, had not attained equal extent in Ireland—and they saw themselves surrounded by multitudes so blinded by prejudice, and so credulous from ignorance, as to receive the most palpable absurdities, and to suffer themselves to be blindly guided by leaders so little scrupulous as to counsel them in the readiest and safest modes of eluding or breaking the very laws which they had themselves been lately engaged in framing. Under such circumstances the apprehensions of the Protestants were well founded, and their resistance just and reasonable. The hon. Member for St. Alban's talked of strengthening the hands of Government. He did not know how the hon. Member proposed to effect that object; but undoubtedly the weakness of the Government was one of the great mischiefs of Ireland. The difficulties in the way of an adjustment of the question had been greatly added to by the unfortunate position of the Government, which, instead of softening down animosities, and holding a balance between contending factions, had, on all occasions, been obliged to come forward as the advocate and champion of one party, on which it relied for its very existence. While, therefore, they called themselves Liberals, and loudly professed their principles to be the right of freedom as to opinion, and security from persecution, what was taking place under their rule in Ireland?—what freedom of opinion could the Protestant elector exercise? What security from persecution was enjoyed by the Protestant clergyman? He did not blame the Government for their attention to the wishes and demands of the Roman Catholics; their numbers, their rapidly increasing wealth, their intelligence, must enforce the attention of any and every statesman. But if this attention were exclusive—if Government as they had lately done, selected only the more violent and hot-headed even of that party, the consequence must be uncompromising resistance from the Protestants and Presbyterians—a resistance, he would say, to which at any other conjuncture, and in quieter times, neither their wishes nor their principles inclined them—necessity compelled them to it—by it they might not ensure ultimate success, but they had all the chances of delay in their favour. They would earn the respect of their opponents—teach them not to count on a light and easy 697 triumph—and on other occasions, and probably even on the present, wring from them fairer terms and a more honourable compromise than they seemed willing to offer.
Mr. Charles Butter
observed, that, although he had already risen once and had not been fortunate in catching the Speaker's eye, he was rather glad it had happened so, as it had afforded him an opportunity of listening to two speeches from Gentlemen on opposite sides of the House—speeches which, temperate in themselves, had this very remarkable novelty in their favour, that they spoke to the question before the House. The hon. and learned Gentleman who had preceded the last two hon. Members had taken a very different course. He had found apparently so little to grapple with in the speech of the hon. Member for St. Alban's, that he had been obliged to recur to the first speech of the noble Lord on bringing this question forward the other night, and to a speech made by Mr. Fox forty or fifty years ago, for materials for his speech. The noble Lord the other night had certainly made one quotation from Fox which had evidently made a very deep impression upon the hon. and learned Gentleman and other hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House. It was where the great orator spoke of a "miserable monopolizing minority," a description perfectly true in itself, very personal, and moreover very alliterative. This it was which had evidently galled hon. Gentlemen opposite no little. For his own part, however, he did wonder very much whether it would be possible at any time to carry on a discussion on this subject without endless references to policemen and magistrates, whom under other circumstances they would never have heard of—eternal allusions to the Catholic Association, and interminable extracts from all the speeches delivered by the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny, at public dinners for the last fifteen or twenty years. Above all, he was anxious to know whether it would ever be feasible for hon. Gentlemen to conduct such an argument without constantly using taunting allusions to the hon. and learned Gentleman, and the subserviency of his Majesty's Ministers to him—themes which he had himself heard repeated ten thousand times on a moderate calculation, and which, therefore, might well be sup- 698 posed to have worked all the effect upon the human mind which could possibly be expected from them. The hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny, be admitted, said many things at different times which he ought not to have said. It was very wrong; but he would ask, had hon. Gentlemen opposite always been so very careful at Conservative festivals not to commit themselves in anyway of the like kind. But he would go further. He would concede the charge that Ministers were playing into the hands of the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny;—he would admit all this, and then he would ask what had it to do with the question, whether they should grant free municipal institutions to the people of Ireland. We are shallow legislators, continued the hon. and learned Member, if we devise our schemes of government without taking into account the invariable disposition in human nature to attempt the perversion of all great institutions to the purposes of personal aggrandisement, and the profit of party; if we apprehend this evil from this O'Connell alone, and dream that, if he were to die, no other O'Connell would ever again rise to trouble us; and if we do not so shape the institutions which we give to the Irish people as to secure them from something more than the factions of a day, or the ambition of a single individual. What matters it, then, what the designs of the hon. and learned Member are, or what he avows? We want not what you call confessions, but what I regard as boasts, to set us on our guard against a danger which we ought to apprehend, if not from the hon. and learned Member, from somebody else. It is our business to take care, that neither he nor any one else shall be able to turn to evil ends the institutions which we purpose to erect for the be hoof of millions and of ages. I could have much wished, Sir, that it had been possible to discuss this great question free, not only from personalities, but also from all considerations of a party or a temporary nature. I do not know whether I shall get many persons to go along with me in my estimate of the importance of this question, but I do not hesitate to say that, in my opinion, these questions respecting the municipal institutions of a country are the most interesting which a Legislature is called on to consider in the present day. The more experience that I derive from the study 699 either of books or of the events which are passing around us, the more deeply am I convinced, that the government of the parish or the town is the most important feature in the general government of the state; and equally strong and daily strengthening is my conviction, that whatever may be the best species of national constitution, there can be no doubt that the most complete democracy is the only rational principle of municipal institutions; that be your central Government monarchical or oligarchical or republican, the real guarantee for the progress of mankind in civilization, and order and freedom, in moral elevation, and in material prosperity, is 1o be found in the adoption of local self-government. I am much inclined to think, that I am right in these views when I observe the tendency towards similar opinions which strikes me as very apparent in the most profound of modern speculations, either in the history of past times or the institutions of existing nations. Not' only do the labours of learned scholars, in lifting up the veil that conceals from us the mechanism of ancient policy, show us the greatness of the Roman empire contemporaneous with the wise system, which left the Government of every provincial city to the magistrates elected by the inhabitants, and the whole fabric of that empire crumbling into dust from the hour in which the central tyranny invaded the municipal rights of self-government, and substituted the nominee of the emperor for the freely elected magistrate of the people; not only do we find these municipal democracies the last fastnesses of liberty and knowledge during the dark reign of feudal barbarism, and order and civilization re-asserting their dominion just as events secured a greater development to the freedom of the towns; but when a philosopher endeavours to deduce a theory of government from the institutions of existing nations, when a De Tocqueville seeks to read the future fortunes of mankind in the spirit of democracy, I find his admirable work pervaded by this one idea of the importance of municipal self-government; and I find him tracing the proud pre-eminence in freedom and order exhibited by the English race living under a monarchy in Europe, and living under a republic in America, to their common habits and common institutions of local self-govern- 700 ment. But I do not think that this is a matter in which we are left to the vague inferences which may be drawn from such experience either of the past or of the present. We do not merely see that such admirable effects have been produced, but I think we may see why they must have been produced. I think it stands to reason that if you want to provide for the vigorous undertaking of local works, and a careful provision for local wants, you should leave the localities as much as possible to shift for themselves. Teach the people that if they want roads made or streets paved, if they want to have their towns lighted, or watched, or drained, they must see and do it themselves, and experience teaches us that they will do it better than any one else will do it for them. Trust to the same principle for an efficient police: if a theft or a murder be committed, let the locality catch the thief or murderer as they can; and I will be bound they will catch him sooner than any one else can. This is the first great advantage of local self-government, that by making every locality dependent on its own energy for provision for its own wants, it stimulates the activity and keeps alive the watchfulness of the inhabitants, and thus secures the best provision for those local wants—the best discharge of municipal functions. Then, again, there is the great advantage, that by giving a town some voice in the election of its own judicial officers and magistrates you make the people a party to the administration of justice, and enlist the sympathies of every man in behalf of law and order, as part of his own business. I cannot but think it. an inestimable auxiliary advantage that this municipal republic forms a most admirable apprenticeship for the higher electoral duties of the people; that it accustoms them to choose among their neighbours those who are most able and upright, and naturally to look for guidance in political matters to the man of whose good management of their local affairs they have had a close experience; that it teaches the habits of mutual forbearance and concession, so necessary in political matters; and that by multiplying the questions daily discussed in a community, it has a tendency to create many parties, and consequently to prevent the division of the whole people into two great and irreconcileable factions; and that by affording a sufficient 701 arena for local emulation, it saves the state from many an ambition which would otherwise agitate it, and consolidates the power of the people, by placing in its gift not merely the lofty prizes of national, but the cheaper objects of municipal, distinction. I hope the House will excuse me for having; taken a course of argument always rather unpopular in such an assembly, and for having apparently gone into a description of the abstract policy of municipal self-government, instead of confining myself to its applicability to Ireland. I have done so because I think it shortens my argument; because, if I am right in my estimate of the general advantages of free municipal government, I may now with confidence ask, what country in the world stands more in need than Ireland of the vivifying and humanizing influence of institutions? I know no country in the world which wants more than Ireland the stimulus to its industrial energies, the vigilant watch over its local management, which municipal self-government would give. I know no country in which it is so necessary to do something to rally public sympathies around the laws, and make the preservation of order and the administration of justice a part of the business of the people. And perhaps the most important consideration of all is one which Gentlemen on the other side seem always inclined to forget in these discussions, namely, that Ireland has a representative Government; that rave as you may at the mode in which the Irish people, in a great majority of instances, exercise their franchise, no sane man can dream of depriving them of it; that this, therefore, is a fact of which you cannot get rid, but to which you must confine your policy; that you must, in short, educate the Irish people for the exercise of political rights. Now, it is because I think that the Bill introduced by his Majesty's Ministers, imperfect as it is in some respects, is founded on the principle of local self-government, and because I think it will produce these beneficial effects that I have been enumerating, that I give it my most hearty support, and think that its adoption would be a great and permanent guarantee for the future happiness of Ireland. The counter plan of the noble Lord differs wholly from this plan, and proposes to substitute for corporations elected by the people the choice of the Crown, as far as 702 the magistracy, the police, the administration of justice, and the management of the local funds raised for these purposes are concerned, and the division of the rest of the municipal functions among boards of commissioners chosen for the purposes of paving, lighting, draining and watching. The first part of this plan seems to me to require little discussion. It is a simple adoption of the worst kind of centralisation, of which we have seen the melancholy results in the feeble and enfeebling system of local management which has for the last forty years existed in France. A system so contrary to our national habits and the whole spirit of our institutions will hardly be adopted in a period in which we have ample and satisfactory testimony of the mischief which it has done in every country in which, for the misfortune of its inhabitants, it has been allowed to prevail. There is some plausibility in the proposal, of the noble Lord for subdividing municipal functions, and intrusting the different departments to commissioners; but the great objection to this is, that such subdivision will produce apathy among electors, and get an inferior class of men to take on themselves the management of local affairs. Collect all these powers together and put them in the hands of somebody; let the same people superintend all the details of municipal government, manage the finances, administer justice, and direct police; and the wielding all these powers will be an object of ambition sufficient to tempt persons of property and intelligence to compete for these offices, and excite the interest of people as to the election for them. But subdivide these functions and place them in separate hands, and the mere single business of lighting, or paving, or draining, will possess no temptation for any persons of education; and these powers, will pass into the hands of an inferior class of men. I should say that, as far as I know anything of the personal history of these bodies, experience fully justifies these apprehensions; and that generally speaking the persons who compose these local boards are not so high a class of persons as those who compose corporations wherever freely elected. But next, as to these sweeping deductions from fact, which are what Gentlemen opposite dignify by the title of experience. First, that Birmingham and Manchester have swelled into enormous towns without corporations under the management of these boards; and 703 hence we are asked to infer that such a system of municipal government is calculated to promote prosperity. Now this is one of the usual arguments by which the great prosperity of this country is always urged to defend every abuse in it. It is rather too much to say that because the absence of a mayor has not neutralised all the advantages of coal, and the rule of boards has not driven capital and industry from the spot to which nature invited them, that therefore you are to take all the institutions of these towns as models for municipal government. There have been larger towns than these; greater masses of human beings congregated together in the ancient cities of Africa; and Gentlemen ought in consistency, to call upon us to adopt municipal governments like those of Babylon or Timbuctoo. You must analyse these matters most narrowly; must not be content with the general state of towns, but examine particularly their condition as to matters which come immediately under the influence of municipal government; and you cannot settle the question by urging one narrow objection to our plan. The great argument is, not because Irish are Irish, but because the majority are Catholics; that the effect will be, to take the tyranny out of the hands of one faction and give it to the other. This is the lot of all free governments; and cannot be otherwise until some one finds out a third form of government besides that of the majority governing the minority, or that of the minority governing the majority. I know no other; and while this is the case I must make up my mind to the majority ruling the minority, as far the least of two evils. You think to avoid it by giving power to central government; but have we not had experience enough of Ireland to convince us that the King's Government there always must be the Government of party; that the castle always governs by one party or the other; that the only difference is, that the present Ministry govern by the Liberal majority, and that the Tories have always governed, and would always govern, by the Orange minority. Between two parties I prefer that of the majority. I have no doubt that the first use Catholics will make of power will be to exclude from all local authority those who have hitherto so shamefully monopolised and abused it. They will do no more. The central Government, this House, and the Executive, will prevent their exercising any active tyranny 704 over the minority; and if all that happens is, that the Orange leaders are excluded from office in all the towns of Catholic Ireland, this will be a temporary, and consequently an insignificant, evil. If I thought that the placing these powers in the hands of the people would lead to a perpetuation of the horrible party divisions of Ireland, and cause the exclusion of the Protestants from municipal office for ever, I should not look on this change with any complacency. I see in the noble Lord's plan no means for the extinction of the present party, or rather sectarian, divisions; on the contrary, it would, by keeping alive the hopes of the minority, have some tendency to strengthen them. But in the complete triumph of the people I see a security for the extinction of those party feelings; and I believe that the establishment of municipal self-government would most powerfully promote this desirable end, by casting men into new local parties without reference!o religious opinions. In the first place, I have no doubt all Orangemen would be excluded, and very few Protestants be admitted into the council. But do you suppose the Catholic majority would keep together, and not quarrel with each other about various questions of municipal government? One part of the majority would support this street, the other that; one would prefer Mr. A. for mayor, the other would think the town could be saved by no one but Mr. B. In these squabbles of the majority the Protestant electors would find their interests or feelings ranging them also on different sides: they would become merged in the supporters of one or the other local question, or this or that local leader. Take away the present monopoly, the attack and defence of which keep Catholics and Protestants separated, each being united to oppose the other, and I don't believe it possible for them to stand the dissolvent effects of the agitation of local questions. Nothing, I believe, prevents so effectually the continuance or growth of great parties as the giving opportunities for the formation of several small parties, by making every matter of local government a subject of discussion among the people. It is said the plan of the Government will increase the influence of the priests and demagogues, but I know not the country in which it has not proved fatal to the influence of a priesthood. Nor do I believe it would increase the 705 power of a demagogue. It would create several sources of agitation, but thereby diminish the intensity of heat now collected into one focus. I think, with Gentlemen, that the influence of the priesthood, particularly of the Catholic priesthood, is an evil, and that the immense influence which the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny enjoys is one which no one desires to see in any well-ordered state. And this is why I call for freely elected corporations in every town in Ireland, because I think that human wit has never devised a more effectual counterpoise to the absorbing influence of a party leader, or a more potent barrier against the encroachments of the priesthood. But the ground on which the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, has rested his opposition to the measure proposed by Ministers is a simple, and, without meaning any offence to any other Gentleman, is, I believe, the real ground on which it is resisted. With the general effects of different forms of municipal government, he seems to trouble himself very little. He asks but one question—"What effect will the establishment of these popular bodies have on the Irish Church?" He imagines a prejudicial effect; and therefore he refuses to establish them, because, in his opinion, every other consideration must be sacrificed to the maintenance of that Church. He believes that whatever power you put into the hands of the Irish people, it will be used to rid them of that Church; and in order, therefore, to maintain the Church, he insists on debarring the people from any voice in the arrangement of their local affairs. I rejoice to hear the right hon. Baronet avow such a principle of government. I have always been an undisguised enemy of the existence of the Irish Church Establishment. I have never dissembled the horror with which I have always regarded it as the most revolting profanation of all that is venerable in Christianity, and the most odious perversion of all that is useful in the principle of a church establishment. I rejoice, therefore, to hear the right hon. Baronet compelled to make an avowal calculated to set that establishment in so odious a light; and to convince the public not only of the general aversion of the Irish people for that church, but of the fact that, in order to keep it up it is necessary to deprive Ireland of almost every institution, which you think necessary for 706 good government in Great Britain. This is the real mischief of that church. Its mere existence has indeed been a dreadful evil. It has been a constant insult to the great mass of the community, a constant cause of irritation, a perversion of a great national fund to the miserable purposes of a sect and a faction, and an obstacle to the endowment of the national religion in the country in the world which, perhaps, more than any other, wants the connexion of the State with the Church of the people. But the observant mind can discover indirect effects far worse than these. For in order to maintain this institution in defiance of the hostility of the nation, you have been obliged to pervert every other institution of the country, and the train of auxiliary grievances has been far worse than the one which they have been summoned to aid. It is for the maintenance of the church that the administration of justice has been corrupted—it is for that turbulence and disorder have been deliberately encouraged—it is for that the local mal-administration of the finances is allowed—it is for that, above all, that the Irish people have been as long and as much as possible deprived of the free exercise of the elective franchise. But the connexion between these evils and the existence of the Establishment was what it required some reflection to trace. In this case we are spared the trouble of that proof. It is confessed, and every man who sees that Ireland is deprived of that municipal government which has been established as the best for Scotland and for England, sees also, that that privation is a consequence of the existence of the Church Establishment. I do not quarrel with the premises of this reasoning. I believe that the existence of the Establishment is incompatible with the existence of good municipal or any other good institutions in Ireland. Rest your I case on that alternative, and I believe the people of England will not hesitate any long time in coming to the conclusion that this is no argument against corporation reform, but a very strong one in favour of church reform; and that it proves the paramount necessity of abating that institution, which is confessed to be incompatible with every free institution, every opportunity allowed for the expression of the national feelings of the Irish. And now, let me ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he is prepared to carry 707 into effect the principle which he has thus laid down? I should be glad to know how he is to carry on the government of Ireland on such a principle; and I am glad he has adopted the principle, because I am convinced he will find it more difficult to manage Ireland in that way than in any other. His Majesty's Government have given an intelligent and distinct plan. They have spoken out, and declared that come what may, they will give municipal corporations to the Irish people. They have staked their existence as a Government on that point, and by that they stand or fall. This is honest and patriotic conduct. I am glad the noble Lord has taken up such a position, and applaud him for adopting such large views. I can understand the conduct of the noble Lord, but I cannot understand equally well the position taken by the right hon. Baronet. By what system of Irish policy is he to stand or fall? I hope the Irish people will resist any Government framed on his principle. My approbation of their conduct will depend on nothing but their success, and they may rest assured that if they oppose such a Government, they will meet with the sympathy of every liberal mind in the civilised world. It was before such a resistance the mind of the Duke of Wellington quailed. That noble Duke said he would not hazard a civil war. Let me ask the right hon. Baronet if he is prepared to do so? I wish to say nothing offensive to the right hon. Gentleman; on the contrary, I speak of him always with feelings of respect; and here I cannot avoid adverting to the charges brought against him for the part which he took in the settlement of the Catholic question. I wholly overlook the old and obsolete charge of apostacy—I blame him not for changing from the wrong to the right course; but I blame him for remaining so long immoveable—I blame him for coming in on the shoulders of the mob on the no-popery cry—for having adopted this means to defeat a political rival; and, when in power, for having abandoned those principles to which he had so long adhered, and which had fixed him in office. Now, I ask, if that is not the course which he must now pursue? I fear the atrocities that might be committed in this country in a civil war for the Established Church of Ireland. I believe the right hon. Baronet has not well considered his course. He changed on the Catholic 708 question. Is he prepared now to pursue precisely a similar plan? I have not the slightest apprehension as to the result. The measure will be carried either by the present Government or by the right hon. Baronet. There may be a temporary delay, but carried it will be. Whatever might be said of the bigotry, it could never be such as to make the people of England say, "Cost what it may, they will keep up the Irish Church, and all the misgovernment which it entails on the people of Ireland." The people of England are a cautious, thinking people, and if it is your purpose to give full effect to the system on the principle laid down by Gentlemen on the opposite side, you will find you have no reason to congratulate yourselves on being supported by a portion of the people of this country.
§ Mr. Borthwick
denied the validity of the argument founded by the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down on what had been formerly done by the hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth. The question was not what might have been clone by that hon. Baronet on a previous occasion, but what it was wise and expedient to do at the present moment. For his own part, he should much like to see the position of both parties in that House such as to render necessary an appeal to the people that very night on the measure brought forward by his Majesty's Ministers, and he was ready fearlessly to stand by the result. He might ask what there was in the present condition of Ireland which called for the application of municipal corporations to that country? he might, even if he admitted that those corporations were as corrupt as was asserted by their greatest enemies, ask what remedy for such corruption could be found in putting power into the hands of an opposite and contending faction, and bringing into annual collision all the prejudices and partisanship of the country? he might ask whether, it being at present difficult to maintain legal rights in Ireland without bloodshed, to do so would not be attended with infinitely more difficulty amidst the general hostility and disturbance which the new municipal law must occasion? But he wished to place the question upon that proper basis on which, from its first agitation to the present hour, it had not hitherto been placed. The supporters of this Bill demanded justice for Ireland. He was quite ready to admit that as much justice should be done to Ireland as to 709 England and Scotland. Nay, he would go further, and allow that Ireland had precisely the same relations to the Crown and to Government as England and Scotland had. But he then asked, have you done justice to England? Have you done justice to Scotland? Has that which you have done for England and for Scotland been advantageous? He was one of those who had in that House entered their protest against the English Municipal Reform Bill. He was one of those who had objected not only to the details, but to the principle, of that measure. He was one of those who had contended that the ostensible object of that measure, the popular control of corporation funds, was not its real object, which was to serve for a time the cause of a political faction. He had told the House in prospectu what would be the consequences of the English Municipal Reform Bill; he would now state what had been its consequences. The borough which he had the honour to represent could not be purchased by Treasury gold. A nobleman of the highest respectability, with reference both to his public and to his private character, and backed by all the influence of the Treasury, had been sent down to that borough, but the constituency had rejected him, and, with the independence which they would always maintain, had returned an hon. and gallant Gentleman, who would do honour to their choice. When the English Municipal Reform Bill was in progress, that borough intrusted to his care a petition against its principle. He would now show how well-founded were their anticipations respecting it. It appeared, then, that whereas the borough of Evesham had been taxed only 80l. a year under the ancient, corrupt, and Tory system of municipal government—that whereas while under that system local and cheap justice was brought to the door of the inhabitants—and that whereas four had been the average number of criminal cases in the borough in the course of the year, the borough was now taxed by the new Bill to the amount of 600l. per annum, and crimes had increased in the proportion of five to one. The cause of the latter evil was obvious. A man tempted to the commission of crime was deterred by the knowledge that if detected he would be tried next week, or next month, with the eyes of all his friends and relations upon him; but became reckless when he knew that his trial would take place at a remoter 710 period, at a distance from his home, and in a place where there were no persons whose frown or approbation had any moral influence over him. Whenever he met his constituents, they demanded a repeal of the Municipal Reform Act as it referred to them. They were groaning under what the Gentlemen opposite called "justice to England." Ought not the House to pause then when the same justice was required for Ireland. It had been alleged by the hon. Member for Liskeard, against those who thought with him (Mr. Borthwick) on this subject, that they wished to defend the Protestant Church in Ireland. He willingly admitted, that if all he saw in this measure was dangerous to the Protestant Church in Ireland, on that foundation alone he would be prepared to resist it. He had, however, shown that it was to be deprecated on other grounds. To him, however, it was perfectly evident that the ultimate effect of the measure would be to destroy the Protestant Church in Ireland, and to destroy divine truth in that country. When the noble Lord who had moved the instruction to the Committee had said he wished to strengthen the root of the Protestant tree in Ireland, what was he to think of the denunciations against the Protestant Church in Ireland by the hon. Member for Liskeard, but that contrary elements, contending passions, conflicting opinions, opposing interests were all-brought into play, not for national, but for party objects? Another hon. Member, who professed the Roman Catholic religion, expressed his dislike to the Protestant establishment because it was, in his opinion, an unhallowed union between the Church and the State. He said this!he!who submitted to the authority of the Pope as a temporal king, and was governed spiritually by a college of anointed priests!It was right to strip the question of all the adventitious circumstances with which an attempt had been made to obscure it. So exposed, it was simply a question of democracy against monarchy—of infidelity (and that not individual, but national infidelity) against religion. For the reasons which he had stated, and not because he agreed in the policy of the noble Lord opposite, he should vote with the noble Lord who opened the debate by moving the instruction to the Committee.
§ Mr. Poulter
said, that he was as fully prepared as any hon. Member on the other side of the House to resist to the 711 utmost any attack that might be made on the sound heart and substance of the Protestant Church of Ireland; but he did think, that the claim of that country to municipal institutions was unanswerable. He regretted to hear the same course of argument adopted, as had been used in the last Session of Parliament. It is contended, that because the mere business of the towns in Ireland could be got through and transacted without corporations, that these were unnecessary; and, on other grounds, that they were dangerous. He thought the claim of Ireland consisted in the right of the people to manage their own concerns, by their own local administrations. This right he regarded as intimately connected with the national spirit of a country, ultra the mere proceedings to be done and performed. The habits of business produced by these institutions were a part of the education of a people—which education, in a comprehensive view of it, went far beyond the mere period of youth. He would ask, what would the people of Liverpool, Bristol, and Exeter say, if they were told that they were to be deprived of their corporations, and that their towns might be most perfectly lighted, watched, and paved, without them? No power of Government could deprive them of these institutions, which were bound up with the distinctive excellence of the- British character, as contrasted with that of any foreign nation. The King may appoint a Minister—that Minister may possess a most extensive power—but neither the King nor his Minister can nominate a mayor, or create a town-councillor. This appeared to him to be the true nature of the claim, which had received no answer from the proposition of the noble Lord who moved the instruction in opposition to the Bill of his Majesty's Ministers. The hon. Member observed, that this proposition to give up the old close corporations of Ireland, was one which carried with it no political grace whatever. At what time were these abandoned? Precisely at that moment when it was no longer possible to retain them. The offer itself was one of necessity, and gave no political instruction or guide whatsoever. There was the greatest fallacy, even in the mode of making it. It was said in 1835, that the time was arrived to give up the close corporations of England—in 1836, that the time was arrived to give up the Irish close corpora- 712 tions. He (Mr. Poulter) asserted that if that were true, it was equally true that the time had arrived at any antecedent period that might be named. If Lord Bacon were alive, he would have ranked this in his classification of fallacies—he would have said, "When statesmen who have conducted a Government on a contracted system, find themselves reduced to submit to a new order of- things, whenever they are obliged to consent to any measure of a beneficial kind, they will always assert that the time is arrived for the measure in question, implying thereby, that the time had not arrived till the moment of their concession. This will be said for the purpose of convening and protecting the old system, and of endeavouring to reconcile the old with the new, the two being utterly irreconcileable." Lord Bacon would have used some such language as this, and would have called this fallacy "fallacia temporis." The fallacy being entirely contained in the matter of time. The hon. Member would not charge any one with being responsible for the old system in this country. He believed that the right hon. Baronet opposite to him had been as much controlled by it as any one on his side of the House; but if from motives even of honour, this sort of fallacy was to be adopted to protect the character of former Governments, it was impossible for any talent whatever to sustain it.
The hon. Member then observed, that on this night, as well as on a former, strong reflections had been made upon certain resolutions which had been passed at a public meeting in Dublin, and these resolutions had been contrasted and compared by the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Cumberland, with the oath taken by certain Members of this House, and the inference had been drawn of a violation of that oath. The hon. Member declared that no man more deeply than himself deplored, or more strongly protested against these resolutions than he did: but when he heard them relied upon as amounting to the violation of the oath, he felt bound to apply to this subject his most serious consideration. The great body of reflecting men had, he contended, finally determined that the King's coronation oath could not be extended to any legislative matter without the most inconvenient consequences. He felt quite clear that a similar principle of construction as to 713 things in pari materiâ ought to be applied to the Catholic oath, and that legislative matters do not fall within the purview or scope of it. He thought it was wholly impossible to have a right understanding of this oath, without superadding to the words, "as settled by law," these further words, "or to be hereafter so settled or established," and with this opinion, the sentiments of Lord Somers, and of Pollex-fen, as expressed in the debate in 1688, on the coronation oath, completely coincided. Lord Somers observed, "It is said, that by this we are going about to alter the constitution of the church. Though the constitution be as good as possible for the present time, none can be good at all limes. Therefore I am for the word 'may,' and that will be a remedy at all times." Pollexfen thought with Lord Somers. "We are all agreed, and I hope ever shall be, to the Protestant religion established by law. We desire to consider whether the latter words shall be added or not. I see no manner of reason against it; we all agree in substance, but if, by the wisdom of the nation, it shall be thought fit to alter, we are at liberty to do it. No man that maintains the law, but maintains the whole legislature, which alters and redresses the law, from time to time, as there is occasion." Now, as the resolutions in question did not appeal to physical force, or to a civil war, and, however objectionable in their tone and spirit, contemplated nothing but a legislative recognition, they could not constitute a violation of that oath to which the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Cumberland, had referred. The hon. Member then said that the Gentlemen opposite always dwelt upon the extreme opinions of certain hon. Members from Ireland, to the entire exclusion of the only real and just issue, and upon these extremes they rested their whole political case before the people of England. He fully admitted these extremes, and would resist them to the last, but must insist that this was a most unfair and delusive course. He could not fail to make great allowance for hon. Members, writhing under the recollections of the long misgovernment of Ireland, possessing warm imaginations, and a powerful eloquence, however much he regretted the errors into which they had been betrayed. He could not expect, in a state of great public excitement, to be able to say to the fluctuations of the human mind, 714 any more than to the fluctuations of the ocean, "Thus far shall ye go, and no further." The extreme opinions which had so unfortunately been propounded might have been most surely foreseen and anticipated—however much he lamented them, however sincerely he believed that they did the greatest injury to the righteous cause of good government—they created in his mind no surprise whatever. But the hon. Gentlemen opposite had made the most powerful use of these extremes. They knew the tenderness of the English mind on the sacred subject of their religion. They knew how easily plausible delusions might be imposed upon the people on such a subject. He (Mr. Poulter) could almost forgive them. They must have been more than mortal men had they resisted the enormous temptation of advancing so powerfully their great political interests, by working upon the honest feelings and simplicity of the people. The hon. Member said, it is still a rule of British law—it was once a rule of British society, that every man or set of men were responsible solely for their own actions, their own principles, and their own measure. Genblseon-e. This ru th tlemen opposite had utterly violated and trampled upon. They had been raising throughout the country, at every public meeting of their party, without exception, the most false and immaterial issues. They had reviled and reproached the most honest and conscientious men. They had attempted to fasten upon the Government and upon the conscientious supporters of the Government, the violent and unjustifiable conduct and language of other persons. If the hon. Gentlemen were in earnest, and meant to act with sincerity, they would bring to trial the only real issue that affected the justice of the case, and that issue was this, whether, if they passed this Bill as due to the just claims of the Irish people, they would not find an immense majority of the House of Commons against allowing it to be used as a stepping-stone to ulterior attacks upon the sound heart and substance of the Protestant Church of Ireland honestly and religiously distributed. Against the lamentable doctrine of "instalments," so unfortunately agitated in Ireland—against the destructive principle of the wedge—and against that delusive cry, which, in spite of the vast and important changes which have taken place, and are now going for- 715 ward in every department of the state and of legislation, is always ready to exclaim, That "nothing at all has been done in the great cause of reform"—Actum, inquit nihil est; ni Pœno milite portas Frangimus, et mediâ vexillum pono suburra.The hon. Member said, "Bring us to trial; bring your reproaches and assertions to that proof which lies within your own power;" and, in using the expression "us," he begged to disclaim pretending to have any authority to speak of the Government, or of other Members; but, although he stood alone and unconnected, feeling that he was speaking both honestly and conscientiously, he thought it would be an insult to others not to use the larger term. The hon. Member finally declared, that if hon. Gentlemen opposite would, by passing this Bill, and by coming to some just settlement of the Irish Church, bring him and those who thought with him to that fair trial which was due to the perfect purity of all their political intentions, they would prove to all mankind, that if they were attached to the great system of national improvement, if they felt bound to come up fully and freely to that most important line which separates rational improvement from spoliation, they were as determined never to transgress it; that they would maintain even to the death the supremacy of the laws, the high principles of public peace and. public order, and the absolute and legitimate security of every description of property.
§ Mr. Emerson Tennent
said, that in the few observations which he meant to offer on this measure, and upon the general condition of Ireland, he did not propose to adopt the recommendation of the hon. Member for Liskeard (Mr. C. Buller), that he should omit from the consideration of the question all reference to the Government, and to the state of public feeling in the country. He did not mean for the amusement of that hon. Gentleman, to enact the part of Hamlet without the court and Ophelia. He was desirous to justify himself from the charges which had been made against him and those with whom he acted by the hon. Members for St. Alban's, and the county of Louth. The hon. Member for St. Alban's had imputed to them religious intolerance, in refusing to establish further municipal power, for no other reason than that the more numerous body of Roman Catholics ought to have this power; and the hon. Member 716 for Louth had accused them of heaping an insult on Ireland, because they refused to place the towns on an equal footing with those of England and Wales. He was desirous, before alluding more particularly to the main provisions of this Bill, and to the objects embraced in the instruction which had just been moved by the noble Lord, the Member for South Lancashire, to justify himself and those with whom he had the honour to concur in opinion, and to act in conjunction upon this question, from the charges which had been perseveringly made against them by those who differed from the course pursued by the minority of the House in reference to it. It had been imputed to them that they were actuated by a spirit of capricious bigotry and of religious intolerance, in withholding municipal power from the inhabitants of the towns in Ireland, for no other reason than because the majority of them were Roman Catholics; and they had been charged with offering a deliberate insult to the people of that country, in opposing the measure, inasmuch as it was said that they thus declared them to be unworthy of being intrusted with equal powers of self-government with the rest of the empire—with England and Scotland. Each of these allegations he (Mr. Emerson Tennent) most distinctly and positively denied. In the first place, he denied that, so far as Protestants were concerned, since the passing of the Relief Act of 1829, the mere fact of religion, unconnected with other considerations, had been regarded, either in an individual or a class, as any ground of exclusion from civil rights of any description whatever. He wished he could extend this disclaimer to every other sect and denomination; but it was idle to attempt to deny, that whilst identity of religion amongst Protestants had no further influence than as a bond of Christian communion, the religion of the Roman Catholic church had become in Ireland a mysterious symbol of association which unite its professors in one compact union for the attainment of every object, secular as well as sacred. Men of other persuasions, whilst they concurred in opinion on the subject of religion, felt themselves at liberty to exercise their individual judgment upon other matters, and to take opposite sides upon political questions. But amongst the Roman Catholics in Ireland an instance was so rare as to be almost unknown of persons dissenting from 717 the sentiments of the general body, or adopting a course different from I hat of the majority. The profession of that religion had thus become the ostensible symbol, if not the affiliating tie, of a great political body; and it was this body to whom they were opposed;—not from the accident of their religion, as had been warily asserted for a well-understood purpose, but from the political power which they wielded and the political objects at which they grasped; and the imputation that in opposing this measure they had been influenced by any bigotted hostility to the Roman Catholic church, was but the wily artifice of those who, when detected in political intolerance, would screen themselves behind the shield of religious freedom. Equally unfounded was the other assertion that in the course which they had pursued they had refused to intrust the people of Ireland with the power of administering their own local affairs. The very first clause of the instruction which had that night been moved by the noble Lord went to effect the abolition of those monopolies by which the people of Ireland had been for centuries excluded from all participation in municipal government. And the substitute which he proposed to adopt, namely, the principles and provisions of the Municipal Act, the 9th Geo. 4th., actually afforded a wider and more popular basis of self-government than was provided by the clauses of the Bill now under the consideration of the House. He would earnestly entreat the attention of hon. Members, and more especially of English Members, to this important fact. He knew that there were many hon. Gentlemen, and some of them on his own side of the House, who voted against him on that measure, under (he would say it with all possible respect) an erroneous impression, and an imperfect understanding of its objects and effect—under the impression that they were about to abolish institutions which had been found beneficial for municipal purposes in England, and which they were told could be rendered equally so in Ireland, and that they were about to offer no adequate substitute to supply their place, or to perform their functions. The tenor of that debate would, he trusted, satisfy such that these institutions are not, in their essence and constitution, suitable to the present state of society in Ireland, And as to the sub- 718 stitute which was recommended in the 9th Geo. 4th, so far from excluding the people of Ireland from the power of self government, its basis was—he would repeat it—so ample and so popular, that there was not a decent householder in Ireland on whom it would not confer a vote and a voice, in every department of his municipal affairs, and in the election of his authorities and officers who were to have the assessment and expenditure of his local taxation. He did not speak on this point merely from theory, but from experience; he stated this as the Representative of the most important commercial town in Ireland (Belfast), which had actually discarded its own corporate system for the purpose of adopting in its local acts the principles of the 9th Geo. 4th, and was now governed on the very principles recommended for universal adoption throughout the other towns of Ireland by the noble Lord, the Member for South Lancashire. It might perhaps be considered no trifling proof of the popular character and provisions for self-government conferred by it, that it was not only suggested in the present Bill for the adoption of the town councils of Ireland, but in the Bill of last year it was made compulsory on twenty towns to adopt it instead of a corporation, and left it discretionary with eighteen others. And during the last summer it had actually been adopted of their own accord, and by the common consent of all parties, in some of the most thriving and important towns in the north of Ireland. In the present Bill it was not only proposed to alter the constitution of all the existing corporations, but to confer new charters of incorporation on all such towns in Ireland as might desire it With this offer open to them, with the choice actually proposed to them between a popularised corporation and the system suggested by the noble Lord, four of the principle towns in Ulster had, within the last four months, made choice of the latter, and adopted the 9th of Geo. 4th, Ballymena, with its population of 5,000 or 6,000 inhabitants, was one of them; Dromore, in the county of Down, was another; Lisburn, one of the most rising and prosperous towns in Ireland, had followed the example; and Carrickfergus, one of the principal corporate towns in the schedule to this Bill, had actually superseded its present corporation, rejected the new 719 one proposed to it, and made choice instead of the simple and efficient provisions of the 9th of Geo. 4th. With facts and examples such as these before them, he trusted that hon. Members would see the falsehood and injustice of the assertion that Gentlemen on that side of the House were desirous of persecuting the religion of the Roman Catholics, or of depriving the people of Ireland of their rights of self-government in their municipal affairs. To the course which had been followed by the noble Lord, the Member for South Lancashire, and his supporters on the present occasion and during the last Session of Parliament, he gave his most cordial support, because he believed it to lead to an efficient, a business-like, and a peaceful system for the government of towns in Ireland; and he had resisted the principle of this measure, because he believed that the corporate constitution which it proposed to establish was un-suited to the habits and the wants of the people, and would prove pernicious to the peace and prosperity of the country. He had seen too much of the state of public feeling in Ireland to be blind to the fact, that the people of that country, having never been accustomed to these cumbrous and complicated machines for the government of these towns, did not understand, and did not wish for them,—and that they were forced upon them by those whose intention it was to use them as instruments for the promotion of dangerous political objects. He had seen sufficient of the state of Ireland to know that the partial clamour which had been got up on this subject was the result of laborious and not very successful agitation, and that the feelings of the people had only been kept alive upon the subject by associating with it the more exciting and intelligible topics of the abolition of tithes, and the destruction of the Protestant Establishment. The hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny had threatened them last year, that in the event of the refusal of corporate reform on their own terms, Ireland, from its utmost extremities, should resound with the indignant demands of an insulted and high-minded people, and that the table of the House should totter under the petitions which would pour upon it from every outraged hamlet and parish. He would ask where was the accomplishment of that threat? Where were those mountains of indignant petitions? The only visible result 720 from the rejection of the Bill of last year was the establishment of the National Association in Dublin, which they were informed sprung from the rejection of the measure of last year, and was designed to promote the accomplishment of this. This being the case, he would appeal even to the records of that very Association, and he would inquire what proportion of their time and their deliberations had been devoted to this charter-question of their institution? So far as their proceedings had reached the eye of the public, they were altogether engrossed by the discussion of poor-laws and tithes, or taken up with the quarrels and reconciliations of their hon. Members, whilst the one great object of their foundation was utterly abandoned and forgotten. Having introduced the name of that Association, he would here make the only observation with which it was his intention to trouble the House regarding it; he meant with reference to the relative proportion of Protestants and Roman Catholics of which its Members are composed. It had been stated as a matter of congratulation on the opposite side of the House, that it was formed of persons of every persuasion and from every quarter of Ireland, and the hon. Member for Kilkenny, if he recollected aright, had mentioned that one third of its Members were Protestants. Now, what was the fact? The Association comprised, in January last, 2,946 members, of whom only 263 were Protestants, and of these 84 were Englishmen and members of the corporation of London; whilst of the remaining Roman Catholics upwards of 600 were bishops and clergy of the Church of Rome, making an average of nearly three Roman Catholic priests for one Protestant layman who had joined it. He wished to draw no inference from this fact as to the objects of the Association on other matters, but on this question of Municipal Corporations they had utterly failed to create the excitement or to produce the agitation which they expected. He could state with confidence that this question had no real hold of the minds of the people of Ireland, and that, except for factious and political purposes, they were indifferent to its fate. They dreaded the fearful expense which corporations must entail; they had heard of them only in the tale of their abuses and corruptions; they had never known them as institutions of utility and advantage, and they had never derived from them, nor did they expect it, one 721 single iota of advantage. The very report of the commission which formed the groundwork of this measure had stated them to be unpopular and suspected in Ireland; injurious in some instances, useless in others, and in all insufficient and inadequate to the purposes of such institutions; and yet it was these injurious, useless, insufficient, and inadequate bodies that the present measure proposed to restore and to re-establish, in preference to substituting for them a system as proposed by the noble Lord, so efficient as to be adequate to all their useful purposes, and, at the same time, so simple as to be obnoxious to none of their abuses and corruptions. But the question which had been opened up to the House by the noble Lord had been not so much that of the obvious advantages which the people of Ireland may derive from the course which he had recommended, as that of the disastrous consequences which, in the present disorganised condition of that country, might be expected to result from the adoption of a measure such as that which had been introduced by the noble Lord, the Secretary of State for the Home Department. In alluding to that topic, it was impossible to avoid adverting to the causes which had tended, if not to produce, at least to aggravate that unhappy condition of society; and amongst the most prominent of these must unfortunately he regarded the conduct of the present Government in that country, more especially as regards their abuse of the prerogative and patronage which had been intrusted to them by the Crown. In endeavouring to follow and to support the noble Lord in the statement which he had made, and in following up those charges which a noble Lord (Morpeth) boasted on a former occasion that he had invited, courted, and compelled upon this head, he was far from being inspired by any hope that any exposure or censure, much less any argument or expostulation, could have any salutary influence upon those who profited by the present melancholy condition of that country, or those who had lent themselves as the means and instruments of producing it; but he did rely on the effect of an appeal to the Representatives of England, and upon a statement of grievances and misgovernment, which, if they did not excite commiseration for Ireland, could not fail at least to create alarm and apprehension for themselves. The most obvious and the most alarming of those 722 grievances, because the most immediate and the most perilous in its effects upon the safety of property, and the security of society, was the abuse of the prerogative of mercy by the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland; and frightful as had been the exposure already made to the country of the conduct of that noble Lord in this particular, he felt satisfied that before he resumed his seat he would satisfy the House that they were as yet in comparative ignorance either of the enormity or the extent of these excesses. It would be but wasting the time of the House to allude either to the equitable principles on which this prerogative should be based, or upon those cautious and constitutional guards by which its exercise should be vigilantly restrained; and equally idle would it be to waste words in the demonstration of that which must be obvious to every man of ordinary judgment, namely, the encouragement to crime, the impediments to justice, the contempt of the law, and the general demoralisation which must ensue where this great prerogative of the Crown is wielded as it had been in Ireland, without any regard to the nature of the crime, the feelings of the criminal, or the circumstances of the offence, but solely for the purpose of attaining a bad popularity by an unwise and unjust exhibition of clemency to the unworthy. From the numerous cases which had been forwarded to him from Ireland, from persons whose feelings had been outraged, and whose wrongs had been insulted by this dangerous practice, he would not trouble the House with more than a very few, in order to she rather the character than extent of these unconstitutional proceedings. He held in his hand the facts of a case which had recently occurred in the county of Louth, to the particulars of which he would beg the attention of the House. At the summer assizes of Dundalk last year, a case was tried before the Chief Justice of the King's Bench, in which a criminal information was filed by a person called Benison against another named Magrath, for sending him a challenge and posting him as a coward. Several aggravating circumstances were adduced in evidence against Magrath, who had stated, it appeared, that he had come from Liverpool to shoot Benison, and had been practising with pistols on the voyage with that intention. A conviction ensued, and the defendant Magrath refused either to apologise for his conduct 723 or to pay the costs of the action, a refusal which he repeated when brought before the court for judgment in the Michaelmas terra following; nor would he offer, as it was competent for him to do, a single affidavit or plea in mitigation of his offence. The deliberate judgment of the whole court, including the Chief Justice But he, Judge Burton, and Judges Perrin and Crampton, was a sentence of one month's imprisonment, and 501. fine, with bail to keep the peace. But a very few days afterwards the fine was remitted and the prisoner liberated by the Lord-Lieutenant at the interference, it was stated, of the hon. Baronet, who is Member for the county, and set at large to laugh at the Court of King's Bench, and its farce of justice. Now if there ever was a case which on the very surface repudiated the exercise of the merciful prerogative of the Crown, here was one. Here was an instance in which the criminal avows, before his offence, his intention to commit it, refuses after its attempted perpetration one syllable of apology, offers in its defence no one sentence of regret or palliation; and this determined offender, on the sole interference of his political patron, is at once relieved from the punishment of his fault, assigned after mature deliberation by the assembled judges of the first criminal tribunal in the land. What must be the impression which such an interference of power must make upon the ignorant and the discontented, but that the sentence of that court was tyrannical and unnecessarily cruel, when it is thus unceremoniously abrogated and set aside by the arbitrary interference of the Lord-Lieutenant? Above all, what must be the feelings of the prosecutor in such a case, when after a series of persecutions and alarms endured from the defendant, after all the costs and anxiety of bringing him to justice, he sees the protection of the court of law withdrawn from him by the sole act of the Lord-Lieutenant, and his persecutor again let loose to harass and maltreat him? He (Mr. E. Tennent) would mention to the House but one other case of this character, which had within the last few days been communicated to him by parties whose knowledge of the facts left no doubt upon his mind of their general accuracy. For a series of years Mr. William Armstrong, of Roxborough, in the county of Armagh, was seriously injured and annoyed by various depreda- 724 tions and outrages committed on his property, such as destroying young plantations, digging down of ditches, pulling down gates and piers, turning up potatoes, serving of Rockite notices on the tenants not to pay their rent at the usual time, waylaying three stewards, &c. &c.; and for five years every effort to detect the offenders was unavailing, although a reward of 250l. was one time offered, and other large sums afterwards. On the 28th of June, 1831, the sounding of horns on the tops of the hills announced that some movement was intended, which was represented by some of the country people who came up to the house as a crowd going to Fortrhill, four miles distant, to tear down Dr. Campbell's house and church. In the morning, however, the truth came out, and fifty perches of a very expensive ditch made by Mr. Armstrong was levelled to the ground. On the night of the 19th of September, 1834, the entire crop of oats in stack in four fields was carried away. As soon as Mr. Armstrong heard of this he got search warrants, and found the corn in the farm yards of three persons in the neighbourhood, one of whom was father to a priest. These men were committed to Armagh gaol, and tried at the spring assizes in 1835, convicted and sentenced. The priest's father having confessed, was imprisoned for three months, and the others twelve and fifteen months. These precautions cost Mr. Armstrong much time and money, and he hoped that the example would have served to obtain peace for him. However, in the summer of 1835 Lord Mulgrave made his tour to the north-east of Ireland, and visited Armagh gaol. Without any investigation of the facts, or consulting any one except Turner, the gaoler, he ordered these men to be liberated on the spot. There was no memorial in this case, nor did his Excellency ever ask the names of the prisoners. Cases like these are not a mere realisation of justice—they are an aggravation of crime. The. suffering party is not only adding injury to injury by incurring the toil and the cost of a prosecution which is to end in the immunity of the guilty party, but the criminal himself is encouraged to the commission of offences; since even the dread of detection is overcome by the certainty of impunity. The noble Lord, the Secretary of State for the Home Department, had alluded on a former evening to the practice 725 introduced by the late Attorney-General for Ireland by which the Crown prosecutors were prohibited from exercising the right of setting aside jurors in criminal cases. Of the pernicious effects of this regulation his learned Friend the hon. Member for Bandon (Mr. Jackson) had given on a former occasion a remarkable instance in the case of the murderers of Carter, in the Queen's county. But he held in his hand the details of a case which was, if possible, more atrocious in point of crime than even the case of the murderers of Carter, and more reprehensible as regarded the conduct of the Irish Government. And that the result of that regulation had been to defeat the administration of justice and the execution of the law, by enabling the prisoner to reduce his jury to the number who were favourable to himself, whilst it prohibited the Crown from objecting to or removing a single individual, even with the knowledge of his disposition to obstruct the course of justice, no illustration could be more convincing than the case which he was about to submit to the House. In the case of the King v. M'Carran and others, three men were tried at the Monaghan assizes for the murder of a Protestant, whose offence was his having become tenant to a farm from which a Roman Catholic had been previously ejected by his landlord. The murder was accompanied by circumstances the most barbarous and deliberate; it was perpetrated in the noon-day, and close by a bog in which several hundred persons were working at the time, but who afforded no assistance to the wretched victim. The prisoners were tried three several times; the defence was the usual Irish expedient of an alibi, to which they had abundance of witnesses to swear, and each time the jury separated without coming to a verdict. What in this case was the conduct of the Government? Did they suspend the order which had been issued for abstaining from exercising the right to set aside jurors who were known to be obstructing the course of the law? No. But even supposing that for the sake of the uniformity of practice or any other similar consideration, they abstained from doing so, did they resort to any other expedient within their power, and remove the trial to the King's Bench, where they would have been certain of an uninfluenced jury and an unbiassed 726 decision? Instead of doing this, they made terms with the homicides; they compromised the murder, and permitted the perpetrators to emigrate to America on consideration of their consenting to a plea of guilty of manslaughter, thus inducing the wretches to admit that they had thrice suborned a host of perjured witnesses to prove, by an alibi, the non-commission of a crime which they were then content to plead guilty under the technical quibble of-a name; and the murderers who, but for the order of the Attorney-General, would have expiated their guilt by their lives, were permitted, by the compromise of the Crown, to retire as emigrants to America. He (Mr. E. Tennent) would not go further into these details of individual cages, though he was prepared with others of equal importance, and attended with circumstances of equal aggravation and injustice. But he would come at once to a statement with regard to the extent to which these proceedings of the Lord-Lieutenant had been carried, which he confessed, from its magnitude and startling results, he felt almost reluctant to offer to the House. From the sources which he (Mr. E. Tennent) had drawn the information, he felt authorised in saying that he placed the most implicit reliance on its authenticity and truth; but if the facts which it disclosed be incorrect, the returns which had been recently moved for by his hon. Friend, the Member for Bandon, would serve at once to rectify the error, if such there be. The House was not, he was sure, even after the disclosures which had been already made, prepared to hear the extraordinary announcement, that out of eighty convicted criminals since July last, no less than 420 had been discharged by Lord Mulgrave upon his own individual authority, and without a reference to a judge. And his information likewise authorised him to add, that for several of these the official orders for discharge had not even yet been made out or dispatched from the Castle, although the gaols were delivered and the criminals at liberty. With regard to this Bill, he would ask, with facts such as these before them, whether there be evidence of such a healthy tone of society as could warrant them in increasing the democratic power of the people, or of such a safe and well-regulated system of Government as to authorise us to augment the present patronage of their rulers? That Bill, like every 727 other measure of the present Administration, was so framed as to add in an unprecedented degree to the number of offices of emolument already in the gift of the Irish executive. The law appointments which it would place at their disposal would be immense: recorders for every borough who adopted their corporate system, and chose to have a separate court of quarter session, and stipendiary magistrates for every corporation, who were to be barristers of ten years' standing, and eligible by the sole fiat of the Lord-Lieutenant, together with a number of minor legal appointments, such as revising barristers for the registration of burgesses, and other simular functionaries. Now, looking at the facts which had recently been made public connected with the legal patronage of the present Irish Government, he would ask, was it judicious to think of increasing that patronage of which they had already exhibited so improper an exercise in their appointments of assistant-barristers and others? The noble Lord opposite (John Russell) had declared a few nights back that only one complaint had reached him with regard to their appointment, namely, the case which he alluded to of Mr. Gibson. He (Mr. E. Tennent) was not surprised to hear that assertion of the noble Lord. It only served to prove what might have been surmised from the tone of confidence in which he provoked a discussion relative to the state of Ireland, that he was but imperfectly informed of the real progress of events which were at present occurring in that country. But unfortunately the case of Mr. Gibson was far from being a solitary one; and the commissioning of Mr. Hudson to Carlow—of Mr. Berwick, who had been actually engaged in the notorious manufacture of the Cold-blow-lane voters, who were enfranchised out of gooseberry bushes—of Mr. Kane and of Mr. Fogarty—were but too forcible attestations that such appointments were not casual but systematic, and that a peculiar predilection in politics was the indispensable qualification of the individuals who were to preside over the inferior tribunals of justice, and to superintend the creation of every elective constituency in Ireland. With regard to their proceedings in the latter capacity, the appointment of the Committee which had recently been named to inquire into the creation of fictitious voters under this 728 extraordinary system, would afford an ample opportunity for thorough and searching investigation, and he should only observe upon it now, that should the learned gentleman, who had recently been appointed, continue much longer in office in Ireland, the result of their exertions must inevitably be the utter destruction of the principles of the Reform Act, the 10l. franchise, which had already been well nigh annihilated by their indiscriminate admission of 7l. and 8l. and in some instances, to his own knowledge, of 5l. householders to register; and that motions would be rendered superfluous in the House for universal suffrage, for there would not be an individual in Ireland with a roof over his head, who would not be speedily invested with the franchise. But connected with this subject, the consideration of which was more appropriate to this discussion, was the effect which such exhibitions of legal incompetency and political partisanships must have made upon the minds of the people as regarded the tribunals of justice over which these barristers presided, and which had been emphatically pronounced to be "the poor man's courts of law." The Government seem to forget that whilst they are converting them into powerful expedients for political ascendancy, they are destroying their utility for the wholesome administration of justice. With what confidence could an individual who had been either deprived of a franchise to which he was entitled, or who had been unfairly invested with it—with what confidence could he resort for civil redress to a tribunal which had so lately proved to be tainted with political partiality? And such he knew to be the popular feeling in Ireland at the present moment, and that men go away dissatisfied and suspicious from the decree of a court in civil concerns, which in political matters they have attested to be unsound. Nor is this feeling confined to the lower orders alone, or restricted to the inferior courts of justice in Ireland. The experience of the last two years had served to convince the people of Ireland generally, that their legal appointments had been made, not with a view to the employment of the most competent, or for the benefit of the public, but for the securing of political supporters and the providing for political partisans. It is a remarkable fact, that the Irish bar contained at the present moment a greater number of men of talent and of emi- 729 nence, of matured experience and of unsullied integrity, than ever before graced it at any one former period. He referred to such men as Warren and Pennefather, Blackburne and Smith Bennet, Brewster and Green, and a host of others—men whose profound and intimate knowledge of their profession would do honour to any court of justice in the world. How must it strike the intelligent and discerning portion of the Irish public, to see crowds of such men as these absolutely cast into the shade, and forgotten in neglect whilst their juniors, men whose names were for the first time heard of when they appear in The Gazette as the officers of the Government, were raised over their heads, and installed in every place of distinction or emolument? He was prepared to be told, that the men whom he had named differed so widely in politics from the present Administration, that their employment was impossible. But where, then, he would ask, were the Liberals of eminence at the Irish bar—the Holmes, and the Currys, and the Blakes, who had all their lives been emancipators and Reformers? The reason was obvious; though Liberals, they were not partisans, and whilst their occupation in their profession incapacitated them from active services as agitators, their juniors who had less business and more leisure became the active agents of the movement, and were of course entitled to promotion for their exertions. These were the men who, without talent to recommend them, or experience to entitle them to the confidence of the public, had been "pitch-forked" into every conceivable office, whilst the country has been deprived of the services of men who were their superiors in rank, in intelligence, in knowledge of the law, in every thing, in short, but subserviency and vociferation; and these are the men whom, if this Bill should pass, they should find appointed as the recorders and police magistrates of every Corporation in Ireland. As an illustration of this abuse of legal patronage in other departments, he would allude, but to one example, and that was the case of the Accountant-General of the Court of Chancery in Ireland, which was recently vacant in consequence of the death of a Mr. Boyd, if he remembered aright. This was a situation requiring much experience, as well as singular accuracy, and systematic acquaintance with its duties. And on whom was it bestowed? On a mere 730 youth, a barrister of almost no standing, and a person whose abilities were, till then at least unknown. And what was the secret of his appointment? He was the brother of Mr. Barrington, an eminent Liberal, of whose character no one could speak without respect, but who was as eminent for political influence as for his personal integrity; but this was not the worst of the story. Mr. Barrington had a competitor for the office, a gentleman, named Davis, who had for thirty long years fulfilled its duties as a subordinate officer with zeal and efficiency, and unimpeachable honour. Mr. Davis's claim was supported by all the parties who were really interested—by the masters in Chancery; by the governor and directors of the Bank of Ireland, with whom he had been and would still be in daily communication; and by a memorial from six hundred solicitors, who were the frequenters and clients of the accountant's office. But all was alike in vain. His patrons were not in power; his thirty years' services had not been political, and they went for nothing—"perierunt tempora longi servitii." The claims of the old and faithful servant were overlooked and rejected, and the schoolboy lawyer was installed in the important office, because he was the brother of the liberal solicitor, and the protegé of those who shared the influence, if not the emoluments of office, with the Government. One other illustration of the partial bestowal of patronage in Ireland, and he would dismiss the subject. The noble Lord, the Secretary of State for the Home Department, alluded on a recent occasion to the arrangements introduced by Mr. O'Loghlen, when Attorney-General, for appointing Crown prosecutors to conduct the criminal business at sessions in Ireland. Here, then, was a notable instance, and on a large scale, for the exhibition of a magnanimous impartiality in the selection of such a host of functionaries for every county in Ireland. And what proportion did the House suppose that the Protestants bore to the Roman Catholics in the appointments which were thus filled up. Of the thirty-two individuals appointed, no less than twenty-eight were of the favoured religion. Accident, or a determination not to make any inquiry into religion, might induce the appointment of a number of Roman Catholics in some instances; nor did he, in his heart, believe that religion would be a 731 cause of objection on the part of the Protestants, were the individuals competent to the offices to which they might be appointed; but so vast a proportion as this could scarcely be considered the consequence of an accident, and would require something more than a simple denial to convince him that it was not the result of a cool and deliberate religious partisanship. And here, connected with this question of partisan patronage in Ireland, there was a circumstance of somewhat a personal nature as regarded himself, and which he would beg the indulgence of the House for one moment to allude to. In referring on a recent public occasion at Glasgow, to the partiality which, in all their appointments, the present Irish administration had exhibited for Roman Catholics, he made use of the words that Mr. O'Connell had himself declared—"that the dominant party would prefer the worst Papist in Ireland to the best Protestant in the kingdom," and that the conduct of the Government had, in every instance, corroborated the assertion. To this statement the learned Member took an opportunity of giving an early denial, by declaring to his constituents, in that style of polished courtesy which is so peculiarly his own, that it was "a lie—a Tory lie." So far as any personal feeling could be excited, he regarded this expression, coming from such a quarter, with perfect indifference, either as impugning his own veracity, or as affecting that of Mr. O'Connell. But as he did not consider it compatible with the honour or the character of that House, that one of its Members should, in the face of his constituents and the country, stigmatise another with the brand of unqualified falsehood, and that no explanation should be offered, he was now prepared to vindicate himself from the charge, by producing his authority for the time, the place, the occasion, and the person to whom the learned Member made use of the very words which he had attributed to him, and which he (Mr. O'Connell) thought proper to deny. The words which he used were as he stated before—that Mr. O'Connell had expressly declared that the dominant party in Ireland would prefer "the worst Papist to the best Protestant." In the work which he held in his hand, and which contained the letters addressed by Mr. Feargus O'Connor to Mr. O'Connell, at the twenty-fourth page occurs the following circumstantial 732 and, till he quoted it on the occasion referred to, uncontradicted narrative:—"The only man who had your support upon the contest in 1832, and who was not a repealer, was the Gentleman who was returned with me for the county Cork; the fact of your supporting him struck me as being very strange; and when talking with you upon the subject at the October assizes of Cork, I asked you, how you supported Mr. Barry, who refused to pledge himself upon the repeal question, that being your great test. The conversation was in the court-house, and your reply was, 'Because the people will vote for him, as he will have the priests.' I assured you that such was not the case; that the priests were repealers to a man, and they wanted another repealer; you observed that he was a Catholic, and that the priests would support him upon that account; to which I replied, that I was a Protestant, and they much preferred me. 'No,' said you, 'they'd rather have the worst Papist than the best Protestant.'" This statement of Mr. O'Connor was his (Mr. E. Tennent's) authority for the words he had quoted from it; and whether it was a "lie," or a "Tory lie," he now left to the further adjustment of that hon. Gentleman and the learned Member for Kilkenny. He had to apologise to the House for the length at which he had unwillingly intruded upon their attention; but the grounds on which he objected to the introduction of this measure in the present unhappy and anomalous condition of Ireland were so broad, that he found it impossible to bring his observations within a narrower space. He could not sit down, however, without expressing a feeling of regret that although such ample details had been laid before the House of the state of that country, so much still remained unnoticed and untouched. It is impossible for those who are not living and in habits of associating with the people of Ireland, to conceive the deep and widely-spreading feeling of alarm with which they are at present inspired, or to imagine the myriad of galling circumstances, trifling perhaps individually, and too trivial to be related on an occasion such as this, but all portions of a whole, and contributing to swell the general aggregate of disorganisation and discontent. For years back we have had continually ringing in our ears the cry that Ireland had been ruled by a fac- 733 tion and governed only for a party, but never during the palmiest days of Protestant ascendancy was she so thoroughly ruled by a party, and for a party, as she is at the present moment. Nor is that party less formidable from the fact that their influence is maintained, not by the usual expedients of a Government—not by the operation of their measures and the results of their responsible policy, but by the influence of their arbitrary and uncontrolled authority, and by the perversion of their patronage. Was the House then, he would ask, prepared by passing this Bill, to augment that patronage which had been already so grossly abused, or to add immeasurably to the power of that turbulent and democratic party to whose ambition and whose unconstitutional proceedings the evils of that unfortunate country were attributable? Condemning, as all did, the monopoly of influence which these corporations had so long limited, and entailed upon one denomination in the state, were they about to transfer that monopoly to another party more numerous and more formidable, and in whose hands it would be liable to every objection alleged against its present investment? He trusted that instead of rushing into so reckless and headlong a course, the House would pause and examine dispassionately and calmly the proposition of the noble Lord, the Member for North Lancashire—a proposition to which he gave his most willing support, because he believed it to be calculated not only to remove all abuses and corruptions which were incident to the present system, but to secure the impartial administration of justice, the peace and good government of the towns of Ireland.
§ Viscount Morpeth
As this debate, Sir—as far, at least, as concerns the motion put into your hands—is an exact representation of what took place last year, not only being, as I believe, exact in point of time and in its circumstances, but in the letter in which it was drawn up, I should hardly have thought it necessary to express my opinion fully on the subject. And on this occasion, also, I feel that it is not very necessary for me to go into an examination of the arguments that have been brought forward on the other side after the admirable and impressive speech we have heard from my hon. Friend, the Member for Liskeard (Mr. 734 C. Buller), nor shall I attempt to follow him through the powerful and comprehensive reasoning he displayed. I confess that I was not astonished that the hon. and learned Gentleman who spoke last1 shrunk from attempting to answer him Instead of adverting to any of those principles which must guide us in the decision to which we must come, and to those principles which involve the general tenour of imperial policy, the hon. and learned Gentleman has not only travelled over the details which were so copiously brought before the House in the debate of a fortnight ago, but he has evidently delivered himself of a speech which was intended for that occasion. The hon. and learned Member has gone over again, at immense length and with entire monotony of tone, the whole subject of the alleged abuse of the prerogative of mercy which proved so fruitful a topic on the occasion to which I have alluded. He says he has no doubt that such details are very disagreeable to his Majesty's Ministers. It may be irksome to the House, indeed, to have these details so often dinned into their ears, but any details which may be brought forward I will enter upon to the best of my ability, and I will in no case be deterred from grappling with any charge which may be brought against the Government of which I have the honour to be a Member. When I last addressed the House, I submitted it to the indulgence of the House, that when individual charges are brought forward, it is always impossible at the moment to be prepared with the particular answer without an opportunity of consulting the official documents on the subject; but I have found in every case, after I have had the opportunity of consulting those official documents—the source of authentic information—that the colouring which has been put upon the case, by the parties bringing the charge, has been altogether stripped off, and a satisfactory answer afforded. I endeavoured, to the best of my ability, to travel through most of the charges which were brought forward on the last discussion, by the hon. and learned Member for Bandon. There was one case particularly alluded to, that of Maguire, who was liberated by the Lord-Lieutenant on his visit of inspection to the gaol of Cavan, the man being imprisoned on a charge of shooting at a revenue, officer, a charge which naturally appeared to the House to be one of considerable magnitude. Now, it appeared 735 by a memorial to the Lord-Lieutenant in favour of the prisoner, signed by magistrates of all parties, that it had clearly been shown on the trial, in the opinion of the magistrates, that the shot was not fired with malicious intent, but out of mere bravado—out of mere bravado I repeat; for it was proved on the trial, that the boat from which the prisoner fired the shot was, at the time, about three-quarters of a mile from the shore on which the revenue officer stood. The fair inference, therefore, was, that the attempt was not so grossly malicious as the sneers of hon. Members opposite would seem to infer. Upon this memorial being forwarded to the Lord-Lieutenant, a correspondence took place between the Lord-Lieutenant and Baron Pennefather, who presided at the trial, so far is it from the fact, that, in any case of serious magnitude, the Lord-Lieutenant has acted without having previously the fullest and most unrestrained communication with the judges. The result of the correspondence was, that Baron Pennefather, while he did not recede from his original opinion, in the course of his correspondence declared, that it was a point for the consideration of the Lord-Lieutenant, and the sentence was then commuted from transportation for seven years into imprisonment for two. This, however, was less the point of quarrel set up by the hon. and learned Sergeant, than the subsequent liberation of the man. That liberation took place in consequence of the unanimous representation of the gaoler, the sub-gaoler, and the local inspector. On what grounds? Not because the prisoner had behaved well in his prison, but because these parties declared that they could not answer for the man's life, if he were longer confined. The hon. and learned Member for Belfast has dwelt largely on the case of Magrath, who was liberated from Dundalk gaol. The real circumstances of the case, however, are in no degree such as to warrant the tone of opprobrium which the hon. and learned Member has attempted to throw upon the liberation of this party. The offence charged against him was the attempt to provoke another party to fight a duel. I am told, and I know, that Magrath had strong provocation; and that there were many alleviating circumstances in his case. I do not say that any circumstances would induce me to look lightly at the offence of provoking to a duel, but in reference to 736 this case I will read a memorial sent to the Lord-Lieutenant after the trial, signed by all the jurors who tried the case The memorial runs thus:—We, the undersigned Jurors, who tried the case of The King, at the prosecution of Richard Renison, against Daniel Magrath/ at the last Sessions held at Dundalk for the county of Louth, hereby certify that we did not find the said Daniel Magrath guilty on the first count of the indictment, viz., of writing a letter with intent to provoke the prosecutor to fight a duel, not conceiving that letter to have been written with unfriendly feelings towards the prosecutor. That it was with great hesitation and reluctance we found him guilty on the second count, viz., posting the prosecutor; as, from the evidence laid before us, we conceived the said Daniel Magrath had been hurried into such posting under feelings greatly excited by the conduct of the prosecutor himself. The third count was merely general and formal. We, on the occasion of finding him guilty, recommended him to the mercy of the Court; and having heard that he has been sentenced to a month's imprisonment in the gaol of Kilmainham, to pay a fine of 100l. to the King, and also find security, himself in 500l., and two securities in 250l. each, to keep the peace, we now further recommend him to the clemency of his Excellency the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland.
This memorial was signed by all the jurors. The memorial was also signed by the Lord-Lieutenant of the county, a Member of this House, and by several Magistrates of the county of all parties; and the Lord-Lieutenant, in this instance, considering that the case had been tried at the quarter sessions, did not refer it to any judge. The particulars of the case of Armstrong I have not at the moment by me, and I therefore cannot enter well into the details of the outrage on his ditch, which has been so eloquently dwelt upon; but I must say, I cannot consider this a case of sufficient magnitude to be lugged in head and shoulders in a debate upon the question whether corporate reform shall or shall not be given to Ireland. With respect to the number of prisoners liberated by the Lord-Lieutenant, I shall, with the leave of the hon. and learned Member, wait for the returns moved for by the hon. and learned Sergeant before I go into the point. I have no wish to make any concealment on the 737 subject; and indeed, with the view of making the returns full and complete, I shall move, that in addition to the returns required by the hon. and learned Sergeant there be returns made of all the memorials presented to the Lord-Lieutenant in favour of prisoners. Nothing has been said by the hon. and learned Member who last spoke to impugn the chief grounds on which we rest, to test the policy of the measures which the Government of Ireland have pursued—namely, the general decrease of crime in that country. The noble Member for South Lancashire has told us he has advices from Tipperary not corresponding with the statements we made on the subject. All I can say is, that neither I nor my noble Friend near me have quoted anything but the official documents, and have relied on no more suspicious information than the charges of the juries at assizes, and of assistant barristers at quarter sessions. But the hon. and learned Member for Belfast wishes to renew the attack commenced by the hon. and learned Sergeant on the subject of the rules laid down for setting aside jurors in criminal cases, and alluded to the case of the Carters, on which the hon. and learned Sergeant laid such stress in his attacks on the executive Government of Ireland and its law officers. The expressions used by the hon. and learned Sergeant are these. I should not go into the subject but that I have been dragged into it. The hon. and learned Sergeant says,
"John Godby, Foreman Pat. Gennings John Carrol Nich. Markey Robert Sheckleton Symon Byrne John Chambers John Robinson Pat. Connick Nich. Callan William Skelton William Corbally."He should now mention a matter of fact illustrative of the practice, and it was one which he thought would occasion some surprise in the minds of Englishmen. It was the case of a Protestant family, named Carter, resident in the Queen's county; they were tenants of Lord Maryborough, and, at the time to which he referred, were in possession of a piece of land, for which they paid rent, and to which they were justly entitled. They proceeded to fence it in. An attack was made upon them, and one of those poor men was so severely beaten that he lost his senses, and he believed was at present the inmate of a lunatic asylum. The same parties beat the elder Carter, and put him to death. They were indicted for murder. One of the parties known, or at least very generally believed, to have been assisting in the perpetration of this crime, openly, in the noon-day, was giving his assistance to the prisoners respecting their challenges of the jurors; but the Crown no longer exercised its privilege of putting by, and of course there was no verdict.In answer to this I do not wish to rely upon 738 any other document than a letter which I will read from the gentleman who conducted the case for the Crown, Mr. Tickell, whose name is synonymous with the highest integrity and honour, and whose testimony will perhaps be the more readily received by hon. Gentlemen opposite, from the circumstance that Mr. Tickell is by no means enthusiastic in his attachment to the existing Government. Mr. Tickell's letter runs thus:—10, Clare-street, Feb. 11, 1837.DEAR MASTER OF THE ROLLS,—I have just read the report of Jackson's speech, to which you referred me in your note. I never before heard the slightest imputation against Mr. Dillon (the person to whom I presume he alludes as one who was generally believed to have been a participator in Carter's murder), and I really was exceedingly surprised at the Serjeant's statement in this respect. With respect to Mr. Dillon assisting the prisoners' attorney as to the challenges he should make, all I can say is, that I did not see him do so, and that neither did, as I believe, Mr. Geale: Mr. Dillon belongs to what is called the liberal party; he is a brother-in-law of Mr. Lalor, the late Member for the Queen's County, and either has been called, or intends, I hear, to be called to the bar. The Crown solicitor, acting upon the instructions he received not to set aside individuals on account either of their religion or their party politics, did not object to Mr. Dillon being on the first jury, not being aware of there being any other ground of objection to him. With respect to the second statement of Jackson, that on the succeeding trial a convict, a man found guilty of offences of the same class with those for which the prisoner was indicted, was on the jury, it was discovered, after the jury had been sworn, that a man of the name of Fitzpatrick (an extremely common one in Queen's County) was on it, who had been about three or four years previously convicted of a riot. Some doubts, exist in the mind, I believe, of Mr. Geale whether the juror and the convict were one and the same person. There certainly was a Fitzpatrick indicted in 1833, but his prosecutor was also indicted by the Crown for perjury. At the last trial of those tried for the murder of Mr. Carter, the next of kin, or some person professing to act on their behalf, called on the Crown to abandon the prosecution and to allow them to conduct it, with a view manifestly to the selection of a jury. This we refused to do, and also declined to allow an interference with the conduct of the trial. Mr. Geale, however, stated in court to the attorney of the next of kin, that if he would suggest to him any substantial cause for setting aside any individual he would do so, but that he would not exercise that right merely because it was alleged that a man was of this or that party. Had we acceded to the wishes of the next of 739 kin in this case, we could not have refused a similar request which was made in the very next circuit-town—Carlow; when it was suggested to the Crown solicitor to hand over the prosecution in Sly's case to the next of kin, with the view of thus exerting the Crown's right of setting by. In this latter case there were eleven Protestants on the jury, and I have no hesitation in saying (although the jury was as respectable as could be), that if strong political feelings were to be allowed as a cause for setting by, some of those gentlemen, who were as honourable and as good jurors I firmly believe as could be selected, might also have been objected to. Again, in another trial, which took place in Maryborough, that of Abbot, a Protestant, who was tried for the manslaughter of a Roman Catholic, no juror was set by on the part of the Crown. If, however, the next of kin had been at liberty to exercise that privilege, a jury of Roman Catholics might have been selected, and that, too, in a case in which the prisoner would not have been allowed a single peremptory challenge. The principle laid down by you was acted upon in the fairest and most impartial manner; and I have not the slightest difficulty in stating my belief that it was productive of much more good than evil. Divided and inflamed by party spirit, as many parts of the home circuit were and are, it has struck me with surprise how generally, notwithstanding, the juries have done their duty, I do not believe that a single person was set aside on either of the two last circuits (at least not more than two or three, if there were any), and yet you will find, that whilst the number of convictions in England, as compared to the acquittals, is, I believe, about one in four, the proportion on the home circuit here is the reverse, there being three or four convictions for one acquittal. During the last two circuits we had some party cases, arising out of tithes, In the county of Kildare the jury convicted a rich farmer of the name of Prendergast, of having been concerned in one of these riots. In Meath a similar conviction took place; there were several other instances in which the juries, even in what might be called party cases, honestly discharged their duty.In summer assizes, 1835, there were, I learn from the solicitor, forty-one convictions out of fifty-seven trials on the home circuit.In Lent, 1836, out of one hundred and thirteen trials, there were eighty convictions, and in three cases the juries disagreed.In summer, 1836, out of sixty-seven trials, there were forty-six convictions, and five cases in which the juries could not agree.Now, out of the whole of these cases, I could not fix upon a dozen in which I should have differed from the juries, nor do I recollect half a dozen in which I thought the Crown had any reason to complain. It appears to me, therefore, an unfair way of judging of the operation of a general principle, by selecting for observation a particular case like that of 740 Carter's. Even in this latter one much might be said to justify the view taken of it by some of the jury as to several of the prisoners. The approver on the last trial committed a very important error in identifying one person for another; but granting that a conviction should have taken place, the general results of the system should be looked at, and the evils of it fairly balanced with its advantages.Believe me, dear Master of the Rolls,Always truly yours,E. TICKELL.
§ Mr. Sergeant Jackson
protested that he had not used the expression attributed to him in reference to Mr. Dillon; he had said nothing of the sort.
§ Viscount Morpeth
The expression regarding him that he was generally believed to be a participator in the crime.
§ Mr. Sergeant Jackson
said, that all he said was, that a party in question was giving his advice as to the challenging of jurors.
Viscount Morpeth continued
Let the House consider the summary of the case of the Carters. It has been tried three times. In the two first instances the jury were not agreed. The question then came before his right hon. and learned Friend whether the same parties should be tried a third time. Evidence had transpired to attach suspicion to another party, and the right hon. and learned judge had to say, whether the same persons should be put on their trial again, and whether, if so, the persons against whom suspicions had just arisen should be tried with them. The three prisoners were tried together; and on this third trial an approver committed an error in identifying, the party; yet now, because on this third trial the jury could not find the men guilty, it was stated that justice was not done in Ireland. The hon. and learned Member has quoted other cases, and into the particular circumstances of those cases I shall make it my business to inquire. I was in my place during the whole Session; my right hon. and learned Friend, the Master of the Rolls, then Attorney-General, was also in his place to meet any charge that might be made respecting this very case of Mr. Carter. But not one word was said of it; neither was one word said of Mr. Fogherty's case then. But the great secret of Mr. Fogherty's offence was, the decision which he formed in the case of lodgers, at Belfast. The great outcry raised against him was, that he, in order to try the 741 question, had refused to admit the claims of lodgers that came before him. This case was afterwards argued before the twelve judges, and what was the result? Why, the decision of Mr. Fogherty was held by them to be right. But with what superior purity had hon. Gentlemen opposite valued non-resident freemen. "The point of non-residence need not be mentioned!" And then a law was passed, and a decision of a Committee of the House of Commons came to enforce this virtuous mandate. The hon. and learned Member for Belfast complains of the Irish Government, that they have not given judgeships to Mr. Warren and Mr. Brewster. With that complaint I have had no right to quarrel; nor will I quarrel with the hon. and learned Gentleman's objections to the appointments made to the assistant barrister ships. On both these classes of appointments, the Irish Government were willing fearlessly to rely. But the hon. and learned Gentleman is not satisfied with condemning the decision and appointment of the judges and of the assistant barristers, he even stoops to quarrel with the appointment of the accountant-general to the Court of Chancery. He said that the Government had acted almost from a spirit of corruption, in choosing a friend of their own, instead of appointing Mr. Dawes. No doubt Mr. Dawes is a most exemplary man; but I have yet to learn that it is incumbent upon the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland to promote to the head of any department, a gentleman who has hitherto held a very subordinate office. However, with respect to the appointment of accountant-general to the Court of Chancery, I shall leave the name of Barrington to speak for itself, which will show that it is not upon a very radical principle that that gentleman was appointed. The summary and conclusion of all the charges of the hon. and learned Member for Belfast is, that the House could not intrust with any increase of patronage, a Government which had so shamelessly and in quitoualy exercised that which has already fallen to their charge. Then, what does the hon. and learned Gentleman propose to do? Why he proposes that the House should vote for an amendment, which, if I were to judge by the speech of my noble Friend, who had moved that amendment, and from a similar motion, and the Bill in pursuance of it, of last year, does not in the least degree diminish that patronage; but, on the contrary, tends to give addi- 742 tional patronage to that iniquitous, and shameless, and jobbing Government, to a great extent. Besides the appointment of magistrates, and recorders of corporate towns, this Bill, if his noble Friend succeeded in inducing the House to assent to his amendment, would give the Government the power of naming Commissioners to preside over the distribution of the revenue of all the corporations of Ireland. I must refer to one thing which fell from my noble Friend who opened this discussion, but who, whatever party differences prevail, never acted in a manner of which any one could justly complain. The noble Lord said, that I had endeavoured to fasten upon the members of a former Government of Ireland, the cause of the party feuds and factions that disgraced Ireland. Now I should be very loath to make any charge of so grave a nature, against the Government of which my noble Friend, Lord Anglesea, formed so prominent a part. I wish to state what it was that I said. I believe my words were—that these factious feuds, in some instances, had met with connivance from the neighbouring magistrates, and that they had not always been met with sufficient energy, with a view to their suppression by the central Government of Ireland. That was a widely different thing from saying that the Government of Ireland had connived at those proceedings. Now, with respect to the question immediately before the House, to which I beg to invite the attention of hon. Members; I must, in the first place, observe, that the course has again been resorted to—when the propriety has been urged, of conferring on the people of Ireland those institutions and privileges which have been already conferred on the people of England and of Scotland—of turning round upon the advocates of this policy, by pointing either to some enactment in the laws already existing, or to some measure which is in progress through the House, as inconsistent with that policy. Last year, the Constabulary Bill was referred to as of considerable service in this way. Indeed, it was felt by hon. Members opposite, to be of such use, to show that the Constabulary Bill was an efficient measure for Ireland, while it justified a departure from a similarity of legislation for the two countries, that it was passed with a prodigality of confidence in Ministers through the House, without censure; but it was found necessary afterwards to 743 send it from the other House for curtailment. Well, to-night, of all things, the Poor-law Bill had been put forth as a satisfactory reason against any Corporation Bill, but, as it appears to me, with still more infelicity. It is urged, that a perfect identity of legislation is not observed with respect to the Poor-law Bill. The right hon. Member for Tamworth adopted this argument on a late occasion, and asked, "Do you mean to apply the same principles to Ireland with respect to the Poor-laws? It is the law of England, and the principle of the English Poor-laws, that every person who is lame or blind, or old or impotent, has a right to demand pecuniary relief. That is the principle of the law of England, and do you mean to adopt that principle in its full extent in Ireland? I know many who clamoured for identity of legislation, and assailed us with the charge of insult, that shrunk from it when the Poor-laws came into consideration." Now, what is the principle which his Majesty's Government proposes to establish with respect to a Poor-law Bill for Ireland? If this point be carefully looked into, the principle of that Bill will be found to bear considerable analogy to the principle of the Municipal Bill then under discussion. The Poor-law Bill professes to establish a large electoral body, occupying tenements of the annual "value of 5l., by whom a select representative body will be chosen for the purpose of administering the law discreetly, and with equity, and to manage the local funds for the benefit of the general body. The Corporate Reform Bill proposes also to establish a large electoral body, possessing the same identical annual qualification of 5l., by whom a select representative body is to be chosen, for the purpose of administering the local and general fund discreetly and economically for the benefit of the general body. Thus far, in detail and mode, the one of the two measures ran very nearly all fours. But, granting that there is some variety in the enactments of the Poor-law system already established in England, and those which are contemplated for Ireland—and I own, that the surprise to me is, that any Bill can be contemplated for Ireland, which contains so little difference from the law of England; but, granting that some difference does exist, the House must not forget, that in dealing with a Poor-law, we are dealing with what has long been the subject of law in one coun- 744 try, but which has never been the subject of law in the other; while in dealing with corporations, we are not dealing with what has been long familiar to one country, and utterly unknown to the other, but we are dealing with what has been long standing institutions in both countries; and that we are now only seeking to apply similar principles to those institutions in Ireland, which have already been applied to the corporate institutions in England, by removing the corruptions which have crept into them, and purifying them from analogous, but far more exaggerated, abuses. To do this, seems to me natural, reasonable, and just; to refuse to do it see most me to be most unjust, and especially when that refusal is grounded upon the pretext of inferiority and inability. Such a course is so inconsistent with justice, that it seems almost to amount to frenzy. There is one mode of objection which, whether prominently put forward in speeches on the other side, or running through them in a stealthy under-current, will be found still to pervade and colour them all, which I cannot in the slightest degree comprehend;—that is, that if the House should take this or that course, they will be contributing to the influence and preponderance of Roman Catholic religion over the Irish nation. I will not say that the great bulk of the persons of property, but certainly the great majority of the humbler and middle classes of the people of Ireland are Roman Catholics; and those classes are ascending in the scale of preponderance every year. They are going on, one class above another, in a gradual progression of improvement. It is on this account, I am kindly striving to elevate the Catholics in the social scale of citizenship, rather than persecute them. This is the whole staple of the argument of the hon. Member for Cavan's speech; to much of which he gave his entire concurrence. Catholic influence has found its way in all those departments of industry in which the humbler and middling classes more especially are wont to move. Hence it is that Catholic schools and Catholic chapels are rising up in every corner of the land. And can the House grudge the Catholics this rapid advancement, or finding them making it, can they refuse them a participation in the offices of their local government? In England the official functions are mostly in the hands of members of the Established Church, be- 745 cause the most wealthy, the most prominent, and numerically, the greatest portion of the community are of that persuasion. They enjoy those offices without, as far as I am aware, giving ground of any real umbrage to others. I hope that nothing now remains to prevent their Dissenting brethren from taking their appropriate share of those offices and honours. So in Scotland, the great majority of offices is in the hands of Presbyterians. But Ireland is, though I will not quarrel as to what degree, in a considerable degree, Catholics; therefore, if they remain in their natural, and because natural, their most healthy state, the Catholics will be found in greater abundance in all those departments which are open to Catholic energy and enterprise, and attainable by habits of activity and of business. Whether the Roman Catholic faith and doctrine, as such, are to lose or gain ground, is a question dependent upon higher arbitriment than that of human legislation. It only depends upon us to do justly and fairly by all. Therefore, as far as exclusion or eligibility to civil offices or emoluments is concerned with the Catholic religion, as such, that House has nothing whatever to do. Let each hold firmly to his own opinion upon that subject, and seek only that influence and predominance which reason and justice alone sanction. With respect to this night's debate, I do not consider that there has been much novelty of argument advanced. There was one striking and startling argument, indeed, which I must own, very much surprised me, and still more so as coming from the right hon. Member for Tamworth, and which has been confirmed by my noble Friend who has moved the amendment. I mean the ground, now for the first time taken, or at least for the first time set forth, whereon to rest the denial of corporate government and privileges to the people of Ireland, namely, that it may be found prejudicial to, and affect the interests of the Established Church. Do we hear this from the friends of the Church, from the champions of the Establishment? Is the Church strong enough, is she deeply rooted enough in the veneration of the Irish people, is she congenial enough to their habits and their affections, is she so clear from all ground of offence, that you can afford to make her the scapegoat against every charge,1 the bulwark against every attack? Is her structure so 746 sound, or her fabric so firm and so impregnable, that you can call together all the scattered elements of enmity to select her out as a mark, and to assail her portholes? What is the state of the case? The bulk of the Irish people, whether with right reason or not, consider the denial of corporate government and privileges to them, after they have been conceded to England and Scotland, as a grievous injury; and they are in a most excited and inflamed state, on account of the mode in which they conceive that grievance inflicted on them, and the ground on which they conceive it to rest. What, on the other hand, is the state of the Church? On totally distinct grounds, it has already become obnoxious and unpopular, and it is to a great degree, threatened and exposed, harassed and impoverished. Her revenues are but scantily paid; and her ministers in many instances, most painfully destitute. And what in this case do the hon. Gentlemen opposite propose to do to help to raise her head to restore her, by increased forbearance, to favour? Why, they virtually tell the Irish people, "Most probably it would have been thought right to give you Municipal Corporations. The natural presumption (said the right hon. Baronet) would have been to confer on you what has already been conferred upon the people of England and Scotland. There is considerable presumption in favour of a municipal law for Ireland, on account of the antiquity and the simplicity of the institution." But after admitting this natural presumption to exist, the right hon. Baronet steps in and says—"This must not, however, be carried into effect, because the interests of the Church may be implicated and prejudiced, and the current of equal legislation, if applied to the Corporations of Ireland, may be found in some collateral manner to affect the full, and fair, and round, proportions of the Church Establishment, and therefore the people of Ireland must not have Municipal Corporations." They are not to choose their own chief magistrates; their town-councils, are not to meet to discuss and legislate for their own minute local affairs; not because these bodies, as far as I am aware, can directly affect the interest of a single clergyman, much less of the Church itself, but because the right hon. Baronet fears the moral contagion of that very principle of equal law, and responsibility, and self- 747 government, which would call those municipal bodies into being, would weaken the foundations of that other great corporate body the Church—to the rottenness of which he and his Friends are thus adducing the foremost and most formidable testimony, and to the hostility to which they are themselves administering the most natural, reasonable, and, under the circumstances, I must say, justifiable, and even inevitable feelings. My Friends and myself have been reproached with being the enemies of the Church; but we have n ever carried our enmity to such a fatal pitch, as to hold out, that to save the Church we must demolish the Corporations of Ireland; that the only tenure of her prolonged existence is to make her rear her naked front over the raised, and stark, and denuded tenantry; and the only ground of her security is the denial of equal rights, and the destruction of free institutions.
said, that it had been his intention undoubtedly not to have offered any observations to the House in the course of this evening; feeling, in the first place, that the general impression on the part of the House was, that this debate must necessarily be prolonged, and feeling, also, that the course which the debate had taken this evening, so far as he had heard it, was a course which rather led into those details and minutiae which were properly discussed by those hon. Gentlemen alone on one side and the other, who were conversant with the facts, and acquainted with the details which had reference to Ireland; and because the speech of his noble Friend, until indeed that extraordinary conclusion to which he came, was rather a reply to the details, or to a small portion of the details, brought forward upon the challenge of Ministers themselves by the learned Sergeant (Mr. Jackson) behind him. But the conclusion o, his noble Friend's speech rested the case upon broader, upon plainer, upon more intelligible grounds, and upon those grounds he avowed—grounds connected with the maintenance and security of the Protestant religion in Ireland—that fearless of the scorn, and fearless of the contumely, with which the very name of a Protestant appeared to be received upon the other side of the House, fearless of any such eflections, and not with standing the taunts which had fallen from his noble Friend against those who desired with him 748 to oppose this Bill on such grounds, he would rest one main, simple, and intelligible objection to this measure, on the ground that it was intended and calculated to be the destruction of the Protestant faith. Gentlemen opposite put forth professions that they were friendly to the Church, that they desired to support her influence, that they desired to extend her power, that they desired to lay more deeply and more solidly her foundations, and to strengthen her claims to the reverence and affection of the people; and yet his noble Friend, the Secretary for Ireland, in the beginning of his speech, said, that for him, the Minister of the Crown, it was unnecessary to enter upon the broad question, since he subscribed so entirely to the doctrines advanced by his hon. Friend, the Member for Liskeard. [Viscount Morpeth: I said not one word about subscribing to his doctrines.] He hoped, then, that he had misinterpreted the opinions of his noble Friend, but when he found his noble Friend the Secretary for Ireland, declaring in the commencement of his speech that it was unnecessary for him to enter fully into the main question, after the comprehensive view of the subject taken by his hon. Friend the Member for Liskeard, it was surely no extraordinary want of charity, and he thought it was no extraordinary dulness of perception, if that expression did convey to his mind and to the House an accordance of sentiment between the Gentleman who took that comprehensive view, and the Gentleman who slated that, his hon. Friend having taken it, it was unnecessary for him to enter fully into the question. But if he did not take that view of the matter, and did not rest upon it, he should turn to the conclusion of his noble Friend's speech. What was the topic on which his noble Friend enlarged at the end of his speech? The rottenness of the Established Church. [Viscount Morpeth again expressed dissent.] Why it appeared extremely difficult to discover the true interpretation of his noble Friend's speech. He was afraid that his noble Friend shared with the rest of his Majesty's Government that delusion of not being able to understand their own sentiments. [Interruption.] "Sir," said the noble Lord, "if it is the pleasure of the House that this debate should now con de, I am ready to sit down, and resume at another time; but if it be the pleasure of the House that I should 749 continue, I hope to meet with that forbearance and indulgence which is befitting1 a legislative assembly. I maintain that my noble Friend shares in that delusion in which Ministers appear to be plunged with regard to this question, and the affairs of Ireland generally. They mistake their own position, notwithstanding the warnings alike of friends and opponents, and go blindly burrowing on with a set of measures which every human being but themselves, on one side and the other, can see with half an eye must lead to results directly the reverse of those which they anticipate. In this respect, Sir, they resemble those madmen whom all the world but themselves think to be insane, yet who think themselves in the enjoyment of a mind perfectly sound and unimpaired. They say, that we are perfectly blind, and that we dont see to what their measures tend. It is true, they say, that those who support, and those who oppose us, both agree in that to which they think our measures will lead; but both parties are quite wrong—they are both mistaken. Those who oppose us think that we want to destroy the Church, and therefore oppose us, no doubt honourably and conscientiously; those who support us think we want to destroy the church, and therefore they support us, no doubt, honourably and conscientiously. We agree with our opponents in their wish to preserve and augment the influence of the Church, but we agree with them on this point because we consider that those very measures, from which supporters and opponents alike expect the destruction of the Church, will be the salvation of the Church. I say, then, that with regard to this question, I am borne out in asserting that my noble Friend and his Majesty's Government miscalculate the position in which they stand. They profess to have one object in view, and their opponents profess to have the same object. Their supporters profess to aim at a directly opposite object; and yet Ministers propose to us to adopt measures, which those who are most anxious to obtain them advocate on grounds directly opposite to those which they pretend to entertain. What is the conclusion to be drawn from this? That both the great parties are equally wrong; that nine out of ten men in this House, and out of it, are grossly deceived with regard to the effect of the measures they submit to us; and that that small, that miserable, though monopolizing, 750 minority, is really the only body in the House of Commons, in the House of Lords, or in the country, which clearly see their way before them!I have a great respect for many hon. Gentlemen opposite, but I cannot, in defiance of the opinion of every clear-sighted man, give them credit for being the only acute and clear-sighted men in England. I am induced to suspect that they are blindly following, or rather are being blindly driven, along a path of which they do not see the end; while those who very clearly do see it, are exulting in the Cimmerian darkness in which they are involved. The very significant expression used by the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny, at a very Radical meeting the other day, serves as a very good index to the opinions which are held by their friends on this head. The hon. and learned Member gave this most judicious advice to the Radical audience whom he addressed—"If you mean to kick out the Whigs, kick them out in God's name; I don't care, but don't do it till they have given me the Irish Municipal Bill." I tell you, the hon. Member did use that language; he really did. But why be surprised at it? That is language to which my right hon. Friend is very well used from the hon. and learned Gentleman—I do not mean personally—as well as all the rest of his Majesty's Government. The Radicals are continually saying, "Let these poor miserable Whigs go on till they have passed our measures; push them on to a certain point, and then kick them out." We are told that it is no argument against any measure, to say, that the passing of it may lead to the enactment of ulterior measures. I admit that that is no argument against a measure if it be good in itself, and that we ought not to be deterred by the fear of consequences, or the apprehension that ulterior concessions will be demanded, from giving that which is just and not dangerous. I admit that to be no argument; but I say it is a sound and substantive argument against a measure if you are told by your own friends that they support it with the certainty of attaining, through its instrumentality, the ulterior objects they have in view—objects which every man in this House knows, and which they do not themselves conceal, to be the overthrow of the established institutions of the country; and I will tell my noble Friend in addition, when they 751 have accomplished that, the overthrow of Ministers themselves. The hon. Member for Kilkenny has not left us very much in the dark on this point. I think, at all events, that you will not dispute his acute-ness, his knowledge, of the state of Ireland, and of the power of the various levers which may be called into action for effecting his objects. On these points, I think, we are all agreed; and I think no one will now be inclined to dispute the power he exercises in the Government. I think the House cannot have forgotten that most significant passage quoted the other day from a very recent speech of his—"Give me municipal reform, and with that I will effect all the rest." What is my answer? I say I agree with the hon. Member; in the present state of Ireland I believe he would; and therefore—and you have yourselves to blame for the conclusion to which I am forced to come—3and therefore, with my consent, this measure of municipal reform you shall not have. The hon. and learned Gentleman says he will have it. Sir, I do not make this declaration in the name of a person so insignificant and so humble as myself, but I venture to say, in the name of the House, in the name of the Parliament, in the name of the nation, that the line which is now taken by the General or National Association of Ireland, is the most formidable obstacle to the passing of this Bill; and I tell them, that so far from being intimidated by their threats, so far from being led to concede to clamour that which we would not give to justice [great cheering]; I understand these cheers; and your cheers would signify, that we do deny to justice what we would concede to violence; but I tell you, that the louder the demand, and the more terrible the intimidation, the more determined will the people of England be that it shall not be granted. But now with regard to this much-lauded Corporate Reform—this beautiful pretence on which the cozening cry of justice to Ireland is to be grounded—this new sine quâ non; where is your evidence of the great fitness of society in Ireland for its reception, or of the great anxiety of the people of Ireland to obtain it? At the end of the last Session of Parliament, after we had dared to doubt the propriety of passing it, we were told that we should be overwhelmed with petitions from every quarter of Ireland expressive of the indignation of the people 752 of their sense of insult of their feeling of intolerable injury and degradation. Why, what petitions have we had? How many? I took the trouble myself to ascertain the number, and it appears by the votes of the House, that thirty-four petitions have been presented in favour of Corporate Reform. On the 8th of February three were presented; on the 13th, five; and in order to get up even this number, they must couple with that a prayer for something more popular. On the 13th, five were presented, and with them, from the same places, five accompanying petitions against tithes and in favour of the ballot. On the 14th two were presented in favour of Corporate Reform, accompanied by two for the abolition of tithes, and two for the ballot. On the 16th, fourteen petitions were presented for corporate reform, thirteen for the abolition of tithes, and twelve for vote by ballot. And on last evening eleven for corporate reform, with, in this instance, three only for the abolition of tithes, and five for the ballot. Whether more are coming or not, I do not know, and do not much care; for these petitions are got up at simultaneous meetings, where I have not the least doubt on earth, with all my respect for the right of petitioning, that if it were the orders of the General Association to petition Parliament to cut my head off my shoulders without the intervention of judge or jury, just as many signatures would be obtained. With regard to this alleged great anxiety for corporate reform, whence do the petitions come? From the towns which are to benefit by the measure? No. We have a petition from the trades of Dublin; another from Kilkenny; and, what with the aid of the ballot and tithes, and the heat of the late election, another from Longford, another from Monaghan, and another from the very important town of Enniscorthy. These are the only towns upon which this inestimable privilege is to be conferred, and which, we are told, are to be insulted by withholding these invaluable rights, and to testify every feeling of indignation at the outrage offered to them. These five are the only towns that asked you to give them corporate reform; and four or five important towns, as we have been reminded by the hon. Member for Belfast this evening, upon whom you propose to confer this inestimable benefit; 753 implore you, for God's sake, to let them alone. It is very difficult to deal with such a question as this, where we are not allowed to rest the issue upon facts, but upon feelings, passions, and imagined insults. We need not think it extraordinary that the General Association, with their emissaries, with their pacificators, with the power they have in every parish of Ireland among the Roman Catholics, pretending, nakedly, that Parliament has declared them unfit to be intrusted with the rights of Englishmen, should be able to stimulate a population who know nothing of the real facts of the case so set before them, to repel the supposed insult, and to stand forth, and say, that they are as fit to be intrusted with civil privileges as their countrymen of England. But that is not the ground on which we do rest, or on which we ever have rested, the question. The question is not whether an Irishman be himself fit or unfit to exercise civil privileges, but it is this—is the state of Ireland at this moment so analogous, or so similar to the state of England in every respect, that it shall follow as a conclusion, on which no controversy can be raised, that the same institutions in Ireland will produce the same effect as in England? Surely, Sir, this is a question which may be argued without insult to Ireland, without injury, without offence. I put it to His Majesty's Government, who brought forward the other day a question of great importance to Ireland, of deep, of vital importance, though a question which the General Association of Ireland think ought to be postponed to this or that canvassing, or this or that election in Ireland—I mean the proposa of a legal provision for the poor of that country,—I ask the Government whether they find upon this side of the House any disposition to treat with insult, to treat with enmity, to treat with injustice, to treat as a matter of party feeling, the just claims, the rights, the miseries of the people of Ireland? I ask them whether, when a measure of real relief is brought forward, they find more readiness on the other side of the House than on this, to deal with the question, to sift it thoroughly, to consider it minutely in all its relations and details, to deal with it, not with reference to any party, but with reference to the whole state of Ireland, to inquire what advantage it will confer on Ireland, to inquire what similarity between the 754 laws of the two countries may be preserved, and what distinctions must be drawn? And why should we be hindered by this Association, unless they are determined to make it a party question, and a party question only, why should we be debarred from taking the same broad view of the subject which we took on the Poor-law question, and which I, for one, am resolved to take on every question that is proposed for our consideration? But I will not pretend that I do not mix up with the question a consideration of the relative situation of Protestant and Catholic. I say I will not put forward such a pretence, for I have regard to these considerations. And why? Because the state of Ireland is shown to be such that the bulk of the inhabitants are of the one religion, and the minority of the other; that the higher classes are ranked with the minority, and the lower with the majority; that, unhappily, no question can be raised, no debate can take place, no election can occur in any town without raising the question of Protestant ascendancy or Catholic ascendancy. For it is no question of equality now, no question of community of civil privileges; the question presents itself to our deliberation in an open, simple, undisguised aspect: it is this—Will you take that line which will tend to maintain the ascendancy of the Protest not church, or that line which will tend a to demolish the Protestant church? And, unhappily, we are compelled so to consider every question which, practically speaking, we can discuss on Irish affairs, that we cannot shake off the religious question, or look at it without regard to Catholic or Protestant. But, I ask, have the Protestants no claim to our consideration? You say they are in the minority; you cannot help admitting that the earnest endeavour of the party which now holds sway in Ireland will be directed to the advancement of Catholic interests, and the discouragement of Protestantism, and that their leading object is the destruction of the Protestant church; and they tell you themselves that they consider this measure, and mean to use it, as their great instrument for effecting that object—for securing the extermination of the Protestant church. Let us meet this question fairly and openly: dare the Government answer my challenge? They say their measures will benefit the Church; but I tell them they will overturn 755 it. I see nothing in their measures which will tend to secure the Church. I see much in them which by the confession of all parties, will ensure its destruction. But what is the course they pursue with regard to the Bill before us? I will not at this late hour enter into the details of the measure, or weary the House by occupying it with minor points. I wish to put the question upon this plain, simple, intelligible ground, a ground which I think the people of England, Scotland, and Ireland will clearly understand,—the ground of its being a leading step to the object which the supporters of Administration contemplate, which we at least desire to shun, but to which I see Government approaching day by day, and hour by hour. We are called upon in the same paragraph of his Majesty's Speech, delivered at the opening of this Session, to turn our attention to three important questions bearing on the state of Ireland—the Municipal Corporation question, the Church question, and the Poor-law question. I do not know what the views of Government may be, but I say distinctly that the settlement of the Church question would, in my mind, remove out of the way a great stumbling-block to the settlement of the corporation question—an obstacle which, as long as it remains in its present state, must render the settlement of that question hopeless. I say, if you desire to introduce the principle of uniformity of institutions into Ireland, the settlement of the poor-law question ought to precede the consideration of corporate reform. What is the basis of the qualification in England? A certain payment to the poor-rates continued for a period of three years. What is the qualification in Ireland? The occupancy of a 51. House, and for a term of six months only. You who ask for identity of principle refuse us identity of principle. There is no more identity of principle between the measure of corporate reform in operation in England and that which is proposed for Ireland, than there would be between Lord Grey's plan of reform and a plan which embraced universal suffrage. Lord Grey introduced a measure of Parliamentary Reform, the basis of which was popular control. What is the basis on which a plan for universal suffrage must rest? Popular control. Yet if any one who compared these questions were to tell you that they rested on the same principle of popular control, he would be 756 laughed at-as a fool by every sensible man This is exactly the rationale of the conduct of Government [interruption]. The right hon. Gentleman forgets the great improvements that have taken place in the acoustics of the House. The plan of Dr. Reid, which has been laid before us this morning, and which I have had the curiosity to read, will enlighten him on the subject. The learned doctor anticipates that not only will the speaker be distinctly audible, but even the whispered conversation so often superior to the voice of the orator will strike the ear so clearly that hon. members will be obliged to acquire the art of modulating the intonations of their voice to the required degree of dulcet softness. Let me hope the right hon. Gentleman will profit by this hint. This case in point shows on a small scale the necessity of bending to altered circumstances, and may instruct us that that will be out of place this year which would have been applicable last Session. I say this bears on my argument The case is precisely the same. When Government proposed to legislate on the same principle now which they employed last Session, they should have regard to the altered circumstances of the country and not expose themselves to the ridicule of ninety-nine out of one hundred of their supporters, by proposing a measure out of a vain desire for identity of legislation, which will lead to measures which they profess to deprecate. I said that I would not trespass long on the time of the House; I shall but repeat that I wish to rest my opposition to this Bill, and my support to the instruction to the Committee which my noble Friend has moved upon this ground, that admitting the abuses of the present corporate system, not desirous of defending the abuses of that system, we are prepared to go every length with you in doing away with those abuses; but we do not think that there is anything in the circumstances in which Ireland is this year placed which should encourage us to consider it less dangerous to transfer the monopoly from one party to another, or which should induce us at this time and under these circumstances, to assent to your measure. We feel that we cannot agree to it till the Church question is settled—till that Church which we are determined to protect is placed upon such a footing as that it shall be secured from violence, from fraud, and from outrage, and confirmed in its revenues. And till equal justice shall be done to those who 757 profess her doctrines and adhere to her creed with all others of his Majesty's subjects, we will not place in the hands of a powerful body—a body the more powerful because it is organised and united—because it possesses effectual means for diffusing its influence over the whole of Ireland—because it is fostered, protected, encouraged, and cherished by his Majesty's Government—we will not give to that body the power of effecting an object which we deprecate, and which they assure us they can effect by means of this Bill—a power which we may be assured will be most unscrupulously exercised. We will not, in the vain hope of producing peace, consent to that which all parties agree will produce no peace. We will not grant that which you ask on the ground of conciliation. When every prospect of conciliation is shut out, we will not give fresh vantage ground to our adversaries, but we will take such a line, and exhibit such a demeanour, as shall convince you, judge as you will, as shall convince the people of this country, that in refusing to apply the remedy proposed to acknowledged grievances, we are actuated by no wish to uphold ancient abuses—that we wish to eradicate them root and branch, that we wish to abolish every law that tends to violate the equality of civil rights. But until we see that equality practically secured, we will not, under the abused name of equality sanction a more odious monopoly, a more detestable tyranny, than you exclude.
§ Debate adjourned.