§ Order of the Day read for resuming the adjourned debate.
§ Mr. B. Cochrane
said, that whatever might be the opinion of that House with reference to the advisability of going into 746 committee on this question, he thought, at all events, the House must be agreed on one point, that no question could be brought before it of greater importance than the state of Ireland. There was another point upon which all must be agreed, and that was, that the question could not have been brought forward with better temper or more ability than it had been by the hon. Member for Limerick. Residing as lie did in England, it was extremely difficult to understand the extent and nature of the movement now going on in the sister country. But, on reading the accounts of that movement, and even allowing something for exaggeration, all must be persuaded that it was a movement which could not be treated with neglect—that the day had come for active measures, or at least for explicit declarations of opinion. It was a movement which would exercise great influence on the national prosperity, and, more, it was a movement which could not be arrested by discussion on petty details. It was one which must be discussed on great general principles. If they looked back to the history of Ireland, they would find that no political movement had ever taken place there which was not, in some way or other, connected with religion. The revolution under Tyrone was a religious movement, and the Irish of that day were as much opposed to the principles of the Reformation as they were to the Government of England—so much so, that the Spanish general took the title of General of the Army of the Faith in Ireland. The rising in Ireland in favour of James the 2nd, had as much of religion as of politics in its character. When that monarch entered Dublin, he was surrounded by all the prelates and pomp of the Romish religion. Even the present repeal agitation was of that character. To read Mr. O'Connell's speeches, one would think that the great evil of Ireland was the Protestant Church Establishment. So far as he was individually concerned, there could be no one more opposed to religious persecution, no one more regretted the persecution under which the Irish people had suffered in the beginning of the previous century; but he would ask any candid person, who had read the history of religion in Ireland, whether there had not been nearly as much persecution on the one side as on the other. At the present moment, he did not see that the state or 747 revenues of the Established Church formed any excuse fur the general agitation prevailing. In 1833, the revenues of the Established Church did not exceed 800,000l. per annum. Now, he believed, it was but 500,000l.; and surely, that was not a matter of great national importance—why we had sacrificed three times that sum in adopting the plan of penny postage. To show how entirely opinion in Ireland had changed in a few years with respect to the Protestant Establishment, he would just read the communication of two witnesses, who gave evidence before the committee of 1824 and 1825. The Rev. Michel Collins was asked—Do you think with respect to the establishments of the country, with respect to the existing Protestant Church Establishment, that would not remain a source of complaint and grievance?—Not at all, the Church Establishment is a temporal establishment, as connected with the constitution of the country; they have no jealousy on that score. Do you seriously believe that, generally speaking, in the minds of the Roman Catholic clergy, there is not any disposition to disturb or dispossess the Protestant hierarchy?—I do most seriously believe it, and would make the most solemn declaration to that effect—I can undertake to say that not a single Catholic clergyman will contradict what I aver, that they, as Catholics, have no views whatever to the disturbance of the establishment.Mr. O'Connell, on being examined, said—I know that the Catholics do not look to any such ascendancy know that there is a very warm and cordial feeling on the part of the Catholics towards all the Protestants in Ireland. I am of opinion that the Roman Catholics are made more zealous in the profession and practice of their religion by there being a Protestant ascendancy in Ireland.In 1833, Mr. O'Connell said—It had been insinuated formerly, that there was a class in Ireland who wished for the establishment of a different church, let the noble Lord throw out of his idea such a contemplation—there was no wish in Ireland to forward or support any such plan.That was the opinion of Mr. O'Connell in 1833. How different now was his language with reference to the Church Establishment. He would now allude to a few of the points which had been dwelt on by the hon. Member who had brought forward the present motion. He regretted that the hon. Member had thought it expedient to bring forward many trivial details. The hon. Member, had, for in- 748 stance, spoken of the dockyards, and complained that none of those establishments existed in Ireland. Now, the dockyards were all in the channel or in the river, and it really did appear necessary that such establishments should be as near the centre of Government as possible. Again, the lion. Member had complained that ten of the Cabinet Ministers were English, and not one Irish, but the hon. Member forgot the Duke of Wellington; but it was impossible that the lion. Member or any one else could imagine that the question of country had ever entered into the selection. Another point to which the hon. Member had alluded—and it was an important one—was the state of the representation. He had mentioned Galway, with its population of 400,000, and its four Members, while Dorset-shire, with 170,000 inhabitants, had fourteen. Now, lie was free to admit that in the cases both of Scotland and Ireland, if the thing were to be done over again, there should be a fairer distribution of the representation. There was Lanarkshire, with its two large towns of Greenock and Glasgow, had only 4 Members in all for a population of 400,000, consequently the grievance was nearly the same in both countries. Might not the Scotch, then, as well seek a repeal of the Union on the grounds of insufficient representation? Another point which the hon. Member had alluded to was the fixity of tenure question; but the hon. Member must know that as agriculture improved, and as the wealthy farmers increased, the land must be thrown into large farms. What was it that caused the excellence of the Lothian farming but that land was divided into large farms? He did not mean to say, that the landlords should act harshly in bringing about those inevitable changes, but it certainly was not a matter in which the Legislature could interfere. The hon. Member had cited British policy in Canada as a pattern to be followed in Ireland, but that policy had only been a year in operation, and therefore we could not as yet form any opinion as to its excellence. He had seen it stated in a paper called the Notion that the American Repealers had declared that in the event of disturbances in Ireland England would lose Canada; and certainly he doubted very much whether Canada would be safe in the event of a civil war in Ireland, While he objected to discussions 749 on minute details, he certainly agreed with ' the hon. Member that Government should in their measures take into consideration the feelings of the people of Ireland. Such feelings might be mistaken, but while they existed they should be attended to by the Government. There was, for instance, the mail-coach contract, an unimportant case, but the people displayed a feeling in the matter, which should have been regarded. He was also ready to admit, that our legislation for Ireland had for a long -period—in trifling matters—been harassing and vexatious. There was a measure now before the House, the Arms Bill, which, although he had voted for it, he considered to be of that character, and utterly inefficient as a weapon in the hand of the Government. [Cheers.] He said so frankly, and he felt that if a nation were inclined to rebel, the Arias Bill would not prevent them. The measure would prove ineffectual, and was unworthy the discussion it had caused. At the same time it might be used as a means of irritating and exciting the Irish people. Another topic in the hon. Member's speech was the dismissal of magistrates for attending repeal meetings. Now, repeal meetings were either illegal or they were not; if they were illegal they should be put down; if not, what right had Government to supersede the magistrates? It was by such vexatious and harassing proceedings, instead of by a vigorous course of action, that the people of Ireland had been irritated. The Irish character had not been sufficiently considered. It was noble, generous, and enthusiastic, easily excited to evil, but deeply sensible of kindness. On such minds one cold and unkind expression would inflict more pain than a long series of legislative favours would confer pleasure. Men of such a character could net be harassed in vain; but he (Mr. Cochrane) did believe that if conciliation was properly tried, and not wrested by force (which point the hon. Member opposite had put so well), it would not be tried in vain. God forbid that any principle should be sacrificed—especially one involving the Church. The revenues should never be touched. He would yield to every wish which did not injure the principles of the Constitution. The Roman Catholics should enjoy every thing in and under the State, but not be the State itself. Against the Roman Catholics he must say, that in many persons in 750 this country, he was grieved to add, in this House, there was a most bitter feeling of enmity. The language sometimes made use of against the Romish Church was calculated to arouse the most bitter animosity. Why, when they spoke of that most ancient faith, superstition was a mild term. What! we applied the term superstition to a religion which existed in all its power 600 years before Christianity was even preached in this country—superstition to a church which numbered amongst its disciples 150,000,000 of people, while all the Protestant sects together did not number 100,000,000. Was it by such means we could hope to make converts to the Protestant faith, or weaken the attachment of the Catholics to their church? There was a passage in one of the works of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, which contained a great and unmistaken principle, lie said, "toleration promotes unity." As be had said, even the faults of the Irish arose from their excess of feeling, and even for their present errors lie could find excuses. Patriotism is naturally an ardent feeling. What man can love his country with coldness? If we believe that moderation can combine with good faith, why may we not also believe that good faith can exist in men whose feelings lead them far beyond the bounds of due discretion "? So fervently was be persuaded that consistency, generosity, and warm-heartedness could win the affections of that people, that he believed there was one man who, had his life been happily spared, would have at least stayed the peril—he meant that man whose protective policy was extended to all nations, wherever there was a wrong to redress—who ever stood between the oppressor and the oppressed—that man who, from a deep feeling of consistency, sacrificed to his principles the best years of his official career—that man, the effect of whose instinctive, glowing eloquence, was traditionary in that House—who, winning admirers by his public virtues, retained them as his friends by his private excellencies—of whom than of none other it could be better said,He broke no promise, served no private end, He gained no title, and deceived no friend.He meant Mr. Canning. He did believe that, had Mr. Canning lived, the love borne to his name, the affectionate confidence be enjoyed, and his consistent 751 conduct towards Ireland, would have averted, if it had not altogether arrested, the evil. Be would repeat, that nothing could save Ireland but decision, energy, action, and affection. There was a great Repeal agitation. Yes, but when did it arise? Who were the leaders? That was the question. Was one man to be punished while another escaped? When Sextius went to Tarquin, informing him of an insurrection in Sabii, and requiring to know how he should act, Tarquin took the messenger into his garden, and cut down his tallest tulips. So even they must look to leaders of sedition. It would not do to sacrifice some miserable deluded follower, and let the great apostle of sedition escape. The man to be marked out for punishment, was the man who had spoken treason against the State. Yes, treason. Was not such language as this treason?—The nation (said Mr. O'Connell at Dundalk) is with me—man to man with me—aye, and ready, if it were necessary, to perish to the last man. Nothing could justify the exercise of the sentiment thus proclaimed, but the inevitable necessity created by an attack upon us, and I have the pleasure to tell you we ale too strong to be attacked. Sometimes there comes over me the temptation, and I am almost induced to hope we might be attacked. But I promise you as a perfect certainty they will not do it, and there is no concealing the certainty, that if they did attack us the result would not be doubtful.Now is not such language treasonable? Remember the men to whom it is addressed. Well, then, such are the men who engross the people, and who inflame their passions and excite their feelings—who term all Government tyranny, all justice cruelty—who, if treated with lenity, conspire in broad daylight—with harshness, conspire in the darkness. The hon. Member concluded-I do not believe that your armies will avail—I am assured your Arms Bill will not.A nation," (says Mr. Burke) "is not governed that is perpetually conquered—terror is not always the effect of force—an armament is not always a victory—the laws are powerful if carried into effect,Remove the great criminals, and the people will soon disperse when they no longer find leaders. If at the same time that we uphold the Union, and the principles on which it was framed we cordially and frankly endeavour to win the sympathies and affections of the nation—if we 752 teach them that they have friends in this country who consider their interests—if while we are resolved to have the laws obeyed, we frame these laws as justly as possible—if we have not real spirit of kindness and good will which, even in a thousand unspeakable ways, and which, like the majesty of truth, carries conviction to all hearts—if landlords will discharge their duties to their land which Providence has bestowed upon them—if they remember, as the noble Lord had said, that "Property has its duties as well as its rights,"—then I do not despair of Ireland—I do not despair of one day seeing this nation, now so much distracted and disaffected, a happy, united, and contented people.
§ Mr. Ward
said, that the hon. Member who last spoke, had done much to redeem the debate from the character, he was afraid, was about to attach to it. The hon. Member had expressed enlarged views, and kindly feelings, and had done justice to a people who generally had little justice done to them in that House or that country. He had told Ministers that they must base their future policy on justice and conciliation, and although he might not agree with the hon. Member in some of his conclusions, he thanked him for his admissions, and for the frank, liberal, and honourable spirit which he had succeeded in infusing into the debate. He could not but feel the other night, when there were not fifty Members present to listen to a motion, which would find a response among millions on the other side of the channel, that a proper interest was not taken in such a discussion. The hon. Member for Limerick had introduced his motion by a speech, to the tone and temper of which everybody had done justice, but the House would be putting a foolish faith in the stability of the power of this country, if it exhibited either indifference, or apathy regarding Irish matters. Nothing could be more fond or foolish than the notion that it was impossible to shake the stability of the present order of things. We had lived of late in too easy times, and had brought ourselves to the belief that there could be no changes among nations, or men that did not first receive the sanction of a majority of the House of Commons. He had lived in other countries, and had witnessed other scenes; he had seen more than one revolution, and had observed the growth of that sort of feeling, which led to great popular movements; he had narrowly 753 watched the chances, which those men had a right to reckon upon, who once made up their minds to play this desperate game; and never had he seen such a combination of formidable circumstances as now presented themselves in Ireland. Never had there been so remarkable an organization, never so much union, and never had such extraordinary power been concentrated in the hands of a single individual. How was this state of things to be met? This was not a question to which the House could be indifferent; it ought not, by a species of lazy determination, to take the chance how things might turn out, and trust to Providence for the issue of events, which might be regulated by human means. The complaints were not met by the speech of his noble Friend the Secretary for Ireland. The noble Lord with all the kindness, and all the mildness, for which he gave him credit, discussed the matter as if it had been the details of a turnpike bill. Yet the noble Lord made large admissions. He admitted that there were great grievances and great discontent in Ireland, but lie told them that the grievances were social, and Parliament could not deal with them, and that the discontent took such a vague, mysterious, indefinite, and spectral form, that to grapple with it, was impossible. The noble Lord opposed inquiry, because he said that inquiry implied censure on the Government. He admired the susceptibility of the noble Lord's conscience, but he could only pay his conscience a compliment at the expense of his understanding, for the noble Lord must see by his own speech, that without inquiry nothing could be attempted. The form of the motion was also objected to, but it was only a parliamentary form of telling the Government that something must be done,—that the House and the country would not be satisfied with leaving things as they were, after the noble Lord's own admissions had proved the necessity of prompt, and vigorous action. Official men were always regulated by the same ideas on such subjects; they always objected to inquiry, because it interfered with the regular course of things, to which they were accustomed. Then the noble Lord did not like appeals to be made to history, which he called reviving the passions of the past, for history, he said, ought to be read in a more philosophical spirit, and to be considered as a study from which to derive lessons for our future guidance. He agreed with the noble Lord in this, but to get the lesson, it was ne- 754 cessary to go back; and, without going very far, the noble Lord would find a perfect parallel for his own case. He need only go back to I780. He would not compare the noble Lord to Lord North, who, in the then excited state of the country, said, that—The discontent of Ireland was a child of the imagination, for except where laziness was attended with its never-failing companion, wretchedness, all in Ireland was a continued scene of content, and festivity;Yet, at this very time, the Government was bankrupt—the country defenceless—the people in arms, but not under the Crown, for the very men who enrolled themselves in the Volunteers refused to serve in the Militia, because they must have held a commission from the King. This was enough to alarm most people, but not the noble Lord, who was then Secretary of State for the Home Department, Lord Hillsborough, who objected so strongly to the interference of Parliament, that on the 22nd of February, 1780, he wrote a despatch to the Duke of Buckingham, who was then Viceroy, almost in the words of his noble Friend, calling upon the persons in office to discountenance parliamentary inquiry:—The King sees with great concern, that any Member of the House of Commons intends, at so delicate and critical a time, to agitate, in Parliament, questions that may, in their consequences, tend to interrupt the harmony, and affection, which it is his Majesty's gracious object to strengthen by every means in his power.That language the noble Lord now repeated after the lapse of sixty years. The noble Lord admitted it was necessary that something should be done, but he said it would be highly inexpedient at this particular period for Parliament to enquire what could be done most effectually. Official men always held much the same language. The time was always "too delicate, and too critical," even where the object was just. He was afraid, that motion like that of his hon. Friend, the Member for Limerick, would always be inconvenient in point of time. But in I780, had the pretty phraseology of the Secretary of State, which the noble Lord was imitating the effect of stopping Mr. Grattan? Did it disarm the volunteers? Not a bit of it. Things went on then, just as they would do now. Commercial concessions were made. They did something, but they had no great effect, for they came too late. Free-trade was called by Mr. 755 Yelverton "the lullaby of liberty," but the people were told to cultivate their political rights in order to secure free-trade. Stronger language was then used, than had been used yet in the present agitation. They had mottoes on the flags of the volunteers, and over their cannon, much stronger than any which were now seen:—" Hibernia tandem libera." "A short money bill—a free-trade, or this," (hung round a volunteer field-piece at a Dublin review). "May the virtuous resistance of America prove a seasonable lesson to the British Minister." On 4th November, I780, it was resolved by the Dublin Volunteers—That we will not obey, or give operations to any laws, save only those enacted by the King, Lords, and Commons, of Ireland.And the Convention of Dungannon solemnly declared, that—The claim of any body of men, other than the King, Lords, and Commons of Ireland, to make laws to bind this kingdom, is unconstitutional, illegal, and a grievance.They had not seen this repeated now. They had not heard any man high in office, say what Mr. Prime Sergeant Burgh said in the Irish House of Commons.Don't talk to me of peace in Ireland, Ireland is not in a state of peace, it is smothered 'war.Ireland, however, was really in a state of smothered war, although more moderation was shown, and he asked the Government how they meant to deal with it, if they refused inquiry? Was it by the Arms Bill, which the hon. Member (Mr. Cochrane) called a bill harassing to the people, and useless to the Government? Or did they mean to borrow the Convention Act of 1796, and to put down all meetings held under the;pretence of petitioning. Something they must do, for either the repeal meetings were illegal, or they were not. They had dismissed the magistrates who attended them, but they should not stop there if the meetings were illegal; and if not illegal, why interfere at all? But it was clear to everybody that these meetings could not go on, without leading to more. Mr. O'Connell himself avowed it. He said, in one of his last speeches, that his object was to concentrate opinion into one focus, and then to demand the restoration of that Irish Parliament which Plunkett, Bushe, and Saurin, had declared that the Union could not destroy. The precise modus operandi was stated in his speech at Dundalk— 756 a I am perfectly sure of having a majority of the south with me. I am not afraid of getting a substantial portion of the people of the north with me, and then the national movement will be complete, and the next step must be taken. The next step will be to consider the plan for the new Irish Parliament; the towns that ought to send members to the new Irish Parliament will be ascertained by taking up the population of 1831, so that no favour is given to anybody. Every town having 9,000 inhabitants is entitled to representation; and that, with county members, will make up 300 members. In order to carry out this plan, I will propose that each town so entitled to representation do lay down 100l., and, with the aid of the individuals whom they select, we will meet in Dublin to consider the plan I have suggested.. Any town that refuses to make that sacrifice, I don't think it would deserve to have a member in the Irish House of Commons. If the individuals chosen are not ready to make that sacrifice for the towns, they don't deserve to be returned for those towns afterwards. I would thus have three hundred gentlemen assembled in Dublin by accident. A treasury will be formed by the in-pouring of the sums I have specified, and they can dissolve themselves the next day, if the law requires it. And what is to prevent my asking those 300 gentlemen to a public banquet, at which nobody else shall attend but themselves and me? " Every town with 9,000 inhabitants was to send one representative, and each county was to return its members, as it did now. These persons were to meet at Dublin, accidentally, of course, and Mr. O'Connell also accidentally would dine with them, a day or two after their arrival. He pledged himself as a lawyer that this would be no violation of the law; he had driven a coach and six through acts of Parliament before, and he would drive these 300 persons through it. This was the natural termination of what was now in progress, and we should see these 300 delegates, representing much more truly than the Irish Representatives did now, the feelings of the Irish people, assembled in Dublin, and placed in direct collision with the Crown. He must not call them delegates, he supposed, but the gentlemen, who came accidentally, would meet there. How was the Legislature to deal with this state of things? He did not think that the improvements in the fisheries, or that the disposition of the House to legislate for Ireland, where no great principle was involved, of which the noble Lord boasted, would have the desired effect. Nor did he think that the noble Lord's complaint against the Catholic clergy would help him. Indeed, he deemed 757 the attacks made upon the Catholic clergy most useless, most injudicious, and most unjust. He would not, any more than the noble Lord, palliate the language used by some of the Catholic clergy, the language of Dr. Higgins in particular, and he regretted as much as the noble Lord the change which had taken place since I830 and I834, when was issued the admirable address, which had been quoted, full of the spirit of conciliation and peace. But the noble Lord must have a convenient memory if he thought that this change was without cause. The noble Lord must have forgotten the history of his own party during the last five years. He must have thought that other men's hands were as clean as his own; for he must do the noble Lord the justice to say, that he had kept himself aloof from the outrageous display of English fanaticism which had disgraced the party, to which he belonged. What, however, did the Catholics opposed to repeal, say with regard to the occurrences of the last few years? What was their opinion of the recent conduct pursued towards them? He fell in the other day, with a pamphlet, containing a letter from the Earl of Shrewsbury to Mr. Ambrose Phillips, in which the noble Lord, after praising the declaration of the Catholic bishops of February 9, 1830, against the interference of their clergy in politics, asked,What has altered these just, wise, and moderate sentiments, strengthened by the resolutions adopted by another general convocation of the Catholic hierarchy in 1834, published in the Ordo Divini Officii, of 1835? Why were the chapels, which were not to be used for public meetings, except in cases connected with charity or religion—now admitted to be the focus of the repeal agitation?It was because—The failure of the compromise attempted in 1835—the admission by the Whigs, when they abandoned the Appropriation principle, that they had no hope, or prospect, of carrying out their own plans, in however modified a shape—the use made of religion to justify a franchise different from the English and Scotch franchise, in the Municipal Act—the tone and spirit of Lord Stanley's Registration Bill—all these things presented to the quick and suspicious mind of the Irish nation the gradual extinction of their liberties, and the consequent return of the oppression and persecution of their religion, as within the range of possibilities, and against which Repeal was their only security." Were these suspicions unjust? A man as he said before, must have a convenient memory to think so. That was the answer 758 made by a moderate Conservative Catholic to the charge brought against the Clergy of his creed in the speech of the noble Lord the other night. Could any one lay Ids hand upon his heart and say that the conduct of the Conservative party, during the last five years, did not justify these suspicions? He would not allude again to the language of the Lord Chancellor, to which he had referred the other night. It was said, that an explanation of these words had been given; but there were words that could never be forgotten, as there were acts that could never be recalled; and these words of Lord Lyndhurst never could, and never ought to be forgotten by the Irish people. Then let them look at the Tory Press. The Catholic priests, it was said, ought not to take part in political matters, yet they were called "surpliced ruffians" and "trumpeters of sedition; "and this not merely during the heat of the struggle for power, for, no later than Monday last, looking at the Standard, lie found that the one thing necessary for Ireland was, "To convert the Irish people (seven millions of men) if not to Protestantism, at least to a Romanism less hideous, servile, and debasing than that, in which so many of them are now enthralledWell might the hon. Member for Bridport say, that these reiterated attacks upon the Irish, coming from the same quarter, irritated the Irish people, and prevented a good understanding between the two sections of the empire. Let them not forget too the political agitation of the Protestant Association of 1839, and I840, by which the present Government made religion a stepping stone to power. Half the Tory nobility took part in this unprincipled crusade. Lord Wharncliffe, now the President of the Council, was President of the West Riding Reformation Society, and worked it as a political engine to procure the return of his son. He held meetings, to which Mr. McNeil, and Mr. McGee, were brought to calumniate the Catholics in all the great towns of Yorkshire. Nor was this confined to Yorkshire. In his own county, Hertfordshire, there were similar associations, and who was at their head? Lord Verulam, a distinguished Conservative nobleman. Throughout many parts of the country, prayers were offered up, and fasts were held, because his right hon. Friend, the Member for Tipperary, and now for Dungarvon, was introduced into the Privy Council, and there were fasts to avert the wrath of God, because the hon. 759 Member for Kildare, and the hon. Member for Waterford were in office. Aye, and the noble Lord the Secretary for the Colonies defended this. [Lord Stanley: "N."] Yes! he would remind the noble Lord that he stood God-father to Mr. McNeil, in the debate on Sir John Yarde Buller's motion, when the noble Lord admitted that he had attended one meeting at which Mr. McNeil was present, and added, that he thought him one of the most moderate, mild, and christianlike men he had ever known. Then the noble Lord asked,Have you the confidence of the constituencies of England?— No! Of the clergy?—No! You do not pretend to that.And the noble Lord added—The Government of England is a Protestant Government. Its Members must not be the minions of Popery.After the lapse of three years, the noble Lord might find it convenient to forget his objections to the appointment of three Catholics—the most distinguished of their class—to office, under a Liberal Government; but then he said:The Government of England is a Protestant Government, its Members must not be the minions of Popery.And could they blame the Catholic clergy for resenting these insolent terms, applied to the most distinguished, and moderate men of their class? Labouring under this misfortune as to the past tactics of his party, the noble Lord the Secretary for Ireland was rather premature in complaining of the Catholic priests. When, however, they talked of Conservatism, he must remind them that there was a time when the Conservatives entertained different. views. To find them he must go back to the days of Mr. Pitt, who, in May, 1805, said,He wished to make the Catholic priests the link, as it were, between the Crown and the people. That would have been a large, and comprehensive policy.What a narrow, and mean, view must be that, which his successors had taken? How low the Conservative party must have been reduced, when it discarded the principles of Mr. Pitt, and made use of bigotry as a stepping-stone to power. Then with respect to the appointment of persons to Office, made by the noble Lord, or perhaps not appointed by him, but to whose appointments he was forced to append his name. Their defence had been put by the noble Lord on the only intelligible ground, when he said, 760It had been admitted that a Government could not appoint its opponents, and as almost all the Roman Catholics were opposed to the Government, it followed that the larger portion of those employed by it must be Protestants.And then he went on to justify the promotion of Mr. Brewster, of Mr. Justice Jackson, of Mr. Baron Lefroy, and of Mr. Litton, on the plea, that,Political partizanship had never been considered as a ground for excluding men from promotion at the bar, and whatever had been the conduct of such partizans in Parliament, there never had been any partiality upon the Bench.In England this was true; in England it was a safe rule to adopt, that political partisanship at the bar did not prevent impartiality on the bench. But it was not so in Ireland, where there had been more fierce partisanship amongst the judges than had ever been before displayed in the history of the world. There were positions in which no justice would be expected by the parties, and that was the reason, why, as Mr. Grattan said, there were men, who, when placed in power, "carried rebellion in their very names." The first advice by Mr. Grattan to Mr. Fox, in 1782, was,To dismiss from their official connection with the Government some notorious consciences, to give a visible, as well as a real, integrity to his Majesty's councils. The people have a personal antipathy to certain men, who were the agents of former oppression, and would feel a natural delight in the justice of discarding them.Ireland was not changed since that time, and there was the same natural dislike to certain men, borne almost instinctively, yet, the noble Lord says it would be unjust to withhold the patronage of the Government from these men, on such grounds. It was a question between the country, and the party; but this was the misfortune of the noble Lord's position. He could not get rid of this difficulty. And Ireland was forced to choose between a party that had the wish to serve her without the power, and a party that had the power without the will. The natural consequence was that Ireland was beginning to serve herself. The country had thought hon. Gentlemen opposite nearly perfection; for, three years ago; they believed that they were so superior in all the qualities for office that they had only to be placed on the Treasury Benches, for the course of public affairs at once to run smooth. The noble Lord near him (Viscount Palmerston) 761 believed that the delusion was still existing; but he (Mr. Ward) saw gratifying symptoms of a return to sounder opinions, after the wonderful success of the Government in marring every thing they took in hand. Ireland, however, would wait no longer, and was acting for herself. Things could not remain in their present state; the Government must act too; what did they mean to do? They ought, in his opinion, to begin by granting this inquiry. This would be a rational step, and would tend greatly to conciliate those persons both in Ireland and in this country, who thought, as he did, that repeal was separation, and separation war. He could not hesitate to express his strong feeling upon this point, though it might be unpalatable to his Irish Friends; and he founded his opinion on the results which followed the independence of 1782. At that time Ireland had nothing to ask. Her legislative and judicial independence were absolutely conceded. Mr. Fox said, that, "unwilling subjects were little better than enemies," and he resolved to carry conciliation to the utmost extent. What was the result? The Rotunda meeting of Volunteers in the very first year after the independence. The Regency question occurred in 1789, and not only were there two Parliaments, but there was likely to be two Executives, for the same individual would have had to act in different capacities in England and Ireland, if the illness of the King had not taken a favourable turn. They saw also Mr. Grattan, who had received every mark of his country's gratitude, lose entirely popular influence, and power, because he had refused to join in the agitation against what was called "Simple Repeal." Mr. Fox, writing to Lord Northington, said,Volunteers, and soon, possibly, volunteers without property, will be the only government in Ireland, unless they are faced this year in a manly manner.And another great Irish patriot, and leading political character, Mr. Daly, in a letter to Mr. Grattan, said:—We have reaped the benefits of having armed the people, and now we must hope to avoid the inconveniences of it. Our volunteers here were ready to determine, in twenty-four hours, any question, in the whole circle of sciences, that could be proposed to them, and to burn any unfortunate person that doubted their infallibility.The same experiment would now lead to the same results, for all experience, as well as all reasoning, prove the total income- 762 patibility of two legislatures held together by the feeble link of the Crown. They had recently seen a great meeting held in Dublin, which, it was understood, the Government wished to put down, but no one would make the necessary depositions to enable the authorities to interfere. At that meeting he found Mr. O'Connell laying great stress upon the fact that the first step in an independent, or domestic, legislature, would be the encouragement of home manufactures by high protecting duties. He supposed that this would necessarily lead to retaliation here. There would be a war of tariffs. Kind friends on the continent would fan the flame, and the end would be war. God forbid that the day should ever come when the attempt to govern Ireland by the coarse, and unblushing, corruption avowed by Lord Westmoreland, could be repeated, or when it should be necessary to have recourse to martial law. But this was the curse of the old system. Either corruption or brute force was required, to make it possible to govern at all. These things, however, were impossible now. No Government dare repeat them. The noble Lord near him, could not—the hon. Gentlemen on the Benches opposite, dare not. Since that time, also, a great difficulty had arisen. If in 1782, the feeling of nationality was so strong, what must it be now, when instead of four millions of people in Ireland there were eight millions? Yet, Mr. Parsons, afterwards Lord Rosse, in February, 1790, said:—Who, out of Ireland, ever hears of Ireland? What name have we among the nations of the earth? Who fears us? Who respects us? Where are our Ambassadors? What alliances do we form? We sacrifice all that gives a nation consequence and fame to our connection with England; and what ought we to get in return? I say, an honest, an impartial, and a frugal Government. If we are to have expence, let us have empire, and not allow ourselves to be drained of our wealth for the benefit of others, without dignity, and without glory. Who governs us? English Ministers, or rather the deputies of English Ministers—mere subalterns in office, who never dare aspire to the dignity of independent thought.And he added,To arm a country with power first, and then to treat it as if it were impotent, is the most preposterous folly; and it is a dangerous lesson to teach four millions of men, living in a most defensible country, that the attainment of every thing short of Separation, will not attain for them good Government.He believed that these sentiments were 763 now almost universal in Ireland, and consequently that any attempt to maintain the connection between the two kingdoms, with no other link but the Crown, would prove an utter failure, and must eventually lead to a struggle, which every one must deplore. But what was the remedy of the noble Lord? To leave things as they were—to disregard those feelings, the existence of which he could not deny — to leave Ireland to a power which she could not resist. There had not been a proposition made in the speech of the hon. Member for Limerick, which the Government seemed disposed either to dispute, or to deal with. Its sole proposition was, to let things take their course, with the certainty of having hereafter to meet the difficulties which its own vacillation must increase. lie maintained that there was another, and a better, alternative, and that was to try whether in their English Parliament they could not do for Ireland, that which she would do for herself, if she possessed the power. That was an alternative worthy of them as a Christian Legislature —worthy of those religious feelings, of which they were so fond of boasting. Let them allow themselves to be led by them for once. Let them look to the horrors, and evils which they would avoid, by taking the whole question into timely consideration. What were the main points on which consideration was demanded? The first was, that of the Tenure of Land in Ireland. It was said that it was impossible to deal with this matter, because it involved an interference with the rights of property. If the noble Lord would refer to the report of the Poor-law Commission in Ireland, a report prepared with the utmost care, and in which the evidence of persons of all classes was given with singular impartiality, be would find that there had been no doubt expressed by any one of the feasibility, and necessity, of dealing with this question. The present time appeared to him to be particularly favourable for the attempt. It must be made by some one, and if not made now, the property classes of Ireland would live to rue the (lay, when the Government refused to give the matter their attention. He had seen the address of the Repeal Association, in which the Prussian system was referred to as a model to be imitated. What was that system? It was the simple confiscation of one-third, or one-half, of every farm in the Kingdom for the benefit of the occupying tenant, varying in proportion according to their tenure, [Iron- 764 ical Cheers from the Ministerial Benches.) He knew what that cheer meant, but let them not think that he approved of such a system. [Hear, hear.] He would not be misrepresented, and wished not to be misunderstood. He had said that the present moment was favourable for the interposition of the Legislature, because the Protestants, and the Property classes of Ireland saw great reasons for apprehension in the address of the Repeal Association, in which this proposition had been put forward as feasible and just. Nothing was further from his thoughts than to adhere to such a plan; he wished to combine greater Security for the tenant, with the greatest possible regard to the rights of property. But to leave the tenant absolutely unprotected, at the mercy of an Absentee landlord, was a most dangerous experiment to persist in. If they looked back for sixty years, they would find the system producing, periodically, the same effects, for Lord Clare said, in 1790, that he knew whole districts, and counties, in which the tenants were "ground down by their landlords "—" brayed as if in a mortar." He asserted then, that it was most desirable that the Legislature should interpose, and should deal with this question promptly; for that it would be better to do what must eventually be done, under the safeguard of the British Crown. There was another question, with which he would deal—the question of the franchise--almost in the very spirit which the hon. Member for Bridport, (Mr. Cochrane) had spoken of it. That hon. Member had admitted that great inequality existed. He had admitted, that if the thing were to be done over again, the franchise in Ireland ought to be put upon a different footing. And he (Mr. Ward) was convinced, that, so long as Mr. O'Connell could appeal to the fact, that every Welshman possessed in himself the same rights of representation which were divided amongst fourteen and-a-half Irishmen, an anomaly existed which it could not be expected, that a high-spirited race of men like the Irish, would endure. He would deal, therefore, with the franchise, both as regarded the constituency of Ireland, and the representation of Ireland in the Imperial Parliament, in a large and liberal spirit. Then as to the question of the Church which was the only remaining subject to which lie should refer, as having given rise to great differences and affected the amicable disposition of Ireland towards this country, As he had pledged himself to 765 afford the House an opportunity, during the present Session, of discussing, and pronouncing an opinion, on this subject, he would only now put forward this proposition, that it was absolutely indispensable that Englishmen of all parties should make up their minds, that the Protestant establishment in Ireland must be reduced to such limits as might recommend it to the Catholic population of that country. He believed, that the establishment, as now constituted, must be given up, if the Union was to be preserved; but while he was prepared to take this course, he would take care that the rights of every existing in should be respected. He admitted, that the opposition to the Church was not what it had been twenty, or even ten years ago; lint the existing establishment was nevertheless still looked upon as a stigma upon every Catholic. They could not reconcile their feelings to it, and it was impossible to justify its continuance upon any principle adopted by any nation of the world. His noble Friend near him (Lord Ilowick) had said, a few years ago, that "there was ton much Church" in Ireland, and that the people of that country never ought to be satisfied until they got rid of it. Br. O'Connell had said, not once, but repeatedly, that, until the Church was reduced within its proper limits, the Union with Ireland was "a living lie." Br. O'Connell had put forward that assertion in his memoirs of Ireland. Irish, and Saxon." He said,—The Union is a living lie, until Ireland is placed on equal terms as regards its Church establishment with England and Scotland.The right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel), in a speech, which lie had quoted the other night, had predicted most accurately every thing that had since occurred, when he warned the advocates of Catholic Emancipation, that Emancipation would only increase the hostility of the Irish to the English "intrusive" church. His colleague (Sir James Craham) had entertained different views. But though that right hon. Baronet was a little warped—a little cracked—if he might be permitted to use that phrase, without offence—upon the subject of Church Establishments in general, he (Mr. Ward) was happy to find, that when he went towards the Borders, he could talk most excellent sense on the right of a country to such an establishment as the majority of its population preferred. They had had a discussion in that House on the subject of the Church of Scotland, in which the right 766 hon. Baronet had thus expressed him-self:—It is the boast and honour of the Scottish people, that, in coming to the settlement by which they were united to the Crown of England, they preserved, by treating upon independent terms, their National Church, as a mark of the perseverance with which they resisted the dominant power of England, and secured to themselves the establishment of their free religion — upon which condition alone they could be induced to consent to the Union. I think, therefore, that, in discussing this question in the British Parliament, we are bound to regard it with peculiar care, We must look at it not with English feelings, or with the prejudices of Englishmen, but we are bound to regard it upon the principles of die Union—upon Presbyterian principles, as established by the act of 1790.Let the right hon. Baronet apply the same arguments to Ireland, and all differences would be at an end. The right. hon. Baronet would tell him that there were technical differences between the two cases, but what did this matter, if the principle in both were the same The right hon. Baronet might say that, at the Scottish Union, the independence of the Scottish Church was provided for; but that at the Irish Union, by a delusive, and equivocal Article, the existence of the Protestant Establishment was guaranteed. That Article, he maintained, was an infamous cheat. The Catholics had been deliberately misled. They had been deluded into a full belief, by the almost positive assurances of Mr. Pitt, and by the hopes encouraged by Lord Castlereagh, that emancipation would immediately be conceded, and that, as a natural and necessary consequence, their Clergy would be paid. He maintained that Parliament must now go into the question, and the sooner they did so, divesting themselves of every unworthy prejudice, the better would be their prospect of seeing peace between the two countries firmly established. He wished the Government to accede to the present motion, and to follow it up by a message from the Crown, similar to that which Mr. Fox brought down in I782, recommendingSuch a final adjustment of the discontents, and jealousies, prevailing in Ireland, as may give mutual satisfaction to both kingdoms.He should like to have some tangible proof of this kind, that it was intended to deal with the whole question of Ireland as it must be dealt with at a very early period; and to negotiate, with a due regard 767 to the feelings, and wrongs, of the Irish people, such an adjustment of all matters in dispute would allay the irritation which now existed, and secure the stability of the united empire. He could conceive two different courses to be possible under present circumstances. He could conceive a reckless, sanguinary course of policy, founded on all the worst passions of the human breast, appealing to our worst prejudices,—recalling the old "No Popery" cry from its unhallowed grave,—and arraying man against man in an unnatural war. But he could also conceive a wise and conciliatory policy founded on liberal concessions, — concessions which England might make, without humiliation, and even with dignity, because made in the spirit of justice, and in the consciousness of her own strength; and he felt assured that no false fears, or shame, or pride, would induce parties, for the sake of petty squabbles amongst themselves, to withhold their earnest support from a Government which had the wisdom, and the courage, to adopt such views. But the one thing, that was impossible was, to leave Ireland in the position in which it now stood. They must be prepared to act—they must accede to just demands in a proper spirit of liberal concession, in order to be able to reject other demands not authorised by necessity, or justice. Nothing but a perfect identity of interest between the two countries could now stop the progress of Repeal; and if they attempted to stop it by force—if they refused the alternative, which he had ventured to recommend, they would have nothing left but to drift blindly on, at the mercy of a movement, which was daily gaining strength, until at length compelled, to array themselves in arms against their fellow countrymen, to the utter destruction of that greatness which England bad attained during the last 200 years. They knew that Ireland was paralyzing our arms in every quarter—they knew that it was Ireland, on which France was trading with her revolutionary designs in Spain—they knew that they could not advance a step in their continental policy without being taunted with weakness at home. There might be difficulties,—social problems to solve, but they must be prepared to grapple with them, and as a first step towards this,—a pledge of sincerity,—an earnest of peace,—it would be desirable for the honour, and dignity, and safety of the country, that they should accede to the motion of the hon. Member for Limerick.
Mr. E. Tennant,
must express his surprise, that the hon. Gentleman, with his experience of the practice of the House, should have found fault with the course adopted by the Government, of resisting this motion merely because it was a motion for inquiry. The hon. Gentleman must know that no practice was more common, or none more deprecated, than that of avoiding a substantial vote upon the merits of a question, by the substitution of a committee to inquire; and he could remember one memorable instance on which it met with a merited rebuke. It was on the occasion of the Repeal debate. In April, 1834, when Br. O'Connell moved for a committee to inquire into the operation of the Union in Ireland, and stated that he asked only for inquiry, and those who voted with him stood pledged to nothing more, whilst those who were opposed to his principle would not surely oppose a fair inquiry, which, if he were in error would expose his error, confute it, and prove him in the wrong, Lord Monteagle said in reply, that—He had often heard this most fallacious argument used, and as often as he had heard it he felt convinced of its sophistry. It would impose upon Parliament the duty of inquiry, not only into every subject upon which the Legislature could found remedial measures, but also into every question on which no practical measure could be founded.Lord Monteagle proceeded to allude to the circumstance, that the hon. Member for Waterford, Mr. Barron, had at the hustings at Dungarvan, in 1833, expressed his willingness to vote for inquiry into the operation of the Union, although he was not yet prepared to vote for its Repeal—an alternative which Mr. O'Connell had described—As gross an attempt at delusion as ever was made; and that it was an insult to the understandings of the electors of Dungarvan to suppose they could be taken in by so flimsy and despicable a deception; but the fact was, that as a politician Mr. Barron had always been despicable.From which, (said Lord Monteagle) I deduce, on the authority of Mr. O'Connell, that a motion for a committee of inquiry is so gross a delusion, that it would be an insult to our understandings to entertain it, and that the man who would vote for it would be despicable as a politician.The tendency of the speech in which the hon. Member for the County of Limerick opened this debate, and the alternative which it implied, were simply to 769 the effect that Parliament should forthwith proceed to the investigation and redress of what he enumerated as the evils of Ire-1 land; or, failing their effectual interference, that a remedy for each and for all must be found in the Repeal of the Legislative Union. But were he prepared to admit in their fullest extent all the evils which the hon. Member had enumerated, and were Parliament to fail in effecting their removal as thoroughly and as expeditiously as he demanded, it still remained for the hon. Member, and those who had followed him on the same side in the debate, to demonstrate the efficacy of the other alternative, and to show that for all or for any of them a remedy could be discovered in the Repeal of the Union. Throughout this debate, and the numerous others which had preceded it upon the state of Ireland, the evils complained of were confined to two classes, fiscal and religious, the grievances:wising arising out of them. tenures and charges upon land, and those jealousies which were connected with the maintenance of the ecclesiastical establishment; and extensive changes in the one, and the entire surrender of the other, had been suggested as the corrective to discontent and the panacea for Ireland. As to the latter of these propositions, the abolition of the Protestant establishment, he (Mr. E. Teunent) presumed that that at least was a matter which the House was not prepared to entertain incidentally in a discussion upon Irish disturbances. Parliament would enter with some solemnity and caution upon a question which was not regarded as a mere item in the catalogue of the grievances of Ireland, but as part and parcel of the constitution of England itself. If the Irish establishment was to be surrendered, that of England must be readjusted by the same standard, abolished or upheld, and upon the same principles. If it was to be judged only by the test of concurrence or dissent, and if it were laid down that the majority in Ireland are not to contribute to the maintenance of a Church from which they differed, the grievance as between that country and this would be then only one of degree, and the minority of Dissenters in England would have, upon principle, as just a claim to be relieved from the burthen of the national establishment as the Roman Catholic majority in Ireland would have to insist on similar exemption. Into the merits o that question, therefore, it was not now necessary to enter; but when a demand 770 for the sacrifice of that establishment was openly made by the movement party in Ireland, and when the concession was recommended by individuals in that House as a propitiatory surrender on which they were justly entitled to insist, two other considerations were forced upon us, totally apart from the merits of them subject; first, whether, looking to the proceedings of the past, those who now made this violent demand had not again and again divested themselves of every title to institute such a claim, and whether they had not, time after time, accepted of other concessions on their solemn disclaimer of every shadow of pretension to this? and, secondly, whether the sacrifice, if completed, would purchase the consummation it sought, and restore peace to the county by contenting its disturbers? They were warned by the lion. Members for Liskeard and for Bath, that they. must be prepared to sacrifice the Protestant Church of Ireland in order to satisfy those who would otherwise insist upon the Repeal of the Union. It was a remarkable fact that the emancipated Roman Catholic population of Ireland, who were now the only clamourers for the Repeal of the Union, were themselves, in 1799, its strenuous advocates and its active promoters, because through the Union alone they saw a prospect of obtaining Catholic Emancipation. The Protestant establishment was the intermediate obstacle. To have emancipated them before the Union should have been consolidated would have been to place that establishment at the unfettered will of a Roman Catholic majority in the Irish House of Commons; but they saw that the Union once cemented, and the interests of that establishment thus secured in the hands of a Protestant majority in the House, emancipation might be freely conceded without peril to the Protestant Church. Mr. Pitt, in 1800, laid down broadly this inducement, and even the enemies of the Roman Catholic claims were constrained to admit that with the achievement of the Legislative Union their fears and their opposition would subside. On this understanding the Roman Catholics, in I799, tendered their support of the Union as their guarantee for the safety of the Church; and by the Protestants the security of the Union was universally pleaded as an argument for the absolute safety of conceding Catholic emancipation, which was granted in I829. Down to that year the compact was rigidly ob- served, and till alter Roman Catholic 771 emancipation had been solemnly confirmed, they never heard from the Roman Catholics of Ireland one murmur against the existence of the Union, nor one demand for the destruction of the Church. On the contrary, the most explicit and elaborate assurances were year after year reiterated that the concession of their claims for emancipation would be the most absolute bond for the inviolability of the Union and the permanence of the establishment. In I757, forty-three years before the Union, the declarations of the Irish Catholics, then eagerly praying for the repeal of the penal laws, promulgated a declaration which was drawn up by Dr. O'Keefe, one of the bishops, aided by Mr. O'Connor, of Belenagare, and Mr. Wyse, of Waterford, in which they made this deliberate and solemn declaration:—It has been objected to us that we wish to subvert the present Church establishment for the purpose of substituting a Catholic establishment in its stead. Now, we do hereby disclaim, disavow, and solemnly abjure, any such intention; and further, if we shall be admitted into any share of the constitution by our being restored to the right of the elective franchise, we are ready in the most solemn manner to declare that we will not exercise that privilege to disturb and weaken the establishment of the Protestant religion, or Protestant Government in this country.Again, in 1792, when eagerly engaged in the same pursuit, the Roman Catholics presented a petition to the Irish Parliament, containing the following striking declaration:—
With regard to the constitution of the Church we are indeed inviolably attached to our own. But we are satisfied with the present condition of our ecclesiastical polity. With satisfaction we acquiesce in the establishment of the national Church; we neither repine at its possessions, nor envy its dignities; we are ready upon this point to give every assurance that is binding upon man."
Such were their sentiments before the Union, and when the accomplishment of that measure had so far consolidated the Protestant representation of the kingdom as to give abundant security for the safety of the Church, they again renewed those assurances in all their subsequent applications to the united Legislature. In I805, in I808, I8I0, and in fact in every year up till I829, similar protestations were made and similar assurances given that their object was an equalization of civil rights, and that they repudiated the imputation of any dissatisfaction at the ex- 772 istence of the Protestant establishment. These were their words in 1812:—We have solemnly sworn that we will not exercise any privilege to which we are or may be entitled to disturb and weaken the Protestant religion or Protestant Government in Ireland. We can with perfect truth assure the hon. House that the political and moral principles asserted by these solemn and special tests are not merely in unison with our fixed principles, but expressly inculcated by the religion we possess. And we do most humbly trust that, as professors of doctrines which permit such steps to be taken, we shall appear to this lion. House entitled to the full enjoyment of religious freedom under the constitution of these realms. We can affirm with perfect sincerity, that we have no latent views to realize, nor secret or sinister objects to attain. Our object is avowed and direct; earnest, yet natural; it extends to an equal participation. of the civil rights of the constitution of our country equally with our fellow-subjects of all other religious persuasions. It extends no further.In fact, so repeated were these disclaimers on the part of the bishops, the clergy, and laiety of the Roman Catholic Church, that in 1826 they had to complain that their sincerity was still doubted, and that they had year after year to submit to the humiliation of renewed protestations. Here was an extract from the declaration published by the British Roman Catholic bishops in that year:—British Catholics are charged with entertaing a pretended right to the property of the Established Church in England. We consider such a charge to be totally without foundation. We declare that we entertain no pretension to such a claim. We regard all the revenues and temporalities of the Church Establishment as the property of those on whom they are settled by the laws of the land. We disclaim any right, title, or pretension, with regard to the same.Again, in an address from the British Roman Catholics to their Protestant countrymen this year:—
Fellow-countrymen, — Bearing equally with you, our fellow-subjects, the burthens of the country, and upholding equally its institutions and its glory, we claim to he admitted to a full participation in all the rights of British subjects. Every principle or practice hostile in the remotest degree to those institutions we most explicitly disclaim. Year after year we repeat the humiliating task of disavowal; still we suffer the penalties of guilt."
Such were the solemn renunciations and disclaimers of the Catholic party, previously to the concession of Catholic Emancipation; and again and again all designs, 773 immediate or ultimate, latent or overt, against the established Church were perseveringly denied; and Mr. O'Connell himself, upon his oath before a committee of the House of Lords, in stating his conviction of the security of the state should emancipation be granted, declared
In my answer I coupled the Church with the State in my idea. I conceive that as long as the State is secure, the Church is secure."
He would repeat it, that in the face of documents such as these, the House of Commons was debarred from even entering upon the question of the surrender of the Church of Ireland. Even supposing the demand to have substantial merits and inherent right to recommend it, the Roman Catholics of Ireland had solemnly barred their own title to demand that surrender. They entered into a contract "in the face of their country of all Europe, and before Cod," to use their own words, by which they renounced even the remotest design upon that establishment, and they became pledges for its inviolability should their own civil demands be acceded to. Those demands have been conceded, and if they now wish to retract their agreement and to recall their pledges, if they demand the surrender of the Church or the Repeal of the Union, let them first, in common justice and honesty, restore the considerations which they have already received,—let them repeal the act of 1829 along with the act of I800, and restore to the Protestant Church the one guarantee before they proceed to strip it of the other. With regard to the other class of Irish grievances arising out of the imperfect agrarian system of the country, however more real and more urgent might be their pressure, they were still less to be dealt with by the summary process, suggested by hon. Members on the other side. Were the agrarian discontents and disturbances of Ireland matters of modern discovery—were they the growth of the Union, or had they appeared only subsequent to its consolidation,—they might be less embarrassed to discover their cause and less timid in applying a remedy. But when they found them in full vigour a century ago, under all the paternal vigilance and care of a domestic legislature, and exciting alike the anxieties of an Irish as of a British Parliament, it was as absurd to ascribe their origin to the influence of the Union, as it would be futile to resort to Repeal for their remedy. The leading evil of Ireland, and which, apart front party virulence and religious antagonism, engen- 774 dered every other species of disaffection and restlessness in Ireland, was the existence in that country of an over-grown population, utterly disproportionate to the means of profitable employment. It was this which had produced a ruinous competition for land, and a still more ruinous competition for labour, while it had in many districts reduced the nominal farmer to a labourer and the labourer to a pauper; and this condition of habitual poverty had prevailed from so remote a period, that the ambition of the mass of the people had been chilled, and a sort of recklessness and indifference had become almost the national characteristic of the Irish peasant, leading in its turn to improvident marriages, and still increasing population. It was but peddling partisanship, or at best but a wretched delusion, to ascribe to the brief era of one Ministry or another an evil such as this, which had been the growth of centuries and the result of permanent and unaltering circumstances — circumstances which, as they grew out of social disorganization, have been to a great extent beyond the reach of legislative correction, and still more so of executive control;How small, of all that human hearts endure, "The part which kings or laws can cause or cure.But whether it were to be ascribed to the early misgovernment of Ireland, to the neglect of absentees, or to the defective franchise which gave a premium to the creation of a pauper constituency—to whatever cause it was to be ascribed, the effect had been observable from a period long antecedent to the Union; and Curran in the Irish House of Commons stated, in I787—That the main source of the alarming violent outrages which had so long disgraced that part of the kingdom had its immediate origin in the poverty of the people, and the total inability to find profitable employment.The observation was as faithful today as it was then, and so long as the population of Ireland remained thus idle and impoverished, so long must they calculate on the permanent existence of discontent, and the periodical return of disturbance; and the practical problem which Ireland presented for the solution of the statesman was, how such a disproportionate population was to be governed in peace, elevated by education, supplied with profitable employment, and taught by dm pursuit and the possession 4 property to respect its rights. When 775 the right hon. Baronet at the head of her Majesty's Government made, upon a former occasion, the frank and candid avowal, which had been so often quoted, that he looked upon Ireland as the grand difficulty which he had to encounter in returning to power, he could not possibly imagine that the right hon. Baronet had in view, when he made that assertion, the paltry rivalry of parties or the jealousies of sects, the mere scrambles for patronage, or the competition for office. These, indeed, were the only difficulties which seemed to have presented themselves to Lord Normanby, at least, it was with these alone he professed to grapple; and his partisans and admirers arrogated for him upon all occasions the distinction of having regenerated Ireland, when he had sopped the Cerberus of agitation by investing his partisans with the honours of the magistracy, and rewarded political services by professional promotion. The remedy was a sedative for the moment, the clamours of agitation were suspended, and the nation was invited to behold the triumphs of statesmanship, and the consolidation of the Union. But the Government of Lord Normanby was drawn to a close, the lull of tranquillity had been exchanged for the renewal of agitation; and they had the highest authority of the movement party assuring them that the practical grievances of Ireland were still unredressed; that her national prosperity had not been in the slightest degree promoted; that the experiment of Whig conciliation had been as unproductive as the era of Tory coercion; and that the poverty, the discontent, and the want of occupation and remunerative industry in Ireland could be redressed by no legislation, and were only to be removed by the fiat of her Majesty for the restoration of an Irish Parliament. He did not bring this feature as a charge against the late Administration. He did not impute it to them as a fault that they had not applied a legislative remedy to that social disorganization which was not within the jurisdiction of legislation. He gave them full credit for the inclination, had they seen any course through which the power at their disposal, could have been effectually applied, to produce an amelioration. But on their retirement from office, they left the social evil as they found it, and they could aspire to no higher meed of applause for their government of Ireland, than that of having purchased a temporary tranquillity by a peculiar conferment of 776 patronage and Ministerial favours, The evil in the agrarian system in Ireland was too deeply-rooted to be eradicated by such surface expedients as these. Slow and remote in its growth, the remedy must be gradual to be effectual for its removal, and it was to be achieved, not by any violent enforcements of fixity of tenure, such as Br. O'Connell had defined, but by the concurrent inclination and cordial co-operation of the landlords of Ireland, in conjunction with the Government, to diffuse education amongst the young, and to extend employment to the adults and the old. It was by an influence such as this, coupled with a resolute enforcement of the law, and a temperate but firm protection of the peace, that agitation would be discouraged, and tranquillity restored. Amidst an industrious and moderately employed population, the most experienced practiced demagogue in Ireland would look in vain for the materials for national conventions; and industry would be found more effectual than oratory in influencing the opinions and determining the conduct of the people of Ireland. To quiet the insane agitation of Ireland, the hon. Members for Bath and for Sheffield had recommended the surrender of the Irish Church, and extended alteration in the social Government of that country. But let not the hon. Members or the House be de-deluded by such a hope. Mr. O'Connell himself had left no room for mistake upon the point, but had honestly declared that no concession, no surrender, no conciliation, no meed of favour, and no measure of justice could be accepted as an equivalent for the Repeal of the Union, or should ever quiet his career. At the meeting of his followers in Dublin, on Bonday last, these were his words:—His spirits exulted, be felt as though lie trod the air, when he looked around him, and felt himself surrounded by myriads of his countrymen who were resolved upon achieving the liberty and independence of their native country. He would take nothing short of Repeal—Repeal before everything—Repeal in preference to everything. This was what he was struggling for. Too long had he said that, if England gave us justice, he would not look for Repeal; but he now altered the tenor of his song. England had not the power of doing the Irish people justice otherwise than by the restoration of our native Legislature, for this was the only measure which could establish our commerce and manufactures upon a lasting basis. This alone could keep our rents at home—this alone could give Ireland to the Irish, and the Irish to Ireland. He did 777 not care what England did; he was for Repeal—live or die.Again, at the Corn Exchange, when the day following he declared, that he had been advised —To accept of no compromise. He might be offered the sacrifice of the Established Church, and an appropriation of its resources to the State; but that he should take all he could get, and give up nothing—and upon that advice, it was his fixed determination to act.He trusted the House and the country would be instructed by this candid avowal of Br. O'Connell as to the scope and aim of his movement—that that aim being avowedly the dismemberment of this great empire, they would resist it with all firm- ness and resolution; that they would notyield to clamour, that which they conceived to be repugnant to duty—but that they would resist sedition by the unswerving redress of every acknowledged wrong; and to use the language of the hon. Member for Limerick who introduced the motion, when encouraging the Government of 1S33 to put down the agitation of the Repeal of the Union, that they would be "just and fear not."
Sir F. J. Norreys
observed, that as the hon. Gentleman admitted Lord Normanby had secured a temporary tranquillity in Ireland, by a judicious exercise of the patronage of tire Government, he wished to God that the hon. Member would induce the present Government to pursue the same course, so that they might at least attempt to gain a similar result. The speech of the hon. Gentleman had no reference to the motion before the House; for not only was there nothing in the motion respecting Repeal, nor had any lion. Gentlemen, in any of the speeches that had been addressed to the House in support of the motion, suggested this as one of the remedies which they would recommend. He was as little in favour of Repeal as the hon. Gentleman, and he had suffered as much, or more, for opposing it, than the hon. Member. He was prepared to suffer as much again; and, from what he heard, this would most probably be the case. His hon. Friend the Member for Limerick had made a most admirable statement of the grievances of Ireland. Still, however, he thought that his hon. Friend had not sufficiently dwelt on the great evils that arose from the social situation of the peasantry of that country. All other questions in comparison with this 778 were of minor consideration, for he believed that it was the root of nearly all the evils they were exposed to. He believed that the time was rapidly approaching, when it would become imperatively necessary to discuss the law of landlord and tenant in a manner which had not hitherto been attempted in that House, and in a way which might startle the principles of any man who considered that he had a right to do what he liked with his own. He admitted that they should interfere as little as possible with the management of property, but he thought that the law might he made to provide that land should be so held as to inflict as little injury or hardship on those, whose means of subsistence was derived from the occupancy of it. There was no doubt that the people were ready to tear each other to pieces for the sake of getting the occupancy of small pieces of land at an extremely high rent. If any stranger came to that country, he must be surprised at this state of things, when he found that there were hundreds of thousands of acres of land lying waste, and which were capable of a high degree of cultivation. The cry of the people was, let us have this waste land, which is of no use to you, and which would afford us the means of employment and subsistence. At present the greatest impediments were thrown in the way of the cultivation of this description Wand, by the existence of claims originating at some remote period. He thought that the time had conic when, if the landlords refused to cultivate these lands, the Legislature should compel them either to sell their rights, or to let them, the landlord receiving a certain amount. By all means, also, He would induce the landlords of Ireland to give long leases to their tenautry, without which there could be no thriving state of agriculture. The great impediment to doing this was the expense of the stamps which it was necessary to affix to the leases, agreements, &c., and the Chancellor of the Exchequer hart lately doubled the charge for them. The expense of the stamp duties for these instruments was now almost as much as the amount of the capital the peasant had to cultivate his farm with. He was a landlord, and would not on any account do anything to injure that body. He might be asked how he would propose to carry out his suggestions respecting waste lands? His reply was, that he could conceive no 779 difficulty in forming local tribunals, to which all questions concerning them might be referred. The condition of the Catholic Church too met them at every step. At the present time, the priest did not merely exercise their religious functions, but were captains or leaders of the people; for every procession was described as being headed by the rev. Mr.—. He believed that religion was at the bottom of the Repeal movement. The Catholic priest was inseparably connected with his Church, and considered the advancement of its interests to be inseparably connected with his interests here and hereafter; and his object must be to recover his Church from the state of comparative degradation in which he saw it placed in Ireland. He should be sorry to see the Catholic Church predominant; and he believed that the existence of a Protestant Church to which he belonged was essential to civil liberty. He wished no ascendancy for either Church; he wished that both should be placed on an equality, which would remove many causes of grievance. If that were done, and if at the same time something were done to give prosperity and employment to the peasantry, he was sure that they would soon hear that Repeal meetings were entirely at an end. He was convinced that it was only by measures which would give the peasantry employment, that the peace of the country could be preserved. If manufactures were introduced into Ireland, and without them there was not much chance of improving the condition of the people, they would probably become saving. There would then he an opportunity of employing capital and motives for saving. Capital would accumulate, capital would flow into the country, and manufactures would extend. It was impossible, if other circumstances were favourable, that Ireland should not become a manufacturing country. Her streams, her harbours, her mines were all favourable to that extension. All that was wanted in Ireland was a contented peasantry; and if they once had a contented peasantry, Ireland would soon become as peaceable and prosperous as England.
§ Mr. Lascelles,
was not competent to enter into the details into which the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had gone: he could only treat this as a general question. According to his view, the 780 question before them was, whether Parliament was prepared to adopt any measures to meet the avowed difficulties of Ireland. He had himself been favourable to Catholic emancipation; and though much gratitude might be expected from the people while that measure was fresh in their recollections, it was not, and never could be, expected to be a guarantee for their perfect satisfaction. No politician looked on it in that light. Other measures were necessary. He had listened to the speech of his noble Friend who had spoken on this subject. with the expectation of hearing some measure announced, but he was disappointed. The hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, had referred to many of the grievances of Ireland, arising from legislative and social causes, and had also referred to the religious causes of dissatisfaction. The spirit of discontent in Ireland appeared to him very like the spirit which prevailed elsewhere. It was not fair, therefore, to take advantage of that agitation to indulge in declamation against the Government; it was rather the bounden duty of those who made complaints in that House to show what measures would give relief to Ireland. From the leaders of one side or the other lie demanded measures, for they could not expect that by doing nothing they could stifle this agitation. If it were, as was stated, deep rooted, and as he believed it was, the sooner some measures were adopted the better.
§ Mr. More O'Ferrall
agreed with the hon. Member, that measures were required, and he trusted that all parties would unite, whatever might be their feeling, to come to some conclusion which might avoid the danger which threatened the country. He could not think it safe for the House to oppose itself to the great majority of the people of Ireland. At least, in doing that, some ground should be shown for what the House did; they should be careful to set themselves right when they were acting against the feelings and passions of their countrymen. The noble Lord the Secretary for Ireland said the British House of Commons might be as well informed of the affairs of Ireland as an Irish House of commoms; at least then let the Members of that House show themselves attached to the interests of Ireland, and ready to promote them. If that were the feeling of the House, and if the Members shared it, why should they 781 not form a council of the Parliament, or consent to the motion of his lion. Friend for a committee? After the able and eloquent speech of his hon. Friend, and after the noble Lord's address, it was impossible that this all-important question should not excite general interest, and it was impossible to expect that something should not be done to put a period to the evils brought under consideration. Before adverse parties proceeded to array themselves against each other—before they drew the sword—they ought to look well to the grounds on which they were acting. The hon. Member opposite said, that the Members on the opposition side of the House, who made complaints of grievances, should suggest the means of remedying them; but they did not like to expose themselves to the criticism of those, who, from being in possession of office, lied the opportunity of getting correct information. At the same time he would take the opportunity of stating his own feeling and opinions. The question, as it was brought before the House, referred principally to four subjects, rent, tenure, the state of the Catholic Church, and the state of the Protestant Church. With respect to the first, the object of the law, and all that it could obtain, was to secure the landlords their just rights, and not allow them to pervert the law to purposes of tyranny, iniquity, or cupidity. The law of landlord and tenant was in principle common to both countries. The law allowed of distress for rent, and in Ireland a distress on the growing crops—a power which was not exercised in England. There was also the proceeding by ejectment and the proceeding by notice, in cases where the tenant held over. There was a fifth case in Ireland which was not known in England, the law of Conacre, when the land was let in small quantities, and the rent was paid partly in labour. It was certainly true that the law was used for other purposes than to protect the rights of the landlord. He spoke not exclusively of the higher classes, for the number of landlords was very great, —almost every man who was a tenant was also a landlord. It should be recollected that the landlords of Ireland had nothing else to depend on but their rent. As that depended on prices, whenever the pricess fell the landlords got involved in difficulties. The landlords were not to blame; they, perhaps, knew nothing of 782 the proceedings till the bailiff put in the distress. Still the great power they had, and the manner in which it was used, placed the tenant completely at their mercy. The practice of ejectment was onerous in Ireland, in consequence of the practice of what was called a hanging gale, which was allowing the rent to be in arrear a-year and a half, and which placed the tenant in the hands of the landlord. By the process of ejectment, on notice, the tenant was turned out of his holding, and lost his all. Hence, when such cases were numerous, and he had seen 400 at once, there arose agitation, bills to seize arms, coercion, assault, agrarian outrage, and murder, to prevent other persons from taking the land. The terror was then so great, that notice could not be served. These were great evils connected with the tenure of land, and the question was, what was the remedy? There were great difficulties to overcome, and great prejudices to get rid of. Even benevolent landlords were unable to establish a proper relation with their tenantry, or unable to follow their feelings and give their tenants some compensation for their holdings, so that they might emigrate. The best man was liable to these evils, and as they were the creatures of necessity, he thought the Legislature should come to their help. He had no wish that the Government should advance any sum of money. All he asked was, that a law which existed in Scotland, and was found to work well, should be applied to Ireland. An act was passed a few Sessions ago to enable tenants for life to raise a sum of money on the security of the estate, for the purposes of improving it. A similar proposition was made some years ago as to Ireland; but was rejected, on the ground that there would be some speculative and extravagant persons who would expend the money in supposed improvements which were not so, and which would burthen the property with a charge without leaving his successor the means to pay it. Some special court might be formed, which should see that no man charged his estate so as to place his successor in a worse situation than he was in himself. As the law was passed for the benefit both of the landlord and tenant, he thought that the Legislature should see that the law was carried out, and not perverted from the purpose for which it was established. Extreme remedies were necessary he was aware, 783 for extreme evils, but it was not necessary that the remedies should always go the lengths of the complaints. What he had suggested did not, he was aware, meet all the evils of which the tenants complained. But when a system of rotten boroughs were in existence, they gave rise to loud complaints and demands for Universal Suffrage, Annual Parliaments, and Vote by Ballot. The Legislature took up the work of Reform, and applied a remedy which fell far short of the demands of the people. It was not necessary, therefore, he contended, for the Legislature to go to the extreme demanded by the people, and be believed that if the people were satisfied that the Legislature wished to do them justice they would accept the remedy it offered. There was another point which he thought worthy of investigation. In the north of Ireland there existed a practice which was found to be very beneficial, he meant what was called the tenant's right. In the north of Ireland, the person in possession of the land, though he held it by no lease, and was a tenant from year to year, or even from day to day, could sell his tenant right in the market at eight or nine years' purchase. If the landlord wished to resume his land, did he turn out the tenant, and take all the tenant's improvements to himself? No; the landlord went into the market and astertained the value of the tenant's right, that his neighbour would give him so much for it, and that sum the landlord gave. If that practice, or custom, and customs were sometimes better than laws, was beneficial in the north of Ireland, why should it not be made the law of the south of Ireland? If that were established, and any disputes arose between the landlord and tenant, they might be settled by arbitration before the court he had spoken of, and both parties might be secured in their rights. He had not consulted any of his hon. Friends on these topics, he made the suggestion of his own accord; but if he understood his hon. Friend, the Member for Mallow, they were not adverse to his views. The question of tenure was undoubtedly one of great difficulty, but it was one they ought not be afraid to meet. It was one great source of discontent; he believed that it was a source of very extensive discontent; but he was satisfied that they might rely on appeasing that by doing justice, and might entertain no fears. There were two other questions 784 which he adverted to with reluctance. He regretted that the Catholic Church had been made the subject of debate in that House. The noble Lord who spoke on the subject some nights ago, had recommended that political relations should be renewed with the court of Rome. The noble Lord suggested that as a means, perhaps, by which some of the grievances of the Irish might be redressed. No Irishman, he believed, had asked for any such connection, or thought it would be of much use. He thought that it was ridiculous and absurd to entertain any fears of a few old men at Rome; but the Catholic Irish had no wish that the Government should renew the connection. Indeed the Catholic Irish bad a serious objection to it. They believed that the intercourse could only be renewed [with Rome to obtain a political object, which might interfere with the independence of their church. They knew by experience, that when other states had concluded concordats with Rome, it had been to acquire power over the Catholic Church, and they were afraid that a concordat with the British Government might expose them to a similar circumstance. The resolutions entered into, and published by the Roman Catholic bishops, had been referred to. When the Catholic bishops entered into these resolutions, they did so under the conviction that the idea of religious disqualification would never enter into the minds of any one connected with the Government. Now, he asked hon. Gentlemen opposite, to lay their hands on their hearts and say, whether since the passing of the Catholic Relief Bill, the Catholics of Ireland had been permitted to stand on that footing of equality which the law gave them. This was a plain and simple question, and when they were taunted, as by the right hon. Gentleman (Sir James Graham), on a former occasion, lie said, that the right hon. Gentleman should first have ascertained whether or not it were just in him to cast imputations upon men who were equally incapable as himself of doing or sanctioning anything dishonourable. As he understood the right hon. Gentleman to have entirely retracted what he believed to be an intolerable insult, he only referred to it now, in order that he might enable the right hon. Baronet to confirm him in the interpretation lie had put upon his words. The noble Lord had referred to the bishops' 785 resolutions in I834. He begged to call the attention of the House to this fact. In I833, the question of the Repeal of the Union was brought forward by Mr. O'Connell. In answer to the motion and division on that subject, there was an address to the Crown, and his Majesty in his answer expressed his anxious desire that all their grievances might be redressed. It was expected then that everything would have been done to give peace and contentment to the people of Ireland. What then was done? The Government of the day brought forward measures calculated to give full contentment. He would now leave out the question of the Church, because hon. Gentlemen opposite, he knew, did not agree with him. But then there was the reform of municipal corporations, On what grounds was that refused? On the ground that the Irish were Catholics. And then, when those opposite set about unseating the late Government, and seating themselves in their place, did they not, he asked, incite, or at least countenance those under their control to heap insult and injury upon himself personally because he was a Catholic? He had never directly or indirectly sought office: but when the late Government did him the honour to make him the offer, he accepted it, and then, without any fault that he was conscious of, the public press of this country assailed him with the most opprobrious terms. He did not wish to implicate hon. Gentlemen opposite, with that which was done by the public press; but then, he asked, did any hon. Gentleman opposite, in any speech he ever made, take the advantage of any opportunity to express his regret for the course that had been thus pursued. If any one hon. Gentleman of the party opposite had done this, he certainly did not recollect it. Reference had been made to the feelings of Roman Catholic bishops. Gentlemen in that House were much mistaken as to the positions occupied by the Catholic bishops in Ireland. They had no power as mere individuals—their power was the power of the people. They had no ecclesiastical courts to give effect to their mandates. They must be enforced and maintained by the opinion of the public. The clergymen, to maintain the influence they ought to possess, were bound to go along with the people. By doing so they might prevent that mischief which, without them, must occur. 786 When, then, the people endeavoured to obtain a redress of their grievances, and thought that the only redress would be a Repeal of the Union, it was said to the clergy that they must put themselves at their head, and if they did not do so, the consequences might be dangerous. It might be said that the Catholic prelates and clergymen were unanimously Repeaters. He knew that it was not so, but when they found that the Catholic Emancipation Act was not fulfilled, then they did not consider themselves bound to follow up declarations which were made under circumstances which were totally different, or rather that had been totally altered. As to the question of the Established Church, he said that notwithstanding the tone assumed by the hon. Member for Belfast, he was not afraid to touch it. In that House he represented both Protestants and Catholics, and would express his opinion respecting every question discussed in that House, and felt himself at liberty to vote upon it. As to the Church question, it might be disposed of in a very few words. There were 700,000 Protestants in Ireland; there were 8,000,000 of Roman Catholics, and the revenues of the Established Church were about 500,0001. a-year. These few words said all that could be said on that question. In I830, when it was proposed to remit the vestry rate, it was said by the First Lord of the Treasury, that he felt it was a very great hardship that the poor Irish Catholic tenantry should have to pay for the erection of churches in which the rich were to pray. If that were so, then he did not see how it was just that the Catholic landlords should have to pay the ministers who preached to others. If they relieved the Catholic tenantry, he did not see why they should refuse to relieve Catholic landlords. It was said, however, that only one-tenth of the landed property in Ireland was in the hands of Catholic landlords. In that assertion there was a mistake as to the present circumstances in Ireland. Mr. O'Connell, in making such a statement, spoke of the state of property in Ireland fifteen years ago. After a great deal of investigation into this subject, he found that in a great proportion of the sales of landed property, the purchasers were Catholics. They were the money-making and the saving class—the Protestants were the rich and the spending class, and therefore the 787 change that was thus taking place was in the natural order of things. If hon. Gentlemen opposite were very anxious to take the Catholic clergy into pay, whatever might be their motives, he thought he could suggest to them the means of attaining that object. He asked them this, that what they had done for the Protestants in Canada, why not do the same for the Catholics in Ireland? In the treaty when Canada was ceded to them, it was stipulated that the Catholic Church should be the Church of the State, that all things payable to the Catholic Church under the French, should he payable under the English. In I774, when they came to settle the case in Canada, he did not say whether right or wrongfully, justly or unjustly, they made this provision, that when land became the property of Protestant Englishmen, that land was to be exempt from the payment of tithes to the Catholic Church. If that, then, were just in Canada, why should it not also he just in Ireland? If the rent-charge fell into the hands of a Catholic, why should he not be enabled to give it to the Catholic Church? In this measure, hon. Gentlemen opposite might attain their object, which it was said they desired, and this with the least chance of disturbing existing interests. It was necessary for them to look at the dangerous position in which the country was placed, and to deal with it. They ought to look fairly at the evils of Ireland, and seek to remedy them. It was his anxious wish, that all interested in that country, on whatever side of the House they sat, should forget all party, all religious animosities, and enter cordially into this question, to know whether they could not, by mutual concession or consent, come to some satisfactory settlement, on which they might make their common stand; proposing that which they believed to be just which they believed to be right, all they believed that could be conceded, and then tender that which they were willing to give, and that he hoped others would be willing to receive as a peace-offering. If it were so received, well and good; but if it were not —if there were a bad spirit abroad, and he did not believe there was; if there were that disaffection which looked to other powers for aid against England, then, he said, in that case, they would all be able as one man to take their stand against it. If her Majesty's Government 788 chose, however, to go to war with Ireland, and this too without first adopting measures of conciliation, then he must say, that in that war he would take no part. The Repeal of the Union he had already declared against; but on the other hand, if he were called upon as a loyal subject to join in putting down agitation by acts of hostility, he must say he could take no share in such a war, until it was first shown to him that everything had been done by those in power to induce persons to maintain their loyalty to the Crown, and their duty to the country.
§ Mr. Shaw
said, that in the speech just delivered by his hon. Friend, the Member for Kildare, there were many sentiments expressed and conclusions drawn in which he could not concur. Nevertheless, lie must compliment the hon. Gentleman upon the tone and temper in which lie had spoken, and the spirit of a rational, impartial, and enlarged consideration of Irish affairs, superior to mere party considerations, which the hon. Gentleman invoked from that side of the House, he most readily and sincerely reciprocated. He had been unwilling to take any part in that debate. Seeing the present state of Ireland, and that he could not approve of the course which her Majesty's Government were pursuing in that country; while, at the same time, his desire was not to weaken, but to strengthen their hands, and to give them every general support in his power; and still, if be spoke at all, that he must, of course, state his opinion truly, as he held it, however, the speech of the hon. Member for Sheffield that evening, and others in the course of the debate, made it impossible that lie should remain altogether silent. He regarded the occasion selected by his hon. Friend, the Member for Limerick, for bringing forward the present motion, as peculiarly inappropriate. Was it not obviously inadequate to meet the emergency?—as a remedy, totally insufficient for the evil it professed to deal with? Was it when an organised and revolutionary agitation was spreading dismay and danger throughout the whole of Ireland, that they were to be invited to go into a committee, for the purpose of calmly inquiring into and discussing theories and abstract principles, and suggesting remedies for alleged and imaginary grievances, which would consume the remainder of the Session, and about which, in the end, probably no 789 two Members of the committee would hold the same opinion? As rationally, if a patient were in the ravings of a brain fever, where the symptoms were undoubted, the danger imminent, and the only question the most prompt and immediate remedy, would his attending physician demand a consultation of doctors upon some chronic disease under which the patient had previously suffered, and in respect to the causes of cure for which no two of them would be likely to agree—In the hon. Member's enumeration of the grievances under which Ireland was suffering, he omitted the master grievance of them all—namely, the interested agitation, which then distracted that country—and necessarily put a stop to every public or other improvement. He could not help thinking, likewise, that the sentiments to the expression of which the motion had led in that House, and particularly the speeches of some of the Members of the late Government, and that of the hon. Member for Sheffield, instead of allaying, must have a tendency to excite that agitation. In words, certainly, the hon. Member for Sheffield denounced the repeal of the Union, but what of that? When noble Lords and hon. Gentlemen of high station and political position in this country countenanced by their speeches the empty pretext that the grievances set forth were the real cause of the agitation then practicing in Ireland, under colour of petitions for repeal of the Union, they were impliedly and practically encouraging it. The condition of Ireland in many respects, but particularly its social condition, was painful and distressing. God knew he, and every man who had an interest in that country, must desire to ameliorate it; but agitation, and the party politicians to whom he had referred, were constantly marring every effort at practical measures for that purpose. A most unfair construction, he thought, had been put upon the observation of his right hon. Friend (Sir J. Graham), that concession had gone to its full length. So it had, in putting all parties and creeds on an equal footing in regard to civil rights. Hon. Members opposite, were very inconsistent in objecting to that observation, and at the same time repudiating, as they did, at other times, the term "concession," as derogatory to men who claimed equality with their fellow-subjects, and enjoyed that equality. He was at a loss to understand 790 the lion. Member for Kildare, when he said, that virtually the Roman Catholics had not enjoyed the benefit of the Roman Catholic Relief act. When the proportion of Roman Catholics appointed to professional and other offices in Ireland was referred to—it should be recollected that they bore a small proportion to Protestants in the higher and educated classes —and, as regards a Conservative Government, that a still greater disproportion existed between the Roman Catholics in professions who opposed them in politics, as compared with those who supported them. The hon. Member, (Mr. O'Ferrall) adverted to the Irish Municipal Reform act as "scanty and bigotted," and offensive to the Roman Catholics. If ever public man was maligned and unjustly vituperated—he had been for the humble part he had taken on that measure—not because the act was narrow-minded, and bigotted, and offensive to the Roman Catholic party, but exactly the reverse. He had done what he believed to be right—and, therefore, he had not been moved by the abuse and vile accusations that had been levelled against him—but still it was rather hard for those on the other side to turn round and say that a very great concession had not been made to them by that municipal act. The distinction between the English and Irish municipal franchise was founded not upon religion, but upon the more unequal distribution of property in Ireland—and the admitted fact that nine-tenths of the property of the country was in the hands of the Protestants—and could any reasonable man deny that under the Irish Corporation act, property was inadequately represented? It was, moreover, true, that Ireland had been rapidly progressing in improvement. Her internal resources were being opened. Capital was flowing into the country, railroads and other useful public works were commencing—an improved system of agriculture—new encouragement for industry, and a more profitable application of labour, were being introduced; but as "Inter army leges silent," so in the midst of agitation and an unsettled state of the public mind, national improvement was stayed. But, after all, what were the practical grievances complained of by the hon. Gentleman who had just spoken, and others who had preceded him, or what the practical remedies suggested for their removal? 791 Why, they had again served up the reiterated, and, one would have thought, threadbare grievance of the appointment of his learned Friends Baron Lefroy and Judge Jackson. In the opinion of the Whigs, Ireland could not be well governed, unless the Whigs remained perpetually in office. In one of his last speeches, however, Mr. O'Connell said,When the Tories had done, then came out the Whigs upon us, who made the state of Ireland, a prolific subject of self. gratification, and declared it was they who kept Ireland quiet. Let the Queen,' say they turn out Peel and bring in Russell, and all will again be right.' Bah! you might put the Whigs and Tories into a bag together, and having shaken and tumbled them promiscuously, you might spill out the contents of the bag, and, from the first man shaken out to the last, neither was friend, Whig nor Tory, to Ireland.The relation between landlord and tenant was another ground of grievance that had been much relied on. He did not dispute that there were many difficulties connected with that subject in Ireland; but he doubted if legislative interference could solve them; and he was sure that the monstrous doctrine of "fixity of tenure," as it was called, but confiscation of property as it meant, which bad been lately broached, tended incalculably to increase them. There had been of late a great attention to their estates, and to the comfort and improvement of their tenantry on the part of the Irish landlords, and a confidence was growing up between them which it was most desirable to cultivate, but which such a doctrine must inevitably destroy. Some of the suggestions of the hon. Member for Kildare were deserving of the most respectful attention. There was one, however, which, he could not avoid expressing his dissent from—he meant that of making the tenant-right—as it was called in many parts of the north of Ireland, where, happily, it existed in practice—the law for the south and other parts of Ireland. Such a custom was highly honourable to both parties, where it grew out of mutual confidence and generous feeling; but it could not be forced—and he feared that the attempt to enforce it by law would not only fail elsewhere, but have a tendency to check the present salutary practice in the north, the essence of which was its free and voluntary character. He deprecated any observation in that House in any de-pee countenancing the doctrine of fixity, 792 of tenure, as construed in Ireland which had a most injurious effect upon the minds both of Irish landlords and tenants at the present moment. He bore testimony to the worth and honor of the landlords. If, however, he might be permitted to draw a very plain distinction between the landlords as a body of men, and landlordism as a system, while he maintained that in the former point of view there was no inferiority, he would admit that in the latter this country was vastly superior to Ireland. In Ireland, as compared with this country, the number of resident landlords was lamentably few, and their wealth less in proportion—as, in a regiment of public department, the officers might not be a half or a fourth of their proper complement, in which case, the body would certainly not be as well officered. Still, the officers individually, as far as they went, might be fully as good and efficient. So it was with the landlords of Ireland. Unhappily the present unchecked agitation was calculated to make them both fewer and poorer. The Irish church had also been introduced into this debate by the hon. Member for Sheffield, as well as in other recent debates on the state of Ireland, as the monstrous grievance of that country. He deeply regretted the introduction of the topic. Whatever might have been felt by the occupying tenantry before, since the church had taken upon itself the payment of church-rates, and the law had transferred the tithe from the occupier to the landowner, nine-tenths, at least, of whom were of the established church, it was unreasonable to say that any practical grievance was felt by the occupier. The Irish Church had ceased to be a profitable item in Irish agitation. It was said the landlord bad put a fourth into his own pocket. He, on the contrary, held that, upon an adjustment which, on the whole, was equitable between the land-owner and the tithe-owner, that was a mere consideration for the transferred responsibility on one side, and the additional security on the other; but, so far from the landlord, he believed more generally it was the tenant who gained, as in most cases the landlord did not charge him with the tithe; and justly, as he believed, for the value of land had fallen about the same time; and, considering the general high rate of rents throughout Ireland, the just and prudent landlord had regarded the 793 amount of tithe not as an unreasonable' allowance to make the tenant, by way of, deduction. 'To raise again the question of disturbing the rights of the Established Church in Ireland, was only to embittter the present strife against property, and the law in that country, by greater religious animosity. If his Roman Catholic countrymen were not satisfied with that civil equality which he (Mr. Shaw) had considered it ungenerous to withhold from them, but, further, sought the subversion of the Protestant Established Church in Ireland—that must necessarily lead to jealousy and distrust. He could understand this, with gentlemen who, like the hon. Member opposite, the Member for Bath, objected to any connexion between church and state, and only regarded church establishments as matters of police or mere state convenience. But, surely, they did not expect that, practically, any part of the United Kingdom could he left without an Established Church, or that it was possible for any British Government to establish the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland—as the hon. Member for Sheffield proposed that night. It was the fashion of some hon. Members to speak of the Irish Branch of the Established Church as unemployed and wealthy; but it was the very reverse. He did not believe there was on the face of the earth a body of clergy, of not only sounder doctrines and greater piety, but of more exemplary practice or more practical usefulness, than the clergy of Ireland; or, as a body, so little liable to the charge of sinecures, non-residence, oripluralities. If no higher ground was taken than that of the moral and social condition of the country, where the greatest evil was an absentee proprietary, how could you on such cheap terms as about 400,000l. a year, for mere secular and social purposes by any other means obtain a body of resident gentlemen amounting to about 2,200, which was about the number of the Irish clergy, including curates. They had incomes on an average of about I50l. a year each, which were spent not on the luxuries of life, but on the necessaries supplied by the industrious class of the surrounding neighbourhood, and a larger proportion, he did not hesitate to affirm, than of any other equal amount of income in the country, was devoted to relieving the necessities of the poor and destitute. Ask. the poor Roman Catholic population of 794 any district in Ireland who were among their best, and kindest, and most liberal neighbours in sickness and adversity, and they would tell you, the Protestant clergymen and their families. Those who spoke lightly about the subversion of the Established Church in Ireland would find it a matter not of such easy accomplishment as they seemed to anticipate—that the members of that Church were not contemptible in numbers, and that they were powerful in property, intelligence, influence, and determination. He meant no threat, but he sincerely and seriously said that the feelings of devotion of the Protestants of Ireland to their Church could not be safely trifled with, as if occasion arose they would be found ready to spend their properties and their lives in its de- fence, and that the continuance of the Protestant Established Church in Ireland was not only a fundamental article of the Union, but that the Protestants of that country had ever regarded the Union and the Church as integral and essential parts of one system, and that they must stand or fall together. The hon. Member for Sheffield said, the Union could not stand unless you subverted the Church; he (Mr. Shaw) joined issue with the hon. Member, and affirmed that the Union could not stand unless the Protestant Church in Ireland was also upheld. It was said, that he wished favour to be shown to what was termed the Protestant ascendancy party in Ireland. He utterly denied it. He wanted favour to be shown to no party, but justice and impartiality to all; an equal administration of the laws, and no civil distinction on account of creeds. All he asked the Government was, neither to show favour to their supporters nor fear to their opponents—to be just, and then not to fear the taunt of injustice—to have the courage to do right, although they might be unjustly accused of doing wrong —to be influenced in matters of law and justice neither by a desire to please friends nor to conciliate enemies. But while acting with moderation and due forbearance, still with a firmness becoming a strong Government, to uphold the law and under it to give a protection which it must be confessed was not experienced at the present moment in Ireland to the public peace, and to the properties and comfortable existence of the peaceable and well-disposed subjects of the Queen of all 795 classes and creeds in that part of her Majesty's dominions. He wished to avoid all vague and uncertain charges or insinuations against her Majesty's Government. As a political partisan all his feelings were with them. But there were times and emergencies when party and political feelings must yield to higher considerations. The fact was, all rational men in Ireland, no matter what their party, felt at the present moment, that things could not continue as they were. The multitudinous and organised meetings, assembling from day to day in different parts of the country, stopping trade, closing the doors of business, suspending all ordinary occupation, disturbing every relation of society and exciting tens and hundreds of thousands of the deluded peasantry to forsake their daily labour and move about the country watching for some great movement or extraordinary occurrence—such assemblages, he said, no reasonable man could doubt, were dangerous to the public peace and good order of society, and must inspire with terror the peaceable inhabitants of the localities where they occurred. He did not hesitate to declare that they were illegal. He wanted no coercion bills; but he did expect, and the public had a right to expect, that the Government would uphold the existing law, and not suffer its spirit and its letter to be violated; and vet they had permitted these meetings to go on. Take as a specimen the last, held near Dublin—perhaps, the least dangerous from its immediate vicinity. On Monday last, the following were some of the sentiments addressed to what was said to be a meeting of '200,000 persons—the numbers were probably exaggerated, but still there was a vast assemblage of excited and unreasoning adherents of the hon. and learned Gentleman, the Member for Cork. Mr. O'Connell said:—I have more strength—more physical power—then ever monarch commanded or general led. We shall have our country to ourselves. The British army quailing before us. What! go to war with us. Bah I We will not attack anybody; but we hurl defiance against anybody that comes to attack us. We have abashed Wellington and cowed Peel.And then speaking in vituperative language of Sir J. Graham and Lord Stanley, the hon. Gentleman added:—We defy them all. This is a majestic struggle, to strike off the dominion of the foe and the foreigner.796 Meaning thereby the English nation. Mr. O'Connell continued:—I wish you to disperse, but not until you have proclaimed that you will die to the last man of you, rather than live the slaves of oppressors. They call you my troops. Europe has heard our complaints and so has America. Yes, America has heard of our wrongs and our sufferings, and they are ready to assist us. The Association meets to-morrow, and on that occasion I'll hand in from America 1,125l. I do not care now what England does, I am for repeal—live or die.This might be very absurd, if tittered in that House, but was fearfully dangerous when addressed to the multitude in Ireland. He could assure his noble Friend (Lord Eliot) and every Member of the Irish Government, that he entertained for them every personal respect and good will; he appreciated the courtesy' and the high and honourable bearing of his noble Friend, but his noble Friend must not be offended or surprised if courtesies and compliments were laid aside, when men felt their properties, their families, their friends, their all to be at stake, and if his noble Friend, and those with whom he acted in the Irish Government, would stand with folded arms upon what was that night called the "do-nothing system," and look on quietly at such agitation as was then disporting itself in Ireland, on the very brink of outbreak and revolution, when the slightest casualty, an intemperate word, a hasty expression, or premature sign on the part of the leaders of that movement, might precipitate the whole country into a depth of outrage, and bloodshed, and ruin, which no human eye could fathom. Then the Government must not wonder if the loyal and peaceable subjects of the Crown felt uneasiness and alarm, and a want of that confidence which, under the present circumstances of Ireland, a firm Government and vigorous administration of the law could alone inspire.
§ Mr. Macaulay
Mr. Speaker, the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down commenced his speech in language presenting, I think, a somewhat singular contrast to its close. He began by saying, that he conceived it a sufficient reason for voting against the motion that he should thereby imply a want of confidence in the Ministers; and he closed his speech by declaring. in language not to be misunderstood, his own want of confidence in them. And in truth I have seldom heard a Go- 797 vernment less efficiently defended in debate (I speak of this evening), for every Gentleman who has addressed himself to the question before us, whether on the right or the left, Sir, seems to me to have directed his attack—though not always has it been upon the same ground—against the policy pursued by the present Administration. I say, every Gentleman who has addressed himself to the question, for the speech of the hon. Member for Belfast was merely a speech against the Repeal of the Union. The noble Lord, Sir, the Chief Secretary for Ireland used an expression much resembling that with which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dublin University commenced his speech. He said, this motion must be considered as a motion of censure on the Government. I confess that cm some grounds it must be so considered. I do not think it the only object—that of throwing censure on the present advisers of the Crown; but although it is not the principal object of those who support the motion, I cannot consider it as a reason against our supporting it, that it does by implication throw a censure on her Majesty's present advisers. For I am come, Sir, to this deliberate opinion, that to their conduct in opposition, and to their conduct since they came into office, we do really owe in a great measure the difficulties with which we have now to contend; and it is also my opinion, that since those difficulties arose they have not shown any disposition to meet them with wisdom and with justice; and, finally, that so far as I can judge from the declarations they have made respecting the policy that was expected from them, we have to anticipate calamities even worse than those which they have already encountered. I am justified, Sir, in saying, that the present state of things which so justly alarms all men of all panics is, to a great extent, to be attributed to the part they pursued before and since they gained the reins of power. Sir, it is impossible for us not to remember that two years ago the repeal agitation did not exist; that from 1835 to I841 the agitation for repeal did not exist in any formidable form; that during the whole administration of Lord Normanby and of Lord Fortescue, Ireland was in a situation in which I firmly believe the present Ministry would gladly see it again; that whatever expressions may have been used by Mr. O'Connell— a very able speaker certainly, but not the most consistent speaker —not a speaker from whom the expres- 798 sions that drop one month can be deemed any indication of what he may utter the next—whatever, I say, the expressions made use of by Mr. O'Connell in addressing large crowds, the fact undoubtedly is, that in the years during which Lords Normanby and Fortescue administered the Government of Ireland, that country presented a most marked contrast to its present position; nay more, I have upon this subject the distinct admission of the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government himself, that there is something in his position and in the character of the party of which he is the head which places his Government in Ireland under peculiar difficulties. We cannot have forgotten that in 1S39 the right hon. Baronet declared that the difficulty which he felt principally stood in his way, when at that time called to power, was Ireland. It was not the colonies— it was not the foreign affairs —it was not the finances—no! lint, said the right hon. Baronet, "I will be frank. I will not attempt to disguise that the main difficulty of my position is Ireland." The right hon. Baronet judged rightly. Undoubtedly it was so, and it is so; and why was it so? and why is it so? The right hon. Baronet felt it then; be had still stronger reason to feel it now. What was it? Was it not because in that party, of which the right hon. Baronet is the head, was to be found every person who had made himself justly obnoxious to the people of Ireland? Was it not because in that party every man was to be found who had always been—as far back as memory could go—on the side of the few against the many? Was it not that in that party every man was to be found whose peculiar delight had been in the contemplation of such parts of Irish history as showed the traces of severity—perhaps severity that could not be contemplated without pain, and that spoke of victories that should have been followed by no triumph? Was there not to be found in that party every man whose favourite toast and tune was something odious to the great body of the Irish people? Was there not to be found in that party every man who had been obstinately opposed to Catholic emancipation? or who had been among the last lingering yielders of slow, reluctant, ungenerous concession? When at last public danger rendered it impossible to hold out any longer, was there not to be found in that party every man who did his utmost when emancipation had been yielded to 799 prevent its being carried into effect? every body who cried out against the first appointment of an Irish Catholic Privy Councillor—every body who exclaimed against the appointment of a Catholic Secretary to the Admiralty or a Lord of the Treasury? Was there not to be found in that party every creature who let loose his virulent tongue to call the Irish Catholic preachers "priests of Baal?"—every scribbler who termed them "surpliced ruffians?" Was there, in fact, a single one of those whose efforts had long been directed to rousing up against himself and his party the aversion of the Irish people, who was not to be found among those who followed the right hon. Baronet and raised him to power? And the right hon. Baronet must have known the feelings of the people of Ireland. He must have known that however cautious, careful, and correct his own language and proceedings may have been, that he stood at the head of a party which had long wantonly outraged the feelings of the Irish people, and must be obnoxious to them." Well, Sir, such was the position of the right hon. Baronet in I839. Circumstances occurred which kept him from power for two years longer, yet many signs and symptoms seemed clearly to show that he, and the party of which he is the head —as his abilities unquestionably entitle him to be—would probably, at no distant day, occupy their present position; and I should have conceived that any wise men and any patriotic men—nor is the right hon. Baronet destitute of wisdom or patriotism—I should have thought that, under such circumstances, any wise men, and any prudent men, and any patriotic men, having a strong sense of the difficulties that lay in the way of their administration of affairs in Ireland, through the hostile feelings that had been roused against them by their friends, would have employed the remainder of their time on this side of the House and have done their best to conciliate the attachment of the Irish people. Instead of that, the noble Lord the Member for North Lancashire, who then acted with the right hon. Baronet, now a Member of the Cabinet, in the next year introduced his bill for disfranchising the Irish people under pretence of registering their votes. It is hardly necessary for me, Sir, to say anything of that bill, after what has been done with it by its authors themselves; but at the same time it is impossible not to look upon the history of that year and the following one, 800 as to the position of the party now in power respecting Ireland, and above all comparing it with their professions, their declarations, and their protestations. The noble Lord asked the Government if they mean to bring in a measure to correct the evils of the registration system in Ireland? He declared the evil pressing—the morality of Ireland endangered! Are you not, the noble Lord impatiently said, prepared to avert the danger? to meet the evil? The answer of the Government was, that they were not at present prepared to bring in any such measure; then, I said, the noble Lord will bring in a bill. The bill was brought in, but it was no sooner examined, than it was condemned by almost every Member for an Irish constituency. All, with one voice, declared it to be, though called a measure of registration, a measure of disfranchisement. Unjust and odious as it was, however—offensive as it was to the pride and keen sense of wrong of the Irish people, the bill was pressed forward night after night. I never saw, or heard, debates carried on in so vehement and contentious a spirit. I have never known a minority (it became soon a majority) so well trained and disciplined. My lion. Friend, the Member for Halifax, tried to throw an impediment in their way. He said, "Do not legislate for the Irish voters till you have legislated for the English." He made a motion to that effect. "No," said the noble Lord (Lord Stanley), "the cases are not parallel; there are no evils of this kind in England, they are not to be met with except in Ireland—there they are so rank that they must be put down—delay would be too dangerous; you cannot —must not, wait for English legislation. Public morality is endangered—perjury is the prevailing practice. This is not a mere question of details, of registration, or revising barristers; a great State crisis is here—a great principle is at stake;" and the noble Lord forced on his measure. He overruled the motion of my hon. Friend the Member for Halifax. He was determined to carry it before the English measure on the subject was brought in. The bill, however, did not pass in that Session, and in the ensuing Session the noble Lord came down again with his favourite measure. The Government interposed, and said they thought it premature to legislate with respect to the registration of electors till they had defined the franchise. Again the noble Lord said, "No! it was not necessary to define the franchise:" and again 801 the noble Lord pressed on his disfranchisement bill, as it was justly called. Well, the plan prospered; the delusion—not the first of unfounded delusions prevailed; the noble Lord succeeded—he and his party are in power; two years have elapsed, and this great moral evil is yet unabated! We now hear, nothing of "perjury;" nothing about those enormous frauds of the people of Ireland, which had long been polluting the Legislature! We ask, "Where is the bill?" We are told, "The Government desire first to settle the English franchise." We agree in the propriety of that; but why was it not assented to by the party opposite when we proposed it? Then, again, we are now told, forsooth, that when the measure is looked into, it is found to he a measure of disfranchisement." True. But were you not told so before? Was it not proved to you over and over again, and that in the clearest manner? We are now told that we are to have a Registration Bill, with a franchise defined, based upon the poor-rate. [Lord Stanley: The franchise was not defined.] It was, at least, an alteration of the Reform Act. The right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham) said, he was pledged to William 4th, or somebody else, not to alter the Reform Act; yet he voted in favour of a bill ostensibly to regulate the registration of voters in Ireland, but which absolutely altered the Reform Act in its spirit and efficacy, and placed the franchise on an entirely new basis. The right hon. Baronet and his friends now speak of the responsibility of office; but has an opposition no responsibilities? Have men who have ruined the country whilst sitting on this side of the House, no responsibility when they go over to the other. An opposition, Sir, has responsibilities; and I should blush if I did not show, in my own conduct, that I am not unmindful of them. But the noble Lord, as soon as he finds the responsibility of Government lie at his own door, will not venture to do an act which, from its great unpopularity, when he was in opposition, he attempted with no other object than to obstruct the Government of the day. By all these and similar means, you (addressing the Ministers) were raised to power, and do you suppose there is to be no reckoning for such conduct? Happily, yes. As political as well as private probity is the best policy, your time of retribution was to come, and by the course you then took, a deep distrust was generated in the minds of the 802 Irish people. I was surprised that it did not come sooner, for undoubtedly, from whatever cause it arose, there was a lull, and a doubt how you would act. A notion got abroad that something great was to be expected from the Administration, but the very mode in which the right hon. Baronet formed his Irish Ministry, showed on what principles the Government of that country was to be conducted, and upon those principles it has been conducted ever since. After the lectures he formerly read to us on the inconvenience of open questions and discordances in the Cabinet, l own I was surprised at the formation of his Irish Administration. He told us over and over again formerly of the evils resulting from joining in the same Government individuals whose Opinions were decidedly hostile; but what did he do when be came to form his Irish Ministry? With regard to a Secretary, I am bound to say that he made the very hest choice in his power; but one thing made. me wonder, and that was the manlier in which the right hon. Baronet dwelt upon the excellence of that appointment, for he made it appear the peculiar and eminent fitness of the noble Lord (Lord Eliot) arose out of the votes lie had given against the right hon. Baronet. This was rather a curious ground for a Prime Minister to take when pronouncing a panegyric; but then, in direct defiance of his own doctrines, the right hon. Baronet pairs with the noble Lord a Gentleman of whom I desire to speak with all respect, and who privately deserves to be so spoken of, who certainly was taken from the other extremity of the party. It was impossible, perhaps, to find two men whose views with regard to Ireland were so diametrically opposite as those of the noble lord and Mr. Sergeant Jackson. The very first debate upon education exhibited the very best Parliamentary set-to between the Secretary for Ireland and the Solicitor-general for Ireland, that was perhaps ever witnessed. We had the whole of that side of the House vehemently cheering the Solicitor-general, while the unfortunate Secretary was obliged to content himself with the approbation of this. In fact, no more direct and obvious opposition could have been established than that which existed between the two managers of different departments of the Irish Government. And this has been from first to last the whole system; but I will do what justice I can to the right hon. Baronet and his Colleagues, and I will say for them that I be- 803 lieve they have governed Ireland as well as they could for very shame, They had no choice but either to act with the most glaring inconsistency, or to govern Ireland ill; they have boldly faced the charge of inconsistency; the recantation on the subject of the Registration Bill, must have been bitter indeed to the noble Secretary for the Colonies; but the system was to be carried through, and the recantation must be made. The same system has pervaded your whole policy. You take up a certain plan of national Irish education; your Solicitor-general attacks it with the greatest virulence—you make him a judge; you place on the Episcopal bench a Prelate known to be opposed to it. You talk of impartiality in the distribution of appointments, and yet you place in the very highest offices persons, however respectable, who must be regarded by the people of Ireland with the utmost enmity and distrust. What is the natural effect? Your friends are cooled—your enemies are not conciliated; you may learn this fact from the whole Orange press, if you will not take the word of your supporters; and in a very short time the spirit of hostility has grown up to a height never before equalled in Ireland. At this moment the language of every man of every party is, that we have arrived at a most formidable and alarming crisis; on one hand you are reproached for not conceding with alacrity, and on the other for not coercing with vigour. Out of your own circle, not a man in the country, in Parliament or out of Parliament, speaks of your Irish Administration with the slightest confidence. Nobody supposes that this repeal agitation can go on from year to year without some decided measure; and what has been the distinct intimation from the highest authority—from the Home Secretary, who is in fact the chief Minister for Ireland, when the Secretary for Ireland is not in the Cabinet? He has declared that concession has been carried to the utmost. True it is, that an hon. Member this night has endeavoured, in some manner, to explain away those words; but even he could not have explained or defended what followed—I do not mean to lay any stress upon expressions which the right hon Gentleman (Sir J. Graham) himself explained: I merely speak of that which he avowed in the clearest manner—which he did not attempt to retract; he told us almost in as many words, that he repented all he had done towards Catholic emancipation; he had 804 supported it, he said, in consequence of hopes which had not been realised, while the prophecies of the right hon. Member for Tamworth in 1817 had been too completely verified. He recanted all his opinions on this subject in words as clear as any lie could employ; the hest part of his political life has been wasted upon an object he regrets to have attained, and all he has now to do is for the rest of his time to live and repent. We must, therefore, understand from the Government, that conciliatory policy is at an end; concession has been carried to the utmost, and the right hon. Gentleman is sincerely sorry that even Catholic emancipation was granted. I do not mean to state that he said anything to show that he would support the repeal of the Emancipation Act, but if words have a meaning, his words clearly showed that he repented it bad ever been passed. In my opinion, some of the discontent in Ireland arises from causes which legislation cannot correct; but it seems to me that the present extreme violence of that feeling has been produced by the misconduct of the party in power, both at the time they came into office and afterwards. Their difficulties being so great, Ministers appear to have made up their minds to this, and this only, that all their actions shall be on the side of coercion and severity, and that they will do nothing in the way of kindness and conciliation. On the subject of the Arms Bill I have no extravagant feeling. Although I have voted for an Arms Bill in Ireland, yet, as a general rule, I believe it to be a most inefficient measure. I say this, not from an observation of Ireland alone, but from conversing with men of great experience in other parts of the world. Men of great military and political abilities in India have universally told me that disarming orders invariably produced this effect, that they took away arms from the well-affected, and left arms in the hands of the dangerous. At all events, you cannot deny that you have introduced into your Arms Bill irritating clauses which can have no value in enforcing its provisions. Then, look at your executive measure—your dismissal of magistrates. You could not dismiss them for reasons which I, for one, should not have censured, but you must dismiss them on the most unconstitutional grounds you could discover. You could not dismiss them without even violating the privileges of this House. You have a Chancellor talking 805 about speeches in this House, with no official declarations, and, in fact, amounting to this—that whenever a Minister of the Crown declares against a measure every man must be turned out of the commission who opposes it. I know, that the Lord Chancellor of Ireland cannot seriously maintain (such a proposition; but what can we think of a Government, which ought to be the most cautious of any, adopting the acts of that learned Lord—acts of the most grave nature—for the turning of a magistrate out of the commission of the peace, is one of the strongest measures, and one in which the strictest adherence to form is absolutely necessary? A wise Government, would not have coupled itself to any measure, adopted by any of its officers, however high in station, if the recognition of his acts involved a breach of the privileges of the House. No wise Government, Sir, would have adopted such acts, which must have been done in haste, because it is only telling every magistrate in England that he must not give expression to any opinion hostile to any act of Parliament which the Government of the day stated in their place in Parliament must be maintained inviolate. Sir, it may be thought that I dwell too much upon these two solitary acts, but I must be permitted to remind the House, these are the only two acts which you have opposed to the agitation, which Br. O'Connell did not overstate when he said all Europe, as well as America, was looking to it with deep interest. It is on that point, among others, that I differ from Government. I do not think that concession has been exhausted—I do not think that we have arrived at the end of our resources proceeding on a conciliatory policy. As to the Repeal of the Union no man has expressed, or can express, feelings so strong that I would not concur in them. I am persuaded that it is utterly impossible to have two equal and independent Legislatures under the same Sovereign. If there are any appearances in history to the contrary, they are delusive. Down to 1782, the English Parliament legislated for Ireland, and subsequently to that period, Ireland was governed, first, by corruption, and afterwards by the sword. I do not believe that the lion. Mover was borne out when he reprehended the right hon. Baronet for saying that he would prefer war to a dissolution of the Union. The question is not between dissolution on the one hand and war on the ether, for 806 in my opinion war must inevitably follow dissolution. I have already said that legislation can afford no relief to some of the evils of Ireland. One of these is absenteeism, and as to fixity of tenure, I would rather be a learner than a teacher. Some of the projected measures of redress would be useless, and others would be mere confiscation, and to confiscation I would never give my consent. Nevertheless, I am not prepared to say, certainly not after the debate of to-night, that much may not be done in the way of legislation to improve the relations between landlord and tenant; but there are legislative and administrative reforms perfectly in your power. It is possible for you to correct die manner in which public patronage is bestowed. I do not say that I would give Parliamentary offices to Members who were opposed to the Government, but you stand in Ireland in this position, that you would find it difficult to promote persons who have been your hearty and zealous friends, and who would not be regarded with dislike and distrust by the Irish people. For what you have hitherto done amiss you must now suffer penance, and the penance is tile bestowal of your patronage upon men who have not been your general supporters. In my opinion that is a very light penance too, when we look at such cases as those of Mr. Lefroy and Mr. Sergeant Jackson, who were rewarded for what they did in your service. The refusal to bestow patronage without regard to mere political claims may be a good reason why you should retire from office, but it can be no reason why Ireland should be misgoverned. You say that you mean to settle the elective franchise on a new basis, and next year you must come down with a new bill to inform us who are and who are not to be electors; in that measure you may adopt a conciliatory course without the slightest hazard to the public peace. Let us consider our situation; we are beyond all teaching, if the experience of the last few weeks has not taught us that a formidable Irish leader is much more formidable out of the House than in it. The measure of registration is studiously kept back from an uneasy feeling: if it turn out to be like your former measure of this kind, it cannot but excite the strongest opposition, and the most angry feelings; but we cannot expect from you a truly fair and liberal measure, since it would expose a vast system of delusion. Yet why should you hesitate? You have already commenced 807 your course of humiliation; you have already drank of the cup, and the best thing you can now do is to drain it to the dregs; if it be bitter, remember you mixed it for yourselves. One subject I must speak of —the situation of the two churches with relation to each other. Without any advice from the right hon. Member (Mr. Shaw) I should carefully have abstained from aspersions upon the characters of individuals, and from expressions as to the institutions which might be considered abusive or scurrilous; but let any Gentleman take any of the celebrated defences of the establishment, whether by its greatest, ablest, and uncompromising advocates, Warburton or Paley, or by names of smaller note, and if he can make out anything like a case in favour of the present Protestant establishment in Ireland. I will at once give up the question. Is it not the plain and great object of a church to instruct the main body of the people? Is it not its first duty peculiarly and emphatically to instruct the poor? If any person attacked the church establishments of England or of Scotland, would not its vindication at once be rested upon the point, which, above all others, contrasts it with the church establishment of Ireland? Is not the whole evil of the voluntary system to be found in the present state of religion in Ireland? Does not Hume tell us, in a passage quoted on a former evening by the hon. Member for Bath, that it is of the highest importance to the State to connect the State with the priesthood, who teach the great mass of the people, which priesthood might otherwise exercise an influence dangerous to the civil power? Can any body deny that the evil of a want of connection exists in the highest degree in Ireland? If then, your Protestant church in Ireland possesses also all the evils of the voluntary system, is it not something strange and startling to be told that it is an institution sacred and inviolable? The arguments seem to resolve themselves into this:—That six or seven millions of Roman Catholics are compelled, in the year 1843, to acquiesce in the degradation of their own religion, and submit to the Protestant domination of one million. Let me, however, be distinctly understood. I do not say that it would be necessary, or even that it would be desirable, to subvert and utterly to destroy the Protestant establishment in Ireland. I would preserve vested rights inviolably, but it is necessary that the church should be reduced to a strict 808 proportion to the wants of the Protestants. Everything it is now in the power of the Government to do should be done for the purpose of putting the two religions on a perfect equality in point of consideration and dignity. I believe that this would he found a most beneficial and useful reform, and we have in favour of it an instance the best that all history can supply. The right hon. Member for Dublin University told us that if the Church and State were dissevered in Ireland, there would be an end of the Union in two years; but it is natural and proper that we should look at the other instance of a legislative Union, which presents itself at once to our eyes, and which is strictly analogous. When Scotland was united there were circumstances which indicated that it would not be more permanent than the Irish Union; it was effected after long, and violent, and bloody hostilities, there was also a case of disputed succession, and the language in the Highlands was as different from our own as that prevalent in many parts of Ireland. Forty-three years have elapsed since the Union with Ireland, and why, after forty-three years had elapsed since the Union with Scotland, was there not as much danger of its termination? Why was there no agitation—no disturbances? There were plenty of causes of dissatisfaction and circumstances that seemed to favour a project for severance. There was Lord Bute's administration, Wilkes's election, violent political contests, much satire, bold invective, but no movement, no mobs in favour of disunion, nor the speech of a solitary agitator in favour of Repeal. One of these Unions has turned out the most happy and the most firmly established that was ever known among men, while in forty-three years after the Union with Ireland we find millions of men throwing out the loudest and violent aspersions upon that measure. Is it not, then, natural to look a little at the principles on which the two Unions were established? As far as regards representation, Ireland has the advantage, for Scotland was allowed a much smaller number of Members; but when the Union with Scotland was effected, the great Whig statesmen, Somers, Halifax anti others, succeeded in inserting a clause containing a full recognition of the religion to which the people of Scotland were fondly and firmly attached. If the Union with Ireland had contained a similar wise and just provision, it is my belief that we 809 should not have heard a murmur against it, and that it would have been as inviolably maintained as the Union with Scotland. I am persuaded that it is still in your power to repair to a great extent this great omission in the Irish Act of Union. Like the hon. Member for Ballow, who so ably addressed the House this evening, I did not wish for the predominance of the Roman Catholic religion; but I do wish to see the Protestant and Roman Catholic religions equal in dignity and in honour, and that to neither should any ascendancy be given. I believe that if this course had been taken at an earlier period, a great calamity might have been averted, and, I believe, that by taking it still the evils by which we are surrounded may be avoided. I wish I could entertain' any hope that the present Government is about to adopt such a salutary policy; but at all events it will be some satisfaction to me to mark by my vote, that although the discontent in Ireland is partly attributable to the delusions of demagogues, and partly to causes which legislation cannot correct, yet that it has been inflamed to its present height by a system of unjust and injudicious Government, and that by adopting a sound and wise policy it may yet be allayed.
§ Sir J. Graham
Sir, before proceeding to address any observations to the House upon the subject immediately under discussion, I am anxious to avail myself of the earliest opportunity of refering to a topic introduced by the hon. Member for Kildare. That hon. Gentleman asserted to-night that on a former occasion I offered to him and to others of the same religious opinions as himself, an intolerable insult. When a gentleman of his calm judgment, of his spotless honour and high bearing, declares that anything which fell from me was regarded by himself as an intolerable insult, though I am not conscious of having used any expression justifying such an interpretation, I cannot fail to express my deep regret that I should have been so far mistaken as to induce the right: hon. Gentleman to think I meant the slighest insult to any of my Roman Catholic fellow subjects. thought what I said at the time upon this point had been received as an ample apology; but since an appeal has been so directly made to me, I may be pardoned if I express my personal feelings towards gentlemen of that persuasion. From my earliest years I have lived upon terms of the greatest friendship and intimacy with 810 several Roman Catholics, I have placed in them the most implicit confidence, and I feel for them the highest regard and esteem. Notwithstanding the taunt of the right hon. Member for Edinburgh, who said he supposed I was now disposed to view with regret the part I took in supporting the Roman Catholic claims, although I cannot retract what I said on a former occasion, that I supported those claims under hopes and expectations which have not been realized, the right hon. Gentleman does me injustice if he imagines that I lament the part I took upon that great question. I do not hesitate still to declare that I am a warm and sincere advocate for the full and free enjoyment of a perfect equality of civil rights by my Roman Catholic fellow_ subjects. The hon. Member for Kildare asked if Gentlemen on this side of the House could lay their hands on their hearts and say that they did not view the appointment of Roman Catholics to offices of trust and confidence with great disfavour? Speaking for myself, and I believe for the great majority, if not the entire body of Gentlemen on this side of the House, I say that emancipation being now the law of the land, we see without regret or jealousy, Roman Catholic Gentlemen of station, education and acquirements, and who are in every respect capable of filling the highest offices with advantage to the public, admitted to a full participation in the patronage of the Crown. If there had been any doubt on that point, I may say without flattery (which I despise), to the hon. Member for Kildare, that the manner in which he tilled office under the late administration, evinced the propriety of entrusting Roman Catholics with offices in immediate connection with the executive Government. There has been another, I will not call it misrepresentation, but erroneous interpretation of an expression that fell from me on a former evening. Here I must remark that there is some spirit of word-catching on the other side, and it shows to what extremities hon. Members are driven when they carp at the use of the word "concession," as it was employed by me. Why, the hon. Gentleman opposite himself, talked of "granting claims." Now, where is the difference between granting and conceding? I confess, I think all this hypercriticism is very unworthy, and can only be persisted in for the furtherance of party objects, and the gratification of party feelings. Again, it, 811 is said that I had used the expression of concession having been carried to the utmost." I believe that was the expression I used. But what was the fair meaning to be attached to my words? I meant to say that concession, in the hope of conciliation, had been carried to a very great, indeed an unexampled length, considering the space of time over which it had ranged; but it has been attempted to be urged that I meant to convey to the House and the country the expression of my deliberate opinion that concession had been carried to the utmost, and that there was no room for further attempts in that direction. Now, is that a fair interpretation to put upon my words? I refer to what fell from the right hon. Member for Edinburgh, in the shape of another taunt in this bitter party speech. The right hon. Gentleman said, I had drunk the cup of "humiliation" to the dregs. [Br. Macaulay: " No, no."] Oh, the right hon. Gentleman, in his extreme kindness only wished that I might do so, and be illustrated his argument by observing, that notwithstanding declarations as to the finality of the Reform Act, I had very recently announced, that the Government entertained a desire to extend the franchise in Ireland. Now that declaration which the hon. Gentleman taunts me with was made only a few days before I used the expression, which it has been attempted to torture into an announcement that the Government would attempt no further measures for the amelioration of the present condition of Ireland. I contend that that circumstance, in itself, proves that the construction which it has been attempted to fasten upon my words is most unfair. The right hon. Member for Edinburgh made an observation in the course of his speech in which I entirely concur. He said that an opposition has its responsibility. [Lord John Russell: " hear, hear."] Now, Sir, I rejoice in that admission, and I hope that the noble Lord who cheers the sentiment, and the right hon. Gentleman who used it will, neither on the present occasion, nor throughout the remainder of the Session, forget the admission thus made. I should] extremely regret that a debate which, in the early period of the evening, assumed a tone so well suited, as it appeared to me, to the gravity of the occasion and the present circumstances of the empire, should degenerate into a mere party contest; yet I must say, that the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who 812 has just sat down was entirely at variance with the tone and temper of the debate, up to the time of his addressing the House, and quite inconsistent with the example set by the hon. Member for Kildare. The right hon. Gentleman, although be admits that the empire is threatened with imminent danger although he alleges that the condition of Ireland is unexampled since the Union in the menacing aspect of affairs in that country—notwithstanding, I say, all this, the right hon. Gentleman thought it consistent with his duty to indulge in taunts of the most irritating character against his opponents, and to endeavour to enlist the passions of the House in a mere party contention. The right hon. Gentleman observed that the Government on the present occasion, in discussing the affairs of Ireland, were placed in the painful position of having failed to mitigate the asperity of their opponents, while, at the same time, they had not secured the entire confidence and warm support of their Irish friends. What was the declared policy of the Government regarding Ireland from the moment we accepted power? That it was our intention to administer the affairs of that country with the strictest justice and impartiality, and without regard to religious differences, and, in short, as far as possible to govern the country in a generous spirit of confidence and good will. The right hon. Gentleman justly praised the appointment of the noble Lord near me as Secretary for Ireland, and he has not ventured to impugn the appointment of the Lord-lieutenant. Now, between my noble Friends there is the most perfect coincidence of opinion, and none of that fatal disunion, which has disturbed the harmony and destroyed the efficiency of so many Irish governments. The right hon. Gentleman also alluded to a matter of minor importance—to a difference which arose respecting the scheme of education between my noble Friend and the late Solicitor-general for Ireland. What has been the conduct of the Government on that point? Who is the person now Solicitor-general for Ireland, having succeeded to that office when Mr. Sergeant Jackson was raised to the bench? One of the education commissioners. The Government has declared its determination to uphold the national system of education, and from that pledge we will not, I assure the House and the country, as a government, recede. The right hon. Gentleman has comment- 813 ed upon the dismissal of magistrates for attending Repeal meetings, but before I advert to that subject, I would recal to the remembrance of the House the speech delivered by the hon. Member for Bridport, in the early part of the evening. That hon. Member declared the Arms Bill to be a harassing and ineffectual measure, and vet expressed his intention of voting for it. If the lion. Gentleman considers the measure harassing and ineffectual, I can not conceive upon what grounds he supports it. The Government claims support for that measure on the ground that in the present state of Ireland it is necessary for the prevention of crimes of an atrocious character, and, with all respect for the hon. Member, I must say, that if he considered the bill inefficient for that purpose, the Government is not entitled to claim his support. The I lion. Member for Bridport also condemned the dismissal of magistrates, or rather the mode of it. It is said that these meetings are either legal or illegal. If illegal, the parties ought to be prosecuted and the meetings put down; but if they arc legal, then no offence has been committed. These meetings may be artfully kept within the verge of the law, but looking to the multitudinous character of the assemblages, and to the inflammatory language which is addressed to them, it is impossible to deny that they are calculated to endanger the public peace and, therefore, I contend that under the circumstances it was expedient that the Crown should exercise its prerogative, and mark its sense of the evil of the conduct pursued by the magistrates who attended these meetings (after due warning had been given to them), by dismissing them from the trust which had been reposed in them. I now come to the question of the registration of voters. The right hon. Member for Edinburgh, in discussing the conduct of the present Government, when in opposition on this point, admitted that in 1840, when the question was raised with respect to the franchise, by the motion of the hon. Member for Halifax, returns were produced from the poor-law commissioners, which showed great variation in the valuation of property. It appeared indispensable that the valuation should be made secure and certain before the franchise could be founded with safety upon it. Subsequent inquiry confirmed that view, and in the bill before the House, for amending the poor-law, security has been taken for amending the 814 valuation, and placing it on a footing of certainty. When that point shall be secured—then, and not till then, in my opinion will it be safe to extend the franchise, resting upon that valuation. Something has been said with respect to the municipal franchise, and it has been urged that the Government, when in opposition, resisted the extension of the franchise, as it existed in England, to Ireland from hostility to the Roman Catholic interest. That view was not taken by me and my friends. It will be recollected that the noble Lord, the Member for Sunderland said, that the new corporations would become the normal schools of political agitation. [Viscount Howick: It was Mr. O'Connell who said so.] Mr. O'Connell's influence was very great over the treasury bench at that period, and I thought his character of the new corporations had been adopted by the noble Lord. Be that as it may, the ground on which I and my friends refused to extend the English municipal franchise to Ireland was not jealousy of Roman Catholics, but because the corporations were avowedly intended to be converted into political debating societies in favoor of repeal; and so far from the question of repeal not being then in favour, as stated by the right hon. Gentleman, I remember distinctly it was at that time stated as highly probable that, even as regarded. Dublin, the question of repeal would be raised in the corporation with all the solemnities of debate, and would receive the sanction of the municipality. And what has happened? I apprehend that much had been said in favour of repeal. If I mistake riot, resolutions have been passed in the corporations of Dublin, Limerick, and Cork, and in Kilkenny, the fourth city in Ireland, no man is admitted a member of the corporation who is not pledged to support the repeal of the union. I am bound to say, that the speech with which the present motion was introduced by the hon. Member for Limerick, was a speech of great ability, and quite dispassionate in its tone; but I must at the seine time observe, that the arguments he used really went much further than the motion with which he concluded, for the principal arguments were drawn from the armoury of the Repeal Association, and the speech was one in favour of repeal rather than of inquiry. The right hon. Gentleman, the Member for Edinburgh, adopted one of the arguments of the hon. Member for Limerick upon the question of the distribution of 815 patronage. It does not appear to be the opinion on either side of the House, that as regards the army and navy, religious opinions operate as an obstruction to promotion to offices of the highest confidence under the executive Government. Then there remains only the question of promotion to legal offices. The Government has discussed that point repeatedly. I will not put our legal promotions on the ground of party partiality, but place them, as they ought to be, on the ground of professional superiority; and I request that our appointments may be tried by that test. The junior raised to the bench by the present Government was ten years the senior of the Attorney-general of the late Government. It has been remarked, that there is not at the present moment, an Irishman in the councils of her Majesty. It is somewhat hard to subject us to this taunt, at the present moment, when we have sustained a severe loss in a distinguished nobleman whom none can lament more deeply than I do. I put it to the House, however, whether it was absolutely necessary for the public interest, that we should select an Irishman as his successor. When a post becomes vacant, it is the duty of the Minister to advise her Majesty to promote to the office one who is best qualified for the public service; and I appeal to the House, whether the right hon. President of the Board of Trade has not by his conduct, ability, and zeal, fairly merited his elevation. 'lie hon. Member for Limerick complains of the insufficient number of Irish representatives, but let the House bear in mind, that when the important arrangement took place under the Reform Act, so far from an addition being made to the number of English Members, there was a diminution of thirteen, while five were added to the Irish representatives. Then it is alleged, that the voice of the Irish representatives is not heard in this House. Surely there have been voices of Irish Members heard and long remembered in this House. There were Burke, Canning, Grattan, Sheridan, never to be forgotten, and in later times, although differing with them in political opinions, I must add the names of Br. O'Connell, and of the right hon. Gentleman, the late Vice-president of the Board of Trade (Br. Sheil), who have taken a conspicuous part in the debates in this House, and some of these illustrious names will go down to posterity, and he remembered as among the brightest ornaments of the Senate. But it is said, that 816 even if the voices of the Irish Members be heard, they do not influence proceedings. [Hear, hear.] The hon. Gentlemen cheer, but has not Mr. O'Connell constantly boasted that the Irish Members turned the scale in carrying the English Reform Act, and I appeal to the House, whether during the last two or three years of the Melbourne Administration, when that Government no longer possessed the confidence of a great majority of the English Members, the influence of the Irish Members was not felt in this House to this extent, that though the Government had forfeited the confidence of the English Members, it was sustained in power by the Irish ones. In regard to the franchise, I have not yet heard the challenge of my noble Friend the Member for North Lancashire answered. My noble Friend said, he would undertake to prove, that if you were to transfer to Ireland the existing English county franchise, with the English registration and English interpretation of the law with respect to freehold interest, you would greatly narrow and restrict the franchise in Ireland. That question I am prepared to discuss at any time. I do not contend that that is a reason why the English franchise should be transferred to Ireland, but it is a complete answer to the hon. Gentleman, when He contends that Ireland has been treated unjustly, to point out to him that the franchise given to Ireland under the Reform Act is undoubtedly more popular than that given to England or Scotland. I now turn to the speech of the lion. Member for Kildare, with respect to the tenure of land. If I understood the points read by that hon. Member, there is scarcely any difference in the law of Ireland and England, as regards the tenure of land. The four points stated by that lion. Member were, first, as regarded distress of the growing crop; next, of the crop when severed from the land; next, ejectment by action under lease; and lastly, by notice when tenant at will. I believe that, in the main, the law is identical in the two countries. The hon. Member stated one particular case in which, by custom, a right exists in Ireland quite unknown in England, namely, the tenancy right, by which not only a tenant under lease can sell his goodwill, and have his sale respected by the landlord, but in the north of Ireland the tenant at will can even receive a valuable consideration for his tenancy, which is subject to the pleasure of the landlord. To that 817 extent, then, the tenantry of Ireland are placed in a more advantageous position than those of England. I certainly must admit, with great regret, that in some instances the landlord exercises his legal right with harshness, but I confess I do not know how such a practice is to be restrained by legal enactments. I understood the hon. Member for Limerick to say, that he is not aware of any particular remedy that could be applied to the difficulty. Even the right hon. Member for Edinburgh has said, that this was a question upon which he was more disposed to listen and to learn than to dogmatise. It is, in fact, a subject of great difficulty, and should be approached with the utmost caution. On such a subject, it would be unwise to raise any false hopes, but I admit that it is open for discussion for the purpose of seeing whether any favourable alteration is practicable. What is called a fixity of tenure appears to me to be neither more nor less than confiscation of the land; and the erection of a tribunal of tenants to decide what rent should be paid, and what allowance made for outlay on land, appears to me a direct interference with the rights of landlords, which could not take place without the greatest danger, and without an entire overthrow of the existing laws and institutions framed for the protection and defence of property. The hon. Member for Limerick, in his opening speech, argued that there had been some neglect in legislation with respect to matters of importance affecting the interests of Ireland. Now, I beg to remind hon. Gentlemen, that in 1830, a committee of this House was appointed, over which Lord Monteagle presided, to inquire into the state of the poor in Ireland; and though I will not occupy the time of the House by reading any portions of that report, I may state that it concluded by recommending nineteen specific legislative measures. Now, will the House believe that—with one single exception—all these measures have, since the year 1830, been dealt with legislatively, and that remedial enactments are now on the statute book? The first six of these measures related to charitable institutions; and all the suggestions which they comprehended, for the extension and amendment of charitable institutions, have been carried into effect, with the exception of one recommendation with regard to medical institutions, which yet remains to be embodied in an act of Parliament. My noble Friend, 818 the Secretary for Ireland, has introduced a bill on this subject which has been referred to a committee up-stairs; I believe the committee has reported, or is about to report; but, at all events, it is the intention of Government during the recess to institute an inquiry on the subject in Ireland. Another measure was, to consolidate the grand jury laws, which was passed when my noble Friend (Lord Stanley) was Secretary for Ireland. Then another measure with reference to public works in Ireland has been adopted, and also enactments relative to sub-letting and drainage. It had been recommended, that some assistance should be rendered to parties who were desirous of emigrating; and in the Poor-law Act there is a provision under which funds may be raised for the purposes of emigration. Allusion has been made to the opposition which was offered to the advance of public money for the construction of railways in Ireland. I beg the House to consider the circumstances in which that grant was proposed. In the first place, in this country a great extent of railway has been constructed, not less than I,500 miles I believe, without one shilling of public money having been granted for that purpose. It has been found, that the minimum cost of a railway is 23,000l. per mile, whilst the average expense per mile is about 34,000l. It was proposed to have a railway from Dublin to Cork, a distance of 1G8 miles, which, at an average of 34,000l. per mile, would have cost so much that with the railways to the west and to the north, which it would have been indispensable to construct, the sun, to be advanced by the public would not have been less than I0,000,000l. Hon. Members may point to the estimates which were made for the Irish railways, but I beg leave to say, that in matters of this kind, experience is much more to be relied upon than any estimates. Experience has likewise proved, that in England and Scotland no railways succeed or are in a material degree valuable to the public interest, except those which unite large seats of manufacturing industry with each other, or with the capital, and in the present state of Ireland, a country purely agricultural, the advantage of railways, I ant convinced, would not be at all in correspondence with the expense. It has been said, that no assistance has been given since the Union to public works in Ireland by Great Britain. Now, the fact is, that 819 since the Union there has been advanced for public works in Ireland about 7,200,000l. out of the public funds, of which about 5,500,000l., has been repaid, leaving about 1,700,000l. unpaid. Then a considerable advance was recently made for the improvement of the navigation of the Shannon, one-half of which, if I mistake not, is an absolute grant from the public treasury, not to be repaid. I believe I have now touched upon all the various topics which have been introduced' into this debate, and I am unwilling to trespass longer on the attention of the House; but, at the same time, I feel that it is impossible for me to pass by that to which more importance is attached than to all' the rest—namely, the question— of the Church Establishment in Ireland. I heard with great interest an observation which fell from the hon. Gentleman, the Member for the county of Kildare, who said, as I understood him, that any concordat with Rome, which would regulate in any degree the ecclesiastical power of the Roman Catholic hierarchy would not be regarded as a beneficent measure, but, on the contrary, would be viewed with extreme jealousy and dislike by that body, and I also understood the hon. Member to say, that any endowment of the Roman Catholic clergy is not desired by the members of that Church.
§ Mr. O'Ferrall
had said, that any concordat with Rome, which gave the Protestant Government a power over the Catholic Church, would not be received or enforced by the spiritual or temporal power of that Church in Ireland.
§ Sir James Graham
Now, I beg those who call upon the Government to make declarations with respect to measures of this kind, to observe, what caution such a statement as that made by the hon. Member for Kildare prescribes, and how delicate is the ground, on which we are invited to tread. The right hon. Member for Edinburgh has been quite explicit in stating his view of the subject. The right hon. Gentleman thinks that there ought to be two co-ordinate and co-existent establishments in Ireland, and some reliance was placed by the right hon. Gentleman, as well as by the hon. Member for Sheffield, on a supposed analogy with the Church establishment of Scotland. Now, I must say, that so far from seeing any analogy, I see the greatest possible difference. In the passage which the right hon. Gentleman did me the honour of 820 quoting from a speech of mine in the present Session of Parliament relative to the Church of Scotland, I said that the Presbyterian Church of Scotland rested on the treaty of Union. The Protestant Church in Ireland rests on the same foundation. The Union with Ireland never would have been carried with the consent of the Irish Parliament, unless the maintenance of the Protestant Church in that country had been secured by a fundamental article of the treaty, which is embodied in an act of the Imperial Parliament. I respect Presbyterian Church government in Scotland, because I am resolved to abide by the act of Union with Scotland. I uphold the Protestant Church in Ireland, because I am true to the act of Union with Ireland, and am not prepared to set at ought this solemn national engagement. This is a question which has unfortunately given rise to a serious misunderstanding between me and my noble Friend near me, and the hon. Gentlemen who occupy the opposite Benches, yet I do not understand that hon. Gentlemen opposite though they differ from us, agree among themselves in their views on this subject. The noble Lord, the Member for London says, that he is opposed to the overthrow of the Protestant Church in Ireland, that under all circumstances he would maintain the establishment in that country. Various plans have been broached by other hon. Members. The hon. and learned Member for Bath is for its immediate subversion, and the hon. Member for Sheffield, with a regard only for existing rights, contemplated the same result. [Mr. Ward expressed dissent.] I thought I understood the hon. Member for Sheffield to concur in the hon. Member for Bath's proposition, except as far as regarded present rights, and to say, that the option was between the maintenance of the establishment and that of the Union; that the two could not stand together. [Mr. Ward: " My argument was, that that establishment must be fixed on the basis of population."] The basis of population!—that is, that as the Members of the Established Church are about one-eighth of the population, and the Roman Catholics nearly seven - eighths, therefore seven-eighths of the Church property should be transferred to the other party—a proposition which I think approaches as near subversion as it is possible to go. The hon. Member for Halifax does not go so far as to say that seven-eighths should be transferred; he wishes to take a 821 slice of the property, but he did not specify how much. [Mr. C. Wood: I did not say I would take any portion of the property.] I understood the hon. Member to say, that though he was not prepared to state the proportion, he was prepared to take some. [Mr. C. Wood: I said nothing about it.] Surely, then I am not mistaken in supposing that the lion. Member voted for the appropriation clause. The noble Lord the Member for the City of London declares, that he is desirous to uphold the Church Establishment in Ireland, but surely I did not misunderstand him when I supposed him to have stated on a former evening, that he would transfer a portion of the Church property to the endowment of the Roman Catholic Church. [Lord J. Russell: I did not say so.] There appears to be a great deal of coyness on this subject amongst hon. Gentlemen opposite; it is hard to understand what they say; it is easy to comprehend what they mean; but I am bound to state, that I steadily adhere to the opinion which I have frequently expressed in this House. I do not think the suggested change consistent with the act of Union, I do not think it consistent with good faith towards the Protestants of Ireland, who had a Legislature exclusively Protestant, and who gave their assent to the union on the faith of the Protestant Church being maintained. On every ground of policy, of good faith, and I may add of religious feeling, I for one, cannot consent to the alienation of the Protestant property for the endowment of the Roman Catholic Church. I think it is of the last importance that the House should clearly indicate its opinion on this occasion. If the House entertains any doubt of the ability of the Government to administer the affairs of the country in the present crisis, I admit that the motion is legitimate for the purpose of eliciting an expression of opinion upon that point. This is no motion for inquiry; it has been scouted as such by hon. Gentlemen opposite. It would be absurd so to treat it, and it is not so intended—it is brought forward to debate the policy of her Majesty's Ministers with regard to Ireland. I have stated the course which the Government will take. I have stated that justice and impartiality shall be strictly observed—that her Majesty's Roman Catholic subjects shall enjoy according to their merits a full and fair share of the distribution of the patronage of the Crown—that we will carry into full 822 effect the Emancipation Act, and that every measure affecting the state of society in that country shall be viewed with an earnest desire to promote the improvement of all classes there. I have touched upon the fixity of tenure; to that I cannot consent. I hold that the very term is replete with danger; but we will willingly discuss any portion of the law, which regulates the relation of landlord and tenant, and with anxious and unprejudiced attention we will consider any legislative measure, which without prejudice to the rights of the owner may improve the condition of the occupier of the soil. On the question of Roman Catholic endowments I heard with great interest the opinion of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Kildare, whose authority is high upon this subject; and his declaration proves the necessity for the utmost caution. With respect to the Protestant Church Establishment itself—and I believe that I speak the feelings of all my Colleagues—I adhere to the decision that the establishment must be maintained, and that no portion of the Protestant Church property can with good faith be alienated for the endowment of the Roman Catholic Church. Sir, I think we have arrived at a period when it is far better that the opinion of this House should be distinctly, frankly, and openly avowed. I cannot dissemble from myself that the crisis is one of urgency. The hon. Gentleman who brought this question forward has remarked that, though the limits of the law may be observed, though there may be doubts as to the question of the legality of the proceedings in Ireland, there is still one fact that must not be overlooked, viz., that in three provinces of Ireland, and within eight and forty hours, fifty thousand men can be assembled at the bidding of one man. The great majority of this House, and, among them no man more distinctly than the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Edinburgh, have stated their fixed opinion, that the Union most be maintained. The right hon. Gentleman indeed has admitted, that if you concede the Repeal of the Union, war between the two countries is inevitable—and that, if it must come, war before the Repeal is safer than war after it. God avert so dreadful a catastrophe! But I say there must be no hesitation on the part of the Legislature of this country. Again, I would remind the hon. Gentlemen opposite of the admission of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Macaulay) that "Opposition has its responsibilities." This 823 is no ordinary crisis. Great interests, national safety, and our position in the scale of nations are at stake. I say that it is the bounden duty of the Executive Government, exercising its dispassionate judgment, to pursue that course which in their consciences and their judgment they believe to be most conducive to the public safety in this extremity. If the House distrusts them, and thinks that other policy ought to be pursued, let them mark their want of confidence and manfully declare it; but if the present Government are to conduct the State in these perils, they must, beyond a doubt, possess the confidence of Parliament—and the measures they propose must meet with no undue obstruction. [Cries of " What measures?" from the Opposition side.] I have no hesitation in saying, that one measure of great importance is the Arms Bill, to which so much opposition has: been already given. I say that it is one of the measures which I consider to be necessary for Ireland—and I also say that, in this position of affairs, it is most desirable that this House should indicate distinctly the course which it thinks ought to be taken—any hesitation will aggravate the danger a hundred fold. If, therefore, the sense of this House is in favour of her Majesty's Government, I hope its expressed confidence will enable them to triumph over every difficulty. But I say this—and I appeal to hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House—I repeat it, if we falter—if we hesitate to repress the rebellious spirit that has shown itself in Ireland, the glory of this country is departed—the days of its power are numbered, and England—all conquering England—will be numbered with those nations whose power has dwindled, and which present the melancholy spectacle of fallen greatness.
§ Debate adjourned.