§ Mr. Horsman
resumed the Adjourned Debate, and said, it had been admitted, on all hands, that we had arrived at a great crisis in the affairs of Ireland, and he should support the motion of the noble Lord, because he thought that an inquiry was imperatively called for. There were certain facts on which no difference of opinion existed. It was admitted, that three years ago, Ireland had been handed over to hon. Gentlemen opposite in a state of peace and tranquillity. The habits of the people had improved, troops had been withdrawn, the administration of justice was respected, and the Repeal cry was, comparatively speaking, unheard. Now, however, the Repeal cry had become a national cry. More troops had been sent to Ireland, and the country was covered with garrisons; as if the Government intended to act upon the announcement made last year, that conciliation had been carried to its utmost extent. The hon. and learned Member for Cork had been prosecuted to conviction, and that hon. and learned Gentleman was now only awaiting the sentence of the Court, which would consign him to a gaol. By what means had that conviction been obtained? 1107 The right hon. Gentleman had boasted the other night of his moderation and fairness; but he (Mr. Horsman) must confess, that he had never known of any proceedings in which moderation and fairness had been more completely dispensed with than in the recent prosecutions in Ireland. He would not dwell upon the animus which had been exhibited throughout these proceedings by the learned Gentleman who had represented the Government—to the extraordinary preliminary boasting by which the case had been prejudged. He would not speak of the calling upon one of the counsel for the traversers to produce his licence, or of the insisting upon the presence of the traversers in the Court during the whole of the proceedings. These were all extraordinary and vexatious proceedings, but they were matters personal to the Attorney-general. But why was the list of witnesses on the back of the indictment not furnished to the traversers? It was essential to the defence that they should be furnished with the list, and he would ask the Attorney-general for England, if, in the whole course of his professional experience, he had ever known an instance in which the list of witnesses had been refused? He would ask the Attorney-general, if he, under similar circumstances, would have refused the list? Then the application for a copy of the Jury List, which was equally necessary to the traversers, in order to prepare their challenges, was also refused. The Sheriff had transmitted that list to the Home-office, and had offered to furnish a copy to the defendants, if the Attorney-general would consent, but that consent had been withheld. What reason could the right hon. Gentleman have had for such refusal? Was it not to be presumed that they were acting under the instructions of the Government? The production of those documents was essential for the defence of the traversers on their trial, and yet those documents had been refused. Then, with regard to striking off the names from the Jury List, how had they proceeded? It was said that eight of those who were struck off were Repealers. He took that statement as it was made, but there were still four others who were to be accounted for—two Roman Catholics and two Liberal Protestants. He should like to know why it was they were struck off? The Government, by the proceedings which they adopted, succeeded in keeping twelve men on the Jury who combined the threefold elements of being Protestants, Anti- 1108 Repealers, and Conservatives. With regard to the omission of the names from the general list, though it might have happened through accident that they were left out in the first instance, the Government took care to avail themselves of the error, and they forced on a trial with an incomplete Jury List. It was laid down by Bacon as a maxim of law, that if a man found a door open and entered, and having purloined something, broke out through a different way, he was guilty of burglary. This, he maintained, was applicable to the case of Government with respect to the missing List of Jurors. They had entered the house, and taken the names of several jurors, and having done this first injustice, they proceeded to strike off all the Liberals who remained. This was one of the causes why the verdict was regarded as a false verdict, and did not give satisfaction to the country. No moral results could follow from such a verdict, and if no such results did follow, let him ask what would be its practical results? It was said that it had the effect of restoring peace to Ireland. He would not admit that the peace of Ireland had been broken. Could any one point out the instance in which there had been a single case of violation of the peace resulting from the late meetings in Ireland? Hon. Gentlemen on the other (the Ministerial) side might regard Ireland as at peace because she was now held, he might say, in military occupation by this country, but her safety could not be fairly said to depend even on that occupation. It would depend rather on the state of peace or war in Europe. If the peace of Europe should be broken, and that in a state of European warfare England should continue to trample on Ireland, she could do so only by truckling to France, while she played the bully at home, she must play the coward abroad. There was a spirit now prevailing in Ireland which the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government did not read aright. He would do well to consider that spirit. It was a spirit which before now had been seen in England, in Scotland, in America. It was a spirit like to that by which England got the Charter of her liberties, and by which Scotland established the independence of her Church. It was a spirit like to that which Lord Chatham said he rejoiced to see in our American Colonies, and by which they eventually obtained their independence; and let him (Mr. Horsman) add, and let him tell the right hon. Baronet, it was a spirit with 1109 which great men might sympathise, which good men might extol, which the wisest statesman would do well to consider, and at which the boldest Minister need not be ashamed to tremble. Notwithstanding the vaunting of the right hon. Baronet the other evening, he did not think there was a man in the Empire who had so much cause for anxiety. To whose hands had the government of Ireland been intrusted? Under what circumstances had the Clontarf Proclamation been issued? Hon. Members talked as if an attempt had been, or was to be made, to wrest by force the Executive powers from the Government of Ireland. A Council was summoned at the Home-office. To that Council were summoned the Lord Lieutenant, the Lord Chancellor, and the Attorney and Solicitor-general for Ireland, but the Prime Minister for England was not summoned to attend that important meeting, though the Council were in deliberation for four days. He saw many causes of alarm in the present state of affairs in Ireland, and his alarm was not at all lessened by the manner in which they were treated by the Government. To him it appeared, that no man could seriously contemplate those causes without great alarm. It was not his intention, however, at that time, to enter into any detail with respect to many of the grounds on which Ireland complained. Those would become fit subjects for inquiry; but he might say that they were all greatly aggravated by what was most generally complained of, namely, the want of sympathy for them amongst the English Members. Every evil which had ever been felt by Ireland was in some degree owing either to English bigotry or English dislike. We had hitherto denied all the claims of justice; but now the question of justice to Ireland was combined with our own interests. It was now no longer an Irish question. It was a question involving the best interests of the United Empire. Let him add his belief with respect to the late trial, and the manner in which it was conducted,—that if similar prosecutions were carried on in the same spirit against as many Chartists, there would have been produced a sensation from one end of the country to the other. Petitions would have been poured in from all parts of the country, and the business of the Legislature would have been brought to a stand-still, until the evils complained of should be redressed—and most properly would this have been insisted on, for why should not justice be 1110 equally administered on the Irish as on the English soil. Let him, then, earnestly impress on English Members, that this was now a case affecting them. It was one in which the unity and integrity of the Empire were at stake—one with respect to which the eyes of Europe were upon them, and through which the very existence of the Empire as an independent State might be compromised. He would conclude by reading to the House an extract from the opinions of a distinguished historian, a writer whose authority on such subjects stood exceedingly high, and deservedly so, because he was one of the calmest, most philosophical, and impartial writers, that ever undertook to record the events of his age. The passage he meant to quote was from Niebuhr's posthumous works:—The old relations of Ireland to France, and her very pardonable hatred to England, combined with as much of blind and hot passion as of jealousy, must always continue circumstances pregnant with danger to England. But that very warmth of blood and temperament which renders the injured Irishman so jealous, lightens the difficulty of winning him over, and the only true guarantee for retaining the fidelity of a people in no wise to be despised, is the cordial and thorough reconciliation and uniting of the two countries, not by any compulsory assimilation, but by interests acquired, dangers overcome, and glory enjoyed in common. Should England, however, not alter her bearing, should she give coldly and hesitatingly, delaying for months, with a niggard hand, what she ought to give of herself cheerfully and at once—should she only admit from time to time some small inroads on her tyranny, Ireland may yet continue to obey her for some time, but not for ever, and the loss of that country would be the death-day, not only of the greatness, but of the very existence of England.
§ Mr. S. Herbert
said, he heartily concurred in the opinion which had been expressed, that it was the duty of those who wished for the welfare and happiness of Ireland, fearlessly to come forward and state their opinions as to the evils which affected that country, and the remedies which would be likely to remove them. He must say, that he himself, standing in that House as he did, as an Irish proprietor, and therefore feeling a deep interest in the prosperity of Ireland, felt much regret at the tone and manner in which the question had been submitted to the House. He had hoped, when he saw the original announcement on the Paper, that this question was to be brought forward for discussion by the noble Lord, of whose statesmanlike quali- 1111 ties no man in the House had a higher opinion than he—he had hoped that Ireland was not again to be made the battle field of party; but that both sides would discuss the subject with a view to co-operate, and not with a view to find out how we might differ or how perpetuate dissension. Upon this question, although he should not trespass long on the time of the House, he felt bound to ask its attention for a few moments, because, if he differed from the Government as to the policy that had been pursued—if he thought that their measures were not calculated to promote the tranquillity and welfare of Ireland, no party ties, and no personal considerations would induce him to hesitate for one moment in avowing his dissent. Before he proceeded, he must be allowed to congratulate Gentlemen on his side of the House, that at any rate the charges which had been made against the Government were now admitted to be unfounded, although it was true that the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, had repeated the charges originally made by the noble Lord with respect to the conduct of the Government in the prosecution of the Trials; but which the noble Lord the Member for Sunderland, with that frankness and absence of party spirit which characterized him, admitted had not been established, and the right hon. and learned Member for Devonport, although making much more of a party speech, had said that the strong case made out by the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for the Home Department was an answer to the charges which had been made against the Government as to the conduct of the late Trials. That right hon. Baronet had acquitted the Government of unfairness; in fact, had it not been for the speech of the hon. Gentleman, the Member for Cocker-mouth, it seemed to be the only point on which hon. Gentlemen opposite agreed. Nay more, there was one sentence in the speech of the noble Lord the Member for London, which seemed to intimate that he thought that in the circumstances under which Ireland was placed, it was necessary that something should be done to assert the majesty of the law. The noble Lord had said, that he was not prepared to deny that sedition ought to be repressed. He thought that was a great admission coming from the leader of a party which inculpated the Government, and who had never been very remarkable for their power of distinguishing between liberty and licence. So much for the charges of unfairness 1112 with respect to the late Trials. Another charge which had been made against the Government was, that they were not popular, and that that arose out of their distribution of patronage. He did not stand there to deny every thing that had been urged on the opposite side. He was free to admit, that in Ireland there was not any great enthusiasm in favour of the present Government. But they must recollect what had been the policy pursued with respect to Ireland for the last few years. There was nothing easier than for a Government to obtain popularity. They had only to throw themselves at once into the hands of any extreme party, and if shouting were to be the test of popularity, there would be noise enough. There would be enough of throwing up of caps. There would be a loud cry of exultation on the one side, but the silence of terror on the other. He had heard, in a former Session, an hon. Member on his own side of the House, express a wish that Ireland might in the present day be governed in the spirit which had guided the counsels of Tyrconnel. He did not concur in that wish. The government of Tyrconnel was one which had created general terror amongst one class of Her Majesty's Irish subjects, and had induced hundreds of Protestant families to emigrate from Dublin. A government of opposite opinions conducted in the same spirit he should equally deprecate, as he wholly disapproved of a system which gave to one party triumph and ascendancy over another. Gentlemen opposite, when they accused the present Government of unfairness and partiality, should recollect that they were blaming them for the want of virtues of which their Government had set no example. The Government of Lord Normanby had no claim to the title of an impartial Government. It had gained popularity by giving power solely and exclusively to one of the two great parties in Ireland. The noble Lord had spoken of the present Government not governing Ireland, but occupying it; but in the previous Government the patronage was all delegated to one man, and their popularity was only reflected from him, of whose actions they diapproved, but whose dictates they could not afford to disobey. He now came to the proposition which had been submitted to the House by the noble Lord the Member for London, and he must say, that he had been much disappointed at the smallness of those proposals. He at one time thought that the noble Lord hoped 1113 to get his Committee by piqueing the curiosity of the House as to what he meant to do; but after ten years' gestation on the Treasury benches, in a situation, too, which not only gave him the power of proposing large measures, and with it the responsibility not only of what he did, but what he did not do; the noble Lord had brought forth a scheme so small as to make one suppose that even now the birth was premature. The whole plan of the noble Lord consisted of the endowment of the Roman Catholic Clergy, which at the same time he admits to be impossible, and a different distribution of Government patronage. With regard to the payment of the Clergy, the noble Lord had stated his views broadly and strongly, but no Member on his own side had supported him. The noble Lord had entered his strong protest against the voluntary system, but no one on the Opposition benches had echoed that protest. The noble Lord admitted that, so far as the pacification of Ireland depended on the measures he had to propose, there were no hopes, because those measures were impracticable. He regretted to hear the noble Lord say, that the endowment of the Roman Catholic Clergy was impossible. He had heard the same statement made by the right hon. the Secretary for the Home Department. He had heard it with much pain, because he must frankly state that he entertained the opinion that the Roman Catholic Clergy ought to be endowed by the State. He entertained that opinion, because he was anxious to see them placed in a situation above the necessity of taking part in political agitation. He believed it was a fact not denied, that in many parts of Ireland where an indisposition had been manifested on the part of the priests to join political agitation, it had been difficult for them to obtain their dues. He believed that the people had themselves protested against the amount of those dues, and that it was found necessary to superadd political enthusiasm to religious influence in order to obtain them. He had also heard of places in which, when political agitation ceased, this difficulty was renewed. This was a lamentable state of things, more especially in the Roman Catholic Clergy, as it was opposed to the very essence of their religion. The Roman Catholic religion was one so attached to order, that it had often been accused of being unfriendly to liberty. Such being the case he could conceive nothing worse than to see the clergy of a monarchical religion deriving 1114 their stipends from political agitation. He wished to see the ranks of the Roman Catholic Clergy filled from a higher order of men. The noble Lord had said, the lower the better, but when they recollected Mr. Burke's opinion on the necessity of religious instruction, when they recollected the temptations with which intellect in poverty was beset, when they saw the little respect with which the Clergy were treated in countries where they were of a rank little removed from the people, he thought it would be conceded that the Clergy should have among them cultivated minds, fit to exercise due influence not only over the poor beneath them, but amongst the rich with whom of right they may associate. At the same time he admitted that there were very great difficulties besetting the question. He knew the hostility that existed, especially among Protestant dissenters, to anything like a State recognition of what they deemed to be the errors of the Roman Catholic Church, and knowing these things, it would be unreasonable in him to call on any Government to propose measures which could only end in disappointment. He had hopes, however, from the certain slow progress of public opinion, that ultimately they would succeed. But, after all, taking this matter as hopeless, Government had proposed much more than the noble Lord opposite, measures more comprehensive, greater changes. Of course, he did not include the proposals of some of the noble Lord's supporters who differed from, while they supported him. He did not allude to the proposal of the noble Lord the Member for Sunderland, or that of the hon. Member for Sheffield, although he feared that either would be more agreeable to Gentlemen on that (the Opposition) side of the House, than the suggestion of the noble Lord the Member for London. Judging from the silence with which they received the noble Lord's proposals, while they received with much approbation the proposal of the hon. Member for Sheffield, it seemed as if they wanted something more pungent than the noble Lord's measure, something that would square better with the great aphorism of the hon. Member for Sheffield "Don't pay anybody." He (Mr. Herbert) accepted the proposal of the Government for legalising the gift of land to the Clergy, as the very best substitute that could be formed for their payment by the State. He had great hopes that not only by Roman Catholic, but by Protestant landholders ad- 1115 vantage would be taken of that measure, and that it would be carried out in the kindly feeling in which it was proposed. If his view should turn out correct, he believed that many of the evils of Ireland would be healed. He looked also, with some satisfaction, to the measures for the advancement of education. He knew that there were many different opinions on this subject, as it was a matter that had been much discussed, but he must say he looked more to it than to any other legislative means for the amelioration of the condition of the Irish people. He thought it an extraordinary thing to see the Irish peasant come over to England to reap the harvest, associate with well regulated people, surrounded by artificial comforts, and then return, not with a bad impression of those he had left, for with that kindness of heart and gratitude for which, above all men, the Irish peasant was distinguished, he was sure to bring back the following year his present of whiskey to the farmer for whom he had worked, but return the same man he had left, having no wish for the comforts or the civilization he had witnessed. He could not help thinking that this was mainly attributable to the want of education. He took what the Government had proposed as an earnest of their opinion that in all civil matters there should be the fullest equality between the Protestant and Roman Catholic, fair and full equality, not a mere verbal, not a nominal but a full and honest equality, in spirit as well as in letter. He did not think that the Irish Roman Catholic was only to be satisfied by the spoliation of the Established Church. That Church was not now supported by the Roman Catholics, it was supported by the landholders, the mass of whom were Protestants, and was done too without any increase of rent, for he was sorry to say that in most parts of Ireland an increase of rent was impossible. He did not assert that there was not room for improvement in the Church in many points particularly as to its distribution, but he certainly did not think that the Roman Catholics, as a body, looked to the spoliation of the Established Church, as a condition of their tranquillity. There was only one point more on which he would trouble the House. It appeared to him that, of all the symptoms he had seen from which a man might augur a better state of things, the best was the tone which had generally been adopted in that House with respect to religious differences. There was one—but 1116 one—speech which he had heard with regret—one from a Roman Catholic gentleman of great ability, one of those men to whose co-operation they must look for the amelioration of his country. He had much regretted to hear that gentleman adopt the tone of bitterness with which—sometimes with truth—Gentlemen on that (the Ministerial) side had been reproached. Now, however, there could be nothing more pregnant with hope for the future, than the tone in which Gentlemen on that side had spoken of their Roman Catholic countrymen. He confessed that he had heard with much pleasure the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Donegal (Colonel Conolly), delivered with much racy wit and humour, and full of kindness to his Roman Catholic countrymen. Such facts argued more, in his opinion, for the restoration of tranquillity than any legislation that could be devised. He was not so presumptuous as to set himself up as the mouth-piece of the Irish landlords, but he believed he might say for them, as he could on his own behalf, that they were most anxious to co-operate in anything that might tend to the benefit of their common country. He had made these observations, he had intruded on the House to make them, because of the deep interest he took in the question, and he had looked with great interest for the proposals which Government might be enabled to make. He had heard those proposals, and he could give them not the lukewarm vote of a subordinate in office, but his earnest and hearty advocacy.
§ Mr. Smythe
rose for the purpose of explaining a sentiment in a speech which he made last year, and which had been alluded to by the hon. Member who had just sat down. It had been said, that he wished to see Ireland governed in the spirit of Tyrconnel. Such a sentiment was never expressed by him. He said the very reverse. What he said was, that while he disliked both extremes, he preferred seeing Ireland governed in the spirit of Tyrconnel rather than that of Cromwell: but he disliked both extremes—persecutions and prosecutions, on one hand, and undue truckling to the Roman Catholics on the other. He could not give his vote on this occasion without expressing a hope that the Government would come forward with some well-timed measure—such as the settling of the relations between landlord and tenant, which, if brought forward in a spirit like that which 1117 animated the concluding remarks of the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, would renew the link which should subsist between the people of Ireland and the people of England. He hoped the Government intended to move and bring forward this and other measures, and if they did so, he did not despair of seeing the Irish people once more looking to them for sympathy, and not prepossessed against them.
§ Mr. John O'Connell
wished to observe, in reply to the remarks that had been made relative to the Catholic Clergy of Ireland, that the Catholics of Ireland were justly satisfied with their Clergy as they were. The people of Ireland revered their priesthood as they deserved to be revered, for their piety, their excellence, and their virtues. He fearlessly challenged the hon. Member, or any hon. Member of that House, to point out a priesthood so pure, or so devoted to their religions duties, or so worthy of admiration, as the Catholic priesthood of Ireland. The hon. Gentleman had, indeed said, that the Catholic religion was essentially monarchical. With all due respect, he must say, that the characteristic more peculiarly belonged to the religion of the hon. Gentleman himself, because with him it would be found, that the head of the Church was also the head of the State. Catholics considered it a decisive proof of the divine origin of their religion, its admirable adaptability to man in every stage and phase of social existence. That religion nurtured and fostered in Belgium those principles of rational liberty, that were now being so admirably worked out in that country. On the other hand, in America, the Catholic religion was supplying the element of order, whereby would be checked the wild overgrowings of democratic liberty. Its action in Ireland was two-fold: it restrained the people by its holy precepts from letting themselves be hurried into crime, by the stinging impulses of their wrongs and wretchedness: while it encouraged and cheered them on to peaceable but earnest efforts for the legislative independence of their country. He (Mr. J. O'Connell) had not, however, risen to answer hon. Gentlemen at the other side. He had risen as one of those, who, in the early part of the debate, had been styled "convicted conspirators." He did not acknowledge the justice of that designation, unless it could be considered 1118 as a conspiracy for men to labour to their utmost to discharge the duty which they owed to their country, which was the next in importance to that which they owed to their God. As one of these "convicted conspirators," he rose to speak, perhaps, his last words in that House—to make his parting declaration before he returned to Ireland, to meet and to incur the vengeance of the right hon. Gentlemen opposite. He said to incur their vengeance, for he should continue to exert himself with as little ability, perhaps, but with more ardour and zeal than ever, to incur their vengeance, by exerting himself in the cause of his country. He did not rise for the purpose of offering any apology, or urging anything in palliation of that for which he, amongst others, had had the honour of having been convicted. If he urged any thing on that point, it would only be to call upon every man in Ireland, who had not yet joined the Repeal movement, to act as he and his companions had done—to devote their liberty, their property, and, if needed, their lives, as he and his companions had done, and were ready to do—to restore to Ireland that independence which was her inalienable right. He did not, however, rise for the purpose of making any particular reference to himself. He rose, rather, for the purpose of asking the people of England, what, after all, had been gained by the course which Ministers had thought proper to pursue? What were the fruits of their victory? What had been gained? Had the Repeal of the Union been checked in consequence? No: for he could assure them that two years of the most ardent agitation could not have given that advance to the question which it had now received. Such agitation could not have given so strong a hold upon the minds of the people—so strong a hold upon the classes above the people, as the late prosecution had given. But then, had it strengthened the connection between the two countries? Now, he was one who most sincerely and conscientiously believed, that the connection between the two countries, if based upon the fair and honest terms of perfect equality, was that which would tend most to the prosperity of the two countries, and that must tend and be conducive to bring about those blessings that seemed intended for them by Divine Providence. Having this feeling, he approached the consideration of 1119 the subject uninfluenced by any feeling as to what occurred, or might occur, hereafter; if he had, indeed, any feeling at all on that point—it was this—that he, who was young and strong, and able to bear imprisonment, might receive the heaviest meed of punishment, while the same might touch but lightly on those on whom there rested the weight of years, and who had borne many labours in the cause of their country. Having, however, expressed his opinion as to the connection between the two countries, he asked whether the course pursued by the Government was calculated to strengthen the feeling in favour of a connection between the two countries in the minds of the people of Ireland? He was not now about to go through a history of what had occurred. He should but give the briefest summary of it. The people of Ireland had been informed last year, that they had nothing to hope from the Government—nothing to hope from that House. They were thus informed by no Agitator, by no Repealer, by no Whig, by no gentleman, however strong might be his opinions, who was a private Member of Parliament—but they were informed of it by no less a person than the right hon. Gentleman, the Secretary of State for the Home Department. It was that right hon. Gentleman who told them that "concession was at an end." What, then, was the course adopted by the people of Ireland when they had heard that insulting declaration? Did they resort to violence, as many other people might have done? No; they betook themselves to constitutional agitation. They betook themselves, in their numbers, to what were called "monster" meetings, but to which the phrase" sublime" would be more befitting. Those who were grievously oppressed by tyrannical landlords—those who were but one degree removed from perishing of want—those who were suffering the most dire privations, met in their peaceful, their vast, and their legal assemblies, to talk of their wrongs, to be advised, to be warned against any breach in the law, and to trust in the powers of the Constitution to redress their miseries. The only course, then, pursued by the people of Ireland was to hold open and public meetings. That there was good order at those meetings was now confessed on all hands, even though what was called a high authority in Ireland had declared that "those meet- 1120 ings had an inevitable tendency to outrage." There had been forty such meetings, and yet there was no outrage at any one of them, excepting perhaps, at one, when a ginger-bread stall was overturned. Not a blow had been struck—not an offence had been given—not an accident had occurred. Such was the order observed, that females mixed in them perfectly unalarmed. He had himself seen, when in company with the Member for Cork, and that their carriage was pushed up the hill of Tara by the crowd, rather than drawn by horses—even in that situation he had seen young mothers, with their infants in their arms, as tenderly taken care of, as kindly taken, as if they were in the midst of their own families, and at their own fire sides. All these meetings went on without the slightest accident. But, then, those opposite might say, that the Irish should have come to Parliament—why did they not resort to Parliament—to that Parliament in which they were informed that concession had reached its limits. An hon. Member did make an appeal to them—the hon. Member for Limerick, who he was proud to call his friend, for he had proved himself to be the true friend of his country. That hon. Member did make an appeal to Parliament and they were aware that all he asked for was an inquiry into the griefs of Ireland, and it was refused by an overwhelming majority. Nay, even that majority was taunted by a base and infamous press, for affording to the hon. Member for Limerick that treatment which one gentleman always calculates on experiencing from another. He had read in the press of London, supporting the Ministry, the taunt that the majority in that House had been commonly civil to the hon. Member for Limerick. The Government, then, had allowed these meetings to go on. They had given no notice to the people that they were illegal; but at the eleventh hour, and when the series of meetings was nearly exhausted, they then came out with a proclamation to prevent the meeting at Clontarf. Of that proclamation he felt it difficult to speak even now; but at this time, and in the heat of feeling, it was his conviction, that those with whom it originated had murder in their intention. He had endeavoured to divest his mind of that feeling, to abandon the notion that men, who bore the name of Christians, should have contem- 1121 plated anything so guilty; but this he said, that if it had been the intention of the originators or authors of that Proclamation to have a massacre at Clontarf, they could not have gone better about it than they had done. It had been stated by the right hon. Baronet, the Secretary of State for the Home Department, that the Proclamation had been placarded at three o'clock on Saturday evening, at the most distant parts of the country. He was sure that the right hon. Gentleman believed what he said, but he could assure him that such a statement was not correct. The Proclamation was not in the hands of the Lord Mayor of Dublin until four o'clock that evening. It was not posted at Black-rock, where he himself resides, and which place could be reached in ten minutes, by the railway, until it was too dark to read it. He might also add, that the lamented and revered Mr. Tyrrell lost his life, from the lateness of the hour at which the proclamation reached his parish, which was in the vicinity of the intended place of meeting. His parishioners were in bed, and he had, for their sakes, though in bad health, to rise from his bed, to expose himself to the air and the cold; and it was by the labours of that night, in his endeavours to save his parishioners from the massacre that otherwise might have occurred, that his death was caused. It might, indeed, be seen how little notice the people had of the Proclamation, when, despite of all the efforts of those who had influence with the people, an enormous crowd did actually assemble at Clontarf on the occasion—of course, it was much less than what otherwise would have been found there. It had been said by the noble Lord, the Secretary for Ireland, that if Mr. O'Connell doubted the legality of the proceedings in suppressing the meeting, he might have gone there for the purpose of trying that right. He did not think that the noble Lord had reflected well when he had made that proposition—it was not the noble Lord's own opinion; but it came from papers that supported the noble Lord; for had Mr. O'Connell gone out amongst an excited multitude, it would have but required one evil-disposed person to have thrown a stone, and a horrible and sanguinary massacre must have ensued. With regard to the prosecution, he did not mean to go into it. He confessed he had no other feeling with respect to it but contempt. He despised it too much 1122 to dwell on it. He could not, however, but remark, that every advantage that would be given to persons accused in England was denied to the traversers in that case. He did not mean to dwell upon the miserable chicanery that had been practised in the omission of names from the list of jurors. The fraud was confessed by the Attorney-General, and yet, he availed himself of it. As to the men who composed the Jury, he, of course, did not believe those men were capable of violating the obligation of an oath. In this case, he did believe that the verdict was given in all the sincerity and honesty of inveterate prejudice and bigotry. They who had chosen these men cut off those who were extreme on the one side, and who might be supposed to be favourable to the accused; and they considered there was no inconsistency in keeping on men who were unfavourable to the accused, and all whose prejudices were against them. It was not to be wondered at that such a verdict should be given when it came from men born in a class where inveterate prejudice was alone to be found. Nothing could, he assured them, be more melancholy, than to see in the bookseller's shops in Dublin the sort of books that were published as the means of affording instruction to the young mind—books that were full of the most atrocious falsehoods—falsehoods ten thousand times refuted—calumnies long since exploded, directed against the Catholic religion, and those who professed the Catholic religion. The young were reared in bigotry—it was strengthened by every means as they grew up. They were not to be surprised that it developed itself when the man became mature. He now, then, came back to the question, what had the Government gained by this prosecution? Did the Government believe that the people of Ireland would be more attached to the connection, because they had placed in jeopardy the lives of so many thousands by their proclamation at Clontarf? It bad been said by the noble Lord, the Secretary for Ireland, that though the proclamation had been agreed upon on the Friday, still it could not come out until late on Saturday evening; because, forsooth, there was the necessity of looking to the wording of the Proclamation. They had the fact, and it was of some importance, that the Proclamation had been agreed to on the Friday. But 1123 when the lives of so many of the Queen's subjects were endangered, surely the Council might have protracted their sittings, or they might have devoted themselves to the task of making verbal alterations at an early hour in the morning. Anything would have been better than that there should have been the least danger to the lives of Her Majesty's subjects. He did not like to mention the rumour that was extremely prevalent at the time that the Proclamation was issued; yet he would mention it, to show what was the state of mind of the people of Ireland. It was a rumour that for the honour of humanity he hoped was not true; he would say more—that he readily believed it was not true; but that which was stated at the time was, was that two of those who had attended the Privy Council, by whom the Proclamation had been issued, had advised—and one of these certainly was not the gallant Officer who held the chief command in Ireland, and was beloved by the people—but it was said that two of those Gentlemen had suggested that there should be no proclamation at all issued; that the 100,000 men should be allowed to meet, and then, at the moment that the excitement was at its height, that the troops should be called upon, the Riot Act read, and but fifteen minutes given to the people to disperse. That might not be true; but then, he could tell them, it was the impression which most prevailed in the minds of the people of Dublin; and if it were not true—if it were utterly denied, he should be most happy to hear it. The people of Ireland considered it bad enough that this Proclamation should not have been issued until the Saturday evening, although it had been agreed to on the Friday. But, then, he asked, would they be more attached to the Union because their lives had been put in jeopardy? Would they be more attached to the Union because that which had recently occurred had put in jeopardy their few remaining rights and liberties?—and then he could not forbear from asking, although, perhaps, it was not for him to put the question, would they be more attached to the Union because the man that engaged their love and possessed their confidence for forty years was now in danger of perishing for their sake? But it was said that the Ministry were about to give good measures to Ireland. He hoped they might give good measures; but still he told them, that the people 1124 distrusted any gift coming from their hands. They doubted in the good faith of the Ministry, and experience only of the good could convince them of their sincerity. They talked of amending the Franchise in Ireland. Let it be supposed, that the Franchise given was a fair and proper one. A vote, no doubt, was a good thing; but why, he asked, did not hon. Gentlemen propose an increase to the number of Members for Ireland? They were one-third of the Empire, and yet their representatives were less than one-fifth. But then their taxation was spoken of; and yet nothing could be more certain than that their burthen of taxation was higher than as three to four as compared with that of England, and yet their representatives were less than as one to five. An increased grant for Education was also promised; a most excellent purpose certainly. But why, he asked, did they not first improve the physical condition of the people? He should prefer an improvement in the material condition of the people, to the plan of cultivating their minds whilst they left their bodies exposed to the worst ills and poverty. As men grew comfortable in circumstances, they endeavoured, by education, to raise their children to a condition in life superior to their own. And to this instinct they might safely trust, if they improved the physical condition of the Irish people. If, in addition, money could be given for purposes of general Education, no doubt it would be a great boon. The Ministry also spoke of ameliorating the relations between Landlord and Tenant. This was a delicate and a dangerous topic. In the present state of Ireland it was the most dangerous they could touch upon; if they were not prepared to act immediately and efficiently. The appointment of Lord Devon's Commission, though it was solely for the purposes of inquiry, had caused the most extravagant hopes to arise in the bosoms of the desperate men who had been ejected from their holdings in various parts of Ireland. He had the opportunity of knowing what were the sentiments of the people of Ireland. If there were Members of that Commission in the House, they could confirm his statement on this point. He had received more than one hundred letters on the subject, and he knew that the most fatal errors had crept into their minds. The tenants that had 1125 been ejected—and this occurred in many cases—were under the idea, that the Commissioners would restore them to their land, where injustice had been done to them; and the tenants who had succeeded them, and were now in possession, laboured under the equally dangerous opinion that they would be turned out. This might seem a monstrous idea to some—perhaps, ridiculous—but they could not expect reason from men who were almost driven to the very depths of despair. Therefore it was, that he implored of the Government, whether they fell short or went beyond the hopes of the Irish in other measures, to adopt, at least upon this, some right measure, if they would avoid not a mere political revolution, but a revolution of the raging and the insane, the work of wild and despairing wretches who would shake the very framework of society itself. He trusted, he hoped, that they would endeavour to deal effectually with this most dangerous subject. This too, he said, that though neither he nor others would supplicate those in power for mercy—they had not and should not do so—still he said if those who had power, would turn their attention to the real state of Ireland, and, having done so, would even now do good, he, for one, at least, should feel grateful for it. Let the Government, he said, adopt measures which would bring back the money of Ireland to Ireland. Let them do that and revivify Ireland. There was a drain of nearly 5,000,000l. a-year to absentees. There was 1,000,000l. of reduced Government expenses. There was nearly 5,000,000l. or 6,000,000l. of drain from Ireland—a sum more than was contributed to the Revenue. He asked what country could be prosperous with such an enormous drain upon her? But then there was a talk of English capital. It was said, that agitation kept English capital out of Ireland. This was a fallacy easily exposed, if it were worth the while to demonstrate it, with the notorious fact before them, that the annual revolutions of the South American States did not prevent English capital being employed in them. As to English capital, he said let there adopt measures which would give the Irish the use of their own capital. The Ministerial pamphleteer, Mr. Montgotnery Martin—with some special recollection, that he had been a Repealer, and the editor cf a Repeal newspaper in London— 1126 stated their revenue at the time of the Union was 4,300,000l., and that it was 4,100,000l. now, thus proving a great falling-off from the time of the Union, whilst the Parliamentary papers would prove that, there had been a vast increase in their taxation, whilst their revenue was less than at the time of the Union. He alluded to this subject but in passing; but if they restored to Ireland the means of her prosperity, there would be an increase of 20,000,000l. in her wealth, whilst there would be a still greater addition in that rich and exhaustless measure, the warm affections of the Irish people. They were to consider whether things were to go on as they were, or whether they would boldly meet the difficulties that presented themselves, and at once. He did not wish to say anything by way of menace; but what, he asked them, had the people of Ireland to attach them to the connection? By means of that connection a tyranny was exercised that could not be exceeded by any foreign power. He did not say this, he repeated it, in the way of menace; but still he asked them, what was the wisdom, what the policy, what the advantage of retaining one-third of the Empire in permanent discontent—that they who felt they had been wronged should be brooding over their wrongs in silence, and anxiously waiting for the moment of the distress of those who oppressed them? Why did they prefer hatred when they might have love? Why prefer dislike, and throw away that rich pearl, the affection of the Irish? Why seek to rule over a slave, instead of having the ardent and powerful support of a sister and a friend. The people of Ireland did not deserve the treatment they had received. Let them, he said, be treated kindly, and they would be met with a like disposition. If they conciliated Ireland, he affirmed, that in the fondest dream of the wildest imagination, England never reached such a pitch of prosperity as she should then attain. Ireland was willing to be conciliated. He called upon the Ministry, he called upon that House, he called upon this nation, to make the experiment. Be, he said, just to Ireland, and fear not. Be unjust—continue your oppressions—continue your injustice—continue your insults—and upon your heads be the disastrous, the fatal consequences.
§ Colonel Verner
said: If he heard the hon. Member correctly, who had just sat 1127 down, he understood him to say that he highly approved of the course that had been pursued by the party in Ireland with whom he was connected, and that he would persevere in the same line of conduct; he was sorry to hear him so express himself. He would, however, beg to assure the hon. Member who had expressed his willingness to endure any punishment to relieve others of his family upon whom it might fall, that he bore no personal enmity to his father, but, on the contrary, regretted his having placed himself in so painful a situation, at the same time he could not but regret much more the painful situation in which he had placed his country. He felt that every Irish Member, particularly those upon his side of the House, was called upon to express his sentiments, and to endeavour to put hon. Members in possession of the true state of Ireland. If he saw a reasonable hope, that the evils of which we have to complain would find remedies for themselves, he would be silent; but it was because he saw them not only increasing, but becoming worse, while we in vain looked for amendment, that he felt called upon to give utterance to his strong apprehensions. If he understood the policy pursued of late years towards Ireland, its purpose has been to remove all those feelings of hostility that were said to keep the people divided, and so to change their dispositions, that they should have one common object—that of serving their common country. For this purpose, what was formerly called the Protestant party was depressed—or, perhaps, he should say, oppressed—and the desires, if not the demands, of their adversaries complied with. The Church Establishment became the first object of attack; Scriptural education was discouraged and discountenanced; feelings of hostility to our institutions were openly manifested; the stability of the Legislative Union was threatened; and many other concessions to popular feeling, as it was called—or, more properly speaking, to popular clamour—were made. He was not going to enumerate them; they must be fresh in the recollection of every hon. Gentleman present. He would therefore confine the very few observations he had to offer to the result; and he would ask have they produced the effect we were led to expect from them, and have dissensions between the people of Ireland ceased? The Motion of the noble Lord 1128 now before the House furnished him with a ready answer. If tranquillity has been restored in Ireland, what necessity is there now to call for an inquiry into the state of that country? The truth is, the people have not been brought to a cordial and confiding intercourse. On the contrary, and he spoke from his knowledge of Ireland for years, and intimate acquaintance with its people. He affirmed, though not without pain and regret, that it never was, in his recollection, less united, and that Roman Catholics and Protestants never stood more estranged from each other than at this present time, at the end of fifteen years of this boasted conciliation. He felt bound to say, and he could say it with confidence, that so far as he had opportunities of knowing and judging, this evil of dissension was not chargeable to Protestants. He could state, from his own knowledge, that they had endeavoured to continue the same kindnesses, and the same friendly intercourse with their Roman Catholic neighbours, but not with the happy results of former days. And here the hon. Member could not help remarking and expressing the gratitude it afforded him, that throughout the debate he had never heard the slightest reflection cast upon the Protestants of Ireland, their conduct was above all praise—they had acted with a degree of forbearance that did them infinite credit; they had never, in any manner, interfered with those numerous and tumultuous meetings, at which thousands and tens of thousands were assembled with music and banners, threatening with destruction all those who would not join them, and uttering language most offensive to the ear of every good and loyal subject. It was truly gratifying to him to have heard the testimony borne by the noble Lord the Secretary for Ireland, to the exemplary conduct and great forbearance of the Protestant population generally, throughout Ireland, more especially for their acquiescence to the wishes of the Government, upon the occasion of those anniversaries they had for so many years been in the habit of celebrating. On the other hand, the Roman Catholics had withdrawn themselves from their Protestant neighbours; they avoid holding conversation with them; they would not join with them around the cheerful hearths in free and friendly intercourse as they used to do. They act like men guarding some important secret, and fearful that an in- 1129 cautious word may betray it. Such is one effect of the ill-fated experiment, to which so much has been sacrificed. But this was not all. He lived in a part of the country where the Protestants were sufficiently numerous, with moderate support, under Providence, to protect themselves, still, if they have not been assailed, they have not been free from alarm. He would speak of that which his own eyes had witnessed. Within the last two months he had seen blazing in all directions around him, signal fires, and these of a description which made it manifest that their designs were evil. They were of a description hitherto unknown in that part of the country, evidently composed of combustible materials, and such was the understanding amongst the people, that recently in a district which was a few months before enveloped in total darkness, innumerable lights blazed forth. The effect of these menacing demonstrations was to excite considerable alarm in the minds of Protestants. They could obtain no satisfaction from their Roman Catholic neighbours as to the objects or designs of these lights, and so great had become the alarm that whole families passed their nights in painful watchings, fearing the enemy might come upon them by surprise and destroy their properties or attack their persons. He would ask—would any Government be justified in allowing things to remain in this state? He would put it to the noble Lord opposite, and those with whom he was acting, whether Protestants were not as deserving of protection in Ireland as any other class of persons in that country? Were their wrongs alone to remain unredressed? They have ever been faithful to the principles upon which the stability of this great Empire depends. Their faithfulness has recently stood the test of a more than ordinary severe examination. The undeserved disfavour of a Government did not provoke theta to wrong—the blandishments of Repeal did not betray them into conduct unworthy of their professions—they have ever proved themselves true to the principles of British connection. All he claimed for them was protection—they sought no favour—justice and justice only was what they asked. So much has been said, both in and out of this House, respecting the construction of the jury impannelled to try this very important case, that he would beg leave to occupy the attention of the House for 1130 a few moments, while he expressed his opinion upon the subject. If he rightly understood the complaint it was not that Roman Catholics were excluded from serving on the Jury. The complaint was that they were not preferred, on account of their religion—to persons whom the law-officers of the Crown may have thought otherwise more eligible. In fact, the complaint was that the profession of the Roman Catholic Faith ought to have been recorded as a ground of especial favour; and that Protestants, simply because they were Members of the Protestant Church, ought to have been rejected from the Jury. Is not this the real strength of the complaint? He had heard no charge brought against any of the Jury sworn to try this case, which has excited so great an interest; on the contrary, he had read acknowledgments, on the part of Counsel for the traversers, to the effect that the twelve good men and true selected as Jurors were altogether above impeachment, and beyond suspicion. He would ask, does any hon. Member mean to say that, nevertheless, they ought to be, or any of them, set aside? On what grounds? Is it that they were Protestants? Does any Gentleman mean to say that a Law Officer of the Crown, sworn to discharge his duty faithfully, is to refuse the services of a Juror, not because he is incompetent, not because he is partial or unjust, but simply because he is a Protestant? Surely no person would be so rash as to say so in words; and yet this is substantially the complaint made against the construction of the Jury. The traversers' counsel struck off every Protestant in their power to put aside; they felt assured that no complaint would be made against them for exercising, as they thought best, their undoubted privilege. They were right; they did others no more than justice, and they did no more than their duty. But when they went further and said that the Crown ought, in obedience to their wishes, to set aside good Jurors, because they were Protestants, he thought the complaint neither just nor discreet. They complained of a man being set aside because he is a Roman Catholic, and at the same time they would set aside every Protestant, for no other reason than that he professes the Protestant religion? Was not that to challenge a very offensive ascendancy for the Church of Rome, and to challenge it at a time when we would 1131 especially desire to see religious disitinctions invested with no more authority than naturally belonged to them? But perhaps it may be said, that there was something in the recent Trials which should insure to Roman Catholics this distinction claimed for them. The events in which those Trials had their origin were of that kind precisely which should prevent Gentlemen from urging so dangerous an argument. If the Law Officers of the Crown permitted themselves to be influenced by religious considerations at all, the effect should be directly the reverse of that which Gentlemen seem to have expected. If the Attorney-General, or the Crown Solicitor, asked himself the question, "How should I be influenced by the creed of a party on the Juror's Panel?" he had no hesitation in declaring his conscientious conviction, that the fact of an indidual's making profession of the Roman Catholic faith should be a reason for setting him aside rather than for retaining him, and this he would say, without having in the remotest degree respect for any peculiarity of faith or doctrine. Have we not seen, that the whole proceedings of the party agitating to effect a Repeal of the Union had the sanction of the Roman Catholic Bishops and Clergy?—all the Bishops of that Church and the whole of their Clergy we were told, were with them. Mr. O'Connell was described by persons eminent among the ecclesiastics of the Church of Rome in terms which might almost point him out as an object for a species of religious worship; the cause he was engaged in they declared holy. The agitation to effect it was pronounced to be blessed. Then he would ask, could a conscientious Roman Catholic be thought in a fair frame of mind for determining whether this very agitation so praised and blessed, was nevertheless criminal, and that individuals, who it might almost be said were prematurely sainted, were to be pronounced guilty, and sentenced perhaps to fine and incarceration. So far was he from finding fault with the Law Officers of the Crown, that he thought they were entitled to praise for having faithfully and uprightly discharged their duty to their country, by the selection they made of the jury, and he thought Roman Catholics themselves ought to feel obliged to them for having spared them the performance of a duty which they might 1132 have felt peculiarly irksome. He regretted, that there were too many instances to justify the Law Officers of the Crown pursuing the course they had done. He remembered a case where a person summoned on a petit jury had prejudged the case before hearing the evidence, and had decided upon returning a verdict of not guilty, because he had heard from his priest, whom he respected, that the accused party was innocent. He took his place in the jury-box, and held out his hand to take the book, ready to swear that he would well and truly try, and true verdict give, according to the evidence, when, at the same time, he was resolved to return the verdict his priest desired him, no matter what the nature of that evidence might be. The matter at issue, in the present case, is simply this—a number of persons are put upon their trial for acts which the Roman Catholic Bishops and Clergy regard as heroic and holy, and hon. Gentlemen have the modesty to complain, that in such a case, the being a member of the Roman Catholic Church was not thought a ground of preference for serving on the Jury which should return the verdict.
§ Captain Layard
said, that after the many eloquent and excellent speeches that had already been made upon the subject now under discussion, he felt it might be considered premature in him to trouble the House; but being one of those returned to that House by an Irish constituency, he felt that when he asked their indulgence, it would be granted. He knew and felt how inferior he must be to many Gentlemen who had addressed the House; inferior in learning, to which he could not aspire; and in eloquence which he so greatly admired. But he felt that having been quartered in many different parts of Ireland for some years, and resident in it for many more, would and had given him opportunities of seeing and hearing many things which perhaps had not come under the observation of hon. Gentlemen differently situated; and though he might not prove an able advocate, at any rate he knew and trusted the House would believe he was a faithful witness; and he felt the more so, because the opinions which he professed, were not likely to advance his interests in the things he most valued, the profession he belonged to, and, secondly, when he professed himself no advocate for Repeal, with some of 1133 those whom he had the honour to represent. He was not an advocate for Repeal, because he believed it was not either for the advantage of England, nor for the advantage of that country for whose welfare and happiness his fondest wishes were felt, and to ameliorate whose condition his best exertions should be used. He felt, that Englishmen were doubly bound to do everything in their power to do away with the cause of all grievances, and he did believe, that a better feeling was spreading through the country. He had been quartered in many of the villages in Ireland at different times, and with a small force, and while those who were in high places had an opportunity of judging what was the general aspect of affairs, he had been enabled to mark the flowing of the undercurrent. He wished that he was master of a very small share of the eloquence of the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for Dungarvon—an eloquence that had so often delighted the House, and which had been so lately displayed in the Court of Queen's Bench in Ireland—an eloquence which he believed was unrivalled, certainly not surpassed, by any man breathing. Then he should be able to tell them in glowing colours, but not more vivid than they deserved, for that would be impossible, of the misery which had been endured by the Irish people, of the patience with which that misery was borne, of their real charity—of that charity when the poor gives unto the poor. He could speak of their gratitude for any kindness, and their light-heartedness under cruel privations; but, alas, here the picture would not end, for he must mention circumstances of his own personal knowledge which were most fearful. When his late brother was quartered at Buttevant, in the county of Cork, in the year 1832, some disturbances took place at the village of Wallstown, near that place—some troops were sent for by the Magistrates, the people threw stones, the troops fired, and several persons were killed. He was sent up with orders by his commanding officer, and he passed by the cottages to which the dead bodies had been removed; hundreds of men and women were congregated round them, and to see the sullen and stern countenances of the men, the tears and affliction of the women, was, happily for the House, a picture he could not paint; unhappily, for himself, a picture he could never forget. In a 1134 very short time afterwards, the tithe proctors were passing over the ground in the middle of the day, when, as if by enchantment, hundreds of people appeared, and they were murdered and put into the water, not far from the clergyman's house. He (Captain Layard) was sent up with a detatchment of thirty men to the next village, and a corporal and six men lived in the out-houses belonging to the clergyman as a guard. He had seen that clergyman obliged to go about with loaded pistols, and policemen with loaded carbines, as a guard. That gentleman was now no more, and he (Captain Layard) was happy to state that he believed both he and all his family to have been excellent and kind people; but now he wished to know what hon. Members thought was the state of that parish? Why, he did not believe there were ten Protestants in the parish, and there was no church, and had not been for hundreds of years. Did he blame the Magistrates? No. Did he blame the clergyman? Certainly not. But he blamed those who did not alter the laws, which were the cause of such frightful bloodshed. Some men were afterwards, as he was led to understand, condemned for the murder of the tithe proctors. It had been his fate to have seen thousands fall in battle—that never prevented his sleep; but he must say, that when he saw what had taken place at Wallstown, sleep fled from his pillow. For he felt that what had happened was a foul blot upon his country, and a blot upon that Protestant religion, in the merits of which he was a sincere believer. Could any man believe that the time had not arrived when the grievances of Ireland must be redressed? Look at the unequal number of Members in that House which Ireland possessed—the unequal Franchise—the fatal delay of the Emancipation Act—and also the fearful way the trials had been carried on. Could they believe that imprisoning the learned Member for Cork, could or would pacify the Irish people? The right hon. Baronet had said he took credit to the Government that no coercion no court-martial was necessary; but he believed, that the Irish people would as soon be tried by a court-martial, as then they might have members of their own persuasion. With regard to the fearful mistake made by the Attorney General with respect to his challenging the opposite counsel, it was to be most deeply re- 1135 gretted. Why to show what effect it had, only three days ago, when Mr. Grant was tried, who had been second to Lieutenant Munro, in the late disastrous duel, his counsel very properly stated that when it was known that Her Majesty's Attorney General had been guilty of the same thing would not the jury acquit him, which they immediately did, without leaving the court, and he (Captain Layard) could not help saying he felt very glad of it, for he felt much for Mr. Grant, though he did not know him, who, being very young and just entered into the army, was brought into such fearful circumstances from not knowing better. The right hon. Baronet, the Secretary for the Home Department had said that no benefit could accrue to England from holding Ireland under military government. In the opinion so expressed he entirely agreed; they had the best of all possible authority for knowing that a House divided against itself must fall. Could any one fondly imagine that the generous and noble people whose grievances they had now under consideration, who had gained the greatest and purest victory ever obtained in ancient and modern history—a victory over themselves, a victory over their vices—a people who had met in thousands and tens of thousands without a breach of the law, and he believed without even a breach of good manners did any one believe that such a people could or ought to be kept under military rule? For his part, he believed, the moment had arrived when justice could no longer be delayed without inevitable evil. But we, madmen that we are, stand trying what was the smallest quantity of justice that could be doled out to satisfy the people. While he stood wrangling about the price, the volume of the Sibyl might be destroyed. He called upon his countrymen to do that which they never had done; to do that which their religion enjoined them; to do that which they had grossly neglected as far as Ireland was concerned; to do their duty towards their neighbours, then might they hope for a union of hearts; then, might they under the standard of their common country, the Lion of England, defy a world in arms; then might the Irish be a happy, a contented, and a prosperous people. Again, might the flag of commerce dance on the Irish wave, and the palaces of her nobles be no longer the abode of mendicity. Then, and then only, might they hope 1136 that the nation would bring forth its increase, and God, even our God, grant us his blessing.
§ Mr. Ferrand
had listened attentively to the speeches of hon. Gentlemen opposite, who had endeavoured to convince the House and the country that the Whigs were better fitted to govern Ireland than the Conservatives; but he should be able to show, from the language of Members of that very party, that the reverse was the truth. During the last Session he had conscientiously voted against the Government upon this subject, under the conviction that they were not using the means necessary to put down the disgraceful agitation which had taken place in Ireland. Since that period they had adopted measures that had vindicated the law and asserted its majesty. And even the language used by the supporters of the noble Lord, would have induced him to vote against the motion; for the noble Lord and his friends had exerted themselves to bring the law of the country into contempt. What was the conduct of hon. Gentlemen opposite when a convicted conspirator had entered the House? He was received with cheers, by a small Republican party; powerless, "Thank God!" in this House and in the country too? There was among that small section one who raised his voice more lustily than the rest in applause of the learned Member for Cork. It was the hon. Member for Montrose, who had been proved to have carried on a treasonable correspondence with a body of colonists, whom he had recommended "to cast off the hateful domination of the mother country." A genial spirit that to condole with Mr. O'Connell. Very great stress had been laid on the proclamation of the Government against the Repeal meetings. Unfortunately, the noble Lord (the Member for London) had been a Member of the Government which had found it necessary to issue proclamations for the purpose of putting down seditious meetings in Ireland. In 1830, when Earl Grey was Prime Minister, and Lords J. Russell and Palmerston were in office, Lord Anglesey issued a Proclamation, prohibiting a procession of trades-unions in Dublin, only one day before that appointed for the procession, on the ground that—The assembly was calculated to lead to disturbance of the public peace, that it would create serious apprehensions thereof in the minds of Her Majesty's peaceful subjects, and that language of an inflammatory nature had been used by some of the persons who had signified their intention to attend.1137 The Government was at that time appealed to by numerous parties to interfere to put down vast assemblies which had created serious alarm. When they issued the proclamation what did Mr. O'Connell do? He advised the people to obey the Proclamation, and promised before three months to have an assembly established in Dublin to make the English nation "do justice to Ireland;" and then called a meeting "to prevent unlawful assemblages and to petition for redress of grievances." On the following day the Lord-lieutenant issued a proclamation setting forth that the—Society, under the shift and device of preventing unlawful meetings and procuring justice for Ireland, had been established really to intimidate the Government of Ireland, and to control the exercise of lawful authority, and for other dangerous designs,and, therefore, prohibited the meeting. Mr. O'Connell denounced this as an act of despotism, and again attempted to evade the Proclamation by declaring himself the association, and avowing that he and his friends would discuss Repeal at a hotel in Dublin, where they had been in the habit of gathering. Only three days afterwards the Lord Lieutenant issued another Proclamation, setting forth that—Meetings were designed at the hotel to excite disaffection against the administration of the law and against the constituted authorities,and prohibiting such meetings. Mr. O'Connell issued thereon a letter, professing obedience, and asserting that another act of legal despotism had been committed. He then formed other associations, against which a day or two afterwards the Lord Lieutenant issued another Proclamation which Mr. O'Connell denounced as "Algerine" acts, and called a meeting under the disguise of "a public breakfast," whereupon the Lord Lieutenant sent two magistrates and dispersed the meeting. Mr. O'Connell then appeared at a distinct meeting, where he declared his determination "not to taste excisable articles, until those Algerine proceedings had been retracted;" and stated that he had that morning breakfasted upon milk. Mr. Lawless recommended to the Irish to form temperance societies; and there was another person at the meeting (who doubtless would share in this debate)—the right hon. Member for Dungarvon—and the House should hear in what way the Irish people were deluded by false promises, which were never in- 1138 tended to be performed. Mr. Sheil had said—If the Union be not repealed within two years I am determined I will pay neither rent, tithes, nor taxes! They may distrain my goods, but who'll buy, my boys! who'll buy? I don't tell any man here to follow my example; but so help me God! if I don't do it you may call me Sheil with the silk gown.Now the right hon. Gentleman had certainly shown here extraordinary dexterity; for soon after this celebrated declaration he not only swallowed his solemn pledge, but converted his "silk gown" into robes of office—accepting place in a few weeks under the very Government that was pledged to continue to resist and refuse the Repeal of the Union. How did the Government meanwhile, act? They arrested O'Connell, and bound him and the leading Repealers to take their trials. After a great deal of shuffling on the part of O'Connell, he pleaded guilty to eleven of the counts, and then addressed a letter to his own son-in-law, (enclosed by his own son to Mr. Bennett), offering to compromise with the Government, and give up the agitation. The Government then allowed the proceedings against him to be dropped, and he became one of their most strenuous supporters in that House. Another learned Member had lately declared in favour of the Whigs for the Government of Ireland, though the Conservatives had never shown more activity in opposing him than the Whigs it appeared had exhibited: but the Conservatives had not only issued a Proclamation; they had enforced it. They had not temporized with O'Connell; they had discharged their duty to the country. Let the House, however, hear the opinion which the learned Member had published of the Whigs, whom he now recommended to the people of Ireland. In September, 1832, he had addressed a letter to the Reformers of Great Britain, containing his "articles of impeachment against the Whigs;" the third of which "Articles" was,More blood has been shed in Ireland during the year and a-half of Lord Anglesey's Government than during the last twenty years of a Tory Administration. The distinguishing feature of the Government is the frightful quantity of blood that has been shed under it. It was a history of blood."In the fourth of the "Articles" was the assertion,—There was not so much Irish blood shed under Strafford; yet he was justly sacrificed.1139 How could Gentlemen opposite reconcile their attacks on the present Government (which had put down the Repeal agitation without shedding one drop of blood) with the language used by Mr. O'Connell of the former Whig Administration? Mr. O'Connell might delude the people of Ireland, but he would not succeed in so duping the people of England by sophistries and double-dealings either in that House or at Covent Garden Theatre, while the language he had used on different occasions remained recorded and remembered. There is a great similarity in the proceedings of the "pets" of the Reformers and of the Repealers. When the Reform mania first broke forth, it was proclaimed that Earl Grey, the "father of Reform," was the patriotic nobleman who would lead the people through great struggles, standing by "the Bill, the whole Bill, and nothing but the Bill," and then the people fancied they were going to realize all the blessings pictured and promised to them by the reforming agitators. The Bill was passed. What was the result? The Government gave to the country the New Poor-law, out of which had sprung Socialism, Chartism, and the Anti-Corn-law League. What party in the country had really benefited by reform? The most strenuous of its supporters had confessed it to have proved an utter failure. But there was a person who had benefited by the agitation—Earl Grey himself. And who had benefited in Ireland by the Repeal agitation? Nobody but O'Connell himself. Earl Grey had (in O'Connell's own language) "feathered his own nest;" and in an address to the people of England Mr. O'Connell had declared,—From the insulting injustice of the present weak and wicked Administration (that of Earl Grey), I appeal, not without hope, to your sense of right and justice. Is it just that the people of Ireland should be insulted and trampled upon merely because the insanity of the wretched old man at the head of the Ministry developes itself in childish hatred and maniac suspicions of the people of Ireland? Earl Grey has but two leading ideas in his mind: the first, that of procuring for his family and friends the greatest quantity of the public spoil; no Minister had ever one-twentieth, or even one-fiftieth of the number of relatives and connexions receiving public pay that he has: and none ever existed less deserving of it,—he and his family are perfect inflictions upon the country. The second sentiment in his mind is hostility to the people of Ireland, evinced by every act of his Administration. Ireland was never so badly governed as during 1140 this Ministry. They have done everything to insult and injure all classes in the country. They have done nothing to satisfy any section of the people except a few who, like the Plunkets, are gorged by public plunder. They have not one single friend in Ireland; nay, even those whom they have enriched out of the public funds avow their hatred and contempt for them in private.Now, how could it; be expected that the noble Lord would succeed in his attempt to oust the present Government from Ireland, or that his speech would gain any confidence in either country, when the leader of the Irish people had declared that the party of the noble Lord had governed Ireland with more tyranny and bloodshed than had been known under any Tory Government that had ever existed? Mr. O'Connell had pledged himself positively, solemnly, repeatedly, that by certain days he had from time to time named, "Repeal should be carried, and a Parliament meet on College-green." The character of Earl Grey, as drawn by O'Connell himself, would, verbally altered, aptly depict his own. Mr. O'Connell could not quarrel with the application to himself of language he had applied to Earl Grey. Both of those individuals had done serious mischief to the country. Earl Grey, by striking a blow at the Constitution of the country, from which it was feared it would never recover—O'Connell by preventing the peace and happiness of Ireland, and keeping up feelings of ill-blood between Protestants and Catholics, which would have been but for him, long ago allayed and extinguished. There had been an attack recently on the Dublin Protestant Association; and on an Address of theirs to the Lord Lieutenant, there had been an attempt to taunt those honest men for the utterance of their sincere sentiments. He did not consider that they should have been disgusted at the manner in which their religion had been attacked, not only by determined opponents but by professing friends. The other evening the noble Lord the Member for Sunderland had said, "How could a British House of Commons listen without disgust to a proposal, that they should legislate upon the assumption that a faith so held and honoured was false and idolatrous" (although the noble Lord had almost immediately afterwards, avowed his belief that the Roman Catholic faith was founded on error)? Why, it was the duty of the House to legislate on that very principle, that the Roman Catholic faith was false and idolatrous. The Government were bound by the most 1141 sacred oaths to support the Protestant religion, and to prevent the extension of Popish idolatry. Did any one deny the obligation of the oath? Did any one say it was the duty of the Government to encourage Popery, and that it should be placed on ass equality with Protestantism? Would any Member of the late Governments of Lord Grey and of Lord Melbourne declare, positively and practically, their desire to place the two religions on perfect equality? There might be some few on the other side who would assert that principle; but, though it might well enough suit party purposes for the noble Lords opposite to seek to join together the incongruous mass of their supporters; yet, if ever those noble Lords found again an opportunity of appealing practically to the people of England on the point, they would find that the Protestants of this country would oppose them, and none more heartily than the Protestant Dissenters. The noble Lord, the Member for Sunderland, admitted that the Roman Catholic religion was founded in error, but also stated, that while the Church question in Ireland remained unsettled, the Catholics could not be relied on. Now, the Operative Protestant Association of Dublin had not forgotten the solemn declaration made by Mr. O'Connell before a Committee of the House of Lords, to the effect that the Roman Catholics would never attack the Church property in Ireland, and that Mr. O'Connell, in 1825, on being asked whether there might not be some danger of the Roman Catholic Church reclaiming those lands which the Protestant Church had in perpetual possession, replied that there would not, and that no Protestant would resist more strongly than the Catholics, even to the loss of life, such a claim, that they knew that in point of religion the title was now gone out of their Church, and could not be re-assumed without the law of Ireland giving it again to the Church, and that the snaking of that law they (the Catholics) would resist. [Hear!] Was the hon. Gentleman opposite, who cheered that declaration, prepared to reassert it? He should like to hear from the hon. Member opposite, whether he were prepared to plunder the Protestant Church? The noble Lord, the Member for Sunderland, did propose to plunder the Church property in Ireland. A Conservative Government in 1829, granted Catholic Emancipation on these solemn declarations being given by the Ro- 1142 man Catholics; and was that House, in 1844, to support a motion now proceeding from the other side, hon. Members on which openly declared that they were prepared to plunder the Church? He called on hon. Members opposite to act fairly and honestly with the country. The hon. Members on that (the Ministerial) side fairly told the country what their intentions were, not with respect to the Church of Ireland, but also with respect to Ireland itself; and yet hon. Members on the other side, who were prepared to rob the Church, did not choose to inform the House what measures of amelioration for Ireland they would introduce. Until hon. Members opposite announced what measures they would bring forward, and unless they were prepared to bring forward greater measures of amelioration than the present Government contemplated, they could not expect that any one on that (the Ministerial) side would vote with them, or that they would ever be able to shake the present Government in the confidence of the country. The Government was firmer now than it was last Session, and the conduct of the noble Lord, in bringing forward this question, as well as the speech he made in submitting it to the House, had smashed both him and his party. The Whigs, as a party, were annihilated. The noble Lord might still sit at the head of a numerous party opposite as long as they all voted along with him; but behind his back they were already uttering taunts, and saying that he was at their mercy. The noble Lord was no longer the powerful man he was some few years ago in the country, because he had forfeited confidence by his inconsistency. If the present Government acted up to the principles which they had declared through the noble Lord, the Member for Lancashire, and the right hon. Baronet, the Secretary for the Home Department, they would continue to govern Protestant England. He should vote with the Government on the present occasion, and he thanked them for having not only vindicated their policy, but also the majesty of the law.
§ Sir C. Napier
had felt some surprise that the hon. Member who had just spoken had omitted all mention of his old hobby, the Keighley Union. The hon. Gentleman had, on the authority of Mr. O'Connell, charged Lord Grey with having governed Ireland with great tyranny, and with having received more of the public money directly and indirectly, than any 1143 other Minister; but he thought the hon. Member, having quoted Mr. O'Connell's abuse of the late Government, might well have gone on to state Mr. O'Connell's opinion of the present Government. And as he had charged that hon. and learned Gentleman with having agitated for his own advantage, the hon. Member should have shewn how it was, that the hon. and learned Member and all his family had not grown rich upon the spoil? He considered it very objectionable for any hon. Gentleman to make charges against a man who had come forward solely for what he considered the benefit of his country, without receiving a single six-pence. Mr. O'Connell had stood high in the law; but though he had the highest prospects for himself, and of making provision for his family, he had given up all those advantages to do what he thought was for his country's advantage; whether it were so or not, he was not then about to discuss. It was not his intention to blame the Government for the state in which Ireland was. He did not think the fault was so much with them as with the electors of Great Britain and Ireland, who had placed the party opposite in power. The people well knew what were the prejudices of that party, and what had always been their policy, and could not expect anything else from them than had occurred. The right hon. Baronet had in 1839 declared, that Ireland would be his chief difficulty; but in 1841, when he entered office, he said, the difficulty as to Ireland had vanished, alluding to the appointment of Earl de Grey. What, however, was the position of Ireland now, in 1844. In 1843 the right hon. Gentleman found the difficulty existed, it existed now, and would continue to exist, as long as the right hon. Baronet and his party continued to occupy the Ministerial Benches. The right hon. Baronet, the Home Secretary, had made a most unfortunate declaration for the popularity of the Government in Ireland, when he said, "concession had reached its utmost limits." With regard to the conduct of the Government in putting down the Repeal Meetings, he did not blame them for waiting until they had a sufficient force in Ireland to enable them to put them down without danger. He did not blame them for that. If they had determined to govern Ireland by the bayonet, they were bound to provide a sufficient force in the country to prevent 1144 the risk of any outbreak. It had been asserted that the military force now in Ireland was not greater than in the year 1842, and he knew that returns had been produced bearing out that statement, but a great mistake had been committed in moving for those returns, inasmuch as the hon. Gentleman by whom the Motion had been made, had omitted to include the armed pensioners, amounting, as he believed, to 4,000 or 5,000 men. [Lord Eliot: the pensioners were not yet armed.] No; but every preparation had been made for arming them. Officers had been appointed; they were all disciplined troops, and had served most of them twenty years in the army, and were as fit to be armed and called out to-morrow as any troops now in Ireland, and even more so. It was no answer to him, therefore, to say they were not yet armed. They might be armed, and if the Government of Ireland was to be carried on as it appeared to be the intention to carry it on, he would say, they ought to be armed immediately. He now came to the conduct of the Government in bringing Mr. O'Connell to trial? That was an act which he thought was impopolitic and unwise. The Government had done right in putting down the Repeal Meetings; but having accomplished that object, where was the use of bringing Mr. O'Connell to trial? They had, however done so, and they had obtained a conviction; but what would they get by it? Would they venture to send him to prison, and if they did, would that be the course most likely to satisfy Ireland? If they sent all the parties who had been convicted to prison, would that pacify Ireland? He believed it would rather add to the existing discontent and danger than otherwise; for, like a volcano suppressed, the mischief still remained ready to burst out at any moment. Therefore, he said, the conviction was unwise and impolitic. He hoped that hon. Gentlemen would not suppose that he (Sir C. Napier) was an advocate for Repeal. He looked upon the demand for Repeal as perfect nonsense; and he would go further, and say, that Mr. O'Connell, the great advocate for Repeal, did not believe in the possibility of its success. There was scarcely a man in the country, whether his opinion in regard to the manner in which the affairs of Ireland were administered by the present Government—there was not a man 1145 on either side of the House, who would not raise his voice, and more, who would not take up arms, if necessary, to prevent the Repeal of the Union between this country and Ireland. It was quite impossible that the separation of the two countries could take place. If they repealed the Union, they would throw Ireland into the hands of France. No man, therefore, in his senses, could consent to such a proposition. But if Mr. O'Connell were sent to prison, were they prepared for the consequences? They knew well the immense power Mr. O'Connell possessed in Ireland; they knew the influence he had over the Roman Catholic priesthood, and what that priesthood could do with the people. Suppose Mr. O'Connell should continue to tell the people to remain passive and quiet—suppose he should say remain quiet, do not rise up against the Government, but use passive resistance—pay neither rent nor taxes, what would be the condition of Ireland then? What would be the condition of the Government, and how would they meet that kind of opposition? And supposing such a state of things to take place, what would be the position of England in the event of a war, or even a threat of war either with France or America? He remembered, during the last war, notwithstanding our naval superiority, we had not been able to prevent a large French fleet anchoring in Bantry-Bay; and it was well known that it was from want of management alone that that fleet was unsuccessful in its object. But now, since the invention of steam power, if we were to have a war with France, or a quarrel with France, it would—supposing the Irish people to be disaffected—be impossible with all our means to prevent France making an impression in Ireland. He was far from saying that Ireland would join France against this country. The affection and loyalty of the Irish people for their Sovereign was unquestionable, and he hoped it would always be so; but if they continued to treat Ireland as she was now treated, her affections would in time be estranged. The noble Lord, the Secretary for the Colonies, had said, he was satisfied that the people of Ireland would remain loyal, and he complimented hon. Gentlemen on that (the Opposition) side, by saying, he knew that if they differed in opinion from him they would see that this was not the proper time to agi- 1146 tate the question. He hoped the noble Lord would open his own eyes in time, and not be so certain of the continuance of their loyalty, unless Government did something to ameliorate their condition. And as to appealing against the agitation of the question, what time was so proper to agitate it as a period of profound peace? Now was the time to agitate the question, and to secure the continuance of Irish loyalty, by doing justice to Ireland. But let them not delay until the danger actually arrived. He had heard the able and eloquent speech of the noble Lord the Member for London with great pleasure. He thought nothing could be more moderate than the suggestions which the noble Lord had made. First, he had suggested that the grant to the College of Maynooth should be doubled, in order to rear up a more respectable body of Catholic Clergymen. Then the noble Lord had asked, why they should not acknowledge the Roman Catholic Bishops by their titles? Surely that was no very great concession. He did not think any danger to Protestant ascendancy could result from giving to them those titles which common courtesy would allow them. The noble Lord also recommended that glebes and houses should be granted to Catholic Clergymen. [No.] He believed he was correct. He had taken down the noble Lord's words, and the noble Lord himself did not contradict them. Well then, he would ask, would Protestant ascendancy be destroyed if that were conceded. Would that pull down the Bench of Bishops and the Established Church of Leland? These were the heads of the suggestions the noble Lord had thrown out for the consideration of Government. The Roman Catholics believed that their faith was the best, and the Episcopalians believed the same. For his part, he thought the Presbyterian religion better than the Church of England. But who was to decide which was right? He had been recently speaking with some friends of his in Scotland, as to their opinions of the Church of England as compared with the Church of Scotland. Those friends were two old ladies. But they were sensible ladies and relations of his own—they were elderly maiden ladies. He had asked them what was their opinion of the Roman Catholic religion. Their reply was 1147 "The Roman Catholic is very bad indeed. Roman Catholics canna be saved at a'; it is impossible." Then he asked them what their opinion was of the Episcopalian Church? Their reply was—"We ha' great doots about that too—it may be a leetle better than the Roman Catholic Church, but we have great doots whether Episcopalians can be saved." And the right hon. Baronet, and the hon. Gentlemen opposite, knew that this feeling prevailed to a great extent with many of the old Presbyterians. He had some short time ago seen a book written by a Frenchman who had travelled in Ireland, which had been rendered into English, and he had copied from it some lines in reference to religious matters in Ireland 200 years ago. They were, nevertheless to the point. He would read them:—They cried the mass down, 'cause (they said) The priest in unknown language prayed; And yet themselves their prayer-book sent To such as knew not what it meant; And it was read, and psalms were sung, And sermons preached in English tongue, Among wild Irish, when not one Knew what they said, but cried, 'O' hone!' 'O' hone!' they cried, and shook their heads, With grief, to change their mass and beads For what they knew to be a prayer, No more, poor souls! than Banks his mare.Talking of Banks's mare, they had heard on a former evening, concerning a certain stallion, whose owner, an Irish landlord, had compelled the priest to announce after mass in his chapel, that the said stallion was to be let out at 16s. 8d. a leap. Now, that was liberal enough in an Irish landlord, but it was nothing to the liberality of the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel), who had offered the use of his celebrated bull for nothing. However, he feared that the right hon. Baronet's bull would not satisfy the Irish people. The noble Lord the Member for Sunderland put the case of Ireland having conquered Britain, supposing it was bigger than Britain, and asked us how we would like to have the Catholic religion crammed down our throats? He would put a more conceivable case. Supposing Napoleon had actually invaded this country, at the time he proposed to do so. He had then an immense army and an immense flotilla of beats prepared at Boulogne, and he only wanted some forty-six sail of the line to have put his design 1148 into execution. He could assure hon. Members that he had conversed with Marshal Soult upon the subject, and thought there was nothing extravagant in the scheme. The French Emperor had then an army of between two and three hundred thousand men, and our troops were by no means in the high condition to which they had since attained. Well, supposing Buonaparte had conquered Britain, and had at the same time brought with him an army of French bishops and pastors; supposing he had turned out our clergy, and put in his own, making them preach a language which we did not understand, and a religion we did not like; suppose all this, did hon. Members think, that this country would remain tranquil under such usage? No! we should make efforts to drive the French out of England, as the Irish were endeavouring to drive the English out of their country. But the noble Lord the Member for Sunderland went further than the noble Lord the Member for London. Ay, and he thought he was quite right in going further. He proposed to turn over the Protestant Establishment to the Catholics. Now he (Sir C. Napier) must confess, that he did not quite go this length. But the noble Lord proposed another plan. It was to equalise the whole thing—to let the Roman Catholics have their fair proportion of the Church revenues. Now this appeared very reasonable. But the noble Lord was not yet exhausted. He threw out a third suggestion, to the effect, that the revenues of the Church, as Church revenues, should be abolished, and the money applied for the purposes of education. He certainly thought, that it would be better to give tithes, which were paid in many cases for duties which were not performed, to further the cause of education. Such a plan would be fraught with the greatest advantages. It was very true, that the nation might not be quite prepared for such great changes at once; but they must make a beginning, the people must he led on gradually. Let the Government show that they were able and willing to do impartial justice between Catholic and Protestant, and the nation would speedily awake from its slumber of prejudice. Why, the thing would come to that at last. Emancipation was won by perseverance; but what was it after all? It was a thank-you-for-nothing. 1149 Let them take care that justice to Ireland in other respects did not become a thank-you-for-nothing too. The Church of Ireland, as at present constituted, could never continue. It was contrary to the common sense and common feelings of mankind. It was contrary to every principle of honour and justice. He did not wish to upset it at once, but the sooner they made a beginning in the work of change, the better. He would, however, propose a fourth plan of proceeding. When a living became vacant in Ireland, he would allow the proceeds to flow into the Treasury; but in cases where the parish was a Catholic one, he would supply the vacancy by a Catholic clergyman. The noble Lord at the head of the Colonies, stated, that the Catholics did not wish to be endowed with the funds of the Irish Church, and he thought that the circumstance showed their extreme moderation. He repeated again, that the Churches ought to be equalised. The Irish Catholics did not want to pay tithes to both Protestant and Catholic clergymen. It was said, that by the Commutation Act, the landlord was made liable for tithes; but who paid the landlord? Now, he would tell the House an anecdote of what happened to him when he was in Ireland. It occurred at Cork. He was going up from the Cove to the town of Cork in a fly. Well, it was stopped; and in came a very decent young lady [a laugh], well, a young woman. He saw that she was a very decent girl. [Laughter.] Now, really this was no joke. Well, in talking of how things were in Ireland, he said, "You are satisfied, I suppose, now that tithes are commuted, and that the proprietor pays them?" She replied, "Do you see that man there working on the road?" He said, "Yes I do." "Well," says she, "that man has got a little ground of his own—he is obliged to pay tithes, on the one hand, to the Protestant clergyman, who he thinks is sending his soul to the devil; and, on the other, to the Catholic priest, to hinder him from going there." Why it was clear, that men were obliged to pay two sets of tithes. The people of Scotland would not allow the English to cram the Episcopal Church down their throats; and why should the Irish be forced to swallow it? But had they succeeded in their attempt to force a Church upon an unwilling people? Had they succeeded in improving the condi- 1150 tion or increasing the number of the Protestants in Ireland? No, they had not. How was it in Scotland, where the attempt to force on the religion was given up? Why, the Episcopalians were increasing. Episcopalianism was considered in Scotland as the most gentlemanly religion, and altogether the most desirable in a temporal point of view, and had not the late row in the Scottish Church taken place, he thought they would have seen Scotland, not only an Episcopalian country, but more so than Ireland. But the noble Lord at the head of the Colonies, read declarations made by the Catholics in 1757, in 1792, and in 1808, in which they stated that they did not at all want to disturb the position of the Church, provided they got emancipation. But circumstances had changed since, and the noble Lord had no right to turn round on them and say, "we hold you to your bargain," just as if they had given emancipation an hundred years ago, according to the terms on which the bargain was offered. But the Catholics of the present day were not to be hound by the promises of their forefathers, even if the terms on which these promises had been made had been fulfilled. Were they to have no advance—no progress? He thought, that the noble Lord, the Secretary for the Colonies, when he took up the Catholic oath, and read it with such solemnity, had thereby insulted the Irish Catholic Members. Why, they had not heard one word from those hon. Gentlemen touching the Irish Church. They had always studiously avoided the topic, and he could not help, therefore, saying that it was an insult to the Catholic Members to warn them, and put them in mind of their oath, as the noble Lord had done. But the noble Lord had asked if they were prepared to put Catholic Bishops into the House of Lords? He would answer that he was not, because they had too many Bishops there already. He was not quite certain but that he would go the length of putting those now in out of it; however, that was not at present the question. But he would put another inquiry to the noble Lord, he would ask whether he would continue to put Protestant clergymen into parishes where there were no congregations for them to preach to? If the former proposition was absurd, the latter was still more absurd. They had been trying for a long period to put down the 1151 Catholic religion in Ireland. They certainly had not succeeded, and he thought it was high time to give up the attempt as utterly impracticable. They must give to the Irish full religious, as well as civil rights—they must let them see that their religion was not contemned and sought to be extinguished. True, they as Protestants, did not think that the Roman Catholic was the best religion. They were educated in their own creed—they sucked in its doctrines with their mother's milk. Let them give to Catholics the same indulgence which they claimed for themselves. These were his sentiments, and he hoped that hon. Gentlemen opposite would follow the example of the noble Lord, the Secretary for the Colonies, and the right hon. Baronet, the Secretary for the Home Department, and allow the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government to purge them of their prejudices altogether, so that they would be ready to come forward and support him in some comprehensive measure required for the benefit of Ireland.
§ Mr. M. Gore
expressed his earnest hope that the Government, in whose recent policy towards Ireland he fully concurred, would vigorously follow up that policy, by suppressing agitation, at the same time that they proposed remedial measures, which he was prepared to support, and which he trusted would be productive of the most salutary effects in that distracted country. He did hope that the measures proposed by Her Majesty's Ministers would, above all, tend to the improvement of the condition of the peasantry of Ireland. In that country there was an enormously increasing population, and no diffusion of capital to give the people employment; and where there was a redundant population, without employment, misery and consequent dissatisfaction must be prevalent. The first duty of the Government should be to encourage the introduction of capital; but, then, the capitalist must be assured of protection for his capital before he would embark it in a country agitated as Ireland was. The great grievance of Ireland was want of employment for the people. When he contrasted the condition of the peasantry of Scotland with those of Ireland, and he was certainly ready to admit, that the misery of the latter had other and various causes as well as to want of employment. They must all be inquired into, and gra- 1152 dually removed. With respect to the proposition to confer upon the Catholic clergy a species of State provision, he for one, should not object to it if he thought it would tend to the promotion of peace and good-will. He acknowledged that the position of the Established Church of Ireland was an anomalous one, and it required all the power of Government to sustain that Church against the attacks made upon it. As on the one hand he was willing to support any measure proposed by Ministers for the conciliation of the Catholics of Ireland, without prejudice to the Protestant Establishment, so, on the other hand, he would resist every attempt to impair that Establishment. He cared not from what side of the House any measure emanated for the restoration of tranquillity in Ireland, he should support such measure, always keeping in view the preservation of that bulwark of Protestantism—the Established Church—He regretted that at the time of the Union some arrangement with respect to the Catholic Church in Ireland had not been effected. It was not, however, now too late, and he trusted that a satisfactory arrangement might be effected by Ministers, of whose general policy towards Ireland he was bound to say he fully approved. He hoped they would continue it, and exhibit the same vigorous determination to maintain the supremacy of the law which they had in a recent instance exhibited. In this policy they should have his support, as they undoubtedly were entitled to that of the House. The Irish people were entitled to their best sympathies. They were a brave and an ingenuous people, of strict integrity, and as Sir John Davis, in his history of them says—a people above all amenable, provided you treat them with impartial justice. They fought side by side with the English, and at least equalled them in valour, and undoubtedly had a right to be regarded on a footing of perfect civil equality with Englishmen. He would say, then, cultivate their good feelings—allow them the full privileges of the Constitution. Do them ample justice, and you will gain their hearts, and unite the two countries in the holy bond of national affection, based upon reciprocal rights and mutual benefit. Do this, and you will convert your present weakness into strength, consolidate the Empire, and gain for yourselves an imperishable fame.
§ Mr. J. O'Brien
It is impossible to deny, Sir, that the period has at length arrived in the political struggles of Ireland when a Government, adequately alive to its duties, can no longer temporize in the course they shall adopt. They must wisely conciliate and finally redress the wrongs of that country, or they must be prepared to encounter the formidable, and in any result, disastrous issues which await their refusal. Which alternative is more consistent with the suggestions of a past experience, and which is more consonant with those principles of legislation which give tranquillity to a people and safety to a State? The one class of policy you have long tried, and the disastrous records of Ireland, the social and political condition of her people, sufficiently attest its character. For centuries you have ruled us in the spirit of a jealous domination; you availed yourselves of the arts and of the power of a superior civilization to invade the rights of a people too uninstructed to combine against an enemy strong by their discord, and triumphing by their dissensions. Still yours was an imperfect policy. You did not entirely subjugate, you did not wisely incorporate, your triumphs were not the preparation for improved laws, for consolidated institutions, for an advancing civilization. You stood aloof from a people whom fear did not subdue, and whose affections you did not gain, in cold and hostile isolation. The colony you planted you long preserved untouched by the sympathies of the people among whom they were; and when, at length, nature and necessity overcame the obstacles you created—when your colony expanded to a nation—when the recollections of origin gave way before the stronger and more imperious claims of country—you renewed the experiment of our earlier subjugation; and upon a people now possessing on you the conjoined claims of kindred and of country, you repeated, with a remarkable fidelity, those unforgotten scenes which still oppressed and haunted the national mind, in the confiscated rights of a spoliated people. You established successive oligarchies—now appealing to the prejudices of country, and now to the animosities of creed. Yet I cannot find that England collectively has gained by the course you pursued. I cannot find that Ireland, though allied to your fortunes, has added much to your domestic pros- 1154 perity or to your international influence. You have yourselves not unfrequently announced that we have been a distraction to your counsels and a burthen on your resources. What can more emphatically demonstrate than your own councils the character of your policy? Ireland, by its position, the physical character of its soil, the moral qualities of its people, was well fitted to be your prosperous associate and willing ally. But why should I refer to that felicitous combination so calculated to promote the interests of both countries? It has been counteracted by the influence of a miscalculating legislation. The hostile hatreds of race, the instrument of our earlier subjugation, were followed by the artificial animosities of creed—either principle but the pretext of spoliation, but either effective in its turn to distract a people and trample upon liberty. At length, after a brief exercise of legislative independence, the Union was achieved, and Ireland was attached to, but not incorporated with, your Empire; she more than participated in your burthens, she did not share in your privileges. The Catholic was but imperfectly emancipated, and the taint of a sectarian ascendancy stained the international compact. The improving sentiment of the age, the advancing tide, notwithstanding many obstacles, of national prosperity, achieved emancipation; but we found it a barren concession—we felt that political freedom was not attained, that social equality was not accomplished. We respectfully applied to an Imperial Legislature—we called fodomestic equality, we called for international rights, we called for a more adequate representation, and the removal of those perennial sources of discord and contention which balanced and neutralised the representation which we had; we called for the abatement of that anomaly, without parallel, without example, which sustains the Church of an opulent minority by the reluctant contributions of a dissentient and impoverished people. By an Imperial Legislature, redress was denied, inquiry was refused, the spirit of legislative independence was revoked, the various shades of opinion were absorbed by the pervading sense of national wrong, and four-fifths of the people of Ireland rallied under the comprehensive principle of Repeal. It was found to be, in all its various interpretations, whether of unconditional Repeal, whether of federal institutions, or of 1155 a reconstruction of the existing Union, as that enlarged, distinct, and intelligible principle which best appealed to the collective feelings and intellect of the country: for the principle of domestic Legislation, however modified, necessarily implies, constituted as the country is, the attainment of those measures which all shades of the Liberal party proclaim to be essential to the tranquillization of Ireland and to the safety of the Empire. But you state this agitation threatens the dismemberment of your Empire: it behoves you, then, to abate it by doing justice to the country. You say the Empire would sink in the collisions of independent Legislatures; then prove the competency of Imperial Legislation by measures of comprehensive redress. You arraign the people of Ireland for moving a question fraught with the perils you describe: but there is a fallacy in your reasoning—the Repeal Agitation originates not with them, but with you; it is not the spontaneous adoption of the Irish people, it is the compulsory alternative which you have forced upon them. You have the power to allay the disturbed anxieties of the public mind; you have the power, if you have but the will, to consign to repose the awakened spirit of nationality. You urge the prospective, the probable dangers which await on separate Legislatures; but this argument of prospective danger, has neither force nor application, for what dangers future and contingent can exceed, can equal, those which now assail you. Fraught with peril to your Empire, with reproach to your councils, what is our condition, but that to which an Imperial policy has reduced us? Are not the national energies wasted in unavailing contentions? Are not the relations of life embittered? Are not the substantial interests of the country unheeded or forgotten? Amidst the exasperating animosities of party and of sect, is not the public mind morbidly occupied by those engrossing passions, which alike unfit it for the pursuits of tranquil industry or intellectual labour? Is not the spirit of a Sectarian domination again summoned to a disastrous existence? and have not four-fifths of the people of Ireland, the Roman Catholic population, been branded as unfitted for the discharge of the ordinary functions of their condition, as virtually participating in a conspiracy threatening the existence of the country and the safety of the Empire? for 1156 such is the announcement of Her Majesty's law advisers in Ireland, and such as proclaimed by them, and sanctioned by you, the disastrous fruits of the existing legislative connection. Is a policy which has produced such results, suitable to our country, and will you arraign the people for adopting any expedient, however powerful, to abate the evils of such a condition? Will you arraign them for organising a power, no matter how denominated, whose practical tendency is to place you in that position when, to prevent the more apprehended alternative of the legislative severance of the two countries, you will concede to us those measures which we have so long called on you to grant, sought for at your hands, and which are so fully set forth in the document lately sanctioned by the signatures and substantial concurrence of a majority of the Irish Representatives? But can it be that you will say to the people of Ireland, we shall grant you neither Redress nor Repeal? I cannot believe that such will be your resolve. Reason, your own interests, suggest an opposite inference; you will not, for inadequate considerations, put in peril the safety of your Empire; the authority of your own example forbids the conclusion. You conceded Emancipation upon the combined considerations of justice and expediency; perhaps, the latter was the predominating ingredient, suggesting to the people of Ireland the not unheeded lesson, that to themselves, to their own untiring; energies, they must look for the assertion of national rights, and the redress of national wrongs. But then, as now, you complained of popular combination; now, as then, dissolve the popular confederacy by a recognition of the rights contested, and by measures, as in your power of comprehensive redress. You reproach us with agitation; recollect, as it has been well observed, that it is the price we must pay for liberty, that it has been as history records, and as your experience will testify, the great specific for the abuses of power, whether by bodies or by individuals. By agitation you carried Magna Charta—by agitation you carried the Bill of Rights—by agitation you established the law of Libel, and emancipated the press from the fetters of authority—by agitation you secured the unsullied administration of the law, and rescued the Bench from the seductions of power—by agitation—conspicuously by 1157 agitation, you carried the Reform Bill. The people of Ireland, by constitutional agitation, achieved commercial liberty in 1779, and Legislative Independence in 1782. And in more recent times, and within your own experience, by the agency of the same power, they carried Emancipation, vindicated the inalienable rights of conscience, and established, on an imperishable basis the great principle of religious freedom. But you will say, the popular agitation in Ireland transgresses those limits which social security demands, or the Constitution warrants. Sir, they deny the imputation. They met in multitudinous assemblies to demonstrate, not physical power, but national sentiment; and they appeal, in vindication of their character, to their prompt, their unreserved, their unhesitating obedience to that tardy, that ungracious, that offensive proclamation which prohibited the meeting at Clontarf. From that moment the peaceful character of the popular agitation was irresistibly demonstrated, and the people of Ireland became entitled to demand the active and avowed co-operation of those who substantially identified with them in principle, yet viewed to that period with perhaps an undue apprehension the rapid progress and excited temperament of the national movement. But, Sir, as I have said, this agitation has been forced upon the people of Ireland. On the access to office of the present Ministry they awaited with patience the development of their policy; but they were soon taught the painful lesson that the spirit of a past ascendancy controlled their councils, and that the Catholic population of Ireland, or those who represented their opinions, were systematically excluded from the honours of the State, and the confidence of its rulers. Tired of complaints, of arguments unanswered, of remonstrances unavailing, they confederated, it is true, but they did not conspire. They appealed to the enlightened convictions of the Protestants—to the dispassionate intelligence of England; by the unwearied promulgation of truth, by the untiring development of their wrongs and of your injustice, they created a moral power, and enlisted in their behalf the assenting sympathies of a civilised world. How will you dissolve a confederacy which lots violated no laws, which has invaded no rights, sustained by the legality of its means the justice of its ends, and by the 1158 unfaltering confidence of an united people? You will not concede those measures which the people of Ireland call for till the people of Ireland abandon their assertion. As well may you suppose the torrent will move backward to its spring, as that the Irish people, mature in numbers, in wealth, in knowledge, and in power, will now abandon the prosecution of claims which, in all the vicissitudes of their disastrous history, they have unvaryingly proclaimed to be less essential to their honour as men, than to their rights as citizens. What, then, remains to be done? Is the reign of military terror to be the rule of your Government, or will you reply to the finest aspirations of an impassioned people, by a prosecution in the Queen's Bench? And shall such be the result of centuries of British ascendancy, and such the boasted fruits of a long experiment of Imperial legislation? I call upon the Government, on whom are now placed the responsibilities of a great Empire, no longer to palter with its safety. I call upon them to consummate the great act of religious and of national emancipation, yet but imperfectly achieved. I call upon them even to take to their councils the awakened spirit of nationality, to temper its enthusiasm, if you will, to regulate its aberrations. I respectfully call on you to tranquillise Ireland by measures which shall secure to her people social equality among themselves, and international equality with you.
§ Mr. M. Milnes
said, he could not entirely coincide in the phrase of the excellent speech of the hon. Member the Secretary to the Admiralty, that the time had now arrived when every Member of that House ought to give his opinion on the present state of Ireland, and on the measures which should be adopted for improving the condition of that country. But as he had himself placed upon the Books some time since a Notice of Motion on a subject of very great importance connected with the welfare of Ireland, and, as that Notice was altogether merged in the great Motion of the noble Lord, the Member for London, which was then under discussion, it might not perhaps be deemed misplaced, if he, on the present occasion, offered a few remarks on the subject which he had intended to bring before the House. He could, however, assure the noble Lord, that he did not intend making upon his Motion the same speech that he would have made 1159 upon his own. His sole motive in giving that Notice of Motion arose from the hope that by bringing the subject to which it referred under the consideration of the House, he might, before the general question of Irish policy was brought forward, get up some fair discussion on the subject of Ireland, not exclusively of a party character. He should have wished that the principle which was allowed by both sides of the House to be the only just and expedient one, namely, that of treating Ireland without reference to party politics, were carried further into practice than it had hitherto been. He should have wished to behold the noble Lord who had brought forward the present Motion, and the Members of Her Majesty's Government who had addressed the House, not so completely adverse to each other as they had shown themselves to be in their criticisms on the recent trials as well as in their views as to the general policy to be extended towards Ireland. He made those remarks because he thought every one must have perceived, that during the whole of the debate everything that had been spoken might be regarded as belonging to one or other of two subjects—one having reference to the State Trials, and the other to the general question of the condition of Ireland, which latter, he thought, ought to be considered as the matter solely and essentially before the House. He thought, with every respect for the manner in which the question had been discussed by hon. Members, that it would have been better if the first question, or the subject of the Trials, had been entirely omitted from that discussion, for he considered it to bear but very lightly on the great question before the House; notwithstanding which, from the manner in which it had been brought forward by the noble Lord, it had served to taint the entire of that debate with a violent party spirit. They all agreed in admitting the slight respect which was paid in Ireland to the laws of the land, and the object of the noble Lord, from the manner in which he had brought forward his motion, appeared to be to make that respect still less than it unfortunately was before. The course taken by the noble Lord on that point reminded him unconsciously of a description given by the poet Tickell of a politician who—Against the Bishops pleads the Church's cause, "And from the Judges vindicates the laws.'The noble Lord opposite, by admitting 1160 that the defendants might have been found guilty, not according to the regular law of the land, but under some quibble of judge-made law, showed the impropriety of bringing discussions of that nature before the House and the country, because, by having introduced the subject, the noble Lord gave him, and other Members who knew nothing whatever of the matter, as good a right as the noble Lord himself had assumed of standing up and impugning the great and solemn decisions of the constituted Judges, and speaking in the most disrespectful manner of the legal tribunals of the land and of the law, which, however open to improvement it might be, should still be venerated as the sole law and legislation of the Empire. Having made these remarks, he hoped not impertinently, on the manner in which the question had been introduced to the House, he would proceed to express, in as few words as possible, his opinion on the great question which he believed to be solely under their consideration. He would state, as briefly, but at the same time, as clearly and emphatically as he could, his views on the subject, and the opinion to which he had come, not without some consideration, some reading, and a careful examination of the various bearings of the question. It appeared to him, that in all their discussions on the state of Ireland, they forget the principle that had been most wisely set forth by the noble Lord who commenced that debate—namely, that it was perfectly ridiculous to talk of the evils and wrongs of ages being neutralised by a few pages of an Act of Parliament. He should also have expected that the experience of the noble Lord while in office would have taught him how little any Ministry were able to do for Ireland. He did not mean to assert, that a Government should not hold before its own view great schemes for the welfare of that country; but what he wished to convey was, how trifling was the good that any Government could effect at once, and how futile, how absurd and ridiculous it was to expect, that a Government could at once propose great measures, which would cause the destruction of Ministry after Ministry that should attempt to carry them. Such measures could only be adopted when, after long and deep discussions, they had entered fully into the public mind, and, above all, when those distinctions of party feelings and prejudices were laid aside which so generally influenced all public measures, and which, he should add, the Motion of 1161 the noble Lord was as little free from as any Irish question that ever came before that House. The noble Lord, the Member for Sunderland, had well alluded to the passing of the Catholic Emancipation Act; but every hon. Member present must know that that measure could not have been carried by any Government alone or without the union of the two great parties in the State. It was carried against the weight of public opinion in this country, and the same public opinion would be found existing against any plan for the abolition of the Church of Ireland, or even for any great alteration in the Church Establishment of that country. He therefore considered, that to taunt any Government with not bringing forward a measure for either of those purposes, was merely synonymous with taunting them with not putting an end to their own existence. In the year 1827, the right hon. Baronet at the head of Her Majesty's Government, when speaking against Catholic Emancipation, used some such words as the following:—Whatever privileges the Act of Union might pretend to confer, it would leave the Catholics to all practical purposes in their present condition; they would be nominally eligible to the great Offices of State, and to the lesser functions from which they are now excluded in terms, but though eligible they would not be elected. Though capable in law they would be incapacitated by the prevalent influence of Protestantism, an incapacity which would render them less contented with their situation than before, inasmuch as an exclusion founded on popular dislike, or the ascendancy of the opposite faction, would seem to be the result of personal considerations, and not of mere legal regulations.He was satisfied, that the prejudice which had so long prevented Catholic Emancipation would be found still deep-rooted in the feelings of the people of this country, and that every measure having for its object the advancement of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland, and tending to the destruction of the Protestant Church Establishment in any part of the Realm, would lead to the most determined opposition on the part of the people of England. He considered it, therefore, most unstatesmanlike on the part of the noble Lord, the Member for Sunderland, and of the hon. Gentleman, the Member for Liskeard, to work up public opinion in this country against them, by expressing themselves, without any qualification whatever, as being favourable to the destruction of the Protestant Church Establishment of 1162 Ireland, while their professed object was the pacification of that country. He considered nothing could have been less prudent and wise than that course; and the Government that would not resist such a proposal would not, he would say, be for a moment worthy of calling itself in any degree the representative of public opinion in this country. While he laid down these distinctions, he hoped no one would accuse him of inconsistency, if he at the same time declared it to be his firm conviction, that religious ascendancy was the great root of all the evil which they had to deplore in the state of Ireland. It had been well said during that debate, as well as on other occasions, that the Irish people were by far the most religious people in the world—that, even in the present incredulous age, they remained firmly and sincerely attached to the faith of their forefathers, and that they continue to be, as it were, a great remnant of the Middle Ages which time had left behind it in its course, It was not then to be wondered at, if such a people should have a strong feeling against the religious ascendancy that was exercised over them. He would ask whether every young Member of the House who had spoken on the present debate, had not expressed somewhat of the same opinion as that which he then announced? and that might perhaps be accounted for by the supposition, that both in the House and out of it, young persons were enabled from particular circumstances, to see more distinctly than their seniors the causes of existing evil in Ireland. He would not say, that that feeling was general, or that it existed among any class of persons sufficiently large to be capable of directing public opinion; but, nevertheless, he believed that every Member on the opposite side of the House, and most of those with whom he sat, would recognise in that sentiment there lay the nucleus of the only future possible pacification of Ireland. It was utterly impossible, that they could expect to tranquillise that country while the present religious differences were kept up. He read, a few days since, an anecdote of Dr. Law, who was Bishop of Killala in the beginning of the last century, and son to the Bishop of Carlisle. Perceiving that his flock was very thin, whole parishes being without a single Protestant, he ordered several thousands of a Roman Catholic catechism, written by Dr. Butler, Titular Archbishop of Cashel, to be purchased and distributed among the poor 1163 Catholics of his diocese. When questioned as to his motives, he replied,I endeavoured to make them Protestants, but in vain; the endeavours of all my predecessors have been equally fruitless; I, therefore, thought myself usefully employed in the service of God and my country, in making them good Catholics; this will content me, for they may become good Christians, and, of course, good subjects.He read that passage to the House, because it was the first expression in point of time of the feeling which he wished to impress upon the House, that he had been able to discover. He would then beg leave to refer hon. Members to another quotation from the letters of a remarkable Irish Anglican Theologian, Alexander Knox to Mr. Wilberforce:—Having before us a perfectly organized Church, whose formation at the first, and still more, its sustenance at this hour, never could be the result of human will, and whose dissolution we at least have no means of achieving, why should we not set ourselves as much as possible to ameliorate what in fact, we cannot destroy.Chief Baron Woulfe had also well said:—Amongst the Protestants and Catholics in Ireland, let there be equality of rights, and not equality of privation.In accordance with those principles it was that he thought it to be the duty of the Government of this country, to take every possible means of alleviating and improving the condition of the Roman Catholic religion in Ireland: and in saying so, he did not for a moment wish it to be supposed, that he spoke slightingly or disrespectfully of the present state of that religion. Whatever evils might appear in the condition of the administration of Catholic religion in Ireland, it was they, English Protestants, who were accountable for them. If the Catholic priests were violent, forgot their religious duties, and became political partizans, it was they who made them so, and who had left them the prey to every period of political excitement. It was they who left them without any means of support and exposed to all the temptations of which they afterwards accused them of becoming the victims. The sentiments which he then put forth, were the same that had been entertained by nearly all the great statesmen who had existed in the country. There was no doubt but that they coincided with the opinions of Mr. Pitt: for although he believed no distinct declarations of those opinions remained 1164 upon record, still it had been stated by the most intimate friends of that eminent man, that he had over and over again declared his conviction, that the Union would never accomplish its object as long as the Roman Catholic Clergy of Ireland were left disregarded and despised. He found from the declaration of the Roman Catholic Bishops themselves, made at the time of the Union, that they were not at that time opposed to a State provision. At a meeting of the Roman Catholic Bishops, held the 17th, 18th, and 19th of January, 1799, it was admitted,That a provision through Government, for the Roman Catholic Clergy of this Kingdom, competent and secured, ought to be thankfully accepted; that in the appointment of the Prelates of the Roman Catholic religion to vacant Sees within the Kingdom, such interference of Government as may enable it to be satisfied of the loyalty of the persons appointed is just, and ought to be agreed to.The statesman of that age who had passed away within the last week—Lord Sidmouth—entertained exactly the same opinion. He had been instructed by King George III. to offer the regium donum to the Roman Catholic clergy of Ireland, at the same time that it was given to the Presbyterian Clergy: but while the latter accepted of it, the Roman Catholic Clergy very properly declined to have any connexion with a State stipend at the time, as it would be considered as having been given to them by way of bribe, to draw them away from the advocacy of the question of Emancipation then pending. Lord Grenville was known to have entertained the same opinion with regard to the Roman Catholic Church of Ireland, and Lord Castlereagh had avowed it repeatedly. It was known what were the opinions of Mr. O'Connell and Mr. Sheil on the subject in 1825, but he would not detain the House on matters that they could all read for themselves. In the year 1826, Lord Brougham, then Mr. Brougham, speaking on this subject, said of the Roman Catholic Clergy of Ireland,They were the natural instructors of the people, and he was afraid of their being influenced by the Government, had the provisions proposed for them last year been made.He had dwelt long upon what he believed to be the sole effective and true means by which they could succeed in bettering the condition of Ireland: he wished, however, that it should be distinctly understood, that he had never proposed,—and, indeed, it would have been 1165 an insult if he had done so—any sum of money to the Roman Catholic Clergy of Ireland. He believed such an offer would be regarded now as it had been before, as being merely a bribe, and it would be impossible, therefore, to make it; but he would tell the House what might be done, and he had no doubt but that the House would agree with him at least on that point. He thought the Government had begun in the right way in proposing a law under which the Roman Catholic Prelates could accept every offer of endowment made to them for their Church, either by members of their own persuasion, or by others. That would, of course be very trifling, but he would take it as an earnest of more, and as a symptom of good feeling on the part of the Government towards the Roman Catholics of Ireland. He hoped it would be followed by other measures conceived in a like spirit, such as the appointment of a Commission to inquire into the state of the Roman Catholic chapels in Ireland, and to give money for their repairs, instead of leaving them, as at present, desecrated by an appearance of misery and poverty, while they had every right to be improved and decorated at the expense of the State. He hoped every possible measure of that kind would be brought forward, which would tend to please the Roman Catholics of Ireland; and he also hoped that all invidious legal distinctions with respect to the titles of the Prelates of that Church would likewise be abolished. Believing as he did, and as every Church of England man must believe, that the Prelates of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland had a perfect right to assume the title of Bishop or Archbishop,—for though not in connexion with the local sees, still they were clearly as much Bishops and Archbishops as the Prelates of the Church of England could pretend to be,—he considered it to be a most foolish and invidious distinction to forbid them to use their titles, and one that ought not to be continued. They should proceed in that manner, tranquilly and by degrees, until they re-established a proper feeling among the Irish people, while they at the same time did not proceed so rapidly as to alarm the inhabitants of this country, whose honest prejudices ought to be respected, for they were connected with all their social ideas and religious principles. The feeling in the minds of the people of this country of hostility against the Roman Catholic persuasion was one 1166 that had come down from the time of the Reformation, and the Roman Catholics of the present day were, in fact, paying the penalty of the intolerance and bigotry of their forefathers. It was only by slow degrees that such a feeling of hostility could be eradicated; and oh! what a lesson ought it not to be to them to be tolerant when they beheld such an instance of the consequences of an opposite system before them! The acts of the 100 days of the reign of Queen Mary had so operated on the English mind as to incapacitate the Legislature up to this moment from doing justice to the Roman Catholic population of Ireland. But when he spoke of doing justice to the people of Ireland, he did not mean to agree with Gentlemen opposite that the whole of the people of that country were Roman Catholics. He believed there were fully 1,000,000 Protestants in that country. [An hon. Member: 2,000,000.] To avoid contention he would take the number to be 1,500,000 Protestants. Now, let them remember who are the Protestants of Ireland, and at whose door lies the evil that is complained of—their ascendancy in that country. If the Protestants were proud and insolent, if they looked down upon the Catholics, who had encouraged them? Why, we,—the English Legislature had fostered those feelings. We had made them the spoilt children of England, and had caused them to regard themselves as the lineal descendants of the Cromwellian conquerors of Ireland. He said, looking historically at the matter, such was the natural consequence; and, if it were so, to speak of Ireland as if those Protestants were not in existence, and as if they were not regarded by public opinion, appeared to him a gross and dangerous fallacy. For it was to be remembered that the Protestant Church in Ireland was by those persons regarded and revered in a manner in which he was sorry to say the Church of England was regarded by but few of her followers. He only wished he could see the members of the Church of England as attached to their Church as the Protestants of Ireland were to theirs. And therefore, respecting the feelings of the Irish Protestants, he could not consent at once to any of those stringent and rapid measures which went at once to destroy their Establishment, for which they entertained so much reverence; and he did not think, that even if the dream of the noble Lord the Member for Sunderland could be realized, and he seemed to be then indulging 1167 in some such reverie—that then when the destruction of the Protestant Church had been accomplished the religious rancour in Ireland would be diminished. He believed that if the voluntary system were adopted through Ireland, they would find every Protestant clergyman interfering in political matters, as the Catholic priest did at present, and they would have the most bloody and destructive religious conflict that had ever been witnessed on the face of the earth. Another consideration ought not to be forgotten: if they attempted to destroy the Protestant Church in Ireland, the Protestants would say they were Irish—the maintenance of their Church had been guaranteed to them that this was the only bond that attached them to England, and that now they too would become Repealers, and for such reasons he was prepared to oppose to the utmost any measure having for its object the destruction of the Protestant Church in Ireland. In the words of Chief Baron Woulfe, he would give to the Protestant and the Catholic equal rights, but not equal degradation. They should do all in their power to place the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland in a position of comfort and dignity. He should not object to any equality, not even to seeing two or three of the Roman Catholic theologians sitting with purple stockings in the House of Lords. The Church of England was well able to withstand any such assault as that. He thought too, that at present our relations with the Court of Rome should be renewed. That subject had been incidentally mentioned last Session by the noble Member for Newark (Lord John Manners), and it did not appear to be objected to either by the House or the country at large. He must be permitted to say, that it would require some degree of caution, lest the Court of Rome might receive our advances with some suspicion. If, however, they were frankly and distinctly made, Rome might be the means of introducing into Ireland those principles of conservatism by which she had made her Clergy in other countries the friends of law and order, and therefore he thought the attempt might be made advantageously and successfully by this country. Whilst recommending this step, he at the same time urged the necessity of improving the education of the Irish Catholic Clergy, either by an additional grant to the College of Maynooth, or by the endowment of the Irish College at Rome; he should prefer the latter. 1168 He asked the House to give every encouragement to Her Majesty's present Government, and to every other Ministry in a cause which he considered far superior and more important than the individual existence of any Ministry. He believed, and he had heard it stated before, that the Reform Bill had injured the stability of all Administrations in this country. In his opinion no Government, however well managed, would be permitted to retain power for so long a period as was permitted to Sir R. Walpole. It was, therefore, the especial duty of every Government of this country to lay matters in such a train, and prepare them in such a way, that, whatever results might come, if they were unable to carry out their objects, those objects might be effected as safely and as advantageously as possible. The noble Lord the Member for London had pledged himself in the debate as to what he would do if he ever became again the Minister of the country. The Catholics now knew for certain that, when by any means the noble Lord could get a majority in that House, their Church would, somehow or other, be put upon an equality with the Established Church in Ireland. They knew that was the least they could expect. It was possible the noble Lord might go further, as the noble Lord the Member for Sunderland and other hon. Gentlemen proposed. Now, it was the duty of the Members of any Government, to take care to prepare the country for events they saw to be inevitable—for the greatest misfortunes had occurred to the world, rather from events arriving unexpectedly, than from the nature of the events themselves. They, wanting to bring about tranquillity in Ireland with as little revolution as possible, must, he believed, be left to do it in their own way. They saw all the evils as clearly as hon. Members opposite saw them, and saw the necessary remedy just as they did, for the remedy was as palpable as the evil. They would attempt a remedy, not by a course such as was proposed by the noble Lord the Member for Sunderland, but by means, which, at the same time, would not, in the opinion of all prudent men insult the public opinion of this country. He warned that party who seemed bent on the destruction of the Established Church of Ireland, to take care lest they aroused the No-Popery feeling of this country; he warned them that there was in this country a feeling which the noble 1169 Lord opposite and his Friends could easily arouse by their violent and extreme declarations. He saw no reason whatever why the riots of 1780 should not be renewed, and sure he was that a Lord George Gordon would again be found to head them. Let them seriously and calmly set about doing all they could for Ireland; let them put aside party differences and befriend any Government going the right path as long as they went the safest. He should give his cordial and hearty vote in support of Her Majesty's Government, not because they did all he wished to be done for Ireland, not because he saw them doing all the good they could in Ireland, but because he saw them doing nothing which he could object to, and because he saw them doing just as much as a liberal Government were likely to do. Political justice must fluctuate with the course of time. There was a statute of limitations in politics as well as in property. They ought not always to be dragging up past grievances—they should not be always looking at the historical evils of Ireland as if they were looking through Lord Rosse's gigantic telescope; and bringing them as near to them as possible; they ought to regard them as past, and not be picking up hard words wherever they could find them, as the noble Lord who had introduced the Motion, had done. They ought to soothe the feelings of the people of Ireland, instead of embittering and exacerbating them; remembering that it was their duty to legislate for that country, not according to their own fancies and imagination, not according to their creeds, but according to circumstances as they found them, for such was the only really sound and rational way of remedying the evils of that country.
§ Mr. Macaulay
I cannot refrain, Mr. Speaker, from congratulating you and the House that I did not catch your eye when I before presented myself to your attention. I should have been exceedingly sorry to have prevented any Irish representative from addressing the House on a question so interesting to his country; but peculiarly sorry to have stood in the way of that Gentleman (Mr. J. O'Brien), who pleaded the cause of his country with so much force and eloquence. I now wish to submit to the House those reasons which appear to me to vindicate the vote I am about to give; and in doing this I am sorry to say, that I shall not feel myself justified in following the course traced out to us by my hon. Friend opposite, with all 1170 that authority which he, as he justly states, derives from his venerable youth. I cannot agree with the hon. Gentleman in thinking that our best course is to suffer Her Majesty's Government to go on in their own way, and give us the measures which they have prepared, seeing that the way in which they have been for some time going on is an exceedingly bad one. Sir, the ground on which I support the motion of my noble Friend is this—I conceive that Ireland is in a most unsatisfactory, and, indeed, alarming condition. I conceive, though for the remote causes of the disorders of Ireland neither the present Government nor any living statesmen are responsible—that the immediate causes of those disorders which now peculiarly alarm us, will be found in the conduct of Her Majesty's present advisers. I conceive that when those disorders had reached in autumn an alarming height, Her Majesty's Ministers did not show in any part of their conduct, either by their legislation or their administration, that they justly appreciated the nature of those disorders, or were aware of the proper mode in which they should be treated. I see no signs of promise for the future of a policy better than that which they have hitherto followed. I look forward, certainly, with deep uneasiness to the state of Ireland. I conceive that, in such circumstances, it is the constitutional right and duty of this House to interfere; and I conceive that my noble Friend, by inviting us to go into a Committee of the whole House, has proposed a mode of interference which is at once perfectly parliamentary and convenient, as it is undoubtedly called for. Now, as to the first of these propositions, it will not be necessary for me to waste any time in an attempt to show that the condition of Ireland is one which may justly inspire great anxiety and alarm. On that point I conceive that both sides of the House are fully agreed. That country, Sir, in extent about one-fourth of the United Kingdom, in population certainly more than one-fourth; superior, probably, in internal fruitfulness to any area of equal size in Europe; possessed of a position which holds out the greatest facilities for commerce, at least equal to any other country of the same extent in the world; an inexhaustible nursery of the finest soldiers; a country beyond all doubt of far higher consequence to the prosperity and greatness of this Empire than all its far distant dependencies, were they multiplied four or five times over; superior to Canada 1171 added to the West Indies, and these both conjoined with our possessions at the Cape and in Australasia, and with all the wide dominions of the Moguls—such is the state to which you have reduced it, that it is a source not of confidence and strength, but of alarm and weakness. How do you govern it? Not by love, but by fear; not as you govern Great Britain, but as you govern the recently-conquered Scinde; not by the confidence of the people in the laws and their attachment to the Constitution, but by means of armed men and entrenched camps. Undoubtedly this is a fact which, if we knew nothing more, would fully justify the House of Commons in entering into a grave inquiry, in order to ascertain why these things are so. That these things are so is undoubtedly to be ascribed, as I said, partly to remote causes, independent of any which have a bearing on the parties of the present day. To dwell long on those remote causes would be out of place, and would occupy the attention of the House unnecessarily; and yet I think we can hardly do justice to this enquiry except by taking at least a hasty glance at them. When we seek for the primary causes of these disorders, we must look back to a period not only beyond the existence of the present or late administrations—beyond the time of any living statesmen, but to times anterior to those in which the party names of Whig or Tory were first pronounced—anterior to those of the Puritans, to whom the hon. Member for Shrewsbury (Mr. D'Israeli,) in his very ingenious speech, attributed the calamities of Ireland—anterior even to the Reformation. Sir, the primary cause of the evils of Ireland is undoubtedly the manner in which that country became annexed to the English Crown. It was effected by conquest, and conquest of a peculiar kind. The mere annexation of the country to the English dominion would have been no disadvantage to Ireland, and might have been a benefit to both; but it was not a conquest like those we have been accustomed to witness in modern Europe. It was not a conquest like that which united Lorraine to France, or Silesia to Prussia. It was a conquest of a different kind, well known in ancient times, and down to our own days practised in rude or semi-civilized nations—the conquest of race over race, such a conquest as established the dominion of the Mahrattas in Gwalior, or that of the Spaniards over the American Indians. That, I think, was the first great cause of these disorders, and the effect has 1172 not by any means ceased to act. I believe the very worst of tyrannies that can exist is the tyranny of race over race. I believe that no enmity which ever existed between nations separated by seas and mountains, aggravated as it may have been by long enmity, has ever approached the intense bitterness which is cherished by nations towards each other, when they are geographically and locally intermingled, and yet have never morally amalgamated. And has not a feeling like that which reigned in the breasts of the Spaniards and Mahrattas towards their conquered slaves been excited, by your own boasting and taunts, in a great part of the people of England towards their brethren in Ireland? It might have been hoped that the lapse of time and the consequences of civilization would have healed the original evil—that what we have seen in our own country, which formerly suffered under the same evil, and suffered most cruelly, would have taken place also in Ireland. Here Celt and Saxon—Dane and Norman—all have been fused down and melted together, to form the great and united English people. A similar amalgamation, we might have hoped, would have taken place in Ireland; and I believe it would, but for the circumstances under which it was attempted to force the Reformation on that country. Then came new divisions to strengthen and embitter the old. The English colonists adopted the new doctrines as they had been embraced in England; the aborigines remained true to the ancient faith, alone among all the nations of the North of Europe. Then a new line of demarcation was drawn; theological antipathies were added to the previous differences, and revived the dying animosity of race, continuing dissensions and perpetuating a feud which has descended to our own times. Then came the occurrences to which the hon. Member for Shrewsbury referred in his speech. It unfortunately so happened that the spirit of liberty in England was closely allied with that spirit in theology which was most zealously opposed to the Catholic Church. It did so happen that those who wished for arbitrary government during the 17th century, were closely allied with the leaders of the old religion, and not with its theological opponents. Such men on the one hand as Pym, Hampden, and Milton, however eminent defenders of freedom, though upholding in their widest extent the doctrines of free discussion and religious liberty, yet 1173 always made one exception to their tolerance—the Roman Catholics. On the other hand, those princes who never respected the free rights of conscience in any Protestant dissenters, all betrayed a propensity, to favour the religion of their Catholic subjects. James I. regarded them with no aversion; Charles I. showed them great favour and attachment; Charles II. was a concealed Catholic; James II. was an avowed Catholic. In this manner it happened, throughout the whole of that century, that our slavery and their freedom meant one and the same thing, and that the very events, dates, and names which in the mind of an Englishman were associated with the glory and prosperity of his country, were associated in that of an Irishman with all that had worked the ruin and degradation of his. Take the name of William III., the memory of the battle of the Boyne. I never recollect being so forcibly struck with anything as with a circumstance which occurred on a day I have every reason to remember with gratitude and pride—the day when I had the honour of being declared Member for Leeds. While I was chaired, I observed that all the windows were filled with Orange ribbons, and the streets crowded with persons wearing orange favours: all these were in favour of Catholic Emancipation, and animated with the strongest feeling to contend for equality of rights being granted to their Catholic fellow-subjects. I could not help observing, that the Orange ribbon seemed rather incongruous. "Not at all," was the answer; "under an Orange flag the Whigs of Yorkshire have always banded together. An Orange flag was carried before Sir George Saville, one of the first persons who stood here on the basis of equal rights for all." The very chair in which I sat, it was added, was the chair in which Lord Milton had been carried, when he gained the victory in the great cause of religious liberty against Lord Harewood. Now, what effect would this have produced in Limerick? It would have been at once considered as a mark of triumph over and insult to the Catholic party, marking a disagreement at every point in the history and even of the moral being of these two nations. Twice during the century of which I have been speaking the Catholic population rose against the Protestants; they were twice put down, and both times with a large annexation of land on the one side, and confiscation of property with the infliction of severe penalties on the other. 1174 The first insurrection was put down by Oliver Cromwell, the second by King William. Each of these eminent leaders, after his victory, proceeded to establish a system of his own. That of Cromwell was simple—strong, fierce, hateful, cruel; it might be comprised in one word, which, as Lord Clarendon tells us, was then constantly uttered in the English army—extirpation. What would have been the consequences if he had lived no one can tell, but his object is stated to have been to make Ireland completely English; however, he died, and his plans were interrupted. This policy vanished. The policy adopted by William III. and his advisers was, in seeming, certainly less cruel, but whether in reality less cruel I have my doubts. The Irish Catholics were to live, multiply, and replenish the earth; but they were to be what the Helots were in Sparta, or the Greeks under the Ottoman, or what the man of colour now is in Pennsylvania. The Catholic was to be excluded from every office of honour and profit; his every step in the road of life was to be fettered by some galling restriction. If desirous of military glory, he was to be told, you may go and gain it in the armies of Austria or France; if he felt an inclination for political science, he might meddle in the diplomacy of Italy and Spain; but if he remained at home, he was a mere Gibeonite—a "hewer of wood and drawer of water" But laws badly administered, fostered and increased the ill feeling thus began; and to this period and to these laws may be referred the peculiar and unfortunate relations between landlord and tenant which to this day deform the social state of Ireland. A combination of rustic tyrants was opposed by a host of rustic banditti, who appear under various names, at intervals of four or five years, during the whole of the last century. Courts of law and juries existed only for the benefit of the dominant sect. The priesthood, of which we heard some anecdotes the other night, and very striking they were, who were revered by millions as the dispensers of the Christian sacraments and the great teachers of Truth, who were considered by them as their natural guides and only protectors, were ordinarily treated by the dominant faction, including the bulk of the gentry of the country, as no man of common good nature would treat the vilest beggar. A century passed away, and the French Revolution awakened a spirit of liberty throughout Europe. Jacobinism was not 1175 a natural ally of Catholicism, but oppression and misery produce strange coalitions, and such a coalition was formed. A third struggle against Protestant ascendancy was put down by the sword, and it became the duty of the men at the head of affairs to consider what measures should be adopted to give for the first time peace and good order to Ireland. Little as I revere the memory of Mr. Pitt, I must confess that, comparing the plan he formed with the policy of Cromwell and William, he deserves praise for great wisdom and humanity. The Union of Ireland with Great Britain was part of his plan, an excellent and essential part of it, but still only a part. It never ought to be forgotten that his scheme was much wider in extent, and that he was not allowed to carry it into effect. He wished to unite not only the kingdoms, but the hearts and affections of the people. For that object the Catholic disabilities were to be removed, the Catholic clergy were to be placed in an honourable, comfortable, and independent position, and Catholic education was to be conducted on a liberal scale. His views and opinions agreed with, and were, I have no doubt, taken from those of Mr. Burke, a man of an understanding even more enlarged and capacious than his own. If Mr. Pitt's system had been carried into effect, I believe that the Union with Ireland would fully now have been as secure, and as far out of the reach of agitation, as the Union with Scotland. The Act of Union would then have been associated in the minds of the great body of the Catholic Irish people with the removal of most galling disabilities. All their religious and national feelings would have been bound up with the English connection; and the Parliament in College-green would have been remembered as the most tyrannical, the most oppressive, the most venal, ac-according to its deserts, the most corrupt assembly that ever sat on the face of the earth. In saying this, I can be giving no offence to any Gentleman from Ireland, how strong soever his national or political feelings may be, for I only repeat the sentiment which has been expressed by one of his own countrymen. Mr. Wolf Tone, said—I have seen the corruption of Westminster Hall, I have seen jobbing of all sorts in colonial legislatures, I have seen corruption in the Council of Five Hundred, but anything bordering on the infamy of College-green never entered the heart of man to conceive.1176 Not only, I say, would the Union, if the measures I have alluded to had passed, have been associated in the minds of the Catholic population of Ireland with great wrongs removed, with great benefits received, but those benefits must have inspired a corresponding feeling of gratitude, because they were conferred when England was at the height of her power, and in the moment of victory. I believe if those measures had passed, we should not now have been contending with agitation for the Repeal of the Union. Unhappily, however, the Union alone, of all the measures planned by Mr. Pitt, was carried, and the Irish Catholics found that they had not the name of national independence, that which to them, however little its intrinsic worth, was a source of pride, and that they had obtained no compensation by an addition of civil and religious liberty. Hence the Union, instead of being associated in their minds with penal codes abolished generously, and religious disabilities swept away, became an emblem of disappointed hopes and violated pledges. Nevertheless, it was not even then too late. It was not too late in 1813; it was not too late in 1821; it was not too late even in 1825; if the same men who were then, as they are now, high in the service of the Crown, would have made up their minds to say that which they were forced to say four years later; even then the benefits of the policy of Mr. Pitt might have been realised. The apparatus of agitation was not then organized, the Government was under no coercion; that which was afterwards given in 1829 might have been given with honour and advantage, and might, most probably would, have secured the gratitude of the Irish Catholic people. But in 1829 concession was made, and largely made—made, too, without conditions, which Mr. Pitt would undoubtedly have imposed—but still made reluctantly, and with obvious dislike—made confessedly while the Government was in a state of duresse, and made from the dread of civil war. Was that concession calculated to inspire the minds of the Irish Catholics with gratitude and content? Had it not rather a tendency to inspire the minds of those Irish Catholics with a feeling and opinion to be most deeply lamented, that they could only obtain redress by opposing the Government; with the evil effects of which we are at this day contending. Could these men forget that they had been coming before the English Parliament for twenty-seven years as suppliants, represent- 1177 ing, pleading the justice of their cause—urging the rights of conscience and the civil liberty of the subject—pointing to previous solemn pledges, to the promises of Mr. Pitt, even to the supposed promise of George IV. when Prince of Wales, and pleading and urging all these reasonable arguments in vain? Could they forget that the most profound thinkers, the most eloquent orators, had waked and toiled in their cause in the English Parliament—and had failed to procure them redress. Mr. Pitt endeavoured to fulfil his pledge, and he was driven from office. Lord Grenville and Lord Grey endeavoured to do less indeed than Mr. Pitt proposed, but some portion of that which Mr. Pitt proposed to carry into effect, and they too in turn were obliged to abandon power. Then came Mr. Canning; he took part with the Catholics, and he was rewarded by being worried and hunted to death, by the party which is now in office, and of which he was perhaps the most distinguished Member. And when he, one of the brightest ornaments of Parliament and the eloquent advocate of the Catholic cause, was laid in his grave, then the Catholics began to look to themselves for aid, to display that formidable array of force, just keeping within the limits of the law, which soon produced most memorable consequences, and led to a result which their noblest advocates had been unable to achieve. Within two years after that great man was carried broken-hearted to his resting place in Westminster Abbey, everything he could have done—nay, more than he could have done—was effected. Was it possible, then, that from that moment there should not have been an opinion deeply rooted in the minds of the whole Catholic population of Ireland, that from England, or, at all events, from that powerful party which governed England, nothing was to be got by reason or by justice, but everything by fear? However, the concession was made at last, but made so that it deserved no gratitude, and obtained none. The organization of agitation was complete. The leaders of the people had tasted the pleasure of power and distinction; the people themselves had grown accustomed to excitement. Grievances enough remained, God knows, behind to serve as pretexts for agitation, and the people were imbued with a sense that nothing was to be got by pleading, and justice would only be awarded to power. These I call the remote causes of the difficulty we have now to deal with; these are 1178 the causes which explain a great part of that immense mass of discontent and morbid feeling which has come down to us in our day, as a proof the constant, uninterrupted misgovernment of Ireland from the reign of Henry II. to that of William IV. These are the evils with which the statesmen of the present time have to deal. And now for the immediate cause of the present alarming condition of Ireland. There is I conceive, if I understand it rightly, a great predisposition to disease, but not of absolute paroxysm. Ireland is always combustible, but not always on fire. The right hon. Baronet opposite, during that time when he appeared before the public as a candidate for the high situation he at present fills, announced himself under the title of a physician, and he used several metaphors, if I remember rightly, drawn from the situation of a medical man at the bedside of a patient. If I were to follow out the metaphors of the right hon. Gentleman, I should say that Ireland—I do not accuse the right hon. Baronet of having poisoned his patient who was in an ill state of body, but that the malady was one which, by former good treatment, had been long kept under, and one which, by the continuance of such treatment, might have been subdued, until the whole system had become, in the course of time, restored, and the patient gradually placed in a sound and healthy condition. But the right hon. Baronet's policy has been to apply irritants, which have produced nothing but a series of paroxysms—every one more powerful than its predecessor—and now the condition of the patient, unless you adopt most decisive measures, threatens a most formidable crisis. It is impossible to doubt that the Administration of Lord Melbourne was popular with the great body of the Catholic population of Ireland. It is impossible to doubt that the two viceroys he sent over to Ireland received a larger share of approbation from the great body of the Irish people than any viceroys from the time of William III. We know that during his Administration great perils threatened the Empire in other quarters; but we know also, that to whatever quarter the Government might look with apprehension, to Ireland they might look with confidence. When some designing men raised disturbances in England, and an insurrection was threatened, troops could be spared from Ireland. When an insurrection broke out in one of our colonies—an insurrection, too, in which it might be supposed the Irish Catholics would be inclined to sym- 1179 pathise, seeing that it was the insurrection of a Catholic population against an English Protestant domination, even then the Catholics of Ireland remained true in all things to the general Government of the Empire, and Ireland could spare troops to suppress the insurrection in Canada. And no one, I believe, doubts, that if in 1840 there had been an unfortunate necessity to go to war, and if a foreign Power had sent an army such as once before appeared there on the shores of Munster, that army would have met with as warm a reception as if it had landed on the coast of Kent or of Norfolk; and no one doubts that there would have been a general determination on the part of the Catholic population to defend and support the Throne of Queen Victoria. Under what circumstances and by what means were these effects produced? Not by great legislative boons, conferred by the Government upon the Irish people—for that Government, although it had the inclination, had not the power, against the strength of a powerful minority in this House, and of a decided majority in the other House, to carry any such legislative measure. No, it was merely the effect of an Executive Administration, which, crossed and thwarted as it was at every turn, contending, as it had to contend, against the whole power of the Established Church, and a very formidable portion of the aristocracy and the landed gentry, yet, with such means and such powers as it had, endeavouring honestly and in good faith to remove the religious distinctions which had been maintained in practice after they were abolished by the law, and to conciliate the affections of the Irish people. And I cannot help thinking that if that Administration had been as strong in Parliamentary support as the present, if it had been able to carry into full effect measures for extending to Ireland the benefits of the British Constitution, that in one generation, by such administration and legislation, the Union would have been as secure against popular agitation as is the trial by jury, or the most revered part of our Constitution, But this was not to be. During six years an Opposition, powerful in numbers, formidable in ability, selected the Administration of Ireland as the object of their fiercest, deadliest attacks. Those Lord Lieutenants who were most popular in Ireland were assailed as no others had ever been assailed; and assailed, too, for those very efforts of their Administration which were the chief causes of the conciliation of the Irish peo- 1180 ple. Every legislative Act, too, without exception, introduced by that Government for the advantage of Ireland, was either rejected altogether, or mutilated. A few Catholic gentlemen, men of eminent ability and stainless character, were placed in situations which I can only say were below their talents and desert. Those appointments were hailed with great satisfaction by their countrymen. And no wonder! For 150 years of proscription, of ban and oppression, during which the powers of eloquence, as great as those of my right hon. Friend the Member for Dungarvon, and of other ornaments of his country, withered in utter obscurity under penal and disabling laws—after a century and a half of proscription, during which no Irish Catholic attained to those honours in the State to which his talents and character were entitled, unless he apostatised from his faith, and betrayed his country—at last a Catholic was sworn in of Her Majesty's Privy Council; a Catholic took his seat at the Board of Treasury; and another appeared at the Board of Admiralty. Instantly all the underlings of the great Tory party raised a yell of rage, such as the "No Popery" mob of Lord George Gordon, to whom reference has this night been made, could never have surpassed. That is one example of the feeling which was exhibited with regard to the Catholics, and of which we have not been without manifestations in this debate. The leaders of the party, indeed, even at that time seldom joined in that cry—although I could mention one, and, perhaps, even two eminent instances to the contrary—but the leaders of the party were accused of listening to it, and of enjoying it; of encouraging it, and of benefitting by it. It was not necessary for their purposes that they should do more. Still there were some public expressions used which sanctioned that outcry. "Aliens!" was the phrase used by one leader. "Minions of Popery" was the term employed by another. The Catholic priesthood, regarded with the deepest reverence and love by their flocks—and, from all I have heard, I believe they deserve that reverence—were assailed with most scurrilous epithets and rancorous abuse. They were called a "demon priesthood," and "surpliced ruffians." They were stigmatised from the Protestant pulpit as "priests of Baal" and as "false prophets" whose blood, like that of Jezebel, was to be licked by dogs. Not content with throwing these obstacles in the way of the Executive Government, and mutilating every 1181 measure brought in for the benefit of Ireland: the Opposition of that day assumed an offensive attitude, and determined on bringing in a measure of their own for depriving Ireland of one of her advantages. They called it a measure for the Registration of Electors, but they now admit that it was an Act of Disfranchisement. I desire to take my description of that measure from no lips but their own, and what they would not then admit they admit most fully now. We said, if you impose a much more stringent mode of registration, you disfranchise the great body of the Irish voters. You denied it then, you admit it now. Am I to believe that you did not know all this as well in 1840 as in 1844? Has one fact been stated now that was unknown then? Has a single argument been brought forward now that was not then urged, and urged twenty, thirty, forty times on the floor of this House? But your explanation is, that the responsibility of office now rests upon you—that is, that you use your power to injure your country only when you are in Opposition, as a means of getting into office. Well, Sir, in place these Gentlemen are. It was very fit that such service should have its reward. It has had its reward. Several causes concurred to place them in the situation they now fill; but I believe the principal cause to have been the discontent which they excited in England against the Irish policy of the late Government. I believe that to have been the principal cause—and that it was a principal cause will hardly be denied. But in the eagerness for the contest they called up a spirit more easily evoked than laid—the spirit of religious intolerance. That spirit placed them in power, and then began their punishment, which continues to this day, a memorable warning to unscrupulous ambition. It was pleasant for them to hear the sermons of the Rev. Hugh M'Neile; to hear their cause represented by the High Churchmen, the Low Churchmen, and the Dissenters, as the cause of the Gospel, struggling against spurious Liberalism which made no distinction between religious truth and religious falsehood,—it was pleasant to hear that their opponents were the servants of Antichrist, the slaves of the Man of Sin, and marked with the Sign of the Beast; but when they came into power, they found they had to govern in this island and in Ireland about 8,000,000 of Catholics, who had been constantly, by themselves or their followers, insulted and defamed—what was the necessary result? 1182 I give them the fullest credit for not wishing to do the country the smallest harm—that was not necessary for the overthrow of their political opponents; and I give them credit for all the declarations they have lately made as to their desire to appoint Catholics to place in office. I believe in their sincerity, when they say they would wish to find a Conservative Catholic lawyer at the Irish Bar to elevate to the Bench. Nothing, no doubt, would delight them more than to find a Catholic Conservative Gentleman of good talent for business, and ability of speaking, to assist them in the business of Government. I believe all this; but they say, they cannot promote their enemies; and what I want to know is—why are all the Catholics in the Empire their enemies? Was such a thing ever heard of before? Here are 8,000,000 of people of all sorts of professions, all sorts of characters, of all ranks, the Peer, the lawyer, the merchant, the peasant, ranging from the Hereditary Earl Marshal, the heir of the Howards, the Mowbrays, and the Fitzallans, down to the poorest Catholic labourer of Munster—and all these are arrayed against the Government—was there ever anything like it? Is there anything in Catholic theology of a tendency to ally itself with Whig and democratic doctrines? On the contrary, its tenets are of an opposite tendency, and without going into questions of theology, it has been thought that, of all forms of Christianity, Catholicism is that which attaches most importance to antiquity, which rests upon immemorial usage; and it would, therefore, appear consistent with analogy, that there should be a tendency among Roman Catholics to Conservatism. And so I believe it will be found. In the Civil War, was there a single Catholic in the army of Fairfax? How many did they think fought against Charles I.? Not one. They were all arrayed under his banner. And when the reward of 5,000l. was placed upon the head of Charles II., Catholics of all ranks were found faithful to him, and amongst them he took refuge. Who stood so firmly as the peasantry of that faith to the cause of monarchy? It was so in La Vendée—it was so in the Tyrol—it was so in Spain; and are we now to believe that under a fair Government, a just Government, an equal Government, the professors of the Catholic faith in Ireland would not be found friendly to that Government? My own belief is, that the Tory party made the greatest blunder they ever committed 1183 when they threw the Catholics overboard. My belief is, that those who are acquainted with Mr. Burke's writings which I believe were the source whence Mr. Pitt drew most of his opinions with regard to Ireland, will be aware that Mr. Burke considered the attachment of the Catholics of Ireland to the Government might be well secured if the Government treated them with kindness, and that their attachment would be a great barrier against the inroads of Jacobinism. Under the influence of that opinion, he was in the latter part of his life the warm advocate of the Catholics. He justly considered that the alliance between a large portion of the aristocracy, with the venerable institutions of the country, and the ancient Church to which they were attached, was so material, that nothing but madness could prevent the alliance. That opportunity of forming such an alliance was thrown away by the pretended disciples of Mr. Pitt, who, professing to drink his health on his birth-day, as the saviour of his nation, have renounced every one of his principles. Now see where all this ends. You are forced to bestow your patronage among the Protestants, that class of ultra Protestants who may be called Orangemen, though I do not speak of them as connected with Orange Societies. Then these appointments must necessarily increase the discontent of the Roman Catholic body, and this discontent goes on producing and reproducing, and will continue to go on, and will go on re-producing similar results, unless Parliament shall furnish a great and decisive remedy. By the principles upon which the present Government, I believe, acts, as far as respects all favour of the Crown, the great measure of Emancipation is utterly annihilated. Of all the boons that were supposed to have been conferred by the Act passed in 1829, Catholics of Ireland have, as far as I conceive, obtained only one, and that is, admission to Parliament; and they would not have possessed even that, if the present Government, when in opposition, had been able to pass their Irish Registration Bill. The wounded national spirit, the wounded religious spirit now breaks out, and shows itself in a hundred forms, some of which I abhor, and some I condemn, but none excite my amazement, and all seem the natural effects of gross misgovernment, acting on strong sensibility. You refuse to admit the Roman Catholic to a fair and full communion in the Constitution, and he, therefore, finds out a narrow local patriot- 1184 ism, confined to Ireland. Turn where he will he sees every office, and I may add, stall, filled with those whom he considers, and not without reason, as his enemies. What more natural than that a people in such a situation should set up their own tribune, against the regular constitutional authorities of the country! They all remember, and it would be strange if they did not, what their union, under the same guidance as now, extorted from your fears, in 1829, and they have determined to try whether similar effects cannot be produced from the same means in 1844. These are your difficulties, and they are of your own making. Great statesmen have sometimes brought themselves into difficulties, and have yet retrieved their credit for wisdom and firmness by the manner in which they extricated themselves. Let us see, then, how you meet your difficulties; and first with regard to legislation. The beginning and the end of all your legislation, last Session, for the evils of Ireland were comprised in your Arms Bill. There was no conciliation in that; and it was not worthy the name of a measure of coercion, but simply a measure of petty annoyance. It satisfied the desires and was sanctioned by the judgment of neither side of the House. We called for a boon of a different sort for Ireland, whilst your Friends, or many of them called for a still more vigorous coercive measure; and one noble and learned Lord was so much struck by your remissness in this respect, that he even bestowed some of his own great abilities in framing an Irish Coercion Bill. The fruit of your legislative wisdom in the last Session of Parliament, then, is the Arms Bill only. Then, as to the executive measures of administration which you have dealt out to Ireland, during the recess, I protest in the strongest manner against what was said by the noble Lord the Secretary for the Colonies, the last night the House met, that in his opinion no reasonable man could find fault with the Government on this ground, because it was proved that it had done all that was possible. Now, by the statement of the Government itself, it appeared plain that the Proclamation against the Clontarf meeting was agreed to on the Friday morning; and for them to say that it could not have been made known in Dublin and its suburbs until after dark on the Saturday evening was an absurdity. It was idle to weigh the words of a Proclaclamation at such a time when they should have been occupied in weighing the lives 1185 of the Queen's subjects. No rational person will venture to say, if there had been in the minds of the rulers of Ireland a proper sense of the hazards they were running, that that Proclamation could not have been published in Dublin and its neighbourhood early on Saturday morning, by which the hazard of the loss of many lives might have been avoided. And by whose agency was that evil warded off? By the interposition of the man you have prosecuted. Fortune stood your friend, and he stood your friend, and it was by his exertion mainly that, in all probability, a scene more terrible than that which occurred at Manchester was prevented. But I will pass from that, and come to the prosecution. The charge I make against this prosecution is one and simple. The one main charge I bring against the Government is this, that they seemed not to have considered the nature of such a prosecution; that they regarded it as proceeding in a suit of meum and tuum, in a qui tam action for the recovery of penalties. They considered nothing but this—whether they could get together such evidence as to facts, and such opinions as to law, as would entitle them to a verdict and a judgment. Now, my opinion is, that both the verdict and judgment in a great political case are the very smallest part to be considered. What the Government has to ask itself, when instituting a great public prosecution, is, will our moderation and justice stand the test of public opinion? What will be the effect produced on the public mind by our proceedings? Of course, the law must be strictly observed, but that is only one of the conditions of a public prosecution. To make it wise in the Government to adopt such a measure as a prosecution, it is necessary that its conduct should be such, not only that it could not be questioned, but that prejudice itself could not cavil at it. You were instituting a prosecution against an individual of whom I feel considerable delicacy in speaking in his present situation—a situation which however, did not prevent an hon. Member from vindictively assailing him, which, but one man in this House would do. My belief is that, as regards the end that hon. Gentleman has lately been pursuing, it is not only mischievous but wholly unattainable. I regard with deep disapprobation some of the means pursued to obtain that end; and in saying this, I wish to speak with the respect that is due to eminence and misfortune; but with the 1186 respect that is due to truth. I must say too, that the position which Mr. O'Connell holds in the eyes of his fellow-countrymen, is a position such as no popular leader in the whole history of mankind ever occupied. You are mistaken if you imagine that the interest he inspires is confined to this island. Go where you will upon the Continent, dine at any table d'hôte, tread upon any steam-boat, enter any conveyance, from the moment your speech betrays you to be an Englishman, the very first question asked—whether by the merchants or manufacturers in the towns in the heart of France, or by the peasant, or by the class who are like our yeomen, the first question asked is, what has become of Mr. O'Connell? ["Oh, oh."] Let those who deny this assertion take the trouble to cross the Channel and he will soon be convinced of its truth. Let them only turn over the French journals. It is a most unfortunate, a most unhappy fact—but it is impossible to dispute—that there is, throughout the Continent, a feeling respecting the connection between England and Ireland not very much unlike that which exists with respect to the connection between Russia and Poland. I do not approve of this feeling, but it is natural that it should exist. Without adverting to the immense jealousy which the great power of England produces, I may remind the House that the Irish agitation has on the Continent two aspects, which enlists the sympathies in common of Royalists and Democrats. As a popular movement, it is looked upon with favour by the extreme left in France, or by the democratic part; while, by its involving the cause of Catholicism, it obtains for itself the countenance of the extreme right, and of those who espouse the cause of the Pretender; and in this manner it has probably created a wider interest and more support on the Continent of Europe than any other question of our domestic politics was ever known to command. I do not, it is unnecessary for me to say, urge this for the purpose of frightening the English Government; but I do say, that on such a question, it is of the greatest importance that the proceedings which the Government have taken should be beyond impeachment, and that they should not have sought a victory in such a way that victory should be to them a greater disaster than a defeat. Has not that been the result? First, is it denied that Mr. O'Connell has suffered wrong? Is it denied that if the law had been car- 1187 ried into effect without those irregularities and that negligence which has attended the Irish Trials, Mr. O'Connell's chance of acquittal would have been better—no person denied that. The affidavit which has been produced, and which has not been contradicted, states that twenty-seven Catholics were excluded from the Jury List. [Mr. Sheil: Hear.] My right hon. and learned Friend, whose voice I hear, is competent to do more justice to this part of the subject than I possibly can. But take even the statement made the other night to the House by the right hon. and learned Gentleman opposite, the Recorder of the city of Dublin. He said, that twenty-four names, the majority of which were Roman Catholics, had been omitted. It is very easy to talk of 720 names being reduced to forty-eighth; but what is the forty-eighth part of 720? Fifteen. Now, if these fifteen names happened to be Roman Catholics, there was an even chance, that another Catholic would be one of the forty-eight. But it is admitted, that twenty-seven Catholics were omitted from the list; and this would give almost an even chance of there being two Catholics among the forty-eight. Will any human being tell me that Mr. O'Connell has not, by that violation of the law, suffered a distinct wrong? Will any person say, that it is impossible, or that it is not even very highly probable, that a different result might have taken place but for this blunder? For, remember the power which the law gives to any one juryman. It is in the power of any juryman, if his mind is made up, to effect a conviction or an acquittal. But is this my opinion alone? What is the language of Judge Perrin? As I find reported in the papers favourable to the prosecution, he said, that in the getting up this part of the case there were great negligence, failure of duty in regard to the striking of the Jury, and that he was not prepared to say, that that was the result of accident, or that there were not circumstances of suspicion. Why, this was the statement of one of the Judges; and when the noble Lord calls upon us to pay respect to what the Judges say, are we not bound to regard his words? That learned Judge must necessarily know better than I can, or than any other Englishman can, what sort of tricks are likely to be practised in the striking of a jury in Ireland, and he says that he is not satisfied that this blunder was the effect of accident. But I now come nearer to the business—I come 1188 to the right hon. Baronet, the Secretary of State for the Home Department, who said, and truly said, "We are not responsible for this." I know the right hon. Baronet is not. The right hon. Baronet added, "I regret it most deeply—I wish it had been otherwise, for I feel, that by this matter a prejudice has been created to the administration of justice." This is exactly what I regret. I say a prejudice has, by this transaction, been created to the administration of justice. I say the taint of suspicion has been thrown upon the whole of these proceedings. Nothing can be more true, and I wish to know what must be the practical effect of these words? I wish to know whether, in a great cause upon which the eyes, not only of Europe, but of the civilised world, are fixed, it is not the only noble and manly part for the Government to take to say, "A mistake has taken place—that mistake has created a prejudice to the administration of justice, and we cannot, and will not, avail ourselves of the conviction so obtained." I am ready to take the facts as they have been stated with regard to the striking off the names from the list. There may be very good and excellent reasons, no doubt, for doing so—but does that settle the question? Is not the question this—was it possible in a great case, pending between two great religions and races, to have a fair verdict at the hands of a Jury of Protestants? I know that all the technicalities of the law were on the side of the Crown, but my great charge against the Government is, that they have merely regarded this question in a technical point of view. We all know the principle upon which a jury de medietate linguœ was founded. Suppose a Dutch sailor landed on our shores in a broil stabbed an Englishman. For that offence he would not be left to be tried by twelve Englishmen. No; our ancestors knew that that was not the way in which justice could be obtained—they knew that the only proper way was to have one-half of the jurymen of the country in which the crime was committed, and the other half of the country to which the prisoner belonged. If any alien had been in the situation of Mr. O'Connell, that law would have been observed. You are ready enough to call the Catholics of Ireland "aliens" when it suits your purpose—you are ready enough to treat them as aliens when you can raise a prejudice against them; but the first privilege, the only advantage of alienage, you practically deny them, when you re- 1189 fuse them in a case above all others requiring it, a jury de medietate linguœ. Is it possible that any reasonable man can conceive, that in a case in which the feelings of two sects and creeds are set against each other, a Jury composed of one of these sects could do justice? But could you not have avoided this? Why should you not have had a common Jury? A common Sheriff's Jury, containing several respectable Catholics, who were not members of the Association, was not difficult to be obtained. A trial by such a Jury would have tended much to settle men's minds, and to conduce to the pacification and quietude of the Irish portion of Her Majesty's dominions. But you—the Government—have now got a verdict from a Jury impanelled contrary to law—a verdict from a Jury from the constitution of which no man could expect justice—a verdict delivered after a charge from the Chief Justice which has been pronounced unprecedented, but which I will not say is unprecedented, because it so strongly resembles some of the charges communicated to juries in the State Trials, which distinguished the seventeenth century! With this panel—with this jury—with this charge—you have obtained a verdict, and what are you the better for it? Has the verdict tended to quiet Ireland? I know that Ireland is quiet at the present moment, and will be so probably, from the present time until that at which the sentence shall be executed, because the whole Irish people, feeling the deepest interest in the fate of that eminent man, their leader, will avoid doing anything which may place him in a more dangerous position. But your difficulties will begin when a prison's wall closes upon the hon. and learned Member for Cork. By what means do you intend to prevent a very serious and strong outbreak of popular feeling? Is it possible that a man who has possessed himself so boundlessly of the feelings of the Irish people is all at once to lose his popularity, because he has become a martyr. I am as much attached to the Union as any hon. Gentleman, and as much opposed to the demand made for its Repeal. If I, who am as much attached to the Union as any Gentleman opposite, and who as much dislike some of the means which have been used to excite the people against it—if I cannot in my conscience say that Mr. O'Connell has had a fair trial—if the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir J. Graham), who tells us that "a prejudice has been 1190 created to the administration of justice," cannot say it—if Englishmen, friends of the Union, cannot say that no suspicion lies on the verdict, and are convinced of its unfairness, what must be the feelings of the people of Ireland—the people who agree with Mr. O'Connell, and heartily assent to all the views which he propounds to them in his ardent and enthusiastic speeches. And what are you to expect from his incarceration? The power of his name will remain to stir up their minds, though you deprive them of his presence, which has been so often exerted in preventing their excitement from breaking into acts of violence. This seems to me to have been your conduct as to the past. And now as to the future. Your executive measures, I fear, are of the same sort. What have you given them hitherto? Soldiers, barracks, a useless State prosecution, and an unfair trial. And what have they now to look forward to? An unjust sentence—its infliction, and more barracks and more soldiers. With respect to your legislative measures, it is true you propose a Bill for the Registration of Irish Voters, coupled with an increase of the Franchise. But what the provisions of that measure are we cannot as yet foresee; all we know is that the subject is one on which it is impossible for you to legislate at once with credit to yourselves and with benefit to the public; all that we can say with confidence is, that the measure must either be destructive to the representative principle in Ireland or to the remnant of your own character. Of the Landlord and Tenant Commission I say nothing. On that subject, too, a report is to be made, but when we shall have the report nobody can say. On some future occasion I may have an opportunity of going at length into another very important question, I mean the Established Church in Ireland. All I can do now is to take some short notice of the manner in which the question has been alluded to in the course of the debate. I must say that I have heard declarations on this subject from some Gentlemen opposite with which I am highly delighted. I only regret that their votes will not accompany their speeches. But from Ministers we have heard nothing except this—that the Established Church is there, and that there it must remain. As to the speech of the noble Lord (Lord Stanley), when I hear such a defence of the Establishment from a man of his eminence what inference can I draw but that nothing better can be said for it? What is the noble Lord's argument. That 1191 in 1757 and 1792, and I believe, some other years, when Roman Catholics were seeking the removal of penal laws and disabilities, they did not complain of the Established Church as a grievance. Is it not, let me ask, perfectly notorious, that such is the ordinary progress of all questions? When men are at a distance from their desired object—when they, perhaps, see little hope of ever attaining it, they do not go the full length of even their just demands; but after the men who sought less have been thirty years in their graves, and circumstances have entirely changed, their successors may have a right to take up a different position. The noble Lord now comes to us and tells us what the Catholics said when suffering under the penal laws, as if that were a reason for our not taking into consideration the state of the Church in Ireland. Why, I will give the noble Lord a proof to the contrary from his own practice. Does not the noble Lord know that during the discussions on the Slave Trade, all who spoke disclaimed in the most earnest manner any desire for the emancipation of the slaves; nay, emancipation was not then so much as thought of, and the speeches of Lord Grenville, Mr. Pitt, Lord Howick, and of my honoured and revered friend—of whom I can never speak without respect and regard—Mr. Wilberforce, were directed against the Slave Trade, and did not say one word about emancipation. I know that in 1807, when the Duke of Northumberland, in the ardour of generous youth, rose to propose a bill to abolish slavery, Mr. Wilberforce pulled him down, and told him that their first object should be to abolish the Slave Trade. But did the noble Lord (Lord Stanley) feel that that was a reason to be urged against him when he brought in his Bill to abolish slavery? When he had pointed out with so much eloquence the horrible evils of the whole system, suppose any man had got up and said that in 1792 Mr. Pitt and Mr. Wilberforce only wished to abolish the Slave Trade, would that have been considered an answer to the noble Lord, who was anxious by his Bill to emancipate the slaves? Thus the noble Lord's argument is confuted by his own practice. Then as to the Act of Union, it seems that the fifth Article sticks in the noble Lord's throat: that must on no account be altered. But does not the fourth Article of the same Act fix the number of Members who should sit in this House? Yet the fourth Article 1192 has notoriously been abrogated, and who brought in the Bill to abrogate it? The noble Lord. Next comes the question of the Roman Catholic oath; and here, were the noble Lord present, I might be disposed to say something more severe than I will utter in his absence. I will, therefore, confine myself to the strict bearings of the case, and putting the argument of the noble Lord to the utmost, it amounts to this, that the Roman Catholic Members should walk out into the Lobby when ecclesiastical questions are about to be discussed, but not that the Protestants who might be left within the House should not discuss and mature measures for altering the relation of the Establishment in Ireland to the people? Is it any argument to say, that when a particular man is tied up by an oath no one else shall presume to touch the matter against touching which he is bound; that when the Roman Catholic Members should have left the House the 640 remaining Members could not discuss the Oath or the propriety of altering the condition of the Established Church in Ireland? Surely this is the strangest argument that was ever addressed to the House. I do hope, that the right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir R. Peel) will deal with the subject in a larger manner—in a manner worthy of his high position and eminent character. He I am sure will not come down with a piece of Hansard, or with old declarations made in '57 and '92. I do hope that he will grapple with that subject like a great statesman, and not palter with it like a puny politician. Let him consider these questions:—Is the institution a wise one or a bad one? What are the ends for which an Established Church exists in Ireland? Does the Established Church in Ireland accomplish those ends? Can a Church which has no hold in the hearts of the great body of the people be otherwise than useless, or worse than useless? Has the Irish Protestant Church any hold in the hearts of the great body of the people? Has it, during the two centuries and a half that it has existed in Ireland, made any vast conquests of conversion or proselytism? Has it been what the Churches of England and Scotland have been called with much justice, the poor man's church? Has it nursed the great body of the people in virtue, consoled them in affliction, or drawn down upon itself the respect and reverence of the Nation and the State? To be able to answer these questions in the affirmative is the true and rational defence of the Church of Ireland, not by making 1193 quotations from forgotten speeches, or producing passages from mouldy petitions, presented in the time of George the Second, and ever since laid by with legislative lumber. Do not let us again be told that many years ago all which the Roman Catholics asked was the removal of certain penal laws: why, in 1757, no Roman Catholic would have gone even the length of requiring admission into Parliament. They did not then carry their demands for justice half the length of what they have since obtained. I think I have now said enough to justify the vote I shall give in favour of the motion of the noble Lord. I think that the evils we deplore have been brought upon Ireland by a false and pernicious policy. I think that the mode in which it is proposed to deal with those evils will tend, not to lessen, but to aggravate them. While the present system is pursued in Ireland it is impossible that she can be peaceable; and, until Ireland is peaceable, the British empire cannot enjoy her full power and proper dignity. The accordance of all classes is necessary to her strength, and her dignity is identical with her security. In every negociation, whether with France on the Right of Search, or with America on the Boundary, while Ireland continues discontented that fact will be uppermost in the minds of the diplomatists on both sides, and while it restrains and cripples the one, it will embolden and invigorate the other. Such must be the necessary and inevitable consequence. This is, indeed, a great and splendid, a mighty Empire, well provided with means of annoyance, and with weapons of defence. She can do many things which are far beyond the power of any other nation in the world; she dictated peace to China; she governs Australasia, and she rules Caffraria. Should occasion again arise, she could sweep from the surface of the ocean the commerce of the world, and, as formerly, blockade the ports, and spread her triumphant flag from the Baltic to the Adriatic. She is able to maintain her Indian Empire against every threatened hostility, whether by land or sea; but, amidst all this vast mass of power there is one vulnerable point—one spot unguarded, and that spot nearest to her heart; a spot at which, forty-five years ago, a deadly, happily not a fatal, blow was aimed. The Government and Parliament, each in its sphere, is deeply responsible for the continuance of such a lamentable state of things, and for my part of that responsibility, I intend to clear myself by the vote 1194 I shall give in favour of the motion of my noble Friend, and I trust that I shall find with me so large and respectable a body of Members of this House, as shall satisfy the Irish Catholics that they still have friends in England, and that they need not yet relinquish all hope of protection from the wisdom and justice of an Imperial Parliament.
The Solicitor General
I assure the House that at this hour, and on the fifth night of debate, I shall not attempt to follow the right hon. Gentleman through his powerful and elaborate speech on the history and past condition and past legislation of Ireland. On this as on other occasions the right hon. Gentleman has delighted the House by his eloquence; but I may be allowed to say that I look in vain for any arguments which ought to induce hon. Members to vote for the motion of the noble Lord. What is that Motion? I will take it from the statement on the opposite side; the object of the Motion is to induce this House to pass a Vote of Censure on the conduct of Ministers, for the course of policy they have adopted towards Ireland since their accession to office, and above all for the steps taken by them in the recent State Prosecutions. [Lord John Russell: One of the objects.] Yes; one object of the Motion of the noble Lord is to censure the late prosecutions; but I may ask the noble Lord if he have not another? Is not this also a party Motion, brought forward by a late Minister of the Crown in order to assail his political opponents? Such being the objects, let me inquire if the effect of his Motion will not be to give encouragement to those who have violated the law in Ireland? That country has been represented by some hon. Members opposite as in a state of disaffection, if not of revolt, to the present Government, and I think therefore I have a right to complain of the time when the Motion has been brought forward. The noble Lord has introduced it at a moment when it is utterly impossible that some of the topics connected with it can be discussed with that freedom which ought to belong to every question mooted in this assembly. Although the verdict has been given, the proceedings are not yet terminated: no judgment has been passed—no sentence has been pronounced; and yet in this stage we are called upon to debate, not so much the propriety of instituting the prosecutions as the question of their legality or illegality. Moreover, we are asked to enter upon a consideration of 1195 the demeanour of some of the advocates, and even of the conduct of the Judge who presided on the occasion. I cannot help thinking that this is not the right place, nor the right time, for such a discussion, when we recollect that it regards the very tribunal which has yet to pass sentence upon the convicted parties. I should not at any time venture to arraign the motives of the noble Lord. I have no right to inquire into the reasons which induced him to make certain observations in his opening Address; but I must say, that the speeches of the noble Lord, and of many other Gentlemen opposite, especially that which we have just heard, appear in a great degree to be intended as a vindication of those who were recently prosecuted to conviction. Whatever may be the course pursued here, I am quite satisfied that it is the opinion of the great majority of the well-affected and well-disposed throughout the United Kingdom, that a heavy responsibility will rest upon the noble Lord and his party for the course they have thought fit to pursue. I will examine for a moment the grounds on which the Motion is made. You say that you will pass a Vote of Censure upon the Government. Now, I will ask, what has there been to call for, still less to justify, a Vote of Censure? The considerations urged in support of this Motion are two-fold: one the general policy which regulated the Government of Ireland; the other the recent State Prosecutions. I wish to address myself principally to the latter of these subjects. We are told that the law has been grievously strained, and that new laws have been applied to purposes for which they never had been intended. It is said that the trial was not a fair investigation of the question at issue. I hope, then, that the House will permit me to call its attention to the question that has been raised. I have no intention of proceeding into minute and technical details, for I am under no necessity of doing so, as the question happens to be one that involves large and broad principles, to the examination of which alone, I mean, on the present occasion, to confine myself; and I hope to be able to satisfy those who do and those who do not belong to the profession of the law, and I hope likewise to satisfy the House and the country, that there has been no straining of the law; that the trial has been perfectly fair, and that the verdict which the Jury found was fully borne out by the evidence laid before them. I am bound to begin by saying, that, in examin- 1196 ing this question of the prosecutions, we must look at the state of Ireland for some time antecedent to the commencement of proceedings in the Court of Queen's Bench. When I have done so, I will fearlessly appeal to the House, whether Ministers are liable to censure for the course they have pursued towards Mr. O'Connell and his associates. These prosecutions commenced in the month of October last. The Repeal Association had been for some time formed, and had at the period in question been in full operation: that Association was under the influence of those Gentlemen whom the Queen's Attorney General had thought it his duty to bring to trial. The ostensible objects of that Association were well known, and the means by which it sought to carry those objects into effect were equally notorious. Those objects and those operations of the Association had already effected great mischief in Ireland. The ostensible objects, as it is well known, were a Repeal or a Dissolution of the Legislative Union between Great Britain and Ireland. The Members did not avowedly say, that they were associated to sever the connection between England and Ireland; but they did say, that their object was a Repeal of the Legislative Union. I believe it is the opinion of most of those I have the honour to address, as well as of the great majority of the inhabitants of England and Scotland, that if the Legislative Union were once repealed, the separation of the two countries would necessarily follow. I was not present in the House when the noble Lord opposite applied himself to this part of the question: but I have seen a statement attributed to him in which he is represented as saying, that to form an Association for a Repeal of the Union was as legal as to form an Association for the Repeal of any other Act of Parliament. Now, I take upon myself to controvert that assertion. There can be no doubt, that the Imperial Legislature does possess the right and the power to repeal the Union; but I think the House will agree with me, and I am sure every constitutional lawyer must agree with me, that there are certain Acts of Parliament which are intended to be permanent while the British Monarchy continues to exist. [Oh, oh!] I say, there are such Acts of Parliament; for example, there is the Act of Settlement under which Her Present Majesty wears the Crown of these Realms. Will any one tell me that that was not intended to be permanent? There is also the Act under 1197 which Scotland and England became one United Kingdom. It is true, that Parliament may repeal that, and repeal likewise the Act of Settlement, letting in all those who might claim to be entitled by hereditary descent: we might restore their Parliaments to Scotland or to Ireland; but does that disturb in the least degree the position with which I set out—namely, that those statutes were intended to be permanent? Surely, then, they do not stand on the same sort of footing as a Corporation Act, or any other Bill that might be passed by the two Houses of Parliament. Let me guard myself against being misunderstood. I am not putting any construction upon anything that I impute to the noble Lord of my own knowledge, but I have seen attributed to him language to the effect which I have stated. I have seen a placard which I understand has been circulated in Ireland, and which has been put forth for the purpose of justifying the Repeal Association, and obtaining sanction for its proceedings, under the authority of the noble Lord. Upon similar grounds the noble Lord might justify similar means to obtain the repeal of any of the other permanent Acts that I have mentioned. [Lord J. Russell: The hon. and learned Gentleman is mistaken.] I was not present when the noble Lord delivered the opinion to which I have referred; all I know is, that placards are now being circulated in Ireland, in which language of this description has been attributed to him; and in which his authority has been evoked for the purpose of giving a legal sanction to the conduct of the Association, and of taking exception to the Crown prosecutions. In examining this question of the prosecutions, I am anxious to say as little as possible of the parties who have been placed in the situation of defendants; but I cannot help reminding the House that they had been for some time previously acting through the Association. We find that by means of the Repeal Association, and by means of Repeal Wardens, that by the distribution of printed statements, by the publication of newspapers and placards, they had produced serious and extensive effects upon the minds of the Irish people. I will not say, that they contained seditious or treasonable articles—but I will say, that the greater part of them must have had the effect of exciting the deadliest hatred and hostility between one class and the other—between the Roman Catholics and the Protestants of Ireland, 1198 and between the Roman Catholics and the Protestants of England. Besides that, if anything more were wanting to show the object of the parties, a card was given to each member of the Association, bearing an inscription that no power should make laws for Ireland, but the Sovereign and the Lords and Commons of Ireland, together with the names of four victories obtained by the Irish people over the English, or of the Roman Catholics over the Protestants in times gone by. It must be borne in mind what were the objects of those who addressed the persons to whom these cards were given, and who were the persons addressed. These persons, to use the words of the hon. and learned Gentleman, the Member for Liskeard, were at the disposal and at the command of one of the parties who was afterwards included in the indictment for conspiracy; so much under his command were they, says my hon. and learned Friend, either for the purposes of action or of inaction, that they were ready to bide their time if he directed them, or to go into instant action at his bidding. What, then, was the state in which the country was? We find such cards distributed amongst those so disposed; we find meetings of hundreds of thousands, assembled under the direction of the Repeal Wardens, mustering on the ground in such numbers as to render all discussion impossible; and we find them addressed by leaders issuing threats and defiance, even of war, declaring that they were ready for war itself if the people of England breathed but the word. Is this a state of things for a Government to look calmly on? I do ask the House whether the continuance of such a state of things in Ireland is consistent with the existence of any Government or of any law? Could such a state of things exist in any country calling itself civilised—can such a state of things exist where there is a Government and a law, and yet be without the reach of any law? I think that it is impossible. What was to be done? When hon. Gentlemen complain of the Government for instituting this prosecution against the parties who were the leaders, do they mean to say, that for all this there was to be impunity? The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, says, "now that the verdict is given, our greatest difficulties will arise; if sentence is passed there will be an outbreak in Ireland." But surely the Government and the Legislature are not to act upon the principle that there was to be impunity for every act the pun- 1199 ishment of which might cause an outbreak. If the hon. and learned Member for Cork has violated the law, surely the Government would neglect its duty if it did not enforce the law; and I am sure that no Government ought to be prevented from putting down such a state of things in consequence of a statement that amounts in fact, to this, that Mr. O'Connell is beyond the power of the law. Her Majesty's Ministers had declared that they would not ask for any additional powers. They did not attempt any change in the laws, or to constitute any other tribunal—they trusting to the force of the common law for restoring order in Ireland; and they did not seek for any additional powers. This prosecution, therefore, was instituted. For the form of proceeding adopted—for the mode in which it was conducted—the law officers of the Crown are responsible;—they are responsible as well for the indictment as for any charge that may be brought against their mode of proceeding. The noble Lord, however, who brought forward this motion, and the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, say that the law which has been enforced in Ireland is not the usual and the ordinary law. The right hon. Gentleman says that he has found precedents for it in the 17th century and in no other, and the noble Lord says that it is judge-made law. The noble Lord says, therefore, that it is not the ancient law, and the right hon. Gentleman says, that it is so old that precedents are to be found in the 17th century. [Mr. Macauley had alluded to the Judge's charge.] The noble Lord at all events said, that it was judge-made law. If by that statement the noble Lord means that this indictment was framed on the Common Law of England as declared by successive judges from the judgment seat, then I am prepared to say with the noble Lord, that this is judge-made law. The noble Lord says, indeed, that he is no lawyer, but the noble Lord knows from his historical researches, that the Common Law of England, so recognised by the Judges, is the great security for our lives and our property, nay, that upon this the freedom of our common country mainly depends, and it is on a part of this Common Law not administered in Ireland for the first time, or now first laid down by the Judges there, that this indictment was framed. The form, if not as old as the seventeenth century, is as old as I can trace back. It is the very form used in 1794, when parties were indicted 1200 for almost similar proceedings, when they were convicted, sentenced and imprisoned, at a time when Lord Kenyon was Chief Justice, and Justices Lawrence and Ashurst were upon the Bench. When the noble Lord says, that this is new law, has he consulted the law officers of his own Government? Has the noble Lord asked Lord Campbell? If he had, he would have found an indictment preferred by Lord Campbell when he was the Attorney-general of the noble Lord's Government, against parties for a conspiracy of the same kind, for meetings, and for words the meaning of which was similar to those used in Ireland, and he would have found that those parties so indicted were imprisoned and fined. He would have found other instances in which Lord Campbell, the Attorney-general of his own Government, had instituted similar prosecutions under which the parties have been tried, in which the expenses of the trial were paid by the Government of which the noble Lord was a Member, and wherein the parties were convicted and sentenced on those indictments. Whilst I have held office under the Crown in conducting the proceedings under the Special Commission at Stafford, I found committals by the Magistrates upon charges of high treason. I did not think them cases in which the parties should be tried for high treason, and similar indictments to this were preferred under the Common Law, upon which two parties were convicted, and are now imprisoned. If trials like these were to take place in England, against parties comparatively obscure, I ask whether a person of eminence, and therefore likely to have more effect with the people in consequence of that eminence, is to be free from an indictment similar to that which is common in this country every day, and which has been conducted by the very Government of which the noble Lord was a Member? Another objection made by hon. Gentlemen opposite against this proceeding is, that the acts of Mr. O'Connell and the other parties convicted were open acts, and were done in the face of day. And here I will make one remark with regard to the lawfulness or unlawfulness of the conviction, which ought in this House to be a sufficient answer to the objection, and that is, that it has been under the highest legal tribunal in Ireland, and that the point has been unanimously decided by the Judges. There has been no doubt thrown upon it by any one Judge upon the 1201 Bench; they have declared that they were satisfied in point of law, if the evidence bore out the charge, that the offence was complete. But I will revert to the argument, that because Mr. O'Connell did his acts openly, and made speeches in open places, there could not be a conspiracy: or, as the noble Lord said, a conspirator worked in the dark and in secret. The same argument might now be used with respect to the conviction to which he had alluded: the indictments generally were against the Chartists for assembling great bodies of the people, for addressing to them exciting language, and for congregating them in different towns: the same kind of evidence was given on those trials as was given in Ireland. In truth, when hon. Gentlemen speak of a conspiracy carried on in the dark and in secret, they speak of what is not consistent with the law or with the altered condition of mankind. No doubt conspiracy—ay, and political conspiracy, may be done in secret; when the design is directed against one head, and when their object is to transfer or to abolish that power, the conspiracy is in secret, the conspirators, intending destruction or assassination would necessarily act in secret; but if the conspiracy be to excite the people of a free country to rebellion or to resistance—if the intention be to seek to intimidate the Government or the Legislature by means of large masses of the people, the means must be very different; the people must be assembled in large masses, seditious speeches must be made, and seditious placards exhibited. The object is to inflame, to agitate, and to madden the people: and if this be so, the means must be public. For acts so intended to intimidate the Parliament and the Legislature of the country, the mode of conduct selected is that adopted in Ireland, of filling every part with meetings, and of inflammatory addresses and placards. For this offence the parties were indicted—of this offence they were found guilty. I am now anxious to address myself to a point mentioned by the right hon. gentleman who has just sat down, and in which I wholly and fully agree. If the trial has not been fairly conducted, if there has been anything which can render the conviction unfair, I agree with the right hon. gentleman that the conviction will be deprived of all moral weight and influence. But I wholly deny that the trial is liable to any such imputation. It is of great importance that the House should be informed of the truth 1202 with regard to the constitution of the Jury. Hon. gentlemen are not, perhaps, aware, with regard to the Jury, that there are two modes of proceeding. We may enter a proceeding before a common jury, a course which was implicitly approved by the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, or we may have a Special Jury. If we proceeded to trial before a common jury the prisoner would have no right whatever to challenge the jury, except for cause assigned. The liberty of challenging a jury is very restricted; it may, however, be done when the juror comes to the box, for any assigned reason, and if the prisoner proves that he has good grounds. The causes of challenge are few, and they are rarely successful. The Crown, on the contrary, does not stand in any such position; not only may the Crown challenge for cause, but it may direct the jurors to stand aside without limit. What course, then, did the Government take? It adopted the other course intentionally, and it gave express directions that the trial should not take place before a common jury, before which the parties would not stand upon equal terms; and a special jury was appointed for the express reason that the parties should stand upon equal terms, and that the defendants should have the power to strike off jurors. There was not, I assure the noble Lord, any intention to act unfairly. Those were the directions given, and they were given for that reason and no other. Then I come to the striking of the jury, I think that the feeling of the House will go along with me; for I believe that no one can contend that the Roman Catholics were struck off because they were Roman Catholics. It must be borne in mind that express directions were given that no juryman should be struck off because he was a Roman Catholic—the same reason which would have disqualified a Protestant should also disqualify a Roman Catholic; but it was directed that no distinction should be made between Protestant and Roman Catholic. Nothing could have been further from my thoughts than that we intended to offer any insult to them as Roman Catholics, or to impute to them that, as such, they would not have done their duty on the trial fairly. Therefore, as far as regarded the striking of the jury, I say, in answer to the observations of the right hon. Gentleman, that if this jury—taken from a Special Jury list of 1717—the old panel, containing only 338, having been given up because it was not thought a fair 1203 trial could be had on it—I say that if such a jury could not be trusted for the trial of these parties, then I say that no trial by jury in Ireland can take place; and if I rightly understand the argument of the right hon. Gentleman, it is, that there cannot be any jury in Ireland. That is in fact saying that trial by jury is not suited to the condition of Ireland, and that it is not safe to trust her with such an institution. But we should be holding out impunity for crime indeed, if we are to be told that there ought not to be any trial by jury, and that which the right hon. Gentleman gravely proposed for that want of impartiality is to have a jury half of Protestants and half of Roman Catholics—for the purpose of impartiality! why, if the system be open to the imputation, the consequence of such an arrangement would be, that there would be no verdict at all. But I do not, in truth, believe in the imputation. If we look at the conduct of the Jury we find that they acted impartially—that they acted on the evidence in the case, and they gave their verdict on that evidence, and on that evidence alone. Well, but then it was said that we packed the Jury. Is there any Gentleman on the other side who will say that this verdict was not borne out by the evidence? I am not sure that this is the proper place for discussing that question, but I have never heard any one deny it. [Sir T. Wilde: "hear."] In spite of the cheer of the hon. and learned Gentleman the member for Worcester I venture to say that no man who duly considers the subject will affirm, that the verdict was against evidence, or that the Jury ought not to have given it. The right hon. Gentleman has also referred to the omission of the names of the Jurors. The right hon. Gentleman the Recorder has explained that omission, and I do not understand that there is any one omitted except by a mere accident. It will be recollected that the omission was made by a Roman Catholic, and there is no doubt that it was purely accidental. If Mr. Justice Perrin made the observation which has been alluded to, he made it on ex parte evidence. [Mr. Sheil: no, no.] The right hon. Gentleman the Recorder has stated the facts to the House, and when the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Dungarvan says no, I should like to know whom he impugns? Observations have been made, and comparisons have been drawn between the conduct of the right hon. Gentleman the Attorney-General for Ireland and my learned Friend 1204 near me (Sir F. Pollock). My right hon. Friend was quite right at the commencement of the proceedings to object to the motions made for the mere purposes of delay; but as soon as the plea was pleaded, he considered that the parties had not time to make their defence, and that under the old jury panel the parties might not have a fair trial, and he consented at once to the delay. And as to any imputation on him, I must say that a more temperate speech, and, at the same time, a more clear and able exposition of the law, and of the facts, or one less likely to prejudice the case, or to draw the Jury away from a calm consideration, was never delivered by any counsel on a State prosecution either in this or any other country. So, also, I may say of the speech of the Solicitor-general for Ireland. There could not be a more clear and masterly comment on the evidence; he made no attempt to raise a prejudice, and he called upon the Jury to decide upon the facts as applicable to the law. Then we are told that the trial was not a fair one. The noble Lord the Member for London has thought it right to bring forward this motion and to declare on his authority, and as the leader of a party, and as a late Minister of the Crown—to the people of this country, that in his judgment Mr. O'Connell has been improperly convicted. What effect is such a declaration likely to produce? And if the noble Lord has not substantiated the charge he made (as he has not substantiated that charge), if the facts here brought forward, as the right hon. Gentleman has brought them forward, and as the noble Lord had in most cases admitted them, were admitted—if the noble Lord and his friends failed in making out the charge that there has been an unfair trial, and that Mr. O'Connell has been improperly convicted, I ask whether a heavy responsibility does not rest upon the parties who can not support the charges they have made? I do not wish further to trouble the House. I feel that at this late hour I ought not to trespass upon the attention of the House by going into any more details of the other portions of the subject: there are, however, one or two points upon which I am anxious to make a few observations before I sit down. One of the charges which has been brought prominently forward, and, indeed, as far as I can understand, the only one, is, that Her Majesty's Government have not treated the Roman Catholics of Ireland with impartiality and fairness, and that the 1205 deep-rooted discontent which exists amongst the Roman Catholics of Ireland is the result of an indisposition upon the part of Her Majesty's Government to redress the grievances under which the Roman Catholic population of that country labours. Now having heard that charge brought so prominently forward, I looked anxiously to the speeches which were delivered on the other side of the House in order to ascertain if there was any tangible ground on which so grave a charge could rest. It is a very serious accusation directed against the policy—the administrative policy—of Her Majesty's Government. But no ground has been stated for such a charge. You do not bring forward a single tangible fact or reason to justify your accusation. You say that Her Majesty's Government has not treated the Roman Catholics of Ireland with impartiality. I ask you for a tangible instance in which that want of impartiality has been indicated; and the only thing I find brought forward which looks at all like a fact is, that in the administration of patronage since the accession of Her Majesty's present Government, as regards Ireland, her Majesty's Ministers have not dispensed it equally amongst Roman Catholics and Protestants. Now, I must say that from all which I have had an opportunity of hearing of the intentions and of the policy of Her Majesty's Government, they are anxious to carry into full effect the most perfect system of equality amongst the Roman Catholics and Protestants of Ireland; and having said that, I again ask you for an instance in which any other disposition has been shown? I ask you for a single instance in which the Government gave a single office to a Protestant where a Roman Catholic had equal or better claims for the office? Yes, you condescended to bring forward one case in which this distinction was alleged. The noble Lord the Member for London stated one—namely, the Master of the Rolls; and he stated that he thought the Government might have been anxious to appoint a Roman Catholic to that office when it became vacant. Now, when we consider who the gentleman is who has been appointed to the office of Master of the Rolls in Ireland—when we remember that he is a man who has been eminent for talent and learning amongst the members of the Irish bar—when it is recollected that he was Attorney-general under the Government of which the noble Lord the Member for London was himself a Cabinet Minister; 1206 it is difficult to perceive how that instance could be proposed as a proof of the charge of injustice towards the Roman Catholics of Ireland. I ask, was any Roman Catholic member of the Bar in Ireland equally entitled at that time to the office of Master of the Rolls? You do not say that there was, and if you do not, then I ask, what means the charge against the Government of dealing with partiality? It would be a singular impartiality upon the part of the Government if they were to pass over a Protestant when he was best qualified to fill an office, and confer the appointment on a Catholic who was unfit for it. And that appointment was the instance on which the noble Lord the Member for London made his charge.—[Lord J. Russell: I made no charge.] The noble Lord's charge against the Government was, that there had not been in Ireland an impartial administration of patronage—that at the Bar, several Roman Catholics had been passed over, and I understood the noble Lord to say, that when the Mastership of the Rolls became vacant, he thought the Government ought to have been anxious to give it to a Roman Catholic. Then, as that case has now been disposed of, give us another instance—do not deal in vain declamation as to the want of impartiality in the administration of patronage, unless you have an instance to bring forward;—if you have another instance, then, state it, and I will undertake to say that it will be answered quite as fully and as perfectly as the case of the appointment of a Protestant to the office of Master of the Rolls. Now, having adverted to that portion of the subject, there is another point to which it is necessary to refer, namely, the Protestant Church of Ireland. I have heard it stated that any measures proposed by Her Majesty's Ministers for the good of Ireland would be of no avail, and that no exertion to improve her condition would be of use in restoring tranquillity to that country—that all their power and all their skill, however energetically and humanely exercised, would not be capable of giving peace to Ireland, whilst the Protestant Church Establishment existed in that country—when I hear that statement repeated in this House, and further, when I know that such a statement receives the sanction, at least to a certain extent of the noble Lord the Member for London, and when in addition to that sanction, I hear it repeated to a certain extent, by the hon. and learned Mem- 1207 ber for Liskeard, I ask on what authority is it that such a statement has been made? If I know anything of the Roman Catholics—if I know anything of their feelings, their wishes, or their opinions—if I know anything of the feelings and opinions of those who are supposed to speak the sentiments of the Roman Catholics, I can state that they all say, they would not wish to touch any part of the endowments of the Protestant Church; that they would not receive any portion of those endowments, and that if it were offered they would refuse it. The burthen of tithes does not now fall as it did on the Roman Catholic occupiers in Ireland, and they disclaim any wish for any portion of the endowments of the Protestant Church. If this be the case, what then, are we called on by those who make the statement to which I am alluding, to attribute to the Roman Catholics of Ireland? They do not seek the endowment of the Protestant Church, and yet it is stated, that they never will be quiet until the Protestant Church in Ireland is despoiled of its property. Is it founded in fact, I ask? Is it true that the Roman Catholics of Ireland entertain that hostility to the Protestant Church, that, although they do not seek its revenues—that although they do not wish to touch its endowments—yet the price of the peace and tranquillity of Ireland must be the destruction of the Protestant Church? If that were really the case, it would be calculated to lead to great difficulty; but I do think it is not the case, and notwithstanding all that has been said, I venture to hope, that the measures which will be introduced by the British Legislature, may restore tranquillity and peace to Ireland, without doing that which it would be impossible for any legislature or any government to do, namely, to destroy the Protestant Church of Ireland. I venture to hope, that when it shall be known in Ireland that the trade of agitation there will be no longer a safe or a gainful one; when it shall be known in that country that the Legislature is willing to listen to, and to redress all the real grievances of Ireland; when that shall be known, I venture to hope that the population of that country may be permitted again to return to their peaceful occupations; that there may be a return to tranquillity and order in Ireland; and that there may be as much security found there as in any other country in Europe for the employment of capital. It is idle to expect that there can be any improvement in Ireland without tranquillity; and notwith- 1208 standing the course which the noble Lord opposite has thought proper to take, I am perfectly satisfied that the sympathies of the great body of the people of this country are along with Her Majesty's Government, in the course which they have taken in order to vindicate the supremacy of the law, and to put down that spirit of agitation and discord which is the real grievance of that unhappy land.
Lord J. Russell
As the hon. and learned Gentleman has referred to my statements, I feel it necessary to say, that he has misunderstood some of my observations. He spoke as if I said that the law of conspiracy, as founded on the Common Law of the land, ought not to be put in force; but I took it as laid down by the Chief Justice, and I said that if the law were so, the greatest care ought to be taken that it was not enforced without a fair jury. With regard to the other point, the hon. and learned Gentleman seemed to suppose that I said the appointment of Master of the Rolls ought to have been given to a Roman Catholic. What I said was, that several offices had been filled up under the present Administration in Ireland. I mentioned the offices of Master of the Rolls and two Puisne Judgeships, and I said it was surprising that not one of these had been filled by a Roman Catholic.
§ Debate again adjourned. House adjourned.