Mr. M. J. O'Connell
said, he hoped the House would grant him its indulgence while he stated his reasons for supporting the resolution proposed by the noble Lord the Secretary for the Home Department. He should support that resolution on a twofold consideration; first, because in itself it contained the expression of a true 235 and just principle; and secondly, because he felt that the House was called upon by the circumstances of the times to give its distinct opinion, to record its verdict between the two antagonist principles, on the one or other of which Ireland must be governed. He could have wished that the necessity of going into this branch of the subject had been spared him. He could have wished that the right hon. Baronet opposite had dealt with this all-important question in a more fair and manly way; that the right hon. Gentleman had not exhausted the weight of his eloquence, during a two hours' speech, in endeavouring to prove to the House, not that the proposition of the noble Lord should be abnegated, not that there was injustice towards any class in Ireland in the system of government pursued by the present administration, but that it was desirable that the House should not on this vital question and in this great crisis express any opinion at all. Whatever the right hon. Baronet might say, and whatever those who followed so obsequiously in the right hon. Baronet's train might say, as to the vote come to by the other House, he was sure that out of the two Houses of Parliament there was no man of common sense, of sane mind and memory, who did not consider that the vote come to by the House of Lords was intended as a censure on the Government; and a censure marked by this extraordinary characteristic, that it pronounced the sentence of condemnation at the very moment when it was affecting to proceed to inquiry. If there was not Irish generosity in this, there was at least something very like Irish blundering. Rhadamanthus of old punished before he heard; and such was the course of the House of Lords on the present occasion. Such having been the conduct of the House of Lords, he thought that the House of Commons was peculiarly called upon to express an opinion on the subject. With respect to the charges which had been made against Lord Normanby's government, he thought he could show that they were wholly destitute of foundation. A great deal had been said upon the state of crime and disturbance in Ireland, and they had witnessed the melancholy fact of men coming forward to make out the case of their party, by proving the degradation of their country; and this without a single expression of regret, or apology, or apparent 236 feeling of humiliation on such a subject. What would the House think of the fact that the great organ of the Conservative party in Ireland, after glorying on what they considered their recent triumph in the House of Lords, had concluded a leading article within the last ten days, with the remarkable expression—"Three cheers for the Gazette, and one cheer more for the state of the country!" There had been a time, and it was no very distant period, when insurrection prevailed in Ireland—when there were political associations in every hamlet—when crime and outrage were frequent, and when it might almost be said, that the plunder of the mails was a more regular occurrence than the delivery of letters. But that was under a government which the hon. Gentlemen opposite gloried in contrasting with the weak and inefficient administration which now rules that country. What was the state of the administration of the law during those glorious days? He would quote from an authority not prejudiced against the government of that period. He would not refer to a report of inspectors of prisons, whose character had been so much assailed by hon. Gentlemen opposite, but he would read an extract from the speech of the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, delivered when he was Secretary fur the Home Department. The right hon. Gentleman said on the 14th of June, 1824, when moving the renewal of the Insurrection Act—"It appeared, that before the passing of this Act, there were not less than fourteen murders committed in one barony in two years, and yet not in a single instance had the perpetrators been discovered."* This was what he (Mr. O'Connell) supposed was meant by the strong enforcement of the law. There was another testimony to effectual administration of justice in those days, which was as free front suspicion as that of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Tamworth. He meant, that of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge, who said, on the 12th of May, 1823,Justice was defeated in every possible way. Where the criminal was secured, the witnesses for the Crown were either removed on the approach of his trial, or such was the influence of terror, that it was found impossible to induce them to give evidence. At the late assizes in Cork, the number of personsHe would now refer to other statements, highly illustrative of the success with which the law was administered in those days. These were drawn from the returns of the clerks of the Crown, and showed the number of bills ignored, and of acquittals and convictions in the years 1816, 1817, 1818, 1822, contrasted with the year 1838. The hon. Gentleman then read the following statement:—*Hansard, vol. xi. (new series) p. 1334.237 who were allowed to go at large, in consequence of the impossibility of producing evidence before the grand jury, was little short of the number of those who were prosecuted."*
He said, that with such results staring them in the face, it was too bad for hon. Members to accuse the Government of negligence in the performance of its duty. No one could deny, that they showed a great improvement in the administration of the law. It was true, that it was not yet perfect. It could not be possible, that it could become perfect in the course of a few years. But what would the House think of the right hon. Gentleman opposite who held the secretary ship of Ireland in the year 1817, and who must have been aware of the failure of justice, which those returns showed, but who yet took no steps for the improvement of the police until the year 1823 or 1824? There had obviously been more improvements in the machinery
County and Year. Bills ignored. Tried and Acquitted. Convicted. Cork 1816 242 343 113 1817 540 204 70 1821 693 180 84 1822 543 211 116 1838 20 80 63 Limerick 1816 139 137 49 1817 182 110 47 1821 238 101 60 (special commis) 1838 45 53 60 Kerry 1817 no return 204 48 1820 — 425 68 1838 28 37 45 Tipperary 1816 no return 205 76 1817 — 144 65 1818 — 127 68 1838 29 112 165 Longford 1819 no return 135 29 1820 — 99 18 1838 40 55 43 Westmeath 1816 no return, 79 55 1817 — 90 73 1818 — 69 93 1819 — 71 38 1838 14 27 41*Hansard, New Series, vol. ix. 219.238 for carrying the law into effect during the short period of Lord Normanby's government, than during the long administration of his predecessors. Much had been said upon the subject of juries, and the hon. Member for Belfast had shown a great horror at the idea of their being popularly constituted. That hon. Member thought it highly improper, that the lower class of farmers should serve on juries. But was it the constitution of England, that the aristocratic classes of society alone should have the power of judging upon life and property? He remembered a complaint on this subject from Baron Smith, who in delivering a jeremiade to the grand jury of Louth, said, that the country was disgraced by juries falling into the hands of the lower classes. But were not such complaints a melancholy index of the state of the country? They showed, indeed, the spirit which had so long prevailed in the government of Ireland, and which had produced in the minds of the people a distrust of the law, from a share in the administration of which they were excluded. Upon this subject he would beg to trouble the House with an extract from the speech of Mr. Charles Grant, now Lord Glenelg, who said on the 22d of April, 1822,But, when the mischief has availed itself of these facilitating circumstances, it finds, besides and beyond all these, a yet deeper and more settled principle to assist and promote its growth. I mean a rooted distrust, among the people, of the intentions of the British Government and legislature—the fatal legacy of six hundred years of injustice and oppression. Strange as it may seem, the sentiment to which I allude, is not usually a feeling of disaffection to the constitution, nor a want of attachment to the Sovereign.…In this respect, the disposition of a great portion of the Irish, with reference to the laws in general, seems to be analogous to that which to a considerable extent prevails in this country with regard to one particular branch of the law; I mean, that which relates to the revenue. …. Somewhat of the same sort of feeling pervades, I am sorry to think, a considerable part of the Irish people, with respect to the law generally. They have a rooted conviction, that it was not made for their benefit. They regard it only as a despotic master; and are but too ready to evince that sentiment whenever the opportunity arrives."*On the same occasion the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge said:Hansard, vol, vi. New Series, page 1515.239With respect to the long misgovernment of Ireland, he was by no means disposed to deny, what every one who knew anything of the history and condition of Ireland was perfectly aware of, that the early misgovernment of that country, or rather the course which was adopted on its conquest, was one of the main causes of all the evils that had since occurred. The conquest of Ireland had been conducted on principles more adverse to the happiness of the people than any event of a similar nature, that had ever occurred in the history of the world. No attempt had been made on the part of the conqueror to conciliate the conquered, or to amalgamate themselves with the mass of the people. On the contrary, the policy which had been pursued was to keep the two parties distinct and separate; thereby laying the foundation of that bitter animosity which had been since handed down from father to son, and which at that very moment pervaded the minds of the great body of the Irish peasantry."*He would ask did not those feelings continue? Was not the same rooted antipathy still displayed by a large portion of the Gentlemen opposite? Was it not manifested in opposition to everything like an extension of franchise or equal privileges to Ireland? The only attempt to remove the distrust of the people in the law was made by the government of Lord Normanby, and he (Mr. O'Connell) knew nothing more calculated to give them a feeling of confidence in the administration of justice, than a popularising of the institutions a the country, by calling on other classes besides the aristocratic to perform the duties of jurors. There was another point in the government of the Marquess of Normanby of which the noble Marquess had good reason to be proud. He referred to the suppression of local disturbances and faction fights, which some years ago were frequent in every market town, and which not only deprived industry of its due reward, by disturbing the transactions of buyer and seller, but often led to scenes of the most frightful bloodshed. A statement had been made, which he was astonished to observe had been received with some degree of incredulity, that under former governments these faction fights had been connived at by the magistrates as a useful means of diverting the attention of the people from other subjects. But he could show, that they were viewed in this light by a quotation from no less an authority than the Marquess Wellesley, who in a dispatch of the 3rd of January,*Hansard, New Series, vol, vi. 1482–1483.240 1822, said:—"With respect to Westmeath, the chief magistrate of police has stated the revival of those party feuds and personal conflicts in the neighbourhood of Mullingar, which are considered in this country as indications of returning tranquillity." Returning tranquillity indeed! Was it possible for those under whose government such vices prevailed, and who seeing this to be the state of the country, attempted to provide no remedy, to challenge the administration of the Marquess of Normanby, and venture to compare their own with it. Outrages of this character were formerly visited with punishment only upon complaint of one of the parties, and therefore only one was punished, but the Marquess of Normanby's Government, by the appointment of an attorney as Crown prosecutor, had insured that not only every case should be taken up, but that both parties should be brought to justice. There was another point which had been dwelt upon, not now for the first time—he meant the suppression of the Orange Lodges: and an extraordinary comparison had been drawn between those secret societies using secret signs and pass words, with an association carrying on its proceedings in the face of day, and courting publicity. This subject had been perpetually referred to since his hon. and learned Friend below him, (Mr. Pigot) had received an appointment from her Majesty's Government, which very few in that House would say was ill-deserved. It was said that they addressed the Crown for the suppression of the Orange Societies; but that the General Association was permitted and encouraged. He said there was no common comparison between them. The one was condemned even by its friends as a secret society, using secret signs and symbols, and acting by affiliated branches. The other was not secret, used no signs or symbols, and had no affiliated branches. The constitution of the country permitted the establishment of societies like the General Association, and it was most unjust to blame any man for taking part in that which it was admitted the law of the land had no power to put down. It was natural to consider such associations, when existing to a considerable extent, as a symptom of a bad state of society. But the evil was not in the associations themselves, but in the state of things which gave rise to them. Agitation was the natural and 241 necessary offspring of discontent, as discontent was the natural and necessary offspring of injustice. The hon. and learned Member for Coleraine had talked of the benefit of a Government which would show a consistent resistance to agitation; and he was one of those who cheered the sentiment; for he believed it was more strongly felt on his own than on the other side of the House; for he could not think it had been shown by those who yielded to agitation, and to agitation alone, what they had denied to reason and to justice. The reluctance with which their concessions were rung from them was shown by their subsequent conduct. They had granted the Emancipation Act, indeed, but what had they done towards carrying it into effect? Nothing: and, therefore, it was that discontent still continued. He would read on the subject an extract from a speech of Mr. Plunkett in 1822. He said, "It was often asked, in a tone of triumph, by the enemies of the Catholics, 'Why are you not satisfied with the boon granted to you? Why are you not content with the concessions which you have received?' The reason was, because concession had been followed in every stage by the curse and malediction of those bigots whose prejudices neither time nor circumstances could remove—who, like an unwholesome blight, like a destructive mildew, intercepted every ray of royal favour, or of legislative beneficence." So long as concessions were refused to reason and conviction, so long would sources for agitation continue. Herein the Irish people might be blamed for indiscretion; but if they bore injustice in silence, they would deserve contempt. Great complaint had been made of a reception given to Lord Normanby on his entrance into Dublin, at which flags and banners were displayed. It was true that there was a procession of the inhabitants of Dublin, many of them belonging to trades, and that many of them carried banners; but as to the character of these flags, he would read a piece of evidence given by Mr. Swan, the deputy grand master of the Orange Society, in June, 1835. It was as follows:—Evidence of William Swann, Esq. deputy grand secretary, June 2, 1835;—1443. With regard to the procession on the entrance of Lord Mulgrave, were the flags that were carried on that occasion known to be party flags?—Yes.1444. The majority of them?—Almost all of them, I should say.2421445. Then, any one seeing those flags would say they were the flags of a party?—Yes, that is my belief.1446. Did you see amongst those flags any inscription upon them?—Yes; I did see inscriptions on a great many of them.1447. Will you mention them?—Indeed I cannot take upon me to mention them, except one, 'equal laws.'But to make assurance doubly sure, the witness was further asked,1453. The one on which you saw 'equal laws,' is that a party flag?—Yes; I consider that a party flag.Let this answer show the character of the party. And if there were two parties, of which one had for its object to give the people of Ireland equal laws, and the other to resist them, was Lord Normanby's Government to be blamed for having given encouragement to one rather than the other? Lord Normanby did throw himself into the hands of those who sought equal laws, and it was his pride and boast that he did so. And this was his great offence for which his levees were deserted, a piece of disrespect in which the judges of the land thought proper to set an example. The hon. Member for Coleraine had talked last night of a Government which would execute the law—he was probably going to say with vigour, but the true word slipped out and he said rigour; and that expressed exactly what his party wanted. It was that spirit which led them to complain of Mr. Drummond's letter, because he ventured to say that property had its duties as well as its rights. But that was a principle which all men of candour acknowledged, and it had been affirmed by the Legislature in the adoption of the Irish Poor-law Bill. It unfortunately happened, from causes to which he need not refer, and it scarcely could be denied, that many things had occurred which favoured the turning-out of tenants.
The abolition of the forty-shilling franchise tended very much to that effect. If landlords had waited till the Poor-law Act came into operation, they would have been bound to support those whom they dispossessed; but landlords had in many instances taken advantage of the intermediate time between the passing of the act and its coming into operation. They had done this in the most remarkable manner, for they employed themselves in dispossessing their tenantry for the purpose of avoiding their responsibility, and to escape the support of their tenantry. Hence it was that agrarian disturbances 243 continued. He was certainly not one disposed to advocate crime in any way, nor to excuse the acts of any illegal confederacy, and which prevailed in some counties with respect to the taking of land. It was assuredly a most melancholy thing that a landlord could not get rid of a tenant without exciting disturbance. This was certainly very melancholy; but was there nothing melancholy in the other view of the picture? Was there nothing harrowing to the heart and exciting to the feelings in the miserable state of the unfortunate people—for those who were turned out from their homes, in the most inclement season of the year—who were turned off more often without than with compensation, sometimes, indeed, with the munificent compensation of from 2l. to 5l. to provide for a family of from seven to ten persons, and thus to enable them to erect a hut in a ditch, there to perish, or to drag out an existence worse then death itself in the outlets of some town? Was there nothing very melancholy in all this? If hon. Members had seen these things themselves with their eyes, instead of looking at them through the coloured and distorted medium of party—if they had seen these things with their own eyes—if they conversed calmly with the unfortunate victims of the system to which he referred, he believed that they would be much more ready to remove the cause than they even now seemed disposed to pass a censure on the Government. These unfortunate combinations had prevailed most where the rights of property were most freely enforced, and their duties most frequently neglected. The county of Tipperary had been often referred to in those debates. Hon. Members said that life and property were not safe in Tipperary, and that it was now in a worse condition than in former times. Did hon. Members who said this, remember the beginning of 1827, and the occurrences which then took place—occurrences which had been so admirably and so spiritedly described in an article of the "New Monthly Magazine?" Hon. Members might remember the murder of Mr. Chadwick, a land-agent in that county; and the murders which subsequently followed of the relatives of the man who gave information as to the murder of Mr. Chadwick. Such things occurred in Ireland even when there was a strong Government. Observations had frequently been made with respect to Irish disturbances. Reflections upon this point 244 were to be found in the well-known work of Arthur Young, a book that it was most necessary and useful to refer to, for it carried them back to the period when Irish disturbances were new. They ought to look to what he says, and then they must find that nothing had since been done to remove the cause for these disturbances:—It is manifest, that the gentlemen of Ireland never thought of a radical cure, from overlooking the real cause of the disease, which, in fact, lay in themselves, and not in the wretches they doomed to the gallows. Let them change their own conduct entirely, and the poor will not long riot. Treat them like men who ought to be free as yourselves—put an end to that system of religious persecution which for seventy years has divided the kingdom against itself. In these two things lies the cure of insurrection.Let them not proclaim that they wished to deprive the people of the few privileges which a just Government might enable them to enjoy. But let them mark what had been said by the writer in 1828, and profit by the counsel that was given—A change of system would not, perhaps, produce immediate effects upon the character of the people; but I believe that its results would be much more speedy than is generally imagined. At all events, the experiment of conciliation is worth the trial—every other expedient has been resorted to, and has totally failed.The government of Ireland under Lord Normanby was the first time that the experiment of conciliation was attempted. That experiment had been thwarted—it had been embarrassed—it had been misrepresented—and everything had been attempted to make it ineffective. But he did trust that the House would give its sanction to the motion of the noble Lord, as it would by so doing, secure the same principle being acted upon by the government of Ireland. He did trust that the House would decidedly and distinctly put on record its opinions with respect to the government of Ireland. If the vote were put upon the main question, whether the principle of conciliation or the principle of oppression should be acted upon, he would have no doubt as to the result; but unfortunately the amendment of the right hon. Baronet was so artfully shaped, that many who would pause long before they would give a direct vote against Ireland might be carried away by the spirit of party, and their better reason so far overcome as to be induced to swell the ranks of those who otherwise must be left in a miserable minority. He did say, that if 245 they carried the amendment, they would, by so doing, produce in Ireland the idea that they desired to see the principle of conciliation put an end to. Let them strip off the gauze that enveloped the sophistries of the right hon. Baronet, and they would find the amendment amounted to this—that the House did not think it worth its while to pronounce an opinion upon the government of Ireland. It had been said before of his countrymen that they were more deeply pained by an insult than by an inquiry. Let them, then, reject the resolution proposed by the noble Lord, and he could assure them that it would produce the very worst effects in Ireland; but he did hope that the House would decide in such a manner as must convince the people of Ireland that the House was resolved that the system which had been adopted by Lord Normanby should not only be continued but acted upon. He wished to refer to the following authority on the subject:—In the first place it is obvious, that as the evils to which I have referred are the result of causes most deeply seated, and which have operated for ages, so they cannot admit of any sudden or instantaneous cure. The process of healing must be gradual. But in making this observation I wish to guard against the possible abuse of it. It does not furnish the slightest pretext for indifference or delay in the application of remedial measures. It is, on the contrary, the strongest argument for an immediate recourse to them. Indeed, although I admit, that improvement must be a work of gradation, I certainly conceive, that the rate of its progress depends in no small degree on ourselves; and, if it is heartily pursued and promoted on all sides, I even think it possible, that the effect may be produced with a rapidity on which we should in the first instance he far from calculating.The improvements that had been attempted were checked from the causes he had stated. "Confidence" had been termed "a plant of slow growth." In the Irish soil, where it was mixed up with the weeds of distrust and discontent, it could not be a matter of surprise, that its growth must be much slower than in other countries. He did trust, then, that a system which fostered a confidence in the people of Ireland in the administration of the law, and when that confidence was strengthened by the generous spirit in which legislative measures were carried—he did trust to see, that plant springing up, and that by its side they might behold agriculture flourishing, commerce thriving, 246 and manufactures prospering; and that thus they might see Ireland, not only the right arm of England in war, but its partner in the more glorious and more useful triumphs which belonged to peace.
§ Mr. John Young
said, the objects and opinions of the party he had the honour to be connected with, had been portrayed in harsh and revolting colours. Hon. Gentlemen opposite had fallen into the very error they deprecated in others; they should recollect this—for but little good could result from infusing such acrimony into the debate—a great part of the deplorable evils to which Ireland was subject, must be attributed to causes of long standing—to religious engrafted upon national distinctions—to the state of property—and to the extreme poverty, no less than the extreme ignorance of vast masses of the people. The cure of such evils undoubtedly required time, and the prolonged operation both of moral and material remedies. In most cases they lay beyond the immediate power and sphere of action of the executive—therefore it was, that he had long considered, that the increase of outrage at any given time hardly afforded grounds for attacking or reproaching Ministers, while on the other hand, a diminution could seldom be fairly converted by them into the subject matter of applause and self gratulation. The question before the House, was not simply the comparative tranquillity or disturbance of Ireland. It involved other results, and was to be tried on something of a different issue. Certain facts had been strongly stated on one side and denied on the other. They were shortly—that a chief governor had gone over to Ireland at a time of great excitement, when after a long and violent struggle every link of the penal code had been unrivetted; the Roman Catholic had been raised to perfect equality with his Protestant fellow subject, and the effect of the Reform Bill had been to throw the great weight of' political power into his hands. The exultation of the successful party was unbounded, and it was prepared to push its victory without temper or moderation. The annihilation of the Protestant Church was spoken of not as an end, but as an easy step towards further progress. At this conjuncture the chief governor, instead of trying to moderate excitement, and draw parties closer together, by reconciling differences and softening down 247 animosities, placed himself at once and decidedly at the head of a party, and by every possible act and expression, the distribution of his favour and patronage, to which incessant agitation seemed the sure passport—the frequent remission of sentences, which was now admitted on all hands to be most imprudent—had striven to gratify and aggrandise one party, while he disgusted and humiliated their opponents. The complaint made was, that this conduct manifestly tended to aggravate the evils under which Ireland was labouring. This was denied on the other side, and the Lords had thought proper to institute an inquiry into the statements. This being the case, he was not willing to give a vote which could be by any means construed into a disapproval of the course which the Lords had adopted, and which it was their undoubted constitutional right to adopt. Neither was he prepared, without examining a single document, or entering into a tittle of evidence, to come at once to the decision in favour of the Government which the noble Lord required. Gentlemen opposite urged that as the liberal party in Ireland were strongly in favour of government, that decision should at once be come to; but perhaps on examination it might appear, that the Irish executive had exceeded even the wide discretion with which a majority of the Commons might trust them. At any rate, it was not wonderful, that the Roman Catholic party should come strenuously forward; the country had been governed entirely for them; they had reaped all the advantages, and their wishes and feelings alone had been consulted. As regarded the meeting at the Hawkins'-street Theatre, on which so much stress had been laid, certainly some of the noblemen who attended there deserved the highest respect. He honoured the ancient lineage and amiable virtues of the Duke of Leinster; the moral worth and unimpeachable character of Lord Fingal well fitted him for the place he held at the court of a female Sovereign. Still neither the numbers, the influence, nor the ability displayed in the speeches on that stage by the aristocratic portion of the meeting, were such as to present any very formidable obstacle to their opponents, and the commoners who attended. He felt persuaded that statesmen determined to act with fairness and impartiality, might reckon on the support 248 of a great and powerful party, of all denominations in Ireland, who join in principle, yet looking to the exigencies of the present times, would readily co-operate with them in the good government and improvement of the country. At that meeting many injurious allegations, many inconclusive facts, and many groundless apprehensions had been stated. With respect to the last, he would say, that if he could bring himself to believe they had any foundation, or that the removal of Gentlemen opposite from office must necessarily be followed by a narrow and exclusive policy, by a return to that system which oppressed Ireland during the last century, and sowed so widely those seeds of rancour and hatred which produced in those days such fatal fruits, to that system which Mr. Pitt sought to put an end to by the union, he would be one of the last men in that House to vote for it. He felt assured that he was speaking the sentiments of his constituents, when he disclaimed all such hopes and views. They knew that great changes had been affected of late years in the constitution—that those changes had been accepted by the leading Conservative statesmen, as the basis on which the future administration of affairs must be conducted—they admitted that these great reforms already made, must have effects in practice and further progress; still they trusted that under Providence the same advance of the public mind, the same development of resources, which rendered such great innovations necessary, would also render them safe. Political power is now differently distributed, from what it used to be; all these things made the idea of a return to any narrow or exclusive system visionary and impossible. It should always be recollected that the great body of the Protestants of Ireland had never derived any advantage from the ancient system. A few families had lorded it over all denominations of their countrymen, and held power and patronage for themselves alone. The energies and resources of the whole country were equally paralysed by commercial restriction and political jealousy; all the Protestants of that day wanted was all the Protestants of this day ask for—equal justice—and this Mr. Pitt held out as one of the advantageous results of the union:—"An impartial Government, which should stand aloof from local party dissentions, sufficiently removed from the influence of 249 contending factions to be the advocate and champion of neither; which, not aiming at any temporary popularity, should neither yield to the haughty pretensions of the few, nor open the door to clamour and popular aggression." Of this picture, in the opinion of the Protestants of Ireland, Lord Normanby has fallen far short. At whomsoever's door Gentlemen opposite might lay the blame of the past misgovernment and present evils of Ireland, they had no right to charge them on the great mass of the Irish Protestants. They had not gained by former misrule: they now suffered from the revulsion. All they wanted was, an equal and impartial administration of affairs; for the rest they trusted to their own sober observance of and steady attachment to the law, and to that energetic industry for which they are remarkable; but this they could scarcely exercise, for, discountenanced by a government whose sympathies and favour were entirely monopolised by the hostile majority which surrounded them, they had seen their clergy persecuted and starved, their properties deteriorated, and their homes rendered miserable: scarcely a man in the humbler classes of life dared stay out late to make his market; every outrage carried apprehension to a hundred cottages. What the whole amount of alarm and disgust had swelled to might well be guessed from the vast tide of Protestant emigration which was this season, beyond all others, setting from the shores of Ireland.
§ Sir D. Roche
said, he had presented a great number of petitions to the House, praying that the Irish Government should not be handed over to the Orange party, and in this prayer he entirely concurred. From the statement of the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, it was evident that there would soon be no difference between the Protestants and Catholics of Ireland; and in the part of the country with which he was acquainted, there was just as much security for the one as the other. A long period of time would elapse before the people of Ireland could forget the treatment they had received at the hands of the Government of the Tories. He remembered when the first detachment of a body facetiously called "Peace Preservers," were sent to the county of Limerick. That body of police were then commanded by the late Mr. Going, and they left scarcely anything undone to an- 250 noy and irritate the people; they drank Orange toasts and sung Orange songs at the public-houses where the peasantry used to frequent; and the result of the improper course of proceeding which they had adopted was to incense and irritate the peasantry to such a degree, that Mr. Going, the commander of the police, was murdered, having fallen a victim to his own imprudent and injudicious conduct. Some time after the arrival of these men in the county Limerick, seven men, who were of a party that were illegally proceeding to search for arms, were shot by the police. He did not mean to say that they had not done so in the proper discharge of their duty, but the manner in which those bodies were disposed of after the inquest upon them was calculated to harrow and excite the feelings of the peasantry; their bodies were thrown publicly into a hole on a common and covered with quick lime. Such was the mode of treatment adopted towards the people of Ireland by a Government which had the support of many of the hon. Members opposite. He was not very conversant with the number of cases sent before the officers of the Crown; but he well recollected a most brutal murder which had occurred in his neighbourhood (Limerick), by a man named Regan, which had been committed within a mile of his own house, on a person named O'Neill. The magistrates of the neighbourhood brought him to his trial, and he was convicted. Application was made by his relations to have his sentence commuted, which application was refused by all the magistrates of the county, but in three months afterwards that man was found walking at large amongst the people. How that took place it was impossible to find out, but the man had come back, and told his relations, that if he killed a dozen more men, he had got friends who would bring him through it. Could that be attributed to the Marquess of Normanby's Government? He believed, that the laws were more respected than ever they had been before. He believed, that the people had confidence in the administration of justice, and he believed, that if the system was changed, and the Orange system re-established in the country, that they would have one of the most dreadful convulsions that they had ever had in the country.
§ Sir C. Douglas
was understood to say, that he was perfectly certain of what the consequences would be, if on an occasion 251 like the present the Government should not be strongly supported. If turned out of office, after making some new treaty of alliance, no matter how disgraceful, they would not fail to take some factious means of regaining their places. If he were not persuaded, that if the Gentlemen opposite should be turned out of office, a most efficient Government would be formed, with a determination to reform every abuse, and which would secure to itself the confidence of the people, he would take no part in aiding the accession of a new administration to office. He well remembered with what professions the present administration had come into office, but their actions were in direct contradiction to their professions. They called themselves Whigs, but, whatever their name, they had so acted as never to receive the confidence of the country. They had descended to the sacrifice of their former principles to retain the emoluments of office. He opposed the motion of the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell), because he sought for a vote of confidence in his Government, which he would never give to any Government depending on for its existence a Precursor with patriotism on his lips, and interest in his heart
§ Mr. W. Roche
said, that the hon. Member for Warwick, who had just resumed his seat, had indulged himself very largely in a strain of censure and condemnation on the general policy of her Majesty's Ministers, but scarcely condescended to touch upon their policy towards Ireland, which was the particular if not exclusive object of debate; that, therefore, he (Mr. Roche) would not refer to the hon. Gentleman's arguments, leaving them to be so much more effectively refuted by Ministers themselves should they deem it necessary to do so. He proceeded to say, that amply as both sides of the House endeavoured to sustain their arguments and views by facts, incidents, and statistics, he did not mean to avail of those supports, but to confine himself to a few general observations in defence of his determination to vote for the motion, or rather the resolution, proposed to the House by the noble Secretary for the Home Department. That he would do so not only cordially but gratefully, persuaded as he was that that noble Lord, his colleagues, and their late excellent representative in Ireland, the Marquess of Normanby, were brought to the 252 bar of the House of Lords, and put upon their trial there, not because they governed Ireland ill, but because they governed it honestly, impartially, and well;—not because they administered the affairs of that country in the former spirit of exclusiveness, partiality, and ascendancy, but because they did quite the contrary, by conducting those affairs on the comprehensive and constitutional principle of universal fairness and justice;—not because they treated the Irish people according to the epithet and estimate used towards them in another place, namely, as aliens in blood, religion, and language, but as subjects of the same realm—as bound by the same ties of allegiance—as actuated by the same sense of loyalty, and consequently entitled to and heirs to the same rights, privileges, and protection. Sure, therefore, he was that if any unfortunate circumstances, whether foreign or domestic, gave occasion to put to the proof Irish feelings and gratitude, they (the Irish people) would be found, under the influence of this conciliatory and just conduct, to flock in tens of thousands to the banners of her Majesty in defence of her realms or her rights. He said, that in considering the conduct of Lord Normanby and of her Majesty's Ministers in regard to Ireland, or indeed on any subject, or on the conduct of any government, he would not allow himself to be swayed by a few isolated occurences, but that he would look to the whole intent, scope, and result of that conduct; and that when he found those tests based, as they were in this instance, upon uniform and sincere principles of fairness and justice, he would not, as he had already remarked, suffer a few isolated incidents, even if proved (which they were not, for every such charge was well explained and accounted for), to weigh a feather in the balance against the magnitude of the favours and the blessings on the whole conferred. Lord Normanby had been charged with a misdirected and excessive exercise of clemency—a novel charge certainly in Ireland, where the government and the governors were heretofore known only by systems of opposite tendency. Novel, therefore, as this exercise of mercy and conciliation was to the Irish people, his Lordship may well be excused for exhibiting pretty largely to their admiring gaze so rare an exotic, and thereby demonstrating to them that grace and 253 clemency were attributes of regal and vice-regal authority and feeling, as well as the more repulsive, yet necessary, powers of punishment and penalties. But, Sir, if this clemency had been, as formerly, confined to a favoured portion of the community in Ireland, little would be heard of this censure and condemnation. It put him in mind, he said, of an occurrence in the history of the former municipal corporations of Ireland. Sometime about the year 1760, the oppressions and misdeeds of the Limerick portion of those gentlemen were brought before the Irish Parliament by, he believed, the grand uncle-in-law of the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who sitting just at hand could correct him if wrong [the Chancellor of the Exchequer said it was in 1761], and what was the defence set up by the Limerick corporators of that day? Why, Sir, not that they did not commit those acts of oppression and malversation, but that they only practised them against the Papists, which of course they considered not alone pardonable but laudable. At that time, Sir, a Roman Catholic citizen had, as it is stated in, he believed, that report to Parliament, an officer of a newly arrived regiment quartered on him; and though that officer went away and was absent for a considerable time, yet that citizen was obliged to devote the room to his luggage and wait the pleasure of his return. This he (Mr. Roche) said may be deemed a digression, but it showed the spirit of those times and the contrasted value of the change they were then deliberating upon. Ministers were, he said, arraigned for for asking the opinion of this House while inquiry into their conduct was pending in the other House; but who could doubt what would, before a tribunal so constituted, be the result? and that Ministers therefore did, in his mind, quite right to anticipate that verdict and to counteract its aim and influence by obtaining, as he trusted they would on the present occasion, the approval of the representatives of the people, who on every discussion upon the administration of the laws and the policy of Lord Normanby's government in Ireland, sanctioned those proceedings by uniform in majorities and applause. His hon. Friend, the Member for Kerry, did, in his excellent speech just then delivered, most forcibly and feelingly advert to Lord Normanby's anxious and very successful 254 endeavours to put down those savage combats of the peasantry at fairs, which so long barbarised the country; nor could his Lordship have granted a greater boon to that country, demoralizing and shocking as those occurrences were; and though he (Mr. R.) would not say they were countenanced, he could not say they were, for a long time at least, discountenanced as effectually as they ought; a feeling, or saying, being pretty prevalent, that if the people were allowed to indulge in fighting among themselves, they would have the less time and thought of contending for political rights. On the sanguinary and abhorrent nature of these occurrences, he would take the liberty of mentioning an anecdote. He was with his sister in the county of Tipperary, and while walking her domain, met some females of the peasantry getting over the hedges. In doing so some of them fell, and from them fell blunderbusses and other deadly weapons, which they acknowledged they were taking to their fathers, brothers and relatives, in order to assist them in the forthcoming deadly, but unmeaning fight. Surely, Sir, he who turned his attention so humanely and wisely to this subject, deserved well of the Irish people. In the course of this debate, it was alleged by some speaker or speakers on the other side, that a hatred existed in Ireland to Protestants, merely on the score of their religion. Of such hatred, whether in acts or in speech, he (Mr. R.) believed no fact could be fairly adduced; any such evil was always connected with temporal, not religious influences, and amongst the multifarious public meetings of the Catholics, which take place in Ireland, any thing derogatory to Protestantism, as a religion, is never head, or if heard, would be instantly reprehended, while both in Ireland and here, we ever and anon witness the indulgences of contumely and abuse of Catholicity. Into the statistics of comparative crime and prosperity he would not enter, or delay the House on a subject already so amply and ably handled. He would, therefore, only repeat his determination cordially and gratefully to support the fair and honest policy of her Majesty's Government towards Ireland, so long and firmly pursued by the able and amiable Marquess of Normanby, and would, he was sure, be continued and maintained by the present worthy Viceroy of' that country. And in support of the justness and 255 soundness of that course of policy need stronger or more irresistible testimony be adduced than the opinions of the Duke of Leinster, and of that splendid meeting which lately took place in Dublin, whose sentiments were so pointedly and unequivocally expressed in the petition emanating from it, and yesterday laid on the table of this House by his hon. and learned Friend, the Member for Dublin, subscribed to by men alike eminent in rank, intelligence, and property, thoroughly acquainted with Ireland, and intimately interwoven with its fate?
§ Mr. Plumptre
was convinced that one of the principal causes of the disturbed state in which Ireland was at present situated, was the want of scriptural knowledge amongst the people, who were completely under the influence of a numerous, ignorant, immoral, and political priesthood. The Popish religion, which was the cause of so much misery and social evil in Ireland, was supported by the present Administration, and therefore it afforded him strong ground to indicate his opinion of that policy by giving his warmest support to the excellent amendment of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tam-worth. The priesthood of Ireland added to their other oppressions a constant practice of thundering forth to the ignorant people the terrors of another world, in order to sway them for their own purposes; and the lamentable effects of that conduct were obvious in Ireland. That country could not present any other than a lamentable picture so long as the sacred Scriptures were kept from the people, or explained away, and their meaning tortured by notes and comments. The Scriptures were the true and only true guide to teach the people their duties to God and man, and so long as the sacred volume was withheld from the majority of the population in Ireland the country would continue disturbed and unsettled. Give the people of Ireland a full and free use of the Scriptures, and a change would be brought about which could not be effected by any other means. He was opposed to the present Ministry because her Majesty's Government was supporting Popery in Ireland instead of strengthening the Protestant religion, as they were bound to do. He did not look upon the motion of the House of Lords as a vote of censure upon Ministers, and therefore he thought the proposition of the noble Lord uncalled 256 for. Looking upon the amendment of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tam-worth to be wise in principle, he should give it his heartfelt support.
§ Mr. Redington
had heard with surprise, not unmixed with indignation, the remarks of the hon. Member who had just sat down. As a Catholic he could not sit silent while he heard such calumnies upon his religion and its priesthood. He would not in that place enter into any discussions upon religious questions, because he knew it was not the proper place for them, but he must say of them, that probably the intensity of the bigotry out of which they rose was equalled by the sincerity of the hon. Member's opinion on the subject. The hon. Member had made use of statements with respect to the Catholic religion and priesthood of Ireland which not only the Catholic, but very many of the Protestant Members present, knew to be utterly unfounded, except in bigotry and intolerance. He was unwilling to use strong language, but considering the calumnies by which his religion had been attacked, he hoped the House would excuse him if he had used it. The hon. Member (Mr. Plumptre) had held out the free use of the Scriptures as a remedy for the evils of Ireland. Was he (Mr. Redington) to take the county of Kent as an example in this respect for all the counties in England and Ireland? He would suppose that the cathedral of Canterbury was filled with clergymen all zealous in the performance of their duties, and that all the other clergymen of that county were equally devoted to their spiritual duties; but with all this was he, then, to take that county as an example for all others? Did the hon. Member for East Kent remember what took place in that county last year? Did he recollect who were the deluded followers of the impostor Thom?—and if he did let the hon. Member compare the ignorance of those followers with the intelligence of those who sent him (Mr. Redington) to that House as their representative. He was sure the comparison would turn out to the advantage of his constituents though they were Catholics. He would support the motion of the noble Lord because he felt that the laws were equally administered to all under the Government of Lord Normanby. It was said by hon. Members opposite that the motion for inquiry which had been carried in the House of Lords was not meant as a censure 257 on the Government. What else could be meant by the terms used in the motion, for an "inquiry with respect to crime and outrage by which life and property were rendered insecure in Ireland," and the period to which that insecurity referred was that of the government of Lord Normanby since 1835? Why, any man, even the most ignorant man in Kent, must see at a glance that the motion so worded was meant as a censure upon the Government of Ireland. If the present motion were so objectionable as hon. Members opposite seemed to think, why had it not been met by a direct negative? Instead of that straight-forward and manly course, the opposition offered was of a most pusillanimous kind. If Gentlemen opposite wished to oust the present Ministry and to take their places, would any of them say on what principles they meant to govern Ireland? Was it on the principles of the right hon. Baronet the member for Tamworth, or on those of the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of Oxford, who opposed municipal reform in Ireland? Or was it to be on the principles avowed by the hon. Member for East Kent? He must say, that on none of those principles could Ireland be governed. It was seen that on the present occasion men who had not hitherto taken any part in politics came forward to express their approval of that system of government by which at length something like justice had been done to Ireland. He hoped that the prayer of the numerous petitions which had been presented from Ireland would prevent the return to power of those who, judging by their former conduct, would prove a curse and not a blessing to Ireland; and he called on all those who regarded the peace of Ireland, and who would preserve its connexion with this country, to vote for the motion of the noble Lord.
§ Sir F. Trench
said, that as remarks had been made on a green flag being carried before Lord Normanby on his entrance into Dublin, he must certainly admit, that he bad a love for the colour of his native country, but at the same time he should have wished that the green flag had borne a crown as well as an Irish harp emblazoned upon it. He had listened last night to the speech of the right hon. the Attorney-General for Ireland with great expectation, but with great disappointment; for the right hon. Gentleman had not only in- 258 troduced nothing new, but had avoided all the important parts of the question. He had the satisfaction, however, to hear that speech most completely annihilated by the right hon. Member for the University of Dublin. From what had been stated to the House, and from instances he could mention, they must agree with him in thinking that it was not always from violent landlords that the violent ejectments which they had heard of had proceeded. Much as the Government were to blame, doubly would they be to blame if they lent themselves as instruments to those who professed, to utterly exterminate the Protestant religion in Ireland; and he must confess, that it was not only with surprise, but with feelings of disgust, that he had heard the insulting language of the noble Lord the Secretary for the Home Department, when the condition of the Irish clergy was stated in that House, and the sneering manner with which the noble Lord had treated their miseries. There was yet, however, one mode of tranquillizing Ireland, for if the party of the hon. and learned Member opposite would only take a tithe of the pains to promote agricultural industry, and the general peace of the country, that they did to excite agitation, and if the hon. and learned Member himself would only exercise the immense power he possessed over the minds of the Irish people with the same object, instead of outrages and murder being committed, there would be tranquillity and happiness throughout the country. He could not agree with the specific proposed by the hon. and learned Member for the great population of Ireland, as to transplanting manufacturers from England into Ireland, and withdrawing persons from Ireland to England to work in our manufactories here. Such a scheme would not be agreeable to the people of Ireland, for if ever there was a strong, and he might say, a miraculous love of country, it was possessed by the Irish. He did not speak this from there being any want of the advantages which nature could give to that country, but from the degraded situation in which she was placed. He had travelled through many foreign states, but never had he witnessed any place so miserable and impoverished as his native country. He trusted that the landlords would endeavour to ameliorate the condition of their tenants, and if they did so, and the hon. and learned Member would direct the 259 people to turn their minds to agriculture, they might make Ireland the Sicily of Western Europe, and then would there be no cause for the abolition of the Corn-laws, which must prove the destruction of England. All that he was anxious to do, was honestly, fairly, and boldly to declare his conviction that the government of Lord Normanby was not beneficial to Ireland.
§ Mr. Hume
thought that the picture which had just been drawn by the hon. Member for Kent of the miseries of Ireland, said more in support of the noble Lord's motion than anything that had yet been advanced on the subject, because now, for the first time, for ages, the miseries of that long misgoverned country were sympathised in by the Ministers of the Crown, whose conduct met with a hearty and grateful acknowledgment from the people. The hon. Member had spoken of the crimes and particularly the murders, which took place in Ireland. But he very much doubted whether, if the same returns of crimes were made in England as in Ireland, the comparison would show that there was less of crime and murder in the latter than in the former kingdom. This very day, as he passed from the City, he had inquired as to the proceedings of the Central Criminal Court. He was told that the sessions were closed, but that there had been 380 persons tried; and that large number was only of five or six weeks' collection. Now let them compare the enormous amount of crime, in London alone, with some of the counties of Ireland, in one of which there had been two maiden assizes immediately following one another. The party opposite had supported Lord Grey in passing that most tyrannical and pernicious measure the Coercion Act; and he well recollected the horror with which the details of crime and misery, stated by the noble Lord (Stanley) who moved that measure in this House, were listened to. The county of Kilkenny was the first county in which martial law was proclaimed in virtue of that measure; but, from being the chief scat of agitation and outrage, as it then was, how different was its condition now? In the charge to the grand jury of the assistant barrister, on the 12th instant, the learned gentleman congratulated the grand jury upon the fact that there were only sixteen cases in the calendar, several of which were committed anterior to the previous session, and all of which were for very slight offences. He took occasion further to 260 congratulate them upon the fact, that there was not any place in her Majesty's dominions more tranquil and free from crime than the large and populous county of Kilkenny. The learned Gentleman said, that he would state further; that he had heard reports in circulation alleging the existence of a system of ribandism in the country. All he could say was, that although he had thought it his duty to make strict inquiry about this allegation, he could find nothing at all (in the county of Kilkenny) to support such an idea. He had also consulted with his excellent colleague, Mr. Greene, who entirely concurred in that view. "If ribandism did exist," continued the learned gentleman in his address, "it would have ere this been betrayed by its usual consequences—prædial disturbance, midnight outrages, and unlawful violence of every kind; but happily in your country such symptoms are not exhibited; life and property are secure, and this is, I think, only to be attributed to the firm and impartial administration of the law which the country now enjoys." Now, how did this statement agree with the alarming pictures which were drawn by Gentlemen on the other side of the House; and the bold allegations that life and property were not secure under Lord Normanby's administration? The hon. and gallant Member who last spoke said, that he had heard the speech of her Majesty's Solicitor-general for Ireland with disappointment. He, on the contrary, differed front the hon. and gallant Member in his opinion on that subject, for he could not but consider it a speech of a most convincing and unanswerable character. It had most clearly shown the actual decrease of crime in Ireland, not on the hon. and learned Gentleman's own simple statement, but upon the hest possible proof, the official letters of the clerks of the peace, and the official report laid by the Prison Inspectors before the House. Yet, upon these very returns it was, that the hon. Member for Belfast and others had attempted to make out a case against the Government. But the learned Recorder of Dublin, who doubtless saw how difficult it would be to reconcile these returns with the case which had been made out, said he placed little reliance upon them. But if the case were so, and that little reliance could be placed upon these returns, the whole charge against the Government, and the whole of the proceedings which had taken 261 place elsewhere on the subject, avowedly founded on these returns, fell to the ground. He thought that if the excellent advice of Lord Normanby to the magistrates of Tipperary in Mr. Drummond's letter, had been earlier acted upon, the county would have been in a very different state from what it was at present; for he thought nothing was more true and undeniable than that property had its duties as well as its rights. He admitted that it was necessary sometimes to call in the military in aid of the civil authorities; but, at the same time, the wholesale cruelties which were perpetrated in Ireland by their means must fill every one with horror. He would call the attention of the House to an occurrence which took place only the other day, and which was recorded in a newspaper which he held in his hand. [The hon. Member read the Report of the driving or clearing of Lord Lorton's estate, from which 462 families had been removed within a few years.] That statement had been published anonymously; but he understood that the writer of it was ready to come forward should any of the facts be disputed. That case he cited as an answer to the hon. Member who had spoken last, who denied that any cruelty on the part of the landlords had existed. It was said by hon. Members that the Catholics had clone all this, and that the Catholic religion was the bane and curse of Ireland; and, to carry out the speech of the hon. Member, it would require a war of extermination, to reduce the country to anything like a state of peace. The Tory friends of the hon. Member had go-veined Ireland during the last 600 years; and they had had every means which the power of the Government could give to change the religion of the country; but, on every occasion where persecution bad been resorted to, Catholicism had increased. The hon. Member ought to remember that in Ireland the Catholics were to the Protestants as seven to one; he would ask, were the seven to be exterminated in order that the one might live in peace? It seemed to him that the hon. Member for Kent (Mr. Plumptre) was like the hated Inquisitors of old—they always said, that theirs was the true religion—and so did the hon. Member say of his; and be, like them, was for persecuting every one who differed from him. Give the hon. Member the same power which had been enjoyed by 262 the Grand Inquisitor of Spain, and he fully believed, that his actions would be as bad. The cause of the evils of Ireland ought not to be kept out of view. The maintenance of the dominant Protestant Church in Ireland was the real bane of that country; and he did not expect to see harmony established in that country, so long as the present enormous Establishment was kept up; and therefore, when the proper time arrived, he would have no hesitation in giving his vote for such a reduction of the Establishment as would make it commensurate with the number of Protestants in that country. The government of the Marquess of Normanby, by the administration of justice impartially to Catholic and to Protestant, had given confidence and satisfaction to the immense majority of the people of Ireland, as was proved by the number of petitions which had been presented within the last few days to that House, stating their gratitude to him for his conduct whilst in Ireland. The vote which was to be given this night, was no vote of confidence in the Ministry. The attacks which had been made upon the Irish policy appeared to him to be strictly personal attacks on the noble Marquess. He wished that Ministers would act towards England and Scotland in such a manner as to give equal satisfaction to the people of those countries. The vote he would give in favour of the resolution of the noble Lord was confined exclusively to the policy they had pursued in Ireland. He had attended closely to the administration of the Marquess, and when that House addressed his late Majesty, on the subject of Orange Lodges, and his Majesty expressed a wish to discourage all secret societies, Lord Normanby rigidly carried out that wish in every department; but that Orange society, which they had been led to believe was at an end, he was exceedingly sorry to observe was again revived. Was it possible to suppose that the right hon. Member for Tamworth was ignorant of what was going on in reference to those Societies,—that the Orange Societies were reviving in Ireland? Or was it to be wondered at that the people of Ireland should dread the consequence of such proceedings? He observed from the Derry Standard of the 10th or 12th of this month, that a meeting of the Orangemen of Coleraine had taken place, at which the Rev. John Graham had taken 263 the Chair; and at which they came to a resolution, among others, that the appointment of Lord Fortescue had been a source of deep alarm to them, and that they hoped her Majesty, recollecting her Coronation oath, would cancel that appointment. Here was an attack made immediately against the appointment of the Viceroy of Ireland, which was calculated to prevent him from exercising his powers in the way he might exercise them, if unfettered by their combinations. He hoped the time was not far distant when all these Associations would be put an end to, and when peace end unanimity would be restored to Ireland. With that hope he should support the resolution proposed by her Majesty's Ministers, as a just tribute of approbation of the Marquess of Normanby's Government of Ireland.
§ Dr. Lefroy
trusted, that the House would feel, that he had a reasonable claim on its indulgence, when they recollected, that his name and that of a noble Friend of his had been mentioned in connexion with certain charges which he had reason to suppose would not be brought forward again, after the full and satisfactory answer which had been given to them on a former occasion. These charges, however, must be met as often as they were brought forward, although they were quite irrelevant to the question before the House. It had been stated, and stated truly, that in the course of the present month Lord Lorton had taken possession of some property which he had recovered in ejectment, in consequence of the refusal of the tenant to give up possession. The state of the country required, that the writ of execution should be carried into effect by a large military force; and that such a force was necessary the House would perceive from the fact, that whilst the sheriff was executing the writ, the priest of the parish came to the place with a large concourse of persons, and having knelt down, cursed Lord Lorton and Lord Lorton's agent, and heaped upon their heads the most awful imprecations that the tongue of man could utter. Whatever was then done was done by the sheriff in the necessary exercise of his duty, in order to give possession to the rightful owner of the property. To the circumstances which had led to the necessity of the ejectment in question he would beg leave shortly to call the attention of the House. The property was originally in the possession 264 of another family. It had been let to a middleman, who had introduced upon the property an immense number of persons of no substance, to whom he had let the land at a rack rent. In 1835 the first lease fell out, and Lord Lorton then made an agreement with a large portion of those people, that they should leave the property, and enabled every man who left the land to take another farm or to emigrate to America. A considerable body, however, of solvent tenants were left upon the land. In order to improve the property, Lord Lorton introduced upon it from the north of Ireland an active agriculturist who was peculiarly skilled in the cultivation of flax. Not three months had elapsed from the time that he came upon the estate when that man was barbarously murdered. He was murdered within a quarter of a mile of the village, within the sight of a large portion of the inhabitants; yet when the wife of the murdered man ran to the village for assistance, instead of meeting with sympathy and succour, they mocked her cries and distress. Lord Lorton then gave notice to the inhabitants, a large reward having been offered in vain for the detection of the murderers, that unless a discovery was made, so as to enable him to bring to justice the perpetrators of that murder and of four other murders, he would remove all the inhabitants from the village. No discovery, however, was made, and Lord Lorton accordingly removed them. But he gave every man money to enable him either to emigrate to America, or to take a farm elsewhere, however undeserving he was of such kind treatment, and every member of his family was provided for upon the execution of the writ. With regard to the charge which had been made against himself, he could state in the face of the House, that to the best of his recollection he had never brought more than one ejectment to recover property in the county of Longford, and that ejectment was brought for a single tenement, having been petitioned by the neighbours of the tenant to do so, as the man had turned it into a nuisance, and made it a house of ill fame. He would also just advert to another point which had been alluded to on a former occasion, in order to show how little credit was due to the statements made from the quarter from which he believed these to proceed. In a report of a trial given in the Dublin Evening Post, it was alleged, that a verdict had been 265 given against Lord Lorton in an action which he had brought to dispossess a widow of a tenement. It had been stated, that Lord Lorton had attempted to take possession by force of a widow's tenement, and that, failing in that attempt, he had brought an action of ejectment against her. On the trial of the ejectment an unexpired lease for eighty-one years was produced, and on the production of that document the jury found against Lord Lorton. Such were the statements which were made; but what were the real facts of the case? On after inquiry it was found, that no such lease as had been brought forward had ever been executed. There had been a lease for thirty-one years and a life, and the thirty had ungenerously been converted into eighty. It appeared further, that there was no power to grant a lease on the estate beyond the period of thirty-one years, and when the rental of the estate was discovered, it was found stated in that document that the lease really had been for thirty-one years. All these facts had been discovered since the trial, and he would now ask, what reliance was to be placed on such statements when directed against a landlord of well-known generosity? He might also state, that since the trial the gentlemen of the county had presented an address to Lord Lorton expressive of their sense of the benevolence of his character, and of his excellent qualities as a landlord and country gentleman. He should not trouble the House further, but, as these charges had been made, he should have been wanting in duty had he not replied to them, and thus put the House in possession of the real facts of the case.
§ Viscount Morpeth
I feel it would be impossible for me, upon such a motion as that of my noble Friend, after such an amendment as that of the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel), in such a posture of affairs as the present, and still further after the many statements we have heard in the course of the present discussion—I feel, I say, that it would be impossible for me, in the situation I have the honour to fill, and after the part which I have had to bear in many of the transactions which have formed the main subject of debate, to remain upon the present occasion wholly silent; but I also feel, that after the considerable length to which upon a previous occasion in the course of this session I was permitted, by the indulgence of the House, to vindicate the measures and 266 policy of the Irish government, and after the full and protracted debates, which have occupied both branches of the legislature upon the same theme, that I should have hardly sufficient reason or excuse for any further very lengthened trespass on the attention of the house; and especially that whereas on previous occasions I have felt myself obliged to go into a vast mass of statistical and other official details and papers, I may now, luckily for the House and myself, consider myself comparatively relieved from the like necessity, and be content for the most part to deal only with general principles and broad results. I shall not feel it necessary to follow the right hon. and learned Gentleman who has just sat down through the speech which he has made, and which was naturally called for from him; but the right hon. and learned Gentleman himself has stated, that in the painful proceedings which have taken place, the Government fully supplied all the assistance which they were called upon to do. The motion of my noble Friend (Lord J. Russell) leads us into two branches of consideration—first, the necessity of such a motion being brought forward at all at the present time, which is questioned and denied by the amendment of the right hon. Baronet (Sir Robert Peel); and, secondly, the abstract propriety of the motion, which is asserted and maintained by us. With the first part of these two branches of consideration the amendment of the right hon. Baronet alone proposes to deal. That amendment is entirely a matter of time, place, and form. Of itself, it has neither shape nor substance; it has no more colour than a canteleon; in fact, it is only a new version of the old song of the "previous question," resembling the needless Alexandrine of the poet—Which, like a wounded snake, drags its slow length along.With the speech of the right hon. Baronet, and with the agreeable tone and temper which distinguished it, I have no reason to quarrel. It formed in those respects a striking contrast with many of the speeches which we have been doomed to hear on Irish subjects, and with some, indeed, which have followed it in the course of this debate; although I must, at the same time, do those who have preceded me the justice to say, that, considering the nature of the subject and the circumstances of the time, our discussion has evinced less of 267 acrimony than is usual upon questions which relate to Ireland. There has been certainly, in the course of the evening, an attempt—a solitary, most unwise, most illiberal, and in this day I hope most desperate and hopeless attempt on the part of the hon. Member for Kent (Mr. Plumptre) to introduce into the debate a spirit of religious discord, and to renew the fires—I trust the waning and expiring fires—of religious strife and quarrel. I lament as much as any man the occurrence of instances which some hon. Gentlemen have alleged, in which Protestants have been persecuted by Catholics. Nothing can be more alien to the feelings of the Government—nothing more hateful to the feelings of every man who professes Christianity, than any such conduct. But I put it to the House, whether it is a likely or probable way of putting down that spirit, and of counteracting these objectionable and atrocious proceedings, to hold out to the people of Ireland, in places where such matters do not come properly under discussion, that they do not possess a true religion, and that they have a political, immoral, and—I forget what other opprobrious epithet was applied—priesthood. It was contended by the right hon. Baronet, and by those who, in following him, have treated most of the constitutional part of this question, that the vote of the House of Lords, of which we have now official cognizance, in consequence of the search which has been made in their journals, ought not to be considered as a vote of censure—that it comes as perfectly within the proper province and department of that branch of the legislature to move for a committee of inquiry as it does with our own to move for the production of papers; both the one proceeding and the other being in fact mere preliminary steps for the purpose of ascertaining whether there be any sufficient ground for the adoption of ulterior measures. Certainly I cannot take it upon myself to deny, that committees of inquiry may be moved for. They have often been moved for without giving any necessary ground for outrage or offence. Neither can I deny, for the fact is notorious, that many committees of inquiry have been moved for, and carried with the full acquiescence and even approbation of the existing Government. The right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) cited instances of the appointment of such committees; he cited the instance of the committee which was moved for in this House 268 in 1832, and to which it was not to be supposed that the Government of the day would be disposed to offer any serious objection, inasmuch as that it was moved by one of their own body, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Queen's county. The right hon. Baronet also mentioned a motion made in the House of Lords for a committee to inquire into the appointment of sheriffs in Ireland; and he seemed to infer that that was even a stronger case in point than that which we are now discussing, because the inquiries of that committee would be directed to that which was undoubtedly and exclusively a matter for the discretionary exercise of the royal prerogative. But I would remind the right hon. Baronet that all exclusive references to the particular proceeding of the Lord-lieutenant of Ireland was purposely excluded from the matters referred by the Lords to their committee; and that the chief ground for appointing the committee at all was an alleged and acknowledged difference of opinion as to the state of the law concerning the appointment of sheriffs. Several law Lords spoke upon the subject, and as even law Lords can differ, pronounced most opposite and conflicting opinions. But if we are to be encouraged in appointing other committees—if we are to be expected to acquiesce in the appointment of other committees, I certainly conceive that the encouragement we shall receive from the beneficial exercise of the labours of the Lords' committee upon the subject of the appointment of sheriffs in Ireland will be very slight indeed, for to this day they have made no report, nor offered any opinion whatever as to the result of their deliberations. But it is quite plain that the question of whether a vote for the appointment of a committee of inquiry ought or ought not to be considered as a vote of censure, must depend upon the evident intention—upon the animus with which it is made—upon the statements by which the motion is accompanied, and upon the arguments by which it has been supported and passed. Of course I can have no accurate mode of access to what was said or urged upon the occasion of the appointment of the committee of which we now complain. Still I think it can be well imagined that an inquiry might have been moved for into the conduct of any particular functionary upon such reasons as these: but upon his administration rested the responsibility of the 269 tears of sorrow and the streams of blood which have marked the career of his authority—that his administration had been detrimental to the public safety—that he had suffered crime to go on unnoticed and unpunished, whereas his predecessors in the same office wherever and whenever they met with crime had grappled with it and subdued it; that it was painful to see the office so bestowed and functions so exercised. Upon reasons such as these, it might be contended that there was a primeâ facie case of blame. Whilst, on the other hand, the functionary so impeached might naturally say, that charges so brought forward presented not merely a primâ facie case of blame, but amounted, in fact, to a direct vote of censure. And I put it upon that ground to the consideration, even of the hon. Gentlemen opposite, whether, in the instance of a committee of inquiry into the conduct of an official functionary, brought forward in this manner supported by such arguments, accompanied by such imputations, by the House so deceived, and by the functionary so repelled—he put it to the hon. Gentlemen opposite to say, whether a committee of inquiry, appointed under such circumstances, would not have borne the character, the bona fide character, of a tolerable distinct vote of censure, and would not have left ground for it to be inferred, that a stigma was intended to be cast, if not actually affixed, upon those who, having first been made the subject of calumny, were afterwards to be made the subject of inquiry? And what have the opinions which, in the course of the debate within these walls, have been delivered, developed upon the subject? Do we find here such a coincidence of opinion as would enable us to see clearly our way as to the vote to which we ought to come? The hon. Member for Wakefield (Mr. Lascelles), in his address of last evening, told the hon. and gallant Member for Sligo, that after his speech he did not see how he could vote for the amendment of the right hon. Baronet. Perhaps the most singular speech which has been made against Lord Normanby was that delivered by the noble Lord (Lord Powerscourt), the Member for Bath, a Member who, of all others in this House, might be expected to reflect most closely the impression which prevailed in the mind of the noble Mover of the Committee in the House of Lords.* The*Lord Powerscourt is married to a daughter of the Earl of Roden.270 whole tenor of his speech went to spew, that in his view the committee was appointed, not to suggest remedies for the condition of Ireland, but to prefer an indictment against its late rulers. It is true, that the amendment which has been moved by the right hon. Baronet, offers no opinion whatsoever upon the merits of the Government; but we have been told to-night by the hon. and gallant Member for Sligo, and we were told the other night by the hon. Member for Londonderry, that the Administration of Lord Normanby was the greatest curse ever inflicted on the country. The hon. Member for Wiltshire, who made so smart and spirited a rally, the other night—I hope I shall never be the person to depreciate the merits of an opponent—the hon. Member for Wiltshire told us the Government was not accused; but the hon. and gallant Member for Donegal asserted, that the Ministry had been guilty of acts of the grossest corruption, servility, and selfishness, and for fear we should mistake his meaning—for the hon. and gallant Member assured us he desired only to address us in mild and civil language—he made his point clear by stating, that the condition in which we were placed by the motion of the Rouse of Lords was that of culprits at the bar, It is true, that the motion which was brought forward by the hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin, for the production of certain papers, specified a particular period to which the information he required was to be limited. That period extended only to the four years during which Lord Normanby had been in the administration of Irish affairs—that also is the period to which the judicial inquiry of the Lords is to extend. The right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) laid particular stress upon the absence of any specification in the motion of my noble Friend as to any particular period to which the vote of confidence is to apply. He objected to the vague and indefinite character of the expression "of late years." Now, I think, that this distinction between the two courses of proceeding—between the course taken by the House of Lords and by the right hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin marks the separate character of the step we have chosen to take. The motion of the house of Lords, in the true spirit of party—in the carping and invidious spirit of censure—fixes its implied condemnation upon particular men during a particular period, 271 whereas the motion of my noble Friend, conceived in a more generous spirit, does not limit itself to any particular period, or to any particular men, but leaves the expression of confidence to apply to all to whom it may be due. I myself, on the occasion of the motion of the right hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin (limiting his papers to a particular period), protested against the limitation as being conceived in what I thought an ungenerous and invidious spirit. True it was, that I did not think it worth while to propose an amendment to that motion, regarding it only as one of those inconclusive and every-day motions which are oftentimes resorted to as a kind of vehicle for the introduction of the regular quantity of abuse and attack which it is thought fit annually to expend upon matters relating to Ireland. Seeing, too, that the stirring recital of our misdeeds—the intense denunciation of our misgovernment was upon that occasion addressed to almost empty benches—I believe there were not forty Members present—I was not, perhaps, disposed to treat it with so much importance as has since been claimed for it. But we certainly thought, and I believe, that the House and the country will bear us out in our opinion, that quite a different character and complexion attached to the appointment of an inquisition moved in another quarter, and composed of such materials as the House is aware of, founded upon such imputations as I have described, and regularly and formally protested against by those most competent and most called upon to make the protest, as being in their estimation a vote of censure, and nothing else. The right hon. Baronet asks why the motion, if objected to by the Government, could not have been amended in the House of Lords, and made to embrace a longer period of time? I will not pause to inquire whether the tone and temper of the debate upon that occasion offered any particular temptation to Ministers to enter upon any ground of comparatively amicable arrangement. Our colleagues in the other House of Parliament may have felt that there would be great inconvenience resulting from the appointment of a committee which might disturb the ordinary business of the public departments, and call public functionaries from avocations which required to be continually attended to. Besides the great inconvenience of causing all important as well as all fri- 272 volous matters, all the most delicate as well as the most obvious considerations connected with the administration of justice, and even with the management of private property, to be for a time neglected—for such must be the inevitable result of the inquiry—perhaps they may have felt that there was great, and serious, and incalculable inconvenience in having such matters inquired into and called over before a committee, sitting from day to day, and which must necessarily carry on its inquiries bit by bit, and by irregular and fitful snatches. These objections, too, may have been strengthened when it was made manifest from the whole tenour of the debate, and from the nature of the charges brought forward, that not only the character and the causes of crime in Ireland were to be inquired into—not only that the leading principles and general conduct of the Irish administration should be investigated; but also that every specific instance of the exercise of the prerogative of mercy for the last four years—any appointment of an individual to any situation, however humble—in short, the whole of the daily measures and general routine of the Government during the Administration of Lord Normanby should be called over, scrutinised, and criticised by a tribunal before which the parties calumniated would not deign to appear. When such a proposition was made, our colleagues in the other House might naturally feel that it was calculated to make an impression on the minds of the people of England and Ireland, that the whole control and responsibility of the executive Government was about to be transferred to a different agency from our own, and to be conducted upon principles other than those which we have introduced, which we have endeavoured to act upon, and to which, as long as we are intrusted with the reins of power, we will adhere. If the House of Lords and the Gentlemen opposite really and actually believed in a tithe of that which they have no scruple in expressing—if any portion of the big words with which they are pleased to fill their mouths—if any portion of the big words of charge and crimination with which they are pleased to fill their mouths—were capable of being substantiated, the impropriety of the late course of proceeding would appear in colours infinitely more manifest and glaring; for enough has been stated twenty times over to warrant, I do snot know how many impeach- 273 ments. The hon. and learned Sergeant (Mr. Sergeant Jackson) I see cordially and fully assents to that assertion. Enough has been stated to warrant a dozen impeachments against Lord Normanby—against myself, who have been charged with the execution of many of his directions, and against the whole Government which acquiesced in and sanctioned them, by their continuing him in office. Admitting that a Committee of the House of Lords is not the proper tribunal to digest matters for arbitrary impeachments. On the contrary, there would be a great impropriety, a very unconstitutional tendency in such a body being called upon to sit and inquire into charges which afterwards in another capacity they would be called upon to sit and adjudicate as judges. But, it may be asked, if we took so grave and decided a view of the course pursued by the Lords, whether the emergency had not arisen upon which we ought to tender our resignation. I will at once state, that I think that would have been a very fair subject for consideration, and I am not sure whether I do not consider it the most difficult and debatable point of the case upon which we have had to deliberate. But consider the circumstances under which Lord Melbourne had been called into office, and the circumstances also by which he has since been sustained in it by the generous support of this House upon all essential points of his policy; I think it was due to this House, and more respectful to the country, upon a paramount point of the policy of the Government, the subject, perhaps, of hotter conflicts than any others that have occurred during the whole period of the Administration, but now in our view particularly impugned and arraigned, that we should take the best means to ascertain whether the representatives of the people who called us into power are inclined to join the ranks of our accusers. It was certainly a satisfaction to me to find on the last occasion, when the whole conduct of the Irish Government was brought under the discussion of the House—till the period when my apprehensions were relieved by the process of the House being counted out—to find, that almost all the cases brought forward were either so very old in date and so stale in texture as not to admit of being made the subject of discussion, while those of a more recent date admitted of the most satisfactory explanation and defence, Of very much 274 the same character were the charges which I have heard stated in the course of the present debate. Perhaps the most notice has been called to the exercise of the prerogative of mercy. Now, with respect to one branch of this subject—the personal liberation of prisoners by the Lord-lieutenant—I must be permitted to remind the House that all the cases of this character occurred in the year 1836. They were then made the subject of a distinct and prolonged discussion, not only in this House but in the other House of Parliament. The Marquess of Normanby attended in his place, and entered into the fullest explanation of his whole conduct; and after hearing the whole charge, and the whole explanation by the noble Marquess in the House of Lords, and also an explanation which I gave in this House, neither House of Parliament thought itself called upon to take any step, or to offer any opinion upon the transactions which had occurred, and which were then brought under the notice of Parliament. The late Lord-lieutenant of Ireland never contemplated the practice to which I am now referring as forming part of any permanent system. But the noble Marquess thought, in the peculiar condition of the country, and considering its acknowledged state of improvement, that it was worth while to make the experiment whether, by thus bringing mercy directly before the eyes of those who were to be made the objects of it—and were only condemned for very slight and venial offences—a feeling and softening effect might not be impressed upon the public mind in Ireland. But, whether that experiment have failed or not, it has not been repeated. [Hear.] Is it an offence, then, that it has not been repeated? Is that the matter with which the Government is now charged? If not, what is the meaning of those taunting shouts with which my statement has been met? It seems indeed that the exercise of the prerogative of mercy is the only subject upon which no statute of limitation is to run; that the exercise of clemency is the only crime which is inexpiable and never to be forgiven. It was not so in what are now called better and happier times. I find from a return presented to the House respecting the operation of the Insurrection Act in 1824, that the number of prisoners committed in one county was 1,707, the number convicted 270, and the number acquitted 78. So that dur- 275 ing one year, in that county, 1,400 innocent persons suffered imprisonment; innocent, at least in the eye of the law, having undergone no conviction, At all events, upwards of 1,400 persons were incarcerated without having been convicted of any crime. When we are told, that the prerogative of mercy was carried into effect by Lord Normanby with an unsparing hand, I must take leave to say, that here was a pretty good sample of punishment and of incarcerations of persons without trial and without proof; or if the hon. Gentlemen opposite assume that they were guilty, theirs was the prerogative of mercy—their case exercised without the formality of a trial. The only case to which the right hon. and learned Recorder of Dublin alluded last night, was a case which occurred in the county of Sligo.—[Mr. Shaw—Westmeath.]—I mean to go, if the right hon. Gentleman please, to Sligo. I do not deny, that a number of persons were liberated by the Lord-lieutenant in the county of Sligo, but I object to the inference drawn from it by the right hon. and learned Member on high authority. I have a letter written by a magistrate of that county, in which he declares, that not one of the individuals who had been released from prison by the Lord-lieutenant, had been since accused of a breach of the peace; and that the comparative lightness of the calendar before the court in that county last assizes, showed a diminution of crime; and he submitted that it was a reasonable inference that the liberation of the prisoners had had a great effect, and had been productive of much good. A similar opinion was also conveyed to Lord Normanby by the inspector of the gaol, who was a Protestant clergyman. I will not deny, as the hon. and gallant Officer asserts it, that the condition of Sligo, has since grown worse; I listened to his statement last night with feelings of deep regret, but the present agitated state of that county, is not to be attributed to the Government, and as far as it can be traced to any cause, seems to have arisen from the great excitement which followed the late contested election in that county, but for that, the Government is not responsible. It is seriously to be lamented that such consequences should ensue from such a cause. I did not collect that the hon. and gallant Member imputed blame to the Government in the case of the murder of the man named Coghlan; if he did, he im- 276 puted it without foundation; in fact, the Government did their duty to the best of their ability; they instructed their stipendiary magistrate to investigate the matter; and if the inquiry has been unsuccessful, it was not their fault. The right hon. and learned Gentleman also alluded to the conspiracy against Mr. Sims; but there was no neglect or inattention on the part of the Government, which gave the aid of the military and ordnance wagons, and every thing that had been asked for. He also brought forward instances in which the sentences of prisoners had been commuted, and particularly one case respecting a Mr. Gahan. That statement was received with most emphatic cheers, particularly by the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth. This was the substance of the statement made by the right hon. and learned Recorder, who no longer shared in their councils, he having already left London for the capital of the sister country, to administer justice in the metropolis of that country; and I must say of the right hon. and learned Gentleman, that the Members of the Government are the only parties whom he does not treat with perfect justice and impartiality. The right hon. and learned Gentleman, when stating his case, was called upon to "name." I felt myself tempted to ask him for names, because it is useful, when general accusations are made, to pin the accuser down to names. I am not aware that there are any documents in the possession of the Government to elucidate and explain the mater. I have not hitherto been able to trace any: and I have consulted the lat Lord-lieutenant of Ireland with no better success. The noble Lord said he had no recollection of Mr. Brennan's case. Of course inquiry shall be made into the subject. The only case in which the name of Brennan occurs, is one for forgery, the circumstances connected with which are altogether so dissimilar to those stated by the right hon. and learned Recorder, that I cannot bring myself to believe, that that right hon. Gentleman alluded to the same case. The statement made by the right hon. Recorder was to this effect: "That the prisoner had a son a student in the College of Maynooth, and on the representation that it would interfere with the prospects of the son if the father were not pardoned, his liberation followed, and that without reference to the Judge who tried him." Now, the only case (as I have before 277 said) of which any document can be found by the Government, is that of a man of the name of Brennan, who was tried for forgery, and sentenced to transportation. A memorial was presented in his favour from a large number of gentlemen in the county to the Lord-lieutenant, stating that an ample atonement had been made to the party suffering by the forgery, and soliciting a mitigation of the sentence. The Lord-lieutenant referred the case to Baron Pennefather, before whom the prisoner was tried, and he recommended that the sentence should be commuted for two years imprisonment; through that advice, a commutation of the sentence was allowed. I cannot suppose that to be the case referred to by the right hon. Gentleman, all the circumstances of which are so different from the case he described. The right hon. and learned Recorder, however, laid still more stress upon the case of a Mr. Gahan, and if I rightly read the countenances, and interpreted the impression which that statement appeared to make upon the House, that was considered a case bearing most strongly against the late Lord-lieutenant of Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman said, "he would suppose a case where the prisoner had been accused and convicted of an aggravated assault—where he had been found guilty of a capital felony, by a respectable and intelligent jury, and where their verdict received the approbation and assent of the Judge in that instance, a memorial had been got up, and presented to the Judge, on behalf of the prisoner, and to which he felt himself bound to send a report unfavourable to the party convicted, hinting, that it was not a case deserving of the exercise of mercy. The Judge having thus expressed his firm and sincere opinion, shortly received a letter from the secretary of the Lord lieutenant, in which he was informed, that the law would take its course. Subsequently, however, a letter was sent to the Lord-lieutenant by a Catholic Priest, the brother of the guilty person, in which he boldly asserted his innocence, and in which he wrote an atrocious libel on the learned Judge who tried the case. On the receipt of that letter the prisoner was discharged. He believed the noble Lord knew the case. Did the noble Lord, the Secretary for Ireland, wish to know the name of the person? His name was Gahan." It is true that Gahan was convicted and was sentenced to seven years' transporta- 278 tion. A memorial was presented to the Lord-lieutenant, the drift of which was this:—Prisoner states that he was deprived of the benefit of his witnesses in consequence of his trial having come on unexpectedly. The jury recommended the prisoner, and they stated that had his witnesses been produced, it would have induced them to recommend the prisoner to the judge. That memorial was referred to the learned judge who tried the prisoner, and he gave it as his opinion that he saw no reason for the commutation of the sentence, and the minute of the Lord-lieutenant was, that the law must take its course. A memorial was then addressed to the Lord-lieutenant from the brother of the prisoner, the priest to whom allusion had already been made, and a most objectionable memorial he certainly addressed to the Lord-lieutenant, and upon which his Lordship made the following minute:—Gahan, Wicklow County. "Request Chief Justice Doherty to furnish me with a copy of his notes in this case of Gahan, as, in the former one of Connors, arising out of the same transaction (and where the trial was nearer the time when the events had happened). Mr. Justice Moore seems to have had so strong a doubt as to whether the police were in a state to identify Connors, that he recommended a free pardon. As this may not have come out on the second trial, I wish to see whether they were corroborated.At the same time inform the Rev. Mr. Gahan that I cannot approve of the tone of his memorial. I never receive anything in reference to any trial which I should not think proper to forward to the judge, and therefore I can never tolerate any sneer, however slight, which would be offensive to him, and is therefore displeasing to me.The memorial was not intended to be sent to the learned judge, but it was unfortunately sent to him, which was afterwards explained and apologised for; but the learned judge would not accept the apology, and the circumstance led to a long correspondence, which I should be very happy to read; but Lord Normanby having left Ireland, I do not wish in the present case to revive anything unpleasant between the noble Marquess and Chief Justice Doherty. There is nothing in that correspondence which either of the parties can wish to be brought to light again. A letter was sent to the priest, and no other step was taken towards the liberation of the prisoner till other memorials were presented to the Lord-lieutenant, backed 279 by several most respectable individuals—among others, by the two Members for the county—from one of whom I received a letter stating the circumstances of the case; so that, at all events, if there was anything improper in the preliminary application from a priest, it was subsequently sanctioned by laymen; and if the influence of the priesthood had been exerted, so also had parliamentary influence been used to operate upon the mind of the Lord-lieutenant of Ireland. But now I come to the point, and the only point which the House has to consider, which is this:—was the liberation and pardon of the prisoner which was eventually made, such as was not warranted by the circumstances of the case? On the memorial coming before the Lord-lieutenant he referred it to the trying judge, who reported that he saw no circumstances to warrant a pardon of the prisoner, and the Lord-lieutenant decided that the law must take its course. A second and a most objectionable letter (as he had already stated) was forwarded to Lord Normanby, and a sharp reproof was given to the party for sending to him such a document. Other memorials, detailing circumstances which had not before come under the notice of the Lord-lieutenant, were subsequently presented, which made him think it his duty to refer all the materials and documents to the consideration of the law advisers of the Crown. It appeared that, in the assault of which the prisoner Gahan was convicted, another party of the name of John Connors was implicated; and that that party had been tried for his offence at the previous assizes, before Judge Moore, and was found guilty. The opinion of the Attorney-general of that time, Sir Michael O'Loghlen, now Master of the Rolls, was given in these terms:London, May 24, 1836.My Lord,—I have read Chief Justice Doherty's report of the case of Joseph Gahan, and the several documents sent with it. It appears that the crime of which Joseph Gahan and James Bayley have been convicted was committed in the month of October, 1834, and that at the Spring assizes in 1835, John Connors was tried before Mr. Justice Moore for this offence, convicted, and sentenced to transportation. The constables of police, Gorman, Abby, Willis, and Prout, appear to have been examined on that trial in support of the prosecution. In the month of January, 1836, the prisoner James Bayley, being then amenable, the informations were laid before me with the other informations in cases to be 280 tried at the then next sessions; and I, having observed that the informations had been briefed for trial at a previous assizes, wrote as follows on the back of the brief:—'It appears that some persons have been prosecuted for the assault. I wish to be informed of the result of the former trial before I direct a prosecution in this case.' I returned the brief to Mr. Kemmis, the Crown solicitor, with this indorsement on it, and in a few days it was sent back with the following memorandum from the Crown solicitor:— 'John Connors was tried and convicted at Spring assizes, 1835, and sentenced to seven years' transportation. James Bayley traversed in person at last assizes. Shall the Crown prosecute?' Under this I wrote 'Yes.' It appears from the documents now sent, that John Connors had long before received a free pardon, with the concurrence of Mr. Justice Moore, whose report of his case shows that he did not consider the evidence of the constables satisfactory. I presume that Mr. Kemmis was not aware when he sent the informations, &c., to me in January, 1836, that Connors had been pardoned; I certainly was ignorant of that important fact: I would not have directed a prosecution on the testimony of the constables whose evidence was not considered by Mr. Justice Moore and by your Excellency satisfactory; the case, however, proceeded, and I am now to report to your Excellency that Bayley and Gahan have been convicted on the evidence of the police constables Gorman, Abby, Willis, and Prout, who were examined on the former trial, whose testimony was not considered to be satisfactory. Another constable deposed on the last trial that when he arrested the prisoner Bayley he said that his name was Kelly, and this appears to be the only additional evidence. If the case was to be considered merely with reference to these facts, I would be of opinion that the sentence pronounced on Bayley and Gahan ought not to be carried into execution; it would not be proper to transport them on the evidence of witnesses whose testimony on a former trial relating to the same transaction was not deemed satisfactory.I regret being obliged to trouble the House with these details; but the document I am now reading shows that the accurate and judicious mind of my right hon. and learned Friend has thoroughly sifted these transactions; and he has evinced a diligence which I have never known paralleled, much less exceeded. My right hon. and learned Friend then went on to observe:—But there are, in my judgment, other reasons for refusing to carry the sentence into execution. I have referred to the informations sworn by the constables recently after the transaction, and to their examination by the Crown solicitor previous to the first trial, and have compared the statements then made by 281 them with their evidence as reported by Chief Justice Doherty, and must say that I have come to the conclusion that their evidence cannot be relied on. On the trial before the Chief Justice, Gorman and Abby swore that Bayley took hold of the reins of the horse on which Gorman was riding, and that Gahan took hold of Gorman. They describe Gahan and Bayley as the principal actors in the transaction, and speak positively as to their identity. On referring to the information sworn by Abby in December, 1834, I find that he stated that the persons who attacked the police were unknown at the time of the attack; and he does not mention the names of Bayley or Gahan, though he does that of Connors. He had seen Bayley in the early part of the day; Gorman had also seen him; and though he (Gorman) swore an information on the 15th of December, 1834, he does not mention Bayley or Gahan, but on the contrary says that he was attacked by persons at present unknown to informant.' If Bayley had acted in the manner now represented—if he had been the leader of the party—if Gahan had caught hold of Gorman and held him, as they now allege he did, it is scarcely credible that Gorman and Abby would have been unable, in December, 1834, recently after the transaction, to depose to the facts which they now relate so positively. Again—Abby now says that Gahan leaped on Gorman's body: in his information he swears that Connors was the person who leaped on Gorman. There are many other very material discrepancies between the statements in the informations and examinations, and the evidence given on the last trial. I think that the counsel for the prosecution ought to have directed the attention of the Chief Justice to these discrepancies; and on the whole of the case I beg to submit to your Excellency that the convictions are not supported by the testimony of unobjectionable witnesses, and that, under all the circumstances, the prerogative of mercy should be exercised as it was in the case of the convict Connors.If hon. Gentlemen deem that to be a case on which a charge can be substantiated against the Government I shall feel perfectly callous as to any thing they may hereafter say of me. But the Irish Government was content with one opinion on the subject. If the right hon. Gentleman who brought this charge against the Government had made an inquiry he might have ascertained that. The opinion of the Solicitor-general of that day was also obtained, and it concurred with that of his learned Colleague. The hon. and learned Gentleman said:—I have spoken to Mr. Kemmis upon the subject of the remission of the sentence passed on John Connors, and Mr. Kemmis assures 282 me, that he did not know that the sentence passed on John Connors had been remitted at any time previous to the trial of Bayley and Johnson. With respect to the case of Bayley and Johnson, I presume that his Excellency, if he concurs in the opinion expressed in the report of the Attorney-general, will direct that the sentence of those persons should also be remitted. The Attorney-general appears to me to have investigated the matter very fully; and I can only say that, for myself, I fully coincide in the report which he has made.These were the facts—the reasons for which the prerogative of mercy was exercised in that case, in which, according to the statement of the right hon. and learned Recorder for the city of Dublin, the prisoner had been liberated upon the letter of the Roman Catholic priest. I beg leave to ask by whom ought the head of the executive government in Ireland to be guided in such occurrences, if not by the law officers of the Crown. On receiving their opinion, the prisoner received the clemency of the Crown, without sending the case back to the learned Chief Justice who originally tried it; for this reason, that the reports of the learned Attorney and Solicitor-general were founded upon circumstances that had occurred connected with the preceding trial in which Chief Justice Doherty bore no part whatever. I should like to be informed of the quarter to which hon. Members opposite thought the executive government in Ireland should refer in cases of ambiguity, if not to the proper law officers of the Crown. This, then, is the result of the specimen of an aggravated case referred to by the right hon. and learned Recorder—that case which had been dwelt on with so much energy, after having been culled and collected with so much care. This is all that has been produced by the voluminous researches that have been made to enable the Gentlemen opposite to bring forward isolated or unexpected instances, running the risk that the Government may not have documents at hand to refute them; but they have been disappointed, and their disappointment is all the benefit they have obtained by the unfortunate letter of the priest. But it was upon such rash and untenable grounds, that the right hon. and learned Recorder, who had the means of making himself acquainted with the facts, had succeeded in eliciting the approbation of the cheerers of last night. And who 283 was it that had brought that case forward? A gentleman filling an office of great legal importance, bound to administer the law in justice and mercy, and to respect in others the same principles of justice which he claims as actuating himself in pronouncing his own decisions. That learned Gentleman had officially more confidential communications with the Lord-lieutenant of Ireland than almost any other functionary in Ireland, and he might have known, from his constant experience, how inconvenient it was, to make public use of official documents, and how vain it would ultimately be to attempt to rest a case against the Government of Ireland founded upon such preposterous selections. It was not from fear of any publicity—from fear of an inquiry into any of the acts of his administration, that the Marquess of Normanby declined to have all the cases investigated; but, because he does not choose to have confidential proceedings ransacked before a hostile and embittered tribunal. After such gigantic misrepresentations as those which I have exposed, such unblushing misstatements of the grounds on which my noble Friend, the Lord-lieutenant, proceeded in the execution of his duty, I think it will be unnecessary for me to allude to minor points, more particularly as they have been so ably and indisputably disposed of by my learned Friend, the Solicitor-general for Ireland, in his lucid and masterly exposition last night. I will here, however, refer to a statement made by the right hon. and learned Recorder, that there had been no junior counsel put over Mr. Perrin's head. I believe, that many lawyers who were his juniors, got their gowns before him. Of course my knowledge does not enable me to speak with accuracy, as personally acquainted with the facts, but I have been told by legal friends, that Chief Justice Doherty was placed over Mr. Peirin—that Mr. Warren was called to the bar subsequently, and received his silk gown before him; that Mr. Crampton received his silk gown before and that Mr. North also received his silk gown before him—all of whom were called to the bar subsequently to Mr. Perrin. I do not know whether it be requisite to allude to a charge made during the speech of the hon. Member for the county of Monaghan against a stipendiary magistrate, for an assault which he was said to have committed in the dis- 284 charge of his duty, while endeavouring to keep the peace; but I will mention the result of the trial, which was, that the jury found the damages at one farthing and the cost sixpence. The conduct of Captain Duff, I am sure, will stand the test of any scrutiny or examination of details. He possessed the confidence of the Government, not only of Lord Normanby, but of the Governments which preceded that of his noble Friend. Captain Duff received his appointment from the Duke of Northumberland's Government. But before I proceed further, I cannot, in justice to Captain Duff, refrain from reading a letter written by one whose opinions, I am sure, the House will treat with deference. The letter is dated in the year 1834, the year 'preceding Lord Normanby's Government, and is from my lamented friend, the late Earl of Caledon:—Caledon, Feb. 10, 1836.Dear Sir,—I have just received your letter, and congratulate you on your promotion.During your residence in the county of Tyrone, you have been frequently required to make unusual exertions, arid it is within my own observation, that on several occasions you conducted yourself with firmness, ability, and sound discretion.It is to these and other good qualities you are no doubt indebted for your advancement, and I should much regret your removal from this county were it not for the benefit it is of to yourself.Your faithful and obedient servant,To Captain Duff. "CALEDON.I could read many other letters all to the same effect; but it is unnecessary, as there is no officer, as is well known, more anxious in the discharge of his duties, or whose services are more highly appreciated. I do not wish to enter upon details of that description. I would rather deal with general principles and broad results. And I beg the House will remember, that in discussing this question, neither on the present or former debate, have I ever attempted to dissemble, that there is a deplorable mass of crime in certain districts in Ireland, such as was alluded to by the hon. Member for Belfast. That crime is more prevalent in the south than in the north—than in the counties of Londonderry, Fermanagh, and Down—more prevalent generally in the South than in the county of Waterford I admit. There has been much said about this march of crime in certain districts, but I believe, that it is not greater than 285 might be expected in counties of such extent and population. This opinion is corroborated by Mr. Justice Burton, in his charge at the Lent assizes for the county of Armagh, in 1839, where that Judge, whose high character is acknowledged by all parties, observed, that the offences were merely such "as might be expected in a county of such extent and population;" there were, however, fifty-one custody cases to be disposed of. It is very probable, that the number of prosecutions is increased by the alterations which have taken place in the criminal code, which, by lessening the amount of punishment, may have had the effect of inducing persons to come forward and prosecute now, which they might, heretofore, have been deterred from doing, owing to the severity of punishment. A great deal has been said of the enormous number of annual trials and convictions in Ireland, for crime. It is said, the returns for that country show offences to the number of 25,000 or even 27,000 a-year. Supposing that to be the case, and without wishing to institute any comparison of the state of crime between the two countries, it may not be incorrect to read an extract from the report of the Commissioners relative to the appointment of a constabulary force in England and Wales. I am not about to refer to that report at present for the purpose of supporting its recommendations, but merely as containing statistical data of the most recent and authentic nature, and in that report I find the following paragraph:—From the returns made of the number of criminal offenders committed for trial, or bailed for appearance, at the assizes and sessions in each county, it appears, that during the year 1837 above 20,000 were tried for offences committed to obtain money, chiefly by larceny, or in modes which import habitual depredation. About 15,000 were convicted; the remainder escaped. The number of criminal commitments to our gaols may be stated, in round numbers, as 100,000 annually, and the number of prisoners varying from 12,000 to 20,000; but as there are no means of distinguishing the persons re-committed during the same year, we have no means of ascertaining the criminal population of the gaols with accuracy.I will not attempt to dissemble that there exists in certain districts of Ireland illegal societies and combinations; but they are not of a political nature, nor do they 286 derive their origin for form that source. The greater part of these combinations and of all the outrages that have of late been committed in Ireland, have arisen out of circumstances connected with the tenure of land, and with other circumstances too radically established in the feelings of society to admit of a speedy cure. All that the Government had to do, was to exercise with prudence and firmness the powers confided to them by the law, and to use all the means which they possessed of doing so, by the aid of the admirable police force now organized in Ireland; and all that, the Government, I contend, has done most efficiently; the Government entertained the greatest confidence both in the officers and men employed in the police force; and made it their study to promote every man for bravery or for any good conduct, which had been tested in trying circumstances; and they have taken care to place those stipendiary magistrates in exposed situations in whose judgment they could most firmly rely. I have now, I think, succeeded in shewing, that the attacks made upon the executive in Ireland by the right hon. and learned Recorder are not well founded. When I last addressed the House I endeavoured to shew, and I thought successfully, as did also my learned Friend, the Solicitor general, in his lucid and conclusive speech last evening, that as regards minor crimes committed in Ireland, it appears, as reported by the constabulary, that in none has there been an increase; that in a great many there has been a sensible diminution; that in the number of committals there has been a great increase, nothing thereby the increased activity and efficiency of the magistracy and police; and that with that increase in the number of committals, there has been a proportionate increase in the number of convictions. I will not trouble the House with details, but I hold in my hand a short summary of cases from spring, 1836, to 1839, distinguishing those where the parties were convicted form those in which they were acquitted, which I will read to the House. The noble Lord read the following Return of the Number of Cases prosecuted by the Crown at each Assizes form Spring 1836 to Spring 1839, inclusive; distinguishing those in which Verdicts of Guilty of Not Guilty were returned. 287
There was thus a rise from 225 acquitted and 346 convicted in 1836, to 286 acquitted and 539 convicted in 1839, showing a very large increase in the number of convictions, and thus showing the effectual administration of the law. Allusion has already been made, in the course of the debate, to the diminution in the army, which the present tranquillity of Ireland has enabled the Government to effect, arid I trust, that the country will continue in that state of comparative quiet to which the new Poor-law and the Poor-law guardians will be found, I have no doubt, very valuable auxiliaries. That law will be carried into effect under most auspicious circumstances. I have received a letter, which I hold in my hand, from the resident Poor-law commissioner, who, after giving a list of the boards of guardians, states, that he is happy to be able to say, that in point of intelligence and public spirit they are, he thinks, fully on a level with the English boards. The writer mentions two or three instances in which some party feeling was manifested, but in which the returns were, he believed, unexceptionable, and in consequence of which he had no reason to suspect that the boards would not work well. He adds, that the result on the whole has exceeded his expectations. Allusion has been made by the hon. Member for Waterford to the increase which has lately taken place in the value of land in Ireland; and if the House want to test the truth of the statement of the House of Lords, that life and property have of late years been rendered insecure in that part of the kingdom, they can not, perhaps, more surely or fairly do so than by a reference to the price of land and to the value of securities connected with the soil of Ireland. I accordingly desired letters to be addressed to some of the leading land agents in Ire- 288 land, without any distinction as to politics, who, I thought, would furnish me with impartial information on the subject, some of the answers to which I will read to the House. The noble Lord read the following letters:—
Assizes. Years. Number of Cases in which the Parties were found Guilty. Number of Cases in which the Parties were found Not Guilty. Spring 1836 346 225 Summer 270 161 Spring 1837 518 323 Summer 291 188 Spring 1838 485 321 Summer 295 181 Spring 1839 539 286Galway, and Gloucester-street, Dublin, April 13, 1839.We have been favoured with your note, and, in reply, beg to inform you, that fifteen years ago, and from thence until within the last five years, land in this county and neighbourhood has been invariably valued at twenty years' purchase. Since the latter period, and up to the present time, land has been progressively advancing in value; and on an average now rates as high as twenty-five years' purchase—in some instances twenty-seven years' purchase has been obtained.—We have the honour to be your most obedient servants,J. and J. BLAKENEY.Mr. Drew Atkin has been for the last fifteen years actively and professionally engaged in the purchase and sale of lands, within which period he has superintended sales of land in value about 20,000l., and purchases of land in value about 200,000l. in the counties of Cork, Limerick, and Tipperary, and he has much pleasure in communicating the result of the information so acquired to Mr. Drummond. Mr. D. Atkin assumes the inquiry relates to fee-simple land, or an estate equal to a fee. Lands fifteen years ago usually sold for 16⅔ to 18 years' purchase. Ten years ago from 18 to 20 years' purchase. Five years ago 20 years' purchase may be considered the standard value. At the present time 22 to 23½ years' purchase is required, and 21 to 22 years' purchase is freely given. Mr. Drew Atkin takes permission to add, that the recent and almost sudden advance in the value of land is attributed to the tranquillity produced by the late enactments in respect of tithes (although not considered a final measure), and the development had of the probable working of the poor-laws in this country.—30, South-mall, Cork, April 13, 1839.The next I shall read is from Mr. M'Carsland:—I have, however, no hesitation in stating that for the last fifteen years, the value of estates in Ireland has gradually and considerably risen, in some counties much more than others, but generally there has been a gradual increase in the value of landed estates all over Ireland. In the counties of Dublin, Armagh, Louth, Down, Antrim, Carlow, Wicklow, Wexford, Fermanagh, and some parts of Tyrone, Derry, Monaghan, Longford, and Cavan, the value of estates has increased from three to four years' purchase within the period of the last fifteen years. I think the chief increase has been within the last ten years, 289 and in some of the counties within the last five years. I would state, generally, that about three-fourths of the increased value may be spread over the last ten years, and of the latter period one-fourth of this increase may be allotted to the last five years in several of the counties. In some counties, such as Down, Louth, Armagh, and Antrim, estates have been for more than twenty years in great demand. I think that this ratio of increase as to the periods stated may also bear upon the several other pails of Ireland hereafter alluded to. As far as I am able to give you an estimate of the present value of estates in the several counties of Ireland, I may generally state that well-circumstanced estates in the counties mentioned by me as the most valuable, and especially in the counties of Armagh, Down, Antrim, Louth, and Fermanagh, would bring from twenty-eight to thirty years purchase. In the county of Down good estates readily bring thirty-two or thirty-three years' purchase, which is equal to an average value of fee-simple property in the best parts of England. The value of estates in the county of Wexford has increased within the last five years fully three years' purchase, and estates have been lately sold from twenty-five to twenty-eight years' purchase; property in this county has of late been in considerable demand. In other parts, the counties referred to, where the increase has been from 1½ to 2½ years' purchase, I consider the present value of estates to be from twenty-two to twenty-five years' purchase. And as to the remaining counties, I think the value of estates may be taken generally as from twenty to twenty-two years' purchase. I beg it to be understood that these values refer to estates let at moderate rents, and not overcrowded with tenants.I will now read a communication from Messrs. Stewarts and Kincaid:—Our experience would lead us to say that the value of land in Ireland is increasing; that is, lands to be let either in large or small divisions to occupying tenants, will bring higher rents now than they would have brought a few years ago, and this, perhaps, more from the increase of population, and from improvements in agriculture, than from the present high prices of agricultural produce. But we do not think that there is any material change in the rates of purchase at which landed property would sell within the several periods referred to. The rates of purchase of landed property in this country varies according to circumstances and to locality, from eighteen to twenty-eight years' purchase for fee-simple estates, the rates being much higher in the north than in any other part of Ireland, and we believe that persons making permanent investments of money in landed property are much less influenced by the temporary changes in the condition of particular districts of the country, or by the public measures of 290 the different political parties in the state, than is generally supposed.STLWARTS and KINCAID, Leinster-street.Again, as to shares in public companies, the following testimony was afforded by Mr. Dennehey, of Westmoreland-street, Dublin:—From these lists (for the accuracy of which I pledge myself) it will be found that the shares of the Mining Company of Ireland, which were selling at a discount of 63l. per annum on his (Lord Normanby's) arrival, were at a premium of 93l. per cent. per annum on his departure; and that during the same period Patriotic Insurance shares had advanced 16¼ per cent., National Insurance shares 13 per cent., City of Dublin Steam Company's shares 16¼ per. cent., and Hibernian Bank Stock 11½ per cent. on the paid up capital; while Grand Canal Stock has advanced 4l. 12s. 6d. per share, 4 per cent. Canal Debentures 3l. 15s. per share, and Six per cent. Canal Debentures, 1l. 5s. per share.I have also to observe that the number of depositors and the amount of deposits in the savings' banks throughout the country, have greatly increased during the same period. In Meath-street Savings' Bank alone the depositors have very nearly increased fully one-third; while the deposits are in a still higher ratio, as will be seen by reference at the bottom of the abstract, taken from the published reports of that institution.CHARLES DENNEUEY, Dublin.I have but very little further to say. The hon. Member for the county of Donegal last night was pleased to ask to what body of men in Ireland the present adminstration wish to appeal for a corroboration of the alleged success of its government of that country? Whether to the bar or to the bench, or to the magistrates, or to the gentlemen of landed property? I am content, in the name of the Government, to appeal to that body which was excluded by that hon. Gentleman; but which includes all the rest—to the people. And if the confidence and good will of the governed are allowed to form an element at all in the computation of successful government, I will just beg leave to ask on which side are they? Are the bulk of the people of Ireland on the side of Ministers or on the side of the opponents of Ministers? And I will ask, further, was it only the numbers—is it only the least educated, the least opulent classes which are ranged on the side of Government? I need only point to the great meeting at Dublin to refute such an imputation, if any one should venture to 291 make it. It is not only the Roman Catholics who view in Government the determined followers of that banner which has been called a mere party banner, but which is the banner of justice, of equal laws, of real as well as nominal equality. If we have the bulk of the people with us, are we without leaders from the ranks of the aristocracy? If we enjoy the suffrages of the south, have we no adherents in the north? Are not Protestants as well as Catholics with us? The proud name of Geraldine lends us its sanction, and with us is linked all the patriotic associations connected with the name of Charlemont. If the question regarding the Irish policy of the Government be left to Irish voices and Irish hearts, our cause is already won. I need not refer to the mass of petitions upon the table to prove it. Our appeal to-night lies to the Members of the sister countries, to the representatives of enlightened Scotland and imperial England. To them we make our appeal—them we ask not to turn a deaf ear to the call of the Irish people, whose confidence you are pleased to think is misplaced, but which, you must remember, is kindled by a national warmth of feeling, and sharpened by the national memory of wrong. I shall, of course, abstain upon this occasion from entering upon any question of general policy. Ireland is not only the battle field upon which during the career of the present Administration almost all the chief conflicts, both of party and opinion, have been fought, but is now singled out as the point upon which it is sought to damage our reputation and fix a stigma upon our Government. Whatever be the aim or object of the recent demonstration on the part of the House of Lords—whether it be according to the turn which it now seems it is more convenient to give it, and which is described in the lines already applied by the hon. Member for Belfast—Willing to wound, and yet afraid to strike,Just hint a fault, and hesitate dislike;or whether it be according to what I suspect to be the more accurate conception of the matter, only an attempt to supersede us in the due conduct and control of the executive government of Ireland, and to substitute another system utterly at variance with it; but whether it be this as I say, or the other, as said by the hon. Member, at all events we are now determined to have this point cleared up. We 292 will not accept your commentaries, nor your gloss, nor your palliations. We will leave no room for ambiguity: we have had enough of partial attacks and isolated charges; of innuendoes and abuse; of motions for papers here, and for committees there; we now come for a direct, an unequivocal opinion at your hands. We will take no low ground; we will exist no longer on sufferance. We tell you that we will not put up with passive acquiescence, or bear endurance. We will not be even contented with acquittal. My noble Friend asks you this night for a direct, downright vote of approbation. In the name of the Irish government and of the whole Government, as implicated in its Irish policy, I assert fearlessly that we have deserved well of our country. This is a conviction which no taunts of yours can lessen the force of, and upon this issue I call you, the representatives of the empire, to come this night to the vote.
§ Sir James Graham
said, that the noble Lord who had just sat down had expressed his opinion, that the House ought to come to the vote on the present occasion with reference to the conduct of the Administration; and in that wish he begged most heartily to join. He trusted that the House would pardon him for having risen, though not an Irishman nor a Representative of Ireland, before the motion now under consideration was brought to the vote, notwithstanding the lateness of the hour, and he hoped that he might venture to address to them a few words on the question now before the Chair. He could not presume to follow the noble Lord (Lord Morpeth) through all the details respecting the present state of Ireland into which he had very properly entered, and which were immediately connected with the office which the noble Lord held, he would merely refer to that part of his speech in which the noble Lord had said, that the motion which bad been brought forward, and for which they were this evening called upon to vote, was considered by him, and was thus to be considered by every Member of the House, as a direct vote of approbation. The noble Lord had told them that he and the other Members of the Government with whom he was associated would no longer consent to exist by sufferance. In answering the speech of the hon. Member for London (Mr. Grote), and in alluding to the motion of the bon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. Duncombe), the noble Lord had stated that 293 they no longer were willing to exist by their endurance—no longer to rest contented with a passive acquiescence, but were determined to offer at once to this House the opportunity of expressing its opinion on the policy pursued by them towards Ireland, and on the result which was to be deduced from the present state of affairs in that country. During the long and very protracted debate which had taken place on the present question, he had listened with deep anxiety to the various speeches which had been delivered, and especially to those which had been addressed either by Ministers or their supporters, and he had done this for the purpose of discovering the reasons and ascertaining the motives of the noble Lord in the course which he had pursued on the present subject—a course entirely unprecedented, unless the noble Lord still continued to rely on the single precedent which he himself had endeavoured to draw from the case of the Scotch quarrels—a precedent which he did not think the noble Lord would ever forget, from the manner in which it was answered by his right hon. Friend. Finding, then, that it was unprecedented, he certainly must say, that up to the present moment, he continued in doubt as to the real motive in bringing forward such a motion. He suspected, however, that it was to pick a quarrel with the House of Lords, at a moment which was most convenient, and when the noble Lord thought, on the whole, that it was desirable to steal a vote of approbation from a bare majority of that House on the only point he could venture to suggest for the purpose of propping and bolstering up a weak and tottering Administration. If the noble Lord really believed, that the effect of the vote to-night would be to prop up the Administration, he could understand the proceeding; the motive would justify the unexampled effort. But having heard the speech of the hon. Member for the City of London—having heard the declaration made from various quarters on the opposite side of the House by some of the most powerful supporters of Ministers on the present evening—having heard also the declaration of the noble Lord, which he had heard with sincere pleasure—that in a matter of primary importance affecting the representation of the people, it was his resolution not to depart from the ground he took up when he introduced the Reform Bill under the Government of Lord Grey; and having also heard that such declaration had not 294 satisfied, if not seriously offended, many of the warmest upholders of the Government, he would state, and he did so with a conviction of its truth and a certainty of its being speedily realized, that the days of the Administration were numbered—and that its fall would take place—not from the attacks of its enemies—not from the hostile efforts of that side of the House—but from a fair division and difference of opinion among those who were formerly allied, and who formerly entertained similar opinions. If, however, the motive which had induced the bringing forward the present motion was, not to save the Administration from the evils which surrounded it, and from the dangers with which it was encompassed, at any rate the quarrel with the House of Lords was most dangerous. But if such were the motive, it would not answer the purpose for which it was intended. It could not save the Administration—it was a cordial to the dying man—it might for a moment diminish his sufferings—it might protract his life, but it, could not save his existence. He had the greatest difficulty in arguing this question—not from the badness of his cause—but because the speech which had been made by his right hon. Friend, the Member for Tamworth, in introducing his amendment to the resolution, had placed the subject in every point of view—had illustrated every position—had exhausted every topic—and, after the efforts of three nights, still remained unanswered. The noble Lord had argued the question on two points—as to the necessity of the motion, and also on its propriety. He would join issue with him on both. He would contend, that the motion which, on searching the Journals of the House of Lords, he had found had been carried by their Lordships on the 21st of March, appointing a Select Committee "to inquire into the state of Ireland since the year 1835, in respect to crime and outrage, which have rendered life and property insecure in that part of the empire," did not, by a fair construction, contain a censure on her Majesty's Government. It certainly stated, that the result of the present condition of Ireland was, that life and property were insecure, but it did not say, that that state of insecurity could be traced to her Majesty's Government. There had been great aggravations—there might be sound reasons and satisfactory causes for the present disorganization of Ireland, without any reference to Ministers; but, amidst all the conflicts of adverse and con- 295 tradictory statements, it must, in his opinion, be admitted that they had now arrived at that point where inquiry was absolutely necessary. Ministers contended, that the period fixed for the investigation of the committee, only commencing from 1835, implied a censure on Lord Normanby and upon his policy exclusively; but there was a case in point last year, referred to by his right hon. Friend, and to which no answer had yet been given. A motion was then made for a committee of inquiry on the choice of sheriffs, which, as originally framed, was considered as a direct attack on Lord Normanby's administration, the period since 1835 being at first fixed on as in the present instance; her Majesty's Ministers felt that, by implication, it conveyed censure; they accordingly moved the omission of the words restricting the reference to the period of Lord Normanby's administration, and without any difficulty they were omitted. Why was not such a motion made on this occasion? The noble Lord said, it was not consistent with the dignity of the Government, from the character of the speeches with which the motion was introduced, that any such amendment should be moved. Had Ministers, then, been always so chary of an adverse majority in the House of Lords? Had they forgotten the conduct of Government on the Indemnity Bill of last year? Were they to rely on the statement of the First Minister of the Crown, that he considered this motion as implying censure? What was the conduct of Lord Melbourne on the introduction in the House of Lords of the Canada Indemnity Bill? He believed he did not misstate his words. On the 9th of August Lord Melbourne declared, that the disallowance of the ordinances would be destructive of the moral effect of the Government, and he could not either in his conscience or from a regard to the interests and welfare of the empire consent to become a party to it. The noble Lord then went to a division, and was defeated. What was his conduct afterwards? On the very next day the Government took up the Bill which Lord Melbourne had repudiated in those terms. They assented to that adverse majority; the Government adopted the Bill as a measure of their own, the second reading was moved by the Secretary of State for the Home Department in that House; all the finer feelings of which so much was said with respect to Lord Durham were forgotten, and the adverse vote of the House of Lords treated 296 as of no effect. The noble Lord said, that this particular inquiry would be found inconvenient, extremely inconvenient to Ministers. The noble Lord adopted an expression which had been used by the hon. Member for Donegal in the heat of debate, and complained that Ministers were treated like culprits in the dock. Supposing them placed in that situation, the Opposition asked them how they would be tried? and their only answer was, they begged to decline being tried at all. The noble Lord said, it was sometimes useful to nail down the accuser to names and facts; he thought he might be allowed to add, that it might sometimes be advantageous to bring the accused to an inquiry. The noble Lord, who spoke in high constitutional terms, and talked with his mouth full of big words, of "gigantic misrepresentations," asked if Gentlemen on that (the Opposition) side of the House really believed a tithe of what they did not hesitate to express; he told the noble Lord they did believe a very large portion of the accusations brought forward against the Irish Government. But he said, amidst a vast variety of contrary statements, charges, and recrimination, matters had arrived at that point where inquiry was indispensable. That inquiry had been instituted by a competent tribunal, an independent branch of the Legislature, and, with his right hon. Friend, in the present state of matters, he denied the constitutional right and political expediency of the House of Commons interfering to intercept that inquiry. What was the object of Ministers in making this motion? Was it their object to intercept the inquiry or was it not? If they did not seek to intercept it, the motion was gratuitous; but if they meant to intercept it, then he maintained they could only effect their purpose by endeavouring to intimidate the House of Lords by a vote of the Commons, by endeavouring to overawe them in the legitimate exercise of their proper functions. In passing he would refer to what the noble Lord had also adverted to, following up the statement of the learned Solicitor-general for Ireland last night, reflecting on the conduct of his right hon. Friend, when Home Secretary of State, with regard to his distribution of legal patronage, He, of course, was not conversant with the facts of the retarded promotion of Mr. Sergeant Perrin; he had the advantage of sitting in the House of Commons with that hon. and learned Gentleman, and in common with every Member 297 admired his talents and general character. But the noble Lord mentioned several names—Mr. Justice Doherty and Mr. North as having received promotion before Mr. Justice Perrin. He had not time to ascertain the facts; but it did occur to him that these gentlemen were friends of the late Mr. Canning; and he also happened to recollect that another friend of Mr. Canning, he meant the present Lord Melbourne, was at that time Secretary for Ireland; and if the Solicitor-general would make some inquiry of that noble Viscount, under whose administration he was now serving, perhaps he might succeed in acquiring some information why Mr. Doherty and Mr. North were preferred to Mr. Sergeant Perrin. At all events, in those days the high-road to promotion was the faithful discharge, in the face of the bar, of all the functions belonging to distinguished counsel, a short cut to promotion had not then been discovered; the secret passage from the Corn-Exchange to the Castle had not been made patent; it was not at that time a recommendation of any learned Gentleman that he was a distinguished agitator, or the founder and principal member of a National Association. Put the hon. and learned Solicitor-general for Ireland, in his ignorance of Scotch affairs, also alluded to Scotland, and charged his right hon. Friend with partiality in the distribution of dignities there. In the first place, he might inform the hon. and learned Gentleman that silk gowns were unknown in Scotland. No such branch of distinction or promotion existed. The legitimate objects of ambition there were the judicial offices; "and," continued the right hon. Baronet, "I could not help thinking when you Mr. Speaker, heard that accusation brought against my right hon. Friend, for having been actuated by political preferences in the choice of Scotch judges, nothing but the restraints of the House could have checked your indignant desire to inform the hon. and learned Gentleman that when the situation of Lord Chief Baron of Scotland was vacant, my right hon. Friend chose from the ranks of his political opponents in this House a learned and distinguished Scotch-man, eminent for his abilities, but certainly known as a warm, consistent, and honest Whig partisan: and I think you also could have told him that the names of Lord Core-house, Lord Eldin, and Lord Moncrieff will band down to late posterity the strict, the honourable impartiality of Sir Robert Peel 298 in selecting judges from the Scottish bar." He would next refer in passing to some of the expressions which were used the other night by his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The noble Lord said nothing would satisfy her Majesty's Ministers but a direct, a plain, and intelligible adoption of their policy on this occasion. His right hon. Friend (Sir R. Peel), in alluding to this point, described the resolution of the noble Lord as the most vague and indefinite in regard to time, and most inexplicable with respect to any definition of principles, of any proposition that had ever been submitted to Parliament. Pressing the Government, he asked what they meant by "of late years"? Did they mean to include the government of Lord Grey in their terms of praise? Did they include the policy of Lord Anglesey and the Marquess Wellesley? And then what were the principles on which their policy was to be adopted? The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Rice) said, oh, it was vastly well to find fault in this way. He did not say it was the most ingenuous course; he did not say it was the most direct course; he did not say it was the most conducive to the safety, the character, or honour of the Government; but he always preferred the course which was least convenient to his opponents. Were they then to understand that this was really the principle—not with a view to the national interests—not with a view to constitutional principles—not even with a view to the Ministers' own honour, but simply with a reference to expediency, and what might be most embarrassing to their opponents—was this really the principle on which the Government was to be carried on? Was it really to be believed that, in the present state of affairs, they were called on to rush into a collision with the House of Lords, not on public grounds, but simply with a view to embarrass the political opponents of the present Administration? The Chancellor of the Exchequer had quoted a passage from an old pamphlet of Mr. Croker, in which he talked of brandishing Ireland against the Minister in opposition. He admitted it; he learned the lessons of opposition side by side with the right hon. Gentleman. He saw that weapon, that pointed weapon, gleaming in the hands of Grattan, of Plunkett, of Canning, of Brougham; and, side by side, he engaged in asserting, honestly and sincerely, the just claims of their Catholic fellow-subjects: but he did it honestly and sincerely, and he wished to know where the right hon. Gentleman had picked up the phrase he used 299 when he spoke of it as a hypocritical pretence. It did not apply to the struggle fur Catholic Emancipation, though fought on Irish grounds in the dark regions of Opposition under Lord Grey and Mr. Tierney, Who were content to remain excluded from office, preferring the maintenance of their honest opinions to all the allurements of salary, the blandishments of power, and the smiles of the court. His right hon. Friend (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) was not justified in his suspicion of hypocritical pretence in that respect, and that phrase his right hon. Friend must have picked up since he was associated with him. He could well understand, that he might have formed that suspicion of the "compact alliance" of Lichfield-house. That suspicion applied to some opposition motion which might there have been concocted; and it was just possible it might have a reference to the appropriation by which his right hon. Friend (Sir It. Peel) had been driven from office. He now wished very shortly to state his reasons for combating the second proposition of the noble Lord—namely, that the terms of the motion were proper and necessary. He could conceive nothing more interesting than an inquiry into the state of Ireland. As a great moral lesson it demanded earnest and immediate inquiry. He wished to know why it was, that in Ireland, among a people most kind, most generous, most warm-hearted, brave beyond example, compassionate, charitable—so charitable as to be willing at all times to share the humble meal, the scanty pittance, the broken potatoe, with any beggar that came to the cabin-door—he wished to know how it was that murder and assassination should prevail in such a country, accompanied by circumstances of cruelty, premeditation, and atrocity, at the extent of which human nature shuddered, and from which national honour and pride turned aside with shame. He thought, that as a great moral inquiry, the investigation should be taken up. But, besides its moral aspect, there was a great political and statistical inquiry which was well worthy the attention of the Legislature. He wanted to know how it was, that in Ireland a dense population, subsisting principally by spade husbandry, and occupying small portions of land, should be considered the curse of the country and the certain source of poverty and destitution; while in Belgium, a country the soil of which was not more fertile, and the climate 300 not more genial, a population more dense relying equally on spade husbandry, and occupying still smaller patches of laud, were in the full enjoyment of peace, abundance, prosperity, and contentment, to a degree delightful to every passing beholder. These were grave subjects well worthy inquiry, and if inquiry were to be instituted, what tribunal could be conceived more competent to deal with the subject than a Committee of the House of Lords? There were upon that Committee some of the greatest landed proprietors of Ireland—the Duke of Leinster, the Marquess of Lansdowne, Lord Plunkett, and, if eminence in political and statistical knowledge were desired, Lord Brougham. He wished to know where those pressing and important questions could be better investigated than before that tribunal. These questions were intimately connected with the condition of the country and its criminal statistics. The extent of crime not only required investigation, but that the causes which lead to such fatal results deserved the strictest scrutiny. To prove this fact, he would read to them a statement made by Lord Normanby in his place in the house of Lords on the 27th of November, 1837:—There has always been in Ireland a combination connected with competition as to the tenure of land; but that any combination which may exist at present has the least connection with a political object, I utterly deny.Now, contrast that statement with an opinion of Lord Wellesley, his predecessor as Lord-lieutenant. He says:—These disturbances have been in every instance excited and inflamed by the agitation of the continued projects for the abolition of tithes and the destruction of the Union with Great Britain. I cannot employ words of sufficient strength to express my solicitude, that her Majesty's Government should fix the deepest attention on the intimate connection, marked by the strongest characters, its all these transactions between the system of agitation and its inevitable consequence, the system of combination, leading to violence and outrage. They are inseparably cause and effect. Nor can I, after the most attentive consideration of the dreadful scenes passing under my view, by any effort of my understanding, separate one from the other in that unbroken chain of indissoluble connection.Thus it appeared that while Lord Normanby positively denied that crime andHansard (Third Series), vol. xxxix. page 225.301 outrage in Ireland had any connexion whatever with secret combination, or any political object, Lord Wellesley had positively averred that political combination and prædial outrage were as inseparable as cause and effect. Was not this, then, he asked, a fit subject for inquiry, and one which a Committee of the House of Lords was most competent to investigate? Lord Normanby was a Member of that Committee, and might attend its meetings, and support his own views and opinions by examination. Did he understand the noble Lord opposite to say, that Lord Normanby declined to act on the committee.—[Lord J. Russell.—Yes.] The investigation might continue, he conceived, even if Lord Normanby thought fit to withdraw. It might be carried on with equal effect in his absence; it was not to be supposed that the House of Lords would decline to prosecute the inquiry merely on account of any pique, or a refusal on Lord Normanby's part to attend. What was the admission of Lord Normanby himself as to the extent of preedial agitation? That noble Lord said, "A man happens to be murdered, as a part of that dreadful system of combination which exists in Ireland with respect to the tenure of land. If he be a Catholic, who is ejected, and a Protestant happen to come into the holding, he is murdered on that account; not because he is a Protestant, which is merely a coincidence." If it were true that religion had nothing to do with these crimes, Lord Normanby's statement was simply this, that entry or occupation of the premises was the cause of murder; and would it be said that this was a state of things into which Parliament should not be ready to inquire? He admitted, that in the sight of God and man the murder of a peasant was as atrocious a crime as that of the greatest nobleman; but still there were certain circumstances, which fixed at the moment particular attention on a melancholy occurrence of the latter crime. He agreed in the abstract justice of the proposition, that property had its duties as well as its rights—a maxim, however, which it might not be at all times expedient to bring prominently forward; but the murder of Lord Norbury was a dreadful proof that the most faithful discharge of these duties, the utmost kindness to his tenantry, constant residence, general charity, combined with 302 hospitality, could furnish in that unhappy country no security whatever against the malignity of secret combination and the knife of the assassin in the face of day. Was it possible, that the House of Peers, seeing a case of such atrocity, in which one of their own body was the victim, could hesitate for a moment to institute an inquiry into the condition of a country in which such an event could occur. He would pass now to the question so largely discussed, as to the exercise of the prerogative of mercy by Lord Normanby. He thought, the most striking part of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, the Recorder of Dublin, was that in which he accused Lord Normanby of discharging, in one day, twenty-five prisoners convicted of various offences, some of them Catholics, on view and by oral order merely. The fact also was admitted, that a great portion of these men were ordered to be released on finding bail for their good conduct, and were finally released without that bail. Of the case of Brennan an explanation had been attempted, but the noble Lord opposite must admit, that there was a discrepancy between his explanation and the facts, which left the case still in doubt. The right hon. Gentleman, the Recorder of Dublin, had stated the circumstances positively; the noble Lord was not prepared to reply, and this was exactly one of the cases respecting which it was right to institute the most searching inquiry. As to the indiscreet exercise of the prerogative of mercy, the noble Lord had stated, that whatever might have been the case formerly, Government was wiser now, and that the objectionable practices were discontinued. Was that really the case? He would not, at that late hour, go into long details, but he had been very much struck by the statement of his hon. Friend, the Member for Belfast on a former evening, with regard to a case that occurred in that city so recently as October last, to which no answer had yet been returned. He (Sir J. Graham) would assert, that this single case of itself constituted sufficient ground for inquiry, and so long as it remained uninvestigated, there was not a chance of real justice being meted out to that country in which so loud an outcry about justice was raised. In October last, a prisoner was tried at the quarter sessions for an outrage on a respectable Protestant, named Barnett. A Roman Catholic, 303 named Gubben, in consequence of a political quarrel with a Protestant, pursued him, followed by a mob, into the house of Barnett, in which he had taken refuge. Gubben and his followers insisted on his being given up to them, as they were determined to beat him for being an Orangeman. This Barnett refused, when they commenced an outrageous assault upon his house, which they nearly demolished, destroying and plundering almost every article it contained. For this offence, Gubben was tried at the quarter sessions in October last, and Mr. Fogarty, who was then the assistant barrister for the county of Antrim, after hearing the case, sentenced him to six months' confinement, expressing, at the same time, his regret, from the atrocious circumstances of the crime, that he could not legally sentence him to transportation. He was committed to the Borough gaol on the 27th of October. A memorial was immediately got up by his friends, and within three weeks—namely, on the 15th November—an order arrived from Lord Normanby for his unconditional dis. charge. The next day Gubben, with a party of his associates, went to Barnett's house. His father went in, and invited Barnett out to see his son, at the same time tauntingly remarking, that he and his friends had yet some interest in the town. He would not go into the details of all the cases that had been brought before the House, but he would state his conviction that, as the matter now stood, Lord Normanby had frequently listened to private solicitation with respect to the exercise of the prerogative of mercy. Sometimes, on his own admission, Dr. Vignolles, his chaplain, interceded, sometimes a Roman Catholic priest, and sometimes a country gentleman. The case of Brennan had not been met, and what was that but one of direct interference by a priest. He was not conversant with the rules which regulated the grant of pardon to persons convicted, but, as far as he could understand the statement made, the case had come before two judges, both of whom had heard the evidence, and came alike to the same conclusion, that the prisoner was guilty. After the sentence, application for a remission was made to the Lord-lieutenant, who consulted the judges. Although they, on deliberation, saw no reason to recede from their opinion, the case was submitted to the law 304 officers of the Crown. He must say, that this appeared to him to be a very extraordinary proceeding. Sometimes, the Lord-lieutenant had granted pardons without consulting the judges. Sometimes, after consulting them, he had set aside their opinion, and attended, in preference, to private solicitations. According to a happy expression he had heard used, the noble Lord had dramatised the administration of justice; it was reserved for him to enact the part of pardoner in a travelling dress, visiting every gaol in his progress, liberating prisoners by wholesale, and, bringing the prerogative of mercy itself into contempt in the eyes of the Irish people. With respect to the state of crime, the noble Lord had quoted the opinion of the judges in the north of Ireland. Was there no testimony on this subject of a more recent date and of higher authority? He might refer to a witness whom all would pronounce unexceptionable, her Majesty's Solicitor-general for Ireland, and he would read a few words from the opening speech of that learned Gentleman at the late special commission at Clonmel, as well as from the charge of the learned Judge (Mr. Justice Burton) who presided. If the statements of these authorities were not conclusive in the eyes of the House of the necessity of inquiry, he could adduce no argument capable of convincing them. Judge Burton said:—The crime of wilful murder is capable of a yet further aggravation, both with respect to its inherent turpitude and its dreadful consequences—I mean, that of a previous conspiracy for its execution. Gentlemen, my imagination cannot conceive any thing more shocking and alarming to a community than the prevalence of this crime—the crime of premeditated and concerted assassination. If any addition to it can be supplied beyond the horror of its immediate enunciation, it seems to be that it can be only of a disposition existing among any considerable part or class in society to screen such criminals from detection and punishment—a disposition which, if existing, is in itself a mental, if not actual, participation of the crime.Such was the opinion, then, of the Judge—and now he would read to the House the words of the Solicitor-general, and put it to the House whether such testimony was riot most conclusive upon the subject. The Solicitor-general, in his opening speech, made the following observations:— 305I am personally a stranger to your county; but the perusal of the calendar of prisoners, and of the informations on which they are committed, demonstrate to me, whatever may be the issue as to the guilt or innocence of the accused, that there can be no doubt of the lamentable fact, that in no place where the laws of England extend, is human life less regarded than in the county of Tipperary. We are compelled to say, that these crimes are, in too many instances, the result of deep-laid conspiracy, that calls for blood and assassination. The crimes that called for this commission seemed to have for their object to prevent the exercise of that dominion over property which is its most valuable attribute, and without which property cannot be said to exist at all.Both these important pieces of evidence, then the House would see, went to prove that neither life nor property were secure in Ireland, and that was precisely the datum which the resolution of the House of Lords assumed as sufficient to lay a ground for an inquiry. There was one point more on which he would say a word—the exercise of patronage by the Irish government. When the Police Bill was passed, changing the patronage resulting from the appointment of the Members of that force from the hands of the local magistrates to those of Government, both the noble Lords opposite, the Secretary for the Home Department and the Secretary for Ireland gave a direct and most solemn assurance that the patronage so transferred would be only nominally exercised by Government, but would really be exercised by the head of that force. Not satisfied with this pledge, his right hon. Friend near him pressed Ministers to name the officer whom they intended to appoint to the command of the force, and was answered, that Colonel Shaw Kennedy had been selected. Great reliance was placed on the testimony of Lord Donoughtnore, as to the strict execution of the law. If that noble Lord's testimony was valid as to that point, it could not be impugned when it applied to the exercise of patronage. That noble Lord had declared if he was not misinformed, that he was ready to prove by evidence before the Committee of the House of Lords, that appointments had been given to persons in his neighbourhood for political and electioneering purposes. Would they attempt to stifle the evidence by a vote of the House of Commons? Colonel Shaw Kennedy's retirement from office remained yet unexplained; Lord Donoughmore had declared 306 that he was prepared with proofs of the mal-administration of patronage, and the noble Lord opposite attempted to get rid of these serious and important questions, by telling the House that an inquiry by a Committee of the Lords was inconvenient; Considering that these grave matters loudly called for inquiry, he would very briefly return to the question of the principles—the principles, forsooth—that guided the Executive Government of Ireland. He had not the slightest notion to what measures the principles mentioned in the resolution were intended to be applied. If to the question of municipal institutions, the two Houses were on that subject completely agreed. At the commencement of the present Session they concurred in an address to the Throne, declaring that the reform of the municipal corporations was essential to the happiness and prosperity of Ireland. They had sent up a bill for that purpose last Session, which in its leading principles was adopted by the Lords; the sole difference which occurred was on a matter of detail. What was the conduct of Government respecting that measure? When it came down from the Lords, the noble Secretary for the Home Department, in a House of about fifty Members, moved the rejection of the Lords' amendments, and then he supposed, because the measure was Irish, moved that they be printed. The hon. Member for Dublin exulted in the unceremonious manner in which the Lords' amendments were treated. With respect to the Irish Church, when noble Lords opposite asked the House to sanction and perpetuate the principles on which they had acted, he must declare that, though he had listened with the greatest attention to the debates last year, he could not discover what these principles were. He had heard, with the greatest satisfaction, the noble Lord opposite declare, in the course of the debate, that he was determined to uphold the Protestant Establishment. The right hon. Gentleman opposite cheered him, and he was glad to find the right hon. Gentleman concur in the remark; but were all the right hon. Gentleman's colleagues of the same opinion? What was the opinion of the noble Lord the Secretary at War? He even doubted as to the opinions of the noble Lord the Secretary for Ireland. He would read a few words from one of the debates last Session on the Irish tithe question. The noble Lord the Secretary 307 at War (Lord Howick), said on July 19th 1838.He still believed, that the resistance to the payment of the tithes in Ireland was not only to the mode in which that vexatious impost was collected, but from the natural hostility of the people to the purpose for which they were collected. He remembered he was told by Mr. Brownlow, then a Member of the House, that it would fail, for that it was the purpose for which tithes were collected, and not the mode of their collection, that constituted the evil. He believed, that in 1835, he saw the realization of that prophesy. He, therefore, voted most earnestly for the resolutions which were at that time adopted; and he afterwards concurred in the measures founded upon those resolutions. The hon. Member for Brid port had said, that that measure had only produced a sham and a delusion. Now he had never disguised from himself, that the principles upon which that measure was founded, would have led to measures larger and more extensive than those that were afterwards proposed to the House. He was perfectly sensible, that if the Irish people had insisted for that which, in his opinion, was their clear and indisputable rights, they might have demanded more than the Government or the Legislature intended to give them."*On a subsequent evening, namely July 23rd, the noble Lord, the Secretary of State, after professing opinions wholly opposed to those of the noble Secretary at War, said, he "felt it necessary to re-state them, lest his silence should be construed into a concurrence, in some of the principles advocated, on a former evening, by his noble Friend, the Secretary at War, with whom he did not concur in those principles.†" To which of those principles was the House called upon to assent by the present resolution, those avowed by the noble Secretary at War, or those professed by the Secretary of State? At the end of the Session, in which the Act for the Composition for Tithe in Ireland had received the royal assent, her Majesty in the speech from the Throne, had said, "I trust that the act which you have passed relating to the composition for tithe in Ireland will increase the security of that property and promote internal peace." Notwithstanding this passage in her Majesty's Speech, and within three months after it had been delivered, a noble Lord, the lord-lieutenant of the county of Cavan, who was in constant attendance at the*Hansard (New Series), vol. xliv. p. 357. † Ibid. p. 515,308 castle, was engaged in open warfare against this species of property, and signed a resolution requiring its immediate and entire annihilation. That was the warfare which a noble Viscount, lately appointed Viceroy of Ireland, had foreseen and hoped would be successful, adopting the principles of the noble Secretary at War, and rejecting those of the noble Lord, the Secretary for the Home Department. That noble Viscount considered the existence of the Protestant Church establishment in Ireland a stain and disgrace to the Government of that country, and expressed a hope that the warfare against the Church, being transferred from the weak to the strong, would be carried on with vigour. Here, then, was her Majesty's Viceroy wishing success to a war against that species of property, the security of which her Majesty desired to increase. On one side, there were her Majesty's Speech, and the declaration of the noble Secretary for the Home Department, and on the other the avowed opinions of the Viceroy of Ireland and the Secretary at War. How was the House to express its confidence in an administration thus divided in its opinions? By what means was it to ascertain what were the principles of the Ministry? In the absence of any other materials for forming a judgment, the House must resort to the principle "noscitur a sociis," and turn from the professions of the Ministry to the character of its supporters, and in that point of view it was natural to look to that supporter on whom the principal reliance of the Ministry rested. That hon. and learned Gentleman was not then in the House, and he could not express himself so freely as he should otherwise have done; but this he could not help saying, that if they were to affirm the principles avowed by the chief supporter of the Ministry, principles more dangerous to the security of the empire could not be imagined. That hon. and learned Gentleman had declared, that the utter extinction of all Church property in Ireland was necessary to the honour of the Catholic population in that country; and unless that, and an extension of the elective franchise, were effected, all expectation of justice to Ireland would have signally failed, and the flag of repeal must be unfurled, never again to be rolled up. It was only necessary to add, that to the hon. and learned Gentleman who enter- 309 tained these sentiments, the present Government had offered the highest judicial situation in Ireland next to the great seal. To return to the object of the present resolution, that resolution would be utterly pointless, unless its intention was to intimidate the House of Lords; it could not in any other way interfere with the inquiry before that House. But if the object was to intimidate the House of Lords, he would refer hon. Members to a high constitutional authority, of no less weight than the noble Lord, the Secretary for the Home Department himself. In the year 1833, the noble Lord, speaking of the possibility of a collision with the House of Lords, said—If that House was to enter into a contest with the Lords they should do it for something worth contesting. The present was but a shadow of a claim, to prosecute which would be risking the peace and tranquillity of the country for the sake of an abstract principle.* * The check which one House exercised over the other was not invented for the purpose of bringing the two Houses into collision on every difference of opinion, but in order that measures should be adopted, that were satisfactory to both and beneficial to the country.Those were noble sentiments and worthy of the noble Lord. The noble Lord also said, which was eminently true,—That it was impossible not to see what was the object of a certain party in Ireland, who did not desire to procure legislative measures by legislative means, but who sought, by force and violence, to compel the Legislature to follow in the wake of that force and violence.The noble Lord further said,—That a seat in that House had hitherto been considered to be an honour to an individual; hut if ever the time arrived when its Members should be degraded to that point, that they should suffer an acquiescence in illegal demands to be extorted from them by intimidation, it would be far more honourable to till the ground in the humblest capacity, than to be a Member of that Assembly.He felt quite sure that all the compeers of the Duke of Bedford would express the same sentiments, and none of them would yield anything to intimidation. Then it was said, that it was necessary to guard against the revival of Orange ascendancy and domination. Now, of all the chimerical and visionary dangers that ever entered into the mind of man this appeared to be the least rational. This was not the time to entertain any such fear—old 310 things had passed away—new ones had come in their turn—the sun could not go back upon the dial, and he was no more afraid of the return of Orange domination than he was of that of the dynasty of Stuart, or the lord-lieutenancy of the Earl of Strafford. He did not conceive, that any Government of Ireland could stand for one day which acted upon exclusive principles, or that since the passing of the Emancipation Act any one could retain power in that country except by means of a fair and impartial administration of justice, and a fair and equal distribution of patronage, according to good conduct, ability, and private worth, and without reference to religious opinions. Such were the principles on which his right hon. Friend, the Member for Tamworth, would have proceeded to govern Ireland. His right hon. Friend had declared, that such were his principles, and he might appeal to his right hon. Friend's known honour, integrity, and firmness, as sufficient guarantees, that he would have carried into effect the principles which he professed. If he might venture to give a word of advice to the Catholics of Ireland, he would address them in the words used by Lord Wellesley in 1812.Let the Roman Catholics," said the noble Marquess, "endeavour to mitigate their prejudices and jealousies against their Protestant brethren—let them cease to exasperate persons of their own persuasion—let them uniformly deserve to participate with their Protestant brethren in all reasonable privileges, by showing that they are attached to the constitution, and determined practically to secure its stability—by showing that they are obedient to the laws, and have every disposition to submit to them and reverence legal authority.If that advice should be disregarded by the Catholics of Ireland, he would appeal to the Protestants of that country, and would exhort them in every circumstance of difficulty and danger to adhere to the pledge which they had given to their Sovereign: he besought them to throw aside every Orange badge, and honestly to renounce all secret associations. Let others forget their promises; let others forget their pledges; let others put strained constructions upon their oaths; but under every circumstance, and in every trial, let the Irish Protestants be true, faithful, and sincere to the last; let them not disappoint any reasonable ex- 311 pectation, founded upon our faith, but let them fulfil to the letter the promises which they had given:Tu modo promissis manens, servataque serves "Troia fidem.Debate again adjourned.