§ On the Order of the Day being read for resuming the Adjourned Debate on the State of Ireland,
§ Mr. Ross
spoke to the following effect; I am heartily in favour of the proposal of the noble Lord, the Member for London, to go into a Committee of the whole House. Nothing has fallen from Ministers to supersede the necessity of such a course. I have anxiously watched for some indication of a desire to do that full justice to Ireland which has been so earnestly sought, so long delayed, and which now more than ever is so essentially necessary to the well-being, not of Ireland alone, but of the United Kingdom. I make light of the hon. Baronet's petty improvements; his gentle alteratives are quite insufficient to cure the complicated diseases of that country. I lament the absence of such a disposition on the part of the Government and the majority of the 926 House. I am unwilling to charge them with conscious and deliberate injustice, but I must say, that their apprehension of Irish grievances is so faint and imperfect, their estimate of Irish rights so narrow and illiberal, as to leave them at issue on the definition of justice with the great mass of the Irish nation, including a majority of its representatives, a large proportion of the British people, and the whole world of impartial spectators of this struggle for equality, to whom their Irish policy has ever seemed inexplicable. If there were now present any intelligent foreigner, moderately acquainted with the history of these countries, but knowing no more than foreigners generally do of the hidden influence—the class and party motives that have governed and perverted our legislation—he would be sorely puzzled to reconcile with his political knowledge and experience these extraordinary facts;—that after a connection of six centuries with Ireland, and a nominal incorporation of forty-three years, no real union and consolidation of strength has yet been effected; and that we, the representatives of a people accounting themselves the wisest and most understanding upon the face of the earth—knowing the full extent of the evil—with the warnings and the encouragements of history before our eyes—with the opinions of statesmen and sages recorded for our guidance, and with the broad light of recent experience shining on our path, seem yet undecided which way to go, or rather seem obstinately bent on perseverance in the old, dull, disastrous circle of expedients to which our counsels appear to be confined and spell-bound. Thus is what fills the civilised world with astonishment. We have found a way to govern our immense eastern empire in peace. The North American colonies acknowledge our beneficent intentions, and are grateful. After a period of barbarous and rapacious rule, we changed our hand, and secured Hindustan by governing with equity, and by wisely conforming our politics to the genius and spirit of its populations. Even our aggressions on the frontier tribes have been followed by assurances, that we neither seek to plunder nor to oppress, nor to insult the vanquished, and by the introduction of something compensatory to the mass of the inhabitants. If charity should begin at home, so should justice. You have little to spare for Ireland. But I may be told, as I have been told, that Ireland is not to be conciliated. A strange assertion! Indi- 927 vidually we are allowed to be placable and grateful: how can we be otherwise in the aggregate? I suppose we may be proved so by the logical process which from a multitude of meetings, each of which is legal, constructs illegality. Bad and threatening as I admit the aspect of affairs to be, I hold it unreasonable to doubt the possibility of thoroughly and at once tranquillising that country. Sir, any man in this House possessed of firmness and strong common sense, freed from the trammels of party, and, if such a thing may be for a moment imagined, clothed with dictatorial power, could do it. The Legislature is absolute, and wants not the way, but the will. No doubt there are difficulties to be encountered, but difficulties of our own creation—none of them insurmountable to vigour and manly determination. Every month's delay, however, arguments the difficulty, and in a rapidly increasing ratio. The Irish mind is not now, unhappily, in the grateful, confiding, hopeful state, produced by the administrative government of two successive Lords Lieutenant who sought and gained the affections of the Irish people; nor could that golden opportunity, which the madness of faction cast away, be restored by ordinary means. But a successful experiment—successful beyond all possibility of doubt—stands fully established, inviting the rulers of the country to repeat it, in hope of a like result. No man can deny that, for some years, while the feelings of my countrymen were soothed by the novelty of a gentle, impartial, considerate administration of the law, and a discreet exercise of patronage, and while their hopes were sustained by the efforts made by those in power to enlarge the boundaries of popular privilege, that peace, order, and contentment prevailed throughout the land, to a degree theretofore unknown; that the gaols were tenantless—troops not needed—and that it required all the wit and mischievous ingenuity of political leaders to keep the dying flame of party spirit alive. Peace was established; concord would soon have followed. If there were great grievances yet unredressed, the people were willing to endure them for a season. The clouds that had thickened over Ireland, in the long night of her calamity, were too heavy to be dispersed in a moment; but there was a general confidence that the day which would scatter them was at hand, and already their skirts were tinged with the promise of a gracious dawn. During that lull in the Irish storm, 928 the Government of the day found itself engaged in a contest with one of the colonies, and a noble and learned and very eloquent person, charging the disorders of Canada upon its rulers, contrasted the lenity and indulgence of their Irish policy with what he considered the harshness and severity of their Canadian. Why do I advert to these events? Because, from both cases we derive conclusive evidence that kindness and justice are better pacificators than monster indictments and military repression. Lord Brougham, after commenting on a saying of Charles Fox's, in a manner which the noble Lord, the Member for London, who had quoted it, would probably think more ingenious than just—thus expressed himself on the 2nd of February, 1838,—Give them (the Irish) all they ask. But for Canada, refuse all they ask—turn a deaf ear to every complaint—mock them with hopes never to be realised—insult them with rights which, if they dare to use, shall be rudely torn from them, and, for abiding by the law in seeking redress of their wrongs, punish them. We have all seen, or we have read, of the contrast between a parent and a step-mother in the treatment of a child—the contrast between tenderness, self-denial, self-devotion, and cruelty, self-indulgence, studied neglect. The one exhausts every resource of kindness and conciliation, anticipates all wants, yields to each wish that ought to be granted, studies to prevent offences by judicious training, and to reclaim from error by gentleness alone, nor ever have recourse to punishment until all means of prevention fail, and the safety of the cherished object forces her to do violence to her feelings rather than neglect her duty. But I have known conduct the reverse of all this. Who, indeed, has not heard of the step-mother watching for the occasion of quarrel, taking offence at everything and at nothing, fostering every little failing of temper in the child, till it ripen into disobedience, and furnish the pretext for the wished-for punishment; alternately too indulgent and too severe, by fits and by caprice, harsh and gentle—now flinging to it some plaything, and the instant the child uses it, flying into a fury, and snatching it away, and giving vent to anger by punishment or by restraint—now visiting on the offspring the faults of her own mismanagement, and never for an instant pursuing a steady, or a just, or a rational treatment. These things have I witnessed, and who has not? But never have I known an example of contrast so marked, so violent, so outrageous, as between the parental care of Ireland, and the step-mother treatment of Canada.Alas, for Ireland! how has the picture been reversed! Where is now the "parental 929 care" of which she was the object when these reproachful words were uttered. I grudge not the Canadians what they have gained—far from it. I trust all has been well and wisely arranged, and for their permanent happiness. But I cannot help asking, in bitterness of soul—towards whom is the deaf ear now turned? Whose complaints are unheeded, whose hopes are now mocked? Who, for abiding by the law in seeking redress of their wrongs, are accused of traitorous designs? Happy Canadians! on you tenderness and parental care have wrought their wonted effect, subduing you invincibly to feelings of affectionate respect, which may no mistakes or temporary inconvenience ever weaken! Fortunate colonists! We, less happy, an integral portion of the Empire, as we are told, have been doomed to experience something very like the harshness and injustice of the stepmother, watching the opportunity, fostering little feelings of temper and pouncing down upon the victim, when offences, long unrebuked and unnoticed, have grown to such a head as to furnish a pretext for vengeance. What wonder, then, if Ireland, exchanging the parent for the step-mother, has exchanged also her new born feelings of gratitude and confidence, which might have been turned to such excellent account, but which have been chilled and blasted by unkindness, for suspicion and hatred? The leader of the Repeal Movement has been treated with injustice as well as with great severity; he has been prosecuted to conviction for endeavouring to effect an object, which, however impolitic, none have asserted to be illegal; and now he is charged, most unjustly charged, with insincerity and hypocrisy. His words, you say, are "smoother than oil," but his thoughts are bent on mischief and violence. Now, in my conscience I believe that Gentleman to be as sincere as I am myself, in his exhortations to the people, not to disturb the peace of society. Had not that hon. Gentleman again and again, stated in the presence of congregated thousands, that one drop of blood—the life of one fellowcreature—was too dear a price to pay for any political advantage.* Sir, I have heard much vaunting language about the victory just gained over the conspirators.* At this moment the hon. Member was interrupted by Mr. O'Connell entering the House, and by his entrance having been welcomed with cheers by the Opposition. When the cheering had ceased, he proceeded.930 Let the House judge by the reception which the head conspirator has just met, whether there be much cause for triumph. You may put that man in gaol—but what will you gain? What security will that afford for the preservation of peace in Ireland. Suppose Louis Philippe were to declare war [Cries of "Oh! oh!" from the Ministerial Side of the House.] would it not be acknowledged to be unwise thus to have alienated the affections of a people so well able to contribute to our defence? Gentlemen may cry "Oh! oh!" but I have a right to treat this as a great political question—and to take into account all possible chances—and I tell you, your Irish policy is fraught with danger. Sir, the unhappy change I have spoken of, is not the consequence of levity and fickleness of disposition. Quite the contrary. Remember, that the party which succeeded to power in 1841 was the same which had denounced every measure of conciliatory administration, and thwarted their opponents in every attempt at remedial law. The result has been a curious coincidence in some respects—a remarkable contrast in others—between the growth and manifestation of Irish and Canadian discontent. In Canada, at the time I speak of, dissatisfaction was evinced by combinations of a dangerous character. Meetings were held, which were so menacing in the judgment of the Governor-general, as to call for the dismissal of many magistrates and public functionaries for attending them. This was the first parallel case; but in Ireland the meetings partook of no such character, and the stigmatized magistrates were at all events above suspicion of disloyalty, or of being aiders and abettors of public disturbance. They were thrust out of their commissions, for seeking a lawful object, by means which no man there ventured to call unlawful; for attending meetings, when their presence was a guarantee for the preservation of the peace. Next in the progress of Canadian discontent—we hear of the formation of central, district, and local committees. Something analogous occurred in Ireland. Lastly, the ordinary tribanals of justice were discountenanced, and as far as possible set aside by the appointment of amiable compositeurs, in other words, courts of arbitration. Here the parallel ends; for the next step of the Canadian leaders was to commence a military organization under the name of police—It is absurd to talk, as some do, of "the O'Connell Police;" they were appointed in good faith to preserve order at the meet- 931 ings, and they had nothing of a permanent character. Here I say the parallel ends. Canada broke out into open revolt; Ireland—though the fire was at her heart—preserved a calm and peaceful demeanour. Ireland—wronged as she is and taunted by those who wish her ill,—has shown no disposition to follow the example of Canada. She was warned by O'Connell, as the noble Lord well remarked, against that example. I trust both leaders and people will maintain their present attitude of patient expectation, and enlist the sympathies of all their fellow subjects who can admire true greatness, by firm and temperate conduct; but I also fervently trust that Ireland's exemplary abstinence from violent courses will not furnish to Parliament a mean and base motive for dealing with her less leniently—less kindly—with less consideration for her manifold claims on the justice of the Empire—than with the once turbulent, but now, in spite of some drawbacks, happy and peaceful Canada—and that her misfortunes will find at length a like satisfactory termination. But no exercise of forbearance, no temporary control of excited feeling, no wisdom, no authority can avail, unless Parliament interpose, and apply itself seriously and with entire determination of purpose, to extirpate the roots of discontent from the Irish soil. Something might have been done last Session. What was done? You abolished a useless and irritating custom. I thank you for that. But as a set-off against that trifling boon you attempted to impose upon the country a frightful Arms Bill. Thanks to the artistic skill of Her Majesty's Opposition, the grim features of the original were so much softened, that its parent would hardly have recognised his own offspring; and now, I think it best described in worthy Dogberry's language, as "very tolerable and not to be endured." But what good end has been gained by this bill? Has it deprived the fierce administrators of their own bloody code of agrarian laws of the means of executing their decrees? That was the noble Lord's object—has he gained it? Have those who backed the noble Lord on grounds of their own obtained their wish? Macroom was a failure—the Abbeyleix lecture was read in vain. We have more arms in the country than ever, and what is worst of all, and exactly what I predicted, ardent leaders have instigated their adherents to arm in expectation of what is to follow. Sir, I was roundly re- 932 buked last Session for pointing out the probable consequences of this unfortunate bill. The partiality which I foresaw did break out, and was only suppressed by the noble Lord's grave admonition, for which he has my thanks. But there are evils connected with the Bill which the noble Lord's authority cannot reach. What will the House think of combinations to arm under pretence that men's lives and properties are in danger? Will the House believe that gentlemen of rank and station—clergymen of the Established Church—went about last autumn begging subscriptions to supply the Orangemen with arms and ammunition? If I do not greatly err, the noble Lord is my witness to the fact. Will the House believe what I believe—because I have it from excellent authority—that in a town belonging to an English duke, there was lately a magazine of muskets which were distributed among men of "the right sort," on the easy terms of payment by small instalments? The fruit of your Arms Bill is general arming, and mutual terror greatly heightened by the military precautions taken in the most tranquil districts. Remarking on the amount of force employed, the hon. Gentleman spoke of the loopholes in barracks at Belfast, and of sentries mounting guard before the church doors during service on Sundays; and asked, "Is this ever to end?" Can nothing be done to give peace and prosperity to afflicted Ireland? What price, I ask, is too high to be paid for the affections of a people whom the misdoings and neglect of the Government have greatly alienated? Is the sacrifice of some few prejudices, some petty interests, what you cannot contemplate? If you can, you may purchase what is of inestimable value. How? By scrupulous practical regard to the religious feelings of the people, which have been outraged; by satisfying the cravings of the nation for justice and protection, which have been withheld; by affording countenance and favour to men and classes on whom you have frowned, or at least treated them with a stinted and half-hearted semblance of liberality; by searching out with a keen eye, and plucking up with a bold and vigorous hand the roots of abuse and dissatisfaction; by expending on the improvement of a country, capable of pouring back into the lap of Britain with grateful and abundant interest, that wealth which you are now lavishing—disguise it as you will—in the maintenance of fleets and armies for keeping down a 933 spirited people—lavishing as fruitlessly as if you sowed it upon the waves. Sir, this is sound advice. I may say so without a boast, for I claim but the merit of a judicious borrower. I took it from one who wrote for all time and all countries—one before whom the most sagacious statesman of modern days ought not to be ashamed reverently to bow his head—I mean Lord Bacon. Touching the Queen's service in Ireland—that great man thus opened his mind—but first let me quote a passage in which he expresses his sense of the value of Ireland in language not since matched by the loftiest encomiums of her most gifted sons:Another Britain—endowed with so many dowries of nature, considering the fruitfulness of the soil, the ports, the rivers, the fisheries, the quarries, the woods, and other materials; and especially the race and generation of men—valiant, hardy and active—as it is not easy—no, not on the continent, to find such confluence of commodities, if the hand of man did join with the hand of nature.Such was Bacon's estimate of Ireland and the Irish in James the First's time. Have we degenerated since? Now for his advice; now let us see how the hand of man is to be joined to the hand of nature. The passage I am about to read was quoted some weeks ago in the Spectator. It runs thus:—The reduction of that country, as well to civility and justice as to obedience and peace—which things, as affairs now stand, I hold to be inseparable—consisteth in four points: first, the extinguishing the relics of the war; second, the recovery of the hearts of the people; third, the removing the root and occasions of trouble; fourth, plantations and buildings. Towards the recovery of the hearts of the people (he says) there be but three things in rerum natura; first, religion; second, justice; third, obligation and reward. For obligation and reward, it is true no doubt what was anciently said, that a state is contained in two bonds, prœmium and pœna, and I am persuaded if a penny in the pound which had been spent in pœnâ, had been spent in prœmio, things had never grown to this extremity. But to speak forwards, the keeping of the principal Irish persons in terms of contentment and without cause of particular complaint, and generally the carrying of an even course between the English and the Irish as if they were one nation, without hath been held by the governors and counsellors there, that some have favoured the Irish, and some contrary, is one of the best medicines of that state.I appeal to the House and to the coun- 934 try, whether we are not as much open to the reproof, and in as much need of the advice contained in this passage, as ever were the Counsellors of Queen Elizabeth or King James. One other short sentence I will quote, for it is strictly applicable to the matter in hand. Bacon's lofty theme is "the true greatness of Britain." After specifying four particulars in which that greatness stands, he adds these remarkable words:—"Fifthly, it consisteth in the temper of the Government fit to keep the subjects"—what, in order? In subjection? No, sir; but "in good heart and courage, and not to keep them in the condition of servile vassals." Oh, that these words were graven on the hearts of Her Majesty's Ministers, that they might feel the grandeur of that sentiment, understand their high mission, and keep stedfastly in view the worthiest object of a glorious ambition! What have they done to raise from the dust of servile vassalage to the dignity of freedom and independence a race of men worthy of a better fate? Which of their measures have been prompted and informed by the spirit of the philosophic statesman? Far other tendencies characterise their legislation than that of keeping up "the heart and courage" of my downtrodden countrymen, who, if they have heart and courage, owe it to God, and not to man. You have done much to depress them—little, indeed, to elevate. But, perhaps, the noble Lord has mistaken the views of the right hon. Baronet; perhaps the right hon. Baronet may make some amends for past errors and neglect, by infusing into the Registration Bill, which is now in preparation, some portion of the lofty and generous spirit of Lord Bacon. Whether the House will or will not consent to an immediate investigation of Irish grievances, the day cannot be far distant when it will be forced to turn its attention that way. Meanwhile all who have any hope of a final issue out of all these troubles, ought to consider well the nature of the evils that beset us. Some hon. Gentlemen have told you, that if the physical condition of the mass of the people were bettered, discontent would pass away like a summer cloud. If so, how comes it to pass that where the people are poorest, they are not the most turbulent? I take upon me to assert, that, setting aside the deplorable case of expelled families, and keeping in view only the settled occupiers of the land, none are more quiet and orderly than those who would be but poor people if they 935 paid no rent at all—I mean the tenants of little patches of four or five acres of land. As to those who, from their own fault or misfortune, or the heartlessness of their landlords, lose the shelter of a cabin, and a little plot of ground, their lot in such a climate as ours is indeed, appalling; and, yet it is strange how seldom these poor creatures think of wreaking their vengeance on a society to which they owe so very little. In my opinion, Irish wrongs are more keenly felt as national wrongs by those who enjoy comparative comfort, and most keenly by those who have had some education, and whose minds are disciplined to control their feelings. Do not, then, imagine that the poor alone are discontented. Every true Irishman, rich or poor, who sees a defective representation, and a constituency crumbling to decay before his eyes, is, and ought to be, discontented; every Irishman who sees immense sums drained from his country—without the pretence of representation—by imperative presentment under despotic authority, is, and ought to be discontented; every Roman Catholic—that is, eight out of every ten men you meet, who sees a pompous State Church, with which he has no connection, and from which he derives no benefit—gorged with the proceeds of public taxation—is necessarily and most justly discontented; and all the remaining portion of the community, as far as they are influenced by a sense of justice, participate in that discontent. Sir, these things being so, I confess I see no safe medium between a ruthless trampling down of Ireland, an utter extermination of her liberties, and a thorough satisfaction of claims which some hold to be exorbitant, and others, I believe, simply ridiculous. The first plea, which has its advocates—to say nothing of its barbarity—is full of hazard, and even if successful, would be attended with serious loss to yourselves. It never was in your contemplation; that I feel assured of. The second must, no doubt, be very distasteful to many; but a patient in extremity submits quietly to swallow a nauseous dose, or to endure a torturous operation, and this is a case of life or death. In one word, you must make up your mind to let Ireland be a Popish country. I am not talking about toleration—a word which a noble Lord opposite, declared to my great satisfaction, he hated—but I mean that the profession of the religion of the Irish people should be as much unconnected with loss, disability, or inconvenience, as that of the 936 Anglican faith. Less than Scotland gained for a system which is more opposed to the Church of England than is the latter to Roman Catholicism, will not suffice. And if the people of Ireland are bent on rejecting a State provision for the Clergy, why in that case, you must arrive at equality by another process; always preserving to every clergyman the enjoyment of the property he now possesses. Whatever may be said to the contrary, I am firmly of opinion, and I am not singular in my judgment, that all other reforms however valuable in themselves, will prove inadequate to the establishment of durable peace, if unaccompanied by this sweeping, but most reasonable of all reforms. I am no lover of innovation for innovation's sake. "Let well alone," appears to me a safe rule; and I might hesitate to destroy what has the sanction of ancient usage when endurably bad. But here we have to do with what is, as it stands, intolerably bad—vicious in principle, galling in operation, and by no means of palliation to be reconciled with the feelings of millions of men. A word in conclusion upon means. If the Gentlemen who are now in power will try to conciliate Ireland, well—they shall have my humble support. If they shrink from applying the great principle of free government to the institutions of Ireland; and turn away in disgust or in despair from the work of needful reformation,—if they have nothing better to propose for the healing of the nation than their old nostrums and quack remedies, let others try their hand who see their way to a happy issue, and who will be cheered on and assisted by the British people in their generous effort to satisfy the claims of their wronged brethren. Men equal to the emergency are to be found, and Ireland may be saved. To adopt the language of the oracle I have before consulted, language singularly applicable to the present time and circumstances,I know Her Majesty shall not want the information of persons expert and industrious who have served her there and know the region; nor the advice of a grave and prudent council of estate here, which know the pulses of the hearts of the people, and the ways and passages of producing great actions.
§ Mr. Borthwick
said, the speech of the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had added another to the many proofs afforded by the whole course of that debate, that one of the most desirable, and he was inclined to believe, one of the most 937 effectual methods for tranquillizing the tumults of Ireland, was the infusion into the discussions of this House something of moderation in temper and expression. He would endeavour to follow so good an example. The hon. Gentleman had begun and ended an able speech by medical figures and illustrations. He had begun by complaining of the gentle alteratives proposed for Ireland by the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government, and he had ended by speaking of the stronger essences which he meant himself to prescribe. But he had been singularly vague and uncertain in his definition of the latter. He had spoken of the Church of Ireland, but he had not signified his plan of reforming it; he had complained of the state of political rights and privileges, but he had not signified in a definite manner any plan for its amelioration. He was sure that if the parallel drawn by the hon. Gentleman between Ireland and Scotland were intended to point to an establishment of the Roman Catholic religion in the former, as the Presbyterian faith had been established in the latter, the most strenuous opponent to his plan would be the noble Lord the Member for the City of London. And this was the objection to the noble Lord's motion—that though there were many parts in all the speeches by which it had been supported with which, if proposed in the shape of practical legislation, he and others would be most happy to agree, yet the motion itself was, to all hope of effecting the measures so hinted at, the most entire and utter extinction. If the noble Lord really had such measures in contemplation he could not have adopted any plan more effectual to prevent their adoption than the motion propounded from the Chair. What would be the effect of that motion? Nor certainly to carry any beneficial measure for Ireland, but to displace one set of Ministers from those benches, and to occupy their places by others; would this be desirable for Ireland? Why, most certainly not in the sense of the hon. Gentleman opposite—for the noble Lord had already held office for ten years, during which Ireland had the same Church and the same Civil State, and all the other evils now complained of; and in those days the noble Lord was an advocate for the Church, and left the State as he found it. Had truth, then, changed its eternal principles, or had the noble Lord sought to move this House for the 938 purpose of faction only, and party? But this was a question all too large for the tiny grasp of faction. When party attempted to use—or abuse it rather—for her pitiful purposes—she herself must fail. It was too deep and too broad for her limited vision. Yes, be the politician whom he might who should try to rise upon the admitted sufferings of the Irish people—not to the moral dignity of their alleviator and physician—but to the miserable exaltation of a more miserable party—such a man must acquire an infamy which must live for all time—an infamy which must attach to the party and its leader too; and here he must be permitted to state firmly, but respectfully, to the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell), whom he regretted not to see in his place, that in some parts of his speech he had employed means only suited to so ignoble an end. He had asked at one time a question which, perhaps from the delicacy of his position, had, he thought, been feebly answered by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Home Department. The noble Lord had stated he could inform the House, upon the authority of his late official confidence with the Crown, that Her Majesty was full of the most liberal and the most benevolent wishes for all Her subjects in Ireland, and that she contemplated them all of every creed and sect with uniform and strong kindness. Why, it needed not that the noble Lord should assert this, nor that his right hon. successor should confirm it. Every one who had marked her career, from the moment of her accession to the Crown down to that instant, knew that our Sovereign Lady Victoria was of a high and generous nature, worthy of the sires from whom she was descended, and worthy of the mighty empire which she ruled. God long preserve her! But for what purpose did the noble Lord state this so well-known fact? Why, that he might ask this question—and eloquently and indignantly did the noble Lord put it to the House—"Who is he," said the noble Lord, "who shall stand between this fountain of Royal grace and the objects of its destiny?" This was the substance of the noble Lord's inquiry. He would tell the noble Lord who—not the conspirators in Ireland, the firm hand of the law had temperately but effectually put them down—not any new shape which their mischievous agitation could take; but he who could effectually 939 prevent the Royal good-will from taking effect in Ireland must be a man who, to the honours of ancient lineage and noble birth, should add the weight of distinguished moral worth, one who should possess large intellectual endowments ripened by consummate scholarship and extensive observation—one who by those great qualities crowned all and adorned by an amiable temper, which should gather to him in affectionate respect a mighty party in the state whom he should lead and control. Ay, when such a man should descend from the lofty position he so deservedly occupied to join hands with convicted conspiracy, and insinuate against his great rival the miserable taunt that he was the obstacle between the Royal heart and its dearest and noblest aim—he said when such a man should so act, he would be indeed, a great and effectual barrier between the wishes of his Sovereign for Ireland and their fulfilment. He would only ask the noble Lord and the House, in the words of Pope—Who would not laugh if such a man there be? "Who would not weep if Atticus were he?So much for the first question of the noble Lord. Now, he had asked a second question, which he (Mr. Borthwick) would also take leave to answer. The noble Lord had demanded—what benefit did the Administration promise itself from the recent trials in Ireland—You have obtained, (said he), your conviction; but what else have you gained? Have you not rather added strength to the hands of agitation than bound them up? Is not Mr. O'Connell likely to address the people of Ireland with more effect, when he appeals to them no longer as their liberator and friend merely, but as their suffering martyr, convicted and imprisoned for their sake?Now, he admitted that he had at first, when these prosecutions were undertaken, entertained a view not unlike that of the noble Lord. He thought that it was an enterprise on the part of the Government of which the failure must weaken themselves and the success strengthen their enemy. He had thought so; but he found now that he had overrated the influence of the agitators, and under-estimated the loyalty of the people. He was convinced that two great benefits must follow from this conviction. The first was, that it laid the wide field of Irish legislation fairly open to the Government. It freed the Imperial Parliament from fetters 940 which had hitherto bound them when they attempted to achieve any improvement of the Irish condition. Admit, for example, that the Act of Catholic Emancipation in 1829 was a great benefit to that country, did they not hear from day to day in that House that half its value was lost in the fact that it had been wrung from Ministerial fears, and not awarded from Ministerial justice? Well; but now the Crown had begun by placing the finger of the law upon dangerous agitation. It had first silenced the menace of disaffection, and could now effectually, and of its own proper and becoming motive, advance and bestow whatever justice should require. It would be now no longer said that that beneficial legislation was wrung from fear. It must be admitted, on the contrary, that it was as spontaneous as willing—as generous as it was just. And a second important benefit conferred on Ireland by these convictions must be, that the people of that country would now be undeceived as to the source from which they could derive the improvement of their condition. They would not any longer look upon Her Majesty as Queen, with Mr. O'Connell Viceroy over her; but they would see that Mr. O'Connell himself must be subject to the law, and that the power of legislation rested not with him, but with the Queen, the Lords, and the Commons of the realm. These were advantages which had been obtained by the convictions, and which never could be derived from such motions as that of the noble Lord. He (Mr. Borthwick) was most anxious, upon this point, not to be misunderstood. Indeed, he had chiefly risen to prevent the misconstruction of his vote, for he could not fail to observe on the other side of the House a disposition to misconstrue every vote given in favour of Ministers, and to attribute it to hostile feeling against Ireland and the Irish people. He for one entertained sentiments of the most opposite character. He admired the Irish people; he believed them to be warmhearted, generous, and loyal; and he wished to vote on this question for their benefit. He claimed for himself, and for every English Member, this construction of his vote. No English interest could be advanced; all English interests on the contrary, must be fearfully impeded or annihilated, by the injury of Ireland. But did Ireland derive benefit from that tumult and sedition of which her valleys 941 had been the scene, and herself the victim? And that very night, when Mr. O'Connell had entered that House, he had been greeted with cheers. Yes, and it was inferred, because he and those who sat on his side of the House, did not join in those cheers, that they hated Ireland. Now, he would say, that he for one did not doubt the accuracy and justice with which the hon. Members who had spoken last, had described Mr. O'Connell as sincere in his love to his country—honest in his zeal and devotion to her interests. He did not for a moment doubt it. He never had doubted it, and he had sometimes encountered the disapprobation of his political friends for saying so. But he was not there nor were they, to judge of motives. He was there to legislate for the United Kingdom. They did not meet in their character as members of society, but as Members of Parliament; and he avowed that any public man, as a public man who gave public expression to sympathy—not with Mr. O'Connell—but with seditious conspiracy—was offending against the law and the safety of the realm. He admired Mr. O'Connell's great abilities; nay, his devotion to his country; but, however he might think on that point, he must avoid all approval of conspiracy and sedition. Nor let it be inferred from this vote, that he was averse to the improvement of Ireland. The very contrary—he pledged himself to assist any motion which should have such an object. The present motion was, of all plans that could have been devised, in method the least effectual, in effect the most mischievous. Suppose it were carried—suppose the House now in committee—what would follow but angry words, bandied from those to these benches, and perhaps returned with interest? Would those stormy and inflammable accusations fail to communicate their contagion to Ireland, and to excite the causes already too active to fever and vex her quiet and her very existence? No, the agitation had ceased in Ireland, and been transfered to that floor. The agitator was no longer Mr. O'Connell, but the noble Member for the city of London. He, at least was sure, that whatever severity or violence of language Mr. O'Connell had used at those monster meetings of his, he had used no expressions more unworthy of a Member of that House, more degrading to a public man, than had the noble Lord 942 in opening that debate. And must not Ireland suffer from this? Why, what could more fully prove this charge—for he charged the noble Lord with it—than the busy zeal with which he had ransacked the annals of electioneering orgies, the files of provincial newspapers, to seek if haply he might find some strong expressions uttered by some happy Conservative over his cups which he might torture to his purpose? The noble Lord had succeeded in finding some phrase or other, spoken, or snore probably never spoken, by an hon. Gentleman; and forthwith he charges the great political party with entertaining sentiments which every one of their Members abhorred from his heart. Was this fair? But more unworthy still was the misinterpretation of the noble Lord of the words attributed by him to the Lord Chancellor—misinterpretation, he would not say wilful, yet he did not understand how it could be otherwise. He would bend, however, his judgment to his opinion of the noble Lord's honour. The noble Lord had quoted the word "alien," used by Lord Lyndhurst many years ago, and reasoned as though that learned Lord had employed it in contempt of some portion of the Irish people. Now, what was the fact? What said Hansard, and the seports? Why, that Lord Lyndhurst had thus described Ireland:—There are in Ireland, (said he) two distinct races, alien to each other in blood, alien in language, and alien in religion.Why this applied the word "alien" equally to each party, but most certainly did not attribute the character of alien as from this country to either, Such was the ingenuity with which the noble Lord had tortured the words of that distinguished personage to suit a most unworthy purpose; such was the degradation to which he had stooped. He was sorry the noble Lord was not in his place; it was not his fault; but as he was absent, he would use no severer terms; and the noble Lord had not hesitated, first to misconstrue and misrepresent the Lord High Chancellor, and next to assert what was beyond his knowledge, had it been even possible namely, that Lord Lyndhurst had been appointed to the woolsack only because he had used that expression. Why, was it credible, that the leader of a great party could stoop so low? Not only the nature of the case—the character of public men 943 made it impossible, but the appointment by the same Government of the noble Lord to the Chief Secretaryship of Ireland would have foiled their own purpose. He did not doubt, in like manner, that the hon. gentleman had equally misconstrued the charge of the Lord Chief Justice of Ireland. If any Judge were so wicked, surely there could be none so foolish, as to employ the word "opposite" so as to imply partiality in an open court. Now, he wished his vote to be clearly understood. He was opposing no measure for Irish improvement either in Church or in State. He was only voting against a motion for kindling and strengthening sedition in Ireland. The noble Lord wished to wrest the reins of power from the hands of the right hon. Gentleman. If he succeeded, would he control the power he would raise? We had experience of this. When the noble Lord was in power, he too, had to deal with Mr. O'Connell; and how? By a Lichfield House compact. He (Mr. Borthwick) was disposed, of the two, to prefer the temperate administration of the law to a league between a Government and Repealers. But he was most willing to admit that there remained upon the Government a solemn responsibility. They had deserved the thanks of the Empire for the manner in which they had obtained these convictions and silenced the voice of sedition which had shaken that Empire, and, it was not too much to say, had startled Europe. So far it was well; but they had not done. Yes, he would as frankly appeal to the one side as to the other. He recommended the Government to be firm and patient—to la the wasps of party sting on—to bear unmoved the whispers of faction and the thunder of sedition—to proceed in the spirit of a large and liberal charity—to bear favour for none, and affection to all—and in this spirit, acting alike for the benefit of Catholic and Protestant, they would secure the peace and lasting tranquillity of Ireland. He challenged the noble Lord to act in a similar spirit—to point out the reforms required. He would not stop at scruples. Let him show that the wrongs of Ireland could be redressed by establishing the Roman Catholic religion, and he would give him his support. But let him remember, that he and Lord Normanby had no monopoly of knowledge about Ireland, or of sympathy with her. On the country, 944 they saw with the eyes of party. He would this Session anxiously watch the measures proposed by both sides; and by no partial affection, but by the necessities of the people, he would decide. He venerated the Roman Catholic Church—he admired her great learning and signal piety—he did not forget the number of Christians who worshipped at her altars, nor their worth. It was because he loved Irishmen, and respected their faith, that he would oppose the motion of the noble Lord.
§ Sir H. W. Barron
asked the House and the people of England, if, after a dominion of some centuries, the people of Ireland, were to be governed by means of military occupation? Yet such was the confession of the Minister of the Crown in that House! Such was the confession of the Secretary of State for the Home Department. Ireland, he confessed, was held to the British Crown by military occupation. He asked, in sober sadness, of the people of England, of the people of Scotland, of the people of Wales, and of the civilized world, if this were a state to which any people could submit who had the spirit of freedom existing in their hearts and in their hands? He told them, and he said it not in menace—as He who was above him would judge—he said it not in menace, but he said it in sober sadness, did they think that the people of Ireland ought to submit to it? He asked them ought the people of Ireland to submit to it? Ought they to submit to be kept in military bondage to any nation that ever existed? The people of England would not submit to it. They, the English, had given a noble example when they put down tyranny, when they forced the concession of Magna Charta from a tyrant; when they thought it to be their duty, (and he did not say whether they were right or wrong) to bring another king to the block, because he had desired to submit their lives and liberties to his dictation, and not to the laws of England. Why, then, should the people of Ireland submit to such a state of things, and, he now asked them, did they think that it was in human nature long to submit to it? He was satisfied that the people of Ireland would not long submit to it. He for one would never join, under any possible circumstances that he could foresee, in an opposition to the law of the land. He for one would never join in anything approaching to a military array against the 945 Government of the country. Powerless, perhaps, he may be, still he should be found on the side of the law; but then he asked them, did they think that seven or eight millions of men would thus reason, or that they would have the reasons that he had, for being on the side of the law? The country was in a state approaching to disorganisation; and why? He arraigned the British Government; he did not arraign the British people for this. Had the people of Ireland grievances? And were these grievances to be put an end to? That was the great question; and he was going to answer it, not on the authority of any demagogue, or, as the right hon. Gentleman (Sir J. Graham) had said, of any "convicted conspirators," but he was going to answer it on the authority of men of the highest rank in Ireland—of men having property to the amount of of 500,000l or 600,000l per annum in that country. He answered it on the authority of that petition which had received the signatures of the Duke of Leinster, Lord Charlemont, and others which had been alluded to during this Session by other hon. Members. That petition states, and states truly, that the electoral body is not proportioned to the population; that in England you have nearly five times as many Members as in Ireland, whilst your population is little mere than double; that in England all householders vote for Municipal Corporations; in Ireland (the poorer country) none but persons rated to 10l. houses possess that privilege. In England the Established Church is the Church of the majority; in Ireland the Church of one-seventh of the people is the Established Church. In England, the professors of the Church of the majority are promoted to nearly all the high offices of State and the law; in Ireland, few or none of the Church the majority are found in these stations. Are these grievances? Is this justice? Is it prudent? Is it politic? Is it wise? But are the grievances of Ireland limited to these points? Far from it. Many of the Irish Members met at the close of last Session, and addressed the people of Great Britain on numerous other grievances. Amongst other things they demanded a larger expenditure of the income of the State in Ireland. Of all other matters the most urgent and useful would be to develope the resources of that country by useful public works and thereby give employment 946 to the population. Then again another serious grievance is, that offices in Ireland were not filled by Irishmen, but by Englishmen and Scotchmen, and Irishmen felt insulted by not being allowed to govern themselves. You have an English Lord Lieutenant, English Secretary, English Lord Chancellor, Englishmen at the head of Customs, Excise, Police, Post Office, and nearly all public departments. Austria did not dare to do this in Italy, though it was the most despotic government, what England did in Ireland. Austria did not dare to do this in Hungary; Holland had dared to do it in Belgium, and they knew the consequence. He hoped that Ireland would not follow this example. But you may exasperate a nation beyond their power of endurance. In reciting these grievances, it is said sometimes, "but your taxation does not entitle you to more Members." This we deny, and challenge enquiry. The taxation and population taken jointly (which are the grounds of English representation) would entitle Ireland to, at the lowest calculation, 140 Members out of 658 that this House contains. As to the Irish electors, he conceived them to be more independent than those in England. He could cite a case to prove this, that occurred lately in an English county, which, whilst a late nobleman of Whig principles was a large proprietor, the electors always returned a Whig; but when that nobleman was succeeded by his son, a Tory, the electors for the first time in their lives returned a Tory. As property changed hands from Whig to Tory, or from Tory to Whig, in England, the electors changed too, and always voted with their landlords. This, did not occur in Ireland, where the electors voted always according to their principles. Then, with respect to the towns, there was not a single town in Ireland which had been convicted of bribery. But, look to England—look to the Election Committees in this House—look to the use made of the Chiltern Hundreds—look to Sudbury, Stafford and Bridport—look to sundry others in this country which had been convicted of bribery. He defied the House to show any instances of the like kind in Ireland. He certainly did not recollect any two cases, there might be one, in which a Member had been unseated on the ground of bribery, for an Irish borough. He had, therefore, a right to maintain that 947 the Irish people had proved themselves worthy of the franchise and its extension. With respect to taxation, it was said that in Ireland it was only one-fifth per head what it was in England, and that it was all spent in Ireland. This was a most unfounded assertion. This statement had been made by a Gentleman who had lately written a work upon Ireland, and who had recently been appointed to office by the present Government—he presumed—in recompence for his libels upon Ireland. The late Lord Fitzgerald, then Chancellor of the Irish Exchequer, in 1816, made a very different statement. He stated, that Ireland had actually paid since the Union 78,000,000l. of taxation, being 46,000,000l. more than her proportion since that period. But he would cite also as an authority the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who sat opposite. The right hon. Gentleman had stated in 1822, that Ireland had been taxed more than she was able to bear. The proportion allotted was 2–17th's; and this was what the present Chancellor of the Exchequer said was more than Ireland was fairly entitled to bear. Lord Sydenham, too, in 1833, stated in this House, that although increased taxes had been imposed upon Ireland since 1807, they had failed of producing an increased revenue. His words were:—A case is established in the instance of Ireland which is written in characters too legible not to serve as a guide to future financiers—one which ought to bring shame on the memory of its authors. The revenue of Ireland in 1807 was 4,378,000l. Between that year and the conclusion of the war, taxes were successively imposed which, according to the calculations of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, ought to have produced 7,700,000l. Yet the result was, that in 1821, the whole revenue was 3,844,000l.! Here is an example to prove that increase of taxation does not tend to produce increase of revenue, but, on the contrary, an actual diminution.A Finance Committee of this House in 1815 reported to the House that "Ireland had advanced in permanent taxation more rapidly than Great Britain herself." Mr. Leslie Foster stated in 1816, "that taxation in Ireland had been carried to the ne plus ultra." Lord Castlereagh, Mr. Huskisson, and others bore similar testimony. The question before the House was the state of Ireland, and one of the most important features in her state was the amount of her taxation. Such was 948 the state of the case as related to taxation between the two countries; and how was Ireland maligned—how unjustly was she treated by the Government of the present day. The noble Lord who was at present Secretary of the Irish Government had professed himself to be disposed to promote the interests of that country, and to sympathise in her distresses. For his part, he gave the noble Lord full credit for sincerity in these professions; but, unfortunately, he was prevented from carrying them into effect by the men who surrounded him in Ireland and by his supporters there. The fact was, the noble Lord was in a false position. Why, then, if he found himself unable to do his duty with honour to himself and usefulness to the country, did he not retire from the position which he held? He would certainly prefer that the noble Lord should remain in office, because he thought that he might yet avert much of the mischief that his Colleagues might otherwise do in Ireland. He came now to the question of trade and manufactures, which were said to have increased under the operation of the Union with this country. This statement he denied. With the exception of the cotton manufacture, every branch of industry had decreased since that period. In support of his views he would read a short extract from a speech of the Rev. Dr. Bayton, a champion and talented advocate of Protestant ascendancy in Ireland, and a very decided Conservative. He says:—The exports and imports as far as they are a test of a decay of profitable occupation—so far as the exports and imports are supplied from parliamentary returns—exhibit extraordinary evidences of the condition of the labouring classes. The importation of flax seed (an evidence of the extent of a most important source of employment) was in 1790 339,745 barrels; in 1800 327,621 barrels; in 1830 168,458 barrels. The importation of silk raw and thrown was in 1790 92,091 lbs.; in 1800 79,060 lbs.; in 1830 3,190 lbs. Of unwrought iron in 1790 2,791 tons; in 1800 10,241 tons; in 1830 871 tons. Formerly we spun all our own woollen and worsted yarn, we imported in 1790 only 2,294 lbs; in 1800 1880 lbs.; in 1826 662,750 lbs. An enormous increase. There were upwards of thirty master manufacturers in the woollen trade in Dublin, who have become bankrupts since 1821. There has been doubtless an increase in the exports of cotton. In 1800 9,147 yards; 1826 7,793,873 yards. The exports of cotton from Great Britain were in 1829 402,517,196 yards; value 12,516,247l., which will give the value of our 949 cotton exports at less than a quarter of a million. Poor substitute for our linens which in Ulster alone exceeded in value 2,200,000l.Another of the extravagant statements of Mr. Montgomery Martin was, that at the time of the Union the Irish Parliament was about to impose high duties upon English manufactures. This was a most unfounded assertion—it was entirely contrary to the fact, as he could prove by reference to public documents. The fact was, that previous to the time of the Union all the resolutions of the Irish Parliament were strongly in favour of free-trade between the two countries. What was required for Ireland now was, that her industrial capabilities should be called into operation. She was endowed with vast natural resources, and it was the duty of Government to call them into operation, and give employment to the people. They should encourage railroads, fisheries, and public works of every kind, which would extend the resources and the industry of the country. But, instead of this, Government only thought it necessary to increase their armies. They had been only three years in office, and had added 11,000 men to the military force in Ireland. They had ceased to govern except by the sword. Did they think they could long continue to govern on such terms? If so, they were mistaken. The right hon. Baronet, at the head of the Government, had said, on one memorable occasion, that Ireland was his "great difficulty." Yes; and it will continue to be so, until they learned to govern the people of Ireland by the heart instead of by the sword. How had the Conservative press both in Ireland and in this country maligned the clergy of the great body of the Irish people? He regretted also to see that some men distinguished for their learning and ability in this country had lent themselves to the aspersions made against the Irish priesthood, at Exeter Hall and elsewhere—aspersions made with no other view, as he believed, than to influence the minds of the people against their Irish Roman Catholic fellow-subjects. He held in his hand one of these publications headed "Awful perjury of popish bishops," and dated "Protestant Association Exeter Hall." Was this decent? Are you astonished at the indignation of the Irish people, when such infamous slanders are poured out against all they hold sacred. Their bishops called perjurers, their clergy 950 termed "surpliced ruffians," and other similar epithets that would disgrace the lowest meeting at Billingsgate. The noble Lord, the Secretary for Ireland, had said, that he could not tax himself with the commission of one act in the course of his connection with the Government of Ireland, that was calculated to do an injustice to the Roman Catholics. But he must tell the noble Lord that many of the acts of the Irish Government had tended to check the confidence of the Irish people, especially as to the administration of justice in that country. Take, for instance, the appointment of all their judges—they being most violent political partizans. The first was the Chief Justice Pennefather, who had recently distinguished himself so much by that charge which was described by the lawyers in Ireland as "the speech in evidence." He was informed, on undoubted authority, that the most intense feeling of indignation prevailed amongst the barristers of the Dublin bar as to that charge, the manner of delivering which, they said, was even more objectionable than the matter; and that never before had any similar act taken place in a Court of Justice—not even in Ireland. This was the opinion of men who had no feeling in common with the traversers. And what was the course taken by this same learned Judge in another case—a charge of libel brought against an Irish newspaper—in speaking to the jury? The terms he used in addressing the jury upon the article which formed the subject of the action, were—"This diabolical libel," thus pronouncing, ex cathedra, an opinion of the fact which the jury had to try. The hon. Member also complained of the appointment of Mr. Baron Lefroy, and Mr. Justice Jackson, but solely on account of their political partizanship. The next great error committed by Government was the dismissal of a large number of the Magistrates. That was a most injudicious step, and had shaken the confidence of the whole body of the people in the impartiality of those minor courts over which the Magistrates presided, and it was felt now that those courts were constituted solely by political partizans, and that justice could not, therefore, be fairly administered by them. The last fatal blow was the removal of all the Roman Catholics from the jury panel in the late State Prosecutions in Ireland. They might tell him that the men whose 951 names had been struck out of the list were implicated with the traversers, and were themselves members of the Repeal Association. It might be so; but whether or not, the act of the Crown lawyers in this respect had shaken the confidence of the people in the administration of justice, and they believed, that the only object was to deprive the Roman Catholics of all share in it, and to pack the jury against the traversers. This opinion was not confined to Irishmen. He had recently conversed with an English gentleman of high station, who, upon enquiring about the trials, and being told they were over, replied, "Yes, over, indeed, with a packed jury, a pistolling Attorney-general, and a Judge Jefferies; such proceedings would not be tolerated in England." Here he might remind the English people how different was the state of Ireland when governed by Lord Normanby and Lord Fortescue, to what it is now. Crime had diminished—the army considerably reduced—confidence in the law—little agitation—party frauds almost totally extinguished. Now crime increasing—the army nearly doubled—barracks fortifying—all confidence in the law extinguished—agitation in the ascendant—party feuds and religious animosities on the increase. He appealed to the Government to change their policy, and to conciliate the Irish people; he asked the House and the Minister—he implored them—in the name of his country, to govern her by her affections, and not by force. Let them adopt that course, and agitation and discontent would cease.
§ Mr. Repton
said, that although he was unconnected with Ireland he could not but feel interested in the welfare of that country. He had recently visited Ireland, and he was bound to say, that no one could leave it without feelings of kindness and sympathy for the Irish people. There was no country in the world possessing greater resources, and it ought to be in a more prosperous condition. He believed that the great cause of the decline of commerce and manufactures in that country of late years, of which they heard, and which all deplored, was the agitation for Repeal. Many persons of high authority in Ireland had declared that previous to the commencement of that agitation a great change for the better had taken place, and was spreading over the land, that capital was flowing into it every day, and great improvement was going on. 952 He had felt great anxiety when the Repeal meetings first commenced and wished to see them at once put down by the law. He had, however, since then, seen reason to applaud the wisdom of the Government in the course they had ultimately taken; for he believed if they had failed to prove those meetings illegal they would have increased tenfold, and been tenfold more mischievous. He rejoiced, therefore, that the Government had allowed them to develope themselves in their own proper character, and had then taken a judicious course to put them down. He wished to say one word as to the charge made by Members opposite against the Government on account of the number of troops stationed in Ireland. But, if any outbreak had taken place, and there had not been a sufficient military force to put it down, who would have been the first to say to the Government, "You had sufficient warning, why were you not prepared for the emergency—Ireland is now swimming in blood because you have neglected your duty." One of the greatest curses of Ireland was, that it was always made the battle field of party and religious contention. The people of Ireland were, in common with the people of England, the subjects of the Sovereign, and the good of one country was mixed up inseparably with that of the other. That was his feeling, and it was therefore his most anxious wish to see both countries treated with perfect equality. There was another point in regard to which he would make a single observation. There were some hon. Gentlemen who advocated a State provision for the Roman Catholic clergy. It was his opinion that any Government which should now propose a grant from the State to the Roman Catholic priesthood would commit an act of perfect insanity, for of this he was convinced, that quite as many meetings of agitation would take place upon that subject, were such a proposition made, as had prevailed there during the last three years on the Repeal of the Union.
§ Mr. More O'Ferrall
had heard with much satisfaction the speech of the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, and it was somewhat remarkable that every hon. Gentleman, when first speaking upon the subject of Ireland, was disposed to treat it with great liberality. He was surprised that in the course of a debate on a matter deeply involving the character of the Go- 953 vernment, and still more so the interests of Ireland, that up to that moment—with the exception of an Irish Lord of the Treasury (Mr. Young)—not a single Gentleman on the other side had risen to express his unqualified approbation of the conduct of the Government in reference to their Irish policy. It was remarkable that in the Speeches from the Throne, or made by the Members in their places, they had never been able to ascertain what the policy of the Government really was, either in regard to England or Ireland. It was true that the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government had declared, in reference to the Corn-laws, that he meant to adhere to the sliding-scale; and with regard to commercial matters generally he had admitted the principle of free-trade, though he declined to put it in practice. The right hon. Baronet the Secretary for the Home Department had enlightened them on another subject. That right hon. Baronet had distinctly told them what was to be the future policy towards Ireland. He had stated that Ireland (admitting at the same time that it was governed by the Constitution) must, from the force of circumstances, be occupied by troops, and that the Government must, therefore, be one of force. Having, then, this distinct and clear line of policy before them, he must presume that the dodging system had been giving up, and they were now in a condition to call upon the Opposition to consider what course it would take in regard to the Government. He hoped, that all doubt and difficulty would now be at an end with regard to what were the real opinions of Ministers, and that to all parties who differed, and might have differed, as to what would be done on other points, the policy of Ministers in regard to commercial matters in England, and as to the mode of governing Ireland, was clear and decided. [Sir J. Graham: The right hon. Gentleman has not correctly represented my words.] The right hon. Gentleman certainly admitted that Ireland was not to be governed by force, that properly the Government of Ireland was the same as that of England, but he immediately afterwards stated that the country was generally occupied by troops. [Sir J. Graham: Those were not my words.] At all events the right hon. Gentleman had said that it was necessary, that it was his determination to maintain the Esta- 954 blished Church in its present state. Then I say that was the same thing. That was equivalent to saying the country must be occupied by troops, for you cannot maintain the Church in its present state without the presence of troops. I may not have given the words of the right hon. Baronet, but the substance was as I have stated it. [Sir J. Graham: I do not admit the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman is mine.] He must be allowed to repeat an opinion he had before expressed on the subject of the Established Church in Ireland. His objection to that Establishment was not a religious objection; he objected not to any human being on account of his religious opinions, but he objected that when a clergyman was appointed for a specific purpose, and was paid for the performance of certain duties, he neglected the great object for which he was appointed, and applied himself to other purposes. In Ireland the Established Church met you at every turn; it was impossible to take a single step in that country without meeting with the Clergy in some shape or other. In executing a power of attorney, in transferring stock, in every transaction connected with public charity (and possibly in those it was least objectionable), the Protestant clergyman interfered in some way or other. And what he contended was, that he assumed, on the credit of being an established clergyman, a position which no other clergyman took. He was constantly appearing in the character of an officer of the Government, and, from the circumstances in which the Established Church was placed in Ireland, he complained that the clergyman was taken out of his proper sphere and placed in a false position. No one could deny that of late years, since political animosity had run high, the Established Church did interfere to a great extent in secular affairs. What he stated was fact, and he was observing on the effect. A feeling had grown up in Ireland, more especially among the farmers, that if they were for any cause to be turned out of their farms, their places would be filled up by Protestants; and this he believed was owing to the anomalous position of the Established Clergy, a position half secular and half clerical. In his opinion it would tend much to the peace of the country, as well as to the advancement of religion, if this anomaly were put an end to, and the clergy con- 955 fined to their clerical duties. As the law now stood, if a man wished to prove a case in a court of justice, in which a certificate of baptism or of marriage was necessary, the certificate would not be admitted—supposing the marriage or the baptism had been solemnised by a Roman Catholic priest—unless signed by the Protestant clergyman, or supported by some other evidence. Then there were the Ecclesiastical Courts—every will must be registered in those courts, and all matters connected with devised property—of whatever religion the testator might have been—must be referred to those Courts. Why were those Courts managed exclusively by the Clergy of the Established Church? Why not open them to secular officers? Why not place the registration of wills and baptisms on the same footing as the registration of other deeds? He thought there was every reason and every ground why Members on that side, who had been separated on so many points, should now unite upon this question of Irish policy. There were some who desired the Repeal of the Legislative Union, while others were opposed to that and advocated other measures; but he would suggest to those hon. Gentlemen that it would be far better to unite with the Liberal party upon general points, than by taking a separate course upon this question, and upon that, weaken their party, which it was their object to strengthen. The Repeal of the Union was, no doubt, a delicate question. He did not conceal his opinion with regard to the effects of the Legislative Union. His opinion was, that one of two things must happen from it—either Ireland must be raised to the level of England, or England must be lowered to the level of Ireland. He believed that, to some extent, this result was indicated by the present condition of England. The great national distress which now existed here was fast reducing the condition of the English labourer to that of the Irish labourer. Ireland was like a diseased part attached to a healthy body, which, unless it could be either cured or got rid of, would certainly bring the healthy portion of the body into its own condition. This ought to show that it was not Irishmen alone, but every man in this House and in the country, were interested in raising the condition of Ireland. Then why, if this was admitted, were not steps taken for carrying it into effect? There was a 956 strong feeling in Ireland that supporting the Church there in its present condition was a wound to the vanity of the nation. But the right hon. Baronet opposite had stated, as regarded the remedial measures to be applied by Government, that permission was to be given to the Roman Catholic's to endow their own church. But they had already done so. They had endowed it very largely. Every parish had its church and churchyard, but which were now in many instances the property of Protestant clergymen. He should be glad to see the Catholic Church provided for by its own Members; but under the existing circumstances he felt that the measure was not what would be productive of much practical benefit. As to the proposed Bill for the Registration of Voters, he, of course, could say little until it should be before the House, but he thought it strange that the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham) had refused to answer a question upon this subject put to him lately by a friend of his, in the public papers after he had seen that Mr. Barker, the late candidate for Tipperary county had stated, that he should contest the county with better chances next time, as they would then have polling places in different parts of the county. Was that announcement official? He would now come to the most important question, that of the late State Trials in Ireland, a subject which had as yet been rather avoided during the progress of the debate. He had already expressed his opinion upon the conduct of the Government in striking off all the names of Catholics from the jury panel. He was, at first, under the impression that there were not so many jurors on the list of known and declared Repeal opinions as it appeared there were. But two of the number struck off, at least, were not Repealers, nor members of the Repeal Association. Now, on the other hand, what were the politics of the persons who had tried the traversers? Had none of them ever subscribed to the Kildare-street Society? Were none of them people of strong—of violent political opinions? Had none of them expressed feelings of hostility and aversion to some of the principal traversers? But, in fact, it was impossible to find a jury against which no man and no party could bring a charge of partiality. Was not that the very best of reasons for not having the trials at all? 957 The object of punishment was rather to deter, by example, than to inflict retributive pain on the individual. With this view the law should always be vindicated in soberness and with mildness. The Government had got a conviction, but had they obtained any advantage by it? He asked if the conviction was a fair one? He did not believe it was. In fact, he had viewed with great dissatisfaction the whole proceedings of the trial. It had not produced the effect that such a solemn proceeding should have. Had the traversers been brought to the Bar in a dispassionate manner, with no appearance of prejudice, a conviction would have produced a great moral effect; but what effect had it actually produced? A feeling of anger and hostility, and a conviction that the accident which occurred to the jury-list had been the result of intention. He did not hold or avow this opinion, but there had certainly been a most culpable degree of negligence upon the part of the authorities in whose hands the management of the proceedings had been placed. In fact, the whole proceeding, from beginning to end, was a system of blundering most discreditable to any Government. One point to which he would direct attention was the fact, that when the indictment was sent up, and when the traversers asked for the names of the witnesses on the back of the bill, the request was refused, because such was not the practice in Ireland. It was stated to be the practice in England; but the representation produced no effect. It was a bad practice also to find bills of indictment from written depositions—instead of the actual examination of witnesses. The Irish judges had on those points frequently made law for themselves, differing from the rule and practice in England. However, even all that might be passed over; but when he saw the spirit of animosity which the Chief Justice infused into his charge, he could not but express a wish that the tribunal had set a very different example. He wished proper decency of behaviour in court. He wanted that if, when before a magistrate, one man challenging another would be immediately sent to gaol, that were a similar thing to occur in a court of justice, a similar punishment should be inflicted. A friend of his own, having been cross-examined by a very impudent lawyer, sent the latter a three-cornered note. It was immedi- 958 ately handed to the judge, and before four hours had elapsed the challenger found himself lodged in Newgate. He did not find fault with that; but he found fault with the practice having been laid aside in the case of the Attorney-general for Ireland. The object of the Government in the late prosecutions was, as he hoped and believed, to show that the law could and would be vindicated. But if this was their object, should not they remember that it was of the utmost importance that all matters of a legal kind should be so sacred as deeply to impress upon the people the conviction that the most impartial justice was done. When he heard of the challenging of the Catholics from the jury list, he was very indignant. If the course of Government had not been to villify the Catholics generally, if they had not in many cases before the State Trials been objected to, because they were Catholics, he should have thought that the challenges recently made had taken place merely on the ground of the parties objected to holding Repeal sentiments. But he could not think so when he heard the declarations of a person in another place upon the subject. The right hon. Baronet opposite did not hold such views, for he had repudiated them; but when they heard the man-of-all-work of the Government that person who carried about his Billingsgate for hire, when that man was heard in such an outrageous manner to villify a body of men who had never done him any injury he could not but be conscious of the effect of all this in Ireland. Yes, it was notorious that that person had become the supporter of Government. His noble Friend near him had spoken of another person, who presided in the House of Lords, and stated that he apprehended that he held his place in consequence of opinions which he had expressed upon the Irish people. When he heard this, he did not agree with it; but he had seen reason to agree with it since; for when he saw another noble Lord take up the villification of the Irish people, heaping on them insulting imputations, when he saw that man, who had never done an act good or bad, without a personal motive, when he saw that man take the same course, he could not but agree with the noble Lord. It was the putting things together, which had happened in the course of the late trials, that induced the people of Ireland to conclude 959 that there was no more hope for them. With the verdict returned against the traversers government, had obtained a triumph but still they were in a worse position than ever. The country, believing that the conviction was an unjust one, expected that there would be an insuperable difficulty in carrying on any after proceedings. If he were to attempt to state what it was possible might occur, such remarks might have a tendency to produce that which was dreaded. He should not, therefore, state it; but he entertained such strong opinions, that there was no consideration which would induce him at that moment to stand in the position of the right hon. Baronet opposite. The noble Lord (Lord Stanley) might not agree with him, for he knew the noble Lord's rash confidence, and he regretted that the first expression of the noble Lord's antagonism and violence were displayed in Ireland. He would tell the noble Lord also, that he believed, that the agitation for the Repeal of the Union in 1831 and 1832, never would have risen to the pitch which it reached, were it not for the intemperate language then used by the noble Lord. He well recollected the noble Lord's letter, published at that period—a letter which did more to exasperate the people than almost anything which occurred at the time. When he saw the noble Lord, now a Member of Government, knowing the number of strong animosities, which the noble Lord never hesitated to express—was not the spectacle enough to create the utmost feeling of alarm in his mind. As to the people in Britain, the worst they had to expect was the maintenance of a large army, to be supported, perhaps, by a doubled and prolonged income-tax. But what was to become of those who had property, and wives and families in Ireland? People, too, who had taken no part in the agitation, who deplored the course of events—what was their position? He did say—and he regretted that, if the right hon. Baronet felt it, the noble Lord near him did not feel it—that the right hon. Baronet held a position of deep and awful responsibility. It had been stated that the troops in Ireland had been reduced. He told the right hon. Baronet, that if he had done so, he ought to beware of what he did. He had had full notice; and if he was determined to govern by the sword, it must be by a long and a strong sword. He understood that there were no 960 more than 23,000 soldiers in Ireland; but if the policy and intentions of Government were what that policy and these intentions were stated to be, instead of an army of 23,000 men, there must be one of 50,000 in Ireland.
§ Sir James Graham
would strictly confine himself to an explanation. He understood, the hon. Gentleman to say, that he had announced the policy of Government to be that of retaining and occupying Ireland as part of the British dominions by military force, and by military force alone. It was in the recollection of the House, that he had stated distinctly, that in his opinion, the Protestant Church of Ireland must be maintained in all its rights, privileges, and property. He had stated, that it had been necessary, at a period so late, as, he thought, the commencement of March, 1843, to increase the military force in Ireland; but up to that period of March, 1843, from the time when Her Majesty's present Government had come into office in 1841, so far from an increase being made in the military force in Ireland, that force had been actually diminished. He had gone on to state, that attempts having been made to intimidate the Government, by demonstrations of physical force, it became necessary to augment the army; but he had also added, that he was convinced that it never could be the permanent policy of this country to hold possession of Ireland by military force, without any hold upon the affections of the people; and he had added, that he was convinced that the vindication of the powers of the law, coupled with steady impartial Government, neither leaning towards timidity on the one hand, nor intemperate counsels upon the other, would without the aid of military power, preserve to the Crown of this country that inestimable portion of Her Majesty's dominions.
§ Mr. Shaw
should probably not have troubled the House during the debate, but certainly not at that period of it, had he not been pointedly referred to by the noble Lord whose motion it was, and his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department, in relation to the alleged omission of sixty names from the Dublin Jury lists. Moreover, as much misrepresentation had gone forth, and much real misapprehension prevailed on the subject, he hoped the House would excuse him for taking that opportunity—the first legiti- 961 mate one which he considered had presented itself—of explaining what never yet had been explained to the public, the real facts of the case and the manner in which they had occurred. The subject must be necessarily dry and uninteresting to the House, involving the provisions of the Act of Parliament regulating the formation of the Jurors' Book for the City of Dublin and some of the minute details by which it had to be carried into operation. But if the House would indulge him with a few moments' patient attention he would be as brief, and use terms as little technical, as would be consistent with the full and explicit explanation he desired to afford them. He would, in the first place, assure the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) that when he (Mr. Shaw) ventured to correct the noble Lord in stating that he read from an affidavit, he did not mean to rely upon any difference of form between an affidavit and a statement, but substantially to deny the accuracy of the statement itself, which was made in a formal pleading and not sworn to, and was, that sixty names had been omitted from the special panel; it was nothing to the purpose to say that the Crown Counsel had by their demurrer admitted the statement. It was true that they had in fiction of law, and that on the argument of that demurrer, the fact must have been assumed, according to the averment in the pleading; but that could not affect the fact itself as it was in truth. Now, he would, in the first place, state what was the full amount of the real error that had been committed, and then, he hoped to satisfy the House, that the error had been perfectly accidental, without the slightest fraud or wilful suppression on the part of any person. First, then, it had been alleged that sixty or sixty-five names had been omitted, and that thirty-five were those of Roman Catholics; instead of which the fact was, that nineteen were omitted and five misplaced—making altogether twenty-four names, which were the entire number omitted—in transferring from a general list of between 4,000 and 5,000, 741 names which were to constitute the special panel, and which by that omission were reduced to 717. With the permission of the House, he would explain how the error had occurred having made a strict personal investigation of the matter; but, for that purpose, the House must bear with him while he 962 gave them a short account of the process by which these lists were formed. It was under the 3rd and 4th William 4, c. 91. By that act, the parish collectors had to make out lists of persons liable to serve on Juries according to a form given by the act, and to deliver them to the clerk of the peace. The collectors complain, and he (Mr. Shaw) thought justly, that while the act requires them to make out lists, setting forth the full name, residence, rank, or business, and qualification of every man residing in their district, it did not give them any authority or means whereby to obtain the necessary information. The parties themselves were generally unwilling to be placed on the lists, and refused to give the information. The collectors, therefore, could seldom know more than their surnames and residence, consequently the lists from the passing of the act to the late occasion had been very incomplete. The Sessions Courts, and in Dublin, the Recorder's Court, before which, under the act, the lists came for revision, could not add nor alter a name unless upon the application of the parties, or that a regular notice had been served upon the parties, so that in Dublin, up to the last year, the sitting for the purpose was little more than a form; but then, from the great excitement prevailing in reference to the approaching State Trials, notices had been extensively served, and numerous applicants, attended by counsel and attornies, came up on both sides; so that the court was occupied from the 14th to the 24th of November, sitting nine hours a day, in hearing and adjudicating upon the applications made. The act directs that the original parish lists shall be corrected, allowed, and signed in court; that then the Court shall cause a general list to be made therefrom, arranged according to rank and property; and that the clerk of the peace shall copy that list, and deliver such copy to the sheriff as the jurors' book for the year. Now, in Dublin there were twenty parishes, and the original lists were therefore returned by twenty different collectors in their various handwritings, and though under one general form, not pursuing one system. They were, in some instances, not easy to decipher, even in their original form, but of course much more difficult when about 4,000 names having been returned by the parish collectors, 600 additional names were interlined and added by the re- 963 gistrar in court—the act requiring that to be done on the original papers. The great struggle was to have the names so entered as that ultimately they should be on the Special Jury list, and they were, as he had stated, to be arranged according to rank and property. With that view, he (Mr. Shaw) had classified the ranks under nine heads, which were principally suggested by the 24th section of the act relating to the special jury panel. Such as magistrates, grand jurors, ex-sheriffs, esquires, bankers, traders worth 5,000l., and so forth, and these he had fully explained to the counsel and parties attending in court. The course of proceeding in court was, each applicant when allowed was entered by the registrar on the collector's list; and, if entitled to it, his qualification for the special panel was written under the column headed "Rank," and a cross placed opposite his name; otherwise he was entered for the common panel. When all that was done by the registrar, in pursuance of his orders, openly pronounced on each case in court, he (Mr. Shaw) signed each of the twenty collector's lists as directed by the act, and then he considered his judicial functions in the matter discharged, and in that view he found himself confirmed by the judgment of Judge Perrin pronounced on the demurrer. He had, however, the further duty, of a ministerial nature, to perform, of causing one general list to be made out from the collectors' several lists, arranged according to rank and property; for that purpose he directed the registrar who had made the entries to form the general list by placing at the head of it all persons adjudged to belong to the nine classes of rank, in their proper order, that to constitute the special list, and the remainder of the names then to follow in perfect alphabetical order, which latter would constitute the common list. The parish lists, when corrected, contained altogether between 4,000 and 5,000 names, and out of that number, those ordered to be placed on the special list, amounted to 741, from which, as he had commenced by stating, 24 names had been erroneously omitted. He now came to explain how that error had occurred; he necessarily did so from the statement made to him by the registrar; but he was bound to add, that, after the most rigid investigation, conducted by himself and the clerks of the peace, he was fully persuaded of the truth of that statement. 964 His registrar stated, that he took the twenty parish lists separately, in order first to form the nine classes in each; that for that purpose he called out the marked names from each parish list, and had them taken down by his assistants on separate sheets of paper, ruled and in columns with printed headings in the form of the schedule to the act, and one of which he had then in his hand: twenty parishes and nine classes in each would give 180 sheets; these being transcribed and checked, the registrar thenceforward considered as the original special list; but upon his next step in process of classification, namely, throwing together the corresponding classes in each parish, so as to form nine general classes, one of the separate sheets containing the class of 5,000l. traders in the parish of Audoens became mixed with a parcel of ruled papers of exactly the same kind and appearance, which were blank, and lying for use, if required, on the Table, and it was put aside with them without being missed. Upon it were fifteen names. There were overlooked in copying from the 4,500 on the original list four names; and there were erroneously transferred to the common list, from the crosses having been omitted, and which ought to have been transferred to the special list five names, thus making the twenty-four he had stated. He had the sixty names mentioned in the challenge carefully compared with the original lists, and in the thirty-six of them remaining there was no error. He had the particulars of each in a paper then in his hand, but would not trouble the House with them, unless any Member opposite would mention any particular name, and then he (Mr. Shaw) would explain the reason why that name did not appear. Thirteen of the sixty were actually upon the special list, and, as an instance, he would mention one of the sixty names complained of as being omitted; it was that of William Saurin, Stephen's Green, the eminent man who had for so many years been the Attorney-general in Ireland, but who died several years ago; his name had by mistake been returned on the original list, and he (Mr. Shaw) knowing the fact, desired it, of course, to be struck off. His right hon. Friend (Sir J. Graham) had last night expressed his regret that there should have been any omission or error in these lists. He (Mr. Shaw) would not intrude upon the House the vexation and mortification 965 it had caused him. He had bestowed the utmost attention and anxiety to have them correct. He was aware that the business was new to the registrar and ordinary clerks in the Clerks of the Peace-office, and he had desired that neither labour nor expense should be spared in getting them the best assistance in the classification of the lists, and none had been spared; time pressed, considering the period the Sessions were held under the Act, and that fixed for the State Trials, and he knew that the clerks had sat up whole nights to expedite the work. The great object had been a perfect classification; and the possibility of some names being omitted had not been sufficiently borne in mind. However, the errors to the extent he had mentioned had occurred. The House would perhaps allow him to read a memorandum he had written for the guidance of the Clerks of the Peace, with a view to correct the error, the first moment he had heard from one of the sheriff's officers attending in his court that there were some names omitted, and wrong placed on the list.Court-house, January 1, 1844.It appears that in the hurry of making up the jurors' list, some names have been omitted from what has been termed the special panel, and left on the common panel, and that by some error in copying or unintentional omission, the names of Mr. Roe, late Lord Mayor, D.L., Mr. Hoyte, late Alderman, Justice of the Peace, Mr. Grant, late Sheriff, Mr. Reynolds, wholesale merchant, have been pointed out to me as being the wrong part of the list. I think, under the 24th section of the Act, the sheriff might of his own authority have corrected them; but I understand he has been advised not to do so. I wish, therefore, to take upon myself the responsibility of transferring these names from the common to the special list in my original copy, and desiring you then to take them to the High Sheriff, and offer them as an amendment of the book you furnished to him, and at the same time inform the High Sheriff that if there are any other names similarly circumstanced, I am willing to do the same with them." F. S.To the Clerks of the Peace.Further, when the names were published in the newspapers, and the Registrar observed so many missing in St. Audoens parish, he suspected some list must have been mislaid. He made a search through the papers in his office, and found the mislaid paper. Upon that being communicated to him (Mr. Shaw), he at once said, as there had been an error, the only reparation that could be made, was If, acknow- 966 ledge it candidly, and quickly; and under his direction, the Clerk of the Peace lost no time in informing the Solicitors for the Crown and for traversers, that it had occurred. With regard to the proportion of Roman Catholics omitted, he had no certain means of knowing the fact; but his belief was, that in the mislaid list of fifteen names of traders in Audoens parish, judging from the class and locality, that the majority were Roman Catholics, and that of the remaining nine names omitted, the majority were Protestants. Certainly, the chances of the ballot for forty-eight names out of 717, could have been but very slightly affected by the error; and there he might observe, in reference to the postponement, of the trials in connection with the jury lists referred to by his right hon. Friend (Sir J. Graham), that about 400 names out of 700, had been added in the whole to the special jury panel of 1843, that having consisted of not more than about 300 names. He might mention, too, as a circumstance in reference to the imputation on that head, that the gentleman who committed the mistake—his registrar—was himself a Roman Catholic. Had he believed that there was the slightest corruption or fraud, in the omission of the names, he trusted he need not say he would have exposed and punished the individual guilty of such conduct to the utmost of his power. He said—perhaps with a pride for the expression of which he ought to excuse himself to the House; that in the City of Dublin he did not believe there was a man of any class, creed, or politics, that would suspect him of being capable of permitting or countenancing the smallest act of fraud or partiality in the humblest subordinate connected with his court; but as he entirely acquitted his officer of any such motive, and he was satisfied that the error or negligence, be it which it might, had been perfectly unintentional on his part, then he (Mr. Shaw) would not shrink from himself incurring any responsibility or blame that might attach to it. Unconscious, as he was, of any personal neglect in the matter, he had had already to bear the vulgar abuse of Counsel in Dublin on the subject, and having now candidly stated all the facts, and circumstances of the case, must be content to submit to any party attacks on the subject by which that might be followed in that House. He was very sensible of the kindness of the House in having lis- 967 tened to him so long and patiently in a matter somewhat personal to himself; but, before he sat down, he must entreat their forbearance while he said a few words on the important motion under their consideration. He had heard with considerable satisfaction, both what had fallen from the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) and from his right hon. Friend (Sir J. Graham), with respect to the Irish branch of the Established Church. The noble Lord, a skilful antagonist, appeared willing to wound, but not plainly to see where he could venture to strike the Irish Church; while his right hon. Friend (Sir J. Graham) rested his defence of that Establishment upon the broad ground of religious truth. [Cheers and counter Cheers from Mr. Roebuck and other Members on the Opposition Benches.] Yes; (said Mr. Shaw) I repeat of religious truth as held by this nation and Parliament from the Reformation to the present time—also upon the faith of the Imperial Parliament, and the great principle that the Protestant religion must be by law established in connexion with the State in every portion of the United Kingdom. He was certainly surprised at the noble Lord's morality of politics when he alluded to the fifth article of the Union, and intimated that there would be but little difficulty in annulling that, if the majority in number of the Irish people desired it. Surely the noble Lord did not forget, that all the Members of both Houses of the Irish Parliament, were of the Protestant religion; that they never would have consented to the Union, had it not been provided that the continuance and preservation for ever of the United Church of England and Ireland should be deemed and taken to be an essential and fundamental article and condition of the Union. The noble Lord had quoted what certainly was not new—what he (Mr. Shaw) had read in an article ascribed to a distinguished friend of the Archbishop of Dublin, but had never heard, as the acknowledged opinion of his Grace—that a congregational was better suited than a territorial provision for the Irish Church. In his opinion, a congregational division was the obvious characterestic of a sect, while a territorial was of the very essence of the Established Church. He would not then refer to the present revenue, or to the improved and improving condition of the Irish Establishment further than to express his readiness on all 968 proper occasions to meet her opponents, boldly on those grounds; but now that every improvement that law could make, had been effected; that sinecures, pluralities, unions, and non-residence, had almost disappeared, and were daily disappearing; and that the Roman Catholic occupier had been relieved from Church Rates and Tithes, and every practical inconvenience,—he considered it unreasonable and ungenerous to make these continual attacks upon the Irish Church, and the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) must allow him to add, calculated to inflame that hatred between races and animosity between religions which had been lamentably excited by recent circumstances, to which, for obvious reasons, he would at the present time abstain from more particular reference, but would rather say, which the good sense and good feeling of the more moderate of both parties were striving to allay. He entirely concurred in the sentiment expressed by the hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. Wyse), that what they wanted in Ireland was domestic peace. God knows it is what they wanted, and most devoutly did he desire that upon the altar of domestic peace they would sacrifice many of their prejudices; and above all, that Irishmen would lay down their to each other; it injured their national character in that House, and did them no individual credit. He really believed they did not think so badly of each other, after all, as many Englishmen in that House were led to suppose. For his own part, he thought that the prejudices of many Englishmen were much stronger against the Irish Roman Catholic than he (Mr. Shaw) had ever entertained, and sure he was, that no Irish Member had so strangely perverted notions of Irish Churchmen, and Irish landlords, as he had heard expressed by English Members of that House, who, in their outbursts of extreme liberality, seemed to think no words could be too harsh, no treatment too bad, no new code of penal laws too severe for the man who had the misfortune to be an Irishman by birth, a Protestant in religion, and a Conservative in politics. But, to be serious—if Irishmen were to have peace amongst themselves, they must not for ever be attempting to raise up and unsettle great questions that ought fairly to be considered as at rest. He spoke from his own experience when he said, 969 that he had always desired the civil equality of his Roman Catholic countrymen, and he lived with many of them on terms of friendship and intimacy; but then these relations could not fail to be disturbed if these questions were constantly debated as to the injury or destruction of the Protestant Church Establishment in Ireland, which he had been induced to believe was to have been strengthened by the concession of what was termed Catholic Emancipation. He had heard that night with sincere regret, the sentiments which had fallen from the hon. Member for Kildare (Mr. More O'Ferrall) upon the subject of the Established Church. He (Mr. O'Ferrail) had declared that,—not on account of any real practical grievance,—but from some abstract notion of honour, some "Vanity," as he (Mr. O'Ferrall) termed it—there never could be peace in Ireland so long as the Established Church continued to exist. If so, then indeed peace must be a stranger to that unhappy land; for while be (Mr. Shaw) had every desire for peace, and to live on terms of good will—aye! and practical equality too with all classes of Her Majesty's subjects—yet this he must say, and he was persuaded that he described the feelings of the great majority of the Protestants of Ireland when he expressed his own—that he would lay down his life before he would consent to the subversion or injury of the Established Church in that country. He would not delay the House by quoting the language of Grattan, of Canning, of Plunkett, and other distinguished advocates of that measure,who had one and all regarded the permanent security of the Established Church in Ireland as an indispensable condition to the passing of the Roman Catholic Relief Bill; for it had frequently been referred to in that House; but, he had taken a short but remarkable extract from the evidence of Mr. Blake, an eminent Roman Catholic, the late Chief Remembrancer of Ireland, which he had never heard read in the House, and which he would ask their permission then to read,—I consider," said Mr. Blake, in his evidence before the committee on the state of Ireland in 1835, "the Protestant establishment in Ireland a main link to the connection between Great Britain and Ireland. The Protestant Church of Ireland is rooted in the constitution; it is established by the fundamental laws of the realm, it is rendered, as far as the most solemn acts of the Legisla- 970 ture can render any institution, fundamental and perpetual; it is so declared by the Act of Union between Great Britain and Ireland. I think it could not now be disturbed without danger to the general securities we possess for liberty, property, and order, and without danger to all the blessings we derive from living under a lawful Government, and a free constitution.Such was the strong, emphatic language of Mr. Blake. Let them further lay aside the trite and ungenerous attacks so common in that House upon honourable men, because, though differing from them in polities and religion, they had received the just rewards of professional eminence and high personal character, and abstain from wholesale and indiscriminate attacks upon Irish landlords and other bodies and classes of men for evils which, however much to be deplored, were not justly chargeable on them. Then all sides would they be in a better mind to obey the gracious injunctions recently laid upon them by their Sovereign, and apply their undivided attention and united energies to improve the social condition of their kind hearted and generous, but too long-neglected and easily-deluded countrymen, and to develop the great natural resources of their fertile and interesting, but still unhappy country. As to the motion of the noble Lord it was the mere party attack of one of the great divisions of that House upon the other, and as a matter of course, each would be found voting under their own leaders.
§ Viscount Howick
As this debate proceeds, it seems to me to become more and more clear that Gentlemen on both sides of the House are agreed, not only as to the danger of the present crisis in Ireland, but also in this, that no prospect has yet been held out to us by Her Majesty's Government of measures which it can even be pretended, afford us a rational hope of restoring that country to a state of security. Such, undoubtedly, is the conclusion we must come to from the debate, so far as it has yet gone. The dangerous condition of Ireland, has not been more forcibly described by Gentlemen on this side than by those on the other; the House will remember, that immediately before it was addressed by the right hon. and learned Gentleman who spoke last, the right hon. Secretary for the Home Department, rose for the purpose of explaining certain expressions attributed to him by my hon. Friend, the Member for Kildare, 971 It appeared to me, I confess that the right hon. Gentleman's explanation was longer and less clear than the words he was said to have used, but I do not perceive that in substance it materially differed from them. If I am not mistaken, the right hon. Gentleman's reply to my noble Friend (Lord J. Russell) who had said, "Ministers have military occupation of Ireland, but do not govern it;" was this, "Yes, we have military occupation of the country, but it was necessary to take it, when it became obvious that an attempt was about to be made to wrest Ireland from the Empire by physical force." Now, what is the real meaning of these words? You say you have military occupation of the country, because there were positive indications of an intention to use its physical force in resisting your Government, and you have acted on the assumption of such a state of things. What does this mean, but that you are concious, that throughout the great body of the Irish people is spread a universal spirit of disaffection, and that they are retained in their allegiance not by a sense of duty, but of prudence, created by the force which you are able to maintain—that their hearts are alienated from you, and that your power rests, not upon affection, but upon military force? Sir, this is the real meaning of what the right hon. Gentleman stated—this is the real meaning of the measures which Her Majesty's Government have taken. The right hon. Gentleman seems to admit that this state of things cannot be permanently continued. He has told you, that you cannot always govern by force; it may do for a short interval that such a state of things should be endured, but as a permanent instrument for the Government of Ireland, force is utterly indefensible. This I understand to be admitted; but, having this admission, when my right hon. Friend, the Member for Devonport, quoted so remarkable a declaration, and proceeded to ask, what means then do you propose to use for recovering the affections of the Irish people, what rational prospect can you hold out of getting rid of the spirit of disaffection?—when he asked this question, what answer did he receive from my noble Friend, the Secretary for Ireland? I can assure my noble Friend, that I felt for him, but really it is lamentable that when asked a question of such momentous importance, holding, as he does a situation of the first rank connected with the Government of Ireland, he should 972 only be able to go into miserable details in defence of the distribution of his patronage, and attempts to prove how kind and good have been his intentions towards the People, when this is all, he has to say on the part of the Government, and when, at the same time, I know his intentions to be as kind as he states, I must think the case a most serious one indeed. Have Her Majesty's Government, themselves, seriously reflected on the import of the words they use? Have they reflected how much they risk from the existence of such general disaffection, do they think this is a case in which they can afford to wait for a more convenient season to bring forward remedial measures, and in which every hour's delay is not fraught with the utmost danger? It is perfectly true, that while peace lasts, there is no probability open resistance will be tried, and if it were, it is as certain, that it would be instantly suppressed. While peace lasts it is true, that the only consequence of this state of things will be, that all improvements will be arrested, every relation of life will be poisoned, that the whole country will be filled with strife and ill blood, and men's passions roused against each other, and, in short, a state of society produced intolerable to all who are forced to live in it. This, while peace continues, may be the utmost extent of the evil, and God knows, it is bad enough. But, let me ask you, have you considered what the result would be if a foreign war should break out? What would your situation be, if again called upon to take part in a mortal struggle for your existence against a Foreign Power, while nearly a third of the whole population of the Empire, is ready to take part, not with you, but against you—while this large proportion of the people of the United Kingdom is ready not to assist, but to oppose you with the deadly hate which springs from civil dissensions? Have you really considered how fearful is such a danger? Peace now happily prevails but who can tell how long it may continue? Do you not see that to other countries the knowledge that you have the sources of internal weakness within you is a constant temptation to brave your power? Is it not justly to be feared that the state of Ireland in every petty misunderstanding with other countries, may encourage demands which would not otherwise be hazarded, and induce them to ask for that which it is inconsistent with our honour and interest to 973 grant? By allowing this state of things to continue, you at once risk the maintenance of peace, and, deprive yourself of the power of carrying on war with advantage. I may be told that these are things which ought not to be publicly mentioned, and that the secret of the country's danger ought hardly to be whispered, much less spoken of, in this house. Sir, if I could believe that by abstaining from speaking of it we could get rid of the danger, if I were not fully satisfied that however we may some of us delude ourselves as to the true state of things it is perfectly well understood by those whom alone it would be of advantage to keep in ignorance; if I did not believe that to open the eyes of the country to the critical situation in which it stands, is the first step towards carrying those measures which the state of Ireland requires. If this had not been my firm conviction, I certainly should not have spoken of these things;—but as it is, I conceive, I should have failed in my duty had I shrunk from pointing out to Parliament and to the country the dangers which threaten us. And here I cannot avoid repeating an observation which has been made over and over again in this House, that it is not merely the existence of agitation in Ireland, which is the source of danger; it is not the fact that very violent language has been used at public meetings, that large numbers have attended those meetings, that the people have been organised in Repeal Associations, mid that a large amount of Repeal rent had been collected—none of these things are in themselves the danger—they are only the signs and symptoms of that disaffection in which it really consists. It is the state of mind which prevails amongst the people, and of which all this agitation is but the outward sign, that constitutes the real danger. But if so, does it not follow, as a necessary inference, that by repressing the outward signs of this discontent, we should do no good unless we also remove the causes from which it springs? Nay more, it might happen, that we might thus really increase the danger both by blinding ourselves to the fact of its continuance, and by exasperating the bitterness of the people's feelings by the means taken to prevent their manifestation. In judging therefore of the policy of Her Majesty's Ministers, I must consider whether it has been calculated to regain the affections of the people of Ireland, or merely to put down open resistance to your authority in that country. I am far 974 from denying that it is necessary to maintain obedience to the law, and to prevent the authority of the Imperial Parliament from being slighted; but I contend that the measures to be adopted for that purpose should be considered with the greatest care, and should be of the most prudent, calm, and dignified character; and that to produce any permanent benefit they must be joined with others of a different kind. But far from this being the case, when I examine the conduct of Her Majesty's Ministers, I find, that whatever degree of vigour they have displayed, has been confined entirely to measures for suppressing the signs and symptoms of discontent—that even in the measures that they have adopted for this purpose, there has been a singular lack of wisdom, prudence, or firmness; while of measures having the higher aim of regaining the affections of the Irish people, the promise held out to us falls infinitely short of what we had a right to expect, and of what the exigency of the case demands. In the last Session, on the occasion of the motion of the hon. Member for Limerick, those who sit on this side of the House, stated very fully their views as to the measures which the state of Ireland required. Amongst others, I expressed my own opinion on this most important subject, and I fear that I troubled the House in doing so more at length than I ought; perhaps I went beyond the line of my duty as an independent Member of this House, holding no official situation, and able to boast of no personal knowledge of Ireland. But such was then, the dangerous state of things, that I thought it was the duty of all Members who had so strong an opinion as I entertained of the necessity of particular measures, to state the ground of their convictions, for the consideration of the House, and of Her Majesty's Government. In reply, however, to what was urged, and to the various suggestions which were made, by myself and others, Her Majesty's Government confined themselves merely to making objections to what was proposed. They suggested nothing whatever of their own; and so striking was this omission on their part, that at the time my noble Friend the Member for the City of London said, that Her Majesty's Ministers seemed to have changed places on the subject with the Gentlemen opposed to them—that a stranger coming into the House and listening to the speeches which were made, would have been led to suppose that those who sit on this side had been entrusted by 975 Her Majesty with the high duty of recommending to Parliament, a scheme of policy devised for the purpose of tranquillizing the discontent and improving the condition of Ireland; while upon the right hon. Gentleman devolved the humbler and easier task of criticising, or rather, carping at, what was so proposed. Her Majesty's Government had nothing at the time to recommend; they have since taken the whole period of the recess to consider what measures they should propose in the present Session to meet the manifest evils of Ireland, and what I ask is the result. The right hon. Baronet the Secretary for the Home Department has stated the nature of the propositions that are likely to emanate from the Government; and they seem to me to be a "most beggarly account of empty boxes." The right hon. Gentleman told us that, before Easter, we should have a Registration Bill presented to us, by which the number of county voters will be increased, and by which also some of the vexatious formalities which now impede the registration of voters for the boroughs would be removed. He also informed us that a Commission had been issued to inquire into the law and practice with respect to the occupation of land in Ireland; and this was all, of the slightest importance, which the right hon. Gentleman said that he was prepared to propose, while such an important portion of the country is in a situation of so much danger, and while the physical force of Ireland is, as he himself tells us, arrayed against the Imperial Government. Must it not be a matter of surprise to every one, that, in such a state of things, this should be all that the Secretary of State for the Home Department can suggest to a British House of Commons, that a Minister should come forward with so poor and meagre a plan in such an emergency. Now, with respect to the Bill for Registration, such a bill is greatly needed. If you bring forward a measure for the extension of the County Franchise in Ireland, framed as I trust it will be in a large and liberal spirit,—if as I hope it should turn out not to be a new insult concealed under the disguise of a boon, but a really large and liberal measure, it will remove a crying wrong, and will be felt I have no doubt as an act of justice; but still if it be not coupled with other measures, it will only put new arms into the hands of the Irish, to enforce the redress of still greater grievances. With respect to the Commission to inquire into the 976 relations of landlord and tenant, I trust that it will prove of advantage; but I must confess that I entertain no little doubt on the subject. It is perfectly true that the social condition of Ireland is in this respect greatly defective; the relations of landlord and tenant in that country are far from being on a satisfactory footing. Improvement on these points is most urgently called for, and probably the aid of legislalation is required. But the question is, whether Her Majesty's Ministers have adopted the means most likely to prove successful to bring about the end so much desired, of improving the state of Ireland, with reference to the occupation of land; and I, for one, cannot help feeling some apprehension that—by the mode they have adopted—by proceeding to inquire through the means of this Commission, they are exciting vague expectations, which they will find it most difficult to fulfil, and dangerous to disappoint. A smaller measure of improvement at the present moment might have done more to give contentment to the Irish people on this exciting subject, than larger measures after their expectations have been highly raised. I do not think that this is an unreasonable apprehension, nor do I quite understand why the Government might not have proceeded at once to legislate on this subject. It appears to me that if immediately on the close of the last Session of Parliament, without the parade of issuing a formal Commission of Inquiry, Her Majesty's Ministers had availed themselves of the means within their reach, it would not have been impossible for them to have been now prepared to do whatever can be accomplished by legislation on this subject. They had it in their power to command the assistance of the persons most eminent for their legal talents both in England and Ireland; and of those best acquainted with the rural affairs of both countries; and with such aid, surely it would not have been impracticable in four or five months to have ascertained of what improvement the law was susceptible, so as to have been prepared to bring forward measures immediately on the meeting of Parliament, for effecting all that can be done by legislation. I cannot help believing that this would have been a better mode of proceeding. At the same time, I am far from venturing absolutely to condemn the appointment of this Commission; the difficulties of the subject may have been far greater than I am aware of, it may have been, unfortunately, necessary 977 to resort to the means of proceeding which have been adopted in a question of so much difficulty; but if so, the conclusion which I draw from this is, that if all we can do towards remedying the physical distress which presses so heavily on the Irish people, is to hold out to them so distant a prospect of improvement as is afforded by this Commission, it is the more necessary to soothe their minds by measures of another character, which might have been immediately brought forward. The more I consider the actual condition of Ireland, the more reason I find for coming to the conclusion, that the discontent which prevails there, cannot be traced merely to the pressure of distress. No doubt the grinding poverty under which the Irish people are suffering—no doubt the constant struggle which so many of them are forced to maintain, in order to procure even a scanty and miserable subsistence, must enter much into the causes of the discontent that prevails; but I am persuaded that this feeling has been greatly increased, and owes its actual bitterness to the sense of injustice and wrong which rankles in their minds. Hence, even, if Her Majesty's Ministers had been prepared to deal with the physical wretchedness of Ireland in a more comprehensive manner—if they had been prepared at once to submit to us a well-considered law with respect to landlords and tenants—if they had been prepared to adopt a system of public works in Ireland on an extensive scale and to bring forward a large measure of colonisation—if they had been prepared to do all these things—still I should have contended that all these measures could not have been expected to produce the effect desired; and to have the healing influence they ought unless accompanied by other measures calculated to remove from the minds of the Irish that galling sense of injury and injustice which now prevails in part from other circumstances, but chiefly on account of the wrong they feel to be done to the religion they profess. If you do not bring forward some plan to remove this sense of wrong, all other measures which you may adopt will I am persuaded, prove fruitless. Is it possible that they should fail to feel most bitterly the manner in which the Government of this country has dealt with the religion in which the great body of the people believe? Is it not natural that they should be keenly alive to the insult which you have offered to them, in your treatment of that ancient faith, to which 978 they are so much attached? Can you believe that you will ever remove from their minds the feeling of being treated with injustice while so much disfavour is shown to the Catholic religion. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin has indeed said, to-night, that since the Catholic Emancipation Bill has been carried, religious equality has been completely established in Ireland. Such, no doubt, is the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman, but it is one in which I can by no means concur; and I only ask the House to consider what are the facts of the case? Let it be recollected, that the Roman Catholic Church was the national Church of Ireland, and that some three centuries ago the large endowment which it held was by acts of the Legislature taken from it and given to the Protestant Church, the Protestants forming but a small portion of the population, while the great mass of the population adhered to their ancient faith. Further, the great body of the people from whom this endowment has been wrested, are probably the poorest population in Europe, whilst the small minority to whose exclusive benefit the Church revenues thus violently taken from the majority have been applied, consist chiefly of the wealthier classes. Nor is this all; yet further to add insult to injury, you give to the Presbyterians, who, according to law, are, in Ireland, as much Dissenters as the Catholics, a share of the bounty of the State, and the only part of the population, which so far as the Government is concerned, is left utterly unprovided with any means of spiritual instruction, is that which constitutes at once the great mass of the population, and the class which stands most in need of pecuniary assistance. Can you deny that this is a plain unvarnished statement of facts, and then I ask you, is this justice? Do you think, that to such a state of things, the people of Ireland can be reconciled by such arguments as we have heard addressed to the House to-night by the right hon. and learned Gentleman opposite? For, Sir, you should remember that it is in vain that your reasoning may be perfectly conclusive in your own opinion, unless you can convince the Irish people of the justice of your law. You may set forth your reasons as clearly as any logician from the first university in the world, your arguments may be framed with the greatest care, your syllogisms faultless, and in your opinion the whole of your deductions may be irrefragable, but if you do 979 not convince the Irish people of their truth your reasoning is worth nothing, and you are as far from your object as ever. The question is not whether your argument be good or not, but whether it is likely to have so much weight with the people of Ireland as to render them contented with the state of things to which they are required to submit. Keeping this in view without now going into the question at length, I will just glance at one or two of the arguments which have been urged in support of the State Church in Ireland, and ask the House what favour they are calculated to obtain with the Irish people. The right hon. and learned Gentleman said, that the maintenance of the Church Establishment in Ireland in its present shape and form, was one of the stipulations of the Act of Union, which we had no right to break, and he found great fault with my noble Friend for having said, that the fifth article of the Act of Union might be expunged. The right hon. Gentleman observed, that the Parliament of Ireland which agreed to the Union, was exclusively Protestant, and never could have been induced to agree to that measure otherwise than by the adoption of this article. Why this argument is the very strongest that could have been urged in refutation of the position which the right hon. Gentleman has taken. Was this purely Protestant Parliament—and most assuredly it was pure in no other sense, for it is notorious that it was the most corrupt legislative assembly that ever existed; can it be said that this corrupt Parliament which cannot even be pretended, to have represented the Irish people, for I believe that the right hon. Gentleman himself would say, that to regard that assembly as a true representation of the Irish people, would be a farce—was it to be borne that such a Parliament should be considered as having authority to tie up the powers of legislation in the Imperial Parliament to all posterity, and that out of respect to this authority we were bound to the maintenance of an Establishment which shocks every principle of natural justice? Why, Sir, the right hon. Gentleman would supply a powerful argument to the hon. and learned Member for Cork in favour of the Repeal of the Union if he could prove that by no other means the abatement of so great a grievance could be obtained; but if he thinks he can reconcile the Irish people to the maintenance of the Church in its present form, on such grounds as 980 these, the right hon. Gentleman must have the simplicity of a child. What then are the claims of the Irish people upon the great principles of justice? Why, Sir, it has been the opinion of some of the brightest ornaments of the Church of England, that the only ground on which the existence of a national establishment can securely rest, is that of the benefit it confers upon the great body of the people, as the means of imparting to them religious instruction. The most able divines this country has produced, have repeatedly rested their defence of the Church Establisment on this ground, and have admitted, that to be useful, it must be in conformity with the religion of the great body of the people. This principle is not disputed even by the Secretary of State for the Home Department, but when he is asked to apply it to Ireland, his argument is this—"Very true," says the right hon. Gentleman, "the Established Church in Ireland, taking it by itself, may not be the Church of the majority, but then you must recollect the union between the two countries, it is the United Church of England and of Ireland, with which you have to deal, and its religion is the religion of the majority of the inhabitants of the two countries." This certainly may be very satisfactory reasoning to the right hon. Baronet, but will it weigh with the Irish people? Do you think that they do not see through such shallow sophistry? How, let me ask you, was this argument listened to when it was a question of imposing Episcopacy upon the people of Scotland? If I am not mistaken, some years ago, the right hon. Gentleman himself in one of those highly polished elaborately ornamented passages, and which he is in the habit of introducing into his speeches, while passing on the people of Scotland, a warmer and well merited encomium put forward, as one of their claims to the admiration of the world, the manner in which they resisted the establishment of the Episcopacy in Scotland. If my memory does not greatly deceive me the right hon. Baronet said something of the people of Scotland, in their laudable attempts to resist an infringement of their rights of conscience, having resorted to their mountains, and trusting to their good claymores. I think I remember to have heard something of this kind from the right hon. Baronet; and does he suppose that the ears of the Irish people are less acute or their memories less retentive of such language, 981 and that they cannot see how well it applies to their own case? Does the right hon. Baronet think he is likely to convince them that the right he so strongly asserted for the people of Scotland, is not equally a right for the people of Ireland? Therefore, I say, that as an argument for the maintenance of the Establishment, it is utterly ridiculous, to tell the Irish in the expectation that it will gratify them that the Church ought to be supported, because its adherents though a small minority in Ireland alone, are a majority of Ireland and England together. This argument like that of the right hon. Recorder, might well be quoted by the hon. and learned Member for Cork, as an argument for Repeal; but, being contrary to natural justice, can have no weight with the Irish. For it is contrary to the commonest notions of natural justice and to the first principles of Government, that you should thus sacrifice the interests of the great majority to those of a small fraction of the people.—But still you would greatly underrate the strength of the feeling of the Irish against this injustice, if you were to suppose that it was only the simple and naked injustice of having taken away an endowment which once belonged to the Church of the people in order to give it to the Church of a small and favoured class, which dwelt upon their minds. No; it is something far more than this. They might perhaps have been induced to acquiesce in the continuance of the Established Church, if you had not made its preservation and its safety a reason or a pretence for inflicting on them the most cruel injuries. Was it not for the sake of the Established Church, that you enacted and maintained those cruel and revolting penal laws, which are a disgrace to a civilized nation, and the blackest page of English history? Do you think that it is forgotten that you resisted to the very last moment the admission of Roman Catholics to civil rights and to seats in Parliament, because, as you alleged, your wanting it would shake the foundations of the Established Church? Oh! how miserably shortsighted was the right hon. Baronet, when year after year he used to rest his objections to Catholic Emancipation on the difficulty of granting it with safety to the Established Church in Ireland! Was it not certain (as experience has since proved) that the time must arrive when it would be impossible to maintain any longer this system of political exclusion, that at length the Irish people must recover their political 982 rights, and would enter upon the exercise of their new power with the strongest feelings of hostility against that Establishment, which had been the alleged reason for their long exclusion? But the injustice complained of did not cease even in 1829; after the passing of the Catholic Emancipation Bill you still continued, because you feared for the safety of the Church Establishment, to mark in the most offensive manner your distrust of the whole Catholic body, and distrust proverbially begets the disaffection of which it assumes the existence.—To the latest times you have acted in the same manner, and when you unwillingly reformed the Municipal Corporations of Ireland, you refused to grant to that country the same franchise you had created in England, and avowedly made the safety of the Established Church the reason for this insulting difference. It is all these things, not the mere injustice of maintaining a sinecure Church, which have created so strong a feeling of hostility to the Establishment. Do you believe that for three centuries wrong after wrong, can have been heaped on the people of Ireland, that battle after battle can have been fought in resisting their acquisition of civil rights, and that the maintenance of the Established Church can have been always put forward as the reason for your injustice;—do you believe that three centuries of such wrongs and such struggles can have passed by, and not produced their necessary effects on the minds of the Irish people? Let us judge of the Irish people by ourselves—just ask the people of England how they would feel if they were placed in the situation of the people of Ireland, with reference to the Church Establishment. Just suppose for a moment that Ireland were the larger country, and had conquered England, that a united Parliament now sat in Dublin, and that we went before that Parliament and applied for the restoration of a large endowment which had been taken from a Protestant Establishment and transferred to the Catholic Church—suppose that such an appeal were made, and resisted by such arguments as those brought forward by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, should we, by any such mode of reasoning as we have heard, be induced to consent to the continuance of a Catholic established Church amongst us? Would the right hon. Baronet himself consent to it? Can he lay his hand on his heart and say, that he would? I much doubt whether, under such a state of 983 things, he would be even as patient as the Irish Repealers, and whether he would not follow the example of the people of Scotland, whose conduct he so much admires, and take to his mountains and trust to his broad claymore. I can only say for myself that I would not submit to so galling and degrading yoke. I would endeavour to obtain redress by every peaceful means, but no effort I could make, no sacrifice that could be required from me, would seem too great to get rid of a yoke so very galling and degrading. If such would be our feelings, is it not reasonable to suppose that such must also be the feelings of the great body of the Irish people; and can you expect to regain their affections if you do not do justice to them in this most important matter? But, says the right hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Shaw), we take our stand for the defence of the Church Establishment of Ireland "on the broad ground of religious truth." Now, if there is any one thing calculated to make the existence of the Established Church more offensive than another—if any one reason that you could put forth could be more galling and insulting than another—it is this assumption that you alone are in possession of religious truth. This is as much as to say that the Catholics are altogether wrong, and that you alone are right. This is an opinion and a principle which no Legislator who wishes to promote tranquillity should ever put forward. You have admitted the Catholics to Parliament, and you tell them that they have equal rights and privileges with their Protestant fellow-subjects, you admit that they should stand on a par with yourselves, and yet, in legislating for Ireland, you tell them that they must submit to the continuance of the Established Church on the ground of its being the sole possessor of religious truth. That is, for it comes to this, you ask them to act on the assumption that the religion which they profess, and to which they are so strongly attached, is false and idolatrous. I am strongly attached to the Protestant Church, in the main points of difference between the Church of Rome and the Protestant Church, I am thoroughly convinced that the Church of Rome is in error, and nothing I think could induce me to abandon that opinion. But while I firmly maintain my own opinion, may I not with perfect consistency acknowledge that the Roman Catholic has precisely the same right to his, and admit that he is as conscientious in the faith which he maintains as I am in my own. 984 Neither party has a right to assume that the other is in error; and therefore, I say, if you insist on legislating upon the assumption that religious truth is on our side, you adopt a principle which cannot be maintained by the Government against the Catholics of Ireland, if you wish to promote and maintain the peace of the Empire. On this same principle, if the Catholics were the majority, they might claim to legislate for us, on the assumption that we are in error; and if they did, I need hardly say that they would not be entitled to expect peace. The majority I contend, is guilty of injustice, if it legislates for the minority on the ground of the truth of their own faith; and the Catholic has the same right to maintain his opinion as I have to adhere to mine. Who gave me the right to judge in points of religion, or as to which party is really in possession of the truth, between my Catholic fellow-countrymen and myself? What right have I to assume that the Catholic faith is false, when I recollect that it is still held by more than half the Christian world? Has not the Catholic, as well as the Protestant Religion, produced its enlightened and learned Divines, its missionaries, and its martyrs, who, by the exemplary piety of their lives, by the privations and sufferings which they have voluntarily suffered in order to promote the welfare of man and the glory of God, who, by the constancy and the courage with which they have met tortures, and even death itself, have given undeniable proofs of the sincerity of their belief? And can a British House of Commons listen without disgust to a proposal to legislate on the assumption that a faith so held and so honoured is false and idolatrous? No, Sir; I say you must do full justice to the people of Ireland. The time was, perhaps, when what is now demanded might have been withheld. If you had earlier granted Catholic Emancipation—if, after you had granted Emancipation, you had shown a large and liberal confidence in the great body of the Irish people—if you had not kept up to this very hour a system of manifesting distrust and dislike to that body—if, some years ago, you had consented to the Appropriation Clause, it is possible that you might have escaped the necessity which now presses upon you of making an entire change in your policy as to the maintenance of the Church Establishment in Ireland. Yes, I say now, as when we withdrew the Appropriation 985 Clause—for Gentlemen will do me the justice to acknowledge, that I never concealed my opinion, or denied that that measure was far short of what, on principle, I should have been prepared to grant; and that it was only because it was a compromise, which I believed would then be accepted that I ventured to recommend it—but when I found, from the time which you suffered to elapse, that the proposition ceased to have the value which originally belonged to it, I consented to withdraw it. I warned you, at the time that you left open this larger question, which could not fail very soon to be brought before you for your decision. This is no new opinion of mine as to the right of the Catholics to insist on a different application of the property of the Irish Church. It is one which I have held since I first thought upon politics, and which I have never ceased to entertain and openly to profess. If you had earlier consented to a compromise; no doubt the Catholic people of Ireland would have agreed to it; but you would not do this, you stood upon your Acts of Parliament, you maintained your extreme rights, and, backed by the prejudices of the English people, you were enabled to do so with success. As you would yield nothing then, so I am persuaded the Irish people will yield nothing now. The time for compromise, is in my opinion, gone by. You must deal full and equal justice to the people of Ireland. I am prepared to find little sympathy with me in the House, and still less in the country, in the sentiments which I am about to express, but believing it to be necessary that the truth should be told, I mean to tell the whole truth, and to tell it unreservedly. I say then you must do full justice to the people of Ireland, in this matter of the property of the Church, and I ask how is that to be accomplished? Various modes may be proposed. In the first place, you may say—and certainly, if he were prepared to act consistently on the principles he has laid down, it is what the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for the Home Department ought to propose—you may say that you will proceed towards Ireland on the same principle as that which you adopt towards England and Scotland; and that, as the Protestant Episcopal faith is held by a majority of the English people, and is therefore established by the law in this country, and as the Presbyterian religion is held by a majority of Scotchmen, and is therefore established by law in Scotland, 986 so Catholicism being the faith of a very great majority of the people of Ireland, it shall be the religion there established, and the endowment which three centuries ago was torn from that Church, shall be restored it. This is one of the modes which might be proposed, while, of course, you would provide for the interests of the existing incumbents. Another mode of dealing with the subject, would be to say that the difficulties surrounding it are so great, that you will have no Establishment whatever, but will take the whole of the Church property and apply it in furtherance of general Education. That is the second mode. The third is to make provision for the spiritual wants of all classes of the people, in proportion to their respective wants. Any one of these modes would carry out the principle for which I contend. I am perfectly aware that every one of them is open to great objections, and would be met with great difficulties, and I am not now going to consider—I could not do so without unwarrantably trespassing upon the time of the House—whether one or any of them is the plan that ought to be adopted. This, I think, is not the proper time for such an inquiry; but I say, if you desire to produce peace in Ireland, and to regain the affections of a numerous, brave, and generous people—if that be your object, you must manfully resolve to look at the question in its real bearings, and deal with them as the great principles of justice require, remembering that out of a population falling short of 8,000,000, nearly 6,500,000 are Catholics. You must deal with them on the principle of extending to the Catholics every advantage in a similar degree to that in which it is enjoyed by the professors of other religions. They are to be dealt with on the same principles which in their situation you would expect to have applied to yourselves. I believe, greatly as Catholics and Protestants differ on many points, we all agree that it is one of the fundamental laws of the Divine Founder of our common faith that we should do to others as we would have others do to us; and all I ask of you is, to apply that great and eternal principle of Christian justice. No doubt you will have great difficulties to encounter. You will have a host of long-cherished prejudices on the part of the people of this country to contend with; but I tell you, it is your duty to face them. You must do so, unless you are prepared to allow the danger which now prevails in Ireland to continue. The right hon. Baronet 987 (Sir J. Graham) told us the other night, and told us truly that this Church question is at the bottom of all our differences of opinion with respect to Ireland. It is at the bottom of all our differences of opinion, and of all your difficulties in carrying on the Government of Ireland. Are you not aware that while this Church question continues unsettled, you never can rely upon or trust the Catholics, that they will be always looking to overturn the settlement you contend for—that at all events you will always suspect them of entertaining such a design, and that this suspicion on your part founded or unfounded, will destroy all cordiality between you and them? The right hon. and learned Gentleman has told us to-night, that we are never to look for peace while those questions were kept open which the Irish Protestants have a right to consider settled. I tell you that the Irish Protestants have no right to consider these questions settled, and practically they never can be settled but in the one manner; for no persuasion, and no power, while human nature is unaltered, will induce the Catholics to remain content with such a state of things. But the fact that you know, and that the Catholics understand that you cannot trust them, nor they you, this fact is at the bottom of all your difficulties; it meets you at every turn; it meets you for instance in this question of the jury at the late trials which has been so much discusssed. The right hon. Baronet and my noble Friend the Secretary for Ireland have made out—in this I am bound to say that I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Devonport—a fair case for the exclusion of Catholics from the jury; but what is the inference from that fact? It proves that the indictment was not, as my right hon. Friend said last night, against Mr. O'Connell, but against the Irish people. We all remember that celebrated passage of Mr. Burke's, in his speech upon America, in which he said, he thought it "narrow and pedantic to apply the ordinary rules of criminal jurisprudence to a great public contest;" and he added, "I know not the method of drawing up an indictment against a whole people." Her Majesty's Government are cleverer than Mr. Burke. They have solved the problem of drawing an indictment against a whole people, and I wish them joy of the results. I was reminded by an hon. and learned Friend of mine the other day, that it is a fundamental principle of the institution of the jury, that you are to have an impartial 988 jury, and that so much stress is laid upon this principle by the law, that a foreigner, if put upon his trial, has a right to claim that one-half of the jury shall be foreigners. I want to know, then, whether you had the power to apply this principle in Ireland to the late trials? Was there less reason to impute prejudice to the men to whom you left it to find a verdict against Mr. O'Connell and his friends, than there would be in a cause of common theft in London to impute partiality to a London jury against a foreigner, and yet that foreigner, would have a right to claim that one-half of the jury should be his countrymen. And yet Mr. O'Connell and his friends, knowing that there was a stronger prejudice on the part of those who were to try them, than could be supposed in the other case, had no such privilege. I do not blame you for not leaving Repeaters on the jury; but if you could neither leave Repealers on it without a certainty of an acquittal, nor leave those whom you did leave upon it without at least creating an opinion in Ireland of the certainty of a conviction, that fact shows, that this is one of those great public contests to which Mr. Burke says, it is narrow and pedantic to apply the ordinary rules of criminal jurisprudence. It is a fact which you cannot deny, that the whole body of the Irish Catholics, and that large proportion of the Protestants who wish for justice to their Catholic countrymen—that this immense preponderance of the nation is united in opposition to you in consequence of your keeping this Church question open. Do you not perceive that if this question were settled, and that in the only way in which it can be settled—let the right hon. and learned Gentleman dismiss the hope that it can ever be settled otherwise—(at the time of the debates on Catholic Emancipation) in the same way I remember we were told, "Hold your tongue for ten years, and we will then come back to it, and we can settle it with wonderful comfort and wonderful ease;" (and the right hon. Recorder's present notion is quite as visionary)—but if this question were once settled, in the only manner it can be, the Catholics would differ in opinion upon questions of public policy, as the various parties in this country are divided. At this very moment, if it were not for the difference respecting Ireland, the remaining points of difference between the Gentlemen opposite and the majority of those around me would be nearly confined to questions of trade 989 and finance; and I cannot help thinking that if this Church question were settled, it is quite possible that the right hon. Baronet opposite might have as many recruits in Ireland in favour of the sliding-scale and agricultural protection, as we should in favour of free-trade; but as long as this question is kept open, every minor difference will be merged in all the absorbing difference, and all who are anxious for justice will be banded against a Government by which their views are resisted. The consequence is, that when by the action of public opinion, power is placed in the hands of those who side with the minority in Ireland, and they have the Executive Government in their hands, you are called upon to deal with this contradiction, you must administer the forms of a free Government against the consent of nine-tenths of the people. The whole machinery of free institutions is to give force and effect to the deliberate opinions of the whole people. The jury—the franchise—the whole machinery is constructed on no other principle; and when you have to administer the Government against the will of the people, you undertake a task beyond the power of man successfully to accomplish. Thus the institution of the jury fails, and the Elective Franchise is a source of evil in Ireland. In every social relation, even in the landlord and tenant question, the Church division is a source of grievance, bitterness, and disputes. The right hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Shaw) complained of the unjust manner in which the landlords of Ireland are treated. I do not deny upon this subject there has been much exaggeration, but still I think he must admit, that in Ireland there is much of what we in England should consider unjust and oppressive on the part of landlords to tenants, and also of resistance to what is just on the part of tenants; but from what does this arise? It is from all parties being engaged in a practical struggle about the Church question, because it is this question which really divides the whole nation into opposing parties, in which the landlords as a class take one side and their tenants the other. These acts of oppression cannot be prevented by a change of the law. They are generally accomplished by abuse of those powers which it is necessary the landlords should possess, and which they do possess in England without such results being produced; and therefore, whatever improvement you may make in the law as 990 to the occupation of land, if you leave this Church question open, you do not get rid of the irritation. Then, Sir, I come back to the principle that you must do justice to the people of Ireland in the matter of the Church establishment, or you must be prepared to see no termination of the existing danger in that country. Its present state will continue as a chronic disease, eating into the very vitals of the country. There is no middle course. Your efforts to establish your power on the consent and affections of the people, cannot be effectual, unless you are ready to do what they hold to be justice, and there remains only the alternative of governing by force. If you could put an end to the forms of freedom—if you could abolish juries, and annihilate the Franchise—if you could govern Ireland as a great Crown colony, by Order in Council, I could conceive the possibility of going on. But, no—I am mistaken—you must go still further; you must abolish your free press, and prevent all discussion. If you could do this and could govern as Austria does in her Italian provinces, it might be possible to reduce Ireland to a state of quiet—there being nothing to excite the mental energies of the people they might fall into a state of apathy, and the phisical evils of the country might be conquered. This is conceivable, but thank God! you have not the power of trying so hateful an experiment. You cannot abolish the forms of freedom in Ireland, and the only choice left to you is, that having the forms of freedom, you should govern in a spirit of freedom, or let things remain as they are, or rather be prepared for their becoming worse and worse every day, because the poison is so subtle that it corrupts even what is in itself good. Extended education will but make the people of Ireland more sensible of the injustice done to them, and make them understand how to resist it. Even the improvement of the material condition of the country, the increase of her wealth and resources, will have no other effect but to increase, by rendering the strength of the parties more nearly equal, the bitterness of the struggle which, if not put an end to by doing justice, will be a permanent one, and will not terminate if even that catastrophe, which I fear some men are guilty enough and mad enough to desire, were to occur; if, unhappily, the country were to break out into open rebellion, and the flames of resistance were to be quenched in blood, your difficulties 991 would not be got rid of, for the moment that resistance was over, the condition of the country would be practically the same, nay worse, than at present, for then all hopes of reconciliation with the Irish people would be at an end, and there would be no possible termination of the struggle, except when it should become so intolerable to both parties that we should be compelled to consent, not merely to a Repeal of the Union, but to a severance of all connexion between the two countries. Such must be the fatal result of a prolongation of this disastrous struggle. God grant, that in our party divisions, and party distractions, we may not continue that struggle until it be too late to apply a remedy. Sir, having thus stated my views upon these momentous questions, I shall now say a few words, and they shall be very few—upon the form of the Motion before the House. My noble Friend opposite, the Secretary for Ireland, stated last night, that the Motion for a Committee of the whole House, was not with a view to an inquiry, but was meant as a censure upon the Government, and that, if successful, it must be immediately followed by their resignation. It is perfectly true, I admit, that I mean to imply—and I believe my noble Friend so understands his Motion—that I think it absolutely necessary that Parliament should, without delay, adopt some measures of a far more comprehensive kind, and of a far different character from any that have been promised to us by the Government. This I mean to imply by my vote, and I believe it is the Parliamentary and Constitutional mode of asking the House of Commons for the expression of such an opinion. I admit, that the House cannot pronounce such an opinion without, in a certain degree, casting a censure upon the Government; and I admit, that in the ordinary course of affairs, the adoption of such a Resolution would naturally be followed by the resignation of the Government. All this I freely admit, but at the same time I solemnly assure the House, that I do not support this Motion because I wish to achieve a party triumph, or am actuated by a desire that the present Government should be dismissed from power. This is not my object, but believing that the measures to which I have referred are absolutely necessary, whether the present Government remain in power or not, I must ask the House to support my views, and I look upon this question as one which, like Catholic Emancipation, 992 can never be carried by a mere party triumph. I believe the settlement of this question can only be accomplished as the Catholic question was settled, by the union of the two great parties which divide this House and the country, and by their making every sacrifice of preconceived opinions and party hostility, and concurring in doing that which is necessary for the welfare of Ireland, and the safety of the empire. I ma persuaded that this is the only mode in which such a measure can be carried, and in fact, I regard this as the Catholic question over again, in another shape. Precisely the same danger and difficulties with which you had then to struggle have come upon you again, and I hope the Gentlemen opposite will consider the great responsibility which now rests upon them. They know that we on this side cannot carry the question against their will. If my object had been to overturn the Government, they know, and the House will understand, that I should not have declared in the unreserved manner I have done, the opinions I have expressed. I am not ignorant of the great mass of prejudice, (what at least I regard as honest prejudice amongst the people of this country, but which they think sound opinions), which I array against me in doing so. I wish that I were able to arrive at any other conclusion, but I am persuaded that what I have said is the truth, and if Gentlemen opposite will calmly reflect upon it, they will feel it to be so. In this awful conjuncture of the British empire, it is their solemn duty to their God and their country to consider how they hope the present state of Ireland is to be terminated, otherwise than by the means which I have pointed out, and if there are no other means which afford a rational prospect of success, not to reject those which are offered. This, Sir, is what I have respectfully to urge upon the consideration of the House, and, in so doing, I have to apologise most sincerely for the time I have taken up, and to express my deep regret at my utter inability to give utterance to one-half what I feel on the subject.
§ After some conversation, during a part of which, the gallery was closed for a division, and in which the Ministers were taunted for not replying to Viscount Howick's speech, to which Sir R. Peel replied, that it was too had to expect them to reply on the instant, to a speech which 993 went to the entire subversion of the establishment.
§ The debate was again adjourned.
§ House adjourned.