§ On the Order of the Day for the resumption of the adjourned Debate being read,
§ Mr. Emerson Tennent
said—The principal grounds on which the noble Lord has brought forward this motion, consequent upon the appointment of the Committee in the House of Lords, to inquire into the nature and extent of crime in Ireland, are, first an apprehension of something unconstitutional in that proceeding as a virtual interference with the executive Government; and, secondly, a desire to vindicate the Irish Administration from an implied censure of the House of Lords for the existence of an excess of crime in that country. The right hon. Baronet (Sir Robert Peel) in bringing forward hi amendment, has gone so fully into both branches of the subject, and especially into the constitutional view of this proceeding of the noble Lord, that even had it not been my wish to confine myself to the one topic on which the noble Lord has joined issue with the country, namely, the Irish policy of the Government it would have been impossible for me to have found one point in the general question which has not been previously exhausted by his speech. But without presuming to reiterate that ground—without referring to what has been the conduct of former administrations in reference to similar proceedings of the House of Lords, I cannot avoid remarking, that there is something rather extraordinary in the vigour with which the noble Lord has fastened upon this one vote of the House of Lords, when upon many other recent occasions, votes have been passed not only in that House, but in this, which could be regarded in no other light than as a virtual interference with, and censure upon, the executive Government, but upon which, nevertheless, the noble Lord and his colleagues saw no such necessity for resorting to a proceeding like the present for their vindica- 95 tion. It cannot, I presume, be concluded that the Committee of the House of Lords, which sat last year to inquire into the conduct of the Irish Government, in the matter of appointing Sheriffs (and which has been followed by such salutary practical results) was any other than a constitutional interference with the executive Government, and a stern censure on its errors—and yet both the noble Lord opposite and the noble Marquess whose conduct was most intimately implicated in that proceeding, saw fit to acquiesce in it without any appeal to a counter-vote of this House. Again, Sir, the noble Lord, the Member for Sussex (Lord G. Lennox) brought forward last year a motion which he succeeded in carrying, for an inquiry into the system of promotion in the Royal Marines—that motion was resisted by the Government, expressly on the ground of its being an undue interference with the executive—and yet in that vote also, when carried against him, the noble Lord quietly acquiesced without any appeal to the House to rescind or to reverse it. But now, when a proceeding has been adopted by the House of Lords which may or may not issue in a censure upon one branch of the policy of the Irish Government (but which cannot, in any event, be a more direct censure upon it than was the inquiry into the illegal appointment of Sheriffs last year), the noble Lord and his colleagues sound the constitutional alarm, and fly to this House for shelter and protection. And as to the censure which the noble Lord professes to discover in this proceeding of the House of Lords, I presume there is more of the promptings of conscience than of fair and candid consideration in that apprehension of the noble Lord. Previous Governments in similar investigations have discovered no equal grounds for indignation or alarm, and neither Lord Liverpool nor Mr. Goulburn shrunk from the inquiry into the state of Ireland in 1824, and 1825, although the extraordinary prevalence of crime at both these periods was urged as the immediate, though not the only grounds for investigation. But after all, Sir, although it is a matter of recent date, thus to identify the crimes of Ireland with the Government of the day, it is not pretended that it is for the mere existence or the extent of that crime that the present or any other Government is really responsible, but for the nature of 96 the means which they have employed to crush and to suppress it. If the noble Lord and his colleagues shrink from anything in this investigation, it must be, I apprehend, from that branch of the inquiry. The noble Lord, the Secretary for Ireland, on a former occasion imputed to this side of the House that we had been the first to render the Government of the day responsible for every act of violence and outrage which might occur in Ireland. The noble Lord was incorrect in that assertion, as the first parties to lay down that principle, and to charge the disorders of that unhappy country on the existing Government, were the hon. and learned Member for Dublin and the hon. Member for Kilkenny, who so far back as 1833, avowed it as their conviction, that "all the crimes which were then committing in Ireland were to be laid to the door of the Whigs," and that it was "the administration of the King's Government which had rendered life and property insecure in that country." Sir, if that doctrine be true as to the administration of 1833, I should be glad to know what there is in the Government of 1838 to take it out of the same rule? Unless, indeed, it be the principle laid down by Lord Wellesley, in his celebrated letter to Earl Grey, "that outrage and agitation were mutually cause and effect," and that whilst the latter was put down by every exertion of the Government of 1833, agitation has been cherished as the very life-blood of the Government of 1838. But, Sir, divested of all extraneous considerations, the simple question which the noble Lord's motion has brought to a direct issue, and which the labours of the Committee, now sitting, will place undisguisedly before the country, is this: Has the Government of Lord Normanby, or has it not, taken every rational and proper precaution for the suppression of crime and outrage in Ireland during the period of his administration of affairs in that country? Sir, into the extent of crime and outrage in Ireland, or into the question of the comparative amount at this moment as compared with its prevalence in former years, it is by no means my intention to enter—as well because the attention of the House has been of late repeatedly called to that melancholy subject, as because her Majesty's Ministers have admitted its existence, and taken their ground solely upon the point of their po- 97 licy for its suppression. Besides, Sir, it is unnecessary for my purpose to make the revolting investigation, whether committals have been 5,000 less in the past year than of the year preceding, or whether convictions have increased during the same period in the same formidable ratio. It is unnecessary for me to correct discrepancies of 14,000 offences in one criminal return, or to supply deficiencies of 7,000 in another. It is sufficient for the Legislature to pause, when the admitted and deplorable fact, that no less than 27,000 criminals have been committed during one year for trial in Ireland, and that 160,000 have been summarily convicted during the same brief space of minor offences against the laws; and all this occurring in a country of which the hon. and learned Member for Dublin declared, in 1830, in rebuking an observation of the hon. Member for Shrewsbury, that its moral character stood so high that it was impossible to elevate it higher, and that the very existence of crime was every year disappearing—a country of which the noble Lord the Secretary for the Home Department, no later than 1837, stated in his place in this House, that it was "almost entirely undisturbed by crime, and rapidly improving in its national condition." Sir, when we find her Majesty's Ministers, both in this House and elsewhere, contented to ground their defence upon the assertion that the state of crime in that country, if not improved, is at best no worse at the present moment than in former years—that homicides, if they have not diminished, at least have not multiplied in amount—when we find a state of society in which murders are so prevalent, that the victims of a year are no longer reckoned by tens, but by hecatombs, is it not time for us to pause, and to inquire into the cause and the remedy for such a visitation? When "iniquity has come in like a flood," instead of uselessly calculating the drops, it is time to rouse ourselves, and to inquire what precautions have been taken to drive back the current. The public cannot be satisfied with the simple explanation that crime is not greater now than when her Majesty's Ministers came into office—the point on which they will require to be satisfied is this, what steps have been taken to render it less? The exposition would extend further than would be warranted by the indulgence of 98 the House, to point out the connexion between such lamentable offences, and those habits of turbulent excitement which are inseparable from perpetual political agitation, and by which men's minds become first familiarized with violence, and finally reconciled to crime; or to show me how far that great originating cause, the political agitation which seems peculiar to Ireland, has been, if not recognized and encouraged, at least sympathized in and unrepressed by her Majesty's Government. From a diffidence of the patience of the House to listen to any lengthened statement, I shall abstain altogether from that topic, as to how far the conduct of the Irish administration may be inculpated as the cause of Irish disturbance, and confine myself to the one issue which they have themselves selected, of the principles and policy by which they have attempted its suppression.—The first and most formidable feature in the failure of the administration of the law in Ireland of late years, and that which has created the greatest alarm and loss of confidence in its efficiency, has been the difficulty of obtaining convictions in criminal cases—owing to the sympathy of jurors—the impossibility of procuring information as to the commission of offences—the intimidation which deterred the generality of witnesses from coming forward to prosecute—and the persecution and violence which have, in numerous instances, been visited on those who ventured to do so. Sir, if the illegal appointment of Sheriffs on the mere nomination of the Crown had no other effect than promoting this discomfiture of the law, that one error alone would be sufficient to implicate her Majesty's Ministers in the abetting crime in Ireland. The only conceivable object which the Lord-lieutenant could have in travelling out of the Judges' return was, to select that individual whose appointment would be most agreeable to the popular party—the popular Sheriff, as a matter of course, found it his interest to prepare a popular panel, and the greater the condescension which he exhibited in selecting jurors from the lowest class who were eligible to serve, the better understanding and the closer sympathy was he certain to insure between the jurors of the county, and the individuals on whose guilt they were to decide.—Sir, there is no more convincing assertion of a principle than the production of a striking ex- 99 ception, and if a doubt upon that matter can be reasonably entertained, I would point at once to the instance of the Special Commission which the Lord-lieutenant felt himself constrained, after all his boastings of tranquillity, to send to Tipperary at the close of the last year. The Sheriff, who prepared the panel upon that occasion, was one chosen in the constitutional mode, from the list which the Judges had returned, and well aware of the cause which had so long defeated the current of the law, he selected his jurors, not from the freize-coated 40s. free holders, but from the men of property and intelligence in the county, and what was the result? The murderers in the dock, aware that their last scheme for escaping had been defeated, first challenged the entire array! then objected to every name in the number, which law permitted to the accused, and were finally convicted of their offences, because instead of twelve commiserating sympathizers they had twelve intelligent and independent men for their jury.—Connected with the prosecution of criminal offences in Ireland, there is another proceeding, the propriety of which has been so often and successfully questioned in this House, that there is but one observation which I am anxious to make upon it—I mean the alteration in the practice of setting aside jurors at the instance of the Crown, as introduced by Sir Michael O'Loghlen. I am aware that the explanation given by the Government is this, that the Crown Solicitor was instructed to refrain from objecting to jurors on the score of religion or politics alone, and to interpose only in cases where grounds of specific objection had come positively within their knowledge. But whatever these specific instructions may have been, it is an indisputable fact, that an impression was created, and still does exist inn the minds, both of the people of Ireland and of the Law Officers of the Crown, that the practice of objecting in any case was unfavourably regarded by the Government, and discountenanced by them; and instances might be multiplied without end, in which it would be impossible to persuade the people of Ireland, that the most lamentable evasions of justice had not arisen from this single cause. But in an especial degree this impression as to the feeling of the Irish Administration has proved prejudicial to the fair course pf the law, inasmuch as the Crown 100 Solicitors on the various circuits, being removable by the authorities at the castle, would be most likely, if they exercised any discretion at all, to incline to that course which they fancied would he most gratifying to their superiors, and would, consequently be biassed by self-interest in interfering as slightly as possible with the panels, no matter how objectionable they might be. As illustrative of this tendency I will mention one instance of very recent occurrence. A crown solicitor in Ireland, lately objected on one trial to no less than eighteen or twenty names which were called upon the jury. The prisoners were, I believe, ultimately convicted, but so confident were the people in the sympathy of the Government, that a memorial was instantly forwarded to Lord Normanby, from the Liberal club, to complain of so flagrant an instance of political persecution. The officer of the Crown was, of course, something alarmed to receive in consequence a communication from the castle, directing him to account for the transaction, to which he forwarded a ready reply, that he had received positive information, that the persons whom he had set aside were all members of the very club who had forwarded the complaint, and having been actually contributors to a fund subscribed for the defence of the very prisoners at the dock, nevertheless, most virtuously indignant at being deprived of the pleasure of sitting as jurors at this trial! This reply was, of course, conclusive. But suppose in this case, that tine grounds of objection, though equally valid, had been less clear and specific, in what peril would not the crown solicitor have felt that he had placed the tenure of his office? Or is it likely, that this same individual, with the consciousness of his liability to be similarly summoned to an account upon every future occasion, will act with that intrepid judgment and cool deliberation which the duties of his office would demand and require, or that for the future, he will riot have many an individual upon a jury whom his moral conviction would constrain him to set aside, but whom caution and self-interest will compel him to retain, in the absence of legal evidence to justify his conduct, if called on to account for his removal? A third, and by no means an unimportant peculiarity in the mode of conducting criminal prosecutions in Ireland, is 101 the practice of waiving the right to reply to the counsel for the prisoner by the counsel for the Crown. This is another of those baits for popularity on the score of a spurious humanity, which are characteristic of the present Irish administration, and the dangerous tendency of which must be instantly apparent on the slightest consideration of the class of jurors whom they have to address—of the inconsistent and contradictory nature of the defences, whose falsehood, and whose perjury, it would be their duty to expose, but which, owing to the abandonment of their functions, almost invariably lead to the acquittal of the offender. So, is it to be wondered at, that, with these three causes in active operation; with this mischievous tampering with the machinery of justice, prosecutions for criminal offences should have become a mere farce—a solemn absurdity in Ireland? With prejudiced juries, selected by partizan sheriffs, with their purification discountenanced by the Government authorities, and their misconceptions and ignorance never once grappled with, or dispelled by the address of the counsel for the Crown, is it at all surprising, or unaccountable, that convictions should be of scanty occurrence, or that crime should be associated with almost absolute impunity in Ireland! Is it to be wondered at that the culprit and his friends should look forward with indifference to the solemn mockery of a trial, that the only individuals who should have real grounds for apprehension are the disheartened and discomfited complainants, and that the gaols should become as often the welcome refuge of the discredited and terrified witnesses as the abode of the criminals, whom they fruitlessly sought to convict? Without alluding to the remoter districts of Ireland, of which I have no personal knowledge, I state it as a fearful illustration of the consequences of this defective and perverted system, that in the most disturbed counties of the north of Ireland—namely, Louth, Monaghan, and Armagh, there has not been for the last four years one single conviction or punishment for murder, although no less than 146 indictments have been tried for that crime, under this defective and perverted system. I state that as a formidable illustration of the discomfiture of law in Ireland, and I call upon the noble Lord to refute it. I call upon him to point to one solitary 102 instance in which the crime of murder, though of melancholy frequency as to occurrence, has been either detected, convicted, or punished as such, in those three counties during the entire period o the administration of Lord Normanby? And yet these are the results; these are the evidences of that policy of the executive government of Ireland, on whose wise and efficient administration of the law, we are this evening invited to bestow the testimony of our confidence and approval. In perfect consistency with this process for the prevention of convictions has been the practice of the Lord-lieutenant in his discretionary use of the prerogative of mercy, for annulling them when obtained. "Discretion," Lord Camden said, "is the law of tyrants;" and certainly in this instance the Marquess of Normanby has ventured upon an experiment in its exercise which any living man, but one either divested of fear or indifferent to responsibility, would have trembled to attempt. Sir, I am willing, for the sake of argument, to take Lord Normanby's own explanation of his motives—I am willing to adopt the apology which was offered for him by Lord Melbourne in the course of last year, that his unlimited pardons conferred upon the convicted felons in Ireland were merely an experiment to ascertain "what advantageous impression they might create at the moment; and how far the spirit of tranquillity might be fostered and encouraged by their display." But even admitting the philosophy of that intention is there any man in his senses who can calmly approve of either the extent of the operation, or the time which was selected for the experiment? Was it a prudent period to select for such a hazardous cast, when it had been publicly asserted and corroborated by gloomy experience, that the murder of any individual in Ireland could be compassed for a reward of half-a-crown to a hired conspirator? Was that a judicious moment to choose for experimenting on law? Was it practicable to propitiate assassins by assurances of pardon? Was it a prudent moment when the fever of crime was at its height, when the gaols of Ireland were swarming with their formidable visitants—was that a rational moment to select for the romantic adventure of Lord Mulgrave, in throwing wide the prison doors, and appealing to 103 the chivalrous honour of their inmates, to "go and sin no more?" Sir, it was one of those wild exploits in Government, which even success would be insufficient to justify, but which has been most palpably and fearfully rebuked by its utter and lamentable failure—a failure which has been most signal and most melancholy, in proportion as the experiment has been most favourably and most extensively tried. Beccaria, and every other authority on criminal jurisprudence, have laid it down as an axiom, that crime is to be effectually prevented less by the amount than by the certainty of punishment; but it has been reserved for Lord Normanby to make the formidable experiment of how far crime might be restrained by the absolute certainty of impunity. Contemporary with the discovery in physics that human disorders are most effectually eradicated by the propagation of symptoms analogous to their own, it has been reserved for the late Lord-lieutenant of Ireland to introduce into the science of government the homoeopathic principle of "Similia similibus curantur," that crime may be most thoroughly suppressed by affording every facility for its propagation. But, Sir, it is impossible for those who are mot living in the country itself, and witnesses to the alarm and trepidation of its inhabitants to comprehend in their full extent the disastrous effects of this rash and daring innovation on the enforcement of the law. It has destroyed alike the reliance of the plaintiff, and the fear of the offender for the vigour and authority of the courts. The hope of justice is equally withdrawn from the sufferer, and the apprehension of it from the culprit—whilst the ignorant and astonished population have been taught to look upon the judges of the land as so many itinerant tyrants, and to regard the most revolting offences only as so many claims to the pity and commiseration of the Crown. But frightful as may be the contemplation of the extent of crime in Ireland, its evidence is even less formidable than the knowledge of the impossibility either to punish or prevent it. Crime, it is to be feared, there must always be in every country to a certain extent; but there is always a hope and a confidence that that extent cannot expand so long as the great mass of the population are virtuous and sound. But what hope can we entertain of a community, in which the feelings of 104 the majority are rather with the criminal than against the crime; and the sympathies of the mass are less with the victim than the murderer. It has been said on the one hand but contradicted on the other that this sympathy with murderers in Ireland is the result of a widely-spread conspiracy, the ramifications of which are incessantly employed either in the suborning or concealment of crime. So far as regards the exculpation of the character of Ireland, it is utterly immaterial whether that contradiction be sustained or reversed. If there be not a conspiracy such as this amongst a portion of the people, then must it be what is more formidable still, a conspiracy and conjunction of the entire—an all-pervading and unanimous impulse to tolerate assassination, to facilitate revenge, and to stifle with one consent the call for justice and the cry for mercy. And this is the pass to which we are compelled to admit society has arrived in Ireland, at the close of the four years' administration of "the paternal Government of Lord Normanby." Sir, as the vote of this evening is to embrace the entire policy of the Irish Government, I presume the department of the Irish Church is not to be excluded from that consideration. The Irish Church has been, all along, the most prominent feature in the policy of the present Ministry—it was their scaling ladder to power; and it has formed the material of two-thirds of their deliberations in office. And, Sir, I should be glad to learn what section of the people of Ireland will have their feelings honestly represented by the vote of the majority of this House, which will avow confidence in her Majesty's Ministers upon that question of their policy towards the Irish Church? Do you imagine that the vote of this night will express the confidence of the Protestants of Ireland upon that point? That people from whom for three years you capriciously withheld an equitable settlement of that system on which they were dependent for the maintenance of their public worship and the support of their established religion; and to what purpose? only to yield to them in 1838 that measure of justice which you factiously denied them in 1835. For three years and upwards you kept the tithe sore open in Ireland, festering and ulcerating society, whilst you held the remedy ready in your hand, and yet fore- 105 bore to apply it. The Protestants of Ireland year after year implored you for a settlement; we pressed upon you in this House the very measure which, when it answered your ends, you ultimately adopted. The Tithe Act of 1838 differed in no essential particular from the Bill for which we prayed in 1835, which was actually on the table of the House, but which you refused to grant till you could no longer hope to reap any advantage by withholding it. And is it for these three years of needlessly protracted anxiety and turbulence and insult that you ask for the confidence of the Irish Protestants in your policy towards the Irish Church? Do you include the clergy of the Irish Church in the vote of confidence which you now solicit? Lord Normanby a few days since, in his parting address on taking leave of his Government, declared that he had "spent four years of uninterrupted happiness in Ireland." Sir, those were four years of uninterrupted misery to the Established Clergy of that country—four years of privation, and poverty, and bereavement, and sickness, and death—sufferings which it was in your, power to have prevented, but when they made these sufferings known to you, how did you redress them? The clergy have not yet forgotten that the Executive Government of Ireland illegally and unconstitutionally refused them the aid of the civil force for the protection of their property, and the assertion of the law in their behalf, till compelled to do so by the decision of the House of Lords. They have not yet forgotten that you designated the complaints "a dismal tale of an imaginary malady." They have not yet forgotten the chilling witticism of the noble Lord opposite (Lord John Russell)—Call it madness, call it folly,You shall not drive my grief away;There's such a charm in melancholy,I would not, if I could, be gay.And yet with all these recollections, fresh and galling in their remembrance, the noble Lord comes down to this House, to ask a vote of confidence from the representatives of the Irish Protestants and the Irish Clergy. But on the other hand, leaving aside altogether, the feeling of the Protestants in Ireland—has your policy towards the Established Church, been such as to enable you to demand a vote of confidence from its Roman assailants in that country, or its 106 no less formidable opponents in this? Have you observed your promises to them for its reduction? Have you redeemed your pledge of laying the foundation for its ultimate humiliation? Do you ask the confidence of the Irish peasant, who encouraged by your Phillipics against the Church, and acting under the advice of the National Association (of that very Association; and perhaps of that very individual member of it, whom you selected as your confidential adviser), was induced to resist the payment of his lawful debts to the clergy till he was immured in gaol as a rebel, and liberated only when reduced to a beggar? Do you ask for his confidence in your policy towards the Irish Church—that policy which began by deluding him into a belief that it would cancel tithes altogether as a lien upon his land, but which has ended in can celling his lease itself, and in doubling the facilities for driving him from his farm, if he hesitates one moment to discharge them? But, above all, do you ask the confidence of this House or of the country, in the matter of the Irish Church on the score of your dealings with the Appropriation Clause?—It was the outstretched hand that raised you into power—it was at once the author and the essence of your existence as a Ministry—it was equally the foundation and the keystone of your policy. If there ever was a measure which, not only from its external accidents, but from your asseverations of its imperative and indispensable nature, the public might have had confidence would be carried into effect, it was the appropriation of some portion of the revenues of the Irish Church to secular objects. The noble Lord opposite declared that it would justify an agitation for the repeal of the Union, and the dismemberment of the empire itself, if the resolution to that effect were to be defeated or deferred. You were bound to it not merely officially as Ministers of the Crown, but personally as men of honour and of principle. Lord Melbourne himself de-dared so on presenting the Bill which embodied it to the House of Lords in 1836:—It is upon the great and decisive principles which we have adopted, and the maintenance of which, undoubtedly, is absolutely necessary to our character and reputation; as I believe it to be essential to the advantage and benefit of the country. It is upon that great and decisive principle myself and my colleagues are pre- 107 pared to stand. … It is, in my opinion, a wise resolution; in my opinion it is such a resolution as is calculated to settle this question on grounds which will be really satisfactory; and therefore, not only in point of honour, not only in point of feeling, not only in point of reason, in point of everything that is binding upon man, I consider myself undoubtedly hound to adhere to the principle and letter of this resolution."*And was the language of the head of the Ministry in this House less deliberate or less resolute? The Noble Lord opposite (Lord John Russell) ten days after, on the Bill coming back to this House, denuded of this vital principle, thus declared his determination:—The House of Lords have sent the Bill back, rejecting that which the House of Commons have declared an inseparable part of it. .. How then are we to deal with such a Bill? I content myself with referring to the debates of last year, and the resolutions then passed; and with declaring, that I and those with whom I act, are satisfied of the truth and justice of the principles of those resolutions, and that from those principles we are not ready to depart. It may be a question for the House to consider, whether, having solemnly affirmed those principles, they are now prepared, because the House of Lords has rejected them, to yield them up, important a are, and to endeavour to agree with the Lords upon this subject, either by assenting to the Bill before them, or to some other Bill, which might be introduced, If the Members of the House of Commons were to go to the bar of the House of Lords in that humble guise—recanting their former resolutions—submitting that they had been in error—and that the wisdom of the House of Lords had taught them a lesson of policy which they had not before learned; I must say that I would not accompany the House of Commons on such a message. We are here, prepared to stand by the principles which we have professed. We maintained those principles as an essential part of the final settlement of this question, when we were out of office. With the affirmation of opposite principles now—with the denial of the principles which we have professed—of course it would be our duty to resign—of course it would be our duty no longer to pretend to govern the counsels of this country."†Sir, I do say that, when after these solemn declarations in the face of the Parliament and of the country, we find that that measure has been abandoned—when, after*See Hansard, Vol. xxxv. page 483—Third Series.† See Hansard, Vol. xxxv, p. 768, 769. (Third series).108 the lure even indirectly held out to him of an expected subversion of the tithe system, the Irish peasant discovers that that system has been not only repaired but reinforced; and when, after the threat menaced for three years of inflicting "a heavy blow and a great discouragement upon Protestantism," the Irish Protestant perceives that that blow is only averted because her Majesty's Ministers,Willing to wound and yet afraid to strike,have discovered that they want the power to inflict it. I do say that it is delusion, or something worse than delusion, for Ministers to seek for a vote of confidence in their policy towards the Irish Church at the hands either of its friends or its assailants. The Noble Lord (the Secretary for Ireland), Lord Morpeth, has, to be sure, on a former occasion, challenged our confidence in the policy of the Government, so far as the in ernal affairs of the Church were concerned, and the exercise of patronage in the distribution of dignities and livings. But whilst I grant, so far as I know, their faultlessness in this respect, inasmuch as in the Church of England, there were no offices to which Roman Catholics are eligible, and, amongst her clergy, but few political partizans of the Noble Lord to fill those which fall vacant, I would plead, as a set-off to that demand for confidence, the appointment of Lord Ebrington to the administration of the ecclesiastical affairs in Ireland—arriving, as he has in that country, with the law which he is to enforce in one hand, and his own speech as a glossary whereby to interpret it, in the other. Sir, I remember to have heard it stated more than once in this House, that however eminent might be the personal qualifications of a Governor in Ireland, those qualities were accounted as nothing, if the people of that country had not perfect confidence in the exercise of his power. I remember myself to have heard the hon. Member for Kilkenny in the House declare, with reference to my noble Friend the Member for North Lancashire, then Secretary for Ireland, that, however high his qualifications he should he dismissed from that office, because the people of Ireland were dissatisfied with him—"that even if he had no faults—if there was no doubt of his competency for office—still, if the people of Ireland thought differently, it was but right and proper that 109 the Government Should remove him—even if all the prejudices against him were unfounded, it Was the duty of the Cabinet to get rid of him." [Cheers.] Sir, I understand perfectly the cheer of the hon. Member—I understand thoroughly whom he means by "the people of Ireland"—but, Sir, I appeal from that cheer to her Majesty's Ministers, and I ask them, is it carrying out their principle of conciliation and their professions of impartiality to appoint a Governor to that country, whose only title to the confidence of one party, is, that he is regarded with alarm and apprehension by the other? Oh, Sir, apply the doctrine of the Hon. Member for Kilkenny to the case of the Lord-lieutenant of Ireland. We do not dread that Noble Lord's administration upon surmise for upon hearsay, his own voice is yet ringing in our ears; any in competency which he may exhibit for any branch of his Government, he is convicted of on his declamations, and on the showing of his own avowed opinions. And yet, within one fortnight from the date when Lord Ebrington lands in Ireland, with a declaration of "war against the Church" still fresh upon his lips—her Majesty's Ministers, who dispatched him thither, have the infatuation to call upon the Protestants of Ire-land, for a vote of confidence in their friendly policy and pacific intentions towards the Establishment of that country! No, Sir. Whatever difference of opinion there may exist as to other departments of Irish policy, howsoever Members on the opposite side of the House may be disposed to attest their confidence in the Irish Administration of her Majesty's Government, it must be With an entire reservation of the question of the Irish Church. Upon that question their feelings and opinions have been disregarded equally with our own. But besides this, on this point of the Church, the sincere and earnest opponents, those who have been up to this moment equally energetic and consistent in their proposals for what they consider to be a proper regulation of the Trish Establishment (the supporters of her Majesty's Ministers upon every other occasion), have already recorded their deliberate opinions. Are they prepared to falsify that record now? Are the two-and-thirty hon. Members, who on the third reading of the Irish Tithe Bill, last year, denounced that Measure as a delusion, pregnant with evil, and calculated 110 to deprive the Ministry of the confidence of the people of Ireland, who voted With the hen. Members for Mayo and Kilkenny, against its being permitted to pass this House—are they prepared to retract that deliberate censure, and to declare their unqualified confidence in the wise and consistent policy of the Ministry towards the Irish Church? I regret to see so few present on the opposite benches; but is the hon. Member for Sheffield, who voted in that division, prepared to take that course? Are the Members for London, Lambeth, Southwark, and Westminster, and the Tower Hamlets and Marylebone, who were all in the same division, prepared to follow his example? Will the Members for Cocker mouth and Wolverhampton do the same? Unless they do so—unless they reserve and protest against the policy of the Irish Church measures, then will their vote to-night be a direct contradiction of their recorded opinions in July last? Looking then, Sir, to the entire course of Irish policy, legislative as well as executive, to the selection of Government functionaries; to the patronage of the bar, the bench, and the civil offices of State; looking to the Government of the Church, and the administration of the law, I can see no one department on the grounds of which the Conservative Members of this House can tender their confidence to her Majesty's Ministers; and I can see but few in which, whilst they can claim the votes of their Radical allies, they would not be at issue with the more cautious and moderate Whigs upon the other—those Whigs I mean who before the accession of Lord Melbourne, and the compact of Litchfield House, formed the party which supported the Government of Earl Grey. Now, Sir, in alluding to Earl Grey's Administration, allow me to make one observation, there is no expedient which, on every emergency, has been more triumphantly resorted to by her Majesty's Ministers, both in the House and elsewhere during the last four years than an appeal to the precedent and example of Lord Grey's Government. The policy and practice of his Cabinet are appealed to in every instance, whether to justify an attack, Or to furnish a defence. It seems as ifThis weapon of their weakness they can wieldTo wound, defend, at once their spear and shield.But I think this is an unwise and a ha- 111 zardous comparison for them to institute; in liberal professions the two Governments are indeed alike, but in liberal performance it is impossible to avoid confessing "Oh, how different." Their administration scarcely affords one solitary point of genuine similarity. Patronage, which Lord Althorp disclaimed as an exploded expedient for the maintenance of Government, has been the aliment and the essence of the influence of Lord Melbourne. In this particular, too, so faithfully did Lord Grey's Government observe that pledge, that even the hon. Member for Dublin was compelled in this House time after time to taunt the Irish Government of Earl Grey with their indiscriminate and impartial bestowal of places of honour and emolument. Their nomination of Tory not less than of Whig noblemen as Lords-lieutenant of counties—their commissioning of Conservative as well as of Liberal Magistrates—their appointment of Sheriffs from men of all parties, and their elevation to the bench, of Judges of politics different from their own, but of attainments to entitle them to the honour—and, in short, that in every department of the State they had promoted men who were their own political opponents—certainly in this particular the Government of Lord Melbourne has steered cautiously clear of liability to any such imputation. In fact, no better proof can be adduced of the sincerity of Lord Grey, than that he conferred a silk gown on the hon. and learned Gentleman, the Member for Dublin himself, avowedly on the score of his professional rank and irrespective of his political position; but I defy her Majesty's Ministers to produce one solitary instance—to point to one single gentleman of eminence at the Irish bar—one barrister, whether Protestant or Roman Catholic (and Roman Catholic Conservatives are to be found even at the Bar in Ireland) of distinguished attainments and eminent esteem, but of Conservative politics, upon whom, in the whole course of their Administration, they have conferred similarly well-earned and honourable distinction? No—but whilst these have been studiously secluded, her Majesty's Ministers have pressed the honours of the Bench upon the hon. and learned Member for Dublin himself, notwithstanding his own numerous declarations in this House, that from his political partizanship, the people of Ireland should not tolerate such an appointment, It has ever been regarded as 112 one of the noblest concessions of the Crown to the liberty of the people, that the Judges of the land should be independent even of the influence which creates them, and of the Monarchs whom they represent. It was one of the hobbies of William 3rd that he was the first to introduce that glorious principle into the Constitution of England; and it was the first Act of Geo. 3rd, as a king, to extend and to confirm it. The whole course of the legal patronage of Lord Normanby has been one persevering effort to undermine that independence, and to render a seat upon the Bench, whether in the higher or the minor tribunals of the law, dependent upon the amount of political exertion by which it could be purchased. Throughout the entire framework and structure of society, the same spirit and principle have been all pervading and universal; and every door to promotion, whether honorary or professional, over which Government has had the control, has been readily closed against every aspirant, however distinguished, who could not pronounce the Shibboleth of faction, or who would not join the worship of the Dagon of agitation. Is it possible, Sir, for the Protestants of Ireland, with a fidelity to the Crown which has never been impeached—with no stigma inherent in their caste—no imputation on their honour to deprive them of the countenance and encouragement of the State—is it in human nature to believe that they should regard with complacency, and bow with calm endurance to the edict of a party which repulses them from every office of honour or emolument in their own country, to which their talents and acquirements might entitle them legitimately to aspire. It is but a few months since all Ireland resounded with a murmur of indignation, because a noble Lord had designated one class of the population as aliens from the feelings and the habits of the other. What, then, must be the indignant emotions, not the less intense because less clamorously evinced, of those who are made, from day to day, to feel and to experience that not in name only, but in substance and in reality, they are treated as aliens, and as foreigners in the land of their birth? Sir I have the authority of an hon. Member, whose opinions are of much weight, upon the opposite side of the House, for saying that such a system would not be tolerated by the Protestants of England, 113 and should not, for one moment be endured by the people of Ireland. And when hon. Members are disposed to comment upon the expressions of Lord Lyndhurst, I would beg their attention to the following energetic opinions of the hon. Member for Kilkenny (Mr. Hume) who in denouncing the appointment of twenty-six Protestant gentlemen as stipendiary magistrates by Lord Anglesea, in 1833 thus delivered his sentiments on the matter of aliens and partizan appointments:—Why is it," said the hon. Gentleman, "that Catholics are carefully excluded from the list of twenty-six stipendiary magistrates, who have been recently appointed in Ireland? Why are they carefully excluded from such situations, and twenty-six foreigners appointed to them?" Several hon. Members here cried, "Hear, hear." "Yes," continued Mr. Hume, "I contend that they are foreigners—they are persons foreign in their habits and religion to the bulk of the people—and I say then that foreigners have been appointed to these offices,……. Suppose that there were twenty-six magistrates to be appointed in England, what would the people of England say, if none but Catholics were selected to fill these offices. But what would be said if none but Catholics were nominated to every lucrative office in the country? Would this be borne in England? Then why should the system be endured in Ireland? I am only astonished that the people of this country have borne with it so long.And yet this is the very system for the continuance of which, in Ireland I make no doubt the hon. Member will this night record his vote along with her Majesty's Ministers. But, again, the tenure of office which was recognized and respected by Earl Grey, was regulated by the power of his united Cabinet to carry through those measures which they deemed essential, and to resist others which they condemned. When no longer able to maintain those provisions of the Coercion Bill, which were indispensable for the suppression of agitation in Ireland, and when no longer supported by his own Cabinet upon the question of the Irish Church, Lord Grey retired from office. In like manner the present Premier has been thwarted in his attempts to carry that measure to which, by his own declaration, he stands pledged by policy, by honour, and all that is binding upon man. In like manner, he has seen the majority of his Cabinet, and every Member of his Government in this House give their ex- 114 ulting support to that which he has pronounced to be "before God the wildest and the maddest project that ever entered into the conception of man." But, unlike Earl Grey, Lord Melbourne is still first Minister of the Crown. But, Sir, when thus challenged to a comparison, let it not be one of details but of results. Let us contrast the position of this country, after four years' Administration of the present Government, and its position as it stood on the termination of the four years' Administration of Earl Grey. On the 9th of July, 1834, on retiring from office, Lord Grey thus summed up the proceedings of his Government:—On the first night I appeared here as Minister, I declared that the three great and leading objects of my Administration should be a Reform in Parliament, peace, and economical Reform"—"No one in this House, or elsewhere, will say that Reform in Parliament is a pledge which I have not redeemed. Peace was the next principle of my Government—and how was it maintained? We have not only maintained tranquillity, but we now leave the Government, having secured a greater probability of the peace of Europe being continued than when we took office. With respect to economical Reform, we have taken off four million five hundred thousand pounds of taxation. Places have been abolished, and the patronage of the Crown diminished to a degree, with regard to which I feel bound, in honesty and justice, to admit that my only doubt, is, whether we have not done rather too much. With respect to the internal state of the country we leave trade in a sound and healthy condition—manufacturers generally employed—public credit improved—the revenue greatly increasing, and all interests in a better condition, with one single exception—the depression of agriculture, less affecting the tenantry than the landlord, through a reduction of rents. The political and trades' unions have disappeared, we asserted the powers of the law as it stood for their suppression, and by administering it with a firm hand, the result has been complete success."*Such, Sir was the condition of this vast empire when, in 1834, Earl Grey handed over its interests to the guardianship of Lord Melbourne, and I ask any Gentleman opposite who has been a colleague or supporter of that noble Lord—any hon. Member who will justify the policy of the present Administration by an appeal to the example of their predecessors, whether he thinks the prospect of peace is as bright and unclouded at the present moment as*Hansard, Third Series, Vol. xxiv. p. 1313–1314.115 it was four years ago? Whether the patronage of the Crown has been increased or diminished by the multitudes of temporary places, the recent creation of which has, at least made compensation for the more permanent offices, the abolition of which Earl Grey was disposed to regard with apprehension? I would ask here whether the revenue bears the same gratifying aspect as compared with the expenditure, and whether public credit is equally firm cod respected now as it was four years ago? Above all, I would direct him to the comparative repose of the public mind, the subsidence of agitation, and the disappearance of political conventions at the present moment, as contrasted with the spring of 1834, and if, on all these points, his convictions are satisfactory, then, indeed, I can see no possible obstacle to his uniting this night in a vote of confidence in her Majesty's Ministers. But looking merely to the broad principles which, in the words of the noble Lord's resolution, have guided the Executive Government of Ireland, and formed the basis of their policy—looking to these alone, disincumbered of all minute details, it is impossible for me to bear my testimony either to their wisdom or their efficiency; because I can only regard that policy as presenting in all its ramifications the consistent and unvarying evidence of being based on one fatal and fundamental error. As it has been the act and the aim of Irish agitation to represent every social evil as a political grievance, so has it been the guiding principle of the Irish Government to apply a political remedy to those maladies of the social system which political abuses have never caused and political nostrums can never cure. Her Majesty's Ministers have been mistaken alike in the disorder and the remedy, and they have aggravated rather than relieved that which is a disease of the internal structure of society by their fruitless applications of counter-irritation to the surface. Ireland has her domestic wants—wants of which in her benighted misery even she herself can form but a confused idea, either of the nature or the extent—she wants peace, she wants food, she wants education, and she wants employment; and when she comes to you to complain of her destitution, you give her theories of ecclesiastical foundations, and doctrines of popular representation, and schemes of municipal 116 Government, and essays on the duties of property as contra-distinguished from its rights. She prays for bread and you give her a stone—she asks for a fish and you offer her a serpent. The first and the most formidable disorder of Ireland is religious animosity and sectarian aversions—and how do you proceed to remedy this? Is it by creating any new and national object in which hostility might be forgotten—an important and general interest, in which animosity might be absorbed. No, but by espousing with a vigour only equal to their own all the envenomed prejudices of the one party by distorting their grievances and aggravating their complaints—and then, by declaring "war against the Church," and the institutions of the other. Ireland wants education, and how do you proceed to supply it? By an establishment whose regulation renders it unacceptable to one class of the population, whilst they inculcate and confirm the exclusive prejudices of the other—an establishment which, Whatever it may have been originally, does not, I venture to say, contain at this moment, one single functionary, commissioner, or officer, teacher or trustee, who is not either a member of the favoured religion or a follower of the dominant faction. Ireland wants food for her destitute inhabitants. But already the popular passions which your policy has created and encouraged, have perverted the remedy which Parliament has applied, into a fresh engine of political mischief and domestic strife. Again, Sir, Ireland wants internal quiet, and the security of the law for the protection of property and life. Three-fourths of that country present at this moment, but in an aggravated intensity, the same aspect of turbulent audacity which characterized the Highlands of Scotland a century ago. When Dr. Johnson was told that with all these wants and disadvantages the mountaineer of Scotland had made rapid advances subsequent to the rebellion of 1745, his only reply was, "that of all their wants, the greatest and the most pressing still was, the want of law," and the same, Sir, may we say of Ireland—That purple land where law secures not life,and in which the noble Lord who has just left its Government has earned for himself an unenviable and imperishable notoriety by reversing the attributes of authority, and exhibiting Mercy blind, 117 instead of Justice. But above all, Sir, and as the foundation of all—Ireland wants employment for her portion less and over whelming population. It was well said by a distinguished Irish Representative in this House, who is now no more, Mr. North, that "there is no State policy, no secret of Government by which it is possible to reconcile idleness with tranquillity; and that all the arts of civilization were nothing more than so many expedients to make peace and industry productive of each other." In the history of mankind there never was a more forcible illustration of the imperishable truth of that axiom of government, than the relative position of the two portions, north and south, of the country we speak of. The south, with every advantage of nature unavailing, and with every resource unexplored, overrun with idleness and famine, and poverty and crime—the north, with all its energies in full vigour, its agriculture productive and its artisans employed, enjoying all the blessings of security, prosperity, and peace. Sir, I have been denounced in this House by the hon. and learned Member for Dublin, as the traducer and calumniator of my country, because, on former occasions, I have dared to speak the truth as to its government. Sir, I deny the imputation. I regard with affection, and I speak with pride, because I can speak with truth, of that portion of Ireland which gave me birth, and with which all who are near and dear to me in that country are connected. So far from being the vilifier of my country, I point with honest triumph to such testimonies as that which I hold in my hand, and which, borne out as it is by the highest functionaries of the land, affords indisputable evidence of the blessings that have flowed from industry, morality, and peace, throughout the north of Ireland; whilst it presents a melancholy contrast to the misery, the vice, and the anarchy, which have been the never-failing results of idleness and agitation in the south. The document from which I beg to offer to the House a single extract, is the charge of Baron Penne father to the grand jury of the county of Londonderry, at the assizes which have just terminated:—Gentlemen," says his Lordship, "I assure you it affords me much satisfaction to be enabled to congratulate you on the peaceful state of your county, not only as exhibited in 118 the calendar, but from inquiries that I have made on the subject. It affords a picture of tranquillity and social order that must be highly gratifying to you, and redounds to the credit of the population at large. Gentlemen, I feel pleasure in being able to add, that in the northern counties of this province through which we have passed, there has not only been no trial for homicide, but not even a charge of the crime has appeared in the calendars. This is a picture on which I may be permitted to congratulate you, and I trust that such pleasing indications of a regard to the laws will long continue to distinguish these counties.This description is, I will grant it, applied to a community for whom political Polemics may have fewer charms than for the more enlightened, but not more happily situated, philosophers and statesmen of Munster and the west of Ireland. It is possible that amongst the people of whom Baron Penne father speaks, the science of government, and the principles of civil liberty may be less clearly understood, as they are certainly less frequently discussed, than amongst the Precursors of the Corn-exchange, and the Patriots of Tipperary. But, notwithstanding this, his Lordship's testimony does afford a satisfactory evidence that the social happiness and domestic advancement of a community may be promoted without political excitement, and that there is no necessary coexistence or connexion between public prosperity and political agitation. Whilst her Majesty's Government, with their anodyne recipes of ecclesiastical appropriation, and their brisk specifics of Corporation Reform, have been vainly essaying to apply a remedy to the idleness and poverty, the turbulence and outrages of the south, Ulster, by her industry and her intelligence, by good sense and her abstinence from political turmoil, has been quietly but successfully achieving her own elevation to prosperity and wealth, affording an unanswerable rebuke to the empiricism of those who, on every occasion, fly to political prescriptions for every social derangement, and exhibiting an abundant illustration of the truth of the aphorism of Goldsmith—'How small, of all that human hearts endure, The part, which kings or laws can cause or cure!'Sir, if I have trespassed further on the indulgence of the House than in moderation I was entitled to do, I trust my deep, personal concern in the question itself will plead my best, as it is my only 119 apology. I can see no one department of the policy of the Irish Government on the grounds of which I can tender my confidence in answer to the call of her Majesty's Ministers; but in each and in all I can trace the never-failing effects of mistaken theories, of delusive views, and of false and dangerous principles of government.
Mr. Smith O'Brien
said, the hon. Member for Belfast inculpated the Government of Lord Normanby, and accused his Administration as being a mockery of justice, so far as regarded the trial of offenders, in the face of the official returns granted only the night before in that House. But the hon. Member also had the misfortune to differ from the right hon. Baronet, whose amendment the hon. Member meant to support. The right hon. Baronet, both in his speech and in his amendment, disclaimed any censure, whereas the whole tone of the speech the House had just heard went directly to cast a censure on the Government. The hon. Baronet said, he should not consider his amendment a vote of censure. Now he should, and so would the country; and the people of Ireland ought to be much obliged to the noble Lord for calling upon the House to declare, that the general spirit of the policy of the Administration, and of the Executive Government in Ireland, was satisfactory to them. It was necessary to do so, in order to secure future Governments from being intimidated by adverse majorities in the House of Lords, or charges and insinuations in this House. He wished it to be distinctly understood, that he confined himself only to the period since 1835—that being the duration of the Marquess of Normanby's Government. He would remind the House that as they were already aware the number of convictions had increased in proportion to the offences, that Catholics had been raised to the bench, that many able assistant barristers of the same creed had been appointed, that many appointments of Catholics in the constabulary had been made, and that also a greater spirit of liberality, and indeed of equality, had been manifested in the offices and appointments in municipal corporations during the Administration of the noble Lord. No complaint could be alleged against these appointments. There could be no charge made against the noble Lord for not directly discountenancing the Precursor 120 Society and the General Association, no more than there could be against former Administrations in respect to the Catholic Association. He would assert, that the Marquess of Normanby had given as much assistance to the collectors of tithe as any former Lord-lieutenant. The noble Lord was also entitled to the credit of having almost suppressed the barbarous custom of faction fighting in Ireland. It was a fact, that fights of this description used formerly to be looked upon by hon. Gentlemen of the opposite party as mere scenes in which the boys were amusing themselves—or as proofs of the peace of the country. The Government of the noble Lord could not fairly be tarnished on account of the murder of Lord Nor-bury, however painful that might be. It was a fact, that many of those gentlemen who brought forward charges of crime against Ireland lived in that country themselves, without danger, and traversed their neighbourhoods without suffering the slightest injury in person or property. It would, indeed, be as just to infer, that England was in a state of general atrocity, from a perusal of the New gate Calendar, as to infer that Ireland was distracted by crimes, from the melancholy specimens they had heard of, and the exaggerated charges that had been made. He would say, in justice to his countrymen, that when they were kindly treated there was not a more grateful or attached people on the face of the earth. Certainly they suffered from various oppressions. The manner in which high rents were exacted, and ejectments enforced was particularly exasperating. Many wretched people were annually expelled from their holdings, and then having no place to go to, and no means to subsist on, they lived for a while upon the charity of their neighbours, and erected huts by the ditch side, where they in many cases soon perished by fever or famine. He was sorry to learn that Lord Lorton had ejected a large number of tenants from one of his estates in Long-ford, because they would not (perhaps because they could not) give evidence respecting a murder that had occurred in their vicinity. Lord Lorton, according to an Irish newspaper (which he held in his hand) had expelled forty-five families from his estate, and exposed them to destitution. The noble Lord had called in the assistance of the military to effect this expulsion; true he had, as he stated, given 121 them compensation, but this only with a view to induce a belief that they had left by their own voluntary act. In the short space of a few hours two hundred and twenty persons, among whom were cripples, the dumb, the blind, widows, and orphans, were cast upon the world without a house or a home. Among these there was not a single Protestant, but 462 Roman Catholics had been ejected from Lord Lorton's estate, on religious and political grounds.—[Cries of "No, no,"]—He would ask any hon. Friend of Lord Lorton whether that was the case or not; and he would say that evidence tantamount to that had been given before "the Fictitious Votes Committee."—And it had also been stated in a newspaper, by a gentleman who signed his name "Agricola," and gave his place of residence, and who was ready to come forward to substantiate these facts. Did not such a state of things demand attention? Emigration had been suggested as a remedy for these evils, but would it remedy them? Furnishing the people with employment was another remedy, but when it was proposed to establish railroads in Ireland, they were told it was a Government job—because the line went from the counties of Cork, Limerick, and Dublin, where the population were in poverty and distress, because it did not go to Enniskillen and Armagh. It was ungenerous in hon. Gentlemen opposite, to say that employment was necessary to their well-being, and then to smother the scheme for affording them employment. Education would doubtless remedy these evils, but that had been treated as a party question, and they refused to educate the people on the only terms on which they would be educated. They say they will not give them education except on the terms of making them converts, and they refused them that education which would raise them in the social scale, and improve their condition. It was unwise to deny to Ireland an equal participation in political privileges. The party opposite had gone so far as to calumniate the Catholic clergy, by representing them as inciters to crime; if it were not for the Catholic clergy, crime would increase tenfold in Ireland. The Catholic clergy, however, had leagued themselves as one man in opposition to the House of Lords—that was the offence they had committed. They had taken influence on of the hands of the gentry 122 of Ireland, because that influence had been used in opposition to the interests of the country; and they were denounced because they would not concur in the return of certain Members to that House. Was it politic to make enemies of 3,000 of the most influential individuals in Ireland? In Scotland the clergy of the majority were recognised, in Ireland they were insulted. Their support of the present Government showed how easily they might be won by kindness. The time was now come to decide whether the people of Ireland would be admitted to a perfect union, or whether there should be no union at all. And at this momentous crisis, when America, Russia, the Colonies, when 3,000,000 Chartists—at all events, a very numerous body, regarded it with distrust, it was next to madness to exasperate a people grateful for the smallest kindness. He beseeched those who approved of the Government policy in Ireland, however they might differ from them on other questions, to support them on this motion.
said, that it had seldom fallen to his lot to hear such exaggerated statements as those which had been made with reference to Lord Lorton, by the hon. Member who had just addressed the House. He had had the pleasure of knowing that noble Lord long, and he could say of him with perfect truth, that for good-nature and kind-heartedness, for a benevolent regard to the wants and to the interests of his tenants, Lord Lorton had, during a long life, as a resident landlord in Ireland, set an example which would be well worthy of imitation in this or any other country. As a benefactor to his tenants, and in all the relations of private life, that noble Lord had no superior; and he owned that it was with much surprise he had heard the hon. Member who had last addressed the House send forth such calumnies on the authority of a person signing himself "Agricola," in a newspaper known to be opposed to the politics of the noble Lord. What were the simple facts of the case which had been so grossly exaggerated? Some time ago Lord Lorton had succeeded to an estate in the county of Longford, and on examining into its condition he found that the land had been so subdivided, that many of the tenants of small parcels of land had not enough for their support, and some of them were 123 almost in a state of starvation. For the sake of the people themselves it became necessary that some of them should be removed, but this removal was made without any distinction as to whether they were Protestants or Catholics. To those who were removed grants of money were made, to none less than five guineas, and to some as much as twenty-five guineas, in order to enable them to settle elsewhere, and this was in addition to a remission of arrears of rent, in some cases of one, two, and three years. This he knew to be neither beyond nor less than the truth. It was suggested to Lord Lorton that he might improve his estate by the cultivation of flax. [Laughter.] The hon. and learned Member (Mr. O'Connell) laughed, though he had yesterday denounced a laugh from the Opposition side, as a piece of brutality. He, however, would not use the language of the hon. and learned Member; but he hoped not to be interrupted by him.
§ Mr. L. White
said, he laughed, but not at the hon. Member. He had laughed at the mention of the cultivation of the flax, which was a mere pretence.
had not alluded to the hon. Member, who he was sure would not interrupt him willingly. He repeated that the cultivation of flax was resorted to as a means of improving the estate; and a man and his wife were brought from the county of Down to superintend its cultivation. That man was murdered, as was another who was brought to supply his place. They were Protestants. All efforts to discover the murderers proved unavailing, and his noble Friend did what any other man in his circumstances would have done. He exercised his right of property, and had many of the tenants removed from his estate by civil process, executed by the sheriff of the county, accompanied by a military force. He then took down forty-five houses, but not until he had provided lodgings in a neighbouring village for the women and children who had inhabited those houses. What was there, he would ask, in this conduct, which should warrant the hon. Member (Mr. S. O'Brien) to brand it on the authority of an anonymous writer, with terms which he would not repeat? Would any English landlord have acted thus; and if he had found it necessary to eject some of his tenants, would he have given them up their rent, found them 124 lodging and furniture, besides giving them money?
Mr. S. O. Brien
I am perfectly willing to take the facts as the hon. and gallant Member states them.
continued. Yes; he knew the facts to be true, for he had seen thorn so stated under the hand of the noble Lord; and he regretted the absence of a right hon. Friend, who had in his possession the documents that would prove the correctness of what he said. He would not, however, advert further to the case of Lord Lorton, but would turn to the conduct of Her Majesty's Government in Ireland. On a former occasion, when this subject was discussed, he had heard the noble Lord, the Chief Secretary for Ireland, justify the deplorable state of the country. The noble Lord had admitted the fact, but justified it by saying that it was in as bad a condition when Lord Normanby undertook the Government, and named certain counties that were in a very disturbed state at that time. But amongst those counties he thought the noble Lord did not name the one in which he (Colonel Perceval) resided, namely, the county of Sligo, and he would say, that when Lord Normanby succeeded to the Administration that county was in a state of tranquillity surpassed by no other in either Ireland or England. There were no disturbances, no murders, no outrages, but it was as free from crime as any part of the empire. What was its condition now? How did it originate? Why, the very first step of Lord Normanby's Government caused the commencement of what since had taken place. He saw the cavalcade of Lord Normanby's entrance into Dublin, and it was such as, in his opinion was most unbecoming in one about to fill so high an office as that of viceroy of Ireland. It might be said that it was only displeasing to Orangemen, but to this he would reply, that from the time the act passed for the abolition of Orange societies, there had never been a single demonstration of that party spirit in Sligo. But what were his feelings when he saw Lord Normanby attended by a cortège carrying banners with the same mottoes as were borne by the rebels in 1798? ["No, no."] He stated only what he had seen, and hon. Gentlemen might deny it if they could. He took down the names and the mottoes of the banners as the procession passed, one of them being 125 emblazoned with an Irish harp without a crown, the same as was carried by the rebels in 1798. It was indeed a party procession headed by Lord Normanby, and consisting of men distinguished for their agitating propensities, some indeed having been just let loose from Newgate. This was in 1835, and in August of the following year the noble Lord thought it his duty to make a tour through certain districts of Ireland, and amongst others the county of Sligo. That county was at that time perfectly tranquil, but on the noble Lord's visitation, he was attended every where by crowds of persons—he might say by as many as 10,000—and preceded by banners, the same as on his entry into Dublin. He was received by all the Roman Catholic priests, by all the agitators, and by all the Liberals, as they were called, in the county, but by very few of the possessors of the soil, of the landed gentry of that district. On that occasion commenced the excitement that has been evinced in Sligo, and more particularly against him as one of its representatives. Something had been said in that House at the close of the previous session about getting rid of him from the representation of Sligo, and with that view was the system of agitation begun. In the January following the hon. and learned Member for Dublin paid the county a visit to promote that object, and at a dinner which was given to him, and to which about 300 sat down, he was treated with the same kind of language as was avowed by the hon. and learned Member to have been recently used by him towards Lord Oxmantown. The consequences were then that the Roman Catholic priests forthwith reiterated in their chapels the terms in which he had been denounced by the hon. and learned Member, with the view of excluding him from the representation of Sligo. And yet, notwithstanding this, the hon. and learned Member defied the Opposition side of the House to furnish a single instance of a Roman Catholic priest interfering in this manner. He would ask the noble Secretary for Ireland, what were the circumstances that attended, the investigation of Edward Coghlan's murder at Ballynamuck? [The hon. Member read a long extract from the depositions that were taken on that occasion, by which it appeared that at the chapel on the Sunday after the election Edward Coghlan and his brother, John 126 Coghlan, both of whom were Roman Catholics, were denounced in violent language by the priest, as being the only persons in the parish who had sacrificed their country to their enemies, and that soon afterwards Edward Coghlan was murdered.] In ordinary cases and with ordinary individuals such statements would have been sufficient to make the executive Government more vigorous in the administration of the law than had been the case in Ireland. There was not a chapel in his own county, except one, in which he had not often been denounced, and to such a condition had that part of Ireland been brought by agitation, that he could not dine from his own home at a friend's House without staying there all night. He mentioned this merely to show how much the residents of Sligo were indebted to the Government of Lord Normanby; and if he looked to the conduct of the Government towards them in other respects, they had still less reason to be grateful. He might refer, too, to the conspiracy against Mr. Simm, in consequence of which that gentleman, after having been obliged to pay to a Mr. Kenny (from whom, as we undersood, he had purchased an estate in Sligo,) 500l. in addition to the original purchase-money of 5,000 guineas, had been corn, pelled to abandon the estate, which was immediatety taken possession of again by Mr. Kenny. Under these circumstances he felt it his duty to protest strongly and decidedly against the vote now demanded by the Government.
§ Mr. Lascelles
wished to state the reasons shortly why he had come to the determination of voting in favour of the amendment proposed by the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth. He must, however, be permitted, first of all, to express his surprise that the hon. and gallant Member should, after the speech he had just delivered, feel it his duty to vote for that amendment. He reverted with pleasure to the speech made by the right hon. Baronet last night, for in that speech there was no statement attributing the crime in Ireland to the existing Government. The right hon. Gentleman had certainly lamented the deplorable state of society which existed in Ireland, and he could not help coming to the conclusion, from all the statements he had heard respecting crime in Ireland, that it was the duty at least of those who were 127 not mixed up and in immediate contact with the conflicting parties in Ireland, to do their utmost to allay the unhappy irritation there prevailing, and cordially to co-operate in the measures brought forward by the Government for improving the condition of the country. In the present debate topics not necessarily involved in it had been introduced, connected with the general government of Ireland. An attempt had been made by some parties to trace the origin of the existing state of things in Ireland to the alteration of the law by which Catholic emancipation was conceded. He had supported that change, and if he were asked whether he repented of the step he then took, or attributed any of the evils which afflicted Ireland to that measure, he would unhesitatingly reply that he did not in the slightest degree. However, he was far from saying that the expectations he had formed at the passing of the Catholic Relief Bill had not been in some degree disappointed. Part of the Catholic Relief Bill was, as he really believed, an act based in essential justice; the propriety of its adoption could not be made to depend on the subsequent conduct of any individuals, and he therefore did not regret having given his sanction to it. But the question was asked, "Are you not afraid of the power acquired since the passing of the act by the Roman Catholics?" To that he replied that the meaning and intention of the act was to destroy all distinction between Catholic and Protestant; to open the door of office and political consequence to persons of all denominations; and if, since the passing of the act, a greater number of Roman Catholics had obtained office, such a result was only what had been intended. But how was any additional power which the Roman Catholics had acquired to be attributed to the Catholic Relief Bill? It was true that the hon. and learned Member for Dublin had a seat in that House; but if he were not a member of the Legislature, would he not still exercise the same influence out of the House; and would that have been a desirable state of things? He trusted that into whatever hands the administration might fall, the principles upon which the Catholic Relief Bill was founded would be carried out in Ireland with impartiality. This brought him to the consideration of the question immediately before the House,—viz., the administration of the Irish Go- 128 vernment by Lord Normanby. He thought that the existence of those crimes, the lamentable details of which had been communicated to the House, was unjustly imputed to the Government of that noble Lord. At the same time, he must hesitate before he joined in a vote of confidence demanded by the Government. There was a wide difference between with holding a vote of confidence and passing a vote of censure. He for one would not join in any vote of censure; but he thought it a most unusual proceeding for the Government to ask for a vote of approbation with respect to a part only of their policy. For this reason he objected to the motion of the noble Lord opposite, and he regretted that the Ministers had now, without any adequate cause whatever, thought proper to appeal to angry and irritated feelings. It was said that a vote of censure had been come to by the other House, and he admitted that to a certain extent the motion carried in the House of Lords was a vote of censure. Nevertheless, considering the course which had been taken of late years by the great leaders of the Conservative party in Parliament, considering the determination they had shown not to embarrass the Government, he was surprised that the Ministers should have seized the first occasion of an implied censure upon their administration to appeal to passions which it was rather their duty to allay. Regarding as he did the amendment moved by the right hon. Baronet as partaking of the nature of the previous question, he should give it his support. It was said that a crisis existed; but the House had of late become so accustomed to a crisis, that that statement was not calculated to create a great sensation. If, however, the Government did feel the present state of affairs to be a crisis, it had not been brought on by the Conservatives, but by themselves. It had not been the policy of the Conservatives to disturb the Government. With regard to himself, he might refer to all the votes he had given during the present Session up to Easter; and it had not yet been his misfortune to vote against the noble Lord opposite. He was aware that a portion of that House fancied that the support of the Conservatives was more injurious to the Government than their opposition. This was not, however, the fault of the Conservatives. They performed their duty, and gave, whenever they conscientiously could, their support to the Government.
§ Mr. Bellew
Sir, as an Irish Member, to whose country the present motion is of vital importance, embracing as it does in its results not only its government of latter years, but its destiny for the future, and feeling more over, that while in this House the present debate may be only regarded as one of the ordinary trials of party strength, that in Ireland its consequences will be felt in many a year of happiness or woe to millions of its inhabitants, I trust I shall receive the indulgence of Gentlemen for the short time I shall trespass upon their patience. The attacks upon the government of Lord Normanby have been of such frequent occurrence, that they have been long since deprived of all the interest of novelty. It may, however, afford that noble Lord some consolation to know, that the same men who disparage his government declared his predecessor, the Marquess of Wellesley, to be a man who had neither experience nor ability. It will at the same time afford the public some clue to judge of the value to he attached to the opinions of such persons. One of the most constant topics of attack against Lord Normanby has been his neglect of the interests of the Protestant Church, and his promotion of Catholics to all places of station and trust. Now, with regard to the former charge, it was so totally unfounded that when it came to be discussed, Gentlemen of all sides of the House bore testimony to the admirable manner in which Church patronage had been distributed. Perhaps I may here be allowed to observe that this charge of hostility to the Church seems to be of a very vague nature, and subject to a great variety of interpretations. There was, for example, a petition presented before the recess from the corporation of Dublin, which stated, that destroying the present Irish Corporations, and substituting others of a popular character in their place, would have the effect of seriously injuring the Protestant Church, so that, in the opinion of that very loyal body, a vast majority of this House were pursuing a course as fatal to that establishment as Gentlemen opposite asserted the conduct of Lord Normanby to be.—With regard to the promotion of Catholics, what is the case? Take the law, in which profession there is a greater number of Catholics than any other. There is, it seems, 120,000l. a-year in patronage in that department. Of that the Catholics 130 possess 20,000l., no very unreasonable proportion. Take, then, the police, which was quoted in a former debate, as one of the proofs of the impartiality of the government. Of the five principal officers there is, as far as I am informed, only one Catholic. There are thirty-four sub-inspectors of counties—there are, I believe, six Catholics. There are 250 chief constables, and about fifty Catholics. With regard to the common men, I can only say, that in my own county, where the population are twenty to one Catholics, of the police, four to one are Protestants. But while Gentlemen complain of the appointments that have been made, I have not heard of a single instance where it is alleged that the persons so appointed have not sufficiently discharged their duty, that, after all, is the only part of the matter which concerns the public. Sir, I am not going to weary the House by expatiating on the catalogue of crime which has been laid to the charge of the Irish people, or rather to the Irish Government, and which is the remote cause of the present debate, further than to observe, that gentlemen opposite, on their own showing, are only entitled to credit for the excess of crime of the present moment over that of Tory times, though in all the calculations and statements with which they have favoured the House, all comparison with former years, the real point in dispute, is kept out of consideration. Sir, Irish crime has its origin in causes which no Government can at once cure, though it may frightfully aggravate them; the great and wide-spreading, the universal evil, is the peculiar situation of landed property in that country, and the unexampled increase of the population, amounting in some counties to one in four and one in five in the course of ten years, without any corresponding increase of constant or remunerative industry. The transition from the state of cottier tenants to that of labourers, now in progress, and which will eventually be, no doubt, of great advantage, is in itself enough to account for ten times the amount of crime that has been so ostentatiously paraded in the late debates. When it is recollected that this system of clearance of estates is carried on in many instances with great harshness on the part of the landlord, restrained hitherto by no pecuniary penalty in the shape of a poor-law, I do say that it is most unjust to make the present Go- 131 vernment responsible for crimes of which some of the individuals who make those charges are the real instigators, notwithstanding the excellent character as landlords given them by some hon. Members in this House. If Ireland has always been a drag upon this country; if she has been a source of weakness rather than of strength, an angry foe instead of an attached friend, she has been what circumstances have made her. Nine-tenths of the whole property of the kingdom was confiscated under Cromwell and William, and given to strangers who looked to ibis country, and not to the country of their adoption for support. In England the Protestant cause has always been identified with civil liberty—in Ireland with oppression. In England there has been an influential landed proprietary—in Ireland that class have been alienated from the great bulk of the people. The new settlers carried with them neither attachments, sympathies, social ties, or hereditary influence. They were anti-national in all their feelings; and the want of sympathy between the higher and lower classes, arising out of this original cause, aggravated by religious animosity and the policy of the laws, has unfortunately continued to the present day. In Lord Durham's Report on the state of Canada, there is a passage, which, I think, very forcibly represents the feelings of the Irish portion of Gentlemen opposite. Speaking of the English party, and the House of Assembly, he observes, "Every measure of clemency, or even justice towards their opponents, they regard with jealousy, as indicating a disposition towards that conciliatory policy which is the subject of their angry recollection, for they feel that being a minority, any return to the due course of constitutional Government must reduce their relative importance in the country." And this really is the spirit in which from first to last all the complaints of the state of Ireland are conceived. We have gained ascendancy, and we will keep it, was the exclamation of one of the speakers at a late Tory meeting in Dublin; and does net the experience of every day prove the sincerity of the declaration? It is proposed that householders of a certain property in towns in Ireland shall have the right of voting for municipal offices; but it turns out that a large proportion are Catholics, and this, in the minority view of the case, 132 becomes a serious grievance: a reduction is proposed in the amount of the revenues of the Church. It is not denied by many that it would be expedient, if that reduction went still further. It is not denied that the pay and the duty are somewhat disproportioned; but then it is argued, if you do not give these bounties (for they are nothing else) to bolster up the cause of the minority, we can never hold our ground. The same was the argument on the Reform Bill: the objection in Ireland to that measure was not so much that the respectable inhabitants of a town should have the right of returning a Member to this House instead of some noble Lord; but that those respectable inhabitants were in many instances Catholics, and therefore this would reduce another of the bounties belonging to the party of the minority. The hostility existing between the Government when in the hands of Gentlemen opposite, and the Irish people is aptly illustrated by the Legislative Council and the Assembly in Lower Canada. Ireland, like Canada, had been governed by and for the advantage of comparatively a small party, or rather a bureaucracy; to use the words of Lord Durham, "fortified by family connections and the common interest felt by all who held and all who desired subordinate offices, that party was erected into a solid and permanent power, controlled by little responsibility, subject to no serious change, exercising over the whole Government of the province an authority in a great degree independent of the people." Sir, this literally was the case previous to 1829, in Ireland; for though a majority of Irish Members, almost the same as the number that support the present administration, voted always for emancipation, still, as regarded the general policy of Government, they were amongst its most regular supporters, and no part of that policy was better understood or more uniformly acted upon than that the power and patronage of the executive should be exercised exclusively for the advantage and through the hands of the minority. The present Government, on coming into office, put an end to this state of things. They found the results produced by a century and a half of misrule—they found that the power of the ascendancy party hail trampled under foot every other. They sought to give confidence to the weak in the administration of justice, and 133 to curb the strong in the exercise of it. Their legislative projects have been dictated by a desire to nationalize the laws and establishments of Ireland, and to connect it with the rest of the empire by the fast bond of equal benefits and kindred institutions. If they have not been able to carry many of their measures into effect—if those measures have sometimes been defeated, sometimes mutilated, always embarrassed and delayed—the fault rests not with the Government, but their opponents. The popularity of the Government of Lord Normanby appears, in the eyes of some Gentlemen, to be a crime; and yet a little Irish popularity would, I fancy, be a most agreeable addition at the present moment to the power of the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tam worth. If that right hon. Baronet's Amendment should be carried, the result will be to establish in fact, in Ireland, that ascendancy which has been done away with by law. The Emancipation Act, it is now evident, was passed in had faith. Advantages and honours, on an equality with the rest of their fellow-citizens were never meant to be bestowed upon the Catholics: the attacks that have been made upon the promotion of such men as Sir Michael O'Loughlin, Chief Baron Woulfe, and others, demonstrate with what fidelity to the spirit of the Emancipation Act the Tories are prepared to administer Irish affairs. But it was found impracticable to govern Ireland on the principle of excluding the Catholics when exclusion was the genius of the law, and to suppose that the Irish people who ten years ago were able to achieve political and religious liberty, will quietly submit to be deprived of its advantages, and be again plunged into the horrors of a system from which they have just emerged, is altogether absurd. By your opposition to the present motion, you admit that you would not in office promote a single Roman Catholic; you must therefore carry on your government in Ireland by the agency of a small minority, and by an unqualified submission to the Orange party, one of whose principal leaders, a noble Lord, had, within the last month, declared that there can be no security for Ireland—no hopes for its prosperity, until the Catholic clergy are put down. But that noble Lord is looked upon by the right hon. Baronet opposite as a fit person for office, as when last in power he offered him an important situa- 134 tion. But what was the language of the right hon. Baronet himself, on introducing the Emancipation Bill, when it was urged by his opponents that the opinion of the country ought to be taken on the measure. It was as follows:—"That a dissolution of Parliament must leave the Catholic Association and the elective franchise as they were, for the common law was inadequate to suppress them. Whatever might be the majority returned from Great Britain, Ireland would return seventy or eighty Members in the interest of the association, forming a compact and united band, against which it would be impossible to carry on the local Government of the country." Now, Sir, these statements apply with infinitely increased force, as it appears to me, at the present time. The Orange party in Ireland are notoriously growing weaker. They have been hitherto kept up by Government patronage, and the exclusive possession of political power, and, five years of fair play and common justice have served to show how much their wealth and influence were overrated. Possessing a considerable preponderance of the fee simple of the country, they are not able to wield the municipal political power. The Protestants of the Established Church, the only class from whom a Tory Government could at present expect support, are not, be it recollected, the largest religious bodies in even the Protestant province of Ulster, and from emigration and other causes, their numbers are on the decline. It appears from official returns, that in 1766 the Protestants were one-third, 1822 one-seventh, in 1834 one-tenth of the entire population; and when this number is still further diminished by the large and influential body of liberal Protestants who support the present Government, the difficulties that beset the hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, on coming into office in Ireland, are fearfully increased. I ask, then, can any English Member contemplate the state of society at present existing in Ireland, and the relations between landlord and tenant, as exhibited in cases with which this House is familiar—such as those of Lord Lorton and Mr. Bruen—and not tremble at the results?—when the antipathies of the proprietors of the soil to the great mass of the population shall be backed by the active hostility of the Government—above all, can those Members who have at all times professed 135 the warmest admiration for, at least the Irish portion, justify to themselves, abandoning that administration, and the Irish people, for they will be involved in one common ruin if the present amendment be carried? I would implore of those hon. Members who exclaim, that there is no difference between Whigs and Tories to recollect, as was well said upon a somewhat similar occasion, that the difference was as large as a third of the empire—that the interval was wide enough to hold the peace and welfare of seven millions of her Majesty's subjects; and as they value the progress of improvement, the permanent good of the great mass of the Irish people, the interests of the public peace, and the eventual security of property in that country, not to abandon her upon the present occasion.
said, that un-willing as he was to trespass upon the time of the House, he felt himself imperatively called upon not to give a silent vote upon that occasion. He most sincerely rejoiced that a serious discussion of that subject had at length been forced upon her Majesty's Ministers in that House, in consequence of what had taken place with regard to it in the other House of Parliament. And he felt this the more strongly, as he considered that the subject of the Government of Ireland, whenever it had come under discussion, had been hitherto treated in a manner altogether unworthy of its importance. He had heard it observed by a noble Lord in another place, when defending himself against an attack in connexion with this subject, that the accusations brought against the Government upon examination generally resolved themselves into petty details and single instances, and he thought that that observation contained in it much that was true and well-founded. It was, no doubt, a good thing to enter into details, and to bring strong facts before the attention of the public, but there was something wanting besides that—there was wanting an inquiry whether those facts were isolated cases, or whether they were only instances of a general course of action. The defence set up by the Irish Government when any flagrant case was brought before either House of Parliament, was commonly a more or less candid confession of the fact, which was too stubborn to be refuted, accompanied by very penitent, but altogether useless, regrets, 136 that such an occurrence had taken place, whatever it might be, as if want of judgment were a valid and sound excuse for the grossest misgovernment. Want of judgment in trivial matters was bad enough, but in small matters, and in private affairs the effects of it fell most heavily upon the individuals themselves, and did not affect others materially. But in public affairs, a constant and habitual want of judgment such as that of which her Majesty's late advisers in Ireland had been accused, and in his opinion, justly accused, became more than a mere misfortune to the parties themselves, it became the bane and destruction of the country which had the misfortune to be influenced by its exercise. He would not condescend to notice single instances. He would not attempt to bring before the attention of the House, any one of the thousand atrocities with which every newspaper was filled. He thought that was an unworthy manner of treating a subject of such grave import. He thought, that House was no fit place for such details, since it not being in one's power to tell all, such particularizing only weakened the case which was otherwise invincible. He rejoiced, therefore, that a Committee of Inquiry had been appointed to investigate leisurely and fully, a matter which involved not only the prosperity of Ireland, but of the whole empire, in the only way in which a subject of such deep importance could be done justice to. In these days of minute investigation and personal responsibility, such a Committee was no more than the country were fairly entitled to; without that, people might wrangle, and lay down their own individual opinions as often and as forcibly as they pleased; they could never prove the charges which they might bring, however their truth might be admitted by the commonest report, with sufficient weight of evidence to produce conviction, not because they were not true, but because they did not possess the means of proof. Any case which they might procure to back up their assertions, was the result of accidental circumstances, and the great mass of parallel cases which would prove habitual mismanagement were buried in the oblivion of official secrecy, and could not be got at by the public by any means. Hon. Gentlemen opposite, stated that the descriptions of the miserable and persecuted state to which the 137 Protestant population of Ireland were reduced by the course of Government pursued of late years by her Majesty's advisers in that country were not true. He answered, that they should give the means of proof; they should give the means of ascertaining who was right and who was wrong by a parliamentary investigation. It was asserted, that the late Lord-lieutenant of Ireland, in a progress which he thought fit to make through the country, to make a full essay of royal state, and to show to the subject multitude how well he could assume and become the regal dignity, took that opportunity, as he passed through various assize towns in his course, to let out many prisoners from gaol. He presumed it was meant as a sort of revival of the good old custom which prevailed in old times, that when a monarch made a progress he declared an amnesty to all prisoners and malefactors in his route. He would not attempt to name places, or to state the names or numbers of the persons who thus partook of the noble Lord's clemency. These particulars, however, were easily obtained, and the facts themselves had never been denied. But even supposing, which was difficult, that such acts were proper and justifiable in themselves, he put it to the House whether it were not a gross misapplication of the prerogative to do it at all in the way in which it was done, as it were by wholesale, and in a way which, whether it was meant so or not, certainly had the effect of assisting to a great extent the personal consequence of the noble dispenser of life. At any rate, that was not the idea that was entertained of the quality of mercy by the greatest moralist and truest observer of a by-gone age. He had laid it down as a rule by which mercy was to be judged of, that it spread itself softly and imperceptibly, and, to use his own words, that it "droppeth as the gentle dew from heaven upon the place beneath." But it appeared, that the noble Lord, the late Lord-lieutenant of Ireland, had quite a different idea of the matter. Under his directing hand, instead of being like the reviving dew working an unremarked, but effectual refreshment to the parched soil, it was poured upon the land with the destructive force and multiplicity of the hailstorm, blasting vegetation, and striking down the ripening crops, that were exposed to its devastating fury. He did not mean to doubt, that it might be a 138 grateful recollection to that noble Lord, having now laid aside his regal pomp and state, and returned to the more placid and less showy employment of a private citizen, to think that he had been the means of saving many felons from the gallows, and restoring many thieves and house-breakers to their country, which would otherwise have been deprived of their valuable services; of sending back many whom the law had sentenced to restraint for their crimes to the bosom of their expectant families; of affording to the murderer in many instances time to repent of his errors, and opportunity to commence a new life, the exact opposite of that which up to the time of his pardon he had been accustomed to lead. To a man of a humane and beneficent disposition, who feels his bosom dilate with conscious pride when he hears a crowd of eager tongues suddenly cease on his approach from intemperate ribaldry and profane jesting, to join in the simultaneous shout of "God bless him, the man after our own hearts," who feels his heart throb with honest exultation when he sees the thousand hands of the multitude lifted up from their legitimate occupations, however dirty and grovelling those occupations may be, to wave him a ghastly and reluctant adieu, as he takes his last farewell of the homes to which, perhaps, he has not long since transferred the greater part of them from the melancholy broodings of the dungeon and the condemned cell—to such a man, reflections such as these must indeed be sweet, and soothing, and consolatory. But what a change the feelings of that same man must undergo, if he has any feeling of right and wrong, when he hears that these very persons whom he has rescued from the grasp of justice, instead of being improved by the process, have only returned, as the sow that was washed, to their wallowing in the mire—that the felons who were by his means again let loose upon society have only made use of their liberty to commit new breaches of the law—that, in restoring certain persons to their family and hearth, they had only returned to become the scourge of the neighbourhood in which they dwelt,—in short, that in saving from punishment each guilty man, he had neglected to consider that what was due to mercy should not be taken from justice, and, that by thus, as it were, robbing Peter to pay Paul, he had contributed to the serious increase of 139 crime, and, perhaps, to the murder of many innocent and unoffending individuals. It was a terrible and an awful thought, but it was one, that those who exercised indiscreetly this prerogative of mercy, if they were not altogether blinded by self-confidence, must too surely and too strongly apply to themselves, that every murder, every robbery, every outrage upon property, every breach of the law, however grave, or however insignificant, which could be traced directly or indirectly to the releasing of a criminal once legally convicted, was upon his head who authorized the commutation of that man's punishment. He might call it want of discretion, he might call it unsound judgment, he might call it carelessness, he might call it kindness of heart, he might give it any other soft and delusive epithet which might strike pleasantly upon the ear, and lull the restless upbraidings of conscience, but the deep responsibility remained. The effects of such ill-judged rashness was irremediable. It showed itself not only in an increased audacity in those who had individually profited by such false clemency, but also in a general disrespect and contempt for the law, the extent of which mischief it was difficult to define, and which it was as hard to restore to its former standard as it had been easy in the first instance to break down and uproot. So much for the prerogative of mercy, which had been so grossly abused by the administrators of the government in Ireland of late years as to become a by-word. It still remained for him to notice one other assertion, that was generally made with much noise and much clamour by the supporters of that government—he meant the assertion, that their method of rule had increased the tranquillity, or rather he should say diminished disturbances in that country. He asked, how was this assertion to be proved? or rather how did they attempt to prove it? Did they prove, that there had been less crime committed? did they prove that there had been fewer murders, fewer malicious burnings, fewer robberies, fewer assaults? No they did not attempt to do any such thing. They came down to this House with long statistical statements referring to times when rebellion was rife in Ireland, and they attempted to prove from them that matters are not worse now than they were then. They assert, forsooth, that there have been fewer 140 convictions, fewer committals, fewer apprehensions; they quote the charges of judges congratulating juries upon the lightness of the calendar. In doing this, they plume and pride and glorify themselves upon the very things on which they ought to weep, and mourn and lament the most. This very circumstance was the very worst and most astounding feature in the whole case—that while outrage of every sort increases, punishment diminishes—that in proportion as the increase of crime is alarming, in the same proportion is the chance of impunity augmented. When the proud boast of these men is analyzed, it is neither more nor less than this—that there were more men murdered than there ever were, but at the same time there was a more serious and insurmountable difficulty, in bringing the authors of those outrages to justice. He must say, that for his part, under these circumstances, he for one, could not see why that House was to be called upon to give a vote of approval of the present Government. He thanked the House most sincerely for having listened to him with so much indulgence, and begged to say he should feel much pleasure in voting for the amendment of the right hon. Baronet.
Mr. D. O' Conor
would detain the House for only a few moments. He felt bound to vote against the amendment of the right hon. Baronet opposite, and in favour of the motion of the noble Lord. The terms on which the Committee of the House of Lords had been moved for, were evidently an impeachment of the Irish policy of the Government, and amounted in reality to a vote of censure upon the Government of Lord Normanby. The period over which the investigation was to extend, and the language in which the resolution was couched, rendered it perfectly clear that the conduct of Lord Normanby was the reason for the appointment of the Committee; for it was stated that the inquiry was to be into the state of crime and outrage in Ireland, from the year 1835, which it was asserted had rendered life and property insecure in that part of the empire. The appointment of the Committee was, therefore, in his opinion, a direct censure upon the conduct of Government with respect to Ireland, and, surely, therefore, the Government had a right to call upon that House for an expression of opinion in regard to their Irish policy, and it could not be doubted that 141 that House had a perfect right to express such an opinion. He regarded the amendment which had been proposed by the right hon. Baronet opposite, as only an artifice to evade the main question; and he trusted that no one would be led away by the terms in which it was framed, and thus refuse their support to a Government which had done much to ameliorate the condition of Ireland. From the returns which had been laid before the House, as well as from the testimony of those best qualified to judge on the subject, it appeared that during late years offences had diminished in Ireland, and that the number of convictions had increased in proportion to the offences, as compared with former times. It was, therefore, evident that the present Administration had executed the law vigorously, and that there was no ground for the motion or for the censure of the other House of Parliament. Even the judges on the circuit congratulated the people on their improved social condition, and on the diminution of crime, and he could state from his own knowledge, that in that part of the country where he resided, a very great improvement had taken place. The question before the House was, whether outrages had increased under the Government of Lord Normanby, and if they had increased, whether that increase was attributable to the conduct of the Government. Now those outrages were of two kinds—faction fights, and agrarian disturbances. With respect to faction fights, it would not be denied that their number had much diminished of late, and for the decrease which had taken place, he contended, that they were indebted to the present Government. With respect to agrarian disturbances, he hoped they also had diminished, and at all events, the Government had taken the most prompt and energetic measures for repressing them. It therefore did appear that the late Lord-lieutenant had done all in his power to repress those outrages, and he could bring forward many cases showing that such was the case. He thought, too, that at last, a remedy had been found for those agrarian disturbances in the Poor-law which had been granted, and for that measure they were indebted to the present Government. If any one contrasted the state of Ireland at present with what it was some years ago, it must be allowed that a great improvement had taken place, and he did trust that English Gentlemen on his side 142 of the House would not desert the cause of Ireland, and that they would unanimously support the motion of the noble Lord.
§ Mr. Sidney Herbert
said, that hon. Gentlemen opposite had attempted to make the present a purely Irish question, and to draw those on his side of the House from the vantage ground which they occupied in right of the amendment which had been moved by the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth. But on his side of the House there was no censure cast upon the Irish policy of the Government; though they certainly had a perfect right to allude to the state of Ireland in discussing the question brought forward by the noble Lord opposite. It was admitted by Lord Normanby, that outrages had not diminished, but that smaller offences had. He did not deny that such was the case, for small crimes, like diseases, always gave way and diminished as great crimes became more prominent. He was not going to defend the landlords against the charges which had been brought against them, but when those charges were made, they were certainly bound to give them the means of replying, and to afford them an opportunity of establishing their innocence. Now, that could be done only by investigation; and, therefore, the course which the other House had adopted, was only an act of justice to those against whom the most gross charges had been made. Nor could it be doubted, that the House of Lords had a perfect right to make inquiry into the state of outrage and crime in Ireland, just as the House of Commons had pursued their inquiry by demanding returns. But there was another circumstance which justified the appointment of a committee on this subject. The right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer had last night stated, that when they got the returns which had been moved for in that House they would not be of a character to be depended upon. Now, surely that was another reason for inquiry, and for obtaining vivâ voce evidence in regard to the state of Ireland. The hon. Member for Limerick had said, "Don't discuss the state of Ireland in a spirit of party, but let us rather unite together and inquire what the cause of those outrages and disturbances are, and let us endeavour to find out the proper remedy which ought to be applied." In that course of proceeding he fully concurred. But the fact is, there are threats of differ- 143 ences on the other side of the House; even the mind of the Member for Kilkenny had begun to suspect, that after all black is not white. In this emergency recourse was had to a motion which, by bringing on a collision with the Lords, and upon the ground of Ireland, it was thought would give satisfaction to those supporters of the Government who held extreme opinions as to reform. The Government thought, that those dissatisfied persons would support them in a motion upon a country where all law and order were postponed to the unresisted sway of popular impulse. But there might be another motive for the course which the Government had pursued. It might be that they were not completely at ease as to the result of the investigation which had been instituted by the House of Lords. When they sought a packed verdict in the House of Commons without any inquiry having taken place, he thought he was justified in supposing, that Ministers were not altogether satisfied as to the probable result of the proceedings adopted by the Lords. But he believed they already repented of the resolution which had been moved by the noble Lord; and what was that resolution? It was so unmeaning, that it might be construed into any thing, and it was so adapted as to bear any interpretation according as the Government was defeated or successful. In the resolution they did not define their own principles, and there was but one assertion in it and that was notoriously untrue, for they themselves had admitted, that crime had not decreased, and had often lamented its continuance. In short, the resolution was nothing more than an emasculated piece of slipslop. Is that the weapon which is to annihilate the House of Lords, carried too by a majority including many persons who were lying under the same censure as themselves, and against whom similar charges had been brought. But what had become of the motion of the hon. Member for Finsbury? Why had not those who were favourable to that motion, and who held the same opinions as the hon. Gentleman, come forward to address the House? He congratulated the Government on having the support of a party who, as the price of that support, exacted from them concessions which as honourable men and as politicians it was impossible they could grant, after the promises and professions which they had made. But if that motion were bought off by any cross or bargain with the Government, he con- 144 gratulated the Whig Gentlemen of the old school, on the prospect of a Government which was composed of all classes of Reformers, and which was upheld by those who were striving to overthrow the whole fabric of the Constitution. But hon. Gentlemen opposite were mistaken in their views as to the state of opinion in England, if they imagined, that the motion of the noble Lord was calculated to create a prejudice against the other branch of the Legislature. The House of Lords had recovered all their former influence in the country—an influence which they owed to their great talents and their great virtues; but, above all, to the enlightened patriotism of the Duke of Wellington. ["Hear, hear," from Mr. O'Connell.] He did not expect the assent of the hon. Member for Dublin to the opinion which he had expressed. But the hon. Member was not in the Corn Exchange, and he would tell the hon. and learned Gentleman that there was no assembly of men in England of any party or any class, in which the language which the hon. Member was in the habit of using in regard to the noble Duke (the Duke of Wellington) could or would produce any other feeling than that of contempt for the meanness of the mind which could not appreciate his greatness. The House of Lords were strong in their right to inquire into the state of the country when its grievances were brought before them. He trusted the House of Commons would pause before they allowed themselves for party or selfish purposes to decide on evidence not yet seen, and pronounce an opinion which they may find themselves subsequently obliged to retract.
§ Sir W. Somerville
trusted, that as an Irishman he might be allowed a hearing while he gave his sentiments on the motion then before the House. It seemed to him that they were called upon to give a decided opinion on the conduct of the Government. For himself, and judging from his knowledge of the state of Ireland, and considering the terms of the motion which had been carried in the other House—looking also at the speeches which accompanied that motion, he, for one, could not think otherwise than that it was a vote of censure on the Government. He came to that conclusion upon the ground, that if the right hon. Baronet opposite, (Sir R. Peel) were in power to-morrow, he would be ashamed of himself if he could attribute to the right hon. Baronet all the outrage 145 which would be sure to exist in Ireland, knowing as he did the state of Ireland and the origin of that crime. They must go back for many years in order to search for the cause of that crime—even so far back as the beginning of the reign of George 3rd they would find that the Irish House of Commons had appointed a Committee, which Committee had investigated the cause of the crime then existing; and that Committee had reported almost in the same terms as that which had lately been sitting. It was to be remembered that there was a great change going on in Ireland—several small farms were uniting into one large farm, and that was forced upon the landlord in consequence of the operation of the Poor-law. From his own experience, from what he learned in his own neighbourhood, he could assure the House, that the reports of crimes in Ireland were frequently invented—at all events, if not invented they were most grossly exaggerated in the public prints. For instance, in his own neighbourhood it was stated by the public papers, that large bodies of the peasantry were regularly drilled and exercised to the bearing of arms. It was a serious charge, and an investigation was entered upon by the magistrates in the neighbourhood. The charge was found to be totally false, but still it was never contradicted in the newspapers, and of course stood as authentic, so far as the newspaper reports went. In a case which had occurred at a late assizes, the Judge had stated to a jury that he was very glad they had found themselves justified in finding a verdict of "not guilty," because, had they found otherwise he would have found it his duty to have allowed the law to take its course. In such a place he was astonished that such a state of things should exist. Life was held so cheap, that it looked like a heathen country which had never been blessed with the light of Christianity. Did this take place in the county of Tipperary, or in the county of Longford? No; but such language as he had used fell from Mr. Justice Coleridge at the York Assizes for 1838. What a godsend such a charge would have been to the Orangemen of Ireland! Much misrepresentation had gone abroad with respect to the Marquess of Normanby. He for one did not believe that the noble Lord had been in the habit of going into the gaols and there liberating prisoners, He did 146 go into gaols; he sent for the gaolers' books; he inquired into the nature of the crime of which the parties had been convicted. He then inquired of the gaoler as to the conduct of the party, and upon his return to Dublin the proper order was sent down for the relief of the party. He had applied to the Marquess of Normanby frequently for remission of sentences, but never had in one instance succeeded. There was not the slightest ground for saying that the noble Lord had been actuated by political or unfair motives; the government of the noble Lord, also, had had many more difficulties to encounter than any previous government. He had not been treated with common fairness, nor with that respect due to the Queen's representative. His every action had been misrepresented—no calumny was too gross to be promulgated against him. He had even heard it stated by reasonable and respectable men, that the Government were anxious to screen the murderer of Lord Norbury; and he had even heard the magistrates state, that it mattered not that the murderers of Mr. Cooper had been convicted, because they were sure of being reprieved. He believed that Ireland was more tranquil now than it was for years before; he would go further than the resolution before the House, and say, that it had been more tranquil than it had been during the last fifty years. Crime had existed in Ireland, and did exist in Ireland, and would, until the people of that country were treated in an impartial manner; they must acknowledge the nationality of Ireland, and must legislate for Irishman as if they were natives not aliens. They must first educate the people, and that in a manner which the people would accept; if not, they must expect that ignorance would prevail, with its concomitant crime. He should be unworthy of a seat in that House if he did not candidly state his opinions. No pecuniary sacrifice would be too great on his part, to procure to the Church to which he belonged, if not the attachment, at least the respect, of the people of Ireland. Before capital was introduced into that country we must put an end to all political and religious dissension. He had never approved of the measure for reducing the ten Bishops. On the contrary, he considered it "a heavy blow, and a great discouragement" to the Protestant church in Ireland, As 147 he understood it, it was done with a view to conciliate the Roman Catholic population, but if he knew anythingg at all of them, they were not animated by any hostility to the Established Church, as such. The Roman Catholics did not care if they had 500 Bishops, provided the Protestants paid for their support. He thanked the House for the patience with which it had heard him. Nothing but his ardent desire to see peace and happiness conferred upon his country would have induced him to take part in these discussions or obtrude himself upon the attention of the House.
§ Colonel Conolly
could not understand how the noble Lord opposite, who during the previous Session had challenged hon. Members at his side of the House to try the question of an impeachment, could with any consistency shrink from even the severest scrutiny on the part of the other House, and endeavour to evade it by procuring a declaration of the Commons of England, without any reference to the facts of the case. Neither could he understand how, under all the circumstances of the case, with all the nearly insuperable difficulties of detecting and punishing crime in Ireland staring them in the face, any set of men could have the effrontery to propose to the representatives of the British nation a resolution of this description, stating that the principles upon which the Irish Government had been recently conducted, had tended to the efficient maintenance of the law. Why, they appeared to him to have selected the very terms which were declaratory of the most fatal point connected with their administration. He contended, that while they were the sworn servants of the Crown, they had made themselves also the subservient instruments of agitation in Ireland. They had submitted every power within their grasp to the only principle by which they seemed to be guided—the principle of maintaining themselves in office. They had prevented the administration of justice; they had crippled and enfeebled it in every way—in the mode of appointing the sheriffs, until they were forced to alter their system in this respect by the intervention of the Legislature, and, with reference to juries, in the withdrawal of the right both of challenge and reply. These were not his sentiments alone; they were concurred in unanimously, at three county meetings, by the Irish magistrates, whose 148 complaints were received by the Government with derision, and who were told that the blame of all this turbulence and crime in Ireland rested with themselves, and not with the Administration. He fully concurred in the language which had been used by Lord Oxmantown upon this subject, and in the sentiments which had been put forth in that noble Lord's letters; and so far from considering that noble Lord a calumniator of his country, he believed him to have faithfully described the actual state of things when he represented Ireland as in a frightful state of agitation and outrage. The tyrannous system of intimidation which prevailed in that country was in a great degree to be ascribed to the weakness of the Government, which afforded no support to those who were friendly to the maintenance of the law. In the counties of Carlow, Longford, and Sligo, there had been of late a considerable increase of disturbances, all of which were attributable to the animosities engendered by the acts resorted to by the Government for the purpose of carrying these elections. He was well acquainted with the monstrous degree of persecution to which his hon. and gallant Friend near him (Colonel Perceval) had been subjected, and was still undergoing in Sligo; and he knew of an instance where a man had been driven from Sligo into his (Colonel Conolly's) own county, a distance of twenty miles, and left for murdered, although not actually dead, without any cognizance whatever having been taken of the fact by this Government, on which it was now sought to pass a vote of eulogy. A reward to the amount of 150l. had been subscribed in the neighbourhood of the outrage, and yet the Government had notwithstanding taken no notice of the fact whatever. The only crime that could be alleged against that man was, that he had voted for Alexander Perceval. He was also acquainted with the case of an English capitalist who had settled in that part of the country, and whose exertions would have most materially tended to improve its exports. He had been forced, however, by the machinations of the priests and agitators to retire, and submit to the loss of almost all his capital, and yet the Government did not to the smallest extent interfere in his behalf. When he witnessed things like these, was he to he called on to concur in a proposition like the present, and 149 pass a complimentary eulogy upon a Government which had characterized itself by a subserviency to that system of agitation which was at once their degradation, and his country's curse? They had thrown themselves into the hands of the leading agitator; and because they had thus pleased him and his rapacious set, they fancied they were installed in the affectionate regard of the country at large. He had often protested, and he now did so as strenuously as ever, against the supposition that a set of agitators constituted the people of Ireland. There was at least one province, that with which he was connected, in which, he thanked his God, that they had but little influence. The loyalty of the people was unshaken in that province—they had always maintained the character of obedient subjects, and they had of late, he must say, met with nothing but insult in return. Every year they were insulted by a party of troops being needlessly sent down, under the mock plea of suppressing Orange processions, with a view to create a prejudice in the English mind against the loyalty of the Protestant body in that province. They had, however, declared their intention not to meet in procession, they had pledged themselves to their Sovereign to that effect, and they had too much real pride and sterling honesty to violate that pledge. He could not concur in any vote of confidence in the Administration of the noble Lord, whom he considered to be less a servant of the Crown than the instrument of agitators; and he looked upon her Majesty's Government in Ireland as wanting in all their duties to her and to the people of that country, and as having perpetrated in that country acts of the grossest corruption and selfishness, by lavishing the patronage and power of the Crown upon the sustainment of the particular political party upon which they had thrown themselves in that country for support. He considered the present procedure as highly dishonest. It was nothing more than a mockery to seek to pass a vote of approbation of their own conduct in one House, when thirty-five of those who would vote were members of the Admisnitration, and when no fewer than forty besides were deeply interested parties. They had done away with the right of challenging jurors in Ireland, but he would certainly not dispense with that right in the present instance. On the contrary, he 150 would challenge their whole array. He should just as soon think of empanelling a jury from the dock, and placing the culprit as foreman, as grant to hon. Members opposite the privilege of violating the spirit of the law by deciding in a case in which they were so vitally concerned. Would they go to the bench for a character—to the bar for a character—to the church for a character—to the landed proprietors of Ireland for a character? They had turned against them all the sound mind of the country by the meanness of their subserviency to an agitating faction. He looked upon the present proposition as a wretched, a contemptible shift to escape from the censure which must some day or other—and the day was not far distant—fall upon the heads of a corrupt and profligate Government.
§ Mr. James Grattan
said, it was exactly that day fifty-five years, that a motion about Ireland was brought forward in the Irish House of Commons. The object of that motion was, to lay before King George the Third and the people of England, the grounds and the causes of the complaints and jealousies, that then distracted Ireland. That motion passed, and it was on the principles then avowed, on which his hon. Friends near him had governed Ireland during the last four years. It asserted that all classes were alike entitled to the equal protection of the law, and the equal enjoyment of liberty, and that they would not rest until those rights had been obtained. And further, that it was only King, Lords, and Commons, that had a right to make laws for Ireland. On the 16th of April, 1782, the motion passed. Ireland was then made free. Liberty was for the first time enjoyed, and the Catholics were admitted to the privileges of the Constitution. The country then rose to a pitch of glory and prosperity, such as had been unknown. But the seeds of discord had unhappily been sown between Catholics and Protestants, and the same arguments now advanced by the Gentlemen opposite were advanced then, and they succeeded in destroying the peace of the country, and distracting the operation of the principles of the Constitution. Now, he asked Hon. Gentlemen opposite, whether they were prepared, after experiencing the consequences, to return to the period of misfortune and error? The Liberal party did not, as had been alleged, call for a coun- 151 ter-vote now—they only wanted to prevent the passing of a condemnation. A majority of the House of Lords had without inquiry passed a resolution of condemnation of the Representatives of her Majesty and her Majesty's Ministers in Ireland. Yes, it was a condemnation. The words of the resolution of the Right Hon. Baronet were also a condemnation—nay, they were much more, they were the grossest and most malicious libel—the most exaggerated falsehood that could have appeared on the records of the House of Commons. If the amendment of the Right Hon. Baronet had confined itself to Tipperary or to Longford—or to York—he should not have objected, for he admitted that life and property were insecure in Tipperary, and in Longford, although that was his own native county—and he had suffered greatly by its disorganized state. But he objected against the allegation being made against the entire country of Ireland. He thought that the noble Lord opposite (Powers court) should not have indulged in such facetious abuse of the country from which he derived such large resources. Now it was remarkable that in the last speech King William the Fourth addressed to Parliament, which was in August, 1836—a year and a half after Lord Normanby's appointment to the Lord-lieutenantcy—it contained this passage:—"I refer you, with the most lively satisfaction, to the tranquil state of Ireland, and to the diminution of crime in that country, and I trust that a perseverance in a just and impartial system of Government, will encourage the good disposition of the Irish people." The right hon. baronet never contradicted that statement. Would he now exclude that year and a half? The hon. Gentlemen opposite complained that Lord Normanby did not dispense justice—they meant by that, that he dispensed justice to the whole people—not to the Orange party, and through them. If he had done so, they would never have complained. The real question was, how was Ireland to be governed? The right hon. baronet complained that Lord J. Russell's motion was obscure; yet the noble Lord declared every thing and fixed his principles. He said, I will govern Ireland as we have already governed it. The contest had been represented as between the Lords and Commons, but there was a third party—the millions of 152 the Irish people, who were entirely forgotten by the right hon. Baronet opposite as they had been during all his political life. There were 92,000 volunteers in Ireland now, in 1792 they were commanded by the Duke of Leinster; the petition signed by the descendant of that noble Duke now lay upon the table of the House. Should these volunteers fight with or against England? That was the question. [Laughter]. It was very well for Gentlemen to laugh, but to those who had to keep guard over the property of the absentee proprietors, for them it was no laughing matter. The Tories had always avowed principles adverse to the liberties of Ireland; they had not concealed their principles. During the whole period that the party of the right hon. Baronet had governed Ireland, she had only lived for seventeen months, four months under Lord Portland, two months under Lord Fitzwilliam, and eleven months under the noble Lord who preceded the late Lord-lieutenant. They bribed the people out of their liberties in 1800, and they did not regrant them till agitation was triumphant, and then the Gentlemen opposite turned round, and found fault with the agitation, because they were defeated. Another ground of objection, however, which he had against the return of the Tories to power was, their total incapacity. The Gentlemen opposite seemed to arrogate to themselves the well-known designation of "All the Talents," but if "All the Talents," were upon that side of the House, let the House see the use that had been made of them. The hon. Gentlemen opposite had declared that concession to the Catholics would be ruinous to England and ruinous to Ireland, dangerous to the Church of England, and ultimately destructive to the Church in Ireland, in order to meet the cry for concession, they had set up the Orange party—and let the House look at the very name assumed, they took that of the right hon. Baronet opposite, and they called themselves "Orange Peelers." The Gentlemen opposite came forward from 1814 to 1819, and told the people of England that if the measures proposed by the Whigs were granted, they would destroy both the Constitution and the Church; and then in 1819, the very same men came down and urged the House to pass the very same measures, as necessary to uphold the Constitution and the Church. Did 153 that display any statesmanlike ability? Was that an exemplification of perfect capacity for good government? With respect to the Catholic claims, the Duke of Wellington strongly opposed them, and the year after he came down to the other House, and proposed the grant, the right hon. Baronet did the same thing, and not only had they changed, but the noble Lord, the Member for Lancashire, and the hon. Baronet, the Member for Pembroke, who then supported the emancipation, now joined the right hon. Gentleman, and opposed the working out of their own measure. In Ireland the party formed by those hon. Gentlemen, was called the "Renegade Ministry," and when the names of any of the hon. Gentlemen, or the name of the hon. Baronet, the Member for Wiltshire, who had more recently joined the party opposite, were mentioned in Ireland, there was a hiss, as if it had come from Pandemonium. This was the feeling entertained in Ireland of the party which the right hon. Baronet wished to head, wherewith to rule that country; but let him suggest to the right hon. Baronet before he started on this stormy ocean, to look out well for the winds he would encounter, and to consider well the crew with which the vessel would be manned; for if he could judge by what took place last night, the mariners that were to man the vessel were not to be relied upon. Then there was another element. He held in his hand a letter, signed "Ernest," which he would read to the House, it was datedBerlin, Oct. 12, 1835.Gentlemen—Having been absent from home, and attending to the reviews at Kalisch and Toplitz, it was only on my return here that I received the address voted to me by the Grand Lodge of Longford, on the 17th Sep. I lose, therefore, no time in returning you my sincere thanks, and in again assuring you now in writing, of that which I have publicly stated on more occasions than one, that in accepting the high office of Grand Master of the Orangemen of the United Kingdom, I am fully determined to act up to the principles of that loyal body—principles in which, from my earliest youth, my venerable and ever-to-be-lamented father, George the Third, educated me, in common with all his children, and in which I have studiously educated my son. That I am become the object of abuse and malevolence of the enemies of good order and loyalty, I am not surprised at, and am prepared to bear with; for, as I have said, I never will allow myself to retract one iota of our principles, or to give way to machinations, which I know 154 have no other object but to subvert the state, and overthrow the remains of that beautiful constitution which we are enjoying, and which was our pride, and the admiration of all Europe. I must beg to call the serious attention of all my brother Orangemen to the necessity of avoiding all transgression of the law, for to do otherwise, would be to put arms in our enemies hands. Remember we are to support and maintain the laws of the country, and not to infringe them. You may rely upon it, that I shall be again on my post in the House of Lords whenever Parliament meets, in spite of all the threats and menaces held out by the adverse party to intimidate me. The Orangemen may rest assured I shall be true to them, and to those principles which are to support and defend the church, monarchy, and country.ERNEST, Grand Master.There was the letter of the Duke of Cumberland in October, 1835, to the Orangemen of Ireland. If hon. Gentlemen thought this of too old a date, he had also some resolutions which had been agreed to within the last ten days, and was he trusted at a sufficiently late period. There was also a report of a meeting of the grand lodges of the Orangemen of the county of Londonderry, second districtColeraine—Nos. 87, 256, 316, 411, 431, 579, 735, 742, 860, 930, and 1,022.—On Monday last, the first instant, a meeting, of the Orangemen of Coleraine, in the county of Londonderry, was held in the district lodge-rooms of that town, the Rev. John Graham, county master, in the chair, when, among others, the following resolutions were unanimously passed:—1. That we rejoice at the new modelling and more perfect organization of our constitutional association at the annual metropolitan meeting in Dublin on the 14th, and two succeeding days of November last, and that we return our thanks to the grand lodge and their committee, for their zeal and activity on that occasion. That the appointment of Lord Fortescue, the declared enemy of the Church of Ireland, to be viceroy of this island, has been a source of deep alarm to us, and that we hope the Queen's most excellent Majesty, recollecting her coronation oath so lately taken, will cancel that appointment, convinced as we are, that otherwise it will be attended with the most disastrous consequences. 3. That our cordial thanks are due, and are hereby given to Edward Litton, Esq. the worthy representative of our town, for his prompt and steady opposition to the second reading of the Irish Corporation Bill, which we trust, will be rejected by the Lords, the hereditary counsellors of the Crown.Thus, the very measure which the right 155 hon. Baronet had stated that he would support, was warmly opposed, and there was a mutiny amongst his men before the army was enrolled. The next resolution was from the grand lodge of the county of Down, in which it was stated that,All Protestant Ulster will marshal 150,000 high-hearted Orangemen, who, with the blessing of that God in whom is our trust, will again, through every peril, preserve Ireland as an appendage of the British Crown, and hurl shame and confusion back upon the traitors who shall make the daring attempt to suppress our religion, destroy our constitution, and sever Ireland from Great Britain.An accompanying vote of thanks and of confidence in the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland was also passed by acclamation:—It was unanimously resolved, that the thanks of this meeting, comprising the representatives of 220 lodges, and upwards of 25,000 Orangemen, are due, and are hereby given, to the members of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, for their manly and constitutional declaration made 17th November last, with the spirit of which we heartily coincide; and we take this public opportunity of expressing our implicit confidence in the Grand Lodge as now constituted, and of assuring them of our zealous co-operation, and that we shall at all times be ready to jeopard our lives and property in defence of our beloved and youthful Sovereign, our revered constitution, and the maintenance of the British connection.Were they to march against any foreign enemy?—were they to protect their country from foreign invasion? Alas, no! They were to march against their own countrymen who had been designated as aliens and as outcasts. As every play was usually terminated by a farce, so he would conclude by referring the House to a song which was written to the tune of the "Boyne water," and dedicated to the gallant Officer opposite. It was not very had poety, and he would read it to the House:—Say, Verner!Shall we crouch and whine,Like dogs beneath the lash? In slavery pine,When life were torture, and when death were life?No! though our sentinels have sold the pass—No! though our flag is changed to green from blue,The gates of perfidy are made of glass,Another DIAMOND cuts its bright way through.[Laughter.] That was the decent allusion made by the Orangemen to the 156 battle of the Diamond. The right hon. Gentleman opposite laughed, and so did those near him, and he would only, therefore refer them to the words of an old poem:—He laughs, and you laugh, too, no doubt,But one difference is, you're in, he's out.It was idle to enter into a mere contest about Lord Normanby, who, after all, they could not separate from the court at Dublin, the benefit of which was received alone by the tradesmen of that city; but they went to seek for impartial justice, whether it came from Lord Normanby, from Lord Ebrington, or from Lord Haddington; and he must say, that he took care to go to the court of Lord Haddington, though hon. Gentlemen opposite had not gone to the court of Lord Normanby. Let them all unite to benefit their common country, and to obtain for her what she was justly entitled to, equal laws. At the present moment there were but 13,000 troops in Ireland. There were but five regiments of cavalry and ten regiments of infantry; and why was this force sufficient? Because the Ministry could rely for support on the people of Ireland; hut that people would not tolerate an Orange government. He knew that their return to power would cause Ireland to be devastated by civil war, for this would be a natural consequence of 25,000 Orangemen marching against their fellow countrymen. He was sorry to say, that even now Orange sub-sheriffs nominated Orange juries to condemn liberal men who were on their trial. He would show that, by an examination of witnesses, by no less than three respectable Orangemen, and he would prove that it was stated, that the parties did not believe the jury would have given such a verdict as they had given, and that they were nearly certain the jury would have remained all night to procure a conviction. He was determined to support his own, the Protestant religion—if necessary he would lay down his life for it—he admired it for its pure doctrines and its beautiful simplicity; but he would not allow it to form a wall of exclusion against all communication with men of opposite creeds; he would never listen to such an opinion. He had seen men of both religions kneel together before the altar of the same eternal God, Catholic and Protestant. There was perfect peace in private life, and there would be the 157 same peace in public life, if the people were suffered to remain in harmony. He was quite ready to admit errors—he affected no exemption from that common frailty. He believed that, on both sides of the House, they were subject to errors of opinion. Acting on that belief, and on that principle, he proposed that they should shake hands and bury their differences in oblivion—forget what was passed and be friends. But they would not do it. He would still appeal to them, he would still ask them to bury their animosities—to entomb their factious disputations in one common grave, so that they might look forward to peace and concord for the future. Let them henceforward forbid the employment of newspapers to ridicule and calumniate individuals. Did they think the people of Ireland would be eager to submit to their factious proceedings, in order to promote religious animosity and encourage malignity? The first duty they owed their country,—the great principle of duty—was to put down and suppress these practices and unite all the people. That had been attempted by Pitt, Fox, Ponsonby and Grattan, and they had failed. Would they, then reject what those illustrious men had endeavoured to accomplish—were all those years that had passed over their heads during that long period to escape, and not profit by the advantage of their years of experience? From the time of Elizabeth Ireland had been by constant misgovernment, converted into a country of endless calamity and disturbance. Some great and dire misfortune had always been the lot of that country. He bad now to thank the House for the attention they had given him. He would now beg hon. Gentlemen opposite to unite in efforts to put an end to such quarrels. It was the greatest proof of national folly to allow England and Ireland to remain in a state of difference. He would say, let the two countries go on together—let them come to a proper and lasting understanding, on a basis of mutual equality and justice; and then, instead of misery and misfortune, he was confident they would soon reap the benefit, and live in peace, union, and prosperity.
§ Mr. Lucas
confessed he had never laboured under greater diffidence than he now experienced in rising to address the House, after the speech of great good humour which they had just heard from the 158 hon. Gentleman who preceded him. It would be impossible for him to follow the hon. Member in his observations, or to compete with him in the use of those "words that breathe, and thoughts that burn." But as the House did not seem inclined to adjourn at that hour, there were several points on which he wished to say a few words before the debate went further forward. Reflections had been cast, in the course of the debate, upon the conduct of the landlords of Ireland. The hon. Members for Roscommon and Drogheda had alluded to the conduct of the landlords of Ireland, and charged them with proceedings intended to effect a change in the occupancy of the soil from political motives. The landlords of that country succeeded to a state of things of a particular nature in regard to land. They found their estates in a depressed condition. It signified nothing whether the tenants were Protestants or Catholics, farms of fifty or one hundred acres were sub-let ad infinitum. In some cases, where 2s. 6d. was the original rent, 30s. was exacted from the occupier. It was asserted that large schemes of ejection were now going on, and that the land in Ireland was in course of change in regard to occupancy, owing to the opinions of the landholders. From that assertion he totally and entirely dissented. He knew that sub-divisions had taken place in particular districts. But where those sub-divisions had occurred they had been in no degree connected with political motives. If such were the case, the necessary result would be that subdivisions would be found carried to the greatest extent in counties where political contests had occurred. But so far from that being the caes, the fact was, that in the county which he bad the honour to represent, there had not been a political contest for fifty years—not from 1775 to 1826; therefore, so far as the rule was applied to the case of that county, the arguments of hon. Gentlemen opposite were erroneous. He thought it totally unfair to impute political motives to landholders in regulating the subdivision of their lands—stipulated by regular covenants in their leases—and who wished to deal fairly with the occupiers. They all knew that the landlords had their legal rights. But it was most unfair of hon. Members opposite to make sweeping assertions, and to allege that there was a wholesale state of transition going on. There was the 159 greatest kindness displayed by the landlords to their tenantry. Much complaint had been made against Orange Lodges, but the accounts respecting them were grossly exaggerated, He would mention a fact in proof of his assertion. A stipendiary magistrate (Sir William Lyner) was sent by Government to put a stop to an Orange meeting which never took place. He found one person with an orange lily in his button-hole, and another with an orange haudkerchief round his neck. With his own hands he tore the handkerchief from the neck of the wearer, committed him to prison, kept him confined for two or three days and then brought an indictment, which the grand jury ignored. An action was brought against this magistrate, a verdict was gained, and damages were recovered. It was the bounden duty of Government to carry the same impartiality of justice through the whole of the Administration, and make no difference according to the station in which persons moved; and if there was, as in this instance, a magistrate in Ireland who went far beyond his duty—a strict and rigid course of justice ought to have reached and removed him. The administration had not studied impartiality, it had been both partial and unjust in the appointment of sheriffs and it had rewarded those who had shewn the most vehement spirit of partizanship. On the 18th of July, 1837, a meeting was held by the General Association of Ireland, at which an address was moved by Mr. O'Connell from the inhabitants of Dublin, introduced by a speech of great violence, to the effect that they were deprived of their "just rights, privileges, and franchises," and sought redress for their grievances. The address set forth that on the 28th of June, the eve of the festival of St. John the Apostle, when it is the practice of the peasantry in all parts of Ireland to light bonfires, some Catholic children at a place in the county of Monaghan were sporting around one of these bonfires, when they were fired upon by Orangemen and killed. The address appealed to the justice of the Crown, and demanded that the murderers should be punished, affirming that amongst uncivilized Indians and Caffres such offences were not exceeded or even equalled. The intention of the hon. and learned Member evidently was to impute to Protestantism the commission of an offence which he had no ground for imputing to any one class more than any 160 other, and which it was particularly unfitting that he, as a magistrate, should show a disposition to impute, otherwise than upon sufficient evidence, to any class of her Majesty's subjects. The hon. and learned Member did not merely refer to it in the House of Commons, he did not merely incidentally mention it at a public meeting, but deliberately, and with full knowledge of that which he was about to do, he moved an address at a meeting of an organized body in the city of Dublin, which address it was intended should be laid at the foot of the throne. He trusted that he need hardly direct the attention of Members of that House to the gross unfairness of suggesting to the Sovereign that a crime such as that to which reference had been made could only have been committed by one class of her subjects, or the obvious impropriety of an individual included in the commission of the peace for a county, permitting himself to become so strong a partisan in a question which affected the administration of justice. He would ask, was such a man fit to be continued in the commission of the peace? He would also ask, if this address had not been forwarded to the Earl of Durham to be presented at whatever time he found most convenient? He would likewise inquire if it were not true that at the time of its adoption the Court was not in London? Was it not also true that the address had been sent to the noble Lord, the chief secretary to the Lord-lieutenant of Ireland, and was it not most extraordinary, that with such knowledge as that address supplied to him, he could have reconciled it to his sense of duty to have abstained from representing to the Lord Chancellor of Ireland the propriety of removing such a person as the hon. and learned Member for Dublin from amongst the magistracy of Ireland? Finally, he wished to know if an address full of such violent language had ever reached the foot of the throne? The county, however, which he represented, (Monaghan), and which was calumniated in the address, deserved and had met with the eulogy of hon. Members for its tranquillity. It enjoyed a comparative immunity from outrage not a single conviction for a capital offence had occurred during the last four years. But within the last three months the Whig Lord-lieutenant felt it to be his duty to call a meeting of the magistrates in consequence 161 of the increased outrage and robbery of farms. He then and there recommended an additional police force, and his recommendation was adopted nem. con. Thus it was, the Lord-lieutenant, appointed by the present Government performed his duties without receiving one word of reproach or censure. Great stress had been laid on the number of petitions which had been presented in favour of the policy of the present Administration, but the most unfair means were resorted to and the greatest skill used to procure them. A parallel had been drawn by the bon. Member for the county of Dublin between Ireland and Canada. He would also draw a parallel, not in words of his own or of his own party, but in the words of Sir Francis Head. Sir Francis said, "That the greatest encouragement was given to those who supported republican doctrines, and the utmost discouragement to those who were admirers and supporters of the British constitution." That was also the case in Ireland. He thought that the policy adopted by the present Government towards Ireland was partial, impolitic, and unjust, and it should meet with his most strenuous opposition.
§ Debate again adjourned.