HC Deb 23 July 1844 vol 76 cc1313-29
Mr. Ross

rose to direct the attention of the House to the grounds of the Motion with which he intended to conclude. He could say without affectation that up to that moment he had not been able to divest himself of a sense of the deficiencies under which he laboured in speaking before men, many of whom were, or ought to be, the first men in the nation. He appeared before the House to night in a new character—in a character distasteful to his own feelings—as a public accuser, and to impugn on some points a man for whose conduct in other matters he entertained great respect. He had also to accuse a Gentleman of advanced years and infirm health, a gentleman subject to a malady, as he had heard from the hon. Member for Cork, which above all others was calculated to cloud the intellect and sour the temper. If, in those circumstances, he found a disqualification for the magistracy, and at the same time a palliation for the conduct which that gentleman had pursued, it was no wonder that he felt, on this occasion, in addressing the House more than ordinary embarrassment. He knew nothing of that gentleman, except so far as related to those circumstances which were unfortunately for himself and for the country in which he resided notorious, and he could assure the House that no consideration of a party character could have induced him to bring forward a charge against an innocent man, or one who might be presumed to be innocent, or whose offence was of a venial character. When, on a former occasion, he put a question on this subject, the noble Lord opposite (Lord Eliot) rebuked him, because he described the conduct of Mr. O'Driscoll as insulting towards the bench, and tyrannical towards the individuals who had complained against him. Was not the noble Lord aware that Mr. O'Driscoll had apologized to the bench and admitted that he had insulted them, and, if that were the case, had not he (Mr. Ross) a right to say, that Mr. O'Driscoll's conduct was insulting? He had a perfect right, and if he sat down without convincing every rational man who heard him that the conduct of Mr. O'Driscoll towards the individuals he referred to—Sullivan, Dempsey, and Dineen, was in every respect tyrannical, he deserved to be called a calumniator. In showing that such was the conduct of Mr. O'Driscoll, he should refer to documents which had been laid on the Table of the House of Lords, and to the uncontradicted statements in the public newspapers. It appeared from the complaint of Dineen, addressed to the Lord Chancellor of Ireland, that a man named Sullivan, a tenant of Mr. O'Driscoll, had fallen into arrear for rent, but not of a large amount; that in consequence of the arrear a distress was levied at a time when only a half year's rent was due. The distress was levied by a man named Hurley, who was what was called the "driver" of Mr. O'Driscoll, and he swept away everything from Sullivan, his cow, his ass, and even the potatoes he had for the support of his family. He felt it impossible to describe the feeling with which he read an account of that case. The counsel asked the witness Hurley, "Did you leave the unfortunate wretches a potatoe for their starving children?" and the answer of the witness was, "They stole some." That horrified him when he read it. They stole some! The starving family were obliged to steal some of the potatoes which were their only means of subsistence. It was not enough to take the cow and the ass, but the very potatoes which were to support the man's family were taken away. But that was not all. Sullivan had passed a bill for a half year's rent to Mr. O'Driscoll, and Mr. O'Driscoll had received the money for that bill at the time of the distraint. If on other grounds the Lord Chancellor of Ireland thought fit to put Mr. O'Driscoll out of the commission of the peace, this conduct to which he was directing their attention was an element to be taken into consideration as regarded his reinstatement. Hurley the "driver," in his cross-examination stated that he believed it was customary on the estate of Mr. O'Driscoll for tenants to sign a bill for rent before it became due, and the assistant barrister, before whom the case was tried, asked Mr. Bird the agent of Mr. O'Driscoll, if Mr. O'Driscoll had the money received upon the bill in his pocket when he made the distraint? To which question Hurley answered "He had sir." He then asked if the bill was due at the time at which the distraint was levied, and he answered that it was not, but he added in answer to a question from Mr. Galway at the suggestion of Mr. O'Driscoll, that he had not distrained at the suggestion of Mr. O'Driscoll, for that gentleman allowed him to act as he pleased. Now, with respect to Dineen. His land adjoined Sullivan's; and when the distress was made, the hedge dividing the farms was broken down, in consequence of which Dineen's cow strayed in upon Sullivan's land, and was seized. The cow was afterwards driven away by some friend of Dineen's: and Mr. O'Driscoll, suspecting that Dineen knew who the man was, summoned him to his own house, in order to obtain that information. Dineen obeyed the summons, and then came one of those parlour scenes which he (Mr. Ross) had hoped had terminated for ever in Ireland with the passing of the Petit Sessions Act. Mr. O'Driscoll having summoned Dineen to his house in his own case, presented a Bible to him, and asked him to swear to a certain fact, which he did not think himself bound to do, and Mr. O'Driscoll then said he would oblige him to answer, for that he knew who took away the cow. Dineen still refused, and in consequence of that refusal he was taken into custody by Mr. O'Driscoll, and brought to the house of Mr. Galway another magistrate, but he still refused to answer, and he was then sent to Bridewell and incarcerated four days without any committal or form of authority, for such imprisonment. He was kept in gaol till the fourth day, when he was brought before the magistrates, and they considering him contumacious, he was again committed from the 4th to the 13th. On that occasion the conduct of Mr. O'Driscoll was such that his brother magistrates remonstrated with him. Dineen made a complaint of those circumstances to the Lord Chancellor of Ireland; he stated that Mr. O'Driscoll had acted as a magistrate in his own case and had illegally committed him to prison. However, before Dineen's case went to the Lord Chancellor, another case occurred in which Mr. O'Driscoll was concerned. Mr. O'Driscoll went out on a hunting party with some friends, whilst he was out hunting he heard a shot fired, and he suspected that some person was poaching in the neighbourhood. He presently saw some little boys, and he rode at them, according to their account furiously; but according to his own account very quietly; however, whether it was the character of the man which frightened them or the manner in which Mr. O'Driscoll rode at them, they ran away in terror, and Mr. O'Driscoll on his hunter pursued them. The mighty hunter continued to pursue these little boys, and one of the little creatures named Dempsey was so terrified that he run into a neighbouring cottage, and hid himself under a bed. Mr. O'Driscoll followed him to the cottage, and desired, in language which he would not repeat to the House, that the child should be given up to him. In this part of the statement there was a flat contradiction between the account which the woman who lived in the cottage and the child gave, and the accounts which Mr. O'Driscoll gave. Mr. O'Driscoll said the child was not terrified, and that he asked the woman in a calm and quiet manner to send out the child. If the child were not frightened how then did it happen, that he fell upon his knees before Mr. O'Driscoll and asked his pardon. He must have been terrified, for the woman who lived in the cottage requested the child to go out as her own children were terrified, and said "Sure he will not hurt such a little creature as you." The little boy was then sent out, and Mr. O'Driscoll made a noose with his whip, in order to drag the child along with him, and he took credit to himself that he did not double thong the boy — that he did not beat him with the whip and the handle, for he said he merely struck him with the lash of the whip; but that was not the statement of the boy himself, for according to the boy's deposition, and the deposition of the woman who witnessed the transaction, he cruelly beat the little boy. That was the woman's and the boy's account, and the magistrates believed it, for they fined Mr. O'Driscoll forty shillings—one pound for public purposes, and the other to compensate the little boy Dempsey for the injury which he had received. But what was Mr. O'Driscoll's conduct on that occasion? He said he had not been done justice to, and that if it had been any other person against whom the charge was made, there would have been only a fine of five shillings awarded; and he told the Bench, in the most insolent manner, that their conduct was partial and unjust. It was said indeed by Gentlemen on the opposite side, that he made an ample apology. It appeared, however, that it was a sullen, grumbling, half apology which he made. After Mr. O'Driscoll had conducted himself in this manner, he met a stipendiary magistrate, Mr. Gore Jones, who persuaded him to return to the Court and make an apology to the Bench. Mr. O'Driscoll did make an apology except to Mr. Fleming, one of the magistrates, who had displeased him more than the others. The Chairman, however, refused to accept of an apology, unless it included all the Bench, and Mr. O'Driscoll then tendered an apology to the whole Bench. He would there observe, that up to this period, when the Lord Chancellor cancelled his former act—a righteous act—he was desirous to speak in no terms but those of praise of the noble and learned Lord; but when the Lord Chancellor was convinced that Mr. O'Driscoll had conducted himself in a manner which unfitted him to be a magistrate, why should he afterwards reinstate him in the Commission of the Peace? Mr. O'Driscoll wished to be let down easily; when he was about to be dismissed he pressed hard to be allowed to retire quietly on the score of age and infirmities—he begged and prayed that a triumph might not be given to his enemies, and said that if allowed to sit with his brother magistrates for a short time, he would take no part in their proceedings. The Lord Chancellor, however, told him it was on public grounds his dismissal was resolved upon, and his request refused. He did not bring forward this subject for the sake of Dineen, or Dempsey, or Sullivan, but for principle; for these were dangerous times in which to tamper with the feelings of the people of Ireland. With respect to the requisition calling for the restoration of Mr. O'Driscoll to the Commission of the Peace, they all knew, at least those who were acquainted with Ireland knew, that nothing was more easy than to get signatures to such a requisition by sending the baliff or agent round with an intimation that the landlord of the tenants amongs whom it might be sent was desirous that they should sign it. Nothing was more easy than to get up a requisition, but if that requisition was sufficient to obtain the restoration of Mr. O'Driscoll, then he would undertake to say that he could get a requistion calling for his dismissal signed by a 100 names for every one which was attached to the repuisition for his restoration. There was a strong feeling abroad that nothing but direct influence of the description to which he alluded on the tenantry could have obtained that requisition. If Mr. O'Driscoll had been deemed by the Chancellor unfit to continue in the Commission of the Peace some time since, what had occurred to alter that unfitness. He was not popular; but unpopularity appeared to be a good ground of promotion and advancement with this Government. It was only the other day that Mr. O'Brien, one of the most unpopular men in Ireland, who was distinguished for nothing but the most virulent attacks on the man who was the idol of the Irish people, had received an appointment. He lamented the turn which this affair had taken. It excited the hopes of one party, and depressed another. It was the duty of the Government to hold the balance fairly between all parties, and inspire the people with confidence in the justice of those in authority, and not to pursue a course which would destroy all confidence in the Government, and alienate the hearts of the people beyond the hope of recovery. The hon. Member concluded by moving, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying for the removal of Mr. Alexander O'Driscoll from the Commission of the Peace.

Mr. Dillon Browne

rose to second the Motion. He would ask the Government if the restoration of Mr. O'Driscoll to the magistracy was calculated to promote tranquillity in Ireland, or give satisfaction to the people? If Mr. O'Driscoll had not been restored, would the most violent supporters of the Government have blamed the Lord Chancellor? This gentleman, who was restored to the Commission of the Peace, had violated the laws of the country, and outraged the liberty of the subject, by a violent assault upon an unoffending individual. Mr. O'Driscoll had been guilty of a gross contempt of court. He said that justice had not been done him by the Bench. Certainly it had not, for the case ought to have been sent to the assizes. Because Mr. O'Driscoll was splenatic and irritable, that was no reason why he should be allowed to violate the law. The opinion of the public was that Mr. O'Driscoll was restored to the Bench either as a criminal or a madman; either a man who had committed grave crimes, or one who was subject to a malady that rendered the administration of justice in his hands a delusion and a mockery. And why was this gentleman restored? in consequence of a sanatory certificate, or bill of health, signed by 2,900 non-medical persons of his restoration to magisterial capacity. If he chose to say that in consequence of ill health he had attended repeal meetings last year, but that he was now restored to health, would the Government reinstate him in the Commission of the Peace. This was one of those farces in the administration of justice in Ireland; which, however, were attended with such melancholy consequences. He contended that it was not the part of a gentleman to strike any one; certainly not to strike his inferior; and if the person whom Mr. O'Driscoll assaulted had been a man, and had retaliated, he might have slain Mr. O'Driscoll and been hanged, or at least transported, in consequence of the intemperance of this man who had been restored. He was sorry that the noble Lord, the Secretary for Ireland, had deviated from the professions of impartiality which he had made upon entering upon his career of office, and countenanced measures which were calculated to alienate the feelings and destroy the confidence of the Irish people, instead of conciliating their affections, and impressing them with respect for the administration of justice. He would appeal to the right hon. Gentleman, at the head of the Government, who would, he believed, if unembarrassed by party, be more inclined to do justice to Ireland, and for whose opinions he had a greater respect than for any other Member of the Government, whether the restoration of this man to the Commission of the Peace was calculated to remove the dissatisfaction and discontent which prevailed in Ireland.

Lord Eliot

was far from denying that there might be circumstances in which it would be the duty of that House to address Her Majesty to remove a Magistrate from the Commission of the Peace, but he thought that when a Member called upon the House thus to interfere with the Prerogative of the Crown, exercised by its highest Law Officer, the Keeper of the Great Seal, he ought to be prepared to show that the power had been exercised either corruptly or mischievously. The removal and the restoration of Mr. O'Driscoll were judicial acts which had not been done without mature deliberation by his right hon. Friend, the Lord Chancellor of Ireland, to whose talent, application, and attainments, he believed the whole Bar of Ireland did justice. He (Lord Eliot) did not stand up as the apologist of Mr. O'Driscoll. On the contrary, he frankly admitted, in the fullest sense of the term, that the acts for which that Gentleman had been removed by his right hon. Friend were highly blameable; but he said that the case had been too highly coloured on the other side; and although he did not assert that Dineen was less credible than Mr. O'Driscoll, yet he maintained that upon points on which the magistrates expressed no opinion, Mr. O'Driscoll's testimony was at least equally entitled to belief. And yet the hon. Gentleman opposite entirely overlooked it, although, in some particulars, it was confirmed by the Bench of Magistrates. It appeared that the boy Dempsey was not himself anxious to make any complaint; and it also appeared that his person did not present any bruises or marks of blood as if he had been severely injured. Mr. O'Driscoll himself declared, that he had struck the boy with his whip but once; although, on the other side it was stated that he had struck him three times. For the assault the magistrates fined him 40s. and costs, against which Mr. O'Driscoll remonstrated in very unbecoming terms, he admitted; but his apology was accepted by his brother magistrates, and, therefore, it would appear that they did not consider his offence to be one of such enormity as was represented by the hon. Gentleman. And those magistrates are amongst the persons who petitioned the Lord Chancellor for his restoration, on the ground that he might with advantage be restored to the Commission of the Peace, which he had held for many years with credit to himself and benefit to the public. The hon. Gentleman complained of his having laid great stress upon the state of Mr. O'Driscoll's health. He certainly had stated it as one of the grounds assigned by the Lord Chancellor—none of which would have been sufficient of itself — but which, taken altogether, amounted to a justification of his removal. Such was the representation made to the Lord Chancellor for him to take into his consideration. Mr. O'Driscoll was not connected with persons of wealth or of power, but was a gentleman of ancient family, who had lived for many years constantly on his estate, dispensing charity, and had acted for thirty years as a magistrate. Under such circumstances, he trusted that the House would come to the conclusion that the course that had been taken, though Gentlemen opposite might not, under similar circumstances, think would be deemed the best and wisest to pursue, yet, on the part of his right hon. Friend, was one which the Government sanctioned as desirable to adopt, and as being in accordance with the wishes of a large portion of the community.

Mr. R. More O'Ferrall

remarked, that the question before the House was, that an Address should be presented to Her Majesty for the dismissal of Mr. O'Driscoll from the Magistracy. He thought that the hon. Member for Belfast had had satisfactory grounds to show that Mr. O'Driscoll had been properly dismissed, and improperly restored. The noble Lord, the Secretary for Ireland had risen for the purpose of replying, and he took it for granted that the object of the noble Lord in rising was to show that Mr. O'Driscoll had been properly restored. He now, then, appealed to the House—to every Gentleman in that House, who had heard the statement of the noble Lord—whether he had alleged a single ground for the restoration of Mr. O'Driscoll. There was an endeavour here to throw the responsibility of his restoration upon the Lord Chancellor of Ireland. He said of the Lord Chancellor, that there never was a man who held office in that country of higher character, or who deserved more the respect and confidence of every gentleman in that country. They had to recollect that the Lord Chancellor had gone to Ireland with English notions—that he supposed that every man who was a magistrate in Ireland was suited for the discharge of the functions of that office; that he was fitted, by his temper, education, habits, and moderation, for a seat on the Bench; and that, if such a man were betrayed into a momentary forgetfulness of himself, it might not be an unfitting exercise of mercy to restore him to the position which he had lost. So far, however, was this from being the case, that they should recollect that in Ireland some of the greatest evils that afflicted that country had arisen from the misconduct of those entrusted with the administration of justice, and from many of the magistrates themselves had arisen those very crimes which that House were so often called upon to legislate against. In such a state the Lord Chancellor required years of experience before he could deal with the circumstances that surrounded him. He ought to have been in treated not to proceed until he had acquired information from those connected with the country. He said that the Lord Chancellor ought to have been referred to some one connected with Ireland, and having shown to such person the grounds for dismissal; he was sure that the Chancellor would have been recommended, if he were anxious for the peace of Ireland, and to maintain respect for the law in that country, not to restore such a person to the Commission of the Peace. He ventured to say that there was not one man on the other side of the House who would not, under such circumstances, have given this advice. He himself had frequently been asked by gentlemen in this country why it was that the peasantry had their combinations—why it was that they entered into illegal associations to commit crime? His answer was, they would find a reason for these things in the case of Mr. O'Driscoll. The right hon. Gentleman, the First Lord of the Treasury, had appointed a Commission, for the purpose of inquiring into the relations of landlords and tenants in Ireland. It was a most useful Act. It was done, he was sure, in perfect sincerity, and if the right hon. Gentleman's intentions were carried out, he was convinced it would be attended with most useful results, and from that Commission many cases similar to the present would be brought forward. The right hon. Gentleman recapitulated the facts of the case, and continued. One of the cattle of Dineen, a neighbour of Sullivan's, was allowed to go on the farm of the unfortunate Sullivan. O'Driscoll, seeing the cattle on the land, put the law shortly in force—he took away the cow for the purpose of selling it for Sullivan's rent. He was taking away the property of one man to pay rent for a farm with which he had nothing to do; the property of a man who had nothing to do with O'Driscoll and nothing to do with Sullivan. It was a natural feeling for any man, even supposing him to have a knowledge of the law, but how much more so for one ignorant of the law, that he should feel incensed when he saw his cattle, that had strayed upon the land of the other, seized upon and appropriated to the payment of rent with which he had nothing to do. He might, to be sure, have resorted to a replevin, but how was he to go through all the processes of recovering his own property at the end of two or three months? He took the law into his own hands, and he acted as the magistrate afterwards did in his awn case. Let them, then, see what had happened. Dineen was brought by one magistrate before another and committed to Bridewell, and for his conduct in this proceeding Mr. O'Driscoll was dismissed — and then restored! What do the peasantry say to these things? Dineen was unjustly treated, Sullivan harshly, and O'Driscoll has been convicted of illegal conduct and tyrannical proceedings, and yet he has been restored to the Commission of the Peace without any reason whatever having been given for his restoration. There, then, was the origin of illegal combinations, and of those crimes against which punishments were enacted. The poor man seeing that there is no law nor justice for him, and sometimes when it chanced that law and justice combined to punish the rich, yet that immediately afterwards, and without rhyme or reason, the rich man was restored to his position, the poor believed that there was no justice for them. Various scenes of this kind occurred, and finding them to occur, the peasantry said, "Let us all combine together—let us bind ourselves by oaths to resist tyranny, and then we may have a chance to get justice." That this was the cause of these combinations, to suppress which the Government now sought to pass one of the most monstrous acts, and a more monstrous act had never been passed. If the Government wished to put down illegal combinations, they must deal out equal justice to the rich and to the poor, and if a magistrate transgressed the law, he should not without a sufficient reason be restored. He asked the House if the noble Lord had established a single mitigatory circumstance in favour of Mr. O'Driscoll, upon whom, no one would be disposed to press hardly considering his time of life. What, he asked, had been alleged in favour of this Conservative Catholic? of this great acquisition to the Conservative party? What do they state of him? "Though a Roman Catholic." The Conservative friends of this Gentleman say—"Though a Catholic!" He said that the Roman Catholic who sought for such support, on such terms, must be the basest of men living. "Though a Catholic" it seemed that he might be considered a loyal man. Such was the spirit in which the Catholic was spoken of, that he might be actually regarded as a loyal man, "though a Roman Catholic." The words of the memorial were, "Though a Roman Catholic, he never affected to conceal his sentiments." Meaning that Roman Catholics, as a body, did conceal their sentiments. And then it said, "he was, nevertheless, looked up to by persons of every creed." Yes, nevertheless his being a Roman Catholic, "as being entitled, on account of his integrity, to their confidence." And it seemed that Mr. O'Driscoll gave them no reason to regret their confidence, as he showed himself at all times ready to act against the unfortunate people. Any man in the position of a magistrate was bound to protect the poor; but for a Roman Catholic—he who knew what was the value of the poor—who must be aware of the sufferings they had endured for the sake of their religion—for such a man, a Roman Catholic too, to be found amongst the enemies and the oppressors of the poor—was doubly disgraceful to him, both by reason of his persuasion and his position.

Sir James Graham

was anxious to address the House on this subject. They were not now trying the question as to whether Mr. O'Driscoll was a good or a bad landlord. Neither were they trying any question as to his religion or his politics; and he must, in passing, observe that the hon. Gentleman could not have read the memorial with attention, for he seemed to have conceived a wrong impression, as to the expression, "Though a Roman Catholic;" for as he understood the sentence, it meant this, that though Mr. O'Driscoll was a Roman Catholic, yet perfect confidence was placed in him by others, without reference to creed. As to the question that was before the House, it appeared to him to lie within a very narrow compass. The facts were undisputed. There might be palliation on the one, or exaggeration on the other; but it appeared from the statement of his noble Friend the Secretary for Ireland, that the conduct of Mr. O'Driscoll, which led to his being deprived of the Commission of the Peace, was, in the main, indefensible. Mr. O'Driscoll had arrested a person without a warrant, and had also beaten the boy, and still more, on being fined by the Bench, he denied, in terms of discourtesy, that justice had been done to him. In all these transactions the conduct of Mr. O'Driscoll was indefensible, and he thought that the Lord Chancellor was right in removing Mr. O'Driscoll from the Commission of the Peace. He begged of the House to consider that the removal of Magistrates in Ireland was of a twofold character. It may be either judicial, as relating to the conduct of a person as a Magistrate, or it may be a political act on the part of the Lord Chancellor, in which latter case it is more Ministerial than judicial. He thought it might be seen from the representations of this case that the decisions of the Lord Chancellor upon it were purely judicial, and not in the slightest degree of a political character. The removal was a judicial act, and in the restoration to the Commission there was neither directly nor indirectly an application made of a political character. The Lord Chancellor, when he decided on the removal of Mr. O'Driscoll, as well as when he determined upon restoring him, was not actuated by any political consideration. A compliment had been paid, and no one he was sure would think unjustly, to the judicial character of his right hon. Friend, Sir Edward Sugden, to whom might truly be applied those words of the poet upon another judge— In Israel's courts ne'er sat an Abethdin, With more discerning eyes, or hands more clean, Unbrib'd, unsought, the wretched to redress; Swift of dispatch, and easy of access. The Lord Chancellor had considered, under all the circumstances, and upon receiving a memorial signed by the Lord Lieutenant of the county, a considerable number of the gentry, and by three thousand persons without distinction of political opinions or religious belief, that in mercy Mr. O'Driscoll could properly be restored to the Commission of the Peace. The question was, had or had not Sir R. Sugden acted justly or properly, or unjustly or improperly? He could not think that, viewing all the circumstances of the case, that they would pass a censure on the Lord Chancellor of Ireland. He was the last person who would wish to see the least taint cast upon the administration of justice in Ireland. He thought that the even tenor of justice was indispensable, in the present unhappy and divided state of that country. He was sure that it was his desire to maintain justice, and that it should be administered with care and caution. He admitted that he thought this subject a very proper one for the House to consider. But believing that the Lord Chancellor of Ireland had acted properly in all that he had done in regard to it, both in the dismissal of Mr. O'Driscoll and in his subsequent restoration to the Bench, and being quite willing to take his share in the responsibility of those acts, he still confidently appealed to a favourable decision from the House on the present occasion.

Mr. Sheil

The reference made by the right hon. Baronet to Dryden's celebrated lines is unfortunate—for if Ashley Cooper was eminent for his merits as a judge, as ex-statesman, as the leader of the Cabal, he has incurred the censure of history, and may be quoted as a proof that judicial virtue may be associated with political imperfections of no ordinary kind. Sir Edward Sugden to whom the right hon. Baronet has thought it judicious to apply the passage from the great poet, is a sorry politician indeed. The judicial duties of the Lord Chancellor are so distinct from his political functions, and the qualifications for their discharge are so different, that it has been often and not unwisely suggested, that they ought not to be associated, and that to the same individual questions of law and of public policy ought no longer to be submitted. A man who has passed the better part of his life in Lincoln's Inn, whose political horizon is almost as bounded as the prospect which he surveys from that domicile of conveyancers and of special pleaders; who has for twenty years, perhaps, expended twelve hours a day in the minute disquisitions of an almost scholastic profession, is nearly disqualified for the great functions which are suddenly imposed upon him, upon his elevation to the office to which so much political power is attached as that of Lord Chancellor of Ireland. Transferred from the contentions merely forensic, to the tempestuous agitation of Irish politics, he must be utterly bewildered and at a loss what to do. He must feel the utmost difficulty in regulating his course, and instead of acting on great principles and looking at high and conspicuous beacons, it is, if I may venture so to say, by what lawyers call the scintilla juris, that he is likely to steer his way. He is, as I have already observed an excellent judge, most anxious to do justice between man and man. But when he comes to arbitrate between contending parties, he is rash, precipitate and capricious, and affords too much reason to lament that with good intentions, so little capacity for their realization is combined. In dismissing and restoring magistrates, Sir Edward Sugden performs a political and not a judicial duty. The contrary has been alleged by the right hon. Baronet, but surely the right hon. Baronet will not maintain that, in depriving gentlemen of the Commission of the Peace for attending repeal meetings, he has not acted as a politician, and as a minister of the Crown, entrusted with executive power. Men of the highest respectability have been removed from the list of magistrates, merely for no other reason than their expression of an opinion favourable to the restoration of an Irish Parliament, while Mr. Alexander O'Driscoll has been restored to the Bench, under circumstances which Her Majesty's Ministers have found it more than difficult to excuse. How stand the facts? Mr. O'Driscoll distraining for rent due by his tenant Sullivan. He seises his potatoes, the only sustenance of the poor man's family, and causes several hundred cart loads of that miserable food to be conveyed to his own haggard. He distrains a second time. Sullivan's field is contiguous to Dineen's. Dineen's cattle stray through a gap into Sullivan's land, and Hurly, O'Driscoll's driver, seizes them for Sullivan's rent; they are rescued by a man whom Hurly does not know. O'Driscoll, acting in his own case, issues a summons signed by himself as a magistrate, and causes Dineen to be brought before him. He was wrong, says Sir Edward Sugden, in acting in his own case. We shall presently see what sort of case it was, but the phrase employed by the Lord Chancellor of Ireland was peculiarly mitigated, and indicates far less resentment than was to be expected from him. But does O'Driscoll content himself with issuing a summons? He causes Dineen to be confined in a Bridewell without a commitment, or a legal authority of any kind. It was observed, indeed, that it was Mr. Galway who had ordered Dineen to be imprisoned. But it is beyond controversy that it was at O'Driscoll's instance that this outrage was committed, and that O'Driscoll accompanied the police, in whose custody Dineen went to prison. Dineen was two days afterwards brought before the magistrates at Petty Sessions, and in the investigation of the case, what appeared? That Mr. O'Driscoll distrained for rent,—he had the amount in his pocket. You have issued a Commission to enquire into the relations of landlord and tenant in Ireland; you have expressed deep sympathy with the unfortunate occupiers of the soil, and the Lord Chancellor of Ireland with such facts before him, contents himself with stating that Mr. O'Driscoll was in the wrong, but that Dineen must be left to his remedy at law. At the very time that the enquiry into these facts was going on, another incident occurred, or rather another series of outrages commenced, at which even Sir Edward Sugden for a moment became indignant, although his virtuous anger underwent a rapid process of refrigeration. O'Driscoll himself, in his account of these transactions, has unwittingly presented to us a picture, which it would be difficult to exaggerate. He says, that when he was out hunting he saw a crowd of people and that one of them discharged a gun; the crowd ran away—O'Driscoll followed a boy, who sought refuge in the house of a poor woman, who begged O'Driscoll to have mercy on him. O'Driscoll insisted that the boy should be brought forward, and there being some delay, he himself, with his whip, coiled round the boy's neck, then dragged him out of the house. The boy fell on his knees, and as was sworn by the boy, and by a girl, who corroborated his testimony in every particular, he was cruelly horsewhipped by O'Driscoll. The case was brought before the Petty Sessions —Mr. O'Driscoll was fined by his brother magistrates, a sum of 1l. and charged 1l. for costs. Whereupon Mr. O'Driscoll broke out into a most vehement denunciation of the magistrates challenged the whole Bench to fight him, and gave the chairman to understand, that he would transmit to him a three cornered note. When the attention of the Lord Chancellor was drawn to these facts he called for an explanation, O'Driscoll made light of the matter, called the boy a poaching urchin, and relied on his being a Conservative Catholic. Sir Edward Sugden dismissed O'Driscoll. But if he acted with propriety in dismissing him, for his restoration it follows that he deserves the most unqualified condemnation. What fact occurred, what single circumstance was presented to the consideration of Sir Edward Sugden, by which he ought to have been induced to reverse his decision? Did the memorial, which was signed in favour of Mr. O'Driscoll, affect in the least degree the merits of the case? Was a single fact disputed? The memorial was signed by Lord Kingston. But Lord Kingston lives at a distance of thirty miles from Skibereen and had no knowledge of the circumstances. Did a single Roman Catholic clergyman sign the memorial, or was it signed by any one man, who can be supposed to have any knowledge of the feelings of the people in the neighbourhood, where Mr. O'Driscoll exercised his magisterial functions? It is perfectly manifest from Mr. O'Driscoll's own statement, that the memorial was got up through the instrumentality of Mr. O'Driscoll's Conservative associates in the county of Cork, and that his restoration was made by them a party object. The memorialists do not dispute the truth of any one of the charges adduced against Mr. O'Driscoll. Those charges have indeed been extenuated in another place, and Lord Wharncliffe is reported to have stated, that an allowance is to be made for a man, who beats a boy in the excitement of sport. The love of sport is English, but the assault upon a child is utterly the reverse, and I believe that there is scarce a man in this House who would not give up his hounds for ever, than act the part which Mr. O'Driscoll has pursued. Indeed my Lord Wharncliffe is the only individual of any weight by which this palliation for the conduct of Mr. O'Driscoll has been suggested; and a defence of this kind instead of reconciling the people of Cork to the restoration of Mr. O'Driscoll, is but an aggravation of the offence committed by the Government in their regard. Sir Edward Sugden does not appear to have taken the sentiments of the people, for whom Mr. O'Driscoll is recommissioned to administer justice, into any account. What must be the feelings of the peasantry, when they see lifted up to the Bench from the degradation to which he had been consigned, and by the very hand which had struck him down, a man, guilty towards his tenants of the most monstrous oppression, convicted of a gross outrage upon a poor child, and who had consummated his offences against humannity by a gladiatorial exhibition in the Court, where the Chancellor of Ireland has thought it becoming to appoint him to preside. Mr. O'Driscoll has been reappointed because he is a Catholic Conservative, but in point of policy as well as justice, a worse step could hardly have been adopted. But if the Lord Chancellor of Ireland has neglected his duty, let us not be forgetful of ours—and let the House of Commons to whom the Lord Chancellor of Ireland is responsible, interpose to rescue the magisterial bench from the discredit which must result to it from the restoration of a person so utterly unworthy of the trust so rashly confided to him, as the gentleman whom Sir Edward Sugden has selected as an object of favour of which by his political sympathies the only plausible solution is supplied.

Mr. Bellew

agreed with the right hon. Baronet opposite, that this Motion could not be properly supported unless it was intended to accuse the Lord Chancellor of corrupt or improper conduct. He distinctly charged the Lord Chancellor with improper conduct in this case; and Her Majesty's Government, if they lent their sanction and authority to such a course of proceeding as had recently been going on in Ireland, in regard to the magistracy, would be utterly disabling themselves from carrying on the administration of the affairs of that country,

The House divided:—Ayes 59; Noes 92: Majority 33.

List of the AYES.
Aglionby, H. A. Brotherton, J.
Aldam, W. Byng, rt. hn. G. S.
Archbold, R. Chapman, B.
Arundel and Surrey, Earl of Colborne, hn. W. N. R.
Collett, J.
Bannerman, A. Craig, W. G.
Bellew, R. M. Dawson, hon. T. V.
Bowes, J. Denison, W. J.
Bowring, Dr. Duncan, G.
Duncombe, T. Pechell, Capt.
Dundas, Ad. Plumridge, Capt.
Esmonde, Sir T. Ponsonby, hn. C. F. A.
Forster, M. Rawdon, Col.
Fox, C. R. Scott, R.
Gore, hon. R. Sheil, rt. hn. R. L.
Hastie, A. Shelburne, Earl of
Hawes, B. Smith, J. A.
Hollond, R. Smith, rt. hon. R. V.
Howard, P. H. Somerville, Sir W. M.
Howard, Sir R. Strutt, E.
Hutt, W. Tancred, H. W.
M'Taggart, Sir J. Thornely, T.
Mitcalfe, H. Villiers, hon. C.
Mitchell, T. A. Wakley, T.
Morris, D. Walker, R.
Murphy, F. S. Wawn, J. T.
Norreys, Sir D. J. Wyse, T.
O'Connell, M. J. Yorke, H. R.
O'Conor Don
O'Ferrall, R. M. TELLERS.
Ogle, S. C. H. Ross, D. R.
Ord, W. Browne, R. D.
List of the NOES.
A'Court, Captain Fuller, A. E.
Adderley, C. B. Gaskell, J. Miles
Archdall, Capt. M. Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E.
Arkwright, G. Gordon, hon. Capt.
Astell, W. Goulburn, rt. hon. H.
Bankes, G. Graham, rt. hn. Sir J.
Baring, hon. W. B. Greene, T.
Barneby, J. Grogan, E.
Barrington, Visct. Hamilton, J. H.
Baskerville, T. B. M. Herbert, hon. S.
Bateson, T. Hodgson, R.
Beckett, W. Hope, hon. C.
Bentinck, Lord G. Hope, G. W.
Beresford, Major Hornby, J.
Blackburne, J. I. Hussey, T.
Blackstone, W. S. Ingestre, Visct.
Boldero, H. G. Jermyn, Earl
Bowles, Ad. Jones, Capt.
Broadley, H. Kemble, H.
Bruce, Lord E. Knatchbull, rt. hn. Sir E.
Bruges, W. H. L. Lennox, Lord A.
Buckley, E. Lincoln, Earl of
Bunbury, T. Mackinnon, W. A.
Chelsea, Visct. Maclean, D.
Clerk, Sir G. Masterman, J.
Cockburn, rt. hn. Sir G. Maxwell, hon. J. P.
Colvile, C. R. Meynell, Capt.
Corry, rt. hon. H. Milnes, R. M.
Cripps, W. Nicholl, rt. hon. J.
Damer, hon. Col. Patten, J. W.
Darby, G. Peel, rt. hn. Sir R.
Denison, E. B. Peel, J.
Douglas, Sir C. E. Pringle, A.
Douglas, J. D. S. Rolleston, Col.
Eaton, R. J. Round, J.
Eliot, Lord Rous, hon. Capt.
Farnham, E. B. Rushbrooke, Col.
Flower, Sir J. Sheppard, T.
Forbes, W. Smith, rt. hn. T. B. C.
Forman, T. S. Somerset, Lord G.
Fremantle, rt. hn. Sir T. Sotheron, T. H. S.
Spooner, R. Trench, Sir F. W.
Stanley, Lord Trotter, J.
Stuart, H. Wodehouse, E.
Sutton, hon. H. M.
Taylor, E. TELLERS.
Thesiger, Sir F. Young, J.
Tollemache, hn. F. J. Baring, H.

House adjourned at one o'clock.