HC Deb 07 June 1841 vol 58 cc1254-8
Mr. O'Connell

gave notice of a motion for leave to bring in a bill to amend the laws relating to landlord and tenant in Ireland. He would take that opportunity to allude to a matter personal to himself. The House was aware that, a few evenings ago, the hon. and learned Member for Bandon (Sergeant Jackson) made a very serious charge against him (Mr. O'Connell) of oppressing his tenants in Kerry, by distraining in April for rent due in March. Not having been in Kerry of late, he (Mr. O'Connell) did not know whether some agent of his might not have distrained some of the tenants from malicious motives; therefore, he did not rise at the instant to contradict the statement. Since then, however, he had requested his son (Mr. Maurice O'Connell), who had the honor of being acquainted with Mr. Sergeant Jackson, to call upon that Gentleman to inquire the name of his informant, and his authority for the statement he had made; and, with the permission of the House, he would now read the letter he had received from his son, describing the result of his interview. It was as follows:—

16, Pall-mall, Monday, June 7, 1841. My dear Father—I have just seen Sergeant Jackson. I told him that I came from you, to ascertain the name of the person whom he quoted in the House, the other night, as having stated, that he had known tenants of your's to have been distrained in April for rents due on the 25th of March previous, and also if possible, the names of the tenants. He said, that he did not know the names of the tenants; that a gentleman called on him some time since, in Dublin, and said he was a Kerryman, and his name Twiss; that Sergeant Jackson recollected having seen him on juries in Kerry, but does not know his Christian name or address; that this man then made allusion to a speech of your's about Irish landlords, and said that you yourself were a bad landlord; that he had been in Iveragh some time previous, had seen a number of cattle in pound in the month of April, and on inquiry, that he was told they belonged to tenants of your's, and had been distrained for the March rent. I asked what year this was in? Sergeant Jackson did not know, but said he had a memorandum of it somewhere, and promised to let me have a copy thereof. According to him, Twiss said he would swear to the facts. Your affectionate Son, MAURICE O'CONNELL.

He was able to state, that up to the month of January last, when he was last in Kerry, no such thing had occurred; and, therefore, up to that period, as well indeed as up to that to which the hon. and learned Gentleman had referred, he was enabled to contradict the statement in the strongest possible terms. It was not for him to comment on the manner in which the charge had been made against him. The man's name from whom the information was received was not known— his address was not known—the only allegation was, that somebody had told the hon. and learned Sergeant, that so and so had taken place. He (Mr. O'Connell) begged to take that opportunity of denying, in the most distinct terms, that anything of the kind had occurred.

Mr. Sergeant Jackson

observed, that the statement made by the hon. and learned Gentleman as to what had taken place between him and the hon. Member for Tralee (Mr. Maurice O'Connell) was not precisely correct. The hon. Member for Tralee called upon him (Sergeant Jackson) that morning, and, as the hon. and learned Gentleman had stated, said, that he came, by his father's desire, to ascertain the name of the person to whom he had referred in the address he made to the House, in the course of the late debate.

He stated that he knew the gentleman perfectly well—that he had seen him serving on juries in the county—that his name was Twiss—that he had waited upon him (Sergeant Jackson), and told him that he had seen a speech made by the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. O'Connell), attacking, in his usual strain, the landlords of Ireland—that he knew from his own knowledge, that the hon. and learned Gentleman was himself a very harsh landlord, and that he would tell him (Sergeant Jackson) what he had seen take place in Kerry, in the month of April. He mentioned the year—[Mr. O'Connell: What year?] He mentioned the year to me at the time, and I took a memorandum of it; but not having that memorandum by me at the moment, I could not venture to name the year to the hon. and learned Gentleman's son this morning. I offered, however, to write to the hon. Gentleman, to inform him of the year, as soon as I had ascertained it by referring to my memorandum. The statement that Mr. Twiss made to me was— that he had gone to that part of Kerry in which the hon. and learned Gentleman's property was situated in the month of April; and that he there found the cattle of a number of the tenants of the hon. and learned Gentleman distrained, and driven to the pound, for rent due on the 25th of March. That was the statement that Mr. Twiss made to me. I asked if he was quite certain of the accuracy of what he had stated. He replied that he was perfectly certain of its accuracy—that I was perfectly at liberty to make use of it, and that he was prepared to come forward and prove it in any court, on any occasion. In the presence of Mr. Twiss, I took pen and ink, and wrote down the substance of what he had stated to me, observing that I should make use of it in the House of Commons, if ever the hon. and learned Gentleman repeated his attacks against the landlords of Ireland. He staled that I was perfectly at liberty to do so, and that he should be ready at any time to come forward and substantiate ail that he had told me. I should not otherwise have mentioned the matter in the House.

Mr. O'Cornell

Now I appeal to the House to decide as to the fairness of this dealing. The hon. and learned Gentleman has stated, that he has a document. Ought he not to have had that document ready to produce when he made a charge of this nature? The hon. and learned Member says, that he made a memorandum, if he made a memorandum, ought he not to have ascertained the man's name? He knows as well as I do, that there are several Twisses on the Jury in Kerry. Ought, he not to have taken down his address? ["Order."]

The Speaker

said, if the hon. and learned Member had anything further to state in explanation of the facts, of course the House would be ready to hear it; but he submitted to him whether he ought to prolong this conversation when there was no question before the House.

Mr. O'Connell

I was merely saying this—that the name of the party accusing me is not given—that the address of the party is not given—that the date of the year is not given—and that the lands where this harshness is said to have been practised is not given. And this last fact is material; because I have but one property on which such a transaction could have happened, and that is the college property. On all the rest of my property the rent falls due in May and November. It appears, in short, that this charge has been made against me in the total absence of an accuser—in the total absence of any witnesses—in the total absence of dates—in the total absence of all particulars. I am, therefore, now entitled to pronounce it as gross a falsehood as was ever uttered.

Mr. Sergeant Jackson

Perhaps the House will permit me to say to the hon. and learned Gentleman, that I will make it my business to put him in possession of all the particulars at the earliest possible moment. I promised his son to-day that I would furnish the information this evening, if I could lay my hand on the memorandum I had made.

Mr. O'Connell

I don't know how the hon. and learned Gentleman can give the particulars of a falsehood.

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