§ Mr. Sergeant Jackson
proceeded to observe, that he should have been glad to have been spared the necessity of again intruding upon the patience of the House, as he had on a former occasion partaken largely of its indulgence; but he trusted the House would be of opinion that the allusions which had last night been made to him, in the speech of the noble Lord on the opposite benches (Morpeth) had rendered it imperative upon him to present himself to its notice, in order that he might justify the statements he had made when he last addressed them, and vindicate the conduct of those with whom he had had the honour to act. He had not voluntarily put himself forward in a former debate, but he had risen on account of observations which fell from the noble Lord, the Home Secretary, on that occasion, in order to justify the resolutions, and more especially the 13th resolution, which had been passed at the Protestant meeting in Dublin. The noble Lord had himself thrown down the gauntlet, and stated, that he was prepared to defend the conduct of the Irish Government, which was impugned, thus identifying himself with the acts of that Government. He, therefore, having taken an active part in the proceedings of the Protestant meeting in question, had thought it his duty to come forward in justification of those proceedings, with which the noble Lord had been pleased to find fault. The learned Sergeant, after complaining that he and the 774 other Irish Members, who thought with him had been taken by surprise by the noble Lord having provoked a discussion on the first introduction of the Bill, and that they had thereby been prevented from getting over from Ireland the information they wished to procure, in sufficient time to make use of it satisfactorily on that occasion, said, that he had then brought charges against the Lord-Lieutenant, which charges he would now repeat—and of which no one single fact had since been successfully impugned. Which of those charges had the noble Lord attempted to refute? Had the noble Lord affected to deny the grave and solemn charge that the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland had selected for promotion to an elevated station, a gentleman who was a member of the National Association? That circumstance comprised the first charge against the Lord-Lieutenant, and the noble Lord had admitted the fact to be true. Had it been denied that Mr. Cassidy had been appointed a magistrate of the Queen's county after having resisted the payment of his rates? He was prepared to make good that assertion, and would call upon his hon. Friend, the Member for the Queen's county, to come forward and move for copies of the correspondence between the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, and the Lord-Lieutenant of the county in question, as a proof of the fact that Mr. Cassidy was not considered a fit person for a magisterial appointment by the Lord-Lieutenant of his county. Another charge which he had brought against the noble Lord at the head of the Irish Government was, that in the exercise of the Royal prerogative of mercy, that noble Lord had made a wholesale delivery of the prisoners confined in the different gaols in that country. Had that charge been disproved? He had been furnished with returns, in connexion with that subject, from three counties in Ireland, which fully justified him in making the charges he had brought forward. The noble Lord had last night contented himself with selecting a particular case, in order to show that the prerogative of mercy had been exercised in a proper manner; but did that amount either to a vindication or denial of the fact, that the Lord-Lieutenant had acted in these matters, without consulting the Attorney-General, and the other legal functionaries to whom it was usual in such cases to make application? 775 He had stated the case of a person of the name of Macnamara having seized a voter and imprisoned him for the purpose of preventing him from voting during an election. The Lord-Lieutenant had relieved Macnamara from imprisonment for that offence. That charge had not only not been denied, but had not even been adverted to in the remotest manner. Had the noble Lord then succeeded in overthrowing any one of those charges, which, on a former occasion, he had brought forward agains the Lord-Lieutenant? The noble Lord had, last night, made a most able, ingenious, and efficient speech—a speech which obtained great applause, and yet no more than it deserved; but it contained no answer to the accusations and charges he had brought forward against the Irish Government, although one of the best speeches he had ever heard in support of the cause which the noble Lord advocated. In six counties in Ireland, which he was prepared to name, no fewer than 145 individuals had been discharged from gaol who were under sentence of imprisonment for every sort of crime. But all that the noble Lord could say in reply to that statement was, that those individuals had been liberated upon the recommendation of the governors of the gaols, whom he was in the habit of hearing termed gaolers. The noble Lord, in his speech of last night, had gone through several of the cases which had been mentioned, and said he "would strip them of the colouring," given to them. Now, before he sat down, he would give the noble Lord an opportunity of examining those cases more minutely. The noble Lord had last night come down to the House without his papers, and in that respect certainly might have laboured under some little disadvantage; but the noble Lord had also had a fortnight to investigate the cases he had drawn his attention to when he last addressed the House upon this question, and he could not now plead that he was not prepared to meet the charges they contained. Now, with regard to those cases, the noble Lord had last night selected that of an individual named Maguire, who was liberated by the Lord-Lieutenant when he inspected the gaol at Cavan, and who had been sentenced to transportation, as the noble Lord himself admitted. He was not, before the noble Lord's own admission, aware of that fact. In this case the 776 Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland made an application to Baron Pennefather, the experienced and considerate Judge before whom the prisoner was tried; but that learned Judge, a merciful one as he notoriously was, did not consider him worthy of the exercise of the royal prerogative in his favour. Notwithstanding this, however, the sentence of transportation was commuted, and soon afterwards he was relieved from imprisonment altogether. But what was the answer of the noble Lord opposite to this charge? Why, that all the magistrates of the county concurred in recommending his discharge from prison, "as he had only fired the shot," which he was found guilty of firing "out of bravado, and was too far off to do any harm." Now, here was the verdict of a jury wholly superseded, and of a jury which had decided as to the felonious character of the firing—who had declared it to be a firing with a malicious intent. Here was a case where the Judge who tried the prisoner, and who, if he had chosen, might himself have corrected the verdict—had assured Lord Mulgrave that it was not a proper one for the exercise of mercy. But it was all an idle story—and here, let him observe, that he meant nothing personally offensive to the noble Lord; it was neither his habit nor his disposition to do so; and he appealed to the House whether he had too personally reflected upon a single human being. He had, however, been accused in one quarter of having maligned and slandered Mr. Pigot and Mr. Tighe. He had been accused of speaking of a "person" of the name of Tighe, whereas he had spoken of a "gentleman" of that name. But the newspapers which advocated the principles of hon. Gentlemen opposite sometimes found it convenient to make misrepresentations. He could not have slandered Mr. Tighe, for he was a gentleman of whom he had no personal knowledge whatever. He had been accused also of speaking with disrespect of Lady Mulgrave. But what had he done? It had been impossible for him to refer to the circumstances of a case in Londonderry, wherein the prerogative of mercy had been exercised, without at the same time referring to the letter of Lady Mulgrave to the wife of the prisoner, who was on that occasion liberated. He would not, however, hesitate in saying that in writing that letter he was sure Lady Mul- 777 grave was actuated by the most humane and the kindest feelings. It was very convenient for hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House, when stubborn facts could not be rebutted, to get up something which appealed to public feeling. But let him return to the case of Maguire. Had the noble Lord opposite attempted to say, that the sentence of transportation had been got rid of by the reference to the learned Judge who tried him? It was said that the gaolers would not be answerable for his living unless he were set free. But why had there been no reference to the medical visitors of the gaol? Instead of that, all they had was the testimony of the gaoler, the under-gaoler, and the inspector. That was no answer to the charge. The main body of the charge was, that the Lord-Lieutenant ought not to have interfered in the matter without reference to the tribunal before whom the prisoner was tried. The hon. Member for Belfast had last night brought forward the case of an individual of the name of Macgrath. What was the reply of the noble Lord in that case? The noble Lord said he was recommended to pardon by the jury. Was there a particle of justice or justification in it? Did it not show the heedless and careless manner in which Lord Mulgrave exercised that delicate and important office of the Crown, the prerogative of mercy? It was the bounden duty of the Lord-Lieutenant in this case, as it was in every other, to ascertain before what Judge" the individual had been tried. It was no answer to say he did not know, when, upon making proper inquiry, he could not have failed to learn. He recollected that the noble Lord, the Home Secretary, had made a similar excuse with regard to a case which occurred in Londonderry, wherein both Catholics and Protestants were concerned, and where the former had been sentenced to a shorter imprisonment than the latter. In that case the noble Lord stated, that what was done was the result of the recommendation of the jury; but he had been given to understand that some of the jury had disavowed having put their names to that recommendation. But, supposing that document to be quite perfect, he did not know how the use of it by the noble Lord was any answer to the statement which he had brought forward. Was the noble Lord so ignorant of the state of Ireland as to think the recommenda- 778 tion of a jury, under such circumstances, was a sufficient and legitimate ground on which the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland was justified in dispensing with the ordinary course of the law? But though there was a possibility that a juror acting in the jury-box might, under the obligation of an oath, set aside all intimidation, and give a verdict that was above all imputation and suspicion, the case was quite different with respect to any recommendation signed by a jury after they had acquitted themselves of the obligation of their oath. It was quite a different thing when the friends of the party convicted, came to the juror at his own home, and asked him to sign a document of this nature. The customary address on occasions of this nature was. "Sure, Sir, the poor fellow never did you any harm, and surely you won't object to sign this recommendation for him." Now he had no hesitation to say, that any juror who in Ireland refused to concur in a representation of this kind, when applied to, would not only make such refusal at the risk of his own life, but would jeopardize and risk the safety of his family. He repeated what he had said, and begged to tell the noble Lord, that there were many parts of Ireland where it would be unsafe, and dangerous to make such a refusal. He appealed to Gentlemen who were personally connected with Ireland to bear him out in what he had said. It was his opinion that Lord Mulgrave would have produced much more good to the peace of the country, and to have dispensed the laws with much more advantage, if he had not attended to a recommendation proceeding under such circumstances from a jury who, after a full investigation of the case upon oath, had found a verdict of guilty. The noble Lord had referred to another case brought forward by him, namely, the case of Carter. Now he had never brought forward the case of Carter as coming under either of those heads under which he had classified the charges he had felt himself bound to make against the present Government. Those were, first, the abuse of the prerogative of mercy; and, secondly, the improper dispensation of the patronage of the Crown. He had mentioned the case of Carter merely for the purpose of illustrating the impolicy of the directions issued by the late Attorney-General with respect to giving up the right of the Crown to set aside jurors in 779 cases of trials for murder. The noble Lord had on this subject produced a letter, written by Mr. Tickell, a gentleman, he readily admitted, of the utmost respectability. Mr. Tickell was the prosecuting counsel in this case; and in his letter he stated two or three grounds on which he rested for the impeachment of the accuracy of the statement, he (Mr. Sergeant Jackson) had previously made in the House. In the first place, Mr. Tickell, from having read some incorrect report of what he had said, had incorrectly attributed to him that he had stated that on one of the trials a person had been put upon the jury who was suspected of having been concerned in the murder for which the prisoner was tried. Now he had not said any such thing. What he had said was, that a party who had been assisting the prisoner in challenging the jury was transferred into the jury-box, and that no attempt was made to set him aside either on the part of Mr. Gale or Mr. Tickell. He had before him at present, a report of what took place at the trial, and every fact that he had alleged with respect to this ease he would be able to prove before a Select Committee. He therefore hoped that the noble Lord would not shrink from this inquiry, or refuse to grant the Committee, and enable him (Mr. Jackson) to prove those facts that he had alleged. In the report of this trial to which he referred, it was distinctly stated, and he was instructed that the fact could be fully proved, that a person who was assisting the prisoners in their challenges was afterwards transferred into the jury-box, and was one of the parties who, as jurors, tried the prisoners. He would not say that Mr. Tickell or Mr. Gale must have seen this individual so assisting these prisoners, but when an objection was subsequently taken to his being placed upon the jury, Mr. Tickell referred to the instructions which he had received from the Attorney-General, and refused to set him aside. Now, after the swearing in of this man upon the jury, could there be a doubt what would be their decision? There WAS no verdict. He had stated that on the second trial a person convicted of a violation of the law was sworn on the jury, and, as might have been anticipated, there was no verdict. The noble Lord in referring to that part of his statement, had found fault with his having used the designation convict, as meaning that he was 780 a person guilty of an offence similar to that for which the prisoners were tried. Now what he stated was, that a person was on the jury who had been convicted not of a similar offence, but of an offence of a similar class. Why, did any man mean to deny that it was not a similar class of offence to be convicted of a riot at which a manslaughter had taken place? This man was convicted of having been concerned in a riot at the fair of Rathdowney, at which a man was beaten to death. He had never meant to say that this man was convicted of murder, nor even of manslaughter, but what he had stated was what he now repeated, that he had been convicted of an offence against the peace and law of the land, and that he was unfit to serve upon a jury. It was not a question of the amount of the charge upon which this man had been convicted. It was enough that he had been convicted of an offence against the peace and law of the land; and when the counsel for the Crown were asked to set this man aside, they refused to do so. Indeed, so remarkable was this circumstance, that the learned Judge before whom the trial took place in charging the jury, adverted to the circumstance of the Crown not having exercised its privilege to set aside jurors, whilst the prisoners had liberally exercised their right to challenge, and he expressed a hope that a jury, in whom so much confidence had been placed, would discharge their duty to the satisfaction of all parties. Now, he would ask any man of common sense what was the plain and natural consequences of the Crown waiving its prerogative to set aside jurors, whilst the prisoners exercised an unlimited right to challenge as many as they pleased? Why the practical result of such a system would be (and he defied the noble Lord to show it could be otherwise) that persons in Ireland charged with capital offences would have it completely in their power to pack the juries by whom they were to be tried. The hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny, amongst many other statements equally well founded, had charged him with being an advocate for packing of juries. Now there never was a human being in existence less capable of deserving such an imputation than he was. He believed the hon. and learned Member had called this surrender of the important privilege of the Crown by the mild term of an innovation. He 781 was opposed to all packing of juries, and it was because this innovation enabled those charged with capital offences to pack juries that he opposed it, and would totis viribus always continue to oppose a system pregnant with such evident and practical evil. Why, under this system it would be much better for a man to be charged with murder than go to trial for the stealing of a pocket handkerchief. In the former case he would have the advantage of choosing his own jury, which in the latter case would be denied him. They all knew that if one black sheep got into the jury box there would be little chance that the course of justice would not be impeded—if one jury man was determined that there should be no verdict it was no matter how the other eleven might be disposed to act. Now he considered that in Carter's case justice had been shamefully frustrated by the course that had been pursued. He would now take the liberty to call the attention of the House to another case in addition to those he had already brought forward, as illustrating the wisdom by which the Lord Lieutenant's conduct had been distinguished in the course of his visits to the different gaols in Ireland. He was not at present able to state fully all the particulars of the case, but he had no doubt that a return of the names and cases of all persons who had been the objects of the viceregal clemency which he had moved for a few evenings ago would fully bear him out in the statement which he had to make in respect to the case which he would now mention. A person in the employment of a maltster, in the north of Ireland, was convicted under the 7th and 8th of Geo. 4., cap. 52, sec. 46. He was convicted of no trivial offence, namely, that of having maliciously malted corn with the view of subjecting innocent parties to the penalties provided by the law. Now, the section of the Act under which this man was convicted specially provided that any person convicted under this Act should suffer an imprisonment of not less than three nor more than twelve months from the date of his commitment, and such person for the whole time should be subjected to hard labour; and the Act specially provided that under no pretence, or under no authority or order, such person should be released from his imprisonment until he had completed the full period of his sentence. But what did his Excellency the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland do on his 782 visit to the prison where this man was con fined? He ordered his discharge before the term of his sentence was completed. This was done in direct contravention of the provisions of this Act of Parliament, and if Lord Mulgrave had been in ignorance of the existence of this Act that was no justification, for if he had taken the trouble to refer to the tribunal before whom this individual had been tried, they would have informed him that such a statute was in existence and they would have advised him that he ought not to interfere with its enactments. He would now refer to a case of a different description, and under another head. It was a case of the improper exercise of the patronage of the Government. Amongst the late appointments to the situation of stipendiary magistrates in Ireland he saw the name of Lawrence Cruise Smith; and, with respect to the appointment of this individual, he would trouble the House by reading a letter which he had received. This gentleman so appointed was a Member of the National Association of Ireland; but before proceeding further he would read the following letter:—I take the liberty of mentioning, for your information, a circumstance relating to Mr. Laurence Cruise Smith, of Snugborough, in this neighbourhood, whose name you may see gazetted as one out of nine stipendiary magistrates just appointed (in the Evening Packet of the 9th instant.) This gentleman (a justice of the pence) was sitting at the petty sessions in this town about a year since when an individual (Patrick Cruise, a painter in the village) accosted him, and demanded from him payment as an electioneering agent for Meath at the contest in 1831, Mr. Smith being as he alleged, one of the committee for Mr. H. Grattan the then rejected candidate. After some altercation, Cruise concluded by telling him in the face of the Court that he was a pretty person to sit on the bench of magistrates, having, at the time of the aforesaid contest, endeavoured to engage him (Cruise) to burn the flagyard of Mr. Richard Sheil, at Dollardstown, because he refused to vote for Mr. H. Grattan, in opposition to his landlord, Sir M. Somerville. And this statement Cruise at the time declared himself ready to verify on oath. Mr. Smith's only reply to this grave charge was, that if he wanted to do so it was not likely he would apply to such a blackguard. Sir William Somerville, who was on the bench at the time, told Mr. Smith publicly that he was bound to exonerate himself from so foul a charge by prosecuting the author of it. Within a day or two after, at the meeting of the turnpike board, at Primatestown, it was alluded to as a laughing matter by Mr. L. C. Smith, in the 783 presence of Lord Killeen, Sir W. Somerville, and several magistrates; amongst others Henry Smith, of Annsbrook, when he was openly told, that it was too serious a charge to make a joke of, and that, in the opinion of his brother magistrates, he was called upon to lake steps to clear himself of the imputation. From that day to this he has never done so—whether by demanding an investigation, or by prosecuting the individual for the slander. And now he is elevated to the post of stipendiary magistrate. I have been informed by a serjeant of police very lately that Cruise detailed the whole transaction to him as he alleged it occurred, and that his statement fully bore out the charge as far as it went".Now, here was a case in which, in the first place, an individual was selected to fill the office of stipendiary magistrate who had filled the chair at meetings of the General Association of Ireland. The noble Lord had said that no person had yet gone the length of saying that that Association was illegal. Now, the hon. and learned Member for Dublin (Mr. West) and himself had gone the full length of declaring that to be an illegal Association. He had been in communication with persons in this country upon the subject, and he found that the opinion of some of the most eminent legal authorities was that this was an illegal Association. It was illegal as to its objects, and illegal as to the means by which it sought to accomplish those objects. He had no hesitation in saying that he considered it a conspiracy for defeating the laws of the land, and interfering with the subject. He asked what justification could there be of the conduct of the executive Government in Ireland in selecting for a seat on the magisterial bench for the administration of the law a person who had presided at the meetings of such a body as this? When the Constabulary Bill was brought forward the Government had stated that they would exclude all individuals who belonged to any illegal associations, and a clause was specially introduced to prohibit any persons members of the Orange Society from holding the situation of police constables. He considered that in thus appointing individuals who had been conspicuous as partisans, the Government had broken faith with the House and with the Protestants of Ireland, and had been guilty of a violation of their duties as his Majesty's Government. If the facts stated in the letter which he had 784 read were well founded, and he had every reason to place the fullest confidence in the authority on which he stated them, he would ask, could there be a more improper appointment than that of Mr. Smith? The next case to which he would call the attention of the House was remarkably illustrative of the mode in which the Lord-Lieutenant had exercised the prerogative of mercy during his visit to the country of Leitrim. On this subject he would now read the letter of a professional gentleman of respectability, and who had given him permission to make any use of his letter that he thought necessary:—I am enabled to give you some information of Lord Mulgrave's doings in his recent lour of general gaol delivery through the county of Leitrim. There were upwards of twenty persons, charged with various offences, enlarged by Lord Mulgrave, in person, from the gaol of Carrick-on-Shannon. Some had been tried before the Judges of Assize last summer, and others at the July Sessions preceding Lord Mulgrave's arrival. Some under rule of transportation for larceny; one for intent to do some bodily harm, under Lord Ellenborough's Act; and two ringleaders, named Michael Burne, and a man nicknamed Tinker Glancy, were tried and convicted before the Assistant-Barrister, Mr. Finlay (a Whig, too). The former was convicted on four or five separate indictments for riots and assaults in fairs and markets, and his sentence was six months for the first offence; six months more, in addition, for the second offence; six months more, in addition, for the third offence; and one month more, in addition, for the fourth offence, a common assault—in all nineteen months, and every alternate month, for twelve months, to be kept to hard labour. Glancy (called the Tinker) was convicted also on different indictments, and his sentence was twelve months, and every alternate month to be kept to hard labour. Yet these are the men selected by Lord Mulgrave, in the plenitude of his power, upon whom he deemed it necessary to exercise the prerogative of the Crown, and that before the arrival of another quarter sessions, or consulting the barrister or magistrates, as I have been informed and believe; and, so far from this being a check upon outrage, I have seen Michael Burne, shortly after his enlargement, arraigned before the magistrates for disturbing the peace; and, so far from Lord Mulgrave's merciful intentions having had any salutary effect upon the peace of the country, an attempt has since been made to take the life of the Rev. Mr. Hogg, an exemplary Protestant clergyman (and a curate, too), and burn his premises. Yet what was the reward offered 785 by the Government?—50l.! while private subscriptions have been offered exceeding 400l.This was, as he had already stated, the letter of a professional gentleman, who would, if necessary, come forward to prove what he had alleged. [Mr. O'Connell: "Name."] He should have no hesitation to name his authority on a proper occasion; but the hon. Member knew well how safe it was for individuals who gave information of this description to have their names before the public. On a proper occasion he would name him. Let the noble Lord grant a Committee of Inquiry, and he should be able to prove the facts by evidence. The hon. and learned Gentleman had only to refer to the proceedings before the Intimidation Committee to be enabled to decide whether he would be justified in naming this individual. A case had been some time ago mentioned to shew the difficulty which, in the present state of Ireland, clergymen had to encounter in effecting insurances upon their lives. He had recently been put in possession of an instance where a clergyman applied to have his life insured, and a special proviso was put into the policy, that if he met his death from illegal violence or assassination the policy should become-void, and that all money paid on the insurance should be forfeited. He asked, could anything more forcibly show how the whole state of society was unhinged and human life and property placed in daily peril by the present state of things that prevailed in Ireland? He had now to produce another case, showing the good effects that had followed from the exercise of his Excellency's clemency. It was a case that occurred in the city of Cork. He would read the following extract from a letter he had received:—There was, however, a curious instance of the bad effects of his Excellency's clemency, in the case of Margaret Lynch, who was convicted on the 23rd of October, 1835, of stealing in the dwelling-house of Mr. George Langley. She was discharged by his Excellency, and was tried again on the 12th of August, for breaking the windows of George Langley on the 29lh of July, when it appeared that she had been on that day discharged, by order of the Lord-Lieutenant, and went straight from the gaol to take vengeance on Mr. Langley, by breaking his windows. However, it seems thas she had worked out nine months of her conviction, When his Excellency visited the 786 prison, he asked if there were any for first offences. The Doctor pointed out some in the corner of the room, to which they had reached, and some of the prisoners, hearing what was said, became clamorous, and he asked a few questions respecting some of them, and then desired a list to be sent him of the names, and length of imprisonment of those he pointed to, and without any further, or particular inquiries as to each case, or other reference, sent orders to the governor of the gaol (alias the gaoler, who is so styled) for liberation.He would add to this another case, which he stated on highly respectable authority, and it was communicated to him as follows:—An individual, named Joseph M'Cormick, was sentenced at the Spring Assizes, held at Trim, in the last year, to transportation for life, for having stolen two cows from the lands of Mrs. George Sandy, resident in this parish. During his detention, however, in gaol, previously to removal for transportation, a memorial was drawn up by his own immediate family, or former associates, containing a tissue of falsehood. Upon said memorial, the prisoner's sentence was commuted to imprisonment for one year. This mitigation, however (obtained upon utter misrepresentation), was not deemed sufficient, the prisoner having been released by the Lord-Lieutenant, on his late visit to Trim, previously to the expiration of the legal term of confinement. M'Cormick's first act, upon liberation, was to summon Mrs. George Sandy to the Sessions of Duleek for an alleged debt, which she was so far from having incurred, that, in the particular instance of his claim (not to mention others), she had showed him the most unbounded kindness. His claim was not only rejected by the magistrates, but M'Cormick himself was remitted to gaol, upon Mrs. Sandy's affidavit of dread to her property from his persecution. The prisoner left the Court of Duleek, acknowledging that he could not in Ireland find two securities in ten pounds each, and subsequently, on his way to gaol (where he now is), told the Serjeant of police that he had summoned Mrs. Sandy for the mere purpose of annoyance and revenge. His character (quite irrespectively of this transaction) can be proved by respectable witnesses to be a most abandoned one.The noble Lord had referred to the state of the calendar, to show that crime had diminished in Ireland; but he would tell the noble Lord that a more fallacious criterion he could not have taken. It was a notorious fact—a fact of which the noble Lord could not be ignorant—that the more rampant crime was in a country, the less likely it was that its real extent would appear on the face of the calendar. The 787 party must actually be in custody before his name was inserted in the calendar; and, as was well known, the more extensive crime was in Ireland, the less probability there was of having the perpetrators brought to justice, owing to the reluctance of prosecutors, and the apprehensions of witnesses. So far, therefore, the calendar could not be a true criterion of the state of crime; on the contrary, he maintained that the smaller the calendar was, the stronger was the evidence which it furnished of the audacious extent and height of crime that existed. But what was the calendar which the noble Lord had taken in support of his assertion? Why, the Judge's calendar of the last Summer Assizes. The noble Lord ought to have known that this was, of all others, the most fallacious callendar that he could have selected. The interval between the Spring and the Summer Assizes, embraced a period of only four months, and had not the noble Lord been long enough in Ireland to know that it was in the winter, rather than in the summer season, that crime was most extensive? The long and dark nights of winter were the most favourable, not only to the perpetration, but to the concealment of crime, and, consequently, nothing could be more fallacious than the criterion which the noble Lord had brought forward. He would not weary the House by going through the whole of the counties of Ireland, but he hoped they would let him call their attention to the state of crime in one of them, the county of Tipperary, during the last year. There were no fewer than 1,567 persons committed for offences of various kinds to the gaols of that county, during the last year; and if the House would indulge him with their patience, he would shortly enumerate the heads of some of the crimes with which these persons were charged, together with the number in each class. They were:—For murder, fifty-four; for shooting at with intent to murder, twenty; for assault, with intent to murder, seventy-three; for manslaughter, fifty-one; for sacrilege, eleven. There was another crime which had not until lately been known in Ireland, and which he sincerely regretted should be found to exist there at all—that was the crime of assault with an unnatural intent, and the number committed for that crime, he was sorry to say, was no fewer then twenty-one. These were some of the principal of the crimes for which 788 these 1,567 persons had been committed in the county of Tipperary; but he would not take up the time of the House by going further through this black catalogue of atrocious offences. He would now ask the noble Lord, who had spoken so vauntingly about the diminution of crime in Ireland, whether he had seen the police reports which had been transmitted to his office in the Castle? Had he seen the report which had been received from the police magistrates of Dublin? If he had not been misinformed, the noble Lord had received a report from those magistrates, informing him that, so far from crime having diminished since the last summer, it had increased, not merely by the score, but by the hundred. He had received a letter from a gentleman who had seen the report, forwarded to the Government Office, and in that letter it was distinctly stated, that every description of crime had frightfully increased, with the exception of three, namely, treason, sedition, and one other crime. If the noble Lord had received such a report as this, ought he not to have stated the fact. He had received copies of the Hue and Cry, and the last that had reached him certainly did not go to confirm the statement made by the noble Lord; but it was clear that the noble Lord had not seen this document, or he never would have stated, as he had done, that an improvement had taken place in Ireland with respect to crime. He had not received the Hue and Cry of Saturday last, but he would give to the House a summary of the contents of the previous one, for the weeks beginning the 12th of January, and ending the 1lth of February. Now what were the particulars of the offences which appeared by this official document to have been committed in a single month, and the rewards which were offered by the Government for bringing the perpetrators to justice?—
|Jan. 12.—||House burning||30|
|House burning with corn and potatoes||40|
|Armed parties attacking six houses and robbing arms||40|
|Jan 17.—||Attacking houses and murder||100|
|Jan 24.—||Murder of one and severe beating of others||40|
|Jan 26.—||Attacking two houses, robbing guns and firing||50|
|Murder, firing shots, and beating||50|
|Jan 27.—||Maliciously attacking churches in the county of Dublin||40|
The attack on the soldiers was a most atrocious one, but he should best describe it by reading to the House the proclamation in which the reward for the apprehension of the perpetrators was offered:—
And whereas it has been represented to the Lord-Lieutenant, that on the 31st ultimo, as a party of military, consisting of a corporal and two privates of the 22d Regiment, were escorting a deserter from the 66th regiment from Tipperary to Michelstown, they were attacked near the wood of Glengurra, parish of Kilkenny, and county of Limerick, by upwards of fifty persons, who beat them in the most savage manner with stones, fractured the skull of one, inflicted four severe wounds on the head of another, and stabbed the third with his own bayonet, enabling the prisoner to escape.
Now, he asked, did this document bear out the statement of the Noble Lord? He might furnish similar proof of the fallacy of the noble Lord's statement from other counties, but he would only instance the county of Cavan to show that the use which the Lord-Lieutenant had made of the prerogative of mercy in enlarging prisoners, so far from diminishing crime, had tended only to increase it. They had heard that pacificators had been sent by the Dublin Association through the country, for the purpose of promoting peace, and getting names placed on the registry. He had received letters from three persons of the highest respectability and credit, residing in the county to which he referred, on the subject of the proceedings of these pacificators. The first of these letters contained the following statement:—
The Dundevan tenants were all visited, a few nights ago, by a body of at least 400 men, who ordered their workmen and servants to leave them, on pain of death, which they have done accordingly. They fired a shot at each house after delivering their message. I hear—and, of, have been visited in like manner as the Dundevan people, and their workmen and servants ordered away. Intimidation and terror are
the order of the day, intended to operate on the registry. The priests are the whole and sole cause of all these violent practices. One of the labourers and servants of the Dundevan people went to the priest to know whether they might finish their half year which is nearly expired.
This, then, was the peace which the pacificators had produced, and these were the means by which attention to the registry was enforced. The next letter he should read was dated the 25th of January. It was as follows:—
On Monday night, the 23d instant, a large party of Dan's nocturnal legislators assembled at some place near the New Mills, and came down to a land called Wenies on the old road from Cavan to Castleterra, to the house of a Philip Reilly, that they thought ought to have registered last sessions; and after giving him their directions, and threatening him with all kinds of destruction, they left him firing several shots; their music began, and they marched to Castleterra, and then to, Drumgoohan, the property of the rev. Wm. Beatty, where I live, and visited Charles and Edward M'Cabe, and Phillip Tully; and after using the same kind of arguments they had used before to Reilly, and firing several shots, they went to Cloneny, to the Wood Ranger, Peter Smith, who had some people summoned for the next day, for cutting timber, and used such threats, &c, to him, that he declined to prosecute.
A similar party has been parading in the adjoining parish of Drung, threatening destruction to all who pay tithe.
Was the noble Lord surprised that he did not find in the calendar a report of crimes like these—crimes that were sufficient in themselves to shock the frame of any society? But when it could not be denied that such a state of things existed, and that, too, to a serious extent, was it not a little too much to be told that crime in Ireland had diminished? He hoped the House would allow him to read to them one other instance of the result of that miscalled species of peaceful agitation pursued by the pacificators. The letter to which he now referred was dated the 1st of February, and it contained the following passage:—
I am just this moment informed by F. Thompson, Esq. J.P., that it appeared in evidence at Cavan Petty Sessions, yesterday, sworn to by five or six witnesses, that these parties visited the houses of several persons who had leases, which they made them produce, and threatened them with destruction if they did not come forward to register next Session.
He would not trouble the House with any more cases of this description, though he had many others which he might adduce. He thought he had now shown that the noble Lord had not displaced a single fact contained in the statement which he had originally made, and that the charge which he had been compelled to bring forward against the Executive Government of Ireland was fully established. Indeed, the noble Lord had not undertaken to deny that charge; on the contrary, he had in terms admitted it. He could not, of course, expect the noble Lord to give any answer to the additional facts which he now stated; but perhaps his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Sheil), who had just returned from Ireland, and had no doubt made it his business to get full information on the subject, would be able to satisfy the House that the whole of the statements was unfounded. Before he sat down he wished to mention another case, that of Lord Miltown, who had been in the commission of the peace for the counties of Dublin and Wicklow, but was dismissed from that office by Lord Anglesey, because he had taken part at antitithe meetings. After his dismissal Lord Miltown became a member of the Roman Catholic Association, presided at its meetings, and made speeches, to say the least of them, of a strong nature; and what was the result? Why that he was taken by the hand by Lord Mulgrave, and restored to the commission of the peace. He was sensible that he had trespassed too long on the attention of the House. He thanked them for the indulgence which they had shown him, and would now sit down, repeating the charge which he had made against the Executive Government of Ireland of having abused the prerogative of mercy. He was ready to prove that charge, and if the noble Lord would grant him a Committee for the purpose, and he invited him to do so, he would undertake to substantiate every statement which he had made.
Mr. Smith O'Brien
observed, that the hon. and learned Member who had last spoken, had addressed the House for an hour and three quarters, and yet there was not one word in all that long speech that bore upon the question then before the House. The question for debate was whether municipal corporations were to be granted to Ireland. After the able and powerful manner in which the subject had 792 been discussed, he fell that he had not the power to add perhaps anything to the arguments which had already convinced the House that they ought to pass such a Bill; but the country to which he belonged had a claim upon her representatives to enforce the demand which was now made, and to appeal (and he was sure it would not be in vain) to the sympathies of the British people, and of that House. He had to consider the arguments of their opponents, which might be placed under a few simple heads. One set of Gentlemen contended that corporate institutions were not necessary for good government in any country, and they instanced Birmingham and Manchester to sustain their arguments. By others it was contended that they would, by passing this Bill, transfer a monopoly from Protestants to Catholics, and especially that it would increase the power of an individual possessed already of enormous power in Ireland. It was also contended that municipal corporations would be merely schools for agitation, and those persons considered the new corporations would be the means of severing the connexion between the two countries and the subversion of the Irish. Protestant Church. As far as he could understand the question, this was the sum of the reasoning against which he had to contend. If the argument were as to central administration, or the local administration of affairs in the cities and towns in Ireland, that, he admitted, would be a most important point to discuss. According to this Bill the functions which had hitherto been performed by a complicated system of boards would devolve upon those local bodies who had the best opportunities of knowing how they ought to be performed. He alluded to the maintenance of the poor, and the regulation of institutions for their relief, everything that affected the education of the people, everything connected with public works, and other such objects. The noble Lord, the Secretary for Ireland, had placed this question upon its true footing when he told the House that it was not a question whether they should have central or local authorities—whether they would abolish or reform corporations—but whether, after passing a Bill by which the people of England were permitted to exercise the functions of self-government, that House was to turn round and declare to the people of Ireland that they alone were 793 unfit for the exercise of these privileges. No analogy could be drawn between a system of government based on self-election, and one based on a reasonable representation. The hon. Gentlemen on the opposite side of the House were not justified in supposing that if the Catholics of Ireland possessed unqualified power they would refuse to select and appoint Protestants equally and indiscriminately with Catholics. Every day's experience proved the contrary. With respect to the argument that was used against the Bill, that it would increase the power of the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny, he approached this subject with some delicacy, but he was bound to say, that if the conduct of that hon. and learned Member were as reprehensible as was represented by his enemies, that would form no just reason for disfranchising all the constituencies of Ireland, and depriving them of their municipal rights. If he were sure that the power of the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny would be increased, and, more, if he were sure that that power would be abused, it would form, in his opinion, no just or sufficient motive for the rejection of this Bill. A long series of misgovernment had reduced the public mind in Ireland to a state which compelled the peope of that country to place unlimited confidence in the honour and ability of him who had offered himself as their champion and the advocate of their rights, and would it not be unwise, unworthy, and unjust, to make the fruits of their own injustice an argument for its continuance? The course which the Conservatives pursued necessarily augmented the power of the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny; it induced many men to associate and co-operate with him, who did not approve of some of the principles which the hon. and learned Member avowed, but who still had one cause in common with him,—viz. a determination to resist the degradation of their country. Another argument made use of by the opponents of this Bill was, that it would tend to weaken the connexion between the two countries. Slender, indeed, must that connexion be if it could be endangered by the granting of municipal institutions to Ireland the true bond of connection between the two countries was their mutual interest, and if that House consented to disturb that interest, and to add insult to injury, though hut forty Irish representatives voted on the 794 last occasion for the repeal of the union, double that number would be found to declare that the conduct of the united Parliament was such that Ireland could no longer endure the legislative union. The people of Ireland had made up their minds—they were determined to have their just rights—they sought no more, they would not be content with less. What had that House done to relieve them from the odious impost of tithes? Did they suppose that they could make the people of Ireland pay tithes? If that House was determined to uphold the Protestant Church—and the time he feared had arrived when they could no longer do so—it could only be done by reducing that Church to moderate dimensions, and taking away from it the character of an odious ascendancy. What had been the consequence of the course which the Conservatives took with regard to this question? It had created the Association in Dublin. They had seen that body collecting tribute from every part of the country, and enrolling amongst its Members men of every station and of every persuasion; they had seen the debates carried on with a regularity and an ability that would do honour to that House; they had seen it extending its ramifications throughout every part of the country, and exercising an influence which was almost unparalleled in any country. If they rejected this Bill, did they imagine that their idle denunciations would suppress that association. The public mind in Ireland stood in the same attitude which it took up in 1792. The representatives of Ireland now told the British Parliament that if they did not concede their rights, they would demand them; and, supported as they were by the people of that country, they would demand a dissolution of the legislative union. Before he sat down he could not help expressing his sincere satisfaction at the language of the noble Lord who brought forward this measure. He knew not what might be the fate of the measure, but he was truly delighted at the declaration of the noble Lord that his Majesty's Government was prepared to stand or fall by its success. If the present Administration were in real danger, let them appeal to the country to decide this great question. They could not have a nobler opportunity for making that appeal than upon the simple question whether or not they were right in offering to Ireland free institutions.
§ Mr. Vesey
said Unwilling as I feel to prolong the debate, and anxious as I am to avoid all subjects foreign to the great subject now under deliberation, I feel myself imperatively called upon to make a few observations to the House to corroborate the statement of my learned Friend, the Member for Bandon, relative to a case in which I am almost personally concerned as involving the character of my noble Relative with regard to the manner in which he has discharged his duties of Lord-Lieutenant of the Queen's County in this particular case, namely, that of Mr. Cassidy, and if the House will bear with me for a very short time I will briefly recapitulate the reason, why my relative refused to recommend Mr. Cassidy for the commission of the peace, and I will also prove the incorrectness of the statements made by the noble Lord, the Secretary for Ireland, when he attempted the other evening to justify Mr. Cassidy's appointment. This Gentleman was recommended by Lord de Vesey by several Members of the Queen's County liberal club, many of whom I believe are also members of the National Association, and although Lord de Vesey knew the general character of Mr. Cassidy he yet thought to make the most minute and accurate inquiries on the subject and on ascertaining the actual facts he wrote the following letter to Government.Abbeyleix, Feb. 2, 1836.—Sir, I had an opportunity yesterday, at the road sessions, where there was a large assemblage of Magistrates, to make inquiries respecting the gentleman for whose appointment to the commission of the peace an application had been made to his Excellency the Lord-Lieutenant. Mr. Cassidy is, I have reason to believe, though I could not accurately ascertain the fact, a clerk in his brother's distillery, which circumstance, according to the instructions I received, precludes my recommending him for the Magistracy. He was, I understand, fined 10l. at the petty sessions for Ballybrettas, for rescuing cattle distrained for county cess; and in his answer to an application from Mr. French for tithes due to him, has denounced the payment of them in the strongest language, and has asserted that, 'the ministers of the law church in Ireland are not actuated in their proceedings by the holy spirit of Christianity.' As I have received my information from the best authority, I should consider it a gross dereliction of my duty were I to recommend for the administration of the law, persons whose example has given encouragement to the prevailing disposition to resist the law.The facts contained in this letter (from 796 documents which I now possess) I can fully corroborate. In the first place, with regard to his being clerk in his brother's distillery, I now hold in my hand two letters addressed to some customers of his brother's, the one a receipt and the other a bill demanding payment for articles purchased in the distillery, both of which documents are signed by his name, and both dated in August and September, 1836, at the very period he was appointed a Magistrate. Now, Sir, by this appointment, the Government have transgressed the rules which they transmit to the Lord Lieutenants of counties—namely, that they shall not recommend for the commission of the peace any person connected with a distillery. As to the next point, relative to the outrage committed by Mr. Cassidy, in connexion with his resistance of Grand Jury cess, I have here a document which will prove to the House, notwithstanding the statement of the noble Lord, that Mr. Cassidy was not present at the outrage complained of, and that he had actually reproved his servants for having committed a breach of the peace, that Mr. Cassidy himself was the person who made the rescue. I have here the sworn information of the cess collector in which he deposes:—Jacob Henry, of Closeland, in the said county, saith, that he was duly authorised by warrant under the hand and seal of William Kinsella, high constable and collector of the barony of Portnahinch, to collect a part of the county cess. Deponent further states, that on Monday, the 21st instant, he went and demanded the amount of Mr. Robert Cassidy, part of the said tax due for the lands he holds in Ballytayduff, at the same time producing to the said Robert Cassidy his warrant, and also receipts for the said amount, filled and signed by the said Kinsella. Deponent further states, that the said Cassidy refused to pay the said tax, upon which deponent said he would seize for the amount; whereupon the said Cassidy said, 'Seize as soon as you please,' or words to that effect. On deponent's proceeding so to do, and turning into the said Cassidy's yard, he was met by the said Cassidy, who called to his steward (Austin Cavanagh), and ordered him not to let this deponent take anything off the lands. Deponent then seized a horse and cart which were in the yard, when the said Robert Cassidy did, aided and assisted by Austin Cavanagh, rescue said horse and cart by taking hold of the horse by the bridle, and saying, he would not allow deponent to take him.Mr. Cassidy was in consequence of this act, fined 10l., and never appealed, so 797 clear and conclusive was the case against him. The steward was either not fined, or else escaped with a mitigated penalty, as he had evidently only acted under his master's orders. Two days afterwards another seizure was attempted and made; the servants, following their master's example, effected another rescue in a most riotous manner, on the King's highway, and arrived with spades and pitchforks, and other offensive weapons, as will be proved by the following affidavit:—William Kinsella, of Coolbanagher, in Queen's county, collector of the county tax for the barony of Portnahinch, saith, that on Tuesday, the 22nd inst., he went to the lands of Mr. Robert Cassidy, of Jamestown, to collect a part of said tax, and on demanding the amount due by said Robert Cassidy was refused; whereupon deponent seized a mare, the property of said Robert Cassidy, for said amount of tax due, and was in the act of bringing her to Ballybrittas pound, when he was followed by James Byrne, and a boy, that deponent heard and believes was Patrick Cavanagh, son to said Robert Cassidy, steward. He was also met on the road in Jamestown by a number of men—viz., Austin Cavanagh (steward), Edward Malone, Timothy Strong, both the latter armed with forks in their hands, Edward Malowny, Bryan Dunne, and Michael Dunne; some of the latter men had shovels in their hands. Deponent further states, on said James Byrne coming up, he seized said mare, assisted by said Edward Malone, who appeared with a pitchfork in his hand, and raised it in a fighting position. The other persons above-named also assisted, and said the mare should go back, and Austin Cavanagh (steward) said at the same time what their master had done, they would now do the same, and thereon they, in a riotous manner, rescued said mare from deponent.Notwithstanding these facts, which were circumstantially made known to the Government, this gentleman has been appointed to the commission of the peace, and now sits on the very bench administering the law with the actual Magistrates by whom he was convicted of a breach of the law. Mr. Cassidy has, moreover, no property in the Queen's County; he is only a 10l. freeholder in that county, and in the very district to which he has been appointed, there are no less than eleven most efficient, intelligent, and active Magistrates, who are constant and assiduous attendants at the petty sessions. As to who may be the gentlemen of high rank, station, and character, who recommended Mr. Cassidy, I cannot make out, as the noble Lord would not favour me with even 798 one of their names; but this I will assert, that there is scarcely a resident proprietor in the county, whatever may be his rank or station, whose feelings have not been greatly outraged at this most extraordinary appointment of the Government. The noble Lord stated, that the Government were quite justified in this act of theirs, as Lord Oxmantown had recommended him for the King's county; but, Sir, the cases are widely different. In the Queen's County he has no property, and is, in fact, only a 10l. freeholder, while all his property lies in the King's County. But, Sir, Lord Oxmantown was not aware of the outrage he had committed, or else he never would have recommended him, as the following extract from a letter I have just received from Lord Oxmantown will prove:—I can have no hesitation in saying, that had I been applied to by a Magistrate of the Queen's County to recommend him as a proper person to be appointed Magistrate for the King's County, knowing that he, a Magistrate, had been convicted by the Magistrates of the King's County for an offence against the laws, such as you have described, and by neglecting to appeal, had admitted his guilt, I should not, for a moment, have thought of recommending such a person. To have recommended any one under such circumstances, would have been, in my opinion, highly improper; had the Government, notwithstanding, forced the appointment of such a person, I should have felt that they had taken a course which could not be justified. I have always thought, that magisterial appointments were not to be made on political grounds, and, therefore, that the Government were not to interfere with the lieutenants of counties in the appointment of the magistracy, except where there was clearly an abuse of authority, the lieutenant refusing to recommend, without sufficient reason, a per. son having an indisputable claim to the commission of the peace from his property and station in the county; and while I have always felt that a very grave imputation indeed would attach to any lieutenant of a county for the abuse of his authority, I have also thought, that an equally grave imputation would he against Government for an abuse of theirs.Now, Sir, to that doctrine I fully and cordially subscribe—on that principle so admirably set forth by Lord Oxmantown, Lord de Vesey has invariably acted; but have the Government been guided by the same principle—have they been guided in their appointments by the strict rule of impartiality? The following statement 799 of Lord Oxmantown will fully demonstrate that they have not:—There is one fact more, which I think it right to mention to you—that the Government have made an appointment in this county of which I disapproved; it was in the case of Mr. Bannan, a Roman Catholic, who was recommended by the county Members. Of Mr. Bannan, personally, I know nothing; to his appointment as a magistrate my objection was, that he had no property whatever in the King's County, and none in any other county which could be considered as conferring upon him a claim to the commission of the peace. As he was recommended by the county Members, out of respect to that recommendation I felt it to be my duty to make full inquiry, but not to abandon my own opinion in deference to theirs; for surely the appointment of the magistracy should not be made on political grounds. I therefore resisted the appointment of Mr. Bannan to the utmost, but he was, nevertheless, appointed.Now, Sir, when Government have thus made use of their power of patronage, how can the respectable and peaceable inhabitants of Ireland have the slightest confidence in them—how can they look with any thing but apprehension at the Bill now before the House, which professes to give them such an additional power of patronage which they have so grossly abused, and which will throw strength into the hands of that party whose doctrine is the annihilation of our church, and whose daily practice is resistance to the law? And while the deepest apprehension and alarm exists in the minds of one party, what exists in the other? Where are their meetings, and the petitions with which we were threatened. I have just returned from that country, and I can safely assert that there is a total apathy on the subject. The people do not care about it; and in the immediate neighbourhood where I reside, I do not believe they even understand the question of municipal reform. And yet, Sir, among the very few petitions presented to the House on that subject, I find three from three small towns in that neighbourhood. These towns are not within ten miles of any corporate town, and thereby could derive no advantage from corporations being reformed, nor, from their size, can they hope to obtain the establishment of one for themselves. Why is there not some from Mountmellick, the most important town in the Queen's County, and almost the only inland commercial town in Ireland—a town inhabited by a set of 800 men (the Society of Friends), famed for their industry, intelligence, and quiet habits, peaceably following the pursuits of commerce, apart from the turmoil of politics, and the tumult of party strife—spreading, by their industry, a useful example to the surrounding peasantry; and, by their provident speculations, increasing wealth, and widely extended benevolence—diffusing employment, sustenance, and comfort to their neighbouring poor? Why, I say, have not the inhabitants of this town called upon the Legislature to grant them a share in those corporate blessings now offered by the Government to their more fortunate neighbours? Because they value too highly the blessings of peace and tranquillity, and know full well the turmoil and party strife that would be engendered by the establishment of such a corporation as is proposed by the present Bill. For what other reason but this have so few petitions come from the larger towns in Ireland, and almost all from the small and insignificant ones, or from the rural districts where the unfortunate peasant is forced to sign petitions, not only embodying corporate reform, but also in a more conspicuous manner praying for the abolition of tithes, whereby he is induced to believe he will derive unheard of benefits. I pray, I beseech, the people of England not to force this Bill upon us, which is looked upon with apprehension by one party and with apathy by the other—let them not be deceived by the threat of civil war so openly promulgated by the hon. Member for Liskeard, in case these corporations were refused, and a Tory Government was formed. Where are his proofs that there will be such a war? He has none to offer. There will be no civil war; give to the poor Irish peasant substantial justice; give him a just and equitable provision, such as will relieve him from penury and want, and secure him from starvation. Let him have, through the means of a practicable and well administered system of Poor-laws, a share in the blessings of the state, and he will thereby take an interest in the stability of the state. Settle the tithe question by taking the impost off the poor occupier, and placing it on the rich landlord—abolish corporations, and thereby do away with all excuse for party feud. Give us a good government determined to administer the laws with justice4 with impartiality, with 801 firmness, and at the same time with a constitutional and befitting clemency; and then, if you give us these blessings, notwithstanding the predictions of the hon. Member for Liskeard, I will venture to predict that Ireland will obtain that security which will invite capital, which will diffuse employment among the poor, and which will, I trust, eventually expel that turbulence and misery which now reign triumphant in my ill-fated country.
§ Mr. E. L. Bulwer
had heard more than one speech delivered by hon. Gentlemen, during the course of the evening, which scarcely contained a single sentence that was applicable to the subject before the House. The hon. and learned Sergeant, the Member for Bandon, had delivered a speech with considerable emphasis, the tendency of which appeared to be to establish the necessity of appointing a Select Committee to inquire into the conduct of the Irish Executive; but he had not heard that hon. and learned Gentleman advance an argument which bore either upon the amendment proposed by the noble Lord (the Member for South Lancashire), or upon the merits of the original Bill. There was, however, one peculiarity in the observations of hon. Gentlemen who, as practical Irish residents, had spoken that night on the opposite side of the House. They had thrown over their predecessors, and had thought it more prudent and politic not to tell the Irish people that the Protestant church was omnipresent in abuse. He now began to perceive what was meant by the expansive principle of the establishment. It was not content with the little circle of tithes and hierarchies, but now it expanded with a vengeance, and swallowed up a score or two of corporations. They say (proceeded the hon. Gentleman), that one crime can only be defended by another, and your way of defending an unequal ecclesiastical establishment is by stifling the power of the people in equal political privileges. When the man in the crowd had his hat stolen, another obliging gentleman cried "Since you have lost your hat, I'll just make free with your wig." You rob the Irish of their church reform, and then by way of making it up to them you run away with their corporations. Oh! but the Association has sprung up, and Mr. Pigot has been put into office, and these are arguments against corpor- 802 ations. Why, what a subterfuge is this—there was no Association last year, and, yet last year you refused the municipal reform. The name of Mr. Pigot, then, never haunted your unprophetic breasts, or shook these benches with the tremulous horror of Protestant alarm; and the whole country is to be denied municipal reform because there is a great Association which demands it. Sir, there was an association in Birmingham, nay, all over England—this quiet, loyal England—for obtaining Parliamentary reform; and in the meetings of those associations language as violent, sentiments as democratic, opinions in favour of the ballot and short Parliaments, ay, and of the voluntary church principle too, were uttered. How did you dissolve those associations—by what spell did they wither away—by what rites did you lay them in the grave? Why, you granted the reform. Oh! but says the right hon. Baronet, if you cannot put down the Association, why do you encourage it—why do you mix it up with the Government—why do you put Mr. Pigot into office? And have I heard that from the right hon. Baronet? Why, who condemned the Orange lodges more than he did? And was it not one of the first acts of his Government to put into office the deputy grand master of the Orange lodges—the hon. and gallant Colonel the Member for Sligo? Compare the Orange lodges with the Association; both are bad, both are symptoms of constitutional disease; but one is open, universal; the other is secret, exclusive. Why did you mix up the Government with those lodges? Why did you encourage them? Why did you put your Mr. Pigot into office? Oh! but you will not take power from one party to give it to another; and then you talk of contests and animosities of party in every town. Is this argument honest? If so, why did you never apply it to England? Are there no parties here? Did you not transfer power from one party to another when you passed the Municipal Bill for England and Scotland? Parties! The word parties is more applicable to this country than it is to Ireland, for here at least there are two parties nearly equally balanced in point of rank, property, and numbers; but when I look to Ireland, I see, indeed, one party formidable from its rank, intelligence, and the long habit of lordly domination. Where is the other party? I see only the 803 people. In Ireland it is not a strife between party and party—it is a strife between an oligarchy on the one side and a population on the other. I do not desire to press an analogy between ancient municipal institutions and modern ones, but I say this—it was precisely on account of such parties that municipal institutions were first formed—the party of the population struggling for equal rights, the party of the oligarchy struggling for the maintenance of ascendancy. What! are the Orangemen, implacable as they may be, worse than the old counts of Italy or the old barons of the Rhine? Are the Catholics, ground down as they may be by the oppression of centuries, worse than the half serfs who first formed themselves into guilds and corporations? What a libel on ourselves! Ireland, so long united with the most enlightened country in the world, is not in the 19th century fit for the institutions, which on a far more gigantic scale grew up amidst the feudal ages, and which even the Roman despotism acceded to its dependent towns. Then, not contented with disguising a people under the title of a party, you view that people through the medium of a single man, hour after hour; and when we are to legislate for Ireland you declaim against the learned Member for Kilkenny. Grant him all that you contend for, and what then? Are we to legislate for a nation, or are we to legislate against an individual? Why, is it not you who tells us that you will never be daunted by the physical or moral array of numbers—that you laugh to scorn allusions to the power of millions? and yet, from the height of your superlative chivalry, you call upon the present British Parliament to present to Europe the ludicrous and dastardly spectacle of doling out justice to a people according to your fears of an individual. I neither deny nor vindicate the power of the learned Gentleman. Undoubtedly it has arisen partly from the grievances of which he has been the great organ of complaint, partly from your own heated and unceasing invectives, for, as it was well said by a profound writer on the French revolution, "a man soon becomes in troubled times precisely as powerful as his enemies insist that he is: but it arises also from the grateful belief of his countrymen, right or wrong, that he has rendered them important services, and from the indomitable zeal with which such services have been accomplished." I don't 804 tell you that if you pass this Bill—nay,if you do the amplest justice to Ireland—you will crush the power of the learned Gentleman. So long as there is gratitude in a people—so long as there is eminence in intellectual superiority—so long the hon. Member for Kilkenny must be a leading authority with the Irish people. But the power of a man is for his life, the effect of legislation is immortal. Train up the people to think for themselves, to act for themselves, to govern themselves on the constant stage of local legislation—give them that rehearsal of their liberties, and you will raise a state of society in which individual agitation cannot again attain the same exaggerated power. You may not weaken the learned Gentleman, but you may render him the best of his race: go on legislating against the people, and you legislate for the perpetuity of a demagogue. Whenever two countries are united together, one more powerful, more civilized than the other, the evils to the less powerful country are obvious; she loses national independence; she loses national legislation; the polish and wealth of her neighbour will drive away her resident aristocracy. This is what she loses. What ought she to gain in return? The blessing of the wiser laws, the firmer order, the more liberal institutions, by which her neighbour is governed—by which her neighbour prospers. If she does not do this, she loses all, and she gains nothing in return. And to this total in the balance sheet of benefits you wish our legislation to arrive. It was formerly the custom in royal houses to unite the young prince, when he began his letters, with a kind of flogging-boy—that is to say, a boy who was flogged when ever his royal highness was in fault. If the prince did well, he had his cakes and sugar-plums; if ill, they hoisted his double, and his royal highness was flogged by proxy. Precisely the connexion between England and Ireland. Ireland has been the flogging boy to England, and always on this principle, that England is to have all the sugar-plums, and Ireland all the flogging. Why, what did you all agree to give to England? Municipal reform. What did you all agree to give to Ireland? The Coercion Bill. You say you are willing to correct abuses—you prove your sincerity by giving up the orange corporations. But that is no longer enough; it is no longer enough to correct abuses in the administration 805 of power—the time has come when you must admit the people to a share of the power. This is where you stop short. You will do away with the flogging, but you still won't give the boy any of the sugar plums. Do not rely on the smallness of our majorities. Do not let that thought actuate your Friends in another House. Recollect this Parliament is your own creature, not ours. Recollect, still more, that a majority of one carried the Reform Bill; and be convinced, that if you consider the majority we may have on this occasion small, the majority that the right hon. Baronet will ever get in any Parliament, while he professes the same political doctrines, will not amount to the half. But I have high authority on this head. When the right hon. Baronet yielded to the necessity of Catholic Emancipation, what was a principal argument with him? He said, "I do not go only by numerical majorities. I have examined the constituencies on both sides of the question, and I find the larger constituencies on one side, and the smaller on the other; and I do—what? I yield to the force of public opinion." Will he now abide by his own test—the test he established as a guide to his conduct in the most memorable crisis in his brilliant political life? Why, what has he to set against the multitudes of Birmingham, Manchester, Salford, Nottingham, Sheffield, Wolverhampton, and the metropolitan districts? Let him now not look to mere numerical majorities; let him compare the constituencies on either side, and let him once more yield to the force of public opinion. You have had your turn—Ireland has been in your hands—you have exhausted upon her all your systems of treatment—you never gave us up the patient until you had found the disease incurable. Is it not justice, is it not logic, that we should have fair play for our experiment, which, after all, is only to leave a little to nature? Be just while you have it in your power to be generous. Recollect how often Ireland comes before you, always a suing and always a rejected one; beginning every Session with hope, ending every Session with disappointment. You say these grievances are not practical; their fruits are practical. Discontent, excitement, Catholic associations, passive resistance—the fears of the rich, the combinations of the poor. Practical, indeed must be the evils that result from keeping a whole peo- 806 ple eternally vibrating between the excitement of suspense and the exasperation of despair. See the state of England at this moment; her trade prosperous, her commerce increasing; peace abroad, tranquillity at home—no foe to menace her safety or curb her powers. Look at her gigantic colonies, covering a new quarter of the globe. Look at that vast Indian empire which she governs almost with the easy hand of neglect; and, close beside us, see that fatal neighbour whom you have proved that you cannot crush as a slave, and whom you will not suffer us to conciliate as an ally. We are weak only in one quarter—there where alone we have abused our power, and sullied our great name as the hereditary asserters of political rights and religious toleration. If in this question our constitution, still the constitution of an aristocracy, should be endangered—if in this struggle, that constitution should ultimately perish, I do say it would be the most striking instance of moral retribution which the whole history of nations could afford. Better had that constitution perished in its early and illustrious struggles against despotism and intolerance, than that it should now be weakened in loyalty or affection, and, sapped and undermined, should finally crumble away in the unholy cause of sacrificing the rights of a people to the fears of an oligarchy, or the avarice of a church. But, whatever may be the consequence, our course is clear. Of that people we are the trustees and representatives. When we refused to repeal the Union, when we placed the present Administration on the ruins of the last, we pledged ourselves to do justice to Ireland. You ask what we mean by justice. Justice to Ireland is something your philosophy cannot comprehend. Why, what can it mean but this—the just application of equal laws? Again and again upon this and the Irish Church question you have told us that it is for a shadow we contend. It may be a shadow, but it is the shadow of a gigantic substance—it is reflected upon you from the largest towns—from the most powerful constituencies—from the established and legitimate Administration of these realms—the shadow is the principle of justice, the substance is the determination of the people.
§ Mr. George Young
was of opinion that, though a few centuries since, municipal institutions might have been extremely 807 beneficial for the purpose of enabling the commonage to struggle the mere effectually against the encroachments of the aristocracy, the machinery of which they were constituted was at the present period of rather an expensive and cumbrous nature, and not very well adapted to the attainment of the ends proposed by their establishment. Since, however, a reform had been introduced into the English corporations, the reasons advanced for withholding a similar reform from the municipal towns of Ireland should, in his estimation, be stronger than those which he had heard advanced in the course of the present debate. He admitted that there was a great difference between the state of society in Ireland and that which prevailed in the sister country; but, great as was this difference, it by no means justified the enormous length to which hon. Members had gone, of asserting that no single town in Ireland was so fit for the exercise of municipal privileges as was the very least of those English towns which were included in the schedules of the English Municipal Bill; that Limerick, in brief, or Dublin was not so well qualified for incorporation as Windsor. He conceived that it would be only doing an act of justice to grant Municipal Corporations to Ireland. For 44 years Roman Catholics had been eligible for corporate offices, and yet up to the present moment a single Member of that religion had not been admitted into the corporation of the city of Dublin. In the year 1829 also when the Catholic Relief Bill was passed, the 14th section of it provided, that it was lawful for Roman Catholics to become Members of any lay body corporate, and to vote at corporate elections upon taking the oath prescribed, but yet not one had been admitted to the corporation to which he had alluded. And now that the Roman Catholics' claim could no longer be resisted, it was said, "No, rather than that they should take part in these corporations we shall abolish them." He would say that that was in the highest degree unjust and offensive, and a course at which the people of Ireland had every right to feel indignant. He advocated the existence of corporations in Ireland upon the ground also that they would be the means of bringing together the inhabit, ants of towns to consult upon those subjects in which they could have, whether Protestants or Roman Catholics, 808 Whigs or Tories, but one common interest—namely, that of providing for their municipal wants, a circumstance which, in his opinion, would go far to do away with the acrimonious feelings which had been so long mixed up with Irish affairs. For these reasons he would vote for allowing the Bill to go into Committee, and he hoped the House would evince, by a decided majority, a determination on the part of the British people to extend to Ireland the advantages of municipal government.
§ Colonel Perceval
observed, that the speech which had just fallen from the hon. Member for Tynemouth (who spoke from the opposition benches) would have better graced the other side of the House. He was far from impugning the impartiality of the Speaker, but certainly the right hon. Gentleman had called on two hon. Gentlemen in succession who had taken the same view of the question before the House. The argument of the hon. Member for Tynemouth was, not that there was not a vast difference between the condition of England and the condition of Ireland, but because Municipal Corporations had been given to England and Scotland, although the hon. Gentleman disapproved of corporations, yet he was for forcing them on the people of Ireland. The hon. Member had stated, that though since 1793, persons professing the Roman Catholic faith might legally take a part in municipal Corporations in Ireland, yet that they had not been admitted to any share in corporate rights; and because the corporations had been exclusively filled with Protestants, therefore, argued the hon. Gentleman, it would be just to deprive the monopolising party of their privileges, and hand them over to the opposite party—a party whose feelings and intentions were represented by the Catholic Associations. He could not understand the justice of thus taking power from one party to give to an opposing one; but he believed that if the amendment of the noble Lord, the Member for South Lancashire was carried, by which corporations would be done away with, as it was impossible to place them in any position in which no predominant party would prevail—justice would be secured to all parties. The hon. Member for Lincoln, who had indulged in poetic flights—had thought fit to attack the course which had been pursued by the right hon. Baronet, the 809 Member for Tamworth. He was not about to defend the right hon. Baronet—a single sentence from the right hon. Baronet would be sufficient to put an extinguisher on the hon. Member opposite. The hon. Gentleman indulged besides in certain prophetic trances respecting the majority which would support the Gentlemen of his (Colonel Perceval's) side of the House in case a change of Administration should take place, "for," said the hon. Member, "it will not amount to half of that which will appear for Ministers on the present question." He should leave the hon. Member to enjoy the evident self satisfaction which he felt in those poetic trances. He would not disturb his imaginings. But the hon. Member in the course of his speech had thought fit to allude to him, as having been a Member of the late Orange Association. He thought he had a right to complain of his Majesty's Government for their conduct to him and to those other persons who had come forward in obedience to the wishes expressed by his Majesty; and honestly, unequivocally, and without mental reservation, or equivocation, had yielded up their own feelings, and had lain the association at the feet of their Sovereign; and had, in addition, recommended others, one and all, over whom they might be supposed to possess some influence, to follow their example. What was the conduct of the opposite party on the occasion? He knew well that the concession of the Orange body—and their ready compliance with the wishes of the King, were gall and worm wood to that party, and that it was so, was proved by their consequent proceedings. The press, influenced by the Government, and by those who governed the Government—neaped on their conduct the vilest taunts and insults; and to such a pitch did they go, that the hon. Member for Cavan and himself had felt it necessary to intimate to the noble Lord, the Secretary for Ireland, that if such a line of conduct was continued, the advantages likely to arise from the devotedness of the Orangemen to their Sovereign's will would be set aside. The noble Lord assured them that he would employ his influence to have an end put to the evil complained of. He did not doubt that the noble Lord had performed his promise; for in a few days a change took place in the tone of the press. But the intimation that the press received was given in language of taunt and insult— 810 that it was much better that nothing should be said as to the course which had been pursued by the Orange body. The noble Lord at the head of the Home Department, in introducing his measure on Municipal Reform in Ireland, had complimented the Irish Members belonging to the Orange association on their ready-compliance with the desire expressed by the King. What course, he would ask, did the Government pursue to mark their sense of that conduct? They allowed the press to urge the advantages likely to arise from the establishment of the association projected by the hon. Member for Kilkenny, on the excitable minds of the Irish people. The Government had been so over-scrupulous in their impartiality that they would not permit any Orangeman (before the dissolution of that body) to hold any situation in Ireland. That Association had been established for none but loyal purposes—indeed their fault, if any, was an over attachment to their king and the institutions of their country, and the connexion between the two countries; and it was for their unswerving loyalty and their firm adhesion to that connexion, that they had been exposed to all the vituperation which had so foully assailed them. He perfectly well recollected that overtures were made some years ago to the various Orange institutions to prevail on them to join the movement, to bring about a repeal of the Union; and it was their refusal to join in such an attempt that had brought down upon them all this obloquy. Now, what had been the conduct of the government of Lord Mulgrave to that body? His noble Friend, the Member for Fermanagh, had been recommended to the Lord Chancellor by Lord Headfort (the Lord-Lieutenant of the county,) for the commission of the peace in the county of Cavan. The answer of the Lord Chancellor was, that he could not be appointed unless he gave a pledge that he did not, or would cease to belong to the Orange body. That might be all very right, but would the House call it impartial justice, that the Government should give its sanction and encouragement to an institution in the heart of Ireland, in the city of Dublin, having 2,300 and odd members, including 600 chaplains; and should select from that association, avowedly formed for the purpose of opposing the law of the land, which never would cease till tithes were abolished—till short parliaments, univer- 811 sal suffrage, the vote by ballot, were established, and the legislative union repealed. Hon. Members cried no, no, he said yes, yes. It was an Undisguised fact; and was it he, repeated impartial justice, that the government should select constables, magistrates, registering barristers; nay, for its confidential advisers, members of this association pronounced by many able lawyers to be illegal? He asked, could equal justice be pretended to by the noble Lord opposite on behalf of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, when the Orangemen of that country having dissolved an association to which they were ardently attached, and which they had found of the greatest service in 1798? It was a recommendation to any public office in that country that a person was a member of the General Association; while Mr. Leigh, on a mere suspicion, and as it turned out, a false suspicion of being an Orangeman, was declared ineligible to fill the office of high sheriff for the county of Wexford.—He had other grounds of complaint with regard to that county—his Excellency the Lord-Lieutenant, had been pleased to honour it with a visit at the end of August, or the beginning of September, and on that occasion had been pleased to exercise a degree of unconstitutional clemency—liberating twenty-five prisoners from the gaol. This was not all. An individual whose chief recommendation, he believed, was that he was a zealous disciple of so-called "peaceful agitation," had been appointed to the commission of the peace; when the recent application was made to the Lord-Lieutenant of the county for his recommendation, it was refused—and the appointment was remonstrated against on the ground that the individual was not in that station in life from which the magistrates of the county should be selected. His father, a most respectable man, was a bleacher, and he had no property in the county to qualify his son for the office. But the appointment must be made, and it was made. That individual had made himself remarkable for attending those meetings by which the county of Sligo, from having been six months ago, the most peaceful and tranquil, had now become a disturbed and agitated district. "Pacificators" had been sent down, death's head and cross bones were recommended to be placed at the doors of refractory electors. He would call the attention of the House to a 812 passage he had seen attributed to the hon. Member for Mayo (Mr. Dillon Browne) in a liberal paper, called the Champion, published in Sligo, and the correctness of which that hon. Gentleman had not denied, when he (Colonel Perceval) had shewn it to him. It was this:—"Mr. D. Browne said he would adopt Mr. O'Connell's advice of placing deaths' heads and cross-bones at the doors of such people as refused to register; and he further added, if they were visited with greater afflictions, let them bear with them. He concluded with a vote of thanks to O'Connell and Lord Mulgrave. But with regard to the appointment which he had alluded to—of Mr. Kelly—he had to observe, that that gentleman had most effectually agitated since he had been called to the commission of the peace, and a rule nisi had lately been obtained against him for vituperative language towards the assistant barrister while in the discharge of his official duties. Much credit had been given to the late Attorney-General, the present Master of the Rolls in Ireland, for his impartiality and firmness. Now, a plausible measure had been introduced into that House by that right hon. Gentleman, by which, under the pretence of avoiding suspicion, it was provided that the assistant barrister should not preside in counties within the circuits on which they professionally practised; and this plausible arrangement was taken advantage of for the purpose of removing Mr. Robinson from Carlow, and putting the liberal barrister, Mr. Moody, in his place. But he being found not quite sharp enough in doing the work intended for him—Mr. Hudson had been appointed in his stead. Another measure confirming a degree of patronage not unpalatable to the government which had been suggested by the present Master of the Rolls, Mr. O'Loghlen, was the appointment of thirty-two crown prosecutors for the sessions, being one for each county. A gentleman named O'Hara had been appointed for Sligo, who during the late registries, took a very prominent part in forcing the people to the sessions; and, he believed, in many other counties the crown prosecutors were to be found similarly occupied. Mr. O'Hara was the acknowledged agent of that party which coerced unfortunate and reluctant tenants to come forward and register; and he had himself seen several placards which had been taken from the doors of tenants, warning them, that if 813 they did not register they might prepare their coffins. He had seen witnesses coming upon the table to register, who stated that they had been forced by the priests to come on the table, but that they would not "hurt their souls" by swearing to the qualification. He had also frequently seen the priests prompting and making signs to the claimants and witnesses when under examination on oath—conduct which, when taxed with in open court, they reluctantly and with shame admitted. These facts he would prove before a Committee if granted. He had stated enough to show that the Irish government were not scrupulous about soliciting to fill the most important public offices, the members of an association which the King's Prime Minister had unequivocally condemned. He believed the people of Ireland, if their opinions could be fairly and without intimidation expressed would be found unfavourable to this Bill. He had himself last Session presented a petition against it from the county he had the honour to represent, though some of the parties signing it had, after an intimation from certain quarters signed a counter-petition. He should conscientiously vote for the motion of the noble Lord, the Member for South Lancashire, and he humbly entreated of the noble Lord opposite to grant a Committee to enable them to prove the several allegations which had been made by the hon. Members for Dublin, Bandon, and others, against the Irish government.
§ Mr. Dillon Browne
begged to explain. He should not have intruded himself upon the notice of the House but for the remark which had fallen from the hon. and gallant Member for Sligo, who had certainly quoted the words which he had used on the occasion to which he had referred; but the gallant Officer had mistaken the application of them. He had applied the words in speaking of those persons who would receive a bribe. He had said that if any individual could be base enough to receive a bribe, it would not be too great a punishment to such a person to have cross-bones and a death's head marked on his doors. He thought this was a sufficient explanation of the matter. He could understand, however, the feeling under which the charge had been made; he knew the slight tenure on which the hon. and gallant Officer held his seat for Sligo; and he was proud to say, that the position in which the gallant Officer stood was 814 mainly owing to his humble exertions. Of Mr. O'Hara, to whom allusion had been, made, he must say he had known that gentleman all his life. He had ever known Mr. O'Hara to be a most intelligent man; and he was confident that in any act of his he had not conducted himself in a manner inconsistent with his public duty.
§ Viscount Howick
said, he felt that he should act more in conformity with the general wish of the House than with the practice of some hon. Members, in not following the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite with respect to the questions which he had again brought on, the stage, and which he was totally without the means of discussing. And even as regarded the general subject before us—the question of whether municipal corporations should be established in Ireland or not (it having already in the course of this and the preceding Session been so fully discussed)—the hon. and learned Member for Liskeard (Mr. Charles Buller) in the able and eloquent speech in which he delighted the House had so completely, in his opinion, established the principle on which the utility of such corporations rested, and the peculiar application of those principles to society—he had so completely established these facts, whilst on the other side of the House there had been such an absence of all attempt to reply to the arguments of the hon. and learned Gentleman, that he held it to be quite unnecessary for him needlessly to prolong the debate by going into a discussion of the general question. He deemed, it therefore, wiser to confine himself to this one point—a point which had given to this debate a new and deeper importance than it before possessed; he meant the grounds which had been put forward for rejecting the Bill on the other side, in consequence of its being assumed that its adoption would cause increased danger to the Established Church of Ireland. He would not inquire why it was, that during the last Session this argument was not put forward; he would not stop to ask why it had happened that, except in the speech of the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Cumberland (Sir James Graham), he did not recollect any stress or weight having been laid upon that argument. Was there a wish on the part of those who held these opinions to excite religious dissensions, and to create religious prejudices in England, Scotland, and Ireland, in the anticipation of the event 815 of a general election? Was it for this that hon. Members were prepared, for party purposes, to degrade and villify the name of religion? He said, if such were the views on which these arguments were brought forward, he trusted in the good sense of the people of England and Scotland to defeat the views of those by whom this attempt was made, and to refuse to mix up a question with religion which, first and last, was entirely political. He trusted that he was as sincerely attached as any man could be, to the Protestant religion; he was as anxious as any man could be to see the manifestation of that religion in this country and Ireland; but it did not follow that, because he was anxious for the preservation of that form of Christianity, he should therefore refuse to other men the credit of being equally attached to their religion; or, that because whilst they agreed with him generally in the fundamentals they differed on points of great importance, he should for these reasons, assume that they were not to be treated as equals in all the privileges of freedom. But, Sir, my noble Friend (Lord Stanley) last night said, that the object, or, if not the object, the tendency of this measure was the destruction of the Established Church in Ireland; and he further said, how can his Majesty's Government persist in the course which they are pursuing, seeing they are told by those who support them, and who sit behind them, that the certain tendency of this measure is the destruction of the Established Church in Ireland? and his noble Friend's question was, "How can they go on, burrowing on like moles, ignorant of the tendency of their own measure?" He had been too many years in this House to attach much value to that argument; but he was surprised to hear that argument used by his noble Friend (Lord Stanley). When he was sitting—he wished he had continued with us—yes, when he was happily sitting with us on these benches, and defending the Reform Bill, that argument was treated with all the contempt which it deserved. When they were advocating the Reform Bill, he asked his noble Friend whether they were not told by those who were now his allies, that it would lead to universal suffrage and the overthrow of the Constitution? Was not that, he asked, the language of those who refused to grant that great measure? But certainly his recollection was much mistaken if the noble Lord felt any diffi- 816 culty in receiving the support of those who professed to go much farther. There was no lack of Gentlemen who were ready to take up the Reform Bill on that ground; and he thought the result proved that both extremes were wrong; and it further showed that they were right in maintaining, that the Reform Bill, in spite of these sinister predictions, was calculated to maintain the Constitution, and not to form a stepping-stone to universal suffrage. Could any man suppose, that if they had refused to carry the Reform Bill in 1830, though they might now be sitting with a constitution, and with the Members for Gatton and Old Sarum, in their places that we should not have a revolution, accompanied by anarchy, universal suffrage, and a military despotism? But he was convinced that no man could look back and think that in such case they should still have a House of Commons essentially forming a part of the British Constitution. But with regard to those who took a middle course between the violence of contending parties, was it to be maintained that they were the tools of one party or the other? He was the more surprised to hear this argument used last night, because it was resisted most ably in the speech of the hon. Member for Liskeard, who said he would not consider his aversion to the Church Establishment that he was its open and professed enemy, and that being so it was not that he trusted the granting of the Bill would remove those objections which he had to the Establishment, that he advocated it. What he said in effect, moreover, was, "and therefore he rejoiced that the English Establishment of Ireland had this additional odium, of being an obstacle to the attainment of civil rights and privileges." The hon. Member said, "they would find, by rejecting the Bill on the grounds which had been put forward, you would show the Irish people not only that they were to have no national endowment—that they were not only to be excluded from the advantages of a national endowment, but they also taught them, that to bolster up the Church Establishment, they were determined to shut them out from the rights of British subjects." He appealed to the House whether this was or was not the argument of the hon. Member for Liskeard? And this, Sir, brought him to the consideration he wished more particularly to advert to—he meant as to whether the tendency of the measure was to be fatal to 817 the Established Church in Ireland or not. If it was, let him ask how was the danger to the Establishment to arise? They did not apprehend a display of actual force—they did not suppose that the town councils would take up arms and resist the Church? No; but they were afraid that, inasmuch as the municipal councils would have the power of discussion, of petitioning the Parliament, where, as representing the wishes and feelings of the great body of the inhabitants of the towns they would wield a moral force, that force would be added to their enmity to the Established Church. Did those Gentlemen who used the argument to which he referred consider what it was that they really assumed? Did they mean to tell him that the Church Establishment of Ireland was so obnoxious to the whole population of Ireland, that it was so hated and detested by the great body of the people, that any increase of their political power, or any means which might be afforded them of increasing that political power, would contribute to the fall of the Established Church? He confessed if that was what was meant to be asserted by the strong friends of the Established Church, it was, from those who profess to support it, the most inconsistent argument he ever heard made use of. But what would be the effect of a denial of this Bill? Was it possible that it would not be what was last night hinted at by the hon. Member for Liskeard? Would it not be felt by the people of Ireland that the Church Establishment was the great obstacle to the attainment of their civil rights? And if that feeling be created, with a political power alluded to, did they think they would have improved their position by the refusal to grant them Municipal Corporations? But, Sir, there was one ground upon which he could understand the character of this argument. Perhaps there might be hon. Gentlemen on the other side who meant to put forward this position—that if the Church of Ireland were ever so odious, if the feelings of the people were against the Church, and our authority as hostile as it might be, they were, nevertheless, still determined to maintain both by means of their superior power! If this, he said, be their position—if they meant to say that they knew the Church of Ireland was odious, that for the sake, nevertheless, of maintaining that Church, and on account of it, they refused to grant Municipal Corporations, and thus 818 defeat that system of Government which they necessarily produced, their power in Ireland would be maintained by force of arms—he then might understand their argument. Then, indeed, he should say they acted consistently by striking out all those clauses that gave civil privileges to the people of Ireland; he said that they were right to legislate as they would for aliens, anxious to shake off the yoke. But before they came to this question of policy, let them consider all it involved and implied. Remember they would have not the voluntary, but the forced, obedience of the people, if you rest your Government upon coercion and not upon the affections of the people. They must carry out a principle to the greatest extent. What, then, have they to do? Had they not recommenced the very struggle they had in the case of Catholic Emancipation? Yes, the very pages might be transferred from The Debates of 1829. He could quote from that work the very sentiments which were then uttered by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite. If, then, he said, this were the same struggle, let them look back to the period he referred to, because it afforded a most instructive lesson to them. He would go back no further than the year 1825, when it would be remembered, that a Bill for emancipating the Roman Catholics was passed by this House and sent up to the other House of Parliament, where, unfortunately, it was defeated by a considerable majority, led on by those who were then the colleagues in office of the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) opposite. Two years afterwards, in 1827, a new Parliament was assembled, and then, for the last time, this House divided by a bare majority against Catholic Emancipation. In the following year the decision of the House was reversed; but, again, a majority of the other House, acting, as he before said, with those immediately connected in office with the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel), stopped the progress of improvement and defeated the measure. In the following year, within only two years of the time when the right hon. Baronet had separated himself from the Government of Mr. Canning, lest his assumption of the lead in that Government should give some remote assistance to the advancement of Catholic Emancipation—within two years from that time the right hon. Baronet was compelled himself to come forward, to confess that his previous policy had been wrong—that 819 his former opposition had been unfortunate—and to call upon this House to pass a measure of Roman Catholic Emancipation! Unwilling as he was to detain the House, he could not forbear reading a few lines from one particular passage of the speech made by the right hon. Baronet upon that occasion, in which he stated his reasons for proposing a measure of Catholic Emancipation. The right hon. Baronet on that occasion was arguing on precisely the same question as that which he maintained was now before them; namely, "Could they or could they not carry on the Government of Ireland by a system of coercion? Could they or could they not go on permanently resisting that which the people of Ireland were determined to obtain?" And these were the words used by the right hon. Baronet:—"He said they would then be commencing a Government with nearly the whole constituent and representative body against them, and it would be practically impossible to conduct the internal Government of Ireland. Separated as that country necessarily was from England, it would be impossible to carry on an internal Government in opposition to the feelings of the representative and constituent bodies. There would be a moral influence opposed to them which would render it hopeless to conduct the business of Government."—Let him ask, would that difficulty be diminished now? An hon. Member, who last night sat immediately behind the right hon. Baronet, told them distinctly that the Roman Catholics were daily increasing in wealth and influence, and that in a very short space of time they would have seventy or eighty representatives in the House. Those representatives would be arrayed against the hon. Gentlemen opposite; because, let the right hon. Baronet remember, that this question of Municipal Reform, which originally only interested the cities and towns of Ireland, had been, in consequence of the course taken by the Opposition, a question deeply interesting to the feelings of every Roman Catholic. His noble Friend (Lord Stanley) stated last night distinctly, "it was because they were Roman Catholics—it was not because they were Irishmen, but because they were Roman Catholics, and because being Roman Catholics they would be opposed to the Established Church, that he refused to grant them the privileges proposed in this Bill," Why, these were precisely the 820 grounds on which, for so many years, the measure of Roman Catholic Emancipation was resisted; and he told them that the difficulties with which they would have to contend in resisting this measure, would be of precisely the same character as those with which they had to contend on the question of Catholic Emancipation, and by which they were ultimately defeated. But he continued his quotation from the speech of the right hon. Baronet in 1829. The right hon. Baronet went on to say: "Again, then, he asked, Sir, what was to be the remedy? Was it to retrace our steps? He would warn them that, finding the powers they had already conferred so great that they could no longer struggle with them, they should be cautious how they struggled with them; they should be cautious how they trifled with them, or encountered a collision which might endanger the welfare of the State; for he firmly believed, that the commencement of a system recalling civil privileges already bestowed, without an attempt to settle the question, and a declaration that nothing was to be conceded, would be attended with consequences the most disastrous. It would cause a re-action which would of necessity lead to a struggle; and that struggle, if pursued to its legitimate consequences, would end in a result little short of the re-enactment of the penal laws. But, Sir, could the penal laws be applied to Ireland as it at present existed? Reflect upon the difficulties that would attend such a project. Could they force back the great spirit that they had let loose by lifting the seal from the vessel, and inclose him again within his narrow limits? Looking, therefore, to the different considerations which bore upon the subject, he would ask the most determined enemy to concession, in what mode the internal government of Ireland was to be conducted?" This was the opinion of the right hon. Baronet in 1829. Would the difficulty of carrying on the Government in Ireland, upon the principle that Catholics, as Catholics, ought to be denied the advantages which were to be extended to England, be less now than they were in 1829? He admitted the real danger of it; far was he from undervaluing the importance of it as the symptom of a disturbed and diseased state of society. But what, he asked the right hon. Baronet, was this; would he find the present 821 Association less formidable than that to which he yielded in 1829? Was it easier now to defend their ground when they had given up every commanding position that they then occupied? when all the aids to resistance they then possessed had since been completely abandoned? When they had given such an extensive political power to the Roman Catholics of Ireland, was there any safety, nay, was there anything but the greatest madness in abruptly pausing and refusing to go further? In the year 1825, Mr. Canning said, and although he had not then the honour of a seat in Parliament, he happened to be present on the occasion, and had the pleasure of hearing him, and his words made a great impression on his mind—Mr. Canning said, speaking of the former system of Government, "The rack was a horrible engine, but a beautiful piece of mechanism—so the penal laws were dreadful, but admirably adapted to the purpose for which they were originally intended;" and he went on to show, that by trampling down and brutalising the whole people of Ireland, they might chance to carry on the Government for a time, but that the very first concession that was made would carry with it, of necessity, all those other concessions which had since gradually followed. Unfortunately the right hon. Baronet would not take the warning which Mr. Canning then gave him. A few evenings ago, the right hon. Baronet felt it necessary to enter into a defence of his change of opinion upon the subject of Catholic Emancipation in 1829. But he was sure that those by whom he was then most condemned, could now hardly resist the conviction, that in 1829 the right hon. Baronet acted in the manner that best became him. He made, by braving the obloquy then heaped upon him, by having the courage to remain in office and assist in extricating the country from the difficulties into which he himself had brought it, the best amends in his power for the fatal errors of his former political career. But if the right hon. Baronet were right in 1829, he asked him was he right in 1825 and 1827? He imputed no motives to him for his change of opinion in 1829. He was convinced that he was sincerely anxious to do that which was best. It was reserved for some of those who had now joined his ranks, to impute to the right hon. Baronet unworthy motives for his conduct. He did not allude to the right hon. Baronet, the 822 Member for Cumberland, but to some of the speeches made in 1829, by some of the hon. Gentlemen who had since taken their seats on the same side of the House with the right hon. Baronet. But acquitting the right hon. Baronet of anything but the most conscientious motives in his conduct, he would put it to himself, whether he was not afflicted in the years 1825 and 1827, most fatally for his country and most unfortunately for his character as a prudent and sagacious statesman, with a most extraordinary blindness? Did not Mr. Canning, did not Lord Plunkett, and many other distinguished persons, the associates in office of the right hon. Baronet, describe to him, in language which might now be quoted as a correct historical description of the course of events, although it was then used only prophetically—did they not point out in language exactly conformable to subsequent occurrences, the certain and obvious tendency of the course he was pursuing. Did they not repeatedly call upon him to say, whether he could permanently maintain the line of policy he had adopted? Did they not repeatedly ask, whether it was possible that the existing state of things could go on from year to year without at least coming to a fatal result? And did not the right hon. Baronet refuse to listen to their warning voices, and blindly persevere in his mistaken career, until at length the fatal result so long predicted actually arrived, and which, he was afraid, did not verify the assertion made by his noble Friend last night, that they would "refuse to clamour what they had denied to justice." The right hon. Baronet in 1825 and 1827, made use of very much the same language as at present in speaking of the danger of the Association in Ireland, of the danger to the Established Church, of the impossibility of placing confidence in giving political power to the Roman Catholics. And why was it that he at last consented to give them power? Was it because the Association had been less urgent in its demands, or less menacing in its attitude? Was it because the Church was in less danger? No; the reasons were those stated by the right hon. Baronet himself, that the means of further carrying on the struggle had altogether failed him. With this experience, with this reason, with this dearly-purchased experience before them, would they again commit the same mistake? Should they once more 823 commit themselves to a system of Government to which the great body of the Irish people and the Irish representatives were, and would be, the determined opponents? Would the Imperial Parliament once more commit itself in a struggle of that kind? Was the right hon. Baronet now prepared to face those self-same dangers which in the year 1829 he most wisely shrunk from encountering; or would he again come down to the House and advise us to retrace our steps? Having denied what was asked injustice, would he tell us to give it up to clamour, when the power opposed to them no longer thanks you for the concession, but boldly tells you you dare not refuse it? He asked the House, whether they were prepared to risk the peace of the country, the existence of the empire, upon so desperate a chance as this? Would they embark in this career? If not, he said, let them lose no time in adopting those measures of conciliation which the present circumstances require, and which experience told them could not be permanently resisted. They had already, fatally in his opinion, lost the best and the wisest occasion for conceding with grace. They had unhappily been prevented from giving to Ireland the same privileges that had been extended to England and Scotland, at a time when it would have been considered no triumph of party, at a time when it would have been accepted by the Irish people as a free and voluntary gift on the part of the Imperial Legislature. Already, if he was not greatly mistaken, the effect of the boon, even though granted upon the instant, would be infinitely less than if it had been yielded in the last Session of Parliament. With all their experience, then, of the fatal effects of delay, would they again be guilty of the error of postponement, and throw away, perhaps for ever, the only chance of accomplishing a satisfactory adjustment of the differences unhappily existing in Ireland.
§ Sir Frederick Pollock
had never addressed the House on this important question, and he trusted he should be excused if he stated, as shortly as he could, the grounds upon which he meant to vote for the motion of his noble Friend, the Member for South Lancashire. Upon the measure before the House, he sincerely entertained that alarm at which the noble Lord who had spoken last seemed disposed to sneer. He believed that the Corporations proposed to be granted to Ireland, 824 would have a tendency to degrade religion, and he thought it much safer for the Protestant Church that the amendment of his noble Friend should be agreed to, than that the Bill should pass into a law in its present state. An hon. Member (he believed the Member for Limerick) had stated, that the only arguments which had been adduced from the Opposition side of the House were, that Municipal Corporations were not necessary, and might be in Ireland mischievous. But even those were sufficient to justify the rejection of this Bill. What had been the experience of the necessity felt in this country for Municipal Corporations? The House would remember, that by the English Municipal Act, power was granted to his Majesty to give Corporations to towns on the petition of the inhabitants, and yet so little necessity for Corporations was thought to exist, by the parties most interested, that there had not been a single such application for charters since the passing of the Act. With regard to Ireland, he contended it to be obvious, that where an exclusive system had been adopted on one side, the probability was, that an exclusive system would be adopted by the other side, and thus religious differences and disputes would be exasperated. His view of the question might be expressed by quoting a single sentence from a letter addressed to the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny, a few days ago, by the hon. Member for Dundalk, on another subject. The sentence was, "I will not pull down one monopoly to build another on its ruins." The noble Lord who had spoken last, had said that the argument with respect to danger to be apprehended to the Protestant Establishment from this measure had been newly raised this Session. Now, he thought that statement was not quite correct, for he well remembered the argument was raised last year by the noble Lord, the Member for North Lancashire. It had been said, that these corporations would become normal schools for peaceful agitation. From such peaceful agitation God defend the nation! He did not believe that Municipal Corporations were so much desired by the people of Ireland as hon. Gentlemen opposite wished to represent; and, he believed, that many of the large towns feared both the expense and the agitation which the introduction of those corporations would entail upon them. Should they ever be 825 introduced into that country, he believed it would turn out that their effect would be to create the very feeling which the noble Lord opposite so much deprecated, and to give that feeling a force which it never before possessed. The hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny had proclaimed, like the eminent philosopher and mathematician Archimedes, was to be the institution of Municipal Corporations as schools of agitation, and with these he was to shake the foundations of the Church which the Association had avowed it would destroy. He had the greatest respect for the people of Ireland, and he must protest against the doctrine, that because some hon. Gentlemen objected to the establishment of Municipal Corporations on the plan proposed by other hon. Gentlemen, that therefore any insult or disrespect was intended or offered to the Irish people. All that his noble Friend had proposed was, that the towns of Ireland should be governed in the same way as Lambeth, or Westminster, or Marylebone, or Manchester, or Birmingham was, and that could be no insult to the Irish people since it was already the case on this side of the channel. Whatever advantages hon. Gentlemen might anticipate from the proposed new corporations, he hoped the providence of God would protect them from ever coming to that point, when they might be compelled to think whether even those advantages had not been purchased at too dear a price.
§ Mr. Roebuck
I am happy to rise after some hon. Gentlemen who have spoken more immediately to the question before the House. There is something very difficult to grapple with in the sort of arguments which were yesterday used, which were drawn from isolated cases, not with reference to the general question of Municipal Corporations for Ireland, but regarding only certain proceedings respecting Mr. Cassidy or Mr. Fogarty. I believe that we have here met to determine whether the population of Ireland should have a municipal system for the government of their own internal affairs, without rendering it necessary to dwell on the proceedings of certain Orange Lodges, or on the registration of Sligo, or any petty grievance as to the executive Government in Ireland. Supposing that the Executive Government of Ireland is unworthy of the confidence of the House, i 826 that an argument, or would it operate as a sufficient reason with the Representatives of England and Scotland to refuse to the people of Ireland the means of obtaining a system of self-government which is found so efficient in its operation in England and Scotland? My object, at present, is to state as briefly and clearly as I am able the grounds of my assent to the second reading of this Bill, and, if possible, to answer some of the objections which I have heard urged to the policy as well as justice of the measure contemplated by his Majesty's Government. It has been admitted by the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for Tamworth, that there is a strong prima facie case in favour of this Bill, and he has acknowledged that on those who oppose it devolves the necessity of proving, by special reasons and peculiar circumstances, the wisdom of denying to the Irish people those rights which by this Bill we seek to confer on them; and my immediate purpose is to show how feeble to this end are the circumstances stated by the right hon. Gentleman, how inconclusive is the argumentation by which he has attempted to support his proposition. Before I proceed, however, to this attempt at refutation, it is necessary for me to learn why it is that the right hon. Baronet thinks that there is a prima facie case in favour of the measure by which we propose to confer municipal rights on the people of Ireland. It seems, as far as I am able to ascertain the opinion of the right hon. Baronet, that he believes, that as Ireland and England are now one nation, and under one government, and as we have seen reason to give to the people of England municipal governments, that there is a presumption at once in favour of extending the same measure to Ireland. I desire, however, to go one step farther into this inquiry. I wish to know, why it is thought necessary to confer these rights on the people of England, for when we have clearly ascertained the nature of the necessity for creating municipalities in England, we shall be better prepared to determine whether there be any difference in the two cases of England and Ireland, and whether the necessity which is so potent in our case exists in Ireland, and whether there be anything in the peculiar condition of the latter country to counterbalance the need which is found to be similar in both countries. Now, I suppose it will be allowed that the principle on 827 which we granted municipal governments to England was this, viz., all communities of men in towns have, from the very fact of their neighbourhood and society, certain interests and concerns peculiarly there own—interests which they have special reason to watch over with care, and to guard and forward with prudence and assiduity. While these societies have these peculiar or local interests, they have also general interests—that is, interests which are general to the greater community of the nation. Now, here in England, we have determined, that while the general government watches over the more wide or general interests of all, the neighbourhoods which have local interests shall watch over and protect these more narrow and peculiar matters of concern. Just in the same manner we have also determined, that each individual has matters and interests peculiar to himself and family, which are left to his own individual government. Thus, then, in England and Scotland, we have divided every man's interests into three separate classes—personal or individual; local, or those of his peculiar neighbourhood; and thirdly, general or national. The first set are under his own immediate and singular control; the second he governs in conjunction with his neighbours; the third he superintends in common with the whole nation. Such is the view we have taken with regard to the people of England and Scotland, and such, at first sight, every one must allow we should naturally take with regard to the people of Ireland. In Ireland, as in England, every man has personal, has local, has national interests; and at the first glance, we should be inclined to believe that we should in Ireland, as we have already done in England—establish personal, local, and national rights. In Ireland (confining myself to the second class, viz., local or municipal rights) it is undeniable that there are precisely the same circumstances of a local nature which have in England induced us to grant municipal rights to the localities in which these peculiar neighbourhood interests exist. No one who has the slightest knowledge of the circumstances out of which municipal government has arisen will deny this. The necessity is inherent; it arises the moment men associate; and the matter we have to discuss is this: why we should travel out of the ordinary path of government in the case 828 of Ireland. Why depart from a rule in their case, which long experience has taught us to be the wisest one in the case of all other people, viz., to trust to every man the guardianship of his own concerns, because his interest in those concerns is closer and more potent than any other man's? The case of a neighbourhood is the same; and what, I ask, are those peculiar and remarkable circumstances which belong to Ireland, and would or ought to induce us to take the charge of local affairs out of the neighbourhood's power, and place it in some other and extraneous hands? We now come to the right hon. Baronet's reasons—or rather reason, for it is but one; and I beg the serious attention of the House, and the country, to the argument which he has adduced for this marked and extraordinary deviation from the common experience of mankind: "I believe," says the right hon. Gentleman, "the existence of Municipal Corporations, which admit all sects and denominations as members, to be fatal to the existence of the Irish Church. Irish Corporations have hitherto been exclusive and Protestant—if you allow them to be open to all, you will destroy the Protestant Establishment; and I therefore call upon the House of Commons, without further argument, to refuse to the Irish people municipal government." It is evident, that in England and Scotland we have found, that for the good, government of the country, these municipal governments were needed—needed, be it remembered, in consequence of circumstances common to Great Britain, and to Ireland. Therefore, for the really good government of Ireland, the same machinery is requisite; but it seems there is something in Ireland of far more import than good government, and that thing thus exalted, above all that we have hitherto thought of paramount importance, is the existence of an exclusive monopoly corporation, called the Protestant Church Establishment of Ireland. Before I proceed, as I shall directly do, to inquire whether this establishment be really deserving of this exalted station—whether providing good government, in short, is not a far better thing than maintaining a set of domineering priests in idleness—before I do this, I would first inquire into the exact truth and value of the assertion of the right hon. Gentleman. The assertion of the right hon. Gentleman was, that the Municipal Corporations would prove 829 fatal to the Established Church. Now, what was and is intended by this statement? What is its precise signification? Does it mean what the words really import—that the religion of the Irish Established Church would be in danger; or that the Church, viz., the congregations, would come to harm in consequence of good municipal institutions? Suppose we take the first hypothesis—suppose we inquire into the assertion, that religion would be in danger. My first question is, why would it be in danger? Religion being in danger, in this case, I imagine to mean, that the Protestants would be likely to change their religion—and here, then, comes the inquiry, why they would be more likely to change their religion under good than under bad or indifferent institutions? I can find but one answer to this question—the clergy would be unpaid. The Corporations, it is said, would lead, in some way not specified, to the non-payment, in any shape, by the state of the Protestant clergy—and thereupon (thus I suppose the argument runs) the parsons cease to preach, and then the people cease to believe. Now, there are some strange things suggested by this train of reasoning. First, it is assumed that Protestant parsons will not preach without state pay. Next it is assumed, that Protestant congregations will lose their religion, if parsons not having state pay desert them: and thus religion is made dependent upon money, and nothing else. I feel a great difficulty in assenting to this statement. I thought that Protestants were accustomed to think their religion the true one; one which had, in its time, been opposed to a powerful state church, and had, in many parts of the world, by its own inherent truth, conquered its opponents; but here we see the professors of this religion, which is said to be based on the right of private judgment, and self-supporting truth, openly avowing that Protestantism will die opt, if not fed like a pauper by the state. It should, moreover, be recollected, that the Catholic religion has, in Ireland, no state pay; it is, nevertheless, believed, that although wholly voluntary and unpaid, it will be too strong for Protestantism if they are both left to depend upon their own unaided strength and truth. This speaks not well for the faith of those who use the argument. They must have but a poor opinion of the force of the truth, or they 830 must believe that they ought to doubt their own faith. But it may be said, that I am not putting the right case—that it is not the religion of the congregations that is in danger, but the congregations themselves. The dread is not that the people are likely to lose their faith, but that they will lose their lives. Now, really, if this be intended, it is a great pity that it had not been plainly and openly said; and what is it that is said by this—why, that if you allow the large majority of the people of Ireland to regulate their own municipal affairs, the first thing they will proceed to effect is the murder of all the Protestants. Can any thing be so wild, so outrageous, so thoroughly contemptible, as such an argument; because you allow the Irish to regulate the lighting, watching, and paving, of their towns, to determine how the rubbish shall be carried away, how the pickpockets shall be guarded against, and so on, the Catholics will incontinently proceed to cut the throats of the Protestants. Such and no other is the argument of the right hon. Gentleman, if this hypothesis be the correct one. But no, it may be said that you have again misconceived the argument. What is meant by the Church being in danger, is, that parsons will not be paid—the Church Establishment will be in no danger. Again I say, if this be the real meaning of the argument, it is a great pity that it was not openly and precisely stated, for there is much undesirable confusion and ambiguity created by this species of talk. When you cry out "the Church is in danger," the minds of the people turn to the religion of the people, they fancy that their religion is in danger—and, as religion is held in high estimation, the alarm at such a portentous cry is proportionate to the interest felt. But it seems it is not the religion, but the private, and personal, and pecuniary interest of the parsons of the state Church. I may here be permitted to remark that the Church, in this sense, is just in as great danger as it can be—a danger not to be increased by any change in the Municipal Corporations of Ireland. The majority of the people at this moment object to pay the state Church parsons, from whom they derive no spiritual benefit. The question is wholly unconnected with, and independent of, the question of Municipal Government; deny or grant the reform in the 831 Corporations, the question respecting the State Church must again recus, and must be settled. You do not hasten, you do not retard, the fate of the State Church Establishment, by anything you do in the present matter. The fate of the compulsory principle is really settled, the doom of forced payments is sealed. Do what you will—insult, injure, thwart the wish of the people in this matter as much as you may—the great question of religious freedom will haunt you night and day. In England, in Ireland, in Scotland, the, same question is mooted, and your paltry opposition to the present Bill, will in no way influence the fate of that important subject. It may be thought shrewd policy to bind the two questions together; but to me it appears that a more fatal course, for the very interests which you seek to defend, could not have been suggested. You here plainly tell the Irish people that the existence of the State Church Establishment is incompatible with good Government; and you bring this question at once, in all its nakedness, before the people. We have settled, say you, that what you believe requisite for good Government, and that which we call the Irish Church, cannot exist together. You must determine, therefore, which you will choose. Will you have all the advantages to be derived from municipal institutions—advantages which we allow to be derived from them in England—for the supposed benefits conferred on you by the Irish Church Establishment. We know that you are already inimical to this Establishment—we know that you aver that it has ever stood in the way of peace and good government in Ireland—and we here again, in spite of your preconceived feelings, call upon you to remain quiet and submit to this outrageous insult—to this great and extraordinary injury, because you are to be blessed by the existence of a corporation of priests, to which you have so often manifested an unconquerable disgust. Oh, Sir, this is wise policy!—this is excellent statesmanship!—and be it remembered that it has received the sanction of the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for Tamworth. The truth upon this matter has at length been openly told to the Irish people; and the Tory party—and the right hon. Gentleman—in England, is now allied to the bigot Orangeman of Ireland. There is to be, there can be, no further disguise in 832 the matter. The people of Ireland now know that from the right hon. Gentleman they need expect no hope of peace; and they must bear steadily in mind that persecution will follow his dominion in Ireland. He has thrown off the mask. He is a mere tool of the Orange party. He shouts as they shout; and to obtain their support, he is now fast sworn to uphold in all her rampant prodigality of mischief, the harlot Church Establishment of Ireland. It may, however, be worth the trouble of inquiring in what way the Establishment of municipal rights will lead to the destruction, as it is called, of the State Church of Ireland. Do hon. and right hon. Gentlemen really know what are the rights we seek to confer by this Bill? and have they ever asked themselves seriously this question—in what way can these rights do mischief? I should, for my own part, feel especially obliged to any one who will point out to me, in what the power of appointing constables, the power of regulating the paving and lighting these towns, of conveying water to the houses, and maintaining peace in the streets, is to affect the stability of the archbishops, bishops, priests, deacons, &c., of the Irish Established Church. If we confine ourselves to vague generalities, we may terrify and confuse both ourselves and others. But when we reduce the question to a specific state—when we know what are the powers to be granted—when we know the business and end of Municipal Government—we shall quickly see through, and properly appreciate, the value of all this pompous and inane declamation respecting the dangers of the Church. Party men may blind themselves by this wild jargon; but the world will soon contemn them and their talk. I cannot leave this part of the question without congratulating the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Cumberland, upon the part he has played in this great matter. Some men, it is said, like mischief for mischief's sake; but he, I am sure, is far too devout to desire, and far too shrewd to be content with, mere mischief as his sole reward. Yet am I puzzled to discover what other object he could possibly have in view, when he conceived his argumentation in opposition to the present measure, and successfully contrived to add another element of discord to the already too turbulent compound of Irish politics. The right hon. Member 833 for Tamworth contented himself with stirring up to the utmost of his ability religious strife in Ireland. The right hon. Member for Cumberland endeavours, according to the measure of his ability, to set the poor in hostility to the rich. The one Gentleman made the question depend upon sectarian difference; the other on the distinction between rich and poor. Ireland cannot have a good Government, says one, because the majority are Catholics. Ireland cannot have a good Government, says the other, because the Catholics are poor. One bands the Protestant against the Catholic—the other incites the poor against the rich. Had any one not Conservative done this, how soon would the destructive qualities of these arguments been displayed to this House. In the one case, we should have been shown to be the enemies of religion—in the other, we should have been proved hostile to property; and loud and vehement would have been the denunciations poured out against us for disturbing, by such wild and dangerous doctrines, the peace of that much-injured people. For just in the same way that the right hon. Member for Tamworth has endeavoured to show that good government and the Protestant religion, cannot co-exist in Ireland; so does the right hon. Member for Cumberland seek to prove, that property and good Government must also be sworn enemies. I cannot but admire the benignant inspiration in obedience to which they both have laboured on this memorable occasion. There is one argument on this subject, however, which deserves some consideration. It runs through the speeches of most of those who oppose the present measure, is constantly influencing opinions, though it is never very definitely or distinctly stated. It is thought, that as the community is divided into two separate, and, to a certain extent, hostile, religious sects, the one party will always seek to oppress the other. The majority of the people being Catholics, the moment that you give power to the community generally, you in reality give it to the Catholics; and as the rule has hitherto been for the party in power to persecute, it is believed that now that the Catholics are about to have power, it is about to be the turn of the Protestants to suffer what they have so long inflicted, viz., persecution. And hereupon a great outcry is raised by those who side exclusively with 834 the hitherto persecuting Protestants, and a proposal is brought forward, now that the Protestants can no longer maintain their former supremacy, to take power from both parties; and give up for ever after the pleasures of persecution. The case then stands thus; hitherto the minority have been in power, and have persecuted the majority; it is now proposed to give power to the majority, and our opponents immediately conclude that the majority will now persecute the minority. We should remember, in the first place, that this objection, if admitted, is fatal to all representative Government. Somebody must govern, and the real question at issue in all such cases is, whether the majority or minority shall govern. Hitherto, in Ireland, the minority have governed, and they have persecuted; we now seek to give the power of governing their local affairs to the people at large, and I see no reason to anticipate any persecution on the part of the majority. It should always be borne in mind, that the position of a minority and majority are essentially different. The mere necessity of self-defence, the desire for gain, all induce tyranny on the part of a few possessed of power. Now the interests of the majority, for the most part, coincide with the interests of the community, and, being the larger number, fear does not drive them to harsh conduct. But let us inquire how the majority can persecute in this case. You say they will persecute, because they are Catholics—that they will persecute the Protestants. Now, I ask in what manner? Have hon. Gentlemen inquired, what are the powers conferred by this Act on the city communities?—really and truly nothing beyond the power of cleansing the streets, paving them, lighting the town, and watching. And is it to be believed, that a corporation will leave rubbish before a man's door, because he is a Protestant; that, for the same reason, they will not pave the street before his house, and that they will tell the watchman not to watch it? And even suppose them to do all these things, how, I ask, is this to affect the Irish Church Establishment. Really, Sir, when this opposition is put upon anything like a definite ground, it necessarily appears so ludicrous and contemptible, that we are driven to believe that something more is intended than is openly stated. Seeing, then, that on none of the grounds stated 835 is the opposition, so fierce and steadfast as we see it, at all rational, can there be found any other more worthy of consideration—though kept in the back ground by the hon. Gentlemen opposite? Yes, Sir, there is such a reason—one not very creditable, indeed, not very honest—but one which everybody can understand. The intrinsic merits of the question have not been considered; the subject has been thought important as a matter of party warfare. There is no dread of persecution—there is no fear that these corporate bodies will or can attack the Irish Church; but it is believed that they will accustom the people to self-government; that the great masses will thus, by the protection afforded them, become more powerful; and that the oppression and insult which have so long been the favourite pleasure of the persecuting minority of Ireland will thus be entirely destroyed. The powers conferred are not the things dreaded; the immediate mischief to personal security or to property, which is so much talked of, is not, in fact, apprehended; but the habits that will be created among the people are indeed, viewed with intense and uncontrollable terror. We dread, says the peaceful Orangeman—he who has been a turbulent tyrant all his life—we dread the agitation that will be practised in these corporations. There is nothing like giving an ill name to a thing; this fashion of fallacy is as old as language. Let us, however, learn what is actually meant. What is meant is, that the people of the towns will now govern themselves; they will be accustomed to elect their own councillors; these will daily, before the eyes of their constituents, carry on the business of the neighbourhood; the people will watch them; will acquire daily and hourly the habits necessary for the due use of the representative machinery; they will daily get still further beyond the subjection to which they have hitherto been accustomed. In short, Sir, they will hourly become a more independent and better governed people. Hence this opposition—hence all this anger—hence all this base dissimulation, this whining hypocrisy concerning religion and Protestantism. Religion is not what they are anxious about, but power—power which they are about to lose, and which, up to the present day, the Government of this country has allowed them to employ to their own individual benefit and the 836 general ruin. In the hope of exciting the people of England to resist with them this desired reform, they have attempted to join their unholy interests to those of the religion of this country: they are now trying to play upon our credulity, and seek, by the aid of fanaticism and bigotry, to maintain their own mischievous dominion. But their day is over; their power is doomed to destruction; and spite of the assistance and pious endeavours of the hon. Gentlemen opposite, justice will be done to Ireland. Before I sit down I hope the House will permit me to call their attention, and more especially the attention of the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for Tamworth, to the end which the opponents of this Bill must have in view. If we deny this measure to Ireland, we must be prepared to govern that country upon principles entirely different from those by which the government of Great Britain is guided. Now, I am not going to ask if they be willing to do this. I would only ask the right hon. Gentleman if he can do it? Does he believe that a whole people, amounting to nearly seven millions of souls, are to be thwarted and insulted with impunity? Does he believe that at this period of man's history, and by the side of the most enlightened nation of the earth, principles and doctrines of government suited for the dominion of St. Petersburg can be carried into actual practice? Let me put the question plainly: Does he, does any one, believe that the system of Protestant supremacy can be continued in Ireland without civil war? Is he prepared upon any grounds stated by him, or that can be suggested by his friends, to risk a civil war in Ireland? If he be not prepared for this, his conduct appears without any defence. Party politics, I know, sanction many things; but in the estimation of all wise and virtuous men some further justification for this fearful hazard will be required than the acclamations and applause of party adherents; some better reason will be demanded of him than the desire to bring under his banner the bigots of the Protestant party; some further excuse will be sought than the maintenance of Protestant supremacy! The world at large usually attributes to the right hon. Gentleman the quality of prudence. He has won this reputation by a regulated demeanour, by a somewhat precise, formal, and guarded manner of expressing his opinions. A 837 reputation of this description is, I allow, of great advantage, but it leads to a severe scrutiny of the conduct of these gentlemen of staid reputation and they are condemned when others might pass without much comment. We assume that the right hon. Gentleman always knows what he is doing—that he has weighed the consequences of his acts, and that he is prepared for them. Thus, in the present case, we assume that he sees the great dangers of his course—we suppose that when he has aided in denying this measure to Ireland, that he is prepared to govern her at the bayonet's point—that he is prepared to justify before the people the ruin, disaster, and bloodshed that will follow his hopeful project. We presume that he sees these things, that he acts upon reflection—and we judge him accordingly.
§ Mr. Shaw
said, the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just sat down, having arrogated to himself the office of censor of the debates of that House, must surely have had the noble Lord, the Secretary of State for the Home Department, particularly in his eye, in the censure with which he Commenced his speech, because it was admitted on all hands that the noble Lord had induced the digressions from the immediate subject of debate, of which the hon. Gentleman complained, and threw out a challenge to the opposition side of the House, which had been boldly accepted and fairly met by his hon. and learned Friend, the Member for Bandon. The noble Lord, aided and assisted by another noble Lord, the Secretary for Ireland, invited, provoked, and compelled a discussion on the general position of affairs in Ireland—he called upon his hon. and learned Friend to go into a justification of the resolutions, condemnatory of the whole course and policy of the Irish Government, which had been passed at the great Protestant meeting in Dublin; his hon. and learned Friend had, he apprehended, given a full answer, to the entire satisfaction of the House and the country, and to the great dissatisfaction and discomfiture, he had every reason to believe, of the noble Lord and his Colleagues in the Government. He was determined, however, not to deserve in this respect any portion of the censure of the hon. and learned Gentleman, and should therefore direct the few observations with which he thought it his duty to trouble the House immediately, to the 838 subject matter under consideration. The hon. and learned Member for Bath asked why they refused to the people of Ireland those municipal institutions which had already proved so useful to this country? First of all, no answer had yet been given to the speech of the hon. Member for Tynemouth (Mr. G. F. Young,) who denied that such institutions were useful to England, and they had just heard from his hon. and learned Friend, the Member for Huntingdon (Sir F. Pollock), a striking fact in corroboration of that opinion, that no town or borough in the kingdom had yet applied for municipal incorporation. But he would not be satisfied with this. He would meet the argument fairly and directly. He would admit, as the hon. Member for Bath stated, had been admitted the other night by his right hon. Friend, the Member for Tamworth, that, prima facie, they should have identity of legislation, and, if possible, extend the same principles of Government to Ireland as they applied to England. He fully agreed in all the abstract truths deduced from historical research and philosophical reasoning, with which both the speeches of the hon. and learned Member for Liskeard (Mr. Buller), and of the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Roebuck) abounded, and that was their sufficient answer—but after that frank concession, he came to the real point in debate, and he maintained that it was the part of a wise Legislature to legislate for every country not merely upon abstract principles, but to give due consideration and weight to the peculiar condition and existing circumstances of that country. The hon. and learned Gentleman asked why they would not allow to the people of Ireland the power of managing their own concerns. His answer to him was this—if by passing this Bill, they invested the Irish people with that nominal power, there was a higher power in Ireland that would not allow them really to manage their own concerns. The hon. and learned Gentleman asked, why, having given them national power, they should not also give them local power? His answer was, if local powers be given, they were plainly told those local powers would be abused to bad purposes—and they were told so by those who, avowing the disposition, had undoubtedly the means to verify their own predictions. The noble Lord, the Member for Northumberland (Lord Howick), said, that the 839 question of the Church had, for the first time, been introduced upon the present occasion; on that point he begged leave to differ from the noble Lord. He had himself glanced at the subject, and the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Cumberland, near him, had discussed it at large when this question was under debate last Session. But suppose it was so, what then? What was the cause? The plain and obvious reason was, that since the close of last Session it had been openly avowed, and however indiscreetly, yet vauntingly boasted, by those who were the real promoters of this Bill, that the object they had in view, if they obtained the Bill, was the overthrow of the Established Church in Ireland. The noble Lord asked, had the Church become so obnoxious to the people of Ireland, that if invested with local power, they would use it in order to effect its subversion? His answer was, such was not his argument; the argument upon that side of the House was this—the Church was so obnoxious to those who blindly led the great mass of the Irish people, that they declared they would use the powers so conferred, to the subversion of the Protestant Establishment. The noble Lord stated, not very fairly in reply to the argument used by his noble Friend, the Member for North Lancashire (Lord Stanley), that it had been admitted by him that corporate privileges should not be denied to the people of Ireland because they were Irishmen, but because they were Roman Catholics. Now, he must be allowed to say, he heard no such argument. The argument of his noble Friend (Lord Stanley) was, that, inasmuch as, in the present condition of Ireland, considering the unhappy religious dissensions which prevailed in that country, no matter whether Protestants being the minority and the great majority Catholics arose from accident or not, still the fact was so, and the objection was, that granting, in that state of affairs, this power to the people of Ireland, must inevitably lead to still more marked divisions of parties into Protestants and Roman Catholics, and therefore prove equally prejudicial to the one and the other. But with respect to the real question before the House, he would first clear the ground of the points on which there was at present no controversy. They agreed, then, in abolishing the old corporations. They agreed with 840 hon. Gentlemen opposite further—he alluded only, at present, to the Government, he did not speak of those who were the real promoters of this Bill—in abolishing the old corporations, for, in candour, his Majesty's Government must admit that this Bill absolutely annihilated the old corporations; but they agreed also in this, that the object should be to secure the peaceable and good government of the cities and towns in Ireland. In what, then, did they differ? They only differed as to the best means of attaining that object. The Government said, "We will grant forty-seven corporations, town-councils, and all their accompanying machinery, to Ireland at once, without regard to, or consideration of, the peculiarities in the existing condition of that country." What did his side of the House propose? to provide for the administration of justice, in the first instance, and in that respect they were content precisely with what the Bill of last year contemplated. With the single exception of mayors, as far as regarded recorders, sheriffs—the whole administration of justice, their object was to adopt the provisions of the Government Bill as it stood last year. With respect to the police, they agreed to the Government Bills for consolidating the constabulary and police force, and placing them entirely under the control of the Irish Government. They proposed to provide for the discharge of corporate functions precisely as at present, by the boards and commissioners who now discharged them; they would make over charitable funds to charitable trustees appointed for the purpose of administering them; they would abolish tolls, and then, if anything should remain of corporate property, and it must be a small sum, instead of wasting it in useless show or festive extravagance, assign it in each district for the benefit of all the inhabitants. He would next consider what was the difference upon this question between the two great political and rival parties, into which it was too notorious to deny Ireland was unfortunately divided. The one, the Protestant party, which, however, contained many respectable Roman Catholics, and as his hon. Friend, the Member for Limerick (Mr. S. O'Brien), had stated, there were frequently Protestants returned by the opposite party. His hon. Friend's own case, however, afforded a strong illustration that theirs was no easy service. His hon. Friend had felt the 841 despot's rod, and found his right contested to be the independent representative of his own constituents. He, however, took the distinction without meaning it invidiously or offensively; he had no desire to perpetuate religious animosity; but for convenience, and in order to avoid circumlocution, he would designate the one party Protestant, and the other Roman Catholic. What, then, did the Protestant party say? They expressed their willingness to give up these corporations, the more ancient of which were established for the sake of preserving British connexion, and the more recent for the express purpose of strengthening and maintaining the Protestant religion. Seeing the change of circumstances—considering that the Roman Catholic Relief Bill had become law, and the Reform Bill had greatly altered the franchise—taking these things into account, and taking the view of rational men dealing with the altered and actual state of society, they were willing to surrender all exclusiveness—to give up the peculiar political influence belonging to those corporate bodies, but no more; they would not consent to have them transferred to a hostile interest. But the Roman Catholic party said—"No, a little while ago we should have been very glad if you, the Protestant party, had offered us the abolition of those corporations, but now we are grown too strong for that." He believed the very words used by the hon. and learned Member for Tipperary on a former occasion, when referring to this subject, were—"No, no; you have had your turn long enough, and we shall have ours now." What did those words mean? Why, this—"You, the Protestant party, have used these corporations for the purpose of upholding British connexion, and defending the Protestant Establishment in Ireland; it is now our turn, and we will use them for severing the one, and subverting the other." Such was the language of those two great parties; and what, let him ask now, was the conduct of the Government? Was it their desire to eradicate the evils complained of, or only to transplant them to a soil where they would flourish with greater luxuriance? Was their real object to grant to Ireland a measure required for strictly corporate uses; or merely to concede to a clamour, which they had not the strength to resist, a colourable pretext for establishing forty-seven political associations or debating societies through out Ireland, under 842 the false pretence and fraudulent title of the ancient corporations of that country? The first clause, it was admitted, absolutely extinguished the ancient corporations. Let hon. Members look at the 62d clause, and say whether the bonâ fide intention of this measure could be to give sound municipal institutions; or whether it was not only a fraudulent pretext for some ulterior object. The 62d clause recited—"And whereas it may be expedient that the powers now vested in the trustees or commissioners appointed under sundry Acts of Parliament for paving, or lighting, or cleansing, or supplying with water, or improving certain boroughs or certain parts thereof, save and except as hereinafter mentioned," and that exception was most important, "should be transferred to, and vested in, the councils of such boroughs respectively. Be it enacted, that the trustees or commissioners appointed by virtue of any such Act of Parliament as last aforesaid, wherein the trustees or the persons whose trustees they may be, are not beneficially interested, may, if it shall seem to them expedient, at a meeting to be called for that purpose, transfer in writing all the powers vested in them as such trustees," &c. That recital proved this fact, that all those municipal functions at the present moment in all important towns in Ireland, with the exception of Dublin, to which he would immediately allude, were actually discharged by boards and commissioners; and the clause empowered them, "if it should seem to them expedient," to make over those functions; but Government did not make them over; and then what was the exception? "Provided always that nothing herein contained shall extend to enable the commissioners for paving, cleansing, and lighting the streets of Dublin, or the commissioners for making wide and convenient streets in the city of Dublin, or the corporation for improving the port and harbour of Dublin, so to transfer the powers vested in them respectively." So that the Government, suspicious of their own measure, seeing its total inapplicability to Ireland, were afraid of applying it to Dublin; they reserved all the functions performed, as they were by boards and commissioners, with but a few exceptions, throughout other parts of Ireland, in case the boards or commissioners thought fit; but absolutely and without any option to the commissioners in the case of Dublin, beyond all 843 comparison the most important corporation—the corporation of Dublin having three times the corporate property, and a population greatly exceeding the whole possessed by thirty-six out of the forty-seven towns proposed to be incorporated by the Bill. And besides, what did their commissioners say upon the subject? At p. 92 of their report, they stated this—"In fact, the present establishment of the Paving Board is adequate, with the addition of a few clerks, to regulate the affairs of all the local taxes of Dublin." What was the opinion of a body which he could not but think must have exercised a very important influence in this matter—"The Central Independent Club," or "National Association" under a different name? At a meeting held at the Royal-Exchange on the 13th of February, 1836, "to secure the independence of the city of Dublin in reference to Corporate Reform," how did they explain their notion of the great utility of the proposed Corporate Reform? In these words—"By this means the club will be able to wield such a corporate constituency as to secure the wards, the common-council, the board of aldermen, and every other office of dignity and influence." What, in the next instance, was the opinion of the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny? It was shortly this—"The first thing," said he, in his sworn evidence before the commissioners, and I read from the notes of the short-band writer, "which a reformed corporation should do, would be to build a common-hall; there is no place now where the public business can be adequately transacted," and that, although there was at present a hall capable of accommodating at least 300—capacious enough certainly for all practical purposes; but the real object of the hon. and learned Gentleman was, to have a large debating society established there—a legalised arena for political agitation. What said Schedule C? It contained the names of thirty-six boroughs which were to have Municipal Corporations. The entire population of these thirty-six boroughs was but 225,147–40,169 less than the population of Dublin alone. Thirteen of the thirty-six boroughs had no corporate property at all, while the property of the whole amounted to only 13,097l. 2s. 1d. Could the bonâ fide object of Government then be to give corporate institutions to those towns? Would it tend to promote their peace, 844 tranquillity, and good government, to subject them to yearly elections, perpetual collections of borough rates, everlasting canvassing, daily recurring exhibitions of party triumph, and the eternal bitterness of religious animosity. Could such a scheme really and seriously for a moment be defended as a means of tranquillizing Ireland? Was this the panacea for all the evils of Ireland, the remedy for all her wrongs? The means whereby to supply her many and urgent wants? The same virtues were ascribed to the appropriation clause of last year, and where was it now? There were upwards of 2,000,000 of the population on the borders of starvation in that country, and would the granting of municipal corporations to 200,000 feed the hungry or relieve the destitute? What, then, was the real object? He would state it on the authority of the real promoters of the Bill. He was sorry to be obliged to refer to the speeches and letters of the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny; and he could assure the House it was without the smallest personal consideration or motive in respect to that hon. and learned Gentleman that he did so. But if they had a right to refer to the King's speeches in order to ascertain the sentiments of his Majesty's Ministers, those who maintained, as he (Mr. Shaw) did, that the hon. and learned Gentleman was dictator of the King's Ministers, surely had a right to read his authentic writings and speeches in order to learn what their real sentiments and designs were upon this subject. The hon. and learned Gentleman complained of the irrelevancy of the quotations which were made from his speeches five or six years back; that was an unreasonably long time to expect the hon. and learned Gentleman to be consistent; but that observation could not apply to the document he was now about to quote, and be heartily wished that the hon. Member for Shaftesbury, who expressed last night such a horror of the instalment principle, had been present in his place to listen to it. On the 28th September last, in a letter addressed to his constituents, the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny says this:—"You are well aware that the governing rule of my political conduct has been to obtain for Ireland as much as I possibly could—to get entire justice for her if I can; but if not to realize as much as possible. In other words, there is a 845 national debt of justice due to Ireland—I look for the payment of the whole, and will never be satisfied until that whole is discharged in full: but in the meantime, I will take any instalment, however small, at any time, when to get more is out of my power, and then go on for the balance." They were told that the National Association had arisen out of a denial of corporate reform, a denial of justice to Ireland. That was the greatest possible mistake. Corporate reform never would have agitated the people of that country if it had not been mixed up with other more exciting subjects—the abolition of tithes, the destruction of the church, and the real, though partially concealed one of the repeal of the Union. The very same letter bore authentic testimony upon this point. "This is precisely the principle (continued the hon. and learned Gentleman) I have acted upon with respect to the tithe system in Ireland, My opinion is, that tithes ought to be totally abolished, and that ultimately nothing less than the abolition of the entire will or ought to satisfy the Irish people. I may be mistaken, but these are my deliberate and fixed opinions. I heartily supported the ministry of Lord Melbourne in their measure of tithe relief, not as giving all I wanted for the people of Ireland, but as giving us a part, and establishing an appropriation principle which would necessarily produce much more." Alas! the poor, extinct, discarded, ill-used appropriation principle!—The hon. and learned Gentleman then condescended to touch upon the question of corporate reform, and what was his language upon that topic? He insisted upon his instalment principle here also. He said, "I supported the government plan of Irish municipal reform throughout, not that I approved of it in all its details, but as an instalment, and an instalment for what?" This bill was never found fault with as not going far enough in corporate reform. What then was it to be an instalment on account of? Why, clearly, the other measures mentioned in this same letter—and as in the letter quoted by his right hon. friend, Sir James Graham, the other night, in which the hon. and learned Gentleman said, 'Give me corporate reform, and I'll soon carry all the rest.' Then the letter continues; and here we find the real cause of the change in the sheriffs' clause from the bill of last year, in the written instructions of 846 the dictator of the present measure.—"I cannot, however, again support such a bill as we sent to the Lords last session, because that bill took from the reformed corporations the power to nominate to the crown the persons fit to be sheriffs. The bill, as brought into the House of Commons, was not so; it contained that power, and I, for one, will not support any bill in future which does not contain that clause." He maintained if other more exciting subjects had not been mixed up with this question, there would have been no call for corporate reform at all in Ireland. He knew it to be a fact; as a. measure of relief it had never been, thought of; but, associated as it had been, with other more agitating matters, it reminded him of the old story of the Irishman who, on being asked what he would have to drink, replied, "He did not care if it were only intoxicating." It was necessary to mix the question up with other more agitating and exciting subjects—and what said the hon. and learned. Gentleman next? for this perhaps was the most extraordinary and important portion of the letter, considering the offer of abolition made on his side, and the extravagant and absurd use made of our not consenting to the creation of new corporations—hear the hon. and learned Gentleman himself on this point, he says, "If Lord Lyndhurst had contented himself with leaving the people of Ireland un-insulted, and had shortened the Corporate Reform Bill to the mere extinction of the present corporations, I would have voted for the Bill in this shape."—Where, then, was all the insult and all the national degradation? What, after all, did Lord Lyndhurst say in the warmth of debate, and said, as he had since over and over again explained, without meaning anything offensive to the Irish people? But, above all, what was it to the language which the hon. and learned Gentleman had used a thousand times respecting the people of England generally? And still more—how can the mere expressions or words of Lord Lyndhurst, or any other individual, alter the intrinsic merits of a question?—and go it seems this unpardonable insult—this outrage which nothing but blood can wipe out, the hon. and learned Gentleman himself was ready to be a party to. What said the hon. and learned Gentleman on another topic in the game letter, the repeal of the Union? 847 "For this purpose it is, in the first place, necessary that we should not for one moment lose sight of this important fact, that we repealers are at present engaged in an experiment. We have not abandoned the repeal, we have only postponed all agitation on that subject to give time, space, and opportunity to work out our great experiment. Two questions on this subject naturally present themselves:—The first is, how long the experiment is to last? The second is, whether it is likely to be successful?" And let the House listen to the hon. and learned Gentleman's answer to the second question:—"To the second question my answer is distinct and emphatic. I am convinced of the utter impossibility of obtaining justice for Ireland from any other than an Irish parliament." Then they were told that the National Association "was the spawn of their own wrong," and that it was in consequence of their refusal of Municipal Corporations to Ireland that it had assumed such an attitude of menacing defiance. Upon this subject he had also a good authority to quote to the House. A meeting took place on the 29th of January, in one of the country parts of Ireland, where a gentleman appeared who had been commissioned by the hon. and learned Gentleman himself to act in the character of a pacificator, and let hon. Members pay particular attention to his language and the resolutions which were there passed. The first resolution was:—"That we express our anxious wish that every liberal Member will support such measures as may shorten the duration of Parliament, extend the suffrage of the people, and facilitate the adoption of the vote by ballot." Then followed this other—"That we place entire reliance on the General Association of Ireland—that we will support their views, and pay respect to their advice, and that we will proceed with the collection of the justice-rent throughout this parish on next Sunday, Feb. 5." Now, what were the objects of that Association, on what was it founded, and how had it worked, always bearing in mind that we are told it was caused by the refusal of this Bill, and that corporate reform is its first and leading object? The subject of corporate reform was never so much as mentioned at their meeting. In the first place, the chairman introduced Mr. Marcus Costello, a barrister of talent, and, he believed, a gentleman of honour, 848 but, notwithstanding, who, though now a "pacificator," had broken the peace himself, and been punished for it. The chairman introduced him to the meeting as Counsellor Marcus Costello, the chosen pacificator of Mr. O'Connell, and the representative of the Association. Mr. Costello said, "I shall clearly explain to you the reasons why every man amongst you, did he but leave sixpence behind in his pocket, should become a member or associate of the great body I have the honour to represent." What were the objects of that body? First, with respect to Lord Mulgrave's government:—"In connexion with this nobleman's vigorous conduct, I must mention a fact not generally known—it was my friend, Mr. Purcell, who paid me my fee to prosecute the two policemen, Scott and Porter, for an assault. They assaulted the man for giving a pound to the justice-rent, and when my Lord Mulgrave became cognizant of all the facts, he dismissed them both. What was the result? Though it affected personally but a few, the circumstance fled like wildfire, and was rapidly diffused among the police; and depend on it they will be slow and cautious to meddle with you"—"with you"—observe the emphasis—"on any frivolous pretence. Under Lord Mulgrave's administration you can look confidently for justice and impartiality." That reminded him of a definition of impartiality given by the Rev. Mr. Tyrrell, a Roman Catholic priest, at the Carlow election the other day, who said, speaking of Lord Mulgrave, that "he administered his government without any improper partiality." Mr. Costello went on—"There is a great array of power and strength against us. They have power enough to send Lord Mulgrave away from us. These occurrences would again take place but for the strength and wisdom of the present association. The venerable Catholic hierarchy are members of it;"—aye, and as we learned from my hon. Friend, the Member for Belfast, 600 Roman Catholic priests to boot. Mr. Costello continues—"But we cannot proceed without the sinews of war, without money. If you but knew all the demands upon us; within the last six months we have expended upwards of 2,000l. Lawyers and attorneys are employed to watch and defend tithe victims. I do not say we employ them, we do nothing illegal; but somehow we have the knack of getting 849 the thing done. We have ingenuity enough." Now observe, they had been told that the sole object of the association was to obtain corporate reform, and that whenever that end had been gained it should be dissolved, but he (Mr. Shaw) entreated the attention 'of the House to what followed. Sometimes when the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. O'Connell) was away, the juniors were not so prudent, and the truth came out. Let us, then, hear, in the words of Mr. Costello, the delegated agent of the Association, its true and real object. Mr. Costello proceeded, "I venture to prophecy in twelve months we will break the necks of the parsons—we will do more, we will take care that Ireland be represented by impartial, honest, independent men, if the clergy act as they have heretofore done." This gentleman, then, having stated that the Roman Catholic hierarchy had become members of the Association, and it appearing that the four Roman Catholic archbishops were among the number, he would, for the purpose of testing the value of this cry about corporate reform, and also learning the real notions of the most influential members of that Association, refer to the opinions of certainly one of the most distinguished for talent amongst the prelates of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland. He held in his hand a letter from the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Tuam, Dr. M' Hale, in which the following passage occurred. The Association had been established, it was said, solely with reference to corporate reform; but what did Dr. M'Hale say? He had received a letter requesting him to interest the clergy in the Association, and he answers thus:—"I hope there is no clergyman in this diocess who will not contribute to that fund. I trust, too, that there is not an individual in Ireland, however humble, who will not shortly give his offering into the national treasury." Observe the name the Roman Catholic Archbishop baptizes the society with. "The triumph that crowned the Catholic ought to be a lesson to guide the General Association." "The tithes shall be extinguished for ever." "It is from the creation of that establishment the poor of Ireland may date the epoch of their being outlawed from the common privileges of humanity; they can never hope to be effectually restored until the Legislature issue the decree of its fiscal annihilation, after which little will be heard of 850 polemical acrimony." He was sorry to trouble the House further, but he must call their attention to another document—a letter from the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny himself—a letter written the other day to the Association, in consequence of a motion he had made in that House. And what did the hon. and learned Member say? "I have not as yet received any petition for presentation, although many were signed and ready when I left Dublin. It is important that the petitions for the ballot should arrive as soon as possible, and as numerously signed as may be. Petitions for the total abolition of tithes, a speedy reform of the Irish Corporations, and vote by ballot, according to the directions contained in the printed instructions," were also required. What, then, was the nature of that Association? And was not this corporate reform made a mere stalking horse for its ultimate designs? He held in his hand a copy of the Act of Parliament which suppressed the Roman Catholic Association—and he maintained that the National Association, as stated by Doctor M'Hale, was nothing more nor less than a revival of the old Catholic Association. Supposing that opinion to be right, why, he might be asked, not try the question by law? He was not giving an opinion that the Government should put it down; but suppose the noble Lord were advised that the inquiry should be instituted whether that body was contrary to the law, who would be the first person to whom he would apply for advice? Why, the very confidential adviser of that association, who nursed it in its infancy, who by his zeal and assiduity reared it to its present strength and power, and had been publicly thanked for having done so. Could the noble Lord in common sense and reason, or without an outrage on both, appeal to Mr. Pigott whether his Majesty's Government were bound to put down the Association? Or, supposing they were to try the question by issuing a warrant, arresting some one of its members, and put it into the hands of Mr. Laurence Cruise Smith, whom Government had lately appointed a stipendiary magistrate, who had over and over again occupied the chair of that Association, and was one of the most noted agitators in Ireland—would the cause of justice, in such a case, have the smallest chance of success? and yet under circumstances we were disdainfully 851 told that the Protestants and other peaceable inhabitants of Ireland had no just cause of complaint. Upon the whole of this case—was it reasonable—was it statesman-like—was it not an extravagant outrage upon common sense—to charge them with premeditated insult—to talk of national degradation—to invoke mutiny and eternal discord—and, like the hon. Member for Liskeard (Mr. Buller) to threaten them with civil war, because they ventured quietly and calmly to hold the opinion that in the present state and circumstances of Ireland it was safer and better after abolishing the old, not to create new corporations there? In looking over some newspapers of last year he had happened to come across one which contained a letter from Sir F. Burdett to the ejectors of Westminster, in which, speaking of the English Corporate Reform Bill, the hon. Baronet made the following observation:—"As to the corporate bill, I am inclined to think that it would have been better to abolish the old corporations, and not to have created new." Was that an insult to the English people?—and might not Irishmen, without intending any, hold the same language as to Ireland? He had last year quoted a letter from General Cockburne, an Irish Gentleman of great respectability, but of politics entirely opposite to his, to the same effect as regarded the present measure. He knew many Roman Catholics, merchants, and men who thought more of business than of party, who took the same view of the question, but who with safety to their business durst not express it openly—and upon this same principle it was, that he founded one of his strong objections to the measure, knowing that independent Roman Catholics would not hold offices under the new corporations, apprehensive of injury to their business, or annoyance to their family—if, in the discharge of their public duties, they did not yield a servile obedience to the petty tyrants who would seek to control the proceedings of those bodies. English Members who spoke, appeared to forget that this was not a question merely between England and Ireland, but that a great, and, let him add, no inconsiderable portion of the Irish nation opposed it. He would not allow hon. Gentlemen opposite to monopolise every feeling of patriotism; he, as an Irishman, was one who would not submit to any 852 really national insult; he felt, however, that he could stand erect among his noble right hon. and hon. Friends around him, although Ireland was left without town-councils—just as the merchant at Birmingham or Manchester did not hang his head at Leeds or at Liverpool from a consciousness of degradation, because the former had not, while the latter enjoyed, the great dignity of municipal corporations. He contended that the tone of the noble Lord (J. Russell) and his Majesty's Ministers conveyed, much more real insult to the Irish nation than was for a moment contemplated by the refusal of this measure. The noble Lord, and he was followed by the noble Lord the Secretary for Ireland, both, by the way, being but the echo of a speech of the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny (Mr. O'Connell) at the Catholic Association, had charged—and he believed most unjustly and unfoundedly—the magistracy, composed of the gentry of Ireland, with encouraging faction, feuds, and party fights, in order that the people might maim and destroy one another upon the abominable principle of divide etimpera. Again, was it no insult, no outrage upon the feelings of the many widows and orphans of the murdered victims of five years' cruel and unrelenting persecution of the Protestant clergy in Ireland, to ridicule the bare notion of their sufferings, to deny them even the poor retribution of complaint? The noble Lord could not have consulted the better feelings of his own heart, if he had contemplated for one moment the condition of many a clergyman's family at the very time he was speaking. He had heard from such since, in remote districts of that country, where the pious minister, impelled by a high sense of duty, resists the entreaties of his family, and goes forth amidst the threatenings and danger upon his daily ministrations. His wife, meanwhile, and her children drawn in anxious alarm around her, watch his returning steps with breathless anxiety, listening with trembling fear to every breath of wind, lest it should bring the report of the murderous weapon raised to destroy, or the deathcry of the husband and the father—their only earthly hope, the single means of their support, The noble Lord could never have intended it; but was it not calculated to harrow up the wounded feelings of such a family as that, to be told that it was only because there "was such a charm in melancholy, 853 that they would not, if they could, be gay?" Then that important body of the Irish people, who in an immense proportion represented the rank, the wealth, the intelligence, and the independence of that country, were designated by the noble Lord as a miserable monopolising minority. Was the, Marquess of Downshire, who long supported the Whigs, and was the consistent friend of Roman Catholic Emancipation, a miserable monopoliser? Was the head of the Hutchinson family—a family who for half a century had been the zealous and untiring advocates of popular rights, and the relief from Roman Catholic disabilities—was Lord Crofton, and many others whom it would be too tedious to mention—but though last, not least, he could not pass over Mr. Naper, the chosen Commissioner of the present Government—almost the only independent Gentleman who visited the Irish court—was he, too, a miserable monopoliser—driven, not till the last moment, to subscribe to the resolutions which had proyoked the present discussion, because, as he himself so well expressed it, he saw the Irish Government in that condition of miserable weakness and dependency, that they were at the same time "ashamed to destroy, and afraid to defend," the rights and properties of the Protestants of Ireland? He could wish plainly to tell the House, and the country, what it was this "miserable monopolising minority" asked, and what now it was they refused? They asked, they desired, nothing but equality, equal justice, impartial administration of the law, security for their persons, for their properties, for their liberties, and their religion; they offered to surrender all monopolies, all exclusiveness, all peculiar political influence; but they entreated you not to transfer these to their opponents; they desired no superiority, no ascendancy, nor to inflict on their opponents any civil inequality; but their Protestant Church Establishment they would ling to with all tenacity; they would support it with the last farthing of their property; they held their lives cheap in comparison with it; they knew that there would be no safety to either their properties or their lives without it. Ay, and they knew, too, that it was the best security, even for the rights and liberties of their Roman Catholic fellow subjects. If the vote could be taken that night upon the question, whether or not the present 854 Bill was calculated to destroy that Church, a large majority would affirm that proposition; he would employ the hon. and learned Member for Shaftesbury to draw the pleading, and take care there was no false or immaterial issue; but let him bring out at once the plain, straight-forward honest question—does this Bill, or does it not, tend to the subversion of the Protestant Church in Ireland? As it was, he knew there would be a large majority against his side of the House; some of his own hon. Friends would not vote to abolish the old corporations; many were lukewarm on the subject, and many on the other side would vote from a secret conviction, that the Bill was a blow aimed at the Irish Church; others, from an honourable desire to support the Ministry; for, disguise it as they would, depend upon it, the vote that night would neither be one on the Church question, nor yet given because a Bill of corporate reform is vital to the peace and tranquillity of Ireland, but because the same use had been made of this question, which last year was made of the appropriation clause—it had ingeniously been made vital to the existence of the Ministry, Many, from an honourable and amiable motive would, therefore, vote with them. Some, who liked their persons, but not their measures, and others, who favoured their measures, but not themselves, would feel in honour bound not to desert them in their distress. He knew not whether the noble Lord had felt, or ever would feel, the pain, but he certainly might discern, in that debate, the symptoms of a mortal disease in the Ministry with which he was connected. It might be a question of time, a little more or less, but he was persuaded, notwithstanding the opinion of the noble Lord to the contrary, that the people of England would consider this a religious question—would be surprised at the noble Lord and his Colleagues adopting the views of the hon. Members for Liskeard and Bath on that subject; and that the Protestants of Ireland would not, in their extremity, appeal in vain to the religious and generous sympathies of their brethren in England and in Scotland. The people of this country were, as it bad been truly observed in the debate, slow to move—they resolved not quick, but once resolved, they were very strong. The noble Lord might be assured, that whatever was the vote of the House that night, the minds 855 of the sober and rational people of Great Britain were turned from the present Ministry: they patiently waited their time; but their hopes were steadily and determinedly fixed on one who, as he had himself said, and would prove, disdained to hoist false colours, to conciliate the favour of any party; but who had manfully declared, in the face of the nation and the world, that the principle of his government would be "to support the national establishments which connect Protestantism with the state, in every portion of the United Kingdom."
§ Debate again adjourned.