§ Mr. Hawes,
in resuming the Adjourned Debate, wished, first, in all sincerity, to make a declaration in opposition to what had fallen on the previous evening from the hon. and learned Gentleman; in his view of the matter, this was not a party vote or a party question. Such motives should not be imputed to that side of the House at a moment like this, and by a Government which had proposed nothing whatever to meet the emergency of the case—nothing to give tranquillity to Ireland, nothing to remove apprehension as to the future. A noble Lord, in an early part of the debate, sketched most clearly to the House the question at issue between the Government and those who were opposed to it on this question. He said that the main point of difference between the two parties was this—that the one proposed to do away with or to reduce the Established Church in Ireland, and the other insisted that its revenues and its dignities should be maintained inviolate to their full extent. This principle was confirmed by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, who spoke on the preceding evening; and the country had now before them a distinct declaration on the part of the Government, that the Irish Church was to be retained inviolate. They were, in point of fact, to adhere implicitly to the old policy, to retain the Church of the minority in the face of all experience, of all history; though all history, all experience told them that this policy was inevitably the source of misery, discord, and danger. To the maintenance of that miserable and mischievous policy, all thought of giving peace and prosperity to Ireland must be set aside. An eminent authority of former days had stated that Ireland was naturally one of the richest countries of Europe, and might be made a source of vast strength and revenue; but the policy of the present Government seemed to be to turn the fruitful source of strength and revenue into a source of weakness, of impoverishment, of danger. It had been said more than once, on that side of the House, that Ireland was given into the hands of the present Government in a state of perfect tranquillity. This statement had been met by the right hon. the Secretary for the Home Department by the counter-statement that there were large public meetings in Ireland in 1840 and in 1841, whence the right hon. Secre- 1210 tary would seem to suggest that the state of tranquillity referred to had not been what it was represented to be. The right hon. Gentleman should recollect that "coming events cast their shadows before." At the period he referred to, it was foreseen that the Tories would obtain possession of power, and it was believed that their accession to power would be marked by the renewed oppression of Ireland; these meetings, therefore, did not show that tranquillity did not prevail in Ireland at the time; but that the Irish people, happy in their existing tranquillity, in their returning prosperity, dreaded that return of the Tories to power which threatened to destroy their peace and impede their prosperity. The hon. Member for Shrewsbury, in his speech the other night, was very oratorical on the subject of a strong central Government; such a Government the hon. Gentleman appeared to desiderate as that which prevailed when Strafford ruled over the State and Laud over the Church. There was surely a strong central Government now, as far as Ireland was concerned, a Government maintained by a powerful army. The hon. Gentleman had pointed to these times, as being times in which Ireland was tranquil and contented. He (Mr. Hawes) had been utterly surprised at such a suggestion. Even the historian who could least be suspected of liberal tendencies, speaking of Lord Strafford, admitted this:—He governed as Lord Deputy, or Lord Lieutenant, with vigilance, with rigour, with success, but he did not govern with popularity.It was because the Government had not sought to govern with popularity in Ireland, that the difficulties with regard to that country had so much increased. If it had acted otherwise, however, the result might be very different; but they had lately heard it declared that the Church of Ireland was to be maintained in all its dignities, and temporalities, and revenues; that declaration had come from a person in the Government, and it meant that there was a reliance to be placed on force for governing Ireland; that we depended on our arms for maintaining our connection; that it was by an armed force alone we should continue Ireland as subject to the Crown of England. Was that principle to be really acted on? In 1776, when the first news arrived in England of the Declaration of Independence on the part of 1211 America, that intelligence created little attention comparatively in this country; it attracted little popular notice, and as an able writer remarked, instead of awakening men's minds to the policy which had produced that state of things, they appeared determined to persevere, and a division in the House of Commons, showed 242 in favour of the continuance of the policy of governing by force, against a minority of 87, whilst in the Lords the majority was also very large in favour of the old policy which had been adopted towards the American colonies. He did not mean to point out at length all the events connected with that important period, but be referred to them as useful at a time when the expediency of paying further attention to popular wants was pressed upon the House. These were portions of history which were sufficient to make persons pause before they decided permanently on maintaining an Irish Church by an English party, and governing Ireland on the principle on which the present policy was based. He remembered in 1817 the opinions which were expressed against Catholic Emancipation in Parliament, and yet in twelve short years after that period they had seen the Prime Minister of England coming forward with even larger concessions to the Roman Catholics than had previously been asked for. They recollected also the declarations with respect to the Repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts. They recollected that Mr. Canning expressed himself opposed to the repeal of those Acts; and notwithstanding that expression of opinion on the part of Mr. Canning, in two years after, the First Lord of the Treasury introduced a Bill to repeal those statutes. It was not the delay alone in doing an act of justice which was the only evil that might be complained of, for delay presupposed concession; but the great evil to be dreaded was, when, after delaying for a long time, concession was accompanied with the old spirit of resistance to popular rights. When concession was not only long delayed, but reluctantly granted, the whole value of such concession was lost; and it was precisely on that ground that he would strongly urge upon the House to take a large and comprehensive and liberal view of the condition of Ireland, at once to grapple with the difficulty, to do justice to that country, and to restore her to peace and tranquillity. He had heard it said 1212 more than once during this debate, that when Catholic Emancipation was granted there ought to have been a cessation from any further agitation in Ireland, and that pledges had been frequently given previously, on the part of the Roman Catholics of Ireland, to the effect that in case Emancipation were granted, there would be no attempt made to interfere with the Protestant Church Establishment in Ireland at any future period. Now, he begged most distinctly to deny that such pledges were given on the part of the Roman Catholics; and he would undertake to show, that when the evidence of Mr. O'Connell and of others, who were taken to express the opinions of the Roman Catholics of Ireland, was quoted in that House as pledging them to maintain the Church Establishment in Ireland in its integrity, if Catholic Emancipation were carried, a most important element of that pledge was suppressed, namely, the fact that it was conditional, on the general understanding that Catholic Emancipation was to lead to real and perfect religious equality in Ireland, that it would lead to the suppression of all religious distinctions. If Catholic Emancipation had been accompanied with such a disposition to establish religious equality, if there had been that suppression of religious differences which it was understood was to accompany Catholic Emancipation, the results in Ireland might have been widely different from what they had been. Mr. O'Connell in his evidence before the Committee of the House of Lords in 1825, said he wished the Catholics of Ireland to be subjects out and out as the Protestants were. Now, he would appeal to the House, he would appeal to the country, if such a perfect religious equality as had been anticipated by the Roman Catholics of Ireland had followed the passing of the Emancipation Act? So far from carrying out in spirit and completely that religious equality, the course taken by those in authority for the last few years showed rather that they were opposed to the spirit of the Catholic Emancipation Act than disposed to carry it out. Had not the important appointments made by the present Government been most offensive to the feelings of the Irish people? The Government had appointed two partizan Judges and two anti-education Bishops. Had those appointments been made in the spirit of the Emancipation Act? If they were not in that 1213 spirit, if they were offensive to the people of Ireland, was he not correct in supposing that the Government intended again to revert to the old course of governing Ireland by maintaining Protestant ascendancy, and that they were determined, if they could, to resist the spirit of religious equality which was expected to accompany the Emancipation Act, and without which they never could hope to establish peace and tranquillity in Ireland. He wished on that occasion to make an observation with respect to the proposition of the noble Lord the Member for London on the subject of the Irish Church, which had been so often alluded to during the debate. He understood the noble Lord to say, that he was convinced the policy which should be adopted towards Ireland ought to be a policy which fully acknowledged religious equality in Ireland, and if the hon. Members opposite thought to oppose the noble Lord and those who supported him by raising the "No Popery" cry in England, they would find themselves much disappointed. The Protestant Dissenters of England were able now to distinguish that cry, which they formerly looked on as indicating an opposition to a party favourable to despotism, and opposed to religious liberty, from a cry raised for the purpose of supporting those who, last year, brought in the Factory Education Bill. The Dissenters would not now be led away by that cry to join in an attempt to perpetuate the religious bondage of the Roman Catholics of Ireland. It was because the Roman Catholics in the olden time, were considered as favourable to despotic principles, and opposed to religious liberty, that the Protestant Dissenters were opposed to them; but they now saw that the Catholics of Ireland were the advocates of religious liberty, and they would not be led away by any cry from hon. Gentlemen opposite to support them, under the idea that the object of the Roman Catholic was to seek to establish Popery in Ireland. If Gentlemen opposite were anxious to establish Popery firmly in Ireland, there was no surer mode of doing so than by adopting a course of persecution. It was by following up a course of persecution and degradation towards Ireland that they would make the Roman Catholic Religion strike deep into the hearts of the Irish people. By that course they would enable it to take stronger possession of their feelings, and faster hold of their 1214 minds. The noble Lord the Member for London said that he regarded religious equality as the only sure basis of a successful policy with regard to Ireland, and that was the true policy to adopt. Now if it were proposed to him to agree to an endowment of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland, and that the proposition were shown to him to be part of a large and comprehensive plan for securing the peace of Ireland—if the proposition under those circumstances were proved to be acceptable to the Irish people, and that he was assured the effect of the comprehensive plan of which it should form a part, would be to restore peace to Ireland, then he would overcome any prejudices which he might entertain on the subject, and, as part of a general plan for that object, he would support it. If, however, such an arrangement were proposed by itself in a manner not acceptable to the Irish people, and brought forward with sentiments opposed to them, then he would at once regret it. Such a proposal he would support, as part of a general plan for securing tranquillity to Ireland, notwithstanding any interests that might be affected by it; but as a single measure it would have his decided opposition. He should for himself much prefer paying no religion in Ireland, He should rather see the whole revenue of the Irish Church placed in the hands of Commissioners and distributed for the purpose of religious and moral instruction, than to see it disposed of as it now is, or distributed amongst various sects. The voluntary principle might not find favour with that House, but it was gradually making its way, daily acquiring fresh vigour, and carrying with it the strong convictions of deep-thinking men. The people were fast coming to the conclusion that if religion were to be aided in the most effectual manner, there was no way in which the scriptural interests of the people could be so deeply provoked as by leaving religion alone. The history of dissent itself fully proved that the voluntary principle, if properly worked, would be amply sufficient to impart religious instruction. He would request the House for a moment to look back to the first separation in the English Church after the Reformation. Then, those men who were attached to the principles of the Church, I merely differing upon some ceremonials and leading a stricter life than others, were called "Puritans." That term 1215 marked distinctly the character of the sect, and the result of its application was, that a larger body of men came under the title of "Nonconformists." They were still Members acknowledging Episcopal Authority, but the adherents to the Church persecuted them and drove them from the country, and from that time that sect was established—it had grown and spread, and had established the great principle, which must ultimately gain ascendancy, that the State, in point of fact, ought to be separated from all religion, and was a pernicious ally to any religious system. These were not his sentiments alone, but he could point in support of them to many eminent writers of the English Church, who had said, that the great difference between Catholicism and Protestantism was, that the one always sought the aid of the State to uphold it, whilst the other relied upon the affections of the people and its own independent priesthood. This being the case, he should, as he had already observed, support the payment of the Catholic Clergy if it were proposed as part of a great and comprehensive plan for the tranquillization of that country, but he should still maintain that it would be much more desirable to revert to the voluntary principle. In Ireland, he thought, it might be safely trusted to afford an ample resource for the support of religion, and for the sustainment of religious edifices. Now, with respect to the prosecutions in Ireland, he would ask the Government to consider the state of English feeling with respect to Ireland—he would ask, did they not believe that there was in England, a deep sympathy for that country, and seeing that, did they believe that the prosecution which they had instituted would deprive Mr. O'Connell of the sympathies of the people of England? He thought it was an unjust and unworthy course to adopt, and it would be inadequate to obtain its end, as it would add to Mr. O'Connell's strength in Ireland, and multiply his friends in England. He did not regard Mr. O'Connell as having had a fair trial, and as such the verdict could have on him no moral effect. It had been said at the other side of the House that the right hon. the Secretary of State for the Home Department had made out a good case with regard to striking of the Jury; but was it to be said that if a man were a Repealer he would not be fit to try a man who was of similar 1216 political opinions for an offence against the law—would they apply such a doctrine in this country? If at the time when the Reform Bill was under discussion, and when much excitement prevailed here on the subject, a man whose opinions were favourable to Reform was indicted for any offence, would it be supposed that if Reformers sat in the jury-box to try that man they would not deliver a fair verdict, in consequence of their entertaining opinions similar to his on the subject of Reform. Was it really so, that a man would not give a fair verdict because the person upon whose conduct he was called on to decide, happened to be of the same political opinions as himself? It gave him sincere sorrow to see the right hon. Secretary of State for the Home Department defend a principle which was so erroneous. He had no faith in the present Cabinet as regarded Ireland—he saw in it men of the roost opposite opinions, men who had scarcely professed formerly any principle on which they had not turned their backs at some period of their lives. What confidence could be placed in men in a Cabinet who had changed their political opinions, and deserted the party with which they formerly acted, and who now hold such different opinions? The Secretary of State for the Home Department said, that as an abstract principle he had no objection to the payment of the Roman Catholic Clergy; that was a question which had been discussed in the House on a previous occasion, and when it was so discussed, what did the right hon. Baronet, the First Lord of the Treasury say on the subject? He said, that to pay the Roman Catholic Clergy would be contrary to the principles of the Revolution, and that they might as well get rid at once of the thirty-nine articles. That was a difference of opinion amongst the Members of the same Cabinet. Was he, then, to rely on men who differed so Much in opinion? Then let them take the question of Education, and see if they agreed better upon that subject. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department, proposed to give an increased grant to Maynooth, and yet no one had used stronger language on the subject of Maynooth than a noble Duke, a Member of the other House, who, in speaking of it, said that it was opposed to Christianity and ought not to continue. How could he place faith, then, in the 1217 Government, if Members of the same Cabinet were so divided in opinion. But was that all? Was that the only question on which there was a difference of opinion amongst the Members of the Cabinet? What had been said on the subject of the Registration Bill? It had been formerly denounced as a bill under false colours, and yet we now find both the right hon. Baronet and the noble Lord opposite proposing and introducing the self-same provisions. There was no security, therefore, in the decisions of such a cabinet with regard to Ireland, and he could not put faith in them. Promises had before been made on the subject of Ireland; and he should venture to call the attention of the House to the promises which had been made by Mr. Pitt on the 21st of April, 1800. Mr. Pitt on that occasion, speaking of the Union of Great Britain and Ireland, said,If we wish to accomplish the great work that we have undertaken, we must look to the whole of this important and complicated question; we must look at it in a large and comprehensive point of view; we must consider it as a measure of great national policy, the object of which is effectually to counteract the restless machinations of an inveterate enemy, who has uniformly and anxiously endeavoured to effect a separation between two countries, whose connection is as necessary for the safety of the one as it is for the prosperity of the other; we must look to this as the only measure we can adopt which can calm the dissensions, allay the animosities, and dissipate the jealousies which have unfortunately existed—as a measure whose object is to communicate to the sister kingdom the skill, the capital, and the industry which have raised this country to such a pitch of opulence, and to give her a full participation of the commerce and the constitution of England; to unite the affections and resources of two powerful nations, and to place under one public will the direction of the whole force of the Empire.Now, he would ask whether that Union had allayed animosities and dissipated jealousies, as regarded the two countries? Her Majesty's Ministers might intend well, but there were Gentlemen sitting with them, who were wedded to their own notions, determined to abide by their own prejudices, who had forgotten nothing during the ten years they had been out of office, and who would constrain the right hon. Gentleman opposite to follow a course of policy which would be injurious to the interests of the country at large. It was remarkable, when that subject was under 1218 discussion in the other House of Parliament, that one single Peer was found to protest against the Union in terms most emphatic, not to say most prophetic. Lord Holland—a man than whom one better acquainted with the subject, or more qualified to give an opinion, perhaps, never lived—declared at that time, in a protest, his doubts and fears as to the working of the Union. That protest was so remarkable, that he would beg to call the attention of the House to it; and, at the same time, he would entreat of them to ponder well on the course they were about to pursue. Lord Holland said,Furthermore, from what information we have been able to procure, we observed with the deepest concern and alarm that its discussion in Ireland has already been attended with the most fearful symptoms. From the increased powers with which it has recently been deemed necessary to arm the Executive, we cannot but infer that the prospect of an incorporating union has failed to conciliate the minds of the disaffected, and from the ferment occasioned by its discussion it is evident that all other parties in Ireland are alienated or divided, and the means of resistance, in the case of insurrection or foreign invasion, thereby materially weakened. We thought it, therefore, more prudent in this moment of alarm, to desist from the prosecution of a measure which might become a fresh subject of complaint, and a new source of discontent and division; and we were more disposed to seek for the establishment of mutual confidence in the adoption of conciliatory laws, in the removal of odious disabilities, in the redress of grievances, and the operation of a milder system of policy on the affections of the Irish people, than in any experiment of theory and nominal union of governments.It was too clear, that the Union with Ireland was nothing but a nominal union. Ireland had, in point of fact, been governed by the party who forced the Union upon the people—a party which had maintained its position chiefly by creating ferment and divisions amongst the people for nearly half a century, and which, if it continued to hold power, would risk the dismemberment of that Empire. It appeared to him, that all those nobler objects of government, all the hopes and aspirations to render a population more happy, more moral, and more prosperous, must be postponed; and all for the fancied good and safety of the Church. All the old evils of Ireland were to be revived and were to receive fresh strength and permanency on account of the Church. 1219 The time had come for religious liberty to struggle with religious intolerance,—justice with injustice; and, though the contest might be a long one, he had no fear as to the result. It had been said, and most truly, that all Europe was at this moment turning a wistful eye to Ireland. No man could have glanced over the foreign newspapers without observing how large a space Ireland occupied in their columns; and he must say it was not unnatural that foreign statesmen might hope to see the arm of England fettered, and unaided by that power which had aided them in fighting so many battles for liberty. It was but natural to expect that the jealousy of foreign nations in regard to this country might be excited into livelier action when they saw the weakness created by our own misgovernment, and that they should look with deep interest and solicitude to the present state of Ireland; and most miserable would be our reflections, if the time of struggle should ever come and England were doomed to sink, that she had fallen, not from the vigour of our foes, not from the superior power of foreign aggressors, but from that innate weakness which we had brought upon ourselves in this petty, paltry struggle to retain the superiority of the Irish Church.
Lord Claude Hamilton
was not going to follow the hon. Member who had just sat down through all his details, but would confine himself to a few observations on one or two points which the hon. Member had revived, although be (Lord C. Hamilton) thought enough had been previously heard about them. The hon. Member who had just sat down had told them that "Coming events cast their shadows before," and it would appear so from the motion of the noble Lord, for although they were told that it was brought forward in consequence of the Government having introduced no measure for the improvement of Ireland, yet notice of this motion had been given on the very first day of the Session. The hon. Gentlemen opposite must have been sadly at a loss for argument against the Government when, as a proof of the party spirit which had influenced the appointments of the Government, he was obliged to speak as he did of the elevation of two Judges, and of the two right rev. Prelates. He was not going to follow the hon. Gentleman through the whole of his argument, but he must say a few words with respect 1220 to the Jury. The hon. Gentleman could not know much of the constitution of Special Juries, if he were not aware that the Government and the traversers must, whether they would or no, strike off an equal number of names. They could not avoid it. How then were they to be guided in their choice? By striking off a person no stigma was cast upon his character, and it was natural therefore that, in the performance of that duty, each side should strike those whom they thought least likely to give a just decision. The hon. Gentleman asked if, at the time of the Reform Bill, a Reformer would have been objected to as a juryman upon the ground of his political opinions. Certainly not. No one ever thought of such an absurdity. But suppose there had been a Reform riot, that one of the men engaged in that riot was to be tried, and that one of the jurymen was not only a Reformer, but had been engaged in that riot, then the cases would be parallel, and then it was not at all likely that such a man would be allowed to remain upon the jury. This being the sixth night of this debate, it would be almost impossible to address oneself to the consideration of this subject without trenching upon something which had been said before. He should, however, endeavour as much as possible to avoid such a course. The object of the prosecutions was not to put down the agitation for Repeal, but to repress the manner in which it was sought to gain that object. There had been great misrepresentations with regard to the Jury List. It had been said, that sixty-five names had been omitted from the list, when in reality there were only twenty-four; and that by accident, and by a Roman Catholic officer. Great stress had been laid upon the exclusion of Roman Catholics from the panel. He would endeavour to explain how it was that there were not more Roman Catholics upon the list. The upper and more respectable classes amongst the Roman Catholics were so disgusted by the conduct of the leaders of the Repeal Agitation, and so grieved to see the churches, which should be devoted to the worship of God, converted sacrilegiously into places of meeting, and to hear the agitators preaching in those holy edifices vengeance to the Saxon, instead of peace and good will to all, that they were glad not to mix themselves up in the matter, but to remain in the retirement of 1221 private life. He protested against the scandalous observations which had been made in that House upon the twelve honourable and honest Protestants whose misfortune it was to have sat upon the Jury, and undeservedly to have called down upon themselves the calumny and misrepresentation of those who should know better. They had even been charged with perjury. The Member for Cork said, they were a good Protestant Jury, ready to convict, and rejoicing in an opportunity to immolate their foe. The hon. and learned Gentleman cheered that statement. [Mr. Sergeant Murphy: No, no; not the latter part.] Well, you give up the immolation of the foe. But the hon. and learned Gentleman stated, that no justice was to be expected from them. Was not that much the same thing? Hon. Gentlemen opposite cheered the right hon. Member for Edinburgh, when he said that no man could expect justice from such a jury. But he would turn to other subjects. They had heard much of the disaffected state of Ireland, and of the readiness of the people of that country to receive with open arms a foreign foe to England; and bon. Gentlemen had even told the House that foreign Courts were watching the state and progress of things in Ireland. The King of the French had been talked of. He would take leave to tell the hon. and learned Gentleman and his party, that the King of the French knew too much of the state of England, and was too cognizant of the Constitution of England, and too well aware of the freedom of expression allowed in England in political debates, to take much notice of such articles as those which appeared in the Nation. The hon. Gentleman read the Nation with very different feelings and views from those with which foreign Sovereigns would peruse it. They knew too well what was the real relations of the country to be deceived by such lucubrations. What was the bugbear hon. Gentlemen opposite would set up? Was it the spirit of 1798, or the Swiss army, or the Prussian league, or what? Those who had listened to the speeches of the hon. and learned Gentleman must be aware that he had never failed to vituperate the King of the French; and something had been said about an Irish brigade that was to go over to France and set Henri V. on the throne. But he had no fear of any attacks or interference from Foreign Powers. 1222 Should any hostile menaces be made, let the hon. and gallant Member for Marylebone have the command of the fleet, and no foreign foe would approach these shores except as his prisoner. He reprobated the conduct of those who had endeavoured to excite the people of Ireland, by telling them they were eight millions, and were ruled and tyrannized over by a contemptible minority. It was a most calumnious and unwarrantable insult to charge that nation with disaffection and evil designs, to say they detested Her Majesty in their hearts, and longed to throw off the yoke of Her Government, to submit to that of a foreign power. All that might do very well to serve the selfish purposes of the agitators of that country; but his firm belief was, that if Her Majesty's Government should find it necessary to call upon the royal people of Ireland for support, there would rise up such a vast number of honest, stern, bold men, who were determined to oppose lawless violence and treason, as would astonish Europe, not merely by their numbers but by their firmness and intrepidity- The people of Ireland were belied. There had been insurrectionary proceedings in England and in Wales. Where had such taken place in Ireland? Hon. Gentlemen opposite attributed it to the preaching of peace by the hon. and learned Member for Cork. Yes, he preached peace, and levied an army; he preached loyalty, and endeavoured to beguile Her Majesty's forces from their allegiance. Her Majesty's Government had shown themselves willing to do everything to raise the moral and physical condition of the people of Ireland. What prevented them? The conduct of the hon. and learned Gentleman and his party. The hon. and learned Gentleman was a man of astute mind and astonishing abilities, and yet Her Majesty's Government were charged with having allured and drawn him into a snare, and afterwards with having endeavoured to produce a collision between the military and the people in order to create bloodshed. Surely, if Her Majesty's Government could possibly have entertained any such disposition, was it not in their power to effect their object? But the Proclamation contradicted that charge. He knew that even the Proclamation was found fault with, and that it was described to have been useless. The Proclamation had this effort:—there had been gatherings and 1223 marshallings of the people, and organizations for self-defence, and signal fires, and various indications of an incipient insurrection; and he believed that it was mainly owing to the Proclamation of Her Majesty's Government, and their judicious, though by some considered trivial, arrangements, that the loyal portion of the nation had been prevented from organizing themselves so as to be able, if necessary, to meet force by force. There was a sort of attempt on the other side of the House to monopolize all feeling and sympathy for Ireland, as if those on the Ministerial Benches were utterly indifferent and callous to the wants and wishes of that country. But he would tell those hon. Gentlemen opposite, that there was an earnest desire on the part of Her Majesty's Government and the Conservative Members of that House to redress the real grievances of Ireland, and to improve her condition. The hon. and learned Member and the Roman Catholic Priesthood were said to possess very great influence over the Irish people. It was a pity that they did not exert it to prevent the commission of outrages such as those which had been perpetrated in Tipperary and other parts. Did he charge them with producing such results? No; but how was it that faction fights, and murders, and deeds which would be a disgrace to any civilized country were so frequent? The explanation was this—those who had influence enough to raise the storm had not power enough to control it. The moral improvements which might have been effected by means of the Temperance movement were not to be placed to the credit of the Roman Catholic Clergy, for, in the first instance, they opposed Father Mathew and raised their voices against him. The aspect of Ireland was not uniform. Why was this? How could they account for the difference between the condition of Ulster, for instance, and other parts? All travellers, in writing of Ireland, had described that difference to be so marked, that they thought they had entered another country, instead of a province of the same. There were few soldiers there; property was safe there; outrages were unknown there; yet Ulster possessed no advantages that other parts might not obtain; and there, too, was a third Church to support. The inhabitants of that country were what were generally denominated 1224 "bloody Tories." But why was it that this province differed so much from other parts of the country? The reason was, that they who had power there combined to enlighten and educate the people, to improve their condition and their houses; and did not endeavour to gain a fictitious influence by setting man against man, one class against another, but they exercised their influence by inculcating peace and good-will amongst all. But there were other counties in the south exhibiting the same happy aspects—Wicklow, for instance. The Protestant Clergy and gentry exercised their influence in a beneficial manner; they did not seek to urge the people to break the laws. But look at Tipperary. If the Tories were the inveterate enemies of Ireland they were said to be, how was it that the state of the country was so good where their influence was most predominant?—and that where Liberalism, as it was called, and Irish patriotism prevailed, there was nothing but distress, discontent, outrage, and bloodshed? The fact was that where agitation was most effective there were breaches of the law, offences against property and life—ay, and murder in mid-day. But, strange to say, those things were not done in the parts under the influence of the "bloody Tories." He did not blame the Irish people. Unfortunately for them they had for years been under bad tuition. Was it to be wondered at that the dangerous ascendancy acquired over the minds of the people, in consequence of the miseries they endured, should tempt so excitable a race as the Irish to violations of the law—taught as they had been for years how to commit such offences, and to escape with impunity? Had they not been encouraged in passive resistance to Tithes—were they not told that no act of the British Parliament—nothing but Irish laws, framed by Irish Lords, and Irish Commons was binding upon the people of that country? Was it wonderful that such lessons should produce anarchy and confusion in that unfortunate country? It was said by some that it was all cant to talk about English capital being driven away in consequence of the state of the country, but how could it be expected that any British capitalists should embark their fortunes in a country where they were exposed to constant risk, and where even life itself was not safe from the hand of the assassin? What result did Gentlemen opposite expect 1225 from the present motion? Did they think that if they obtained the reins of power they could tranquillize Ireland? Did the hon. Gentleman who was the leader of the agitation hold out any such hopes to them? No. On the contrary, he said he had trusted them once, and would not trust them again—that nothing short of an Irish Parliament would satisfy him. Perhaps, indeed, the Irish Church was to be sacrificed; but would even that satisfy him? The hon. and learned Gentleman was too circumspect to disclose his real views; but the Repeal Wardens throughout the country were less tenacious. They told the people that as soon as Repeal was obtained there should be a total confiscation of property. Amongst the other accusations brought against the Government, they were accused of not having employed force sooner; but for his part he was glad that every latitude had been allowed, consistent with the maintenance of peace. He acknowledged and regretted that heretofore many opportunities of ameliorating the condition of Ireland had been allowed to pass by; but he called upon the House now, to consider the present condition and circumstances of that country. Let them apply themselves to meet the exigencies of the present moment, and they might hope to arrive at a more beneficial result, than by devoting their attention to any historical reminiscences which they could recal. He was glad to hear that the Government were going to increase the grant for National Education, but he hoped their efforts would not stop there, but that a knowledge of the Holy Scriptures would, notwithstanding the dislike of the Priests, be extended generally to the people of Ireland. They were ready and willing to receive the Scriptures, and would like them much better than those half religious, half political harangues, which now were forced on their unwilling attention. He was also ready to agree to the legalizing the exactions of the Priests in Ireland, at the same time making them more moderate. This measure would relieve the unfortunate people of Ireland from a tax which was now arbitrary, the amount demanded being only limited by the apparent power to pay. The noble Lord concluded by declaring that he should oppose the motion.
The O'Connor Don
said, that any observations which he had intended to make 1226 were already anticipated, and he did not wish to weary the House with their repetition. The noble Lord, who had just sat down, called upon the people of England to withhold their credence from violent political partizans from Ireland, but violent political partizans were not limited to one side of the House; they might be found on both—but from some of the expressions of the noble Lord, and from his manner that evening, his Lordship could not be classed among the most moderate on the other side of the House. His Lordship protested against those Members who were opposed to him claiming a monopoly of information on the affairs of Ireland, and a monopoly of patriotism. To that monopoly they laid no claim, but they protested against the noble Lord's claiming a monopoly of loyalty. The noble Lord spoke of the loyal inhabitants of Ulster. He (The O'Connor Don) maintained that the inhabitants of the other provinces of Ireland were equally loyal. Whatever might be the result of the debate, the impressive declaration made by the noble Lord, the Member for London, of the kind feelings of Her Majesty towards her Irish subjects would be by them cordially received and highly appreciated—and he would confidently, on the other hand, assert that in the wide extent of Tier Majesty's dominions, there would not be found a body more devotedly attached to her than the Roman Catholic population of Ireland. Theirs was no conditional allegiance dependent on a Whig or Tory Administration. It was the genuine homage of pure and devoted allegiance to Her Majesty, irrespective of circumstances. It was in the consciousness of this, their loyalty, its purity and its extent, that they did complain of the system which had been adopted towards them by the present Government in Ireland. It was true that the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for the Home Department, and the noble Lord, the Chief Secretary for Ireland, had explained some of the circumstances of which the people of Ireland felt that they had a right to complain. But unfortunately explanations came after facts—facts made a much deeper impression on the mind than explanations, and the former would be remembered when the latter were forgotten. It was the duty of the Government so to act that its conduct should be beyond the necessity of an explanation. The facts connected with the Clontarf meeting 1227 were these—It was to have taken place early on Sunday; the Proclamation against it was not issued until late upon Saturday, when it seemed next to an impossibility to prevent those who were even then on their way to the meeting from attending it. Government assigned reasons for interposing to put it down, and for not having done so earlier. He must say the reasons appeared to him to be frivolous and unworthy. These reasons might satisfy their own consciences, but they did no credit to their understanding or their capability of governing Ireland. Whatever meeting they intended to prevent, they should have proclaimed some days before that on which it was to take place. Previous to the meeting at Clontarf, there had been a meeting at Donnybrook, quite as near Dublin—quite as near the Castle. That was not interfered with? It might be said to be held with the connivance of Government. What reason had the people of Dublin to suppose that different steps would be adopted with regard to the Clontarf meeting from those which had taken place with respect to the meeting at Donnybrook? The Government affected to take alarm at some military phraseology which seems to give the former a different character; but these words of alarm were withdrawn before the Proclamation was issued. The people knew, and the Government might have known, that there was no chance of a breach of the peace. No one step had been taken whence it could be inferred that it was endangered. On the contrary, when the Repealers were given to understand that going to the meeting by the road first contemplated by them might, upon the Sunday, interrupt the devotional exercises of those who dissented from them, they instantly respected their feelings from deference to their wishes, and altered the route by which they were to proceed—so tenacious were they of giving offence or doing anything that might lead to a breach of the peace. The explanation that had been given on this subject would not satisfy the people of Ireland. With respect to the previous Repeal meetings, the Government could not extricate themselves from the dilemma that if they were illegal they should not have been allowed, and if they were legal, they should not form an item in the Government prosecution. The meetings were us notorious as the sun in noon-day—con- 1228 vened by public requisitiou—commented upon in the public journals—Whig, Tory, and Radical—commented upon in that House, and in the House of Lords, by the Duke of Wellington and the right hon. Baronet, by the present Lord Chancellor, the late Lord Chancellor, and the Irish Lord Chancellor. In the debate on the Dismissal of the Irish Magistrates, introduced in another place by Lord Clanricarde, the question of their legality was raised. The Duke of Wellington said he did not know whether they were legal or illegal. What said Lord Cottenham?However large and apparently dangerous the Repeal meetings might have been, the persons composing them had abstained from any breach of the peace. He believed it was the desire of the leaders so to do, and it was not unreasonable to suppose that the Magistrates in question only meant to carry a constitutional object by peaceful means. The Lord Chancellor of Ireland never conveyed an intimation that these meetings were illegal.Now, as it had been held by the Irish Lord Chancellor that the people of Ireland should read those debates, and know what passed in those debates, and magistrates were to be dismissed for not being guided by those debates—as it was presumed that the people read those debates, then they saw the opinion that those who attended those meetings only meant to carry a constitutional object by peaceful means. Now, if the Government felt all this time that those meetings were illegal, nothing could have been more cruel than to have waited until all, even the most retiring and most averse to agitation, were drawn into its vortex, and then for the Government to turn round on them, and stigmatise them, as the people of Ireland had been stigmatised, as conspirators, convicted under a verdict of guilty. As to the verdict, and how obtained, he must in the first place, say that the omission of certain names which ought to have been on the panel had not been satisfactorily explained. Nothing could be farther from his intention than to impute to the right hon. the Recorder of Dublin, that he had been privy to the omission of those names. He was quite sure that his right hon. Friend was entitled to full credit for impartiality in the discharge of his duties. While he acquitted him, he must refer to the opinion of Judge Perrin, cited by the right hon. the Member for the City of Edinburgh, that the omission of those 1229 names was not free from suspicion. [Mr. Shaw: The facts had not been stated when that opinion was given.] It was after the question had been discussed in open court, Judge Perrin used those words:—There was great negligence and gross want of care in the way in which authentic documents had been treated, and I am not prepared to say that the whole was the result of mere accident.With respect to the striking off the names of all the Roman Catholics who were on the list, he heard the hon. and gallant Colonel the Member for Armagh, forcibly admit, that in his opinion no Roman Catholic ought to be allowed to remain on the panel. That was a bold and manly declaration; but he would ask the hon. and gallant Colonel to fancy the reverse of what has taken place? Let him fancy what it was not difficult to imagine, that in 1829, after the passing of the Emancipation Bill, meetings of Orangemen had taken place in the North of Ireland, declaring that Act to be a violation of the Coronation Oath, and demanding its Repeal, using strong expressions, likely to alienate one class of the subjects of the Crown from the other—let him imagine the Government prosecuting those Orangemen for their meetings and their expressions, all the functionaries of the prosecution being Roman Catholics. Suppose that the trial took place in Londonderry, the majority of the inhabitants there being Protestant, that from the panel some names of Protestants, which ought to be on the panel, were omitted, that ten or eleven names of Protestants still remained on the panel, that those names were struck off by a Roman Catholic Attorney-general, he saying that he believed they were Orangemen, and having previously said that Protestants paid no attention to their oaths; and that, finally, none but Roman Catholics were left on the Jury to try those Orangemen, he asked the hon. and gallant Colonel what would be his feelings under such circumstances? Whether he would not decline to receive any explanation of a matter so suspicious, and for a libel so great on the Protestants of Ireland? And yet, was it to be supposed that Roman Catholics would be less sensitive—that they should not feel a slight as deeply, and resent as strongly, anything that cast a tarnish upon their faith and 1230 personal honour, as those who professed a different creed? The verdict had been obtained; but he asked, what had been gained by it? That was the question. It was said by the right hon. Gentleman, That it established peace in Ireland. If it were meant, that there had been no breach of the law in Ireland since the verdict, why, there had been no breach of the law before the verdict. But then, if it were meant that the mind of Ireland was not disturbed, he could tell them the mind of Ireland was much disturbed at the present moment. All he feared was, that while they were prevented expressing their feelings in public, they might be but the more embittered in private. Government might exult over the repression of public meetings; they might prevent a direct infraction of the law; but would they enforce those moral obligations, the neglect or omission of which might be as detrimental to society as any violation of the law? He should be sorry to allude more distinctly to what he apprehended, lest it might be supposed, that he suggested that which he would deprecate and deplore. The right hon. Gentleman, the Secretary of State for the Home Department, had, in referring to Lord Lyndhurst, spoken of him as his friend, and pronounced a panegyric upon him as Lord Chancellor. He (The O'Conor Don) might, on the other hand, be allowed to claim the friendship of the hon. Member for Cork, believing, as he did, that there was no man in the British Empire more opposed to any violation of the law, than Mr. O'Connell. He was not ashamed to speak his opinion of that friend—that he was the old and the long-tried friend of Ireland. He felt, in common with every Roman Catholic, that they were indebted, in a considerable degree, to Mr. O'Connell, for the advantages that they now enjoyed. He should be ashamed, at the present moment, not to acknowledge his obligations to Mr. O'Connell. He felt, that they owed to Mr. O'Connell not only the many advantages they enjoyed, but he believed they only received the advantages of that very discussion by the agitation of Mr. O'Connell. It was but a very few months since they were told that concession was at an end. What had produced this change? To nothing else could they attribute it than the agitation of Mr. O'Connell. It was owing to that that the noble Lord on the one hand, who had 1231 spoken of "finality," and the right hon. Gentleman, on the other, who had told them there should be no further concession, were now emulating each other in the declaration of their desire to improve the state of Ireland as far as circumstances would allow them, or their principles permit. The noble Lord certainly far surpassed the Government in the propositions he enumerated for the benefit of Ireland. With regard to those measures, the first was to induce a confidence in Ireland in the Administration of Justice. He felt that this was the most important matter that could be suggested. The people had a distrust in the administration of the law, and but too frequently acted for themselves, instead of seeking from it redress or protection. But a respect to the law must be created by a sympathy between the governors and the governed. It was that sympathy which characterised the Administration of Lord Normanby. In an excellent pamphlet, signed, "A Junior to his Senior," it is proved that, during the government of Lord Normanby, all who felt aggrieved sent memorials to the Castle. Within three months after the arrival of Lord de Grey, the memorials from three provinces diminished one-half—the memorials from Ulster increased one-fourth. Thus the government of Lord Normanby sympathized with the great body of the people; the present Government only with one province. But what was now the course proposed for producing confidence between the people and those who administered the law? He confessed that he was one who could not look with satisfaction upon the proposed increase of a stipendiary magistracy, because from the existing Government he did not expect to see men appointed who coincided with the feelings of the people, but who would be adverse to the popular feelings. They had, indeed, professions from the Government, that it was their wish to employ persons acceptable to the people of Ireland, and to make no distinction between Catholics and Protestants. He thought, too, that the English Solicitor-general had even ventured to challenge the Opposition to state a single instance, from their own information, of a Protestant being appointed to a situation when a Roman Catholic was equally eligible. Hon Gentlemen might speak of what they knew in their different localities, but he should 1232 only mention that which he knew to have occurred in Roscommon. There a vacancy occurred in the legal department, by the demise of Mr. Comyn, the Crown Solicitor. At that time, Mr. Fitzgibbon was the Sessional Crown Solicitor in the county. Mr. Fitzgibbon was at the head of his profession, in place, in rank, and in capability. It was universally felt that Mr. Fitzgibbon was the best entitled to fill the situation. His Colleague and himself, opposed as they were to the Government, would not, of course, ask them for a favour; but, feeling that it was due to the Government and the country to state the claims of Mr. Fitzgibbon, they waited upon Mr. Greene (the Irish Solicitor-general), and mentioned to him the capabilities of Mr. Fitzgibbon, and suggested that the Government ought to give him the vacancy. Mr. Greene himself admitted the eligibility of Mr. Fitzgibbon to the office. Mr. Fitzgibbon was a Roman Catholic, but he had never taken a part in agitation. He was opposed to the Repeal of the Union, and the only time he moved in politics was this—that he acted as his agent at an election, and, to show the sentiments of the opposite party towards him, a retaining fee of one hundred guineas was sent to him, which in his (The O'Conor Don's) presence was returned, he having been first retained by him. In every respect, then, Mr. Fitzgibbon was the most eligible person to fill up the vacancy. Mr. Fitzgibbon was a Roman Catholic—he was not appointed, but a stranger was brought from the North of Ireland. A Protestant from the North of Ireland received the appointment; and then the Government on the other side, defied them to point out a single instance in which a Protestant was preferred to a Roman Catholic, both being equally eligible. He might refer to another instance that had been mentioned to him, but he wished only to speak of that which was within his own knowledge, and should not therefore further allude to it. Another proposition that had been made for the benefit of Ireland was to increase the grant for the purposes of National Education. It was tendered as a boon, and as such it should be accepted. At the same time he must say, that education and poverty were bad concomitants. Unless means were at the same time devised to improve the physical and social condition of the people by developing the 1233 resources of the country, education might only enable the poor to perceive more accurately, and to feel more acutely, the extent of their sufferings and privations. But even through the medium of education he felt that the condition of the people might be improved if their education was practical—he meant agricultural as well as literary. The advantages of agricultural education he would exemplify from what he heard of the Agricultural Society at Ballinasloe. Before its formation he heard Lord Clancarty say, that he could scarcely find sufficient employment for his tenants, who pressed him to give them work. The society taught those tenants a better system of agriculture. They found it more profitable to cultivate their own lands than to work for his Lordship, and he had to go into the labour market at Ballinasloe, to seek for men to work for him, instead of trying to make out work for his tenants. Agricultural education would give increased employment and higher remuneration for labour, and he trusted it would be encouraged by a grant to promote it. At the same time, he must say that no care would be superfluous to prevent such a grant from being jobbed. Jobbing was the consequence of misgovernment in Ireland. The interests of the many had been made subservient to those of the few. Monopoly and selfishness were thus engendered, and jobbing was the natural result. Guarding against this evil, they should, by agricultural education, and agricultural premiums, endeavour to promote the only manufacture in Ireland—that of the soil, and by its increased productiveness provide for the increased population in that country. Another proposition was, to legalise endowments and grants made by Catholics or Protestants to the Roman Catholic Church. He thought this most desirable. He knew there were those who held trust-money for Catholic charitable purposes—they who were so entrusted were only bound by a moral obligation for its due application. He would wish that they might be legally responsible for it. But he would wish still more that a power was given to Roman Catholics to purchase ground—a small portion of ground—when necessary, for the erection of places of worship, they paying the full value of the land to be applied for that purpose. He hoped it would not be considered an undue interference with the rights of property. 1234 He knew from his own knowledge, that in parishes belonging almost exclusively to Protestant proprietors permission had been refused to Roman Catholics to purchase even an acre of land for the erection of a chapel; and the poor Roman Catholics had to walk several miles, sometimes in wet and cold, and snow, to a distant place of worship on Sunday. He wished for a law to make it compulsory on those Protestants to give the accommodation required, on payment of the full value for it. He was glad that House seemed to concur in the suggestion, and he was sure that its being carried into effect would mitigate some of the feelings of jealousy which existed in the minds of the Catholics as to the position of their Church. There was another suggestion he would offer to the House. It was known, that every Protestant clergyman in Ireland, could register out of his glebe. They generally voted as one man against the Liberal candidate. The Roman Catholic clergyman seldom had a vote. In general he expended upon his chapel and his parishioners what, if laid out on his house and on land, would qualify him to vote. He (The O'Conor Don) would wish, that the priest receiving beyond the amount of qualification from his chapel out of his parish, might be empowered to register out of them, and that he might feel, that in this respect, he was on an equal footing as to the Elective Qualification with the Protestant clergyman. He would wish this to be entertained, when discussing the extension of the Elective Franchise in Ireland. Upon that measure he would then only say, that if, in extending the Franchise, they only increased the power of the Anti-Liberal party, as some apprehended, considering the quarter whence the measure emanated, they would only aggravate the evil of which the people at present complained. Upon the Landlord and Tenant Commission he would only observe, that in his opinion, they had long since had sufficient grounds and evidence for legislation, and the sooner they proposed something positive to the House the better. The expectations of the people was raised to an extent, that he feared, would lead to disappointment. Each day added to their hopes, and the evils of suspense could not be exaggerated. He had trespassed too long, but he could not but advert to the Catholic oath prescribed by the Emancipation Act, He must says, 1235 that the manner in which that oath was read by the noble Lord the Member for North Lancashire, was most ungenerous and unjust. The noble Lord seemed to insinuate what he did not assert. The noble Lord might recollect, that some years ago, when the Catholic Members were supporting the measures of the noble Lord, they were accused by Captain Gordon of violating their consciences. The noble Lord had then no objection to their then supporting measures said to affect the Church. He (The O'Connor Don) appealed to the House, whether the consciences of the Catholic Members were to be tested by the barometer of whatever political atmosphere the noble Lord might choose for himself. When the Catholic Relief Bill was under discussion, one clause was proposed to restrict the Catholic Members from voting on questions affecting the Church. That was opposed by the right hon. Baronet, who declared, that in admitting Catholic Members into the House, he thought they should be admitted on a perfect equality in their legislative capacity. What said Sir Charles Wetherell, one of the first lawyers of the day, upon the Catholic oath?—I wish (said he) that some senior optime, from Oxford, or some senior wrangler, from Cambridge, would explain to me how this is to bind a Roman Catholic in his legislative capacity. There are hon. Members in this House, and Protestants too, who think like the hon. Member for Montrose, that the revenues of the Church are national property—that they may be dealt with as a State fund to be distributed as Parliament shall think fit; there are other Members, as the Member for Colchester, who think that the property of the Church is an incumbrance to her. Now, suppose the Member for Colchester to move the appropriation of Church property to other than Church purposes, and the Member for Montrose to second that Motion, do you mean to tell me that the Catholic would be acting against his Parliamentary oath if he sanctioned such a measure, so proposed and so seconded by Protestants, and probably supported by sixty or seventy Protestants? Would the Roman Catholic be restricted from supporting that vote by the oath in the Bill? He defied the casuists from Oxford or Cambridge, or any man in the House, to answer that question.—affirmatively, he meant. Thus did it appear, by the opinion of that eminent lawyer, that the Roman Catholic was as free to vote on that question as any other Member, and if he abstained from so voting 1236 as often as he could, it was only because he wished, that, believing his religion to be the truth, he did not wish that the shadow of a shade of suspicion should attach to its purity by leading any one to suppose that it did not inculcate the inviolability of an oath. A noble Lord opposite had stated that Ireland was the battle field for contending parties. He (The O'Conor Don) regretted it exceedingly. He regretted that in their debates party was everything, and Ireland was nothing. He was sorry that it was the arena on which adverse politicians contended. He feared they thought as little about it as opposing armies did of the field on which they strove for victory. They spoke of an Irish debate as they did of Waterloo, and thought only of those who distinguished themselves in either. He would wish that Ireland was everything, and party nothing. He would wish that Protestant, Catholic, and Dissenter—English, Irish, and Scotch—would consider themselves as fellow-citizens of the same empire—fellow-subjects of the same Queen—brothers in Christian charity and civil rights, and rivals only in the noble emulation of endeavouring in promote the common good of the three portions of the empire. If they approached the discussion of Irish questions in this spirit they would do her justice.
Sir W. James
said, that he had listened with great attention and much pleasure to the speech which the House had just heard, but he did think that the hon. Gentleman ought to make a little allowance for party feeling on one side as well as the other. He was very reluctant to intrude upon the attention of the House on an Irish debate, but perhaps the House would excuse him when he laid claim to some hereditary right to do so on the ground of family connection with that country, through the late Lord Castlereagh, who had been mainly instrumental in promoting the measure of the Union. That noble Lord, although much vilified by the hon. and learned Member for Cork, had always been remarkable for his consistency and firmness, and his love of country and of justice. Hon. Gentlemen on the other side seemed to say that all the benefits which had been conferred upon Ireland had been given by them. But this, in his opinion, was a most extraordinary thing to say in the face of the Emancipation Act, which was a child of the Tory 1237 party, Government having been virtually pledged to it at the time of the Union. It was true that the other side had filched away their child, and had given it a bad education, bringing it up with all their vile Whig notions and democratic prejudices; and it was no wonder that they (the Conservatives) were not pleased with their own child, which had received this Radical education. He had lately discovered the origin of the word Whig. He found that it was of Scotch origin, and originally meant a sour, acid scum, which floated at the top of butter milk, and which had not inappropriately been used as a nick-name for the sour faces of the Presbyterians of those days, who were thus the original Scotch Whigs. He was sorry to say that the acrimonious tune of the noble Lord when making his long speech in bringing forward this Motion strongly reminded him of this origin of the word. As to the noble Lord's imputation against the Government, that the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack had been given that honourable post as a reward for his abuse of the Irish people, it was really too contemptible a charge to call for any refutation. He should, therefore, address himself to the question before the House. The question, as it appeared to him, divided itself into two distinct points; first, the executive policy which should be pursued towards Ireland; and, secondly, the legislative measures which it might be necessary to adopt. With respect to the first point, he thought that, looking at the violence of parties which prevailed in Ireland, a firm, strong, indeed he would almost add, a severe executive was necessary there. But, on the other hand, he thought that with such a policy in the executive department, there should be adopted as far as possible a large conciliatory system of legislation. He would tell the House what he considered a fair test of a strong, firm Administration, namely, when they could keep their own friends in order. He thought it could not be said, that such an administration existed in the time of Lord Normanby, who sought only to keep parties in good humour by going about and showing himself from place to place, opening gaols, and courting all the vulgar acts which might conciliate popularity. The Government of Lord Fortescue was as far as it went, good in the executive, and went oil well until his Lordship made that 1238 manly declaration about Repeal, and against Mr. O'Connell, the former friend of the Whigs, which immediately opened up all the former agitation. The temporary and unmeaning popularity of Lord Normanby for a time restrained agitation as we do by pouring a little water on a great fire; but it only restrained it in order to give it strength to break out with increased violence when the occasion occurred under his successor. Now, with respect to his test of a firm government. The present Government had stood that test—they had shown themselves able and determined to keep their own friends in order. He would state a case to show the importance of this firmness on their part. A noble Lord, whose name he would mention to any gentleman who might ask him, had said to him, that the great anxiety of the Government in the affairs of Ireland, was not because they considered that the Catholics were disaffected, but because there was great disaffection against the country and the Government in the minds of the Orange party. The Government, however, had successfully met the threatening dangers from this and every other quarter. They had shown themselves determined to vindicate the law, and to do equal justice to all parties in the State. With respect to the late prosecutions, which had been so much cavilled at, it was one thing to find fault with the manner in which the jury was composed, and another to arraign the justice of their verdict; and, with the exception of the hon. Member for Cocker-mouth, he believed that no one in this House had vet ventured to do the latter. For his part, he thought it a very humane act of the Government to step in to put an end to the agitation before the danger from it became too imminent to avert. The Government, through the whole of their career, had shown a bold front in the executive department, and he hoped that they would not neglect the opportunity which this would necessarily give them to carry out a wise policy in the other department to which he had referred, by adopting a wise conciliatory system of legislation. An alteration he would venture to suggest which he thought might be carried into effect, not only without any detriment to the public service, but with positive advantage to the country. He thought that the office of Lord Lieutenant might be altogether abolished; and 1239 the cost which would be saved applied to the promotion of railways and other public works in Ireland, which would confer a substantial benefit. He thought that the introduction of the Poor-law into Ireland was a great error in policy. In a country where one-fifth of the population were paupers it was idle to make any experiment with a view to establishing a general system of relief. But although he thought it hopeless to administer to the physical necessities of the poor in Ireland upon any Government workhouse system, he thought that something might have been done to afford them efficient medical relief. Now with regard to the Church question—that all-absorbing question—he must say that he approached any discussion upon it with diffidence, yet he would not shrink from stating his opinion with respect to the declaration made by Ministers, that they would adopt no measures which had not for its object the security of the Establishment. He could not but express his gratification that they had taken right steps to maintain the Protestant Establishment in Ireland, although he could not agree with the noble Lord the Secretary for the Colonies, as to the ground upon which the noble Lord rested his support of the Church. The noble Lord had said that he supported the Church because it was established at the Reformation, as the bulwark of our liberties, and was indissolubly connected with the State at the Revolution. Now he supported the Church because it was Catholic and Apostolical, and not merely with reference to its being connected with the civil power, although he held it to be indispensable to the safety of the State, that that connection should exist. The noble Lord, the Member for Sunderland, bad said that the Church revenues were taken away from the Catholics, to give to the Protestants. Now in Ireland it happened that the revenues of the Church were never under the control of the Roman See. In 1527, the Irish Catholics objected to the authority of the Roman See. In the reign of Elizabeth, the Irish clergy emancipated themselves from the authority of Rome, and at a convocation of Irish Bishops held in that reign, nineteen Prelates being present, only two objected to the separation from the See of Rome; so that it was evident that the reformation of the Irish Church was not the result of conquest, 1240 but was accomplished by the concurrence of the Irish Bishops and clergy themselves. These are facts, and whatever the noble Lord (Lord Howick) might say, facts are stubborn things. On the other hand, it was with great regret that he had heard the hon. Member for the county Kildare (Mr. M. O'Ferrall) say, that the proper mode of giving Ireland tranquillity was to reduce the Established Church, and that asserting the maintenance of the Establishment was the same thing as declaring that Ireland must be held by military occupation. The right hon. Gentleman was a Catholic, and he (Sir W. James) regretted the more a declaration of this kind emanating from the right hon. Gentleman. There were three propositions put forward by the noble Lord the Member for Sunderland for, as hon. Gentlemen were pleased to call it, an abatement of the monstrous grievance of the Establishment. One proposition was for paying the revenues of the Protestant Church over to the Catholic Church. A second, for dividing the revenues between the Catholic and Protestant Churches; and a third, to have recourse to the voluntary system, and appropriating the Church revenues to national purposes such as public education. Now, he could not consider either of these propositions as in any degree analogous to the principles of the Constitution. As to the voluntary principle, he freely confessed that he agreed with a noble Lord now in Her Majesty's Government (Lord Wharncliffe), when he declared that rather than see no Church Establishment in Ireland, be would prefer seeing the Catholic religion established there. With respect to placing the two Churches on a perfect equality, he believed in his conscience, that such an equality—that is giving the Anglican and Romanist Church equal rights, or placing them in juxtaposition to each other, would only engender religious animosities, and produce more ill feeling than existed at present. It is asked, what can be done? What ought we to do? He certainly thought with the noble Lord who brought forward the Motion, that increasing the grant to the College of Maynooth was a judicious course. He would be willing to do anything that would tend to conciliate the Roman Catholic Clergy without injuring the Church Established. The noble Lord alluded to the opinions of the Archbishop 1241 of Dublin on the congregational system, and on that point he did not altogether disagree from the noble Lord. No doubt, the Catholics saw, with some pain, the revenues of the Church given to a Clergy who frequently had no congregation, and he should certainly like to proportion, in some degree, the emoluments to the extent of the congregation and the duties of the pastor. If it were possible, it might be advisable to permit the redemption of the tithes of those Catholic parishes in which there were few or no Protestant inhabitants. With regard to the proposal of the noble Lord the Secretary of the Colonies, to give the Irish Roman Catholic Clergy glebe lands—of that measure he entertained more dread—but if it were done, how would it be possible to resist the motion regarding the law of mart-main, which had been brought under the notice of the House by his noble Friend (Lord J. Manners). This law ought to be modified. He had now touched, as he believed upon each topic with reference to the Established Church in Ireland, which had been adverted to by the noble Lord opposite, and hon. Gentlemen on that side of the House. He must, however, recommend to the Ministers to pursue a conciliatory policy towards the Roman Catholics, to whom he was disposed to give civil rights co-equal with their Protestant fellow-subjects. He had no objection to give the Roman Catholic Bishops their titles, but if they came to ask favours of the Crown, he would suggest that the Crown should reserve to itself the power to deprive them of those titles if they entered into any political agitation—such as they had engaged in on the Repeal question. He gave much credit to Dr. Murray, Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, for discouraging his Clergy from entering into that agitation. To such men he should not be willing to deny the title of Bishops, He would now refer to an hon. Gentleman, who, from the position he held in Ireland, and from the agitation he created there, could not be passed by unnoticed. He would not speak disrespectfully of the hon. Gentleman, but he must say that the hon. Gentleman had produced much mischief in Ireland, and more especially by making religion a political question. He alluded to the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. O'Connell). This Gentleman he could only compare to one of the greatest 1242 monsters of a former period, one, who by a similar course of agitation, overthrew the Throne and the Church. Between Oliver Cromwell and the hon. and learned Member for Cork he perceived a remarkable analogy. I mention it to the House in order that, remembering the denunciation of Cromwell at Wexford, they may see how little we know ourselves, and how nearly extremes meet—how far the independent general, mutatis mutandis, resembles the Jesuitical agitator. [Laughter.] They might laugh, but he would ask them, were not both the character and movements of that hon. Gentleman exactly similar to those of Cromwell. Did he not boast of the discipline of the Irish people? Did he not say that he had a finer army at his command than ever Napoleon had, and did he not repeatedly allude to the influence he had over the Irish people, which no doubt the hon. Gentleman meant in a military point of view? He had no doubt but that the hon. Gentleman had objects similar to those of Cromwell in view, and he thanked Her Majesty's Ministers for interposing the power of the law to check in good time the projects of the agitator, or the Protector, as he had more than once called himself. What did the denunciation of the Saxon mean? What meant the crowning at Tara? What the army of fanatics whom O'Connell had at his back? His fall in popularity, too, will be similar to Cromwell's. The ardent spirit of his followers will wish to drive Mr. O'Connell into measures which he never contemplated, and the first check which he gives them, will be the sign of a waning power in Ireland. Already the Repealers begin to think their leader is hanging back. With respect, however, to the Catholic Clergy of Ireland, he was of opinion that they ought to be conciliated; but, by all and every means known to the Constitution, put down political agitation. With all respect to the hon. Member for Cork, he would say to Government put a stop to the mischievous career of the hon. Member, who, he must add, was a curse to the country. Ireland was a fine country, and her people were a generous and a confiding people. He would ask the hon. Member for Cork, why such a country, and such a people, could not be raised to a prosperous condition? He would say to him cease your agitation; let the people be tranquil, and you will have Ireland what 1243 she ought to be, a prosperous and a contented land, with quiet, capital would pour into her garners, and a long perspective of smiling prosperity open upon a regenerate people.
§ Mr. E. Buller
was understood to say, that it appeared to him, that both sides of the House were agreed that the condition of Ireland demanded the grave attention of the Legislature, and that on some subjects respecting the amelioration of the condition of the people they were also agreed. The distracted state of Ireland was embarrassing to the Empire at large. No one could deny that during the spring and summer of last year, a state of things had existed in Ireland, calculated to excite feelings of alarm and apprehension, and that a system of agitation had been kept up which interfered with all the social and industrial pursuits of the people of that country. But from what did that distraction arise? From a continuous system of misrule, interrupted indeed for a short period by the wise and conciliatory policy of the late Administration, but again adopted and acted upon by Her Majesty's present advisers. He did not mean to say, that they had not a right to put down the meetings held in Ireland during the last year. But what gave rise to these meetings? Undoubtedly the denial of justice to Ireland by the present Ministry, from whose speeches he was now forced to conclude, that they meant to continue that denial. The right hon. Baronet at the head of the Home Department, had read extracts from some speeches delivered at the meetings in Ireland, and denounced them as highly inflammatory. The right hon. Baronet did not consider that his own inflammatory speeches were the cause of the meetings held—the agitation provoked, and the speeches delivered at those meetings. Previous to the right hon. Baronet's coming into power Ireland was tranquil. The Administration which preceded that of which he now formed a part, left Ireland in peace. In what state was she now? Was she not occupied by military force? The right hon. Gentleman had endeavoured to show the contrary, and had told the House, that the Returns on the Table would prove, that for the last two years the military force in Ireland had been lower than had ever been known; and then they were told by the noble Lord, that it was in March, 1843, and not till 1244 then—when the Government had been in office a year and a half—that the state of affairs in Ireland became so alarming, that Government thought it necessary to introduce an overwhelming military force; and he would go thus far with the noble Lord, that if the state of affairs in the autumn was as he had described it as being in March, it was imperative on the Government to maintain a large force in that country. He could not, however, forget that Ireland was in a very different state in March, 1843, and even previous to that time, to that in which it had stood when the late Government left office. He thought the true cause of the increased agitation in Ireland last year might be traced to the declaration made last year by the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham), that concession had reached its limits, and that Government had no measures to introduce for the benefit of Ireland, but an Arms Bill; and it was very possible, that despairing of any justice from the Government and the Parliament, the people had been induced to resort to Repeal agitation to obtain the redress of their grievances. Be that as it might, it appeared that meetings which had so alarmed the Government in March, continued throughout the summer and autumn; yet no voice of warning was given to the people who attended them that they were acting illegally—nothing was done to prevent them becoming the victims of the delusion into which they had fallen. He was at a loss to understand why the Government, having permitted the previous Repeal meetings, proclaimed against the one which was to have been held at Clontarf. It appeared, that so long as the Repeal agitation was on foot, it might travel through the whole length and breadth of the land without exciting apprehension of danger; but a meeting attended by persons on horseback was sufficient to call into operation all the force in the country which the Government had at their disposal, both civil and military. He could not understand by what process that which was legal while a man was on his legs, was sedition when he was in the saddle. What he complained of was—not that the meetings had been put down, but that no warning had been given; and that the proclamation had been withheld until the Saturday evening, when it was too dark to read it, forbidding the meeting which was to take place on the Sunday. Sup- 1245 posing that the intentions of the Government were to preserve the peace and to prevent a collision, their conduct was the most unaccountable he had ever heard of. Fortunately, however, the proclamation issued by the Repeal Association, had the start of the Government proclamation, and the people were apprised of the intention of Government to suppress the meeting. The conduct of the Government was not wise, and it was not humane. He would now refer to the proceedings in connection with the late State Trials. He would not enter into the questions of the Jury and the verdict, which had been already so well discussed; but he thought if an impression of unfairness in regard to these trials had obtained, it would be confirmed by the speech of the hon. and learned Solicitor-General. The hon. and learned Member had defended the constitution of the Jury and the form of the indictment, and had praised the conduct of the Attorney-General for Ireland; but in respect to the panel he had been altogether silent. The hon. and learned Gentleman, in proof of his position in defence of the form of the indictment, quoted certain precedent cases that had occurred in this country. It was true, that in the cases the hon. and learned Gentleman had quoted, large meetings had been held and violent language indulged in, but it was also true, that those meetings were connected with, and had been preceded by other secret meetings, in which language of the most dangerous character was proved to have been used. These secret meetings to which the hon. and learned Gentleman had alluded, were of quite a different description to those which had recently taken place in Ireland. But they had been told by the right hon. Baronet opposite, that the measures of Government had been successful; that the Repeal agitation had been put down, and that the country was tranquil. If it was so, this was the time to bring forward remedial measures. Now, he asked whether the measures introduced by the Government were of that character? Look, in the first place, to the great grievance of the Church. Her Majesty's Government said, that they were determined to maintain the Church Establishment in Ireland in all its integrity. Now, he would ask, what was the meaning or effect of that declaration? Why, that they were determined to maintain a Protestant Church amongst a Ro- 1246 man Catholic population—a Church endowed with the property which had been left by the people of Ireland, and had been transferred from their descendants to those who were aliens from them in religion? They would maintain a Protestant Church amongst those who could not share in its worship, who could not join in its prayers, and who could not participate in its sacraments. That Church was identified in the minds of the people of Ireland with all the calumnies heaped upon them and with all the abuses they endured, and still that Church was to be maintained in every corner of Ireland as a clear, and visible, and undoubted demonstration that the institutions of that country were not in accordance with the wishes of the great body of the people of Ireland, but in accordance with the intolerance and bigotry of a section of that people. By such a declaration as that which the Government had made, they were only arming their opponents, and enabling them, at some future time, to meet them with more effectual resistance. That Church Establishment in Ireland appeared to him not only unjust in its origin, but even still more indefensible in the mode in which it was maintained. At the time that Church was established in Ireland the Government in that country might be said to be in the enjoyment of arbitrary power; they had not then to cope with the resistance of an enlightened, an intelligent, and a powerful Roman Catholic body. They had not then the experience of 300 years before them—they then might have hoped that they would be able to effect some change in the religion of the people, and they might have hoped that the time would arrive, when that people would become a Protestant people. But he would ask now, after that Church had existed in Ireland for 300 years, whether any progress had been made in making the people of Ireland Protestants? The right hon. Member for Edinburgh had compared our dominion in Ireland with the dominion exercised by other parts of the world towards their provinces—he had compared it with the dominion that had been exercised by the Spaniards over their colonies; but he (Mr. Buller) contended that if they looked into the Government of Ireland, they would find the injustice and oppression exercised towards Ireland worse than that exercised by the Spaniards towards their 1247 colonies. It had been said that there was a small step from the sublime to the ridiculous, and the injustice practised towards Ireland was so extensive, that it sometimes even bordered on the ridiculous. This question was only to be effectually dealt with by the rules of common sense. They had been told by the right hon. Gentleman, the Secretary 'for the Home Department, that the Protestant Church in Ireland had been established at the Reformation—confirmed by the Revolution—strengthened by the Act of Settlement, and solemnly ratified by the Act of Union. Now, this appeared to contain more of sound than of sense, for neither the Reformation, the Revolution, the Act of Settlement, nor the Act of Union, would ever make wrong become right, or satisfy the people of Ireland with the continuance of injustice. What then ought to be done? for from what they knew of Ireland, our measures, in order to be successful, depended not so much on what we did, as upon the spirit in which we acted. He did not believe that if the revenues of the Established Church were given to the Roman Catholic clergy, that you could by such means conciliate them. They were men with peculiar traits of character, and did not appear to possess dispositions that made them peculiarly susceptible of temptation. He believed that they were men of good dispositions—firm in their own convictions, and earnest and zealous in the propagation of their faith to a degree equal to the Clergy of any other Church on earth; and he believed, that though it was out of our power to buy them with money, yet that it was in our power to win them by conciliation; he believed that they might be won if we were prepared to treat the Roman Catholic Church with justice and impartiality; and, if funds were placed at their disposal, it should not be for their purpose of endeavouring to render them the subservient tools of Government, but to make them still more zealous and efficient ministers of religion. By such means as these we might count on the attachment, loyalty, and affection of the people of Ireland, and might secure to ourselves the willing obedience of the Irish people.
§ Mr. Lascelles
said, that after the lengthened discussion which had already taken place, it was not his intention to trespass on the House at any length of time, but 1248 he was anxious to state the grounds on which he would give his vote on the present occasion, and the view which he took of the motion of the noble Lord. He would not vote for that motion, for he could not forget the time at which that motion was brought forward, and neither could he forget that, on the discussion which took place last year on the state of Ireland, the noble Lord himself was not prepared to make the proposition which he now came forward to make. Preceding speakers had very properly stated that the grounds which the noble Lord submitted for his motion appeared to be divided into two distinct subjects—one was a distinct arraignment of the Government for their administration of justice—and the other object seemed to be, by coupling together parts of the old history of the country, by referring to bygone times, and ripping up old sores, to endeavour to show that the Government were carrying on the government of Ireland by raking up the old spirit of animosity that had prevailed in that country. It appeared to him that these charges were altogether unjust. When he recollected the course that had been taken with respect to the Orange Lodges in Ireland—when he recollected that by the influence that had been exercised by the friends of the Government four Orange Lodges in Ireland had been induced to dissolve themselves—and when he recollected that, under circumstances of great provocation and excitement, the Protestant population in the north of Ireland had been restrained from any impropriety or misconduct, he could not but feel that such a charge was wholly and entirely unjust. He thought that it was not by catching up the indiscreet expressions of members of a party that a charge of so grave a nature could be justly urged against the whole body. Now, with respect to the late prosecution, he thought that if the Government meant to put down the Repeal agitations they could not have taken any other course. He was sorry to have heard in the speech of the noble Lord something that seemed like an apology for the Repeal Agitation. He would say that, whatever other differences of opinion might exist amongst parties in that House, let them, at all events speak firmly and boldly on that subject. Let them not deceive the people. Let them tell them that whatever their grievances might be, they were not pre- 1249 peared to redress them by the concession of a Repeal of the Union. When it was found that the first charge against the Government was not maintained, their opponents resorted to another argument, and said, that though the Government might govern with the strictest impartiality, yet that they were under suspicion in Ireland, that they had not the confidence of the Irish people, and therefore that they could not carry on the government of that country with success. He should, indeed, be sorry to think that there was any foundation for such an opinion as this; because the people of this country having placed a Conservative Government in power, if it was found that such a Government was not capable of governing Ireland, it would, in his mind, form one of the strongest arguments for a Repeal of the Union. But he would again urge the danger of using any such argument. But though he did not agree in the charges that had been brought against the Government, he would not enter into party crimination or recrimination, but repeat that he could not vote for the motion of the noble Lord. In turning from that subject he would now turn to a new and far different subject—he meant the future policy to be pursued towards Ireland. On that part of the subject he must say that he had felt it to be his duty on a former occasion, and when parties were nearly balanced in that House, to take that course which he should take to-night. It was a course painful in himself to take. He had hoped that parties would have been able to come to some understanding on the subject. It was most important for them to consider, in the case of Ireland, that it was not alone what they did that was of importance, but it was equally important to consider the spirit in which they did it. He thought that after the passing of Roman Catholic Emancipation, every act which they did with respect to Ireland must be viewed, through the suspicion engendered by past wrongs. He would not go through the subject of the various measures that had been brought forward with respect to Ireland, unless merely to touch on the subject of the registration. A great many attacks had been made upon his noble Friend (Lord Stanley) on the subject of Irish Registration; but they must recollect that the Government of the noble Lord opposite Lord J. Russell) had themselves com- 1250 plained of the state of the Registration in Ireland, and the evils of the system of Irish Registration were partly admitted. Now, when it was proposed to define the Franchise, and when it appeared from the returns that the measure proposed would diminish the Franchise in Ireland, he had stated in the House that he would not be prepared to vote for such a proposition; and he must say, in justice to those who sat at his side of the House, that there seemed no disposition to adopt any proposition that would have that effect. Now, with respect to the future policy to be pursued towards Ireland, he was one of those who had always regarded Roman Catholic Emancipation in no other light than as the commencement of a series of measures for the amelioration of Ireland. He did not think that we could remain where we were. He thought that the very principle on which they had extended the political franchises of the Irish people was equally applicable to the revision of the whole Church Establishment. It had been said that parties had come to an agreement on the subject of Roman Catholic Emancipation, and it had also been said that strong declarations had been made at the time that no further step would be demanded on the part of the Roman Catholics. He (Mr. Lascelles) believed that at the time nobody did intend any further step; but they must recollect that in dealing with the affairs of a great country, they could not pin men down to certain declarations, and whilst a rankling grievance remained, it was idle to think that the declarations of any man could settle that grievance. Now, when Gentlemen asked what had been gained by the Reform Bill, and had not the dangers that had been apprehended already come to pass, he would say that, so far from that, since the passing of that measure, you had not seen Roman Catholic Members in that House banded together for the attainment of any particular object adverse to the Constitution. On the contrary, when the Roman Catholic Members were not able to attain their objects in that House, they had given up their attendance, and remained away altogether. They relinquished their attendance in that House, and went back to agitation. That circumstance showed chat no increased power had been conferred on them by the concession of those measures. But let the House understand 1251 from her Majesty's Government what they meant to do for the future. He did not think they were called upon to do any more than make a declaration of the principles on which they were disposed for the future to conduct the government of Ireland. He should be quite satisfied if his right hon. Friend would make such a declaration with respect to future legislation for Ireland as he had made with respect to his commercial policy. He would wish to hear his right hon. Friend at the head of the Government announcing his intention of altering the anomalous position of the Protestant Church in Ireland, whilst maintaining it in those principles on which alone a Church Establishment could be maintained in any country for the purposes of religion and the spiritual instruction of the people; and altogether giving up the notion that the Protestant Church in Ireland was only to be looked upon as a Protestant stronghold in that country. If his right hon. Friend would make such an announcement as that, he would not require from him any announcement of particular plans. He thought that the noble Lord opposite had found by experience, that it was not always advisable that a Government should announce particular plans. The noble Lord had announced the principle of appropriation; but, finding the opinion of the country against it, and that he could not carry it, he wisely gave up that proposition; but he did not give up the Government in consequence of not being able to carry his measures. These questions were only to be carried by discussion, and by the influence which men of enlightenment and experience exercised over the people of the country. He would only say, in conclusion, that he should much regret if the Government would merely content themselves with administering the existing law in Ireland, and would not go further in the introduction of other measures of legislation. He begged to repeat that he could not vote for the motion of the noble Lord, because it involved a most unjust attack upon the present Government. So far as the expression of opinion that had fallen from him, it was accompanied with great pain to himself, and the greatest respect for those hon. Friends from whom he differed.
§ Mr. Gisborne
thought that the speech 1252 motion of the noble Lord the Member for the City of London. They had had from the other (the Ministerial) side of the House, a great many kindly expressions towards the people of Ireland—there had been a general disposition exhibited on that side of the House to meet fairly and fully every point adduced in favour of the claims of the Irish people. With the exception of the question on which the hon. Gentleman had just ventured, and, by doing so, broken the trammels which seem to hamper his side, he did not think that after five nights of debate, the position of Government with respect to the motion before the House had been carried much further than the point at which it was left on the first night. Nor, perhaps, was it to be expected that it should be so, not that he undervalued the able speeches made in behalf of the Government, for the speech of the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Home Department, was a comprehensive, able, statesmanlike, and calm exposition of the principles on which the Government carried on the administration of Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman claimed for the Government credit for kindness, fairness, and forbearance in the impartial administration of justice, and in the unsectarian distribution of the patronage of the Crown. He not only claimed credit for them for acting on these principles, but he declared that they applied them to every case in which the Government distribution of patronage had been attacked. Indeed, he must confess that the speech of the right hon. Baronet had essentially modified his opinions upon the administrative acts of Government. Taking candidly from the right hon. Gentleman the description which he had given of the intentions and purposes of Government, and the manner in which they had applied those purposes and intentions, he would turn to the description which they had of the Irish people. That description he would take from the other side of the House. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Recorder of Dublin had stated that they were a generous and a confiding people. That sentiment was echoed by another hon. Gentleman, the Secretary for the Admiralty, and again by the noble Lord who had spoken that night. But passing from the testimony given by the other side of the House, it was stated by of the hon. Gentleman opposite was not all writers—by all travellers—by every-body who had lived among them—fo- 1253 eigners who had come to examine into their condition, and who had given their observations to the world—it was stated by all these that no nation existed on the face of the earth with whom a little justice and a little kindness would go so far. Having then, on one hand, a Government! which, as he thought, could fairly, as far as administrative acts were concerned, claim credit for kindness, forbearance, and impartiality, and having on the other hand, a grateful and confiding people, be asked, whether they found in Ireland the natural results of such a combination Why, under such circumstances, they should expect to find a state of peace and prosperity, and the people living in confidence under their rulers; they should expect to find them enjoying all the benefits which a country can possess from a beneficent Government; and as such en-fortunately was not the case, he could only look on the right hon. Gentleman opposite as the most unfortunate of men. Surely the right hon. Gentleman was suffering the greatest misfortune, if excellent acts, brought to bear on excellent dispositions, were unsuccessful in attaining their desired object. It was more these considerations which induced him to support the motion of the noble Lord the Member for London, than any of the speeches which he had heard in favour of that! notion. For if with all their good intentions Government were so unsuccessful, it was surely time that the House should interfere and examine whether there was not something in the principles on which the Government was carried on, that might lead them to adopt another system. Their first act after their appointment was the selection of two gentlemen to the judicial seat, of excellent private character and kindness of disposition, but violent partisans who had thrust themselves into every Irish debate, and certainly never contributed to its harmony. Suppose Mr. O'Connell were tried before Mr. Justice Jackson or Baron Lefroy. He did not say that they would not act impartially. They might show him even an undue degree of favour, for he had known a strong partisan when in a position of trust, and the eyes of the public were on him, lean unfairly to his opponent. He did not say that these Gentlemen would have such a bias any more than that they would act unjustly towards Mr. O'Connell. But this settled the question—unless the Ministers could say that Mr. 1254 O'Connell could with fairness and decency he tried by those Judges, they condemned their own conduct. Let it be recollected that they were not partisans in a country a here the two parties were equally divided, but that they were partisans against seven-eights of the population among whom they hart to administer the laws. With respect to the appointment of Catholics to places of trust, it appeared the Government was perfectly willing to confer them but they could find no Catholics fit to be appointed. That was another calamity of the Government; but it demonstrated the situation in which they were placed when they undertook the Government of Ireland. At the trial he was afraid another calamity fell on this unhappy Government. In the first place, wishing to show the utmost fairness, as expressed by die noble Secretary for Ireland, it was determined not to try the traversers by a jury that could be packed. No doubt, Mr. Kemmis knew the practice in Ireland well, and was not unlikely to take for granted that an Irish Government could not try a party for political offences by a common jury without packing it. Well, the special jury panel being at last arranged, the Recorder—without any fault, with scarcely any neglect—lost one of the lists, on which he admitted there were principally Roman Catholics. When this deficiency was pointed out to the Chief Justice, that functionary said that the law prescribed how the panel should be formed. It was not formed in that manner; it was not formed according to law, but it was, at least, good enough for the traversers. On this panel there were eight Repeaters, and the ninth having signed a Repeal requisition, all were struck off. It so happened that thirty-nine remained, and if all the names were put into a hat, it was plain (as any Gentleman in the House, who was in the habit of calculating odds, would know) that it was as thirty-eight to one against the Catholic being drawn out for rejection. Now, some people took long odds, and always won, and others always lost, with the odds in their favour; but, at all events, the Attorney General solved the problem of pricking the one Catholic (whom he did trot know to be one) out of the list of thirty-nine. If the list had not been lost by the Recorder, there might have been thirteen Catholics on the hat, and the right hon. Secretary for the Home Department might have been gratified 1255 with having a Catholic on the jury. Anoother point he was anxious to refer to was, the temper and moderation enjoined on the law officers. He was not going to criticise what took place during the trial, observing only, that the result did not exactly correspond with the wishes of the right hon. Gentleman. The last misfortune of the Government was, that the Chief Justice made a stronger and better speech for a conviction (and he had read them all) than either the Solicitor General or Attorney General. Then came the verdict. What should he say of it? It might gratify some Orange partizans. It might enable the Government to imprison Mr. O'Connell, though he did not believe they would ever do so. Sure he was, such a step would never procure peace, or attain what was said to be their object, the vindication of the law of Ireland. It was said that if Catholics were put on the Jury they would fast to death rather than convict Mr. O'Connell. But were there not Protestants who would starve rather than acquit him? It appeared to him the orders that should be given were to strike off every man known to be a violent partizan. The noble Secretary for the Colonies said, that the Crown Solicitor would not have performed his duty to his client if he had not struck off the Catholics. We all know what was an attorney's notion of his duty to clients! The mistake which the noble Lord (Lord Stanley) had fallen into, of calling the clerk of the Crown the clerk of the Course, thus inadvertently showing the thoughts which were passing in his mind, indicated what might be supposed to be the animus of a Crown solicitor, when discharging what he considered his duty in the striking of a jury. Now, as to the measures proposed by the Government. They put him in mind of a message of Cromwell's, who having solicited in vain to have some useful reforms passed, said, "There is mention in your last address of your purpose to do a good many things. I hope you will not be like a gentleman who made his last will, and set down the names to whom money was to be left, and there was no sum at the latter end." Now, the Government proposed to do a good many things. They set down the names of the people of Ireland, but there was no sum "at the latter end." He knew there was Landlords and Tenants' commission, but it was a mere moonshine. 1256 He was never more convinced of this than when the right hon. Gentleman congratulated himself on having got the support of the Member for Rochdale. Had the right hon. Gentleman any respect for that hon. Gentleman's opinion on any other subject? He remembered last year, when the hon. Member for Rochdale was addressing the House on some subject, and said, "I agree with Mr. So and So," the right hon. Member for Tamworth, in one of those stage whispers which were heard beyond the Treasury Benches, and were intended to be so heard, exclaimed, "That's the first time I ever heard him agree with anybody." [Sir Robert Peel had never used such an expression.] He gave the right hon. Baronet the credit of the denial, but he thought he heard such words. He remembered that the gallant Commodore (Sir C. Napier), the the motion relating to Scinde, said, that declarations of war were out of fashion. He must say, that the announcement that it was determined to maintain the Established Church, in its present position, was a declaration of war against Ireland. It was his conviction there would be no peace for Ireland without the removal of that Church. Here was a great nuisance which must be abated, and, with respect to which, as it was cherished as the apple of his eye by such men as the right hon. Recorder for Dublin, he should say, "If thine eye offend thee, pluck it out and cast it from thee." See what this country must gain, if on the death of every bishop he could withdraw a regiment, ane on the death of a dean a battalion from Ireland. He was surprised to hear the hon. and learned Solicitor General say last night that there were some fundamental laws which Parliament could not touch. A more dangerous and revolutionary doctrine he never heard. Why, our great constitutional security was, that we had powers to make, according to the forms of the Constitution, any alterations we thought proper. Had we the consent of the three branches of the Legislature we might turn this monarchy into a republic. When the nation wills a change" fundamental "Acts of Parliament never stand between it and its wishes; the only danger is, that instead of acting within the powers of the Constitution, and by such means as must give satisfaction to all men, it is, when long resisted, apt to have recourse to violence. He did not mean to say, that 1257 all the able speeches made on the other side produced no effect; but that that effect was not in proportion to the vigour of the speakers. In spite of the good intentions of Government, and their desire to govern fairly, the state of things in Ireland was such as this House ought not to sanction. He looked on the measures proposed as trifling—"There was no sum at the end," and their determination to maintain the Irish Church as the declaration of a permanent war.
Mr. A. S. O'Brien
said, the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down conceded that the Gentlemen on the other side of the House had as yet made no progress in their attack on the Government. That opinion, he believed, would be shared by the country at large. It had been his lot, since he had been in Parliament, sometimes to vote against the present Government, but he had always done so through conscientious feelings and with the greatest reluctance. It had, however, been much more frequently his privilege to vote with them—sometimes for the sake of supporting the Government, sometimes through deference for the opinions of others whom he thought better informed than himself. But he never remembered to have given a vote on any occasion with more sincerity than he should on this, as a testimony of his approbation of the admirable tact, discretion, firmness, fairness, and wisdom with which they had conducted the recent affairs in Ireland. He did not care how long this debate might continue, or how long it might interrupt the business of the country, for he was certain that the result of it would be that the Government would occupy a higher ground and a stronger position in the opinion of the country. The hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, the hon. Gentleman who had preceded him, and above all the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Edinburgh, had alluded to the question of the Irish Church. He should be content to limit the duration of that Church to the time when the hon. Gentleman on the other side would have agreed among themselves what thep should do with it—for every variety of opinion had been hazarded about it, and every resource of human ingenuity exhausted in schemes for the disposal of its property. Some wished to transfer it whole to the other side—some wished to divide it into three part—some into two parts—some to pare it 1258 down—and some to cut it up. The hon. Gentleman who spoke last proposed that at the demise of every Bishop in Ireland the Crown should remove a regiment, and at the demise of every Dean a battalion. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Edinburgh had asked the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government to enter into the question at large, and, in order to enable him to do so, evaded entering into any details himself, which was certainly the wisest and easiest course; for when you traverse the open sea of declamation you have only to keep your sails full, and no one could do that better than the right hon. Member for Edinburgh. But though that right I hon. Gentleman would not state what he would do with the Irish Church, he stated certain grounds on which its defence ought not to be rested. The right hon. Gentleman said that he would not rest its defence on quotations from Hannard,from other old books, from Acts of Parliament, and the articles of the Union, and allusions to former promises of the Catholics. He admitted that if they could not make out a stronger ease for the Established Church than what would be founded on questions from what the Roman Catholic Bishops had formerly said, they could never go to sea with such a vote as this. Though he differed from the hon. Gentleman opposite, he must say, as allusion had been made to the violation of oaths, that, after giving the best judgment and consideration to this subject he could, that argument never had much weight with hint. It was fair and reasonable to expect good faith from corporations as from nations, but unfair and unreasonable to calculate in matters of such moment as the pledges of a class. Suppose that Dr. Doyle, or any other Roman Catholic Bishop had promised that the Establishment of the Irish Church should not be opposed, yet we had no authority, no knowledge of Roman Catholic Ecclesiastical Discipline, no manifestation by Papal injuctions, to make us believe that Dr. Doyle, or any other Bishop was able to bind his successors. It seemed to him to be very much the case as if they had occasion, as magistrates, to swear in special constables. They should, in the first instance, decide whether such and such an individual was a fit and proper person to be trusted with such an office; and if they thought that an individual or a class 1259 was not to be trusted, they should not tender an oath; but it would seem very unfair if they took a man, appointed him a special constable, tendered him the oath, and then said, "Because you are a Roman Catholic we will add another proviso—to make you swear that in the crowd or disturbance you shall not knockdown the parson." They should trust the man unreservedly with the staff or not trust him at all. But now they had given the constable the staff, and sworn him in to keep the peace, and not only that, but he was near meeting with the parson, and very much inclined to say that it was the parson who had kicked up the row, and it would not be enough to say, "We have got a letter from a man who died forty years ago, who promised not to interrupt the parson." He would say, that in the present state of things, that would not satisfy the bystanders. This seemed to him to be analogous to their present proceedings. If they put the case of the Irish Church simply on the promises of Roman Catholic Prelates and leaders in former times, and on no higher grounds, he did not think that it would satisfy the bystanders. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Edinburgh had given several bold challenges to the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government, and asked several vigorous and sonorous questions. and called on the right hon. Baronet to reply to them. It seemed to him that the advantage to the Government in such a debate as this, extending over six or seven nights, and embracing seven hours each night, was that out of the multitude of questions put to them, they might answer what they chose. He did not think that the right hon. Baronet could enter into the question of the Irish Church in a debate like the present. But they were—"has the Irish Church accomplished its mission, or can it? Is it associated in the minds of the Irish people with foreign usurpation—with the triumph of one race over another? It be so associated is the association correct? And if incorrect, can it be annihilated? Is it responsible for the unhappiness of the people, and insecurity to property which we find in that country? And if we destroy it, shall we have a reasonable and fair chance of putting a better state of things in its place?" Unless they could answer these questions in the affirmative, they could not face the present state of feeling with reference to the Church of 1260 Ireland. He should be anxious to meet the question on these grounds, but feared that from the want of nerve and practice in addressing the House he should not be able to do it justice. The right Gentleman the Member for Edinburgh gave an historical disquisition concerning Ireland, and asked were they prepared to deny that, for the last 250 years the Church had not fulfilled its mission? He must protest against the injustice, the unfairness, and he might add the shallowness of limiting the question to a period of 250 years. If the right hon. Gentleman chose to look back at all to the old almanack he should have commenced with the introduction of Christianity into Ireland. [Laughter.] Hon. Gentleman might laugh, but it only showed their ignorance of their own history. He wanted only the fairest, widest, and amplest, discussion. Theirs was the superficialness, of ignorance and unfairness. He was not going to enter into a discussion of the early history of Ireland—he would soon pass from the fifth to the nineteenth century. He would say that if they entered into the discussion at all, they should begin from the arrival of that apostle of Christianity, whose name though often sneered at, was religiously cherished by a religious peasantry. ["Name."] When he talked of the apostle of Ireland, he thought it was scarcely necessary to name him. Were they, the upholders of the Catholic faith, to be told by a Scotch Member, and reminded by an English Member, that it was St. Patrick introduced Christianity into Ireland? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Edinburgh passed in review over one century of the history of the Irish Church, and as his side was taunted with shrinking from the discussion of the Irish Church, he would mention another century, the twelfth century, which was not mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Edinburgh. He wished that that right hon. Gentleman had with his historical information alluded to the bearings of the twelfth century on the destiny of Ireland, pointed out how lawless passion, the lust of conquest, and ecclesiastical tyranny, had united to produce that unhappy Union, the bull of Adrian, the invasion of Henry, the landing of Strongbow, and the subjugation of Ireland; and explained how it was that into Catholic Ireland, England introduced foreign domination, and foreign Popery—he said Popery as dis- 1261 tinct from Catholicism. He would ask the hon. Gentleman opposite to meet him on this subject. He upheld the Irish Church, not because it was the Church of the Reformation—not because it was the tie of the Union—all these would not induce him to uphold it—but, because if it were annihilated to morrow, the poor of Ireland would not be in the least benefited, and the tone of public opinion and public feeling would be deteriorated, and because there was in that Church a spirit of nationality essential to the welfare of Ireland, for in Popery, as distinct from Gallicanism, there was an anti-national spirit adverse to the welfare of the State. The right hon. Gentleman said, that the Irish Church was responsible for the attacks which had been made on the Roman Catholic religion. Before this Debate concluded, he hoped some of the hon. Gentlemen opposite would be able to tell him who first invented, and in what publication were the words "surpliced ruffians" first used. The hon. and gallant Member for Marylebone told them last night that some sensible old ladies, relatives of his, had declared that every member of the Roman Catholic Church would be lost, and that the chance of the members of the Established Church would be almost as bad. If that had been said by relatives of any Member on this side, would it not be denounced as a proof of their intolerance and bigotry? He hoped that though these were the opinions of the elderly ladies of Scotland, the younger members of society there to whom the hon. Member for Pontefract alluded last night, were not influenced by such bigotry. He would allude to the real grievances of the peasantry of Ireland, and would state one or two facts which he knew to have occurred. He wished that hon. Members would at this period of the Debate throw away the froth, and come to the liquor, as he was corning. He used a homely simile. The first and greatest evil which the poor of Ireland—the frieze-coated poor—endured he was now speaking from practical experience, and of what had occurred in Limerick and Clare—was the Poor-law. Hon. Gentlemen connected with that part of the country might contradict him if they could. The difficulty of collecting the Poor-rate harassed the poor man, and great good might have been done last Session if half the attention had been paid to the Poor-law that 1262 had been paid to the Arms Bill on the other side of the House. At the first institution of the Limerick Board of Guardians collectors of rates were appointed, but the number of months within which it was necessary that the rates should be collected was not named. In addition to that they awarded too low a per-centage to the collectors, and the consequence was, that the class of people to which the collectors belonged were spared, and a large amount of rate was left outstanding, whilst the poor wretched cottier and small tenant were harassed by the collection. That was one cause of grievance in Ireland, and hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House would admit, that that constantly corning upon the poor man was a grievance tar beyond all the other grievances which public orators were in the habit of attributing to the existence of an alien aristocracy and an alien Church. The next practical grievance of the poor man was the present state of the medical charities in Ireland. The whole system of dispensaries in that country required the most anxious consideration and attention. The next grievance was the little progress which the Board of Works had made there; and he regretted to learn that the Government had found it necessary to curtail this Board. Well, he should derive a little hope from that. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said, they did not mean to curtail the Board; and he hoped that, in the present prosperous state of the revenue, they would endeavour to increase the grant. Another grievance experienced by the peasantry was the heavy exactions to which they were subjected in the shape of tolls in taking the agricultural produce to the markets. Now, he had named four things, which, from his own observation and experience, he knew to have been felt more grievously, and to have pressed more heavily upon the poor frieze-coats of Ireland—for it was of them he spoke—and they were the largest and most important portion of Her Majesty's subjects in the country—than any others that could be named. He was glad to find that hon. Gentlemen opposite had received his remarks with regard to the poor, without contradiction, and with seeming sympathy and approval. As to the Resolution of the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell), as far as the House was concerned, it was practically carried, for the House might be deemed 1263 at this time in Committee on the affairs of Ireland. If upon a division the noble Lord's motion should be lost, as he felt confident that it would, it would be a fair representation of the state of opinion in Ireland towards those who brought it forward. The Whigs were never subject to a greater delusion than when they fancied that the Irish peasantry cared one farthing about them. There were many, very many of them, well acquainted with the truth, that the real welfare and happiness of man depended more upon himself and less upon a change of Government than hon. Gentlemen who were in the habit of addressing large public assemblies, were willing to allow. They looked back to the time when the Whigs were in office and felt that little I was then done for the poor; nothing, indeed, except the Loan Societies Bill, and that Tithe Act, which, coupled as st was with the fatal appropriation Clause, was not only a burning shame upon their brow, but a light to show what were their motives at this moment. The only way in which they interested the poor whilst in office was, by letting out the prisoners from the gaols. He alluded to the administration of Lord Normanby, for he begged distinctly to state that the administration of Lord Fortescue was not disgraced by any such miserable exhibitions. Now when they knew that the Irish peasant wanted faith in the law: that, in fact, he looked above the law; that he was accustomed to act on the spur of the moment rather than on any settled principle, unless they understood the extent to which those feelings prevailed, they could not perceive the deep and lasting injury that the Lord Lieutenant did to the poor—how much he was their enemy, and how short-lived and ridiculous was the popularity which he had courted at so high a price. From practical experience he would say, that he never knew any public man proceed so recklessly, so carelessly, and so profligately, he might say, as that nobleman. Why the Whigs had practically admitted this by themselves recalling him. The noble Lord (Lord J. Russell), and the Gentlemen sitting near him, might fancy, that by bringing forward the present motion, they had made a good party move; but he suspected that the views expressed on both sides the House in the course of this Debate had induced them to alter that opinion. The 1264 statements made on that side were in vindication of law, moderation, and wisdom, whilst amongst the noble Lord's Friends there was nothing but the greatest possible confusion and discord; it was chaos come again, the only one point of agreement being, that they should attempt as far as possible to turn out the Tories; and if they did not do that, which he knew they could not, who would they have in their places? He told the noble Lord that it was useless for him with his opinions now to hope to form a Whig Government. The Anti-Corn-Law League was something, the Repealers were something, but the Whigs everything in the time of the Reform Bill, prostituted themselves to become anything, and now were nothing. The Anti-corn-Law League was something; it had a principle; the Repeal party, the Roman Catholic party, and the Radical party, were all something, because they had principles; but you Whigs—you miserable Whigs, still decking features that can no more attract a stated public, and fancying that you possess the charms of younger and better days, are the objects of that just derision which belongs to those unfortunate public characters who survive alike their beauty and their reputation. The hon. Member for Cork had told the Irish people not to trust to the English Parliament; he (Mr. S. O'Brien) re-echoed that advice. The hon. and learned Member for Cork also recommended Ireland to trust to herself; and in that he thoroughly agreed with him. They might annihilate the Church, they might sever the connection between the two countries; but he would tell them and the people of Ireland, that it was with nations as with individuals, that prosperity and happiness could not by any law be thrust upon them. That must be effected by every rank and class in society co-operating to teach and to practise order, subordination to the law, patient industry, a high tone of public faith and feeling. That alone would make a nation great and happy; while insubordination, agitation, though peaceful, and the summoning together of people from their ordinary course of employment, though strictly legal, would leave the nation where they found it, discontented and unhappy.
§ Sir Thomas Wilde
thought it was necessary to call the attention of the House to 1265 what was the real question before it, and which he was inclined to think had been somewhat obscured by the speech of the hon. Gentleman who had last spoken, however good that speech might have been. The Motion of the noble Lord was, that the House resolve itself into a Committee to consider the State of Ireland, and he thought it must have occurred to whomsoever had paid attention to what had passed in Ireland lately, that all question was precluded as to whether it were fitting such a motion should be presented to the House. He did not mean that Ireland had presented any new state, but that she had continued to be for the last year in a state so much resembling that unfortunate condition in which she had stood for a long period before, as to cast upon Parliament the imperative duty of most seriously considering her situation. Among the complaints of Ireland one was, that that House was indifferent to her real complaints and her real distress. While he thought that her condition had created an imperative demand upon the attention of the House, yet, considering the patient attention which the House had bestowed upon this debate, and which the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government had paid from the beginning to the end, he must repel the accusation of want of attention to Ireland, on the present occasion. Complaints had been made of the length of the debate; but he did not think, considering the present agitated state of Ireland, that any time could be too long that was occupied in hearing what Members had to communicate from their experience and knowledge of her condition, as their suggestions for the remedy of the evils under which she was suffering. He had said that Ireland did not at the present moment, nor had during the past year, so far as he was aware, exhibited any new symptoms. Lamentable it was, when they considered the character of that country in regard to her soil, possessing every advantage almost that nature could bestow, and when they considered also the nature of her inhabitants, and the eminent persons in every department she had from time to time produced, lamentable it was to see that she was yet a suffering and distressed nation. It had surely become important to notice whether the evils under which she had lately suffered were new, or of that common character which had attached to her for a long period. If there should be found to be one common cause of the evil under 1266 which she suffered, it surely was imperative that the House should ascertain and well consider what was the course of policy by which she had been governed during the long period she had exhibited the same symptoms. It was quite obvious that the system of government which had been pursued had most unhappily failed in producing the only objects of Government—peace, good order, contentment, and prosperity. It was material to consider how that country had been governed, in order to see if there existed these results of good government. The result would show the fitness of a party to govern, and the soundness or unsoundness of the policy of a Government. If it were said that the evil arose in any part from the character of the inhabitants, he knew nothing more essential as evidence of the fitness or unfitness of a Government than to inquire into their ability—having had a reasonable period allowed to accommodate their Government to the character of its inhabitants. A Government which could not do that existed with little advantage to the country over which it presided. Whether that course of policy which had prevailed for a long time in Ireland was adapted to the character of the inhabitants, and had produced happiness, prosperity, obedience to the law, and contentment, no doubt could be entertained. In a distracted state of Ireland, the Union was proposed as a remedy for most of the evils that oppressed the country, Had the Union answered its destined purpose? If it had failed, could there be much difficulty in discovering why it had failed? Various schemes had been tried to allay the agitation in Ireland, and various attempts had been made with a view to ameliorate the condition of its inhabitants. All remedies had been tried but one. Good faith and justice had not been tried. The Union was not carried out in a manner likely to afford satisfaction to Ireland. The best of her sons, the most eminent of her patriots, had denounced that measure as having been accomplished by fraud, corruption, and intrigue. That the object of the Union was the good of England and Ireland—that the good of England was essentially connected with the maintenance of it nobody doubted; but neither was it doubted that by whatever means the Union was carried, the interests of Ireland were not properly protected, and that justice was not done to her. One of the pledged results of the Union was Catholic Emancipation, yet for twenty-nine years was it withheld. What Ireland com- 1267 plained of was, that there had been an Union but in name; the promises made to her in the way of inducement had not been fulfilled; and that when Emancipation had been afterwards conceded, not under a sense of justice—it had not been rendered voluntarily; but the Government had felt itself compelled to grant it, in order to avoid evils they were afraid, and justly and properly afraid to meet. But Emancipation, like the Union, was in a great measure but a name. The Union had not given to Ireland Emancipation, and had not given to Ireland, that fair share of influence and authority in the management of her own affairs, which her station and importance entitled her to expect. The value of Emancipation, as had often been stated, consisted not in the removal of incapacity to hold public office and possess public trust, it was expected to bestow a fair participation in the honours and trusts of the State. Ireland stood in the anomalous position of having an Established Church, the members of which did not constitute one seventh part of her population. It was surely material that a serious view should be taken of the complaints that Ireland was urging, and that the causes should be ascertained which kept her in the state he had referred to, and that the Government should be called upon to say what were the remedies which, under existing circumstances, they proposed to apply to evils of such long continuance. Surely this is not a call prematurely made upon the Government. Ireland had been under the management of the political party which now formed the Government for a long period, and he was entitled to say, that what Ireland now was, they had made it. It was under their system of policy, that Ireland had existed for a long time. With the exception of the comparatively short period when the Whig Government held office, the Tory party had had the control of that Kingdom. It was with them, therefore, that the responsibility rested of applying a system of government applicable to the character and condition of the country—it was to them, the want of judgment, in not giving advantage to her resources, and the means of happiness and prosperity, was attributable. When the Whig Government were in office, but likely soon to be removed, it was well known that Ireland was the chief difficulty which the right hon. Baronet felt be would have to contend with when he assumed the reins of power. Ample thought and consideration, therefore, 1268 must have been bestowed upon the state of Ireland, and the present Government, when they came into office, were expected—and justly expected—to legislate for Ireland. Two measures only had passed. While in opposition, as was justly stated the other night, the other side were active, constant, unremitting, and most vigorous in opposing all the measures which the Whig Government proposed in favour of Ireland. It had been complained that the Whig Government had done so little for Ireland. Now, he challenged any one to show that the Whig Government had power to do more than they had done. That their wishes were to do more—that their wishes were to act up to the principles which the noble Lord had avowed, and upon the policy he had detailed in his speech on the present Motion, no man could deny. The Whig Government had been taunted with withdrawing the Appropriation Clause. Had they voluntarily withdrawn it? Had they, as a matter of choice, forborne to carry it into full effect, or had they found themselves unable to carry it, as they had found themselves unable to carry other measures they deemed necessary for the public good by the effective resistance of the Opposition? During all that time, the Members of the present Government, then in Opposition, had continued to display the same spirit towards Ireland, which had been manifested by them before, in the years of her sorrow and distress and of theirs. What, then, could have been expected upon their return to power? It is clear that the most reasonable security for the peace of the country was the confidence reposed in the Government of the country. Could the Irish people receive back the present Government in the just expectation that their Administration would be carried on in a manner more consonant with the spirit of equity, and the claims of legislative justice, than their former policy had manifested. What were the taunts that were thrown out upon the concessions the Whigs had made to Ireland? Was it not notorious that the cry of the party was that concession had reached its limit, that no further concession could be made with safety to the Constitution, with safety to the Church, or with just regard to the interests of England? One feature belonged to the Government which had displaced the Whigs which could not be mistaken. Two of the most active and able Members of Earl Grey's Government were made Secretaries 1269 of State in the present, but they were right bon. Gentlemen who declined further to co-operate with the late Ministry, because their measures were too favourable towards Ireland. Unfortunately for that country the only Members of the former Whig Cabinet who were admitted to form part of the present Administration were those who were conspicuous for their differences with the Whigs respecting their intentions towards Ireland. When, therefore, the present Government was formed, great anxiety must have existed as to whether those difficulties would not continue which it was supposed embarrassed the right hon. Baronet with respect to the Government of Ireland. What is the experience of the two years which have passed? That Ireland continues now as she had repeatedly been before—in a state which they were taught to believe was the verge of civil war. It had been announced in a manner perfectly intelligible, that Ireland was in such a state, that most serious apprehensions must be entertained for her peace and safety. And should they he told, under these circumstances, with Ireland in such a state, that the Members of the late Government were acting wrongly and erroneously in asking the House to review the affairs of that country, and to consider what had been the policy which had been acted upon and was likely to continue? It was said, that the matter was brought forward at an improper time; but all who knew anything of the political history of the country, knew that never had a motion been made for enquiry into the affairs of the country—a matter which naturally arose out of a disturbed state of things—but the Government of the time had proclaimed it to be a motion out of time. But was Ireland in such a state as to give a choice of time. What had they to wait for? Is there a reasonable prospect of a termination of the present state of affairs? The time which upon all occasions had been thought proper to bring forward a motion of the kind was when the country was in a state of agitation, when a system of policy had been pursued, incapable of relieving the country from the evils under which she was suffering. The Motion was, moreover, a constitutional and intelligible one; it asked the House and the country whether the policy pursued towards Ireland was wise in its principle and salutary in its effects? It asked, whether is that kingdom wisely ruled or woefully misgoverned? It was a 1270 Motion perfectly proper both in regard to time and object. Hon. Gentlemen taunt the noble Lord with anticipating that the Motion would be rejected. Be it so; the inquiry was not therefore the less imperative, nor were the facts which it elicited the less interesting. If the majority of the House were of opinion that the policy adopted, and likely to be continued, was good policy, every one interested in Ireland must be better satisfied that after such a convulsive period as last year, the house had had an opportunity of expressing an opinion on the subject. Now, if Ireland was suffering from the long continuance of specific causes—if the state of the Irish Church and of the Irish representation—if these and other evils that afflicted that country were of long continuance, how long, he would ask, were they to continue? The deplorable situation of the Sister Kingdom was manifest. Was it her fault, or was it yours? In either case have you a remedy at hand? If you have, when do you mean to apply it? Could it for one moment be pretended, that past experience did not show, that the course which had hitherto prevailed had produced the unhappiness that now afflicted Ireland? Did that course of policy which you had pursued so long, and which had hitherto failed, present any prospect of answering better in future? Had Ireland received satisfaction upon any subject, which, by any reasonable man, could be considered to be a redress of the evils that afflict her? it was on all sides admitted that the Irish Church was at the bottom of all the unhappiness which Ireland suffered. That it was an eternal source of hatred and discord as in the nature of things it must be. Was any remedy proposed to be applied? If they continued the Irish Established Church, how could they expect that the remedies addressed to other evils could result in giving satisfaction so long as this great evil remained unredressed. What was there in the present condition of Ireland which should lead the Government to suppose that any remedial measures could be successful while that leading grievance remained unredressed? There is no ground for such expectation; he would say, therefore, that in proposing other measures to meet the difficulties that existed, they would wholly fail. Every one was agreed in the necessity of the maintenance of the Union for the sake of the peace and prosperity of the two countries. The present Government have declared that they were ready 1271 for civil war rather than repeal the Union. Pray, might he ask, if Ireland was so circumstanced that they could not grant her that which she deemed essential for the peace and prosperity of the majority of her inhabitants, and that they were prepared to maintain the Union by a civil war, might he ask how long it was to be carried on? For what period of time did they suppose that the Christian inhabitants of Great Britain would endure a state of civil war? Ireland said, "Give us our due share of influence and authority in the Government. Do not keep an Establishment in the condition in which it now is, so wholly unsuited to the object of an Establishment. If you tell us that there are circumstances in the Union which prevent you granting us our just demands, then we have a right to ask what is to be the result? Repeal the Union—that Union ought no longer to exist than for the happiness and prosperity of both countries." Ireland says, "You have pretended to form a partnership, but you monopolise all power, and when we call upon you to do us justice, and give us a due share in the prosperity of our joint affairs, or terminate the compact between us, you tell us you are prepared for civil war rather than dissolve the partnership." If this partnership was to continue only on these terms, then that agitation so much complained of, must also continue, that agitation which you once feared, and under the influence of which fear, you granted Emancipation. if (said Sir T. Wilde) you do come to civil war, will the English people shed the blood of the Irish for the purpose of maintaining that Union because it may be of advantage to England? What would be the character of England in the eyes of Europe during the continuance of a civil war arising out of the claims such as Ireland urges? Why did you grant Catholic Emancipation? Because you could not withhold it. Why do you wait until such a period, before you enter into a serious consideration of the justice of her present demands—before you enter into consideration whether it is necessary for the preservation of the Union, with advantage to both nations, that you should withhold from her those measures of justice which she so imperiously requires? I do not apprehend that there is any real desire on the part of any of the Irish people for a disunion of the Empire. Beyond all doubt, however, much as the advantages of a local legislature and a resident aristocracy may be exaggerated, 1272 Ireland must derive advantages from a Union with England more than commensurate with all those advantages. But if the Government are not prepared to show how Ireland can be put in a state of prosperity, consistently with the maintenance of the Union, by an alteration of their present policy, it is most important, that the country should consider what are the results likely to flow from such a state of things." The alterations proposed by Her Majesty's Government appeared to him much too inconsiderable to contribute to any such result. The want of confidence of the people of Ireland in the present Government was of itself' sufficient to prevent any such measures being attended with the benefits Her Majesty's Ministers appeared disposed to expect to flow from them. When speaking of a want of confidence, he did not allude to that portion of the people who might be called the "last remnant of a dying faction," but he referred to that large portion of the people of Ireland who were interested mainly in the subjects of complaint. That portion of the people there was no reason whatever to suppose could entertain confidence in the present Government. The evil, therefore, was, that what was tendered by the present Government must be received with suspicion, and that less contentment was likely to flow from it than if the same measures had been offered by those in whom the people had more confidence. Now, in this state of things, what had been the results of the Ministerial policy for the last year? Ireland had been the theatre of meetings which they were led to suppose had excited the greatest alarm. Did the Government entertain alarm at those meetings? He presumed they did not. The hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. O'Connell), who was the means of calling these meetings professed, from the first, that he did not mean to countenance any breach of the law—and he took care that none should be committed. If, notwithstanding this the Government—in Ireland and in England—were, nevertheless alarmed at the meetings which were held—and if these meetings were regarded as illegal, as in the other House of Parliament they were declared to be—what had been the policy and course pursued by the Government? Could any man imagine why, if such was really the opinion entertained of those meetings, the Government did not interfere to stop them? Did the House ask him how this could be 1273 done? Why how, he would in return demand, had the Government stopped them at last? Had they any difficulty? Did Mr. O'Connell manifest the sincerity of his previous declaration of entirely peaceable intentions when the Government attempted to stop the meetings? Did he show that his declaration was inconsistent with his real intention? If these meetings put a nation in alarm—if it be imputed to them, that though professedly held in order to consider public grievances and obtain remedies for them, they were in truth held for purposes hostile to the peace of the country—why, he would ask, did the Government permit them to continue for nine months? The moment the Government issued their proclamation, at that moment they ceased, the individual who had been instrumental in calling them, felt it his duty to use his utmost exertions to repair the fault of the Government, to make up for their delay, and to prevent that public mischief which the remissness of the Government, if the previous meetings had been really dangerous, had very nearly brought upon the country. From the moment, then, that the Government issued its proclamation, the object sought by it was obtained. What reason, then, had the Government to suppose, that if such a proclamation had been issued earlier it might not have saved all those apprehensions which had been experienced from the holding of these meetings? Was it to delay your hand until you could catch a political enemy? You were willing to permit the spirit of rebellion to arise to any height—meanwhile preparing your troops to put it down by violence when it should break out into open acts—you were willing to permit discontent to engender itself in the minds of millions—and hazard all the consequences of its continuance and its contagious effects, merely that you might have the opportunity of sending your reporters to catch an inflammatory and unguarded sentence uttered here and there by a political opponent against you. Was that a dignified or a decorous course of policy for a Government to pursue? I apprehend, that there has never been any Government more sensitive than the present of the danger to result from public meetings, and if they really had felt alarm at these meetings, as being incompatible with the public safety, they might have prohibited them from the first. What was to prevent them? Did they do anything which would lead the people, of Ireland to suppose that these 1274 meetings were objectionable? On the contrary, the acquiescence of the Government by inaction, induced them to believe, that the meetings were perfectly legal. What was the effect? The inducing them unguardedly and unsuspiciously into attending them, when, but for this conduct on the part of the Government, they never would have attended them? Looking at the law as it had been laid down by the Judges of the Queen's Bench in Ireland, what an awful responsibility, what serious complaints might be urged against the Government, when it was laid clown from that Bench, that a man who attended the last meeting might be taken to have adopted all the meetings that had been held before for the last nine months, thereby bringing upon himself an accumulated responsibility, that no one would have incurred but for the conduct of the Government? A man witnessing these meetings for a long period unobstructed, believing that they were perfectly innocent, was induced to attend one of them; and then, when arraigned at the bar of justice, he found himself charged with the adoption of all the violent expressions which had been used at all the previous meetings—expressions which subjected the party to a very serious prosecution. This was a matter of very serious complaint against the Government. From what had taken place, the inference by the Irish public would be, that all this was permitted to go on with all the hazard of consequences for the purpose of getting hold of a certain few individuals—perhaps one among them was their great and only object, in the hope that he might fall within the trammels of the law, and become a victim to a resentment arising from a long course of political hostility. He could not comprehend the course which was taken by the Government in respect to the issuing of the Proclamation. It was announced that the Clontarf meeting was to be the last of the great meetings held for Repeal. It was, however, stated that the Government had reason to believe that that meeting was not to be the last. How came it, then, that the Lord Lieutenant and the Lord Chancellor happened to be at that particular moment absent from Ireland? If it was believed by the Government that five or six meetings more were to be held—in such a state of things, ought the Government of Ireland to have been left for the space of more than a week without the presence of either the Lord 1275 Lieutenant or the Lord Chancellor? Ought both these high official personages to have been in England at such a time? They had received information that a great meeting was about to be held of a most dangerous kind—ought they to have received that information in England or in Ireland? Was it showing a proper degree of watchfulness and care, for the protection of the Irish people, when they anticipated that such a meeting was to take place? Could it be excused for a moment? Was it consistent with the proper vigilance on the part of the Government, that no Member of that Government, who was competent to act, was in Ireland for a whole week, at a time of this supposed great danger? But look at the last meeting. Information was said to have arrived in England that a Repeal meeting was about to be held on the following Sunday at Clontarf, and that they had procured a document calling that meeting, which somebody had issued, containing certain military terms. On Monday the Government took this document into consideration—that meeting was adjourned till Tuesday. Then came another hand-bill from Ireland, in which there occurred a change in certain of the terms used—the word "troops" having been changed into "groups," and the question then raised by the Ministers was, whether they ought or not to interfere and stop the Clontarf meeting. Day after day the consultations went on, and at last the Lord Lieutenant and the Lord Chancellor were sent away to Ireland, not with any proclamation, but with discretionary instructions. The Ministers could not profess not to know the character of the meeting to be held, and of the persons who would attend it. They had full means of knowledge. How ridiculous, then was it to say that, having these hand-bills before them, the Ministers were unable, without further explanation, to make up their minds for several days, and it was not until the close of the week that they determined upon their course in regard to a meeting which, according to their professed conviction, was one full of danger. Did ever a Government upon such an occasion stand before the public in so extraordinary a light? They knew that the parties calling the meeting had declared their determination not to violate the law, and the people, it was also well known, did not contemplate violence. Nor did he really believe that the Ministers conscientiously expected any violence or outbreak. An appearance of alarm was, however, so be assumed; but, 1276 as if to show how little real apprehension was entertained, it was not until Saturday evening that a proclamation was issued by the Government restraining the Clontarf meeting. The House were to be told, too, forsooth, that the Irish Government found great difficulty in preparing the Proclamation, which he should think, as was said to Mr. Addison when he complained of great difficulty in writing a despatch, that any attorney's clerk would draw up in ten minutes. That was another excuse. What was the result? The meeting was prevented; there was not the slightest appearance of alarm, or indication of an intention to violate the law, and the meeting was prevented by Mr. O'Connell without the least outbreak or breach of the peace of any kind. The Government had thus full experience that the professions of peace made by Mr. O'Connell were not colourable; that his professions of his intention to obey the law were sincere. He should have thought, considering the way in which the Government had stood by, that after having seen what had been the effect of the proclamation, the soundest policy would have been to have rested content, without instituting subsequent prosecutions. They might have waited to have seen whether there was any further intention to agitate that country in a manner dangerous to its peace. But no; after nine months acquiescence, they made up their minds to prosecute Mr. O'Connell; and now, when that prosecution was arraigned, was impugned, and when their policy was challenged, as unfitted and unsuited to Ireland, the House was asked what law had they (the Government) violated? The right hon. Gentleman (Sir James Graham) said, "I am not defending a Coercion Bill." Had the right hon. Gentleman any objection to defend it? He was a party to its having passed; he was a Member of the Government which passed it. He should have thought, that as the right hon. Baronet was a party to the passing of that Bill, he would have been prepared to defend it. It ought not to be forgotten, that the Whigs came into office after a long course of Tory misgovernment; they could not remove in a short time, the evils which had been fostered for many years. The right hon. Baronet had, however, said, that he was not called upon to defend a Coercion Bill. True, but he (Sir T. Wilde) would venture to say, that it was much easier to defend a Coercion Bill than the late prosecution. He would venture 1277 to say, on the authority of every man who had considered the subject, that a Coercion Bill, or an Arms Bill, suspending a part of the Constitution, and, to a certain extent, encroaching upon the liberties of the people, but which being only a temporary measure would expire, and inflict upon the Constitution no farther wound, was less objectionable than to stretch and strain the law, as in the late prosecution, and so to leave it hereafter to be used, on the warrant of the example of the present Government, for the utter destruction of public liberty. Look at the various temporary measures, including the Arms Bill, He hoped that Ireland would be the better for them; but better or worse they would come to an end, and the general liberties of the country remain unhurt. But the late prosecution would remain as an evil precedent for any tyrannical government, as a pattern for future Ministers with much worse intentions than he was disposed to attribute to the right hon. Baronet. If Mr. O'Connell had uttered seditious speeches—if, by his writings, or by other means, he had excited the people to discontent and disaffection in a manner not warranted by law, let him be indicted for it. If he had attempted to overawe the Government, let him be indicted for it. He was amenable for his acts; but it was most improper to twist them all into an indictment for a conspiracy, and to establish a precedent, which at some future period might be employed to prevent legal meetings for the redress of public grievances. The Solicitor General had said last night that some such indictment had been prepared during the Government of his noble Friend (Lord John Russell), but his hon. and learned Friend was a most dexterous advocate. It was true, that the same form of indictment had been in use for many years; but all Westminster Hall admitted that it was a disgrace to the law and that it was oftener used for bad purposes than for the punishment of real guilt. That form of indictment had been employed for a long course of time, but never had it been applied to such a purpose as on the late occasion. The indictment prepared during the late Government was nut for constructive conspiracy, by which one man might be convicted for the acts of another, for speeches which he had never heard, and for paragraphs in newspapers he had never read, but was for open acts of conspiracy followed by acts of gross illegality. He appealed to the Attorney General whether 1278 this form of indictment, applied to the late prosecution, had not been stigmatised by the profession as long as he had known it. Whoever attended to the form of that indictment, followed up by the law as laid down by the Lord Chief Justice, would be fully aware of its character. It charged Mr. O'Connell with having conspired with certain other persons to produce discontent and disaffection; that he conspired with others to call meetings, and by the exhibition of physical force to overawe the Legislature. The law laid down by the Lord Chief Justice was, that persons associated and combined to effect by their joint efforts an illegal object, or by illegal means to effect a legal object, were guilty of conspiracy. He (Sir T. Wilde) did not except to that law; he did not except to the application of that law; but he complained that the summing-up of the learned Judge, left the Jury in a state of perfect confusion, as to what were illegal means or illegal objects. Have the people of England, he would ask, a right to meet to discuss grievances? Could grievances be discussed with any effect, without exciting discontent? Was it the privilege of the people to meet only for the excitement of content and affection? Discontent and disaffection might, it was true, be excited by illegal means, and it required great care on the part of the Judge to point out to the Jury, the limits between the degree of discontent and disaffection that might properly and legally be excited within the privilege of Englishmen, and essential to the safety of constitutional liberty, and between the degree of discontent and disaffection that might not properly and legally be excited. He stated in the face of his hon. and learned Friends, the Law Officers of the Government, that the indictment against Mr. O'Connell was a perfect indictment for high treason. It charged him with conspiring to call a meeting of great numbers, and by the exhibition of physical force to overawe the Legislature, and thus to procure an alteration of the laws of the country. On the trial of Lord George Gordon, Lord Mansfield said, in so many words, "to attempt by numbers to overawe the Legislature, to procure a change in the law, is High Treason." In the case of Mr. O'Connell, it was followed by Overt Acts, so that it was a complete and perfect indictment for High Treason. What had been done regarding the Poor-law? What had been said and done on that subject by hon. 1279 Members, and by one of the leading Journals of the country? What had not been asserted in placards, and in speeches by Mr. Oastler? Was it not to excite the ill-will of Her Majesty's subjects, and to set one class against another? Why were not they indicted? Read the articles of the Times newspaper—read Mr. Oastler's speeches. They were as violent as could be made, and some Members of this House, as ardent as they were sincere, had not scrupled to follow the example. The law under which Mr. O'Connell had been indicted, would have convicted every one of them of conspiracy. Look again at what had been said on the Slave-trade, and on various other public measures, where the ill will of one class of subjects was excited against the other. Mr. O'Connell had said to the people of Ireland—The people of England have unkind feelings towards you; they are not disposed to consult your interests; they have oppressed you for a long series of years, and they have no sympathy with you, and do not legislate for your benefit.Had he a right to say all that? Had he a right to show the people of Ireland that they ought to petition Parliament for a Repeal of the Union? Had he a right to use arguments? Why, it was setting the people of Ireland against the people of England. He is indicted; and what does the Lord Chief Justice tell the Jury?—It is true that the indictment contains certain overt acts: but not one of those overt acts need be proved, for the crime consisted in the agreement, and not in the acts.The Chief Justice went on to say:—You may infer an agreement if you see persons acting in common; if you find a newspaper writing an article in favour of Mr. O'Connell, and reporting his speeches, you may use that against the newspaper to prove that it is conspiring with Mr. O'Connell, and you may use Mr. O'Connell's speech as evidence that he has conspired with the newspaper.Nobody can approve of the language of Mr. O'Connell; no man can approve of the meetings he called, because they did not appear necessary to effect a good and bona fide object. They were undoubtedly dangerous, not from any intention on his part to break the peace, but from the fact, 1280 that so many were assembled that no man could say the public peace might not be broken. He disapproved of Mr. O'Connell's references to old stories of English oppression, for the purpose of leading to the conclusion that the Irish ought to obtain the Repeal of the Union, just in the same way that he disapproved of the references by others, to Fox's Martyrs, for the purpose of raising a prejudice against the Roman Catholics. One was just as unfair as the other; but nobody had thought of indicting the gentlemen who had quoted Fox's Book of Martyrs, depicting the horrors of Popery and of Popish persecutions. What England had to beware of, was the manner in which the law had been violated and perverted, which hereafter might be drawn into precedent, for the purpose of stifling the public voice when making a just and constitutional demand. An indictment for meeting to excite discontent and disaffection, was most dangerous, since under these vague terms, it gave to Government a power which could be used for the worst purposes, and threw upon it the gravest responsibility. He had referred to that part of the indictment which charged an attempt to overawe the Legislature, and it seemed to him as gross a perversion of the law as could be imagined. Lord George Gordon assembled 20,000 persons in St. George's Fields, and they came in a body to the lobbies of the Houses of Parliament, and personally threatened the Members, so that the House could not proceed with its ordinary business. He was indicted for an attempt to overawe the Legislature, and in that case, there was an apprehension of personal violence; but in the case of Mr. O'Connell, who could allege that there was any such danger? The Channel intervened, and Parliament was not sitting. An apprehension from physical force directed against Members was the sort of overawing of the Legislature that was contemplated. The creating a fear of distant rebellion was not an overawing of the Legislature. He was ready to meet any man upon that point, and with regard to overawing the Legislature by an exhibition of numbers, he begged to ask the right hon. Baronet (Sir Robert Peel) for what reasons he had proposed and passed the Act for Catholic Emancipation? Had he not brought it forward on that express ground? Could people send their opinions to meetings, and leave their bodies at home? What numbers were to be held sufficient to 1281 overawe the Legislature? Was a Lord Mayor's Show, or a Queen's Coronation an illegal Meeting on that account? The numbers must be so great as to excite alarm in reasonably firm minds. An hon. Member who had spoken with so much eloquence last night, had asked, what alteration of a public grievance had ever been obtained but by agitation? Would Government alter that of which nobody complained? Every Government ought to be naturally conservative: for the sake of the people it should be conservative of the national and free institutions of the country: therefore it would not alter that with which the people were well contented. With great respect he thought that the right hon. Baronet had required too great a display of hostility to the existing law when he granted Catholic Emancipation; but although it was not fit to wait until rebellion was at the heels of the Minister, yet it was little short of absurd to talk of overawing the Legislature on the other side of the Channel, and at a time when Parliament was not sitting. Was the Legislature to be overawed by any thing that passed in Canada any more than in Ireland? That was not an overawing of the Legislature within the meaning of the law. The Solicitor General had stated last night that the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) had said, that he understood the original law of conspiracy applied to private conspiracy to charge men with crime. That was perfectly correct: but the noble Lord had added, that if the principle had been since extended by judge-made law, the present circumstances of society, at least, required that the law should be administered with great care. Was it not indisputable that by judge-made law, by what was called Common Law, all the rights of Englishmen might be swamped. It brought to his recollection an anecdote in Roger North's "Life of Lord Keeper Guildford." It was made a matter of complaint, he says, against King James, that he had consulted too much with Judge. Jefferies, because he was a violent man, that it was quite unnecessary, since all the King required, let it be what it might, could be done at any time by law. If a profligate Minister wished to destroy the liberties of the country, it might be accomplished merely by what was called the Common Law of the land. What had been the course pursued? He could not better describe it than he found it described in a Conservative journal in the following words:— 1282By far the most cogent objections to the prosecution of O'Connell and others' have been based upon the confused and cumulated character of the charge. If, say these objections, Mr. O'Connell had been prosecuted for alleged sedition uttered by him at some specified time and place, or at several specified times and places, and if, similarly, the other traversers had been charged merely with their own alleged words or acts at times and in places distinctly particularised, the prosecution would have been a fair and intelligible one, to which no reasonable man could have objected. But when you mass together the speeches and acts of eight or nine individuals—when you involve in one common charge these eight or nine individuals for words spoken, or things done, at meetings where sometimes one was present, sometimes another—if you charge a newspaper proprietor with the mischief done at meetings where he was not, and in the same indictment charge a popular orator with the guilt of newspaper articles, which are not alleged to have been written, or even read by him, you make up so confused and worthless an accusation as ought not to be brought against public men in this country of free institutions and exact law, and you make an accusation by which, even if you obtained a verdict, you obtain no moral conviction of the traversers at their country's bar. We must confess, that with no predisposition in favour of the accused, we have thought that there was no little force in such representations as this; and we have wished that it had been the part of the Crown to prosecute each individual for a specific offence, rather than to prosecute the whole for an offence made up of the aggregate of the sayings and doings of all of them.He (Sir T. Wilde) repeated, that every one of the acts used in this circuitous way, in order to prove the supposed conspiracy, were acts which might have formed the subjects of distinct indictments. If the design had been to put down agitation, and to punish Mr. O'Connell for illegal acts, that might have been accomplished without any such form of indictment as that which had been employed. Each individual might be made responsible for his own acts. When they recollected that the press existed only by giving details of interesting events, that it gave reports of speeches which were vio- 1283 lent, as well as those which were pacific, it was not every violent speech so reported which would affect the public safety. The editors commented upon the speeches, and the comment went with them. He said, that in what had taken place—when he heard a charge of conspiracy brought forward and supported in its legal import by evidence that persons have combined to effect legal purposes by illegal means, and when he found that these illegal means were not the speeches of each, but the speeches of one delivered in one place, and not heard by another, and the speeches of another elsewhere, never perhaps read by another, the law of conspiracy was grossly wrested, by allowing its general principle to be applied to such a case, and by permitting articles which one never wrote or read, and speeches which the other never heard, to be received in evidence against each, in order to obtain a conviction fir conspiracy. Of course, if persons in private agreed upon several modes of action to carry on their conspiracy—if at the meetings the conspirators did not admit strangers, they might prove the conspiracy by the different acts and sayings of the different persons at various times and places. They might find persons so acting like those in the O. P. riots at the theatres, wearing cards with O. P. inscribed upon them in their hats, and joining in tumultuous and disorderly interruptions of the performances. Here the O. P. in the hats showed the object. They might from these facts infer the concert, and the prior understanding to hiss; but when they said that individuals acting at a public meeting for one common object thereby gave evidence of a previous combination, and treated this as a public conspiracy, he said, that there was a perversion of the law of conspiracy. They might as well contend that if the pit united in one common hiss, they were all guilty of conspiracy. He said, that the jury here did not understand the difference between persons at public meetings making violent speeches, each acting upon his own impulses, and the necessity of believing, in order to convict of conspiracy, that each had come there by agreement. It was not necessary, in order to establish a conspiracy, to prove an actual agreement. They might find persons one day assembling with certain emblems, and uttering certain sentiments, and they might find the same, with others, assembling the next day with similar emblems, and uttering similar speeches, and hence it might reasonably be in- 1284 ferred that there had been an agreement. Here, however, the distinction had not been taken. In the first place, the Jury were told expressly that no one of the formidable acts set forth in the indictment need be proved, that the crime was perfect when there was the agreement, and then they were told that this agreement might be inferred from the acts themselves. They were told at one moment that the acts were an unnecessary part of the proof, and then they were referred back to those very acts as the ground from which the case was to be inferred. It nowhere appeared that the Jury believed it necessary to come to the conclusion, that all the persons acting together, and having one common purpose to induce one common view, were under a common agreement, to be inferred from their common acts. He said that this indictment would exclude that expression of dissatisfaction and disapprobation of the Government, which was an English right. But how had this indictment been prosecuted? He did arraign the conduct of the prosecution most seriously. He was not disposed to say anything unkind, ill-natured, or disrespectful of the hon. and learned Gentleman who filled the office of Attorney General for Ireland; but he found it his duty to urge most seriously his complaints against the conduct of that prosecution. He said that the Government were implicated in that conduct—he used the word Government, not as meaning individual responsibility, but the general responsibility of all Ministers. He wished to state everything with the utmost fairness and frankness, and in his opinion Mr. O'Connell had had no fair trial. His learned Friend the Solicitor General said last night, that this was no proper place to enter upon the discussion how far the verdict was consistent with the evidence, and he (Sir T. Wilde) had taken the liberty of cheering that declaration, and then, having said that it was improper to discuss this question in this House, his learned Friend defied any Member to get up in his place and declare that the verdict was not consistent with the evidence. He had recently heard some entirely new constitutional doctrines in that House. He was happy to see the noble Lord (Lord Stanley) in his place, because he should be happy to know where the noble Lord had learned the constitutional principle that it was indecent in any lawyer in that House to inquire into the conduct of the Judges? And then it was laid down by his learned Friend the Soli- 1285 citor General, that there were certain Acts of Parliament which the people had no right to meet and discuss. He said it with all possible respect for the noble Lord, and for his learned Friend, that more outrageous and unfounded doctrines he had never heard. Pray, what was the first duty of the House? It was to watch the administration of justice. They had once in that House—he knew not whether the form was still preserved—a Committee of Justice constantly sitting. What was that for? He said, with all respect for the noble Lord, that it was the especial duty of that House to watch the conduct of the Judges—not, indeed, indecently to arraign them for trifling matters, but in the present proceeding the public were deeply interested, and it involved the respect for justice itself. The object of a conviction, so far as it was to operate on the individual, was to regulate his future conduct, and they would never accomplish that if there were no respect entertained for the Judges. Therefore, although he admitted that it was improper incidentally in that blouse to make remarks on the conduct of the Judges, as likely to lessen the confidence in their character among those who were most frequently coining under their jurisdiction; yet he must say that in a case of this sort, where the question was, whether the Government had or had not committed a great error in this prosecution, the House must have under its consideration' the question whether the parties were properly convicted. The noble Lord and the right hon. Baronet had talked loudly of the vindication of the law—but when they set up the vindication of the law, was every mouth to be stopped which sought to show the profanation of the law?
This was not an ordinary case; there were some parts of it which he hoped would meet with a searching inquiry; they involved a suspicion, and something more than a suspicion of unfair practices. Without inquiring into the conduct of the Judges, how were they to know that the dignity of the law had been vindicated? Were they to take it for granted? The noble Lord, however, would excuse him, though he was a lawyer, for entering upon the conduct of the Judges. It was strong language to charge any Member of that House with indecency in commenting upon such conduct. Why were lawyers to be excluded from such an examination? Was it because it was supposed that they knew something about it, Mr. O'Connell's case mixed 1286 largely with the public interests. Whatever good or whatever evil had been done depended upon the character of the prosecution: if in the prosecution of Mr. O'Connell they had profaned the temple of Justice—if they had done this while accusing him of inciting the Irish people against the law, they would have incited them with infinitely greater effect by destroying the confidence of the Irish people in the administration of justice. The learned Judge who had charged the Jury had laid down a definition of the law of conspiracy, which was perfectly correct, and it received the concurrence of all his learned brethren on the Bench; but this concurrence in the statement of the law had nothing to do with what hail been laid down by the Judge in the course of summing up this case. He felt it his duty, with all possible respect, though his expression might be considered as tending to disrespect, to say that this was a most extraordinary slimming up. He would ask, whether it was not more like the speech of a counsel; whether it was not deficient in all that belonged to the proper office of the Judge—yet redundant of the duty of the counsel. He would call the right hon. Baronet's attention to this circumstance: a part of the case was a charge of uttering certain expressions with a certain intent. Well, the prosecution selected certain passages from certain speeches, and they were called upon by the defendants to read the whole of the speeches which qualified the selected passages; the question then was, what did the speech mean—would it bear the test of the sense imputed here and there? And the time of that trial was principally occupied by the reading of sentences of speeches other than what the Counsel for the Crown had read; and yet not one of those sentences, read as evidence for the defendants, was summed up by the Judge. The learned Solicitor General had got the passages printed upon paper; he read them in his reply, and as he read them the learned Judge said, "Hand that up here," and up went those several pieces of paper, and they were afterwards read to the jury. The aggravated passages—those words which were considered most violent—were read without any qualification to be found in the other parts of the speeches, and which had beers equally put in evidence.
He (Sir T. Wilde) laboured under the infirmity of believing that great injustice was done to criminals by their accusers 1287 having the last word. Let ever so powerful a speech be made for the defence, and be followed by the reply and the Judge's summing up, he would say that, in any case, but especially in one like this, if jurors had not been in the habit of hearing and analyzing speeches, and those mitigating or exculpatory paragraphs having only been read in an early part of the trial if the summing up occurred a long time—say a fortnight—after the passages softening down the objectionable phrases had been read to them, they would be forgotten. If no distinct direction had been given as to what was legitimate agitation—if no boundaries had been shown—if there was no direction how to distinguish that right which ought ever to be most narrowly watched—the right of free discussion—he would ask as to Mr. O'Connell, or any one else who addressed his countrymen over a period of eight or nine months, on subjects in which they were deeply interested, feeling as Irishmen always feel when they talked of their country, what the result would be. Look at many Members of that House. Take for instance, the noble Lord opposite—would any one out of doors dream of the high respect in which he was held in that House, when they regarded only some of his expressions. But if the Judge read those parts of a speech which were relied upon in a prosecution by the Crown, and omitted the others which qualified them, and which were equally relied upon by the defendants, what would a jury remember of them after a lapse of a fortnight? Nothing, whatever. He would pray the attention of the right hon. Baronet to the tone of the summing up of the learned Judge—to the manner in which the strong passages in the speeches were put to the jury. "The Rev. Mr. Tierney, attended at one of those meetings—did he adopt all that had gone before—but he had a little pet meeting of his own." That was the mode in which the strong passages were summed up. Was that the way to vindicate the law? Was that the mode in which justice was to be vindicated, and the dignity of the law to be preserved. He was mistaken if much did not remain to be discussed respecting that trial. He took it for granted that the verdict would not be allowed to stand without being impugned in the proper quarter. He took that to be a misdirection which was a non-direction. But that was not all—the House had been managed by some dexterity to be brought 1288 to some degree of conciliation as to the composition of the jury, which, he thought, stood in a very peculiar predicament; and he begged to call the attention of the learned Gentleman, the Attorney General for Ireland to this part of the case. He must say, with all respect to him, that he grossly mistook that which was the interest of the Government in the conduct of that prosecution. First of all, there was considerable ambiguity in certain parts of this case. The old Jury List was thought perfectly inadequate to give the means of a fair trial; the traversers, therefore, took means to have the lists made up fir the year 1844. It was the duty of certain parish officers to make returns of the persons qualified to act as jurors in their districts. The right hon. Gentleman the Recorder of Dublin had the duty of ascertaining that all the persons who were properly qualified were inserted in the list, and no others, and when he had got that list it was his duty to distinguish the special from the common jurors. Some remarks had been made in respect of this case having been tried by a special jury. He was never so surprised as he was at the boldness with which the right hon. Baronet stated that this was a special jury out of mercy to the defendants. If he (Sir T. Wilde) had said so in Westminster-hall, everybody would have laughed in his face. It had been said, that if the defendants had been tried by a common jury the prosecutors might have put the jurors by as they pleased, and the defendants could only have challenged for cause assigned. He (Sir T. Wilde) said they could not put them by as they pleased. If, in their panel of seventy-two jurymen John Thomas had been called, and they said, "Let him stand by," how long could they have gone on in that way? They dared not do it, and it was because they dared not that they had chosen a special jury, as they could strike off their twelve men in a private room, and they must challenge a common jury in open court. They could not have had a common jury, too, because they were determined to have no Catholics, which they could not have avoided if they had had a common jury. This was dexterously and designedly done for the purpose of sending Mr. O'Connell to conviction. These lists were sent to the Recorder, who, it appeared, went through them, marking those who were entitled to serve as special jurors from those who were entitled to serve as common jurors. This was important to the case—there was much anxiety 1289 about it, and the right hon. Gentleman in settling the Jury List was attended by counsel, and application was made by the traversers to see the list as soon as it was completed. [Mr. Shaw:That is perfectly untrue.] He (Sir T. Wilde) did not, of course, for a moment doubt what the right hon. Gentleman said; but he would rely upon the affidavit. [Mr. Shaw here made some observation which did not reach the gallery.] He (Sir T. Wilde) did not know whether the right hon. Gentleman was apprised of any individual affidavits having been made. He did not know whether be had been absent from Ireland during the trial or not. ["Hear, hear," and laughter.] But the affidavit of the attorney stated that he applied at the office for the lists. The answer which was given to the application for the list was, that the right hon. Gentleman the Recorder had gone to England, and that he had taken with him the documents necessary to make out the lists. The affidavit to which he alluded was the affidavit of Mr. Mahoney, the solicitor for the traversers, and he should read it to the House. [Here the hon. and learned Member looked amongst a bundle of papers for the affidavit of Mr. Mahony, but was unable to find it.] He thought he had the affidavit with him, but he could not then find it. However, he was able to state to the House what that affidavit contained. Mr. Mahoney stated in that affidavit, that he applied to the proper office for a copy of the lists of the jury as revised by the right hon. the Recorder, and the answer he received was, that the right hon. Gentleman had gone to England, and had taken the lists with him, or the papers containing the names of the jurors; and that for want of those papers the clerk could not make up the copies of the list which the deponent applied for. The duties of the Recorder in revising the lists were performed in November, and yet copies of those lists could not be obtained sooner than the 29th December, in consequence of the Recorder having carried with him the papers necessary to enable the clerk to make them out. When the special jurors were selected, forty-eight names were balloted for, and when they met to strike the forty-eight, some question occurred respecting the lists, which were afterwards complained of, as not containing the names of several whom the right hon. the Recorder had marked as qualified. A contest arose on that subject; the striking of a special jury proceeded under a protest, and an application was 1290 made to the Court of Queen's Bench to have the panel quashed, on the ground that the special jurors' lists from which the names had been taken were imperfect, in consequence of the omission of certain names of persons qualified to serve. In support of this application to the Court of Queen's Bench to quash the panel, an affidavit was made by the solicitor for the traversers; and in answer to that, an affidavit was put in by the Crown Solicitor: the affidavit in support of the application to quash the panel was made by Mr. Mahoney, and that in answer by Mr. Kemmis. Mr. Mahoney stated in his affidavit that he attended in the Recorder's Court during the revision of the lists, from the 14th of November to the termination of the revision on the 23rd of November, and in the meantime the Attorney General moved to have the trial of the traversers brought on upon the 11th of December, after which an application was made on the part of the traversers to have their trials fixed for the 1st of February, and amongst the grounds for that postponement of the day, on the part of the traversers, the imperfect state of the special jury list for 1843, was put forward in support of the application, only twenty-three Roman Catholics being named as qualified to serve as special jurors. The court ordered the trials to be fixed for the 15th of January instead of the 11th of December, and the affidavit stated, that the defendant believed the cause of that postponement was the state of the jury list. It had been understood that the special jury was to be taken from the list of 1844, when the revision terminated on the 23rd of November and that that revision having terminated, the Recorder ought to make a list of the persons qualified to serve, and deliver that list to the clerk of the peace, who ought to copy it into the jurors' book, and deliver that to the sheriff, so that it should be in operation on the 1st of January. The deponent stated that he frequently applied to the cicrk of the peace, in order to obtain a copy of that list so made out, but he was informed that the Recorder was in London, and bad taken. with him the several documents necessary to make out the jurors' list, the copy for which the deponent applied. The jurors' book containing that list was not delivered, he was informed, till the 29th of December, and next day the clerk of the peace caused the jurors' book to be fur-Dished to the sheriff: Now he (Sir T. Wilde) would ask, was the business of the 1291 clerk of the peace's office properly conducted in Ireland if, when it was necessary that a list of the special jury should be made up, the person who applied for a copy of that list was told, that it could not be furnished, as the Recorder was absent, and that he had with him the papers necessary for making up the jurors' book. [Mr. Shaw: Not the lists.] The documents necessary for making out the lists, it was stated by the Clerk of the Peace, had been brought away by the Recorder; and when the application was made by the solicitor for the traversers for a copy of the list, the reason assigned for the copy not having been made out, was, that the Recorder had with him the documents which were necessary to complete the copy of the jurors' list. Now, of all the juries that ever were constituted, there never was one which it was more important to have free from suspicion than that jury. How then could it be that the persons in that office invented that statement of the Recorder having brought the papers to London, if such were not the case? Why were the copies of those lists withheld? Why, if the Recorder left all these papers in the office, had those persons who should have furnished the list invented the falsehood that he had brought them to London. If they took the liberty of inventing such statements, those inventions looked very suspicious. The deponent went on to say, that he lost no time in applying to the Sheriff for a copy of the Special Jury Panel, which was to be taken from the jurors' book, and which was to contain, pursuant to statute, the names of all persons duly qualified to serve as special jurors, and that the Sheriff declined to comply with his application, unless the Crown and the traversers should duly consent to it. What he (Sir T. Wilde) would ask, had the Crown to do with it? What right had the Crown to interfere in complying with a demand which the subject had a right to make? The Act of Parliament gave him the right. [Mr. Shaw: He had no right to it.] He submitted respectfully, in contradiction to the opinion of the right hon. and learned Gentleman, that the subject had a right to see that copy. [Mr. Shaw: Certainly not.] He (Sir T. Wilde) repeated, that the Act of Parliament gave him the right. [Mr. Shaw: Certainly not.] He could not conceive how it was, that he had not the right under the Act of Parliament. If it were a public document, why should he not be 1292 allowed to see it? Was it a private document? Then if it were not a private document, why had he not the right to see it? But he would grant the right hon. Gentleman that the Subject had not the right—he would grant that it should be all one way, and that the Subject should not have the right to see the list which was made out; and having granted that, he would ask if he had not the right, what honest man could object to allowing him to see the list? What public grounds had been stated to show why the Sheriff or the Clerk of the Peace should hold back a list of the jurors from the person who was to be subject to adjudication? What honest motive could exist for preventing those lists from being furnished? What security for the independent discharge of duty was it to require the consent of the Crown to allowing the traversers to see the lists? Every step in the proceedings was marked by the same characteristics. He found the deponent further stated, that on applying to Mr. Kemmis, the Crown solicitor, for his consent he (Mr. Kemmis) refused. So that the Crown was a party, by its solicitor, to that refusal, and that turned out most unhappily in connection with the misfortune which produced the omission that had taken place, the gross irregularity, to call it by no other name, and he had the authority of a learned Judge for calling it irregular.Deponent saith, that said Sheriff declined complying with deponent's application, unless both the Crown and the traversers should duly consent and unite in making such application: saith that the Clerks of the Peace for the said city informed this deponent, and which he believes to be the fact, that they applied by direction of the said Recorder:to Mr. Kemmis, attorney for the prosecution, for such consent, but he declined to give same. Saith that deponent attended at the office of Walter Bourne, Esq., on the 3rd instant, for the purpose of striking the Special Jury, and that on that occasion Mr. Whiteside, as counsel for the traversers, applied for an adjournment of said striking of such Special Jury, on the ground that the traversers or their agents had no opportunity of examining the Special Jurors' List, and were therefore unprepared for striking a Special Jury. Saith that after some discussion, an adjournment to the next day was agreed to by Mr. Brewster, as Counsel for the 1293 Crown, and it was also agreed that both parties should obtain a copy of the Special Jurors' List from the Sheriff, and the same was had about eight o'clock on the evening of said 3rd of January instant from the Sheriff's Office. Saith that upon examining same it was then discovered that the names of a great many persons were omitted from the Special Jury List whose claims to be placed on the said list had been allowed by the said Recorder at the revision aforesaid. Saith that deponent in company with two others of the agents for the traversers—namely, Messrs. Ford and Cantwell—attended the next day at the office of said Walter Bourne, and there and then protested most earnestly against any farther proceedings being taken in the striking of said Special Jury on various grounds, but chiefly on the ground that a gross and wilful suppression of the names of persons qualified to be placed on the Special Jurors' List had taken place; and deponent is thoroughly convinced that such wilful and corrupt suppression did actually take place.Now, here was the affidavit by the attorney of the traversers before the trial took place, and made before the Court, and in which he pledges himself on oath that he believes that there had been a corrupt and wilful suppression in the list of the names of the Jurors. Now, they were told that the Crown was especially anxious that there should be a fair Jury. He should be glad to learn whether any affidavit, proceeding from any human being, bad been produced in answer to this. From the reports that he had seen of what had taken place in court, he knew that no such affidavits had been produced. He asked whether any such affidavits had been produced in answer, to say that such suppression of names was not wilful and corrupt. He knew something of law in its practice, and he would venture to say that in any common case, in a court of justice in this country, where even the nature of the proceeding was such as not to involve more than 5l. damages, that if any attorney swore that corrupt practices had prevailed with regard to the jury, that it would be met with an affidavit in answer. But in this great State Prosecution—this prosecution which they had been so often told had been instituted to vindicate the law, and to produce a great moral effect throughout Ireland—when, in the early stages of the 1294 proceedings, this affidavit was made and read in court, stating that corrupt and wilful suppressions had been made in the jury lists, and that there had been tampering with the constitution of the jury, it appeared that the Crown had not thought it right to make any deliberate inquiry, or to meet this affidavit with a counter one, or in any way to interfere to remove all doubt as to the pure administration of justice. He never could conceive it possible that in such a case, where such an affidavit was made in Court, that it should not be answered in the face of the Court.Saith that deponent appealed to the persons acting on behalf of the Crown to postpone the striking of a Special Jury in this case until the said Jury List should be set right, according to the adjudication of the right hon. the said Recorder, but the persons acting for the Crown peremptorily refused to do so, and the said Walter Bourne refused the application to adjourn, unless the persons acting for the Crown consented, which said persons refused to do.He would venture to say that in this country no fair attorney, even of low practice, would have done so; but for the Crown solicitor to do so was a most unheard of proceeding. He was sure that the right hon. Baronet would, if such a statement had been made to him of such proceedings in any case, and the more so when the Government was concerned, have expressed his detestation at such steps being resorted to? Were the legal officers parties to this? He did not know; he did not care, for he regarded a receiver of stolen goods to be a party to the theft; and in this case the Crown took the benefit of the proceeding. You wished to condemn these parties, and you showed that fraud should not stand in your way, and therefore that you were determined to convict this man with the view of upholding the dignity of the law. He would ask, was the law vindicated by tampering with the Jury List? You took advantage of this irregularity, to say the least, and you took advantage of this in spite of the affidavit which had been produced in the face of the court, charging this fraud. Would his right hon. Friend the Attorney General say, that he would ever have countenanced such a proceeding? He (Sir T. Wilde) knew full well that if any proposal of such a nature was made to 1295 his learned Friend by any Crown solicitor, or any other person, that he would instantly have turned him out of his chambers with indignation. He (Sir T. Wilde) would call upon Westminsterhall to say what his learned Friend's conduct would be under such circumstances. It would have been, throughout, the fitting conduct of a high legal Officer of the Crown, consulting the dignity of the administration of the law, and the principles of common justice. And he would have declared that no inducement of this kind could weigh with him, nor could it be of any public advantage, when it threw a suspicion and a stain upon the administration of justice. He (Sir T. Wilde) could tell the House what took place last week in a case in which his hon. and learned Friend was engaged. A case was proceeding for penalties for an alleged infraction of the revenue laws. The defendant's counsel said that he was taken by surprise, and that he had been misled as to the date of the case; and although this was not shown on affidavit, still his hon. and learned Friend at once requested the learned judge who presided, to let the case go off, being anxious to prevent the slightest suspicion in the administration of the law. What was the result of this?—why, that the course of justice was proceeded with in a regular manner, and every prosecution adopted by such an Attorney General was respected. True it was, that his hon. and learned Friend had challenged and put by some of the jurors in the recent trials in Wales, but this was done with the consent of the Judge, and with the full concurrence of the prisoner's legal advisers; every man convicted bowing to the law, and feeling satisfied that justice had been fairly administered, while the families of those convicted, felt grateful to the man who was called on to conduct those prosecutions. The affidavit proceededSaith that several gentlemen whose claims to be on the jurors' list had been allowed before said Recorder were in attendance on said 4th January instant, at said office of said Walter Bourne, ready to prove the fact that their said claims had been so allowed before said Recorder, and were tendered as witnesses by this deponent to said Walter Bourne to prove said fact, but said Walter Bourne refused to hear any evidence on the subject, but insisted on proceeding to draw the forty-eight 1296 names out of the ballot-box, and thereupon said William Ford, who is agent for Daniel O'Connell, one of the traversers, handed in a written protest against the officer proceeding further, and which is in the hands of the said officer, and to which deponent begs to refer; saith that this deponent and the said Mr. Cantwell also protested verbally against the said officer, the said Walter Bourne, proceeding further with striking a special jury in this case; saith that the officer proceeded to draw forty-eight names from the ballot-box, and then adjourned the further proceeding of striking the Special Jury until the next day, viz., January the 5th instant: saith that previous to the said revision this deponent had applied to the clerks of the peace of the city of Dublin, to furnish him with copies of the lists of persons qualified to serve as jurors for said city, as returned by the collectors of grand jury cess; saith that after repeated applications this deponent obtained from them copies of said lists made out for the twenty parishes that comprise the city of Dublin; saith that after said revision, this deponent applied to George Magrath, deputy clerk of the peace for said city, and who acted as register to said Recorder during said revision, to permit persons appointed by this deponent to inspect the lists of the parishes that had been revised by the said Recorder, and to introduce into deponent's said copies the corrections and adjudication made by the said Recorder, and the qualifications attached to each name thereon, and that the said George Magrath consented to such application, and that thereupon this deponent appointed for such purpose four competent persons, viz.,—Edmond Hagarty, Patrick Gaynor, T. B. Cormick, and P. J. Murphy, to make such inspection, and to compare said copies of deponent's with said revised lists of said Recorder, and said persons last named proceeded to do so, and brought back to this deponent the said copies of said lists of four parishes, viz., St. Anne's, St. Audeon's, St. Andrew's, and St. Bridget's, which said persons said to this deponent they had compared with the said lists as revised by said Recorder, and had introduced in red ink into said copies of this deponent, the various corrections and adjudications as they appeared in said revised lists of said Recorder, and which statement this deponent verily believes to be true,1297 Now there was apparently some doubt as to the number of the names that were missing from the list, as the right hon. Member made some mistake in running over the names. It appeared that there were the names of twenty-six or twenty-seven Catholics. [Mr. Shaw: "No, no."] It was so stated in the affidavit, and he must be excused for abiding by it. It was a matter that had undergone investigation, and an affidavit had been made showing this; and as no one could deny it in court, it was therefore too much to take a contradiction for granted, made out of court after the trial. [Mr. Shaw: No such facts were sworn to.] He did not feel displeased with the right hon. Gentleman for interrupting him, for he should be happy to be set right on any point. [Mr. Shaw repeated that no such fact was sworn to.] He would then proceed to show that he had fallen into no mistake. The affidavit proceeded—Saith that it appears from said four copies as they were so altered after said comparisons, and brought back by said persons to this deponent, that the names of the following persons were adjudicated upon by said Recorder, and their qualifications to be Special Jurors allowed by him. The following are the said names: Nicholas James Caffrey, Hugh Duffy, James Duggan, James Egan, Charles Egan, Thomas Egan, George Faulkner, Nathaniel Halbert, Bernard Martin, Nicholas Martin, Thomas Murray, James Reilly, John Vicars, Thomas White, and Sylvester Young.It had been said, that there was an omission of fifteen names, but the omission was an omission of twenty seven. The special jury list was a distinct thing from the common jury list. It appeared that of the twenty-seven names omitted from the special jury list twelve were in the common jury list, but they might as well have been in the Common Prayer Book. The question was to what extent the special jury list was deficient. On this point all was perfect—chapter and verse. An affidavit was made by Mr. Mahony, that fifteen names, all of gentlemen professing the Roman Catholic religion, were omitted from the special jury list. Mr. Mahony deposed as follows:—Saith that all these names are the names of persons professing the Roman Catholic re- 1298 ligion, as deponent is informed, and verily believes, all are omitted from the Sheriff's list of special jurors for 1844. Saith that deponent had also employed competent persons at the said revision to take down the names of such persons as should be admitted by the said Recorder to possess qualifications to entitle them to be placed on the Special Jurors' list. Saith that said persons have made returns to him of the persons so judged to be qualified by said Recorder, and which return this deponent believes to be true, and that it appears therefrom, that besides those already mentioned, twelve persons professing the Roman Catholic religion, as deponent is informed, and verily believes, had their claims to be placed on said special jury list allowed by said Recorder; and this deponent saith that all their names are also omitted from said Sheriff's special jury list. Saith the names of the said persons are as follow:—M. C. Carrick, Patrick Curtis, James Dillon, John Elliott, John Gaynor, Michael Farrell, George Hurst, Bryan Molloy, J. Molloy, R. Molloy, J. H. Walsh, and Stephen Pidgeon. Saith that this deponent appeared at the office of the said Walter Bourne on the 5th of January instant, when the said list of forty eight names, drawn from the ballot-box as aforesaid, was to be reduced to twenty-four by the striking off of twelve named by each party, so as to reduce the said list to twenty-four. Saith that before said proceeding commenced this deponent handed in to said Walter Bourne a protest in writing, now in the possession of the said Walter Bourne, and to which this deponent begs leave to refer, and took no further part in striking the Special Jury in this case. Saith that said Mr. Cantwell stated that under his former protest he would strike off the twelve names he was entitled to strike on behalf of his clients. Saith that Mr. Kemmis, attorney for the prosecution, attended on behalf of the Crown, and struck off from said list of forty-eight the names of twelve persons, of which twelve eleven were persons professing the Roman Catholic religion, as deponent has been informed and verily believes, and who were the only persons professing that religion among the forty-eight whose names were drawn as aforesaid from said ballot-box. Deponent positively saith that this is not an application made for the purpose of delay, but that it is a bond fide application made for the 1299 purpose of obtaining for the traversers a fair and satisfactory trial, inasmuch as this deponent in his conscience believes that if the traversers are put upon their trial under the circumstances hereinbefore detailed, they will be so placed upon their trial under disadvantages and disqualifications which the law has not imposed upon them.In spite, however, of that which was charged and alleged, the Government cling to its Special Jury. Application was made to the Court to grant it, and the affidavit which he had just quoted was, with others, read to the Court, and in answer to that affidavit, Mr. Kemmis, the Crown Solicitor, made an affidavit disavowing any interference in this part of the transaction, or any intention to make an unfair list. That affidavit was dated the 9th of January, 1844, and it stated, that Mr. Kemmis did not know or believe that there was any just ground for supposing that a fair and impartial jury could not be obtained from the Jury List for 1843, as he had no part in the revision of the Jury Book for 1844; that he had not been informed until he read the affidavit of Mr. Mahony of the refusal of the Sheriff to comply with the application made to him, and that he declined to interfere as the Sheriff was the proper officer to prepare the panel, and that he was not acquainted with the suppression of any names; that the panel contained an ample list for a fair, impartial, and respectable jury: that the Crown solicitor had inspected the book, and found that the following names, mentioned in Mr. Mahony's affidavit (giving the twelve names) were not in the Sheriff's book, and that he had also ascertained that the fifteen names also mentioned in Mr. Mahony's affidavit, were in the ordinary Jury List. He further stated that he did not believe eleven Roman Catholics had been struck off, but only ten, and that previous to striking off those names he had received information that the persons who bore them were either members of, or had subscribed to, the funds of what was called the Repeal Association. So it stood quite clear on the affidavit of the Crown solicitor. The Special Jury List was deficient of twenty-seven names. That had been left in some confusion; but he had now read the affidavit of Mr. Kemmis. Application was made to quash the list, on the ground that the names had been designedly, wilfully, and corruptly omitted. On the part of the Crown, 1300 the Attorney General submitted that the Crown had no authority to quash it. No affidavit was produced from the other side. When there was an affidavit imputing corruption and fraud—when it was declared upon affidavit that that had taken place—when it was even said that there had been irregularity, there was no affidavit in explanation given. No, it was more convenient to pass that by judicial investigation, to leave unanswered the suggestion of fraud. It was more convenient to state that public papers had been left here and found there; but to answer these statements upon affidavit there was nobody! He asked, he appealed, to the hon. Baronet opposite, whether, in the face of an affidavit, that a jury had been formed from a list that was imperfect, from design or fraud—with the fact before them, that from that list there had been removed the names of twenty-seven Roman Catholics—he asked these honourable persons, if it became the Crown to oppose the quashing of that panel? The traversers swore that they believed it essential for a fair trial that those names should be on a list, which had been defective in consequence of the conduct of a public officer, whether it was negligence or otherwise. It was clear that the Crown had got a list in which there were so few Catholics, that they had acquired a command of the whole, and they were determined to keep it. He said, that he who took advantage of a fraud, was as bad as he who committed it. He who sought to get men tried by a jury which was believed to be imperfect from fraud, from negligence, from illegality, what was to be said of him? But then, in a case where the question of Protestant and Catholic became a material point—in a case where an affidavit was made, that it was believed a fraud had been committed to exclude Catholics—what, he said, was the character of the Government which consented to try a man by such a jury? He pledged his honour and his character that he himself should feel degraded if he hesitated for an instant to refuse going to trial with a jury so composed. He challenged his hon. and learned Friend, who dare not—and his hon. and learned Friend would understand the sense in which he here used the word "dare"—he said his hon. and learned Friend dared not do this; nay, the honour of his hon. and learned Friend would not permit him to do it; his hon. and learned Friend would have himself have courted the quashing of the panel. No man who knew him but would aver it. 1301 It had happened a thousand times to his hon. and learned Friend, and it had so to him, that objections were made to jurors in common cases; and did they ever refuse to put the Jury List right? He begged to say, that he did not impute dishonour to the right hon. Gentleman (the Irish Attorney General); but this he said to him, that he had mistaken his duty grossly. He did not venture to say, that the right hon. Gentleman had not been careful in the discharge of a public duty; but he did venture to say, that the right hon. Gentleman, as the representative of the Crown in a State proceeding, had not remembered, that his first duty was to see that there was a fair trial; and his duty also was to see, that there was a satisfactory trial not less than a fair trial. If the conviction was to have a good effect upon the defendants, then they must not be placed in a situation in which they had reason to suppose, that they had been tried by a jury not fairly selected. It was nothing to tell him, that the jury were honest and upright men. He was not going to aver the contrary; but then, he said, that they stood in a situation, however honourable and upright they might be, in which they ought not to have been placed; and that they ought not to have been the only jurors on this Gentleman's trial, was perfectly clear. It was complained of, that every Catholic had been struck off. The Jury List was deficient by reason of Catholics being omitted. It was said, that Protestants also, were omitted. It was only mentioned in Mr. Kemmis's affidavit. That there were a number of Catholics omitted was perfectly clear; but that any Protestants were omitted was not so perfectly clear. Twenty-seven Catholics were omitted. He asked, whether it might not have been possible, in such a case, to have preserved them? But whether it was so or not, it was manifest that the Crown eagerly grasped at a jury without Catholics. If they told him that this was of no importance, he said he had, positive evidence to demonstrate that it was of the utmost importance. What had they incurred for the sake of it?—Dishonour. What was the price they had paid for their Protestant jury? They paid this price for their Protestant jury—they had brought the whole trial into suspicion. They were eager for a conviction. The traversers said that twenty-seven Catholics had been omitted. The charge was, that they were omitted—others were struck off because they were Roman Catholics. He wished that 1302 there had been an affidavit, stating that those persons had not been struck off because they were Roman Catholics. There was no such affidavit. Amongst the misfortunes of the Crown, which had been referred to, there was at least one piece of good fortune, that the Catholics so struck off were in circumstances that afforded a possible reason for their being struck off, though he was not quite sure that was the real reason for striking them off. Were they, then, struck off by reason of their being Roman Catholics? It was curious, that in the answering affidavit of Mr. Kemmis, he did not affirm that they were not struck off because they were Catholics. If the question, however, did not turn upon the striking-off of the Catholics, he should have said nothing about it. But the question here was, as to Catholics being struck off, and retaining none but Protestants; and, he must say that it behoved Mr. Kemmis, if it could be done, by the introduction of a mere line and a half, to make a statement to the effect that those men were not objected to as Catholics—that no prejudice influenced him.
It was manifest that the Crown did not think it safe to trust to a jury composed of Protestants and Catholics. The noble Lord opposite had said, that in a common case, an attorney would strike off jurors, so as to win for his client. Yes, and his complaint was, that the Crown had played to win: but with loaded dice. His complaint was, that the Crown took every advantage—that the Crown had availed itself of every circumstance, whether proper or improper, that they had availed themselves of every advantage that an attorney in a common case of common practice would take to win. Would they tell him that the acquittal of Mr. O'Connell, by a jury composed of Protestants and Catholics would not have done more public good than by a conviction as it now stood? The law would have been laid down; the eyes of the public would have been opened; the diligence of the Government in watching the progress of these meetings would have been made manifest; the notice of the people of Ireland would have been directed to those who invited them to attend public meetings—they would have seen the dignity of the law vindicated. The acquittal of Mr. O'Connell under such circumstances would rather have tended to the peace of the country, than his conviction under the present state of facts. The Government had indicted Mr. O'Connell, amongst 1303 other things, for conspiring to withdraw the confidence of the Queen's subjects from the administration of justice. And yet what had the same Government done? Destroyed the confidence of the people of Ireland in the administration of justice. They had done this much more than it had been done by Mr. O'Connell. Look also at the meetings of the Roman Catholics. See how the dignity of the law has been vindicated in their esteem. The Catholics believed that they had been marked as unfit to be jurors, and that the Government policy for Ireland was, that they were to try Catholics by Protestant jurors. Could any man doubt that this was the state of feeling that had been produced? Mr. Thompson, one of the jury, had been a Member of the Town Council, and when Mr. O'Connell made a motion on the subject of Repeal, this Mr. Thompson had made a strong speech against him. He proposed a counter motion, and supported it by all the means in his power. [An hon. Member said, "No, he seconded it] Very well, he gave the Gentleman the benefit of the contradiction: Mr. Thompson had seconded the motion, but did not move it. No doubt that made a great difference, [An hon. Member said, "Mr. Thompson is not a Member of the Town Council"] He (Mr. Thompson) had been a Member of the Town Council. He is not now a Member of the TownCouncil; but the statement he had received was, that when Mr. O'Connell had the power of bringing forward a Repeal Motion, Mr. Thompson, the juryman, by whom he was tried, supported the amendment. There could be no doubt that hon. Gentlemen were satisfied of the correctness of their statement; but this facility of denial, only showed the necessity that the facts should be scrutinized. Now he must say, that whatever communications were made to him on this subject, he had impressed upon the parties the responsibility that must attach to them in the communication of facts; and be had himself avoided speaking on facts that were not supported by documents. He believed that his information was correct—he had it not merely from one, two, or three quarters, that this Mr. Thompson was the gentleman who seconded the amendment on that occasion, and that several others of the jury were persons who had voted against Mr. O'Connell. But he stood upon this point, that Mr. O'Connell was tried by a Protestant jury—the Crown taking advantage of an omission, whether fraudulent or neglectful, on the 1304 part of an officer intrusted with the making up of the panel. By taking advantage of the doubt involved upon this fact, the Government had shown that they would rather obtain a verdict by any means, than run the risk of an acquittal by the introduction of a Catholic Juror. Now, he asked, whether a verdict so obtained, could be represented to the Irish people as a verdict of justice or of law?
He was sure that the hon. and learned Gentleman who conducted the case for the Crown, now that he had recovered from the excitement of the moment, would be as satisfied of the worthlessness of the result of that trial as any Gentleman in this House could be. The Government might pursue Mr. O'Connell to gaol, if they pleased; the Court upon appeal might refuse a new trial; a writ of error might be dismissed, but still the impression would remain the same, and insurmountable—that Mr. O'Connell, in this matter, had not had a fair trial, and had a right to complain of the conduct of the Crown towards him—that he had been convicted upon an illegal verdict, a verdict which ought not to be respected. See, then, what the last year had added to the strength or credit of the present Government. What had they done to call for particular marks of admiration or respect? Was it for using extraordinary diligence in putting down these meetings, which they declared to be unlawful, by lawful means—for it required no other than lawful means to do all that the public safety demanded? If so, it appeared difficult to say why the Proclamation which put a stop to these meetings had not been promulgated at an earlier period. Suppose that the Government had done so—suppose that they had prohibited these meetings, and that Mr. O'Connell, regardless of their prohibition, had attended them. How very different, how much better, would have been their case now. Instead of so doing, however, they allowed the meetings to take place; and they sent agents to watch and take down the sayings of a man of ardent mind, which they produced nine months afterwards against him at this trial. Such a trial as no Government of any free country ought ever to have instituted. Look at the state of Ireland at the time. It could not be expected that the result of this trial would be to re-establish peace and order in that country. He might be told that he took an improper part in investigating these proceedings; but he considered that 1305 it was the duty of every man to watch all that concerned the administration of justice, particularly if he found that the course of proceeding pursued by the Government was such as rendered the liberty of the subject unsafe. He did not accuse the Government of being, by design, adverse to the liberties of the people though they shewed themselves to be so by their measures; for he did not think the right hon. Baronet had any design, against the principles of liberty which prevailed in this country) but it was the duty of every man to look to all that concerned the Administration of Justice, when he saw measures of this kind adopted in Ireland. Every man knew that when they came into a Court of Justice, they met with men on the Bench, who, breathing a calm atmosphere, and removed from the ordinary subjects of popular agitation, would look with a little surprise upon speeches such as are ordinarily made at public assemblies, and ask, "Is this calm discussion?" But if it came to this, if such opinions upon the limits of calm discussion were to give the law, it amounted to compelling every man to hold his tongue at a public meeting. In public prosecutions like this, directed against Mr. O'Connell and his friends, the public was the real jury; the moral effect of that proceeding depended entirely upon public opinion. It was said that this jury had decided in favour of the Government. In the fact of obtaining the verdict, undoubtedly they had triumphed; but as regarded any useful effect upon public opinion, the result was decidedly the reverse. This case, he maintained, had entirely failed in this point of view; and Government were very much mistaken if they thought that agitation in Ireland had in any way been shaken or terminated by it. Ireland had too long complained of the mismanagement of her internal affairs; of the mismanagement of her religious state; of the misapplication of her resources by the party now in power to be quieted by any proceeding like this. He would ask the party in power opposite, did they mean to hold Ireland for ever by the force of troops? When did they mean to withdraw their soldiers from the country? When did they intend to alter their policy?—for they could not go on with their present system. When would they give a fair occasion to stop the agitation which was now going on in Ireland? But the time was, when the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government thought even an old story worthy of attention. In speak- 1306 ing upon the question of Catholic Emancipation, the right hon. Baronet said:—I, and the other Ministers of the Crown, think that there is greater evil to be apprehended from advising continued resistance to the adjustment of the Catholic question, than in advising a deliberate attempt to settle it.He hoped the right hon. Baronet would now think so in regard to other grievances complained of by the Irish people.I was told on a former occasion (the right hon. Baronet continued), in language which, though familiar, was forcible, this is the old story, the repetition of facts with which we are familiar for the last twenty-five years; therefore there is no reason for any change.' It is because it is the old story—because this state of things has so long existed—because it is found impossible to put an end to them, that I am tired of maintaining the present system. It may be an argument ad hominem to ask, why I did not take this course earlier? It is, however, no argument against the question.It was no argument against the question! he agreed in that position; and he asked the right hon. Baronet whether, because there were old grievances, that was an argument against their redress? He asked whether the right hon. Baronet was still of opinion that he should repress Irish agitation by the aid of troops? If so, he thought the time was arrived, when this House should undeceive him, and call upon him to settle these questions upon a more rational and equitable footing. But let the right hon. Baronet, and let the House be assured, that concession which falls short of justice will never be successful in silencing complaint. A great statesman might be mistaken once in his life; but if he continued to act in error, in opposition to his experience, he would find, however high his character, however much he might be respected, he could not, after a second mistake on the same point, claim the character of a great statesman. He would call the right hon. Baronet's attention to another passage from a speech of his own, to show under what circumstances it was expedient to concede; and he prayed the right hon. Baronet's experience to the ad- 1307 vantage of conceding, under such circumstances as he himself had described, and he would ask him whether he did not know that concessions made to justice were received with gratitude, and that the result of that gratitude would be obedience to the laws? Ireland had gained for herself Emancipation by agitation. The party who made the present Motion, had gained for the country many advantages by agitation, and in that House they would continue to agitate. It was their duty, and their sense of justice to Ireland, and their care for the safety of the Kingdom, would induce them to continue it. No one expected that the Motion of the noble Lord would lead to the change of the Government. If it were supposed to be a party Motion, made with the view of producing a change in the Government, such a supposition was idle. See how strongly the bands around the Government were fastened and formed. Were not various class interests of the country combined to support the right hon. Baronet in his position? The question they looked to was merely whether the right hon. Gentleman, with reference to their own personal interests, ought not to remain at the head of affairs, not whether his policy upon this point or upon that was erroneous. His measures might or might not tranquillise Ireland; this was a point which did not weigh with them; it was enough that their private ends were served, and their views supported by the system of policy which he pursued. Those were the grounds upon which they were united to retain the right hon. Gentleman in office. Hon. Gentlemen opposite, therefore, were too closely banded to lead them (the Opposition) to believe that anything they could do on this occasion—that any argument they could urge, or that any measure they could propose would induce a vote that would lead to a change of Government. The expectation, then, of producing a change in the Government could form no motive in submitting the present Motion. The party by whom the Motion was made had, at various times, suggested measures for the amelioration of Ireland which had ultimately succeeded; and they would be content, in respect to the present, that that which had happened should again happen. Let Ireland be governed by a policy advancing her interests and promoting her prosperity, and they (the Opposition) would be content to see the fruit and honour of their labour reaped by their opponents. When the right hon. Baronet brought for- 1308 ward the Catholic Emancipation Bill—and he prayed and invited the attention of the right hon. Baronet to the possibility of a recurrence of similar circumstances to those he had described, which might demand, when it was too late, that to be granted to fear which was now denied to justice—it was a question, said the right hon. Baronet, if a war broke out, whether the moral claims of Ireland would not be taken a different view of by other countries in the present state of society, than in former times; whether there might not exist strong feelings against our justice and policy, if we were found in conflict with so important a part of our dominions. Ireland called upon England to grant her demands, demands which did not interfere with England, but that she should have a voice in the management of her own affairs, and that the course of treatment pursued towards her should be changed. And while she made these demands, and they remained unredressed, should a war arise, the responsibility would fall heavily on that Minister, who, having abundant time to consider the claims of Ireland, should have failed to put an end to the evils of which she complained. He would now read the passage from the speech of the right hon. Baronet, to which be had alluded.I read," said the right hon. Baronet, "the lesson of that period, when Mr. Pitt was at the head of a House of Commons which rejected the Roman Catholic petition. It was not that they rejected a Bill, or a resolution, that their claims should be taken into consideration; but they refused to listen even to their petition, by a majority of about three to one. The French war broke out in 1793, and then I find, that in spite of all the declarations recorded, and opinions proclaimed, that very Session of 1793 was opened with a recommendation from the Throne to consider their decision on that Motion, and immediately after a Bill was passed. Until I see a bolder man than Mr. Pitt, and a more Protestant House of Commons than that of 1792, I cannot be sure that the same scenes may not be acted over again; and that, in spite of our declaration, we may find ourselves under the necessity, in the event of a war, of receding from our professions.There was a majority on that day as triumphant and determined as any that 1309 now sat on the other side. But what was the course adopted by that majority? He asked the Government to profit by experience. Nations and individuals should learn wisdom from the past. They knew, and admitted, that war and difficulty would induce them to grant that which when all was calm they refused to concede to justice, and Ireland would not, they might depend, forget the lesson which had been taught her in former times, should the day of danger arise. This, then, was the day of wisdom.
He hoped that in the discussion which the right hon. Baronet had listened to with so much attention he would find some matter worthy of his consideration; and, whether the proposal which had been submitted passed or not, they would hear from the right hon. Baronet some definite line of policy which the Government meant to adopt more calculated to meet the wants of Ireland than any that have yet been announced. His noble Friend (Lord J. Russell), with that courage which marked all his proceedings, had not contented himself with finding fault with the policy of his opponents, but had stated to the House what were his own views. As a statesman and a politician his noble Friend was undoubtedly right; but whether, as a tactician in debate, he had taken the best course he would not say. When the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) was in office he said, "If you object to my plans, tell me what better measures you have to propose: if you do not, I have a right to suppose that mine are the best;" but when out of office, the right hon. Baronet had declined to state what his prescription was until he was called in. Whether the present debate, which ought to be directed to the discussion of the efficiency of the right hon. Gentleman's policy, whether that would be the subject of the able speech (which he was sure it would be) of the right hon. Gentleman, or whether the right hon. Gentleman would leave that great question and address himself rather to the various minor points and propositions that had been suggested in the course of the various speeches they had heard, he could not predict; but he trusted the British public and the Irish public would obtain from the right hon. Baronet, that to which they had a right, and which he could and might give them—a manly, fair, and bold exposition of his policy. It could not be supposed, in so long a discussion, that many points had not been 1310 thrown out that deserved attention; and he must again express his hope, that the real matter of debate would not be passed over by cavilling at those little and minor matters to which he had alluded. England had a right to know the policy of the right hon. Baronet, and he hoped he would not shrink from disclosing it. He should vote for the Motion before the House, and hoped, it should it be negatived now, that at no very distant day it would be carried, or that it would be rendered unnecessary by the adoption of such an equitable and enlightened system of policy as would restore harmony to Ireland, and give contentment to her people.
§ Mr. Shaw
rose to explain. He was anxious throughout the proceeding to give all the information in his power. Up to the period of closing the sittings of the Court, no difference or misapprehension had occurred. This was on the 24th. He remained for a week in Dublin, and then had occasion to leave it for a short time; but he never took with him a single original document. Hedesired the registrar, while he was making out the lists, special and common, to make out a rough copy of the special list, for the arrangement of which he was desirous, and he desired the registrar to send him a copy; and that was the only document which he ever received in England, or indeed anywhere else out of the Court-house. During his absence, application was made for the lists. Surely it would not be contended, that they were bound to furnish the lists in an unfinished state. When it was completed it was to be handed to the Sheriff, who might, if he liked, give copies of it to all the world. But as long as the list was making out, it would be highly incorrect for the officers to allow any one to see it. To go over these 5,000 names, some time was necessary. It was done by the clerks in the peace office, who said, that they could not do it quicker. When it was finished, it was handed to the Sheriff. That was on the 29th of December. He had occasion to state in Court, either on the 28th or 29th, that the List had been made out and given, to the Sheriff. Application was then made on behalf of the traversers, to have a copy given them to save time, and that they might have facilities in getting the list before the Sheriff could furnish them with a copy. His answer was, that he did not think the Act gave him power to 1311 give them a copy, but he told the counsel that if they could show him any clause in the Act, which, under any interpretation, could warrant his acceding to their request, he would do so. He told them, however, that if the Crown would consent to allow him to comply, he had no objections to furnish the List, and he sent down the clerk of the peace while the Court was sitting to ascertain whether the request would be granted. The answer was, that it could not. Between that time and the day on which the subsequent application was made to the counsel, some conversation having arisen as to names said to be missing, he desired the clerk of the peace to be particular in enquiring into this; and it was before the application was made, that the clerk reported that the missing list had been discovered. He then desired the clerk to make a memorandum of the error, and the traversers had the benefit of the information when they made the application. Until that application was over, he never heard of the affidavit, but in point of fact, he never heard what was in the affidavit until the application was made and refused. On the Saturday, at the time in question, he heard from Mr. Mahony, the solicitor for the traversers. He had a note from him, requesting him to be in Court on the following Monday, to explain something connected with the Jury list. He instantly sent for the clerk of the peace, the registrar, and his assistants, and he spent with them twelve hours in going over the Lists from first to last, to ascertain the defects to be complained of. He made the registrar point out where the names were taken from the Special Lists. The omissions amounted to twenty-four names; although he did not know what were the proportions, yet he thought that the greater number were Protestants. The traversers stated that there were sixty names omitted. He had compared the sixty names with the List, and he could give an account of all; of these twentyfour were actually omitted. There were on the List thirteen, there were on the common list twelve. There were names not entered, and rightly so, ten, and one was dead. That made up the sixty. It was stated that the traversers had access to the registrar's office. He believed that this was so, but he could not state positively. If the registrar had allowed this, he thought that he was wrong, and his doing so, gave 1312 rise to an opinion on the part of those acting for the Crown, that if there had been any impropriety at all, it had been on the part of this officer.
§ Debate again adjourned.