said: In rising to propose an Amendment to the Motion of the right hon. Baronet, I promise the House to be as brief as I reasonably can; and if I should trespass upon its patience longer than my own inclination would dictate, I trust that the importance of the question will plead my excuse. The case on behalf of the promoters of the Bill has been stated by the right hon. Baronet in a manner which it is impossible should give dissatisfaction to any quarter. I will not say one word against that manner. I never heard a harsh measure more moderately proposed; and there is, I may say for us, danger even in moderation. The only attempts of the right hon. Baronet at anything like the colouring of oratory was, when he attributed the crimes to causes out of which they have not arisen. I do not think he has shown in the slightest degree, he scarcely attempted to show, that the evils, such as they are, would be remedied by this measure: in fact, he only alluded to the Bill just to vindicate the severity of its provisions, by comparing it with former enactments. He did not show, or attempt to show, that this Bill would remedy the existing evils, or prevent the crimes with which we are unhappily menaced in Ireland. There were, however—shall I call them admissible?—statements made by the right hon. Baronet that are highly consolatory. It is consolatory to know, on the authority of Government, that there is nothing political in the crimes charged against Ireland—above all, that there is nothing religious, or belonging to any sect or religion, in the crimes themselves—that they are equally perpetrated against persons of every species of politics, against persons of each religion—that the Roman Catholic religion is no protection to Roman Catholics, and Protestantism no incentive against Protestants. It is confessed by Her Majesty's Government, and it is an undoubted fact, that there is nothing in these outrages which partakes either of sectarianism or political bias. I will now proceed to notice other statements made by the right hon. Baronet. He said distinctly, that out of thirty-two counties in Ireland twenty-two are free from disturbance: there are five in which it is partial, and five more where it prevails to a greater extent. Thus, no less than two- 494 thirds of the entire country are perfectly free from any taint of the guilt belonging to others. Then, the right hon. Baronet has clearly told us, that even in the counties actually disturbed the great majority of the inhabitants have not participated in the disturbances; they are confined to a comparatively small minority, which is engaged more or less in outrages. Therefore, a Coercion Bill is utterly unnecessary, according to the confession of Ministers, for the great body of the population of Ireland. There are, it seems, five counties requiring, as the right hon. Baronet contends, harsh measures; only five counties, and in those the great majority of the inhabitants are free from guilt. Before I proceed farther, again let me remind the House, and I do it, I may say, in the presence of the press of England, that however they may assume that the disturbances have a political basis and a sectarian origin, the Government has declared and decided the contrary. I will now notice one or two of the particular cases alluded to by the right hon. Baronet. First, as to the case of the wife and husband in the county of Tyrone, I did not think it could have been mentioned as a proof that crime calling for this Bill existed in Ireland. The county of Tyrone is as quiet as any county in England, or as any district on the face of the globe: crime, such as it was, was diminishing, and the horrible outrage referred to was one of those acts of delinquency which are sometimes committed in the best regulated and most civilized communities. It ought never to have been made one of the features justifying this measure. I am borne out most completely by evidence when I speak of the tranquillity of Tyrone. Next, I will allude for a moment to the letter the right hon. Baronet received from Mr. P. B. Ryan, "my faithful friend." Of Mr. Ryan we shall hear more; but I must at present read one passage from a local paper, which will serve to show the degree of veracity to be attributed to this worthy gentleman;—Mr. P. B. Ryan.—We regret being under the unavoidable necessity of postponing the able and masterly reply of P. Fogarty, esq., of Cabra Castle, to an extraordinary letter which has recently been published, with the name of the above gentleman signed to it. Mr. Fogarty says, that the Thurles bench of magistrates should be appealed to in relation to Mr. B. Ryan's wonderful letter.So we shall certainly have full information as to that gentleman's veracity. Before I enter into the subject more at large, I wish 495 to recall the House to the fact of the unhappy assassination of Mr. Pierse Carrick. Now, I think it would be well that the House should distinctly understand that case—not as reflecting upon the character of the unhappy murdered man—not for the purpose of palliating in the slightest degree his murder. It is a crime that no man not fit to be a participator in the murder would attempt to justify, or even to palliate. I feel almost unwilling to go into the question of the causes of that murder, lest it should have the appearance—it could not have the reality—of palliating it; but it is necessary that the facts should be known by the House. We are appealing to you—we are appealing to the House—for the notice I give is a notice of appeal to the House to eradicate the causes of crime—and to enable you to do so, you must distinctly understand why it is that those wretches are tempted to commit—if they cannot be justified in committing—crimes of this description. Now, I have the local newspaper which contains a paragraph relative to the conduct of Mr. Carrick. It states this—but it will be less tedious to the House that I should make this statement with reference to Mr. Carrick. Unhappily he was the agent of a young gentleman under age. He got the tenants to pay their rents, by a promise that as soon as the young gentleman came of age, 25 per cent should be taken off their rents. The young gentleman came of age. Mr. Carrick did not call upon him to perform his promise—he sent out a valuer to value the lands—the tenants thought that a reduction of rent would follow the valuation; but the valuation was higher than the existing rent, and they were obliged to pay that high rent And when they came to expostulate with the valuator, what did he say? He said, he did not value the lands at all; that he got a cut and dry valuation—that was the phrase he used—from Mr. Carrick, and he only made a return of that which was dictated to him. Mr. Carrick told the tenants they must take out leases; and when they came with their rent, the first thing he did was to stop 10l. from each tenant for the expense of a lease. They paid 10l. each—they were obliged to go home to collect money to make up the deficiency in the rent; but from that day to the day of his death they never got a single lease. If he had lived one week longer, he would have got an habere and turned out thirty-one families, And here, again, let me solemnly protest 496 —I am sure I need not—that I do not consider any of these acts as an excuse, or a reason, or even as the slightest palliation of his murder. No, they are not; it was a horrible murder—it was an atrocious murder—it was a crime that is deserving of the severest punishment that man can inflict, and which causes the red arm of God's vengeance to be suspended over the murderer. I want the House to prevent the recurrence of such murders. You are going to enact a Coercion Bill against the peasantry and the tenantry; and my object is, that you should turn to the landlords, and enact a Coercion Bill against them also, when they attempt to commit those abuses of property. They have a legal right; but I say those abuses of property are really the stimulants to the worst of crimes. Now, the Amendment I mean to propose is this:—That while this House deplores the existence of outrage in Ireland, and is sincerely anxious for its repression, it is of opinion that such outrage will be aggravated, not removed, by the arbitrary, unjust, and unconstitutional enactments of this Bill; and that it is the duty of Parliament to adopt such measures as will tend to eradicate the causes which produce those crimes, instead of resorting to laws which will harass and oppress the innocent without restraining the guilty, and which being restrictive of public liberty cannot fail to augment national discontent.Sir, my Motion, the House perceives, is directed to remedy the evil complained of. It does not controvert the fact—unhappily, it cannot controvert the fact—of the existence of crime which the Government has stated. There is no doubt that atrocious murders have been committed — there is no doubt that the number of those murders is not diminishing. The question is, what is the proper method of preventing the recurrence of these crimes? If I thought that would be effected by this Bill, there is not a man in this House that would vote for it more readily than I would. But I solemnly declare that my opposition to it is founded upon this—that I am convinced the words of this Resolution are true; and that this Bill, instead of leading to the amelioration of crime, will augment it, and increase the number of the victims. Now, just look at the Bill for one moment, and you will find that it is calculated, take it at the best, to inflict a penalty of a most grievous nature upon many innocent persons, with the chance of reaching a few guilty. It certainly will inflict a penalty upon many innocent persons, in the expectation of reaching a few of the guilty; and even that is 497 an expectation which is not likely to be realized by this process. Now, I shall call the attention of the House to the clauses of this Bill itself. You should understand distinctly what it it is the Bill contains, and how little applicable it is to the suppression of crime. The right hon. Baronet did not distinctly state the clauses of the Bill in proposing it. He merely alleged former Bills of this kind, and, amongst other things, he attempted to show that I had formerly assented to this penal clause, for which purpose he quoted Hansard. Now, Sir, I am as ready as any man to have any clause introduced, which, without violating constitutional principle, will have the slightest tendency to repress crime of any kind. The first provision of the Bill is to give to the Lord Lieutenant arbitrary power. It gives him the power, at his will and pleasure, without assigning a reason, with-the necessity of proof of any form, to proclaim any part of Ireland he pleases. The allegation that the proclamation is necessary may be unfounded in fact, and, therefore, the proclamation equally unfounded—utterly unfounded in fact; but no contradiction of the allegation can be received, for there is a clause in the Bill by which to the proclamation itself is declared be conclusive evidence of the fact; so that the sic volo sic jubeo of the Lord Lieutenant is quite enough to authorize the issuing of the proclamation, though the Bill, to be sure, says that he must have some pretext for so doing—that there shall be some disturbance in the district. The Lord Lieutenant can also add an adjacent district to a district so proclaimed; for instance, if the county of Monaghan were proclaimed, the county of Tyrone, or any part of that county, can be proclaimed by reason of the disturbances in the county of Monaghan, and the habeas corpus will no longer be of any value in any such proclaimed district. The most unlimited powers are then given to the Lord Lieutenant to charge any of those districts with any sum of money he pleases. There is no limit to it but the possibility of its being paid. He can give any sum of money by way of recompense or compensation to any person that is injured. I do not so much complain of that—the grand jurors have something of a similar power—but what I do complain of is, that by this enactment the power given to the Lord Lieutenant is unlimited. There is no control over him, as in the case of the grand juries, whose presentments may be traversed, and who, hav- 498 ing themselves to pay part of the money, would be cautious not to give too much to any suffering person. But the Lord Lieutenant has no limit to his power; he can give any sum he pleases, and there is no traversing his presentment, or controlling it. In the next place, he can give a reward to any person he pleases. In short, he has the most unlimited power to reward that it is possible to give. He has next the power of increasing patronage unlimitedly in those proclaimed districts. He has the power of appointing as many stipendiary magistrates as he pleases. He has the power of appointing inspectors of police, and chiefs of police, and sub-constables, and officers, and privates of police, as he thinks fit. Uncontrolled, unchecked, without any legal possibility of preventing it, he has those powers. He has the power of compensation to any extent—he has the power of giving rewards to any extent, and of appointing policemen and officers of every description to any extent he chooses. The effect of that may not be easily understood in this country, but it is well known in Ireland. I am not accusing any Government; it is an accusation against human nature. Persons who are at all likely to get into the police have been known more than once to fabricate outrages, and represent the country to be in a state of disturbance to effect their own purposes. Now, let me tell the House how this money is to be levied. It is to be assessed by a person to be appointed by the Lord Lieutenant. No magistrate, no grand juror, or country gentleman, or lawyer, or judge, has power to control it. The Lord Lieutenant appoints a person to levy the tax. He is limited only according to the poor rate, but is not limited by the poor rate. Any person having a holding under 4l. yearly pays no poor rate, but he must pay the tax under this Bill. No person is so poor as to escape taxation under this Bill; but if a man be once rich, he is secure from it, for the lessor is not to be liable at all. The lessor is quite free, the owner is free, the country gentleman is free for his domain; he will pay nothing for his domain: the wretched cottager, or the day labourer, when he gets a day's labour, must pay the tax, but the squire in the large mansion-house pays nothing. The justification of the right hon. Baronet was, that the grand jury have the power of charging their counties by previous Acts. Why, they have; but what is the precaution taken? No additional force of police could be sent into a county without a de- 499 mand from the magistrates. The magistrates who were to assess for it were to make the demand; one half of the money was paid by the Government, and the other half by the county; and it was levied through the grand jury, who were to present for it. They had an opportunity of investigating the account, and their personal and individual interests induce them to make it as little as they could. But by this Bill no grand jury or magistrate can interfere: the whole is done at the will of the Lord Lieutenant, who appoints his taxmaster-general to go about and levy contributions. That tax falls upon the poor, and the rich man escapes, and yet this is called a Bill to make life and property secure in Ireland. How is it to do that? The wretched man scarcely able to exist at present—poor as poor can be—scarcely able to pay his rent—will have, in addition, that enormous tax to pay. If he refuse to pay it, you can get a stipendiary magistrate, or any other magistrate, to call out the army or the police to go and distrain and sell the goods by force, if necessary; you give an irresistible force for the levy being made with certainty; but what becomes of the man against whom the levy is made? Have you conciliated him—have you rendered him less liable to commit offences? Will it make him better disposed towards the noblemen and gentlemen who pay nothing? Nay, in what situation do you place him and his landlord? One of the greatest grievances of Ireland is the clearance system. See what an adjunct this measure will be to the clearance system. The landlord has additional powers to levy his rent—he has already too much; but in addition to that, the poor man is obliged to guard the rich man by the payment of taxation. He must give up possession of his holding whenever the remnant of his property is sold, and when he has no property, but is a starveling in the land. What security can you have against the wild madness of a wretch of that description? It is likewise an additional stimulant to clear the land; because a man must necessarily be a bad tenant when this additional burden is put upon him. When the landlord enters into possession, he has not this additional tax to pay, so that he derives an advantage from clearing it. In addition to other stimulants to clear it, he has the reward in anticipation of not having this tax to pay when he has cleared the land of his tenantry. The next thing I quarrel with is the power given by this Bill to arrest any 500 person found in houses (not being inmates thereof or travellers) within the proclaimed district. It enacts that any person or persons found in any proclaimed district in any house of public resort, licensed or unlicensed, in which malt liquors or spirituous liquors are sold or consumed, or in any house, shop, or other place of public resort wherein tea, coffee, provisions, liquors, or refreshments of any sort are sold or consumed, whether kept or retailed therein, or procured elsewhere (not being there for travellers), after one hour after sunset and before sunrise, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor. I should be glad to know what houses will escape? Why, even the consumption of water in a house will authorize them to break into such house, and into every room of that house. If the person authorized to enter a house be delayed an unreasonable time (he is to judge himself of what is an unreasonable time), he has power to break into the house. The rich man is safe, and liquors, and coffee, and tea may be consumed in his house; but no poor man's house will be, or can be possibly secure one moment from being broken into. Is this, I ask, the way to make the people respect the law? Is this the way to make them look to the law for protection? This is an Education Bill—this new plan of coercion; but are they likely to be taught any great reverence for the law of the land, when they find armed policemen breaking into the rooms where their wives and daughters are lying, under the pretence of searching for some person not a regular inmate of it? Now, let me remind the House that it stands admitted that, even in the disturbed counties, the majority of the people are free from taint, but they are not to be free from the tax. The entire majority must pay the tax in order to get at the guilty minority. We tax the poorest of the people in hope of what? In hope of educating them to detect persons who commit crime. Do you think you can ever succeed in that? What motive could they have? You want to intimidate them into exerting themselves to preserve the peace. On what principle are they to do that? It has been urged in support of this measure, that there was an old Saxon law which rendered the vicinage liable for every person in it; but let it be recollected that at the time the owners were the principal men in the district: they were armed, they had the magistrates, the law, the sheriff, the power of the county with them; they had the legal authority to 501 arrest every person; but what legal authority has the Irish peasant, what posse comitatus can he command? The thing is unfounded in principle, and must be most mischievous in practice. I declare most solemnly I think it will be almost impossible to prevent an insurrection if this Act be carried into effect. You may have a sanguinary warfare that can only end in ruin and destruction. The Irish people are unarmed, and in your power; they are weak, and you are strong. I would here observe, that on looking over the returns from the two glorious battles lately fought in India, that I find a great number of names in the list exactly resembling the names of the cottagers who were dispossessed by Mrs. Gerrard. But to return to this Bill. I ask, do you hope to succeed in it? Oh, no, you can never hope to succeed in anything so unjust. Do not seek it, but make it the interest of the Irish people—their real interest, to keep the peace. They will let others live when they have the means of living. By this Act of Parliament every offence is made a misdemeanor only, though in some instances punishable by transportation. That is done designedly, of course. It is made a misdemeanor, and why? Because there is no peremptory challenge allowed to a prisoner in cases of misdemeanor. If he were indicted for a felony, he is entitled to twenty challenges; but though you punish him as a felon, you take away from him the privilege he would have if you indicted him as a felon. It is a curious fact in the history of the law, that in the reign, I believe, of Edward II., it was enacted that no person prosecuting for the Crown should challenge a juror, except for cause; but the Judges have allowed the Crown to set aside jurors; so that the Crown has, in fact, unlimited power of challenge, in defiance of the Act of Parliament, of common sense, and of common justice. The next clause to which I shall call the attention of the House is that which makes being out of a dwelling-house at forbidden hours a transportable offence, unless the party proves himself to be innocent. It is said I assented to a similar clause that will be found in the Statute of 1835. I admit at once that I did assent to the Statute of 1835, and now let us see if it be a similar statute. The present Statute is put in force at the discretion of the Lord Lieutenant; the Statute of 1835 could not be put in force except by the presentment of a grand jury, finding 502 the district to be disturbed, and which could be traversed, as all such presentments can be. By the Statute of 1835 the accusers were bound to prove the guilt of the accused; by this Statute the accused is bound to prove his innocence. By the Statute of 1835, the punishment was fine and imprisonment; by this Statute the punishment is transportation. It is quite fair in Parliamentary warfare for the right hon. Baronet to quote Hansard, as the right hon. Gentleman has had it so often quoted against himself; but Hansard ought to be quoted correctly, and it cannot be quoted against me in the triumphant manner it has been quoted against the right hon. Baronet. To those who do not know me well—for to those who do it is quite unnecessary—I may be permitted to say that I have done more to prevent the perpetration of crime in Ireland than any man. When I was at the Bar, and was called upon to act as counsel in defence of Whiteboys, I never on any occasion made use of one single expression in mitigation of such description of crime, nor did I ever entertain the idea of doing so. I can produce incontestable proof of this from the testimony of the Crown Solicitor who went the same circuit. I do not deny the existence of those crimes, but I do propose the proper means to put them down. It is curious enough that by the 9th Clause, for the punishment of those found out of their houses at night, it is enacted that they shall be guilty of misdemeanor, and this clause is much relied on; but is not crime committed by day as well as by night? Are not murders committed in the open day? And yet you propose to leave the day for the commission of crime, and to apply the Coercion Bill only to the night. Nothing afflicts me more than the title of the Bill: "An Act for the better Protection of Life, and to facilitate the apprehension and detection of Persons guilty of certain Offences in Ireland." Now, how will it protect life? No protection is afforded by it by day, but by increasing the constabulary force, which can be effected by the existing law. The Bill does nothing to meet the case; but will make the people more discontented: its only effect will be to create a feeling of exasperation, and make them more intent on the commission of crime. What I call upon the House to do is to insist upon a strict investigation into the causes of these crimes, and then to eradicate them by the removal of those causes. It may be said that the Bill is in safe hands, 503 and that abuses of its power will not be allowed. But let me give the House a few instances of cases of abuse under the powers of former Acts by which a district was proclaimed, and of which the same assertion was made. I may observe, that as for attacks by night by gangs of armed men, the punishment of the law for such offences is very severe at present. If any man is found out armed at night in a disturbed district, he is adjudged to be guilty of a misdemeanor; and punished by fine, imprisonment, and whipping. This is not light punishment; for I have known instances under this Act where men have been nearly flogged to death. On former occasions, I referred to the operation of similar Acts of Parliament, to that now proposed; I will now refer to evidence on this subject. The following evidence will show that this is no idle apprehension. In the Lords' Report, 1824, page 259, Wm. F. Tighe, Esq., county Kilkenny, says—I spoke to several of the magistrates, requesting that they would omit, in their application for the Insurrection Act, the barony of Ida and the barony of Gowran, south of Thomastown.You were not aware of any disturbances at that time in the barony of Ida, or the southern part of the barony of Gowran?—I was not.Do you know on what grounds the magistrates recommended the proclamation of either? Several of the magistrates told me that if they did not proclaim it, the disaffected would take refuge there. The answer I made to them was, 'When they do so, and when it is disturbed, then, and not till then, apply to have it proclaimed.' … I have since received a letter from my agent, in which he states that he has seen a notice posted in the town of Innistiogue, by order of the magistrates, prohibiting all persons from being out after sunset, and particularly the fishermen. He further states that it his intention to appear at the petty sessions of magistrates, to request them to exempt the fishermen from that order; as, if they were prevented from fishing at night, the principal means of support of several families would be taken away. He informs me that during the summer they can only fish at night on that part of the river (Nore).John Dunn, Esq., Queen's County, page 423, says—I am particularly acquainted with that part of Kilkenny now under proclamation, adjoining the Queen's County.Had there been any disturbance in it at the time the Act was put into execution?—Not in the barony of Innisfadden, adjoining the Queen's County: I am aware of none.Can you state on what ground it was the Insurrection Act was applied for as far as respects that barony, and the circumstances attending it?—I understand that some few trees, some two or three, had been felled in the domain of Lady Ormond, and I am not aware of any other transaction at all that could justify the application of such a measure.504 Report of Committee of the House of Commons, 1825.—Major General R. Bourke, J. P., Limerick County, asked, p. 331:—Do you recollect the introduction of the police in the county of Limerick, under the Peace Preservation Bill?—I do. There had been a county meeting held, at which it was resolved that the state of the county did not then require the introduction of the police; and shortly after that county meeting, at the spring assizes following, the grand jury applied to the Lord Lieutenant to place the county under the Peace Preservation Bill.And on that application, notwithstanding the decision of the county at large, the police were introduced?—They were introduced.What description of persons were appointed to that police?—Generally speaking, they were very unfit persons.Was the Insurrection Act enforced in those baronies which continued in a state of tranquillity?—It was. There was a memorial sent up from the baronies of Clanwilliam, Ownebeg, and Croonagh, signed by nearly all the resident magistrates, by most of the proprietors, and by clergymen of both persuasions, stating the good order and tranquillity that had prevailed, and was prevailing in the baronies, and how hard it would be to expose the occupiers of the land to a very heavy tax under the Peace Preservation Bill; but the answer received was, that it was in contemplation to send police to the whole county, and that the Lord Lieutenant saw no reason for excepting those baronies.He begged the attention of the House (the hon. Member continued) to the fact that under Lord Stanley's Act the county of Kilkenny was proclaimed; and it was thought convenient to introduce that Act into the city of Kilkenny, where no disturbances or crimes contemplated by this Act had been committed. On an explanation being asked of this, the answer was that it was for the convenience of the police that the Act should extend to the city of Kilkenny. So, then, for the sake of the police, the city of Kilkenny was proclaimed, and its inhabitants were exposed to all the severe enactments of this law, and this without any ground whatever. He wanted the House not to place such discretionary powers in the hands of any Government, for the bad use that had been made of them might be made again. It might be said, that, in consequence of the commission of some horrid murders, this was an experiment which should be tried. If no Coercion Act had ever existed before, he might listen to this suggestion; if the experiment had been tried on once and failed, he might be induced to try it again: even if it had failed a second and a third time, there might he some reason in asking to try it once more; but they had had Coercion Acts seventeen times since the Union, and they had uniformly 505 failed. Such are some of the blessings of the Union. Sometimes the Coercion Bill was divided into two parts; but the list which he was about to read gave an accurate statement on the subject. The hon. and learned Gentleman read the following document:—1801, two Coercion Acts; 1802, July, two Acts; 1803, December, two Acts; 1805, February, one Act; 1807, August, two Acts; 1814, July, one Act; 1817, June, one Act; 1822, February, two Acts; 1823, March, one Act; 1831, October, one Act; 1833, April, one Act; August, one Act; total, seventeen different Acts. Observe, that the first of these Acts in 1801 was intituled 'An Act for the protection of His Majesty's Subjects in Ireland. The Habeas Corpus Act was suspended from the Union until 1803, when the Whigs allowed it to revive. Suspended again from 1807 to 1810; again from 1814 to 1818; again from 1822 to 1828; again from 1829 to 1331; again from 1833 to 1835.By several of these Acts trial by jury was abolished; regarding insurrectionary crimes, a bench of magistrates, with a King's counsel, were authorized to transport for any such offence. This was not a dead letter. Now, were all these instances to be regarded as experiments? Under these Acts all the social guarantees were trampled under foot, trial by jury was superseded, and the powers of the magistracy were increased to a most alarming extent. But did this put a stop to crime? A lull might be created for a short time, but after it passed there was always an increase of crime. It appeared, then, that this was a process which they were called on to go on with. The right hon. Baronet (Sir James Graham) said that Lord Stanley's Bill had been carried into effect, and succeeded. Was this so? Lord Stanley's Bill was not acted upon. It originated in the disturbances respecting the collection of tithes. The Government had taken up the tithe campaign, and had filled the barrack-yards with the crops of the tenantry which had been distrained for tithes. The Bill passed, but what did the Government do? The first thing was to put an end to the tithe campaign. The distraints for tithes ceased, and the claims of the clergy were bought off, and thus the people were relieved from the payment of tithes. The Government agreed to advance one million to pay off the arrears of tithes; and when it was proposed in that House the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) called it a vulgar expedient to settle the question. In addition to this, more than 18,000l. costs which had been incurred were forgiven or paid off. Then the Bill for changing the 506 direct payment of tithes into a rent-charge passed, and the people were conciliated to a considerable extent by it. If it did not go so far as it ought, it at any rate showed a conciliatory disposition on the part of the Government. He trusted, therefore, that the right hon. Baronet would not again impute the change that took place to Lord Stanley's Bill on the maxim post hoc, ergo propter hoc. He was not disposed to speak harshly of the right hon. Gentleman; on the contrary, his wish was to avoid anything of the kind. The first thing, however, the present Government did when they came into office was to adopt a change of system, and the right hon. Baronet declared that concession to Ireland had reached its limits. He did not now reproach the right hon. Baronet for the use of the expression, for it had been withdrawn with great manliness. He did not blame him for inconsistency in changing his opinion. When such a change took place in opinion as happened with the right hon. Baronet, it only showed that he was a wiser man to-day than he was yesterday. He would do justice to the right hon. Gentleman, and say—You did not shrink from any change of opinion, however it might affect you, when you thought it your duty—you performed a great duty to England: in the name of Heaven why not do so to Ireland? Why not try other means with that country than coercion? He did not wish to dwell on the injustice of England to Ireland, but still it should not be forgotten that no country had suffered so much from another; but he would say, let all this be buried in oblivion, and put the people of both countries on an equality, and deal with Ireland as they dealt with England. He would say—Protection to all, injustice to none; and give equal rights and franchises to the people of Ireland with those which you yourselves enjoy. The various Acts you have passed to tranquillize Ireland have been insufficient—your coercive laws have failed; the argument, therefore, was inviting to a conciliatory process. They must have observed what was done in the way of conciliation by the Whigs, and the effect it produced; but there had been a recoil since Gentlemen opposite came into power: crime had diminished during their day, but crime had increased since. God forbid that he should accuse the right hon. Gentleman of this! but he charged them with not looking sufficiently to the state of Ireland and the crimes thereof, One of them opposite, with 507 a halo around his name, afforded an instance of this, and showed that he was a sadly had politician. He had read a conversation which had occurred in some other place, and it had appeared in the newspapers, and he saw an illustrious name of one of the parties, to whom sentiments were attributed, which must be regarded as being most calamitous, that he should talk of the prosperity of Ireland, and that the trade of that country was on the increase, and that its imports and exports were on the increase. Since then there had been an increase of exports without a corresponding increase of imports. Where could he have been all this time, and not look to the evidence around him? He could have taken no notice of the reports of the Committee on the state of that country, and of the evidence which had been collected. If these books were consulted, it would be seen that no people in Europe were in so necessitous a state as the people of Ireland. It appeared that 7,000,000 out of the 8,200,000 of the population were engaged in agriculture, and most of them were in a state of distress. He would now proceed to show what was the state of the population of that country, from the evidence of Alexander Nimmo, Esq., civil engineeer. The hon. Gentleman read the following extract from the Report of the Lords' Committee of 1824, to inquire into the State of Ireland page 226:—Your professional intercourse with Ireland has given you the means of general accurate information on the state of the peasantry of that country?I have seen a great deal of the peasantry. I have sometimes slept in their cabins, and had frequent intercourse with them, especially in the south and west of Ireland.I conceive the peasantry in Ireland to be, in general, in almost the lowest possible state of existence; their cabins are in the most miserable condition, and their food is potatoes with water—very often without anything else—frequently without salt, and I have frequently had occasion to meet persons who begged of me on their knees, for the love of God, to give them some promise of employment, that from the credit of that they might get the means of supporting themselves for a few months, until I could employ them.The following was the evidence of W. H. W. Newenham, Esq. before the Commons' Committee, 1824, p. 300:—Is the condition of the people very bad in respect to the means of subsistence, and houses, and dress? — Excepting where a gentleman's own residence is, particularly so. I have seen several countries, and I never saw any peasantry so badly off.John O'Driscoll, Esq. Barrister, (same 508 Report, 1824, p. 380,) gave this evidence:—Will you describe to the Committee, generally, the condition of the people, and their habits of living?" "In the part of the country (county Cork) that I am best acquainted with, the condition of the people is the very worst that can possibly be. Nothing can be worse than the condition of the lower classes of the labourers, and the farmers are not much better; (381) they have nothing whatever, I think, but the potatoes and water—they seldom have salt.Right Rev. Dr. Doyle (Commons' Report, 1825, p. 205):—What is the state of the lower orders in your diocese?—I can safely state to the Committee that the extent and intensity of their distress is greater than any language can describe; and that I think the lives of many hundreds of them are very often shortened by this great distress.Hon. Gentlemen talked of murders, but were not those murders of the worst description? The witness proceeded:—It also enervates their minds, and paralyses their energies, and leaves them incapable of almost any useful exertion.Page 206, describing the state in which some of the peasantry exist:—Thus he drags out an existence that it were better it were terminated in any way than to be continued in the manner it is.R. De la Cour, Esq. co. Cork, p. 548:—What is the condition of the peasantry?—Wretched in the extreme.Page 549:—Are the habitations of the people in that country exceedingly miserable? — Miserable, with very few exceptions.The Report of the Select Committee of 1830 states (p. 4):—That a very considerable proportion of the population (variously estimated at a fourth or fifth of the whole) is considered to be out of employment; that this, combined with the consequences of an altered system of managing land, is stated to produce misery and suffering which no language can possibly describe, and which it is necessary to witness in order fully to estimate.He begged the particular attention of the House to this (p. 8):—The situation of the ejected tenantry, or of those who are obliged to give up their small holdings in order to promote the consolidation of farms, is necessarily most deplorable. It would be impossible for language to convey an idea of the state of distress to which the ejected tenantry have been reduced, or of the disease, misery, or even vice which they have propagated in the towns where they have settled; so that not only they who have been ejected have been rendered miserable, but they have carried with them and propagated that misery. They have increased the stock of labour—they have rendered the habitations of those who have received them more crowded—they have given occasion to the dissemination of disease—they have been obliged to 509 resort to theft, and all manner of vice and iniquity, to procure subsistence; but what is, perhaps, the most painful of all, a vast number of them have perished of want.Such was the effect of the ejectment of tenantry in Ireland. He would not quote individual instances of misery arising from this course, but should refer to general evidence as to the misery of the people, and as to those absolutely dying from want. This was the evidence of Dr. Doyle, and other creditable witnesses. He would now refer to Lord Devon's Report—a document from which the Government could not shrink, he was sure, and no one would charge that noble Lord and his Colleagues with exaggeration. In that Report it was stated—That the agricultural labourers of Ireland suffer the greatest privations and hardships;" that "they depend upon precarious and casual employment for subsistence;" that "they are badly housed, badly fed, badly clothed, and badly paid for their labour;" that "it would be impossible to describe adequately the sufferings and privations which the cottiers and labourers and their families in most part of the country endure;" that "in many districts their only food is the potato, their only beverage water;" that "their cabins are seldom a protection against the weather;" that "a bed or a blanket is a rare luxury;" and that "nearly in all, their pig and their manure heap constitute their only property;" that "a large proportion of the entire population comes within the designation of agricultural labourers, and endure sufferings greater than the people of any other country in Europe have to sustain.He would remind the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham) that he had stated that the number and atrocity of the murders in Ireland was a blot upon Christianity: was not such a state of things as he had just described a blot upon Christianity? This, be it recollected, was forty-five years after the Union, during which time Ireland had been under the government of this country, which had reduced its population to a worse condition than that of any other country in Europe. That was the work of the British Parliament. They had governed Ireland. But what was the testimony borne with regard to the character of the Irish people? There was once an Englishman, Attorney General of Ireland, who said that the Irish people were the fondest of submitting to impartial justice of any people upon earth; that they looked not to any advantage to themselves in going to law, so much as to the strict justice of the case. But he would proceed to more recent times: he would give the House some specimens of the modern character of the Irish people, from the evi- 510 dence published with the reports laid before Parliament on this subject. He need not appeal to the right hon. Baronet, who had himself admitted the patient endurance of the Irish people. The Devon Commission also spoke of the same fact; and said that the patience and the endurance of the people deserved the attention of Parliament. But the mere admission of that patience and endurance would not do: they should have deeds and not words. They had a strong case; and if they desired to serve that people, they should recollect that it would require a powerful hand and a manly tone and temper—he would say a tone and temper dignifying to human nature, to stand over such an amount of human misery, and, as it were by a touch of the wand, to turn that want into comfort and happiness. But to enable them to ascertain how they should proceed, he would read some extracts for them in order that they might understand the people whom they had to deal with. They were told that the urgency of the case alone justified this sweeping inroad upon the Constitution. The Irish people were dealt with as a nation of assassins whom the ordinary laws of civilized nations could not restrain. Was that their true character? Let the evidence on the records of Parliament testify. Major Warburton, upon his examination before the Select Committee of the Commons, 1824 (Report, page 154), is asked—Are any circumstances in your knowledge concerning the anxiety of the population to be employed?—I have known at that period (the time of distress) that any person, in fact, that could afford to give the people one meal a day could get their labour for it.One meal of what?—One meal of food of any kind. I believe there were instances of it.W. W. Beecher, Esq. (same Report, 1824, page 195)—I think it (submissiveness towards persons in a higher station) is carried beyond proper respect, and that it is more than is justified. I think they have been unused to fair dealing from the upper orders; and that, if they get it, they are astonished and gratified beyond measure.Is there not, at the same time, a strong attachment on the part of the tenantry towards their landlords in cases where they conceive they have been well used?—Very strong.R. Griffith, Esq., Civil Engineer (same Report, page 231)—Do you conceive that if an English gentleman were to engage in the investment of capital in any commercial or manufacturing speculation in the centre of that very district, or the most disturbed part of it, that they would be in any hazard, personal or otherwise?—I think neither himself nor 511 the property would be in any hazard, provided he treated the people justly, and paid them fairly.John Dunne, Esq., Queen's County (same Report, page 284)—Generally speaking, is their disposition orderly and quiet?—Generally speaking, it is so; and to the want of employment I attribute, in a great measure, much of our unhappy state.Is there a great anxiety on the part of the people to be employed?—The greatest possible; the anxiety of the creatures to be employed for any kind of remuneration is wonderfully great.Are they industrious?—Very industrious, indeed, if they can only get employment.Rev. John Collins, P. P., Skibbereen, county Cork (same Report, 1824, page 337)—The people feel they exist more by sufferance than by law; but whenever they are treated kindly they are grateful, because they think the kindness extraordinary, and the result of natural benevolence rather than of the law.James Lawler, Esq., J.P., county Kerry (same Report, page 439)—There is no person more anenable to the law than the Irish peasantry, if they are left alone.When they find the intention is to deal justly and reasonably with them?—They are the easiest in the world to manage, although they are very wretched.Are they industrious—do they work hard?—They are the most industrious people in the world.Are they kind and charitable towards each other? — Their charity is unbounded towards each other; they always give something, more or less, according to their means.Archbishop of Cashel (Lords' Committee, 1825; Report, page 278)—Does not your Grace think, from the experience you have had of the common people of Ireland, that they are very grateful for any benefit conferred upon them, and disposed to submit to the authority of their superiors, when treated with justice?—Certainly, their gratitude is great; they are accustomed to act from immediate feeling and impulse, and very much disposed to receive every favour with a respectful gratitude almost bordering on excess.Colonel W. J. Curry, Agent to Duke of Devonshire (Commons' Committee, 1825; Report, page 300)—Do you find the lower orders of the Irish, with whom you deal, in general a grateful class of persons?—They appear extremely grateful at the moment, and I have no reason to suppose they feel ungrateful at any time. I think they are, in general, a very grateful people.In general, do you find them easy to be governed?—Certainly, very easy to be governed.Earl Kingston (Lords' Report, 1825, page 431)—Is there a desire to seek employment where it can be found?—A vast desire; they will work for anything, whatever they can get. I have had 512 some offered to me for 3d. a day, stout, able men, and glad to get it.J. S. Rochfort, Esq., county Carlow, (same Report, page 453):—No man in Ireland, be he ever so poor, refuses anything to the travelling beggar.Have you observed among the lower classes of Ireland a great feeling of charity and kindness?—I believe if they had but one dinner they would share it with a travelling beggar.You conceive that benevolence is a strong ingredient in the Irish peasant?—A very strong ingredient.That was the evidence of of a gentleman of very strong political feelings, which, if anything would have influenced him in giving his evidence but truth and justice, would have inclined him to speak against, and not in favour of the popular side. The evidence went on to say:—Do you attribute it (viz., any misconduct or lawlessness) to any defect of natural character, or to political circumstances acting strongly on his feelings?—Certainly not to his natural character, but to the political circumstances in which he is placed.James Cropper, Esq., of Liverpool, Merchant, (same Report, p. 688):—What was the object of your visit to Ireland?—To see the state of the country, with a view to ascertain what was the best means of relieving the distress.Page 691:—Did you observe in Ireland whether there was any anxiety on the subject of education on the part of the people?—Yes; in all my inquiries I received the same answer, that the anxiety for education was very great.Which do you consider, the English or the Irish peasantry, to be more desirous of education?—I should think the Irish peasantry.John Wiggins, Esq., (an English gentleman), Land Agent (Select Committee, Commons, 1830):—3993. Do you think there is, on the part of the Irish peasantry, a spirit of industry, and an anxiety to improve, that can be relied upon as a means of eventually bettering their condition?—I certainly do. I think they are energetic and industrious, whenever they see any prospect of their industry tending to their own comfort.3994. The effects I have witnessed are really extraordinary; people bringing manure from the sea on their backs, up extraordinary cliffs, such as an Englishman would not fancy to be accessible, and I give them credit for infinite perseverance in these ways. I have seen pieces of land cultivated that it would be thought scarcely possible to get at here (in England).4060. Do you recollect the failure of the crop in 1821?—I do.4061. Was there not a very great pressure upon different parts of Kerry, at that time, from that failure?—Very considerable. I think out of a population of 230,000 in Kerry, 170,000 were reported to have been destitute of the means of subsistence for the moment; and it ought to be 513 remarked, to the credit of the people, that not a single depredation on property took place.In his Second Report upon Poor Laws, Mr. Nicholls states (paragraph 31), that in Donegal—there was no employment for the young people, nor relief for the aged, nor means nor opportunity for removing their surplus numbers to some more eligible spot; they could only, therefore, live on hoping, as they said, that times might mend, and their landlords would sooner or later do something for them. Yet with all this suffering, no disturbance or act of violence has occurred in Donegal. During the severe privations of last summer, when numbers were actually in want of sustenance, there was no dishonesty, no plundering. The people starved, but they would not steal; and although their little stock of cattle and moveables has been notoriously lessening these last four years, and especially in the last year, which seems to have swallowed up nearly all their visible means, they have yet paid their rents. The occupier's share of the produce has been insufficient for his support, yet the landlord's share has generally been paid in full.He would cite again the Devon Commissioners (Devon Report, page 12):—Our personal experience and observations during our inquiry have afforded us a melancholy confirmation of these statements. And we cannot forbear expressing our strong sense of the patient endurance which the labouring classes have generally exhibited under sufferings, greater, we believe, than the people of any other country in Europe have to sustain.And at page 36, already quoted:—Up to this period, any improvement that may have taken place is attributable, almost entirely, to the habits of temperance in which they have so generally persevered, and not, we grieve to say, to any increased demand for their labour.Such were the people that the House had to deal with—such were the people that they had to legislate for. If they treated them with justice, the House might be sure of their gratitude and hearty co-operation; but he would say, let them not, when they asked for bread, be given a stone or a serpent. He regretted exceedingly that he felt it to be his duty to delay the House so long; but he felt it necessary, in the next place, to refer to evidence in support of the causes of the disturbances existing in Ireland. Francis Blackburne, Esq., K.C., at present Lord Chief Justice of Ireland, appointed to administer Insurrection Act (Lords' Committee, 1824, Report, p. 4), said—On the property of Lord Stradbroke, in county Limerick, there were forty or fifty families; the whole of that numerous body, consisting of persons of all ages, and both sexes, was dispossessed, and their houses prostrated; they were, generally speaking, destitute of the means of support, and unless relieved by people from charitable motives, I do not know what was to become of them. But 514 that circumstance created a good deal of irritation in the country, and we were apprehensive of its effects in endangering the public peace. This is not a singular case; the same thing to a greater or less degree is generally prevalent in the whole of the country.Page 7.—"Will you state what, in your opinion, is the ultimate source of discontent in Ireland?—The extreme misery and wretchedness of the population: the great mass of the population is in a state of poverty, destitute of employment, and, generally speaking, destitute of what, in this country, would be considered the comforts and necessaries of life. It is a subject on which an Englishman can scarcely be said to have the materials even for belief.The state of Ireland was so bad, that the Lord Chief Justice of the Queen's Bench declares it is a subject on which an Englishman can scarcely be said to have the materials of belief. In all this the House would observe that he was not at all alluding to the recent calamity that had befallen the country in the potato disease. All this evidence had been given long before that misfortune had been thought of or known. But he would proceed:—Major Thomas Powell, Inspector of Constabulary, Leinster district, said, (p. 165):—In the Queen's County, where the collieries are in full work, there is no instance of any outrage committed in that part of the country. Generally are there more disturbances where there is most poverty and misery?—Certainly; for instance, in the barony of Galmoy there is not a resident gentleman in the whole barony, and that is one of the most disturbed.Major General Richard Bourke, J. P., county Limerick (Commons' Committee, 1825, p. 313):—In the event of re-entry (on termination of leases), are you aware what becomes of the surplus population?—I hardly know; there are instances where they have been sent off the land, and have hutted themselves upon bogs and other uncultivated places; and some of them go wandering about the country.Have you any doubt that the system of diminishing the number of tenants is generally acted upon, on the termination of all the leases in that part of Ireland?—I should say it is universally acted upon.Does not that produce a great deal of misery?—A great deal of misery. It has led to murder, burning of houses, and several other outrages.Matthew Barrington, Esq., Crown Solicitor, (same Report, p. 574):—What do you consider to have been the immeniate cause of the outrages which have taken place in Munster?—I think the attachment to land and change of possession has been one cause, the collection of tithes by proctors, and an unemployed population.Robert Smith, Esq., Clerk of Peace, county Monaghan (Commons' Committee, 1830, Q. 2930):— 515What becomes of those tenants (evicted on consolidation of farms)?—I cannot inform the Committee what becomes of them; but in one of the cases to which I now allude, I was informed that upwards of twenty families were turned out, and in the other case more than thirty. The consequence was, that the persons so dispossessed did not submit quietly, and in revenge cut the tails off the cattle of the proprietor of the estates, and committed various outrages. In the other case, the people who were turned out mustered a strong armed force, and at night attacked the persons who had been put into possession, whereby some lives were lost. I should here observe, that previous to these occurrences, the country in which this has happened had been peaceable.2931.—I think this mischief arises from sending the people upon the world without means of procuring shelter or opportunity of earning money.Now that was the case in the county of Monaghan, which was in the north of Ireland, and where the House would perceive the same causes led to exactly the same description of outrages as in the south. John Wiggins, Esq., Land Agent (same Report), in answer to Q. 4027:—I found in general that three-fourths of the produce are paid often in rent in Ireland; but certainly, even upon a tillage farm, half the produce is frequently paid in rent—about double the proportion that is paid in England.4030. I conceive the relation between landlord and tenant has given rise to that political commotion which we call Whiteboyism.Matthew Barrington, Esq., Crown Solicitor, Munster Circuit (Commons' Committee, 1842):—They (the Whiteboy associations, &c.), have always had objects connected more or less with land.5. Be good enough to explain what appears to you to be the cause of those several outrages. Since I have been Crown Solicitor, I have endeavoured to get at the root of the system by tracing each outrage to its immediate cause.… I have traced the origin of almost every case I prosecuted, and find that they generally arise from the attachment to the dispossession of, and the change in the possession of land.… I have never known a case of direct hostility to the Government, as a Government, although hostility to the law leads to hostility to the Government; but as to direct opposition to the Government, I never knew an instance of that being the object.14. I knew one instance (of ejectment without provision) which led to a desperate murder on Lord Stradbroke's estate at Bilboa. The farm was out of lease, and during the lease a great number of people had been allowed to reside on it. Mr. Blood, the gentleman who was murdered in Clare last year, took possession of the farm, as agent to Lord Stradbroke, dispossessed the tenants, and levelled their houses, and they were all thrown out on the road. The succeeding tenant was immediately after murdered.That was the evidence of a gentleman who had been for more than thirty years Crown Solicitor to the Munster Circuit. That was 516 the evidence of the rev. Nicholas O'Connor, P.P., Maryborough (Commons' Committee, 1832):—3239. Are the Committee to understand that the Whitefeet are confined to those ejected from their grounds?—It is not confined to them, but they have been the persons that first made it general, and others had an apprehension of a similar fate, and they have joined it from thinking it would be a protection to them to keep them in their land.3329. I am very sure there is nothing that they would not forgive sooner than the turning them out of their farms. Every string of their hearts is twined round every twig upon them. It is impossible to induce the people to forgive turning them out of the place where their fathers and grandfathers lived.3331. They abandon their clergy, and we can have no influence over them.3332. It gathers together all the desperate people?—Yes, they care not if they are taken and hanged for their desperate acts, committed in a state of revenge. Death would be a relief to them—they care not for life.Matthew Singleton, Esq., Chief Magistrate of Police (same Report, 1832):—4101. There is scarcely an outrage committed relative to lands but what the people assign a cause for, if I may use that expression. In some instances the unfortunate people do show one.4102. What are the Committee to understand to showing a cause?—Oppression, high rent, low wages, and contracts broken.Rev. J. Delany, P.P., Ballinakill, Queen's County (same Committee, 1832):—4373. Asked as to causes of distubance. There have been a great many causes. I will state one that occurred in my own parish. There were three families comprising twenty-three individuals. The heads of those families were accused of having cut scollops or switches, for the purpose of thatching their cabins, or, perhaps, for sale; there were some ash and oak. The parties so offending were summoned, and a fine of 5l. recorded against them. The landlord gave them the option of going out instanter (it was in the depth of winter, in November), forgiving them the arrears due and the fine; or to pay the fine, and be served with notice to quit in six months. They chose the first alternative, and went out; their families were scattered over the parish. The next summer, 1830, was one of famine with us. We were obliged to introduce a sort of poor-rate to keep the people from starving and dying in the ditches. Two of those families were thrown upon the parish, and I had to support them myself. One of the poor men lost his cow some time after being turned out. A series of calamities befel him. He took ill, and after lingering a long time in a state of the utmost desstitution and misery, died of a broken heart. The sons of this man, together with a son of the second family above mentioned, became leaders in this system of ribbonism; and, I have reason to believe, were some of the most daring and ferocious among them. One of them, to this day, has held out against all my admonitions, and has not yet surrendered himself.4377. Did any other cases of considerable hardship occur in your neighbourhood?—There 517 was a vast number of persons in the course of the last seven years ejected from the estate of the late Mr. Crosby; some of them came into my parish, and I found them exceedingly troublesome, and disposed to engage in those illegal associations.Rev. Michael Keogh, P.P., Aubeyleix, Queen's County (same Committee, 1832):—4336. To what do you attribute these outrages?—The poverty of the people, and a great many having been ejected from their lands.4337. State the particulars of the ejectments.—(Mentions 174 families on one property, 34 on another, and several others, principally at the expiration of their leases.)4654. The disturbance began subsequent to the ejectment of the people.4670. How do those people who are ejected maintain themselves afterwards?—Very poorly indeed; they throw themselves into the towns, and live therein, strolling about and trying to get work.4676. There are some of the familes ejected in the most wretched state—paupers going from door to door.James Napper, Esq., Loughcrew, county Meath (Commons' Committee, 1832):—5606. Do you think that the lower orders have any reason to be discontented? I think very just reasons.5607. State what these reasons are.—There are many reasons why Ireland should be in a discontented state; but one of the principal reasons is the position of the landlords, and the lower orders of the peasantry.John Robinson Price, Esq., J.P., Queen's County (Commons' Committee, 1832):—6676. On the very borders of the barony of Ossory, on a noble Lord's estate, an ejectment was brought against the middleman—an habere issued, possession taken, and the land was re-let to a Mr. Marum, not to the tenants in possession, which is the usual way, for the six months' equity of redemption. Mr. Marum deluded the tenants with the hope that he took the land for their benefit; but when the six months expired he turned out those tenants, and, I am told, he sold their household effects for the six months' rent. The consequence was, his cattle were houghed, and driven from the county of Kilkenny to the Queen's County for that purpose. For three years this system was kept up; and Mr. Marum was shot, in the open day afterwards, in the midst of a dense population.6677. Was this transaction accompanied by much general disturbance?—It ignited the whole barony of Ossory; so much so that the barony was put under the Peace Preservation Act, with a resident stipendiary magistrate.6736. Is it your opinion that the clearing of estates and the consolidation of farms has been pushed to too great an extent?—I think, under the circumstances, it has; there is no employment for the poor; and a conviction rests on their minds that a piece of land is necessary to existence. I certainly think that the disposition of the land, lord, and the interest of the landlord, were sufficiently active and alive to carry on the work of depopulation gradually; and I do think he was aided, assisted, and enabled to carry on the system with greater velocity by certain Acts of the Le- 518 gislature; such as the Civil Bill Ejectment Act, which gave a very summary process to the landlord; the distraining of standing corn; the Joint Tenancy Act; the Absconding Act; the Subletting Act, which, though it did not turn any one out, it kept them from getting in when out; and last, not least, the disfranchisement of the 40s. freeholders, which, I think, and I am certain, broke the last link of connection between the landlord and the pauper tenant.John Cahill, Esq., Surveyor and Civil Engineer (same Report):—7251. Were there any other circumstances contributed to that state of disturbance that has taken place?—There were.7252. What are they?—There were a good many people evicted and turned out of their farms. About four years ago there was one gentleman evicted eighty-nine persons; another ninety-six; another ninety-five.7255. Were these cases where the land had fallen out of lease?—They were.7257. Gentlemen have agreed to make the farms, in my opinion, as large as possible; and those people who remained on the lands were evicted and put off, as is the case, which I stated of those gentlemen who turned out the numbers I have stated.7258. Do you conceive that it has been these individuals who have been so turned out, from want of having proper means of supporting themselves, who have become wanderers and vagrants, and the source of the Whitefeet association that prevailed in that part of the countŕy?—I do very much consider so. There were 1,126 of these poor people, who were evicted, with the idle colliers, going about, left idle on a part of two parishes, and all that within six miles of each other.7260. Do you know them by name?—Yes, I have their names.7261. Are you able to trace what has become of them in the course of the last four years?—Yes.7262. State generally what has become of them. Do they continue wandering about?—I have known, on one estate, which is near me, and which I regulated for a gentleman, there has been a great many of the old people turned off that became beggars, and a good many of them died of want.W. Kemmis, Esq., Crown Solicitor, Leinster Circuit (Lords' Report, 1839):—6743. In answer to question, gives account of eleven murders in Tipperary, from 1816 to 1838, all arising from evictions.6744. What, in your opinion, has been the cause of the outrages in Tipperary, generally?—Generally on account of land; the letting and the dispossession of land.6745. What proportion of outrages may be attributed to that cause?—The greatest number, decidedly.6746 Two-thirds?—Three fourths and more.7148. Do the Committee understand you rightly, that Tipperary is more disturbed than other counties?—Yes; than other counties on my circuit.7149. And that the great majority of violent crimes are caused by turning tenants out?—Yes.519 Matthew Harrington, Esq., Crown Solicitor, Munster Circuit (same Report):—From your examination of witnesses, and from other circumstances that must have come to your knowledge occasionally, can you state to the Committee what, in your opinion, has been the cause of those outrages?—I think the causes have been an anxiety to possess land; the dispossession of land, and the disputes about land.7347. That is, during the whole of that period?—With respect to all the disturbances during the time I have been Crown Solicitor, I could almost trace every outrage to some dispute about land.7437. Have any outrages that you have inquired into appeared to arise from hostility to the Government?—No; I never knew, in twenty-five years, an instance of any outrages directed against the Government, or that had any political object.7465. When the causes of outrages have been removed, have you observed that the disturbances have immediately subsided?—I have certainly.Edward Tierney, Esq., Crown Solicitor, North-west Circuit (same Report):—7727. Will you have the goodness to state to the Committee your opinion of the cause of those agrarian outrages?—I believe it is a great deal occasioned by the letting and possession of land, and dispossession of former tenants or occupiers.E. C. Hickman, Esq., Crown Solicitor, Connaught Circuit (same Report):—8476. Have you heard of any case of tenants being turned out because they gave a vote at elections, contrary to the will of their landlord?—Yes; I have heard of that.8477. What was the county in which you heard of it?—My own county of Clare.Piers Geale, Esq., Crown Solicitor, Home Circuit (same Report):—8605. Will you have the goodness to state to the Committee what, in your opinion, has been the more general and common class of outrage of every description on your circuit?—I think it has always some connexion with the taking of land.J. Tabiteau, R.M., county Tipperary (same Report):—9628. The general groundwork of the outrages in that district you consider to be disputes relating to land?—Yes; property—land, generally speaking.9720. Is ejectment from land in the county Tipperary synonymous nearly with reduction to destitution and misery on the part of the cottier tenant?—Indeed it is; and ejecting throws them altogether out of their grade of life, out of the rank of farmers into that of labourers.9746. What, in your opinion, has been, generally speaking, the cause of the great number of murders in the county of Tipperary?—I believe the cause of actual murder is generally ground—something about land.J. Howley, Esq., Assistant Barrister, county Tipperary (same Report):—9992. Are you able to form an opinion whether the ejectments have been more numerous in the county of Tipperary, in proportion to the population, or other counties?—From conferring with different assistant barristers, it would appear 520 there are a greater number of ejectments in the county of Tipperary than in other counties.John Barnes, Esq., Stipendiary Magistrate, county Longford (same Report):—11755. As far as you have been able to form an opinion, will you have the goodness to state what you conceive to have been the causes of these murders?—From everything which has come to my knowledge, from the number of witnesses I have examined, I am inclined to think—nay, I am certain—these murders have occurred in consequence of persons having been turned out of their lands, and those lands having been granted to persons of an opposite religion and character.11803. Is there any hostility exhibited towards the Government of the country?—Not the slightest that I am aware of.Tomkins Brew, Esq., S. M., Tuam (same Report):—12765. What was the cause of the firing at Mr. Synge, and the murder of his servant?—He had turned several of his tenants off his land that had refused to send their children to his school, and a conspiracy was formed on that account to murder him. He was fired at, and his servant shot.In order that they might rightly estimate the working of the ejectment system, he would state a few results. In the county of Tipperary, where there were most ejectments, there were also most murders; and he would beg to call the particular attention of the House to this fact. It appeared by Appendix, part 4, pages 293 to 302, Land Commission Report, that in the year 1843 there were issued from the civil bill courts 5,244 ejectments, comprising 14,816 defendants; and from the superior courts (allowing for the Queen's Bench the same average as 1841, the number for the latter years in that court not being given), 1,784 ejectments, comprising 16,503 defendants; making a total of 7,028 ejectments, 31,319 defendants; or, within the period of five years—from 1839 to 1843—comprised in the Return, upwards of 150,000 tenants had been subjected to ejectment process. Did he deny that disturbances existed in the country? He never did deny the existence of these disturbances. He never denied that dreadful murders were committed. He never had any notion of concealing these horrible facts. He was now placing the facts before the Government, and at the same time showing the causes that had led to these crimes, in order that they might be able to apply a remedy to these causes. He had shown by evidence what was the disposition of the people. He had shown that the causes of the outrages were attendant on ejectment from land; and he would next come to a few others of the 521 grievances of which he complained. He complained of the administration of justice in Ireland—of there being no confidence existing on the part of the people in those intrusted with the administration of the law. He did not like to be bringing the names of individuals so often before the House; but he would appeal to the Government itself whether they had not uniformly appointed to the administration of the law every man who had been most violent in his political feelings, and who had taken the strongest part against the religion of the people of Ireland. He did not mean to disparage the judicial acts of these individuals. He knew of no serious disparagement of their conduct on the Bench; but it was not on him, but on the public, that these things would make an impression. Had not the Government made Mr. Sergeant Lefroy a Judge? Had they not placed Mr. Sergeant Jackson also upon the Bench? And had they not made Mr. Litton a Master in Chancery? Were these men favourable to the people or to the religion of the people of Ireland? Had they not also appointed Chief Justice Pennefather, who was no friend to the Irish people, and the present Lord Chief Justice, who, while Attorney General, had deserted one Administration and gone over to another? He too was no friend to the Irish people. He would not go farther. He was sorry that he had repeated even so many names, and he would not continue the controversy farther respecting them. He spoke not of their individual character, but of the impression which the appointment of such men was likely to produce in the public mind. And would the House regard as nothing this fact? Lord Chancellor Sugden was reported to have said the other day that the people of Ireland must have the fullest reliance on the administration of justice? But who was to give them that confidence? Who, if not the magistracy of the country? and could they forget that seventy-four magistrates had been struck off the list for no other reason but that they had advocated the Repeal of the Union? The people knew that their doing so was no crime; that not one of them had been prosecuted for advocating Repeal; that, in point of fact, there could be no prosecution for such a charge. And, he would ask the Government, would they now enact this Coercion Bill while the exclusion of these seventy-four gentlemen from the commission of the peace was continued? If they had committed a crime, if 522 they had disgraced the Bench, if they had dishonoured the administration of justice, well and good. In such case let them by all means be removed. But there was not the slightest allegation against them of anything of the kind. Then the State Trials. He would not say a single word upon the proceedings of the Solicitor General; but how were the parties tried who stood arraigned on that occasion? Was there the least doubt of there having been a one-sided charge? Was there the least doubt that those privileges which should have been at once conceded to the accused were pertinaciously as well as fatally refused? He would only say that these circumstances had made a bad impression upon the people, and that House was bound to make them a recompense. And what had he (Mr. O'Connell) to suggest by way of recompense? He had as yet suggested nothing; but he would not leave the Government and the House without the means of making it. Although there had been some murders committed in Ireland, that were not directly traceable to evictions from land, yet, in sum and substance, the whole form and state of society showed it was from evictions of land, from the insecurity of land-holdings, from the difficulties arising through the want of land, that we must seek for the great and primary cause of all these crimes. There were some exceptions, he admitted; but he was sorry to say that those exceptions were becoming more numerous. The truth was so, and he did not shrink from stating the truth. The great fault, however, was the land question. The fact was, that that House had done too much for the landlord, and too little for the occupier. What had been the first measure for the benefit of the landlords? The first Statute passed after the Union in favour of the landlords was the Act 56 George III., c. 88, which gave them additional powers to work out ejectments. Up to that time they had not power to distrain. The Statutes of England were not enacted in Ireland towards landlords; but the Act 56 George III., c. 88, gave them powers which were no part of the bargain at the time of the Union. Many parties had taken leases, and made contracts without those new powers being in the hands of the landlords. The Statute gave them the power of distraining growing crops; keeping them till ripe; saving, and selling them when ripe; charging upon the tenant the accumulation 523 of expense. All these powers were first introduced by this Statute, and conferred upon the Irish landlord. He did not believe there had ever been a more fertile source of murder and outrage than these powers. Thus, the source of crime was directly traceable to the legislation of that House; and it was the imperative duty of that House, and of every Member in it, immediately, or as speedily as possible, to repeal that Act. Then there came the Act, 58 George III., cap. 39, for civil bill ejectment. First, the power was given to distrain upon the growing crop, enabling the landlord to ruin the tenant; and then here came the further power to the landlord of turning out the tenant from his holding. The Act 1 George IV., cap. 41, extended the power of civil bill ejectments; and the 1 George IV., cap. 87, enabled the landlord to get security for costs from defendants in ejectments. Then the Act 1st and 2nd William IV., c. 31, gave the landlords the right of immediate execution in ejectment; and the Act 6 and 7 William IV., gave further facilities for civil bill ejectments. All these were additional powers to the landlord; and it was to these statutes that the late Lord Chief Justice Pennefather referred when he said their object was to forward the interests of the landlord. The repeal of these laws was one of the remedies which he (Mr. O'Connell) called for, but not the only one. He wanted the House to determine at once to do justice to Ireland, politically, as well as in relation to the law of landlord and tenant. He would now enumerate the remedies which would create political satisfaction, and which the people believed would be their best protection. First, they had not an adequate number of Members to represent them in that House; next, an extension of the franchise; third, corporate reform; and last, a satisfactory arrangement of the temporalities of the Church. These four general remedies he demanded from that House as a mode of coercing the people of Ireland by their affections and their interests into a desire to continue the Union with England. Then, as to the remedies in relation to landlord and tenant. He asked the House to repeal the statutes on this subject since the Union. He asked the House to give a limitation to the landlord's power where there was no lease. Do not allow the landlords to distrain unless where there was a twenty-one years' lease, nor to eject unless where there was a thirty-one years' 524 lease. He respectfully called on that House in the next place to give full compensation to tenants for their improvements. Labour was the property of the tenant; and if the tenant by his labour and skill improved the land, and made it more valuable, let him have the benefit of those improvements before the landlord turned him out of possession. See what a stimulant was here offered to activity and exertion! A man who now laboured helplessly, would unquestionably labour with greater energy when he understood he was labouring for himself. This principle was embodied in Lord Devon's Report, though it was not worked out. The principle, too, had been introduced by Lord Stanley. It was, therefore, part of the administration of Her Majesty's Government. Let it not be a mockery. Do not encumber it with clauses and provisions which the tenants were neither able to comply with nor to understand; but act upon it openly and manfully, giving the most practical security to the landlord for his rent, and to the tenant the value for his solid and substantial improvements, and the House would then see a stop put to outrage. The next remedy he called for was, an extension of the Ulster tenant-right. Let that right be extended over all Ireland. In Lord Devon's Report, the superior tranquillity of Ulster was traced to the security afforded to the tenant by this right; for there no tenant could be put out of possession without receiving full and fair value. The evidence on this subject was of some length, but he would read a portion of it to the House:—Mr. Hancock, agent to Lord Lurgan, counties Armagh, Down, and Antrim (Land Commissioners' Report, p. 483):—37, 38. Much of our Ulster prosperity has been the result of this extraordinary matter (namely, tenant-right), in connexion with tenure; and no measure would have a greater effect in improving the condition of the south and west than the introduction of tenant-right as it exists in Ulster. I consider tenant-right the claim of the tenant and his heirs to continue in undisturbed possession so long as the rent is paid; and in the event of ejectment or change of occupancy, it is the sum the new occupier must pay the old for the peaceable enjoyment of his holding. I consider tenant-right beneficial to the community, because it establishes a security in the possession of land, and leads to the improvement of the estate, without any expenditure of capital on the part of the landlord. It likewise affords the best security for his rent, as arrears are always allowed to be deducted from the amount the occupier receives for tenant-right. It is very conducive to the peace of the country; for almost every man has a stake in the community, and is, therefore, opposed to agra- 525 rian outrages, as well as riots. The laws are more respected; there are none of those reckless daring men who are ready for any deed under the consciousness that their situation cannot be worse. The liberty of the subject is more respected, and imprisonment has greater terrors from the fact, that almost any tenant can procure bail for his future appearance in court on his future good behaviour. There is never any instance of forfeited recognizance. An arrest is, therefore, a much more serious matter in this than in any other part of Ireland; for as there is less risk (from his stake) of the offender flying, so here the degradation is more keenly felt, and parties often subscribe and bring actions against magistrates for false arrests and imprisonment; whereas, where no tenant-right exists, the first step is the arrest to prevent escape; and, secondly, the consideration of the cause. Imprisonment and contamination with bad characters are thus more frequent. The magistrates cannot have the same respect for the liberty of the subject; and when acts of oppression occur, revenge is taken, not by an appeal to the civil court for damages, but by combination and an appeal to force, waylaying and murder. The necessity of distress for rent—a fruitful source of riots and broken heads—is also obviated by the tenant-right, as there is no danger of loss of arrears.Then there was the following in another part of the Report—Robert Smith, Esq., Clerk of the Peace, county of Monaghan, gave this evidence:—80. Do they often sell the tenant-right where there is an old lease?—Very frequently.81. Where the tenant is ejected for non-payment of rent by his landlord, is he allowed to sell his tenant-right?—I am not aware that any such right of sale is recognised by the landlord; but it is generally known throughout the country that an agrarian law exists, such as to intimidate any of the lower class of farmers from taking land from which a tenant has been ejected for any cause, without the person coming in making compensation to the party turned out.82. That applies to the tenant going out under all circumstances?—I think so.John Lindsay, Banbridge, county Down (Land Commissioners' Report, pp. 583, 584):—39. Is the tenant-right or sale of goodwill prevalent in the district, and to whom is the purchase-money paid?—It prevails in the district; the tenants who have held the land think they have a right to dispose of the land when they are golng to leave it. He thinks he has always a right to do so, and very reasonably, I think.40. Is it generally recognised by the landlords?—Some recognise it, and some do not; but where they do not recognise it, and set their faces against it, they are very generally defeated, and have been obliged to do it after risking life, in some instances, in my neighbourhood.41. Is it done behind their backs, without their knowledge?—No; they have even ejected the tenantry. I have known some of them do it in the parish I live in. One of them put a man out of his farm, and there is no person will take it. He sent down a person to cultivate the farm, and he was sent home again. The people gathered 526 that night, and desired him to go home, and not come there again; and the man got leave to sell his tenant-right afterwards.42. How long ago is that?—About three years ago. Something similar happened to a man, about two or three miles from my place, last winter was a year.43. Is the value of the tenant-right increasing or diminishing, and how is it affected by the tenure?—The value of the tenant-right is decreasing in consequence of the scarcity of money; and I suppose it would be regulated also by the price of land at the time the tenant-right would be sold. If it is at a high rent, they will give less; and if at a low rent, they will not get more.44. What should you say was the value of tenant-right of land fairly set and held at will, comparing it with a year's rent, or by the acre?—About four years ago, at a place I receive the rent of, it would have sold for 20l. an acre, and now, though the rent is lowered 10 per cent, it would be difficult enough to get 10l.Mr. Hancock, Lord Lurgan's Agent, Down, Antrim, and Armagh:—38. The landlords are compelled to recognise tenant-right, as in several instances in this neighbourhood, where they have refused to allow tenant-right, the incoming tenant's house has been burned, his cattle houghed, or his crops trodden down by night. The disallowance of tenant-right, as far as I know, is always attended with outrage. A landlord cannot even resume possession to himself without paying it. In fact, it is one of the sacred rights of the country which cannot be touched with impunity; and if systematic efforts were made amongst the proprietors of Ulster to invade tenant-right, I do not believe there is a force at the disposal of the Horse Guards sufficient to keep the peace of the province; and, when we consider that all the improvements have been effected at the expense of the tenant, it is perfectly right that this tenant-right should exist; his money has been laid out on the faith of compensation in that shape.This, then, was the evidence of the north of Ireland, as to the value of this tenant-right. How often had he heard all the boast of the superior tranquillity of the north? It was because they were better treated by their landlords, and, generally speaking, there was a better feeling there towards the landlords, because the tenants were allowed to sell their tenant-rights. In the county of Tipperary there was an agrarian law, which was the law of ejectment; in the province of Ulster there was a general law giving the tenant valuable rights. He called upon the House to make their choice between the two. Now was the time for their choice. The country had arrived at a state in which it was necessary for something to be done. This miserable Coercion Bill would do nothing. It would do worse than nothing. There were many excellent landlords in Ireland, and there were numerous bad ones: numerous estates were in the hands of agents. The remedy which 527 he asked for was, that the tenant-right of Ulster, which had been enjoyed in that province for 300 years, and which was available at this present moment, should be generally adopted throughout Ireland. He further required that a heavy tax should be levied upon absentees, and the election of county boards instead of the existing system of grand juries. He wanted the House to grant a strong, bold, manly, useful remedial measure. He would not weary the House by going into further details now; but, having pointed out these remedies, he called upon the British Parliament to grant them at once. Where they desirous of putting an end to these murders? Then it must be by removing the cause of murder. You could not destroy the effect without taking away the cause. He repeated, that the tranquillity of Ulster was owing to the enjoyment of the tenant-right; where that right was taken away, the people were trodden under foot, and, in the words of Lord Clare, "ground to powder." The hon. and learned Gentleman concluded by saying he had trespassed upon the House at greater length than he intended, and he would close by moving the Amendment which he had read.
§ MR. B. OSBORNE
apprehended that no Member of that House, however he might differ from the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just sat down, could find fault with the manner and temper of his speech. He was anxious, in seconding the Amendment, to say, that while he shared with the right hon. Gentleman who had brought this Bill under discussion in feeling the greatest horror at the murders in Ireland, yet, at the same time, as a resident in that country, and as one deeply interested in its welfare, he deprecated the introduction of the measure as being not only inefficient for its avowed objects, but calculated to inflame the complicated evils of that unfortunate country. It was easy for a Member of that House, taking advantage of the deep-rooted horror of assassination which was common to all civilized beings, to call upon Parliament to pass stringent Acts for the protection of life; but, in his opinion, it would be far more worthy of the character of the right hon. Gentleman as a statesman, if, previously to calling for the enactment of such a law, he had applied himself to the production of measures to eradicate the causes of the evils. If there was one duty more imperative than another upon an English statesman, it was to prove to the people 528 of Ireland that he was ready, able, and willing to grapple with their condition, social, political, and religious. But the proposal of coercion was a confession of inactivity. The right hon. Gentleman opposite, upon a recent occasion, adverted with great deference to the opinions of Burke upon commercial questions; and perhaps the House would alluw him to quote the opinions of Burke upon Irish coercion. In the year 1795, Mr. Burke, writing to Sir Hercules Langrishe on Irish affairs, said—Mild and lenient acts ought to precede measures of rigour; they ought to be the ultima, not the prima, not the tota ratio of a wise Government. God forbid that on a worthy occasion authority should want the means of force! but where a prudent and enlarged policy does not precede it, then the hearts of the people do not go with the soldiery. You may call your Constitution what you will; in effect it will consist of three parts—cavalry, infantry, and artillery, and of nothing better.Such was the opinion of Mr. Burke on that occasion. He should not allow his feelings of horror and alarm at assassination so to warp his mind as to bring him to conclude that a measure of this kind was the only one that could be introduced for the benefit of Ireland. If he took only a hasty view of the reasons alleged for it, and of the circumstances of the country, he might possibly be induced to give his vote for the first reading of the Bill. Doubtless there were many in that House who, with good intentions, but superficial views, were ready to commit themselves to the first reading of the Bill; but if it could be shown that the provisions of that measure were calculated to promote discord—that it was tyrannous in design, and inefficient in operation—that the same blundering and despotic spirit which first peeped out in the rejected Arms Bill might be traced pervading the whole measure; if all that could be shown, as he believed it could, he appealed to hon. Gentlemen interested in the welfare of Ireland, whether they would or could support such a Bill. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department, with a tone and manner which did him honour, had read numerous details from the constabulary reports, and had quoted the opinions of a large number of magistrates. He, in the absence of further proof, following the example of the right hon. Gentleman the Recorder of Dublin, with regard to the scarcity in Ireland, might have questioned the extent of crime—might have said that gross exag- 529 geration had been used—and, above all, imitating the language of the late Lord Dudley, he might have reminded the House that alarm was the art of an eloquent Minister. Conceding, however, that the amount of crime had not been exaggerated, he would ask, how did the Government propose to deal with such a state of things—how to eradicate the disorder? Their great remedy, their mighty panacea, appeared to consist in not permitting the inhabitants of disturbed districts to leave their houses between sunset and sunrise, under the liability, if discovered, of being transported for seven years. Such was the principal provision for the pacification of Ireland. But the right hon. Gentleman had not shown how such provisions would deal with the noon-day murderer, how they would lead the peasant to denounce the murderer, how operate to destroy the cause of crime. The right hon. Baronet had not shown that it would accomplish either of those objects; and, regarding it as an inefficient and a dangerous measure, he called upon the House to meet it as they had met the Arms Bill; for he maintained that if they suffered themselves to be carried away by the recitals of newspaper paragraphs, and refused to look into the cause of the crime, or into the remedies to be applied, they did, in fact, admit that a total abdication of legislative functions was the fittest remedy that could be applied. He believed that this was the 17th or 18th coercive measure since the Union, which the House had been called on to pass for Ireland; and yet he had never heard of one measure of a remedial nature, or which really went to the eradication of Irish grievances. In the case of Irish crime (unlike that of England, which had fearfully increased of late), the Government could hardly plead ignorance of its cause, for the cause was well known—it was notoriously owing to the tenure of land. There was no escaping that difficulty. The right hon. Gentleman knew it. Every Member of that House knew it; and yet what was the conduct of the Government? Either through inability, laziness, or disinclination, they were more ready to resuscitate and rebaptize the old Coercion Bill, than to apply themselves heart and hand to the bringing forward of some measure which should go to the root of the social evil. Could it be credited that in the teeth of all their experience—in the six hundredth year of our sway over Ireland—the British House of Commons should be sit- 530 ting to pass a measure to transport men who were out of their houses between sunset and sunrise? He really was astonished that a Government professing itself to be the author of great and comprehensive schemes should soil itself by bringing forward such a martial law in masquerade. He would, with the permission of the House, briefly refer to the evidence of two gentlemen taken before the Lords' Committee in 1824, who had been appointed to administer coercive laws. The first witness to whom he referred was Francis Blackburne, Esq., now Lord Chief Justice of Ireland. That gentleman was asked—When you state that a considerable improvement has taken place in certain parts of the country in which the Insurrection Act has been in force, do you mean by improvement only that the system of outrage has been effectually checked, or do you mean to say that the disposition to commit outrage has ceased to exist?—I mean to say that a cessation of outrage has been produced; but I cannot say that I believe any material change of disposition has been produced.Again—What measures are, in your opinion, best calculated to improve the condition of the people of Ireland?—Generally speaking, employment and education. While the circumstances you have mentioned as the cause of the disturbances in Ireland do exist, do you think the Insurrection Act, without other measures, will produce tranquillity?—It will put down the disturbance from time to time to time, but it will not produce a better order of things.The other gentleman from whose evidence he would quote, was Mr. J. Howley, Assistant Barrister for the county of Tipperary, who possessed peculiar means of information as to the Irish character. He was asked—From your experience of the Irish character, would you say they were more easily reclaimed from evil courses, or more easily directed in proper courses by a conciliatory course, or by putting into operation the full extremity of the law?—From my knowledge of the Irish character, I would say that naked penalties alone will not put down offences. They must be mixed with kindness and considerate conduct. I should say the ordinary law carried on steadily and directly; not pushed aside by small influences, but carried steadily on, and administered with temper, and without the appearance of vindictiveness, would be sufficient to maintain order.He need only remind the House, in addition to that, that the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Recorder for Dublin had on a recent occasion given it as his decided opinion that the law as it stood was quite sufficient for the suppression of all disturbances. When the right hon. Baronet talked the other night of the great increase of crime, had he asked himself to what it 531 might be attributed—had it never occurred to him that it had been mainly produced by the conduct of the Government themselves? What had they done? In 1843 the celebrated Devon Commission was issued. As a resident in Ireland he knew that the excitement caused amongst the peasantry of Ireland by that Commission could not be overrated. The mode in which the Commission was constituted, and the great powers with which it was armed, had raised the most inordinate expectations. The cottier tenant thought that the manner of his holding would be revised, and the principle of fixity of tenure had gained great ground. It would be unnecessary for him to detail what followed, or to consider how those expectations had been realized. After a lapse of some time, however, two monster volumes were issued. All that they contained had been said before by the Poor Law Commissioners of 1836; but it was supposed that those were to be the last of the blue books, and that immediate legislation was to follow. His hon. and learned Friend below him had extracted at some length from different portions of the Report which had issued from the Devon Commission; but one part had been omitted which he thought should be read, in justice to the suffering people of Ireland. After depicting the state of their living, or they should rather have said, "of their dying"—as was said to the traveller, who, passing over the Pontine marshes, and inquiring "How do you live here?" was met by the answer, "We don't live, we die here,"—they went on to say—When we consider this state of things, and the large proportion of the population which comes under the designation of agricultural labourers, we have to repeat that the patient endurance which they exhibit is deserving of high commendation, and entitles them to the best attention of Government and of Parliament.To what then had the "best attention of Government and of Parliament" led? It had led to the introduction of a Bill in another place, which was so utterly ridiculous that it had established a sort of fixity of tenure for itself, for beyond the House of Lords it had never gone. After all the solemn mockery of issuing that Commission—after exciting the hopes and extolling the patience of the poor Irish—all that they did was to expose their miseries, and to come down with a Coercion Bill as a rider to Lord Devon's Commission. The right hon. Baronet the Secretary for the Home Depart- 532 ment, uttering the other night a sentiment which, he believed, the right hon. Baronet had adopted from Mr. Fox in 1797, said that they must not legislate for Ireland with reference to English notions, but with reference to Irish interests and Irish prejudices. He confessed that he was delighted to hear the right hon. Baronet make use of that sentiment; but he firmly believed, if there were one thing more than another which was more peculiarly obnoxious to Irish interests and Irish prejudices, it was that very Bill under discussion; and for his life he could not understand, disposed as he was to give every credit to the hon. and learned Gentleman who had prepared that Bill, how such an inefficient measure had been allowed to be brought forward. He must say that, for his own part, he regarded it as the production of a vacillating and disunited Cabinet. He did not believe that the right hon. Baronet himself ever wished the Bill to pass. It was all very well to talk of certain conveniences in the Cabinet; but he did not believe that that Bill was ever intended to pass. Another reason why every one should oppose that Bill was, that if they passed it they would have no security that some despotic Minister might not at some time or other go down to that House, after cutting out three or four horrible accounts of murders from the newspapers, and call upon that House to pass a Coercion Act for England. He contended, then, that this was an English question as well as an Irish question. What was good for the one country was good for the other, and what was bad for the one was bad for the other. The 6th, 7th, and 8th Sections of the Bill directed that certain compensation should be made to the relations of the persons murdered, the money wherewith to make which compensation should be advanced from the Consolidated Fund. Then, by the 9th and 14th Sections, the sums so advanced from the Consolidated Fund were directed to be repaid by a tax on the occupying tenant, whether his holding were over or under 4l., and that was not to be deducted from the rent. Now, he would appeal to the House, and he would ask whether any man remembering what was the operation of the Still-Fine Act, and knowing the state of physical destitution in which the cottier tenantry were plunged, could suppose for a moment that such a tax could ever be levied from them. Instead of being surprised at the amount of crime in Ireland, he must say— 533 and he spoke from an intimate acquaintance with the cottier peasantry of Ireland—that the amount of their patience surprised him much more. Let the right hon. Gentleman remember that physical destitution and moral degradation went hand in hand—that they were inseparable—that they could not debase a man in the scale of comfort without debasing his moral condition; and remembering that, he would ask him whether it was either just or humane to call upon that House to pass coercive laws to check the vices of a people which they themselves, by their own misgovernment, had engendered. He was very unwilling to do so, yet he could not refrain from noticing one remark which had fallen from the noble Lord opposite, the Member for Lynn (Lord G. Bentinck), who stated, than any man who opposed that measure should be responsible for every additional murder. He did not lay much stress upon the noble Lord's expression, for he had not yet had sufficient training as a leader to weigh sufficiently the importance of every phrase; and when he jumped from figures of arithmetic into figures of rhetoric, the noble Lord sometimes bolted from his backers, and was apt to run in distress. The noble Lord, however, had given no reason for passing a Coercion Bill for Ireland, which did not equally apply to England. If the amount of crime were the reason, he could tell them that dreadful crimes were shockingly prevalent in England. As the noble Lord made out his case, referring to two murders in Tyrone, which was an Orange county, let him just take one or two glances at random into the country newspapers. He would first take the noble Lord into Staffordshire, and there he found the following:—John Brough, a farmer, at Biddulph, between Tunstall and Congleton, in Staffordshire, has killed his brother Thomas, by beating him on the head with a hammer; he afterwards threw the body into a sand-pit. John Brough held a farm of Thomas; and, being in arrears of rent, the latter threatened to distrain—hence the murder. The principal witness against the criminal was James Brough, another brother to whom he had confessed his guilt. Brough has been committed to prison for trial.Or again, in a quiet village in Somersetshire, near Bridgewater, a woman in her twenty-eighth year, poisoned her mother and brother, and one of her illegitimate children. Such cases might be multiplied ad infinitum. He might go even to the noble Lord's own county; yet the 534 noble Lord never thought of stating that a Coercion Bill was necessary for England. He really was surprised that any man, especially one in the noble Lord's situation, looking to his prospective position—[A laugh.] He said it seriously. There was no reason why the noble Lord should not be Prime Minister. The noble Lord had ability and influence to commend that elevated position; and he repeated, he was surprised that the noble Lord should come down to that House and make random proposals upon no better information than a few newspaper paragraphs. Probably, in the absence of the Irish Secretary from the House, there might be some excuse for the ignorance which the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department had displayed with reference to Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman had wholly omitted to mention, when condemning Tipperary, that the southern part of that county was altogether distinct from the north, and that in the South Riding of Tipperary crime was almost unknown. What was, however, the state of that county? His hon. and learned Friend (Mr. O'Connell) had alluded very cursorily to the number of civil bill ejectments which had taken place. He perceived from the Land Commission Report, that the number of civil bill ejectments in Ireland from 1839 to 1843, exclusive of the number of individual occupiers served with process, was 70,982: allowing five persons to each family, it would give a result of 354,910 individuals ejected by civil bills during these three years. Why, if that were done in England, his word for it they would have plenty of landlords shot on the highways. This had been going on for years, and no measures had been taken to stop it; on the contrary, a noble and learned Lord, enlarging on the ducal dictum which first emanated from Clumber, "that you may do what you like with your own," had declared that Parliament had no right to interfere with the rights of property—as if it did not do so by every railroad Act and every tax. He was not attempting to palliate the crime; but he would not be hurried away by a temporary fit of enthusiasm, got up by newspaper paragraphs, forgetting that he had been sent to that House to legislate for his fellow countrymen. In his (Mr. Osborne's) opinion, the true way to suppress agrarian outrages, and to prevent assassination, was not by a Special Commission—not by Whiteboy Acts—not by grants to Maynooth even, or by the esta- 535 blishment of Colleges—least of all could it be effected by a Coercion Bill. The only real and effective way, in his humble judgment, was, to alter the law of fixed property so as to render the transfer of property easier, that they might obtain a different class of proprietors. That, and a total alteration of the laws relating to the connexion of landlord and tenant, seemed to him to be the only true way of suppressing agrarian outrages and assassination in Ireland. He thought that the conduct of the Lord Chancellor had been marked with great indiscretion, when he took upon himself to dismiss all the magistrates who entertained Repeal sentiments. In his opinion, the Chancellor committed what a French Minister had stigmatized as worse than a crime—"a political blunder." Another political blunder which, as it appeared to him, the Government committed, was in regard to the Grand Jury Act in Ireland. It was all very well to say that Protestant ascendancy was at end; but he asserted that it still existed, and that it would be seen in the constitution of those juries. Let them look to the long panel of Tipperary as a proof of that fact. In 1839, there were 118 Catholics on the long panel, 38 being among the first 100; in 1844, there were 43 Catholics on the long panel, and 10 amongst the first 100; and in 1846, there were 17 on the long panel, and 5 amongst the first 100. That was the state of the long panel in Tipperary during those years. That was the case of the long panel in Tipperary; and at the last assizes, out of 23 names on the grand jury of the north riding, only one Catholic had been empannelled—a gentlemen of great respectability, and most unexceptionable in point of property and station, but he was a man of strong Conservative principles. Why, he would ask, were other Catholic gentlemen, of equal intelligence, property, and station, omitted from the panel? If the hon. Member for Tipperary were not present, he would refer to his intelligence and station, and ask why was he not on the grand jury? There were two other Catholic gentlemen, also of great respectability and station, and their names were omitted from the grand panel in an adjoining county to Tipperary; and when he looked at these circumstances, he was justified in saying that it arose from a one-sided and bigoted system. He had great pleasure in seconding the Amendment of his hon. and learned Friend. He admired his sincerity, he admired his ge- 536 nius, he concurred with him in his views with respect to this measure, but he dissented from his opinions as to a separate Legislature; for as a resident in that country, he did not believe the Repeal of the Union to be a panacea for all the evils of Ireland. He would, however, warn the House, that in passing a measure of this coercive character, they were giving an argument to those who were in favour of a repeal of the Union, and causing discontent in Ireland. Men of all parties in that country were discontented with the Government; and they said that it was ignorant of their wants and indifferent to their interests. He was favourable to the Union between the two countries; but if it were only to be maintained by force and coercion, he did not think it worth that cost. They had been told by a right hon. and learned Member that there was an evil genius in the Cabinet. There was, it was true, an evil genius in the Cabinet, but it was of an Orange hue; and whether with a wig and gown in Ireland—whether in Dublin Castle or in that House—it still clung around the Irish policy of the Government. He called upon the House not to be led away by specious pretexts to enact a law which was so much opposed to the rights and liberties of Her Majesty's subjects in Ireland.
§ MR. SIDNEY HERBERT
would not attempt, on a subject so painful as that before them, to go into all the extraneous topics of the speech of the hon. Gentlemen who had just concluded. He should always speak with great respect of the opinions advanced in that House by a Gentleman resident in Ireland, and who did his duty efficiently and perfectly to his tenantry, and those by whom he was surrounded; and it was not meant as any disparagement to that hon. Gentleman, or the country in which he resided, if he did not go into some of those topics. They had an example set them to-night by the calm and temperate manner in which a man of so impassioned a nature as the hon. and learned Gentleman brought forward the Amendment; and he thought that no man, in following that speech, could well transgress the bounds of moderation which the hon. and learned Gentleman had set out. He should be sorry to see party politics introduced with reference to such a subject as that before them; and whatever might be his situation, he never would assist in making Ireland again the battle-field of party. He was an Irish landlord himself, and he had a deep stake in the welfare of that country. He took the warmest 537 interest in her fate and in her misfortunes, and he was a willing party to the measure before the House, because he thought it was requisite for the safety of that country, as he had been a warm advocate of the other measures of the Government with respect to Ireland, because he thought that they had a tendency to introduce better feelings amongst persons of different parties and different religious persuasions, and to awaken the minds of different classes to co-operate for the general and permanent prosperity of the country. From the speeches, however, which they had heard that evening, one would almost hope that the intention, which had on other occasions been so strongly expressed, of meeting this measure with Motions for delay, had been given up, inasmuch as both those speeches would seem to have passed by the first and second readings of the Bill, to go to details rather than to principles, and to have anticipated the committal of the measure. Now, he did not think it would be convenient that they should, at this stage of the measure, discuss its particular clauses, or contrast its provisions with the Bills of other Governments; and the more especially as no one who had hitherto spoken upon the subject had, in the least degree, attempted to deny the emergency which had induced the Government to introduce this Bill. The statements of his right hon. Friend (Sir J. Graham) remained unanswered and uncontradicted—the only allegation against them being that made by the hon. Member who had just sat down, that they were exaggerated. He wished that they might be exaggerated; for it would be most satisfactory, he was persuaded, to the Government, to find that they had overrated the evils that prevailed in Ireland, and that they had been premature in introducing, with reference to that country, a measure of severity which was not justified by the facts of the case. The hon. Member who spoke last said, that if similar evictions of tenantry had taken place in England as had taken place in Ireland, they would have had landlords shot in one country as well as in the other; and he blamed them for not having introduced measures in reference to the relations of landlord and tenant in Ireland. Now, this was not fair, when it was recollected that the Government had introduced a measure last year upon that subject, which, though it had been unsuccessful, had not deprived them of the hope that they might be enabled to introduce a measure in the present year 538 with a better prospect of success. But the subject was a most difficult and delicate one; and certainly, as yet, the Government had had but little encouragement in dealing with such questions, for the moment a measure of that nature was introduced, private and hostile interests at once arose in opposition to it, and it was next to impossible, on such a subject, and amidst such a diversity of opinion, to carry a measure through Parliament with any prospect of success. He hoped, however, the great public necessity that existed for a measure of the nature now sought to be introduced, would induce hon. Members to sink private opinion and party interests in favour of this efficacious remedy. The hon. Member alluded to a feeling of vengeance against landlords, arising from the eviction of the tenantry, as a source of crime. He regretted to hear that; he should not go into the frightful instances which had been mentioned in that House; for he had no sympathy with the system under which large numbers of human beings were turned wide on the world; and still less when they were so turned out in a country where the love of particular localities, and a feeling of pride in possessing small pieces of land, were so great as in Ireland. But they must recollect that in the present anomalous state of society in Ireland, great difficulties arose in consequence of the land being apportioned to an indefinite number of tenants. A person, for example, got a lease of land and let it to another, who, knowing nothing of the obligations under which perhaps the first letting was made, sublet it to others, by whom it was again subdivided among a still greater number of tenants, adding infinitely to the general distress of the whole district. If that system was to go on, the effect must be, that it would eventually swallow up the whole land, and then would come a struggle between the extreme exercise of the rights of property on the one hand, and the necessity for subsistence, which the poor occupier would make on the other. The House might well believe that these were questions not to be settled by a passing flourish about the duties of landlords, but that they were questions which required the enlightened and considerate attention of the Legislature. He thought he would be able to show—and he hoped the House would bear with him if he quoted a little more at length on this subject than was usual with him—how far it was true, as had been alleged, that the present course of Govern- 539 ment was encouraging a war between the rich and the poor; how far it was true that they were bringing in a Bill to protect the strong against the weak; how far it was true that they took care to protect those who were rich and able to protect themselves, and did not show the same care for the humble and industrious poor. He could show from proofs before him, that the murders which were committed in broad day were, generally speaking, murders perpetrated against persons in the higher ranks of life; and that, on the other hand, the night murders were committed on the poor and defenceless; and for this reason—the rich man lived in a house carefully secured, with his servants well armed, his windows barricaded, and everything about it capable of standing a siege; and when such a man was murdered it was usually in the open day; perhaps fired at from a hedge when he was returning from the quarter sessions, or some other duty. But the poor man, who lived in a wretched thatched cottage with the door and window ill secured, that man was attacked at night, shots were fired into his house, and incendiarism was almost solely confined to him, because he was poor and defenceless—he had no servants to repel the invasion of what ought to be his castle; and therefore he maintained that an obvious distinction must be made between the night class of murders, which especially required their interference, and those that were committed in broad day. The one class of victims called much more loudly for protection than did the other. Therefore the accusation that was brought against Government, that they were legislating for the strong against the weak, was not founded in fact. Let us see who are the victims in the great majority of these cases. Here was a case reported to Government by a gentleman whose respectability no person, and certainly not the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. O'Connell), would deny. It was reported by Mr. Leyne, nephew to the hon. and learned Gentleman. He said—I have to report that, on the night of Wednesday, the 10th instant, as Shandy Kenny was returning home from work, he was brutally murdered, near the cross-roads of Dayneen, within three miles of Kildysart, in this county. It appears that about two months ago the deceased's father took a few acres of land from Mr. Pierce Campbell, of this town, out of which a man named James Sexton was, at the same time, ejected, and to this cause alone is to be attributed the perpetration of so dreadful a crime. The unfortunate man was not only shot to death, but his murderers 540 also inflicted with some sharp instrument three deep wounds on the back part of his head.It was true murders such as these arose out of questions connected with the occupation of land; it was not the landlord, however, who was made the victim—it was the poor tenants, who had, in all probability, nothing whatever to do with the arrangements connected with the leasing of the land; but the landlord could not be reached, and therefore the poor farmer fell the victim to these agrarian outrages. Here was a case in which the effects of such outrages fell directly on the poor; it was an announcement by the Directors of the Mining Company of Ireland, and was as follows:—The board of directors of the Mining Company of Ireland hereby gives notice to all whom it may concern, that the company's works, at Earls-hill Colliery will be suspended on Saturday, the 20th of December next, or the earliest day admissible under existing contracts. The board has been reluctantly impelled to adopt this course by the outrages and threats to which the company's stewards, Martin Morris and others, have been subjected with impunity, notwithstanding large rewards offered for information which might lead to the punishment of the offenders; and by the threatening notices subsequently served on those well-disposed workmen who are desirous to work under the company, and earn support for themselves and families, but whose lives are too highly valued by the board to be risked by a continuance of the works, until sufficient protection can be afforded to them.This was one of the results that flowed from a want of protection to the poor. Let capital obtain a safe footing in Ireland, and industry and employment would become more and more rife—a greater amount of physical comfort would be enjoyed by the people, and contentment and happiness would be more wisely diffused; but because life was not safe in Ireland, and society disorganized, the employment of capital was greatly injured in that country. He would give a case of outrage in Clare, communicated to Government, which was as follows:—I am sorry to be again obliged to report that an outrage of a very serious nature occurred in this neighbourhood yesterday evening. On my visiting the place this day I learned the following particulars; namely, that about half-past six o'clock on the previous evening a party of armed men, about nine in number, wearing bonnets, and having their faces blackened, entered the house of a respectable farmer, of the name of Murphy, and after discharging a blunderbuss in his face, which fortunately only contained some powder, they, in a most savage manner, commenced beating Murphy with the butt-ends of their guns and clubs, and only left off beating him when they thought he was dead; they broke his 541 leg and left his head in a most frightful state; there are two physicians attending him, who have but slight hopes of his recovery. They also inflicted several wounds on his son and daughter; the latter is also confined to her bed in a bad state; the son several times endeavoured to discharge a blunderbuss at them while beating his father, but unfortunately it would not go off, although heavily loaded. The party then went away, taking with them three guns and a blunderbuss. The family all deny having any knowledge of any of them. The cause assigned for this brutal attack is, that Murphy, about seven years ago, took a farm of land from which some people had been ejected. There is no clue at present that could lead to the apprehension of any of the party. I am happy to inform you that sub-inspector Comyns has just come in, after spending the night in search of the offenders, and has succeeded in arresting three of the party concerned in the outrage on Murphy and his family, and that one of them has been fully identified as a principal in the outrage by Murphy's servant boy; and as it is feared he would either leave the country, or be deterred from prosecuting, I have directed the police to keep him in their barracks for some time.This was a statement communicated by Mr. Bailey, resident magistrate in the county of Clare. From the district of Newcastle, in the county of Limerick, they had the following report from Mr. Sullivan, second head-constable:—I have to state that on Sunday, the 25th instant, about seven o'clock, P. M., as John O'Brien, of Gurteen, was on his return home from the village of Feenagh, he was waylaid by five or six men, two of whom, David Lynch, jun., and William Long, both of Clonrycrippa, inflicted with stones two very dangerous wounds on the left side of the head, from the effects of which he now lies very dangerously ill. He cannot name or describe any of the rest of the party, nor can Nancy Sullivan, who accompanied him, and who, by crying out for assistance, saved his life, else it is probable he would have been murdered, as Lynch, Long, and party are old enemies, and belong to a faction always opposed to O'Brien's.What he wished to show was, that these were cases which occurred at night—that poor men were then attacked in their own houses, or on their way to and from their work. He had a letter from a man who was in possession of a piece of land given to him by his landlord, but who, after having been in possession for a short time, wrote to his landlord, asking him, in God's name, to take back the land, as his life was in danger, and he was so afraid that he durst not go to his work. This man had been a faithful servant of his landlord, and had received the land as a reward for his services; but rather than hold it, he gave it up, though in all probability it had long been the highest object of his ambition. These were instances where the poor 542 and defenceless were exposed to violence, and therefore let it not be said that the present Bill was a measure to protect the strong against the weak. How many murders of landlords had there been? Or rather, he should say, how few had there been? God knew he was not underrating the number who had thus lost their lives; but he asked the House to consider how few landlords had been murdered, in comparison with the whole number which had taken place in the five counties in which outrage had been so conspicuous. In those five counties there had been the following offences:—firing at the person, 85; incendiarism, 139; threatening witnesses, 1,043; firing into dwelling-houses, 93. Now, of all these, how many were attacks on landlords? There was Mr. Gloster, Mr. M'Leod, Sir F. Hopkins, Mr. Carrick, Mr. Barton, and Mr. Booth; but they formed no comparison to the number of poor and defenceless. There were instances of men in their very home being attacked, because they had bought corn at a particular price, perhaps rather higher than it was thought they ought to do. Persons were attacked and beaten in the most cruel manner with heavy bludgeons, till, in many cases, no hopes were entertained of their recovery; and in other cases men were fired at and shot under every variety of circumstances, such as it would be painful to the House to hear and for him to recapitulate. He would read, however, in the eloquent language of Chief Justice Bushe, the state of matters in 1832—a state of things very similar to the present, and which led to the Coercion Act of Earl Grey. In his charge to the Grand Jury at Maryborough, the Chief Justice then said—Illegal oaths are administered by them, often by compulsion, to unhappy wretches, who attribute to them an obligation which they deny to more legitimate engagements. Vengeance is denounced against all who refuse to join their associations, or resist their mandates, or give information of their crimes; by those means they become numerous, and the incessant and indefatigable plunder of arms from all descriptions of loyal and peaceable subjects soon renders them formidable.… The humble being who earns his bread by serving the process of a court of law is held up to public hatred, and persecuted like a noxious animal. The witness who gives evidence in a court of justice is stigmatized as an informer, and devoted to general execration; and the juryman is ordered, on pain of death, not to discharge his duty.In speaking of the origin of these crimes, Chief Justice Bushe made use of the following passage:— 543I cannot recollect an instance in the experience of many years (and perhaps it is a formidable view of our situation), in which a man has been charged with an insurrectionary offence whose crime could be traced to want or poverty.That state of society led to what was generally known by the name of the Coercion Bill. The hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. O'Connell) said, the present was another version of that Coercion Bill; and the hon. Gentleman who seconded the Amendment told them that it was taken from the old Tory armoury. He would not say one word as to the armoury from which it came; but he would say this, so far as experience went of the working of the Act of 1833, there was reason to believe that, so far from being ineffective, great good was done by it in promoting peace and security in Ireland—that many persons of the humbler classes, however much they had at one time feared its enactments, from the descriptions which had been given of it, looked upon it as a blessing in having conferred upon them the security they so much required. The Act was renewed in 1834 and also in 1836; and here he would read the account given by the Inspector General of Police in Connaught, in April, 1834, of the effect of that law. He said—In obedience to the commands of his Excellency the Lord Lieutenant, I have the honour to state respectfully my humble opinion, that the Act, commonly called the Coercion Act, should unquestionably be renewed. It strikes me that there can be very little of objection urged upon this subject, as the manner in which the Act has been used by the Government must silence the most ardent advocate for liberty. It has not been hastily applied in any case, and, when it has been applied, it was disarmed of every severity. In a country situated as this is, the most humane and valuable authority the Executive can possess is to restrain the people from nocturnal meetings; and I look upon that provision of the Act to be the most valuable of all. The power to impose the Act on an offending district has the great moral effect of repressing outrage in the other districts; and I am quite satisfied, if the county of Kilkenny had not been proclaimed, disturbance would have spread over all the contiguous counties.Mr. Green, resident magistrate of Kilkenny, wrote to the Lord Lieutenant:—The returns show the actual state this county and city were in for the year preceding the proclamation, and for the proclaimed year, by which it appears that the number of outrages committed in the former, that is from the 1st of April, 1832, to the 1st of April, 1833, amounted to 1590; whereas from the 1st of April, 1833, to the 1st of April, 1834, but 331; making a diminution of 1,259 outrages between the two years…… The people have been, and are, gradually resuming their habits of industry, as the present cultivation of this country shows, and their manners 544 are evidently changed for the better with these improvements.One of the counties at that time brought under the operation of the Act was Queen's County; and there was no county in Ireland that had since shown more improvement or exhibited greater prosperity than that part of Ireland had done. He hoped the House clearly understood that in tracing, as he hoped he had done, the effect of the numerous attacks committed against those in humble station, and which had taken the character of revenge: in pointing out to what extent that revenge was carried, he hoped the House would give him credit for saying that nothing was more contrary to his intention than to give any opinion as to the means by which those feelings of revenge were called forth. In asking the House to suspend the law in certain portions of Ireland, they did so that the people of those districts might be enabled to enjoy the liberty and security to which they were entitled under the laws, and that they might possess those advantages which it was the object of the Constitution to confer. They should bear in mind how many threatening notices were mentioned in the papers he had read to the House. It was true these threats might be more numerous than those actually carried into execution; but they were unable to calculate the amount of terror which was produced by the amount of these notices: one carried into effect gave to all a terrible character. A whole family would be thrown into fear and alarm by a notice against one member of it; and it was, a horrible tyranny under which those persons were constrained to live. When men dared not go home from their work, or were afraid, perhaps, to go beyond their cabin doors, and were not even safe from the blunderbuss while in it, sitting perhaps with their wives and families, surely this was not a state of society in which they could say that suspending the law was a severe measure. When men were judged by secret tribunals, and received sentences coming from they knew not where—when, as in the case of Wilson, condemned by a tribunal, of the existence of which he was not aware, and his accusers all unknown, where the accuser was at once the judge and the jury, the only thing that he was not, being the executioner, for he hired some other person to execute the sentence which he had the ferocity to pass, but not the courage to carry into effect. What a state of society was it when a man could not go about on 545 his lawful occasions without being visited, not by an inquiry into the motives which generally swayed his conduct, not by an inquiry whether that conduct had been for the most part just, or the reverse; but visited by one of those ferocious sentences, inflicted with ruthless cruelty; and inflicted for what? Because he, a man in poor and humble circumstances, perhaps was in the occupation of land of which ten years ago some other person had been dispossessed by his landlord, the victim having had up to that moment no knowledge whatever of the dispossessed party. In this state of things surely it was puerile to say don't suspend the law; leave the people in possession of their rights and liberties; don't subject men to a measure which after all must be admitted to be much less severe than the restraints under which the people of these districts are at present compelled to live. It was true and most fortunate that this state of society was confined to but a small area in Ireland, but that was not an argument against the measure; on the contrary, the more narrow the ground, the stronger the case; the more narrow the ground, the more irresistible became the inducements to pass the measure, and the less oppressive would be the provisions which might be thought necessary in order to put a stop to these terrible evils. He trusted, therefore, that the House would look fairly at this case, and not be led away by specious declamations about public liberty and private rights, because what Her Majesty's Government did was not to restrain any private rights which at present were capable of exercise in these districts; for men were there under the dominion of a power more irresponsible than any of the powers conferred by this Bill—a power exercised by persons unseen, and for causes unknown; and exercised, too, in a manner not to be foreseen, which no conduct, no character, however excellent, no virtue, no station, could avert. He trusted the House would not reject this Bill; he asked them to read the Bill—to give a full consideration to the case. If it could be shown that these evils did not exist, let it be done; if it could be shown that they were exaggerated, let it be pointed out where; if it could be shown that the provisions of this measure were not applicable to the peculiar state of the case, let it be pointed out; and also how the measure might be made to meet the evils which the Government and all the House were anxious to see put an end to. Let the opponents of the mea- 546 sure do this; but do not let them mix up with the consideration of this measure that of the ultimate remedies for the state of things now existing in these districts. Those remedies all parties in the State wished to see carried into the fullest effect; but it was surely plain that the consideration of them was and must be made a separate one. The opponents of the measure said these were not religious or political evils. He believed they were right. He did not believe that this state of things had arisen out of religious considerations, because he saw that the victims of these outrages were not exclusively Protestants. He did not believe they arose out of political considerations, because men of all political parties suffered under the system. If, then, it was not political and not religious, why not attempt to eradicate the evil at once? Why stay until they had got at the exact cause of the evil? But what remedy was to be applied? The only remedy which had been suggested was, that some measure should be introduced for the improvement of the relations of landlord and tenant in Ireland. Her Majesty's Government agreed in the propriety of that; and they proposed very shortly to lay on the Table of the House a measure for that object, which he trusted would meet with the approbation of the House and be carried into a law. But he hoped that no Gentleman would be led away by arguments so sophistical, as he must think them, as that, because they might trace up these evils to something peculiar in the social condition of the Irish people, therefore they must postpone taking any steps to arrest these evils until the remedies they wished could be applied, which he said, be they as effectual as they might, could not produce their fruits in any short space of time. Confidence was a plant of slow growth; and, granting that all these measures which the opponents of this Bill would prescribe, were to turn out most perfect—granting they were a cure for all the evils of Ireland, civil, political, and religious, still before these measures could produce their effect, the House would see a repetition of the present evils constantly recurring, if they were not checked at once with a strong hand. Another generation might grow up who, under the gradual operation of these remedial measures, might find security for life and property; but let not the House think that on that ground, and on that expectation, they could throw off the present responsibility of dealing with these great 547 evils—evils affecting not the landlord only, not the Protestant only, but the humblest classes among the people of Ireland; men whom they were especially bound to protect, and who did, he had reason to believe, look forward to such legislation at the hands of the House as would relieve them from that system of terror which disabled them from making those efforts on which, much more than any legislation, he did believe the legitimate prospects of the prosperity of Ireland depended.
LORD J. RUSSELL
Mr. Speaker, I rise with considerable anxiety to answer the appeal of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary at War; and I must say, that it is a great satisfaction to me in doing so to observe that the speeches which have been made on this occasion, beginning with the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department, have been marked by temperance and forbearance, and that the House seems fully aware of the great importance of the subject we are discussing. Sir, I readily confess that when the case is brought before us of many crimes of a dreadful character committed in certain counties in Ireland, we, having by the Act of Union between the two countries taken upon ourselves the responsibility of legislating for that country, are bound to take every care that due protection is given to life and property, on the one hand, and that no unnecessary infringement of liberty should take place on the other. Such, Sir, is the burden which is placed upon us, and such is the burden that we cannot shake off, but must endeavour manfully to bear. But when the right hon. Gentleman opposite tells me that he wishes the present Bill to be read a first time, and that he has stated sufficient grounds in the narrative of crime which he had made to the House to induce it to admit that first reading, I will so far agree with the right hon. Gentleman that I regret the first reading should have been taken as the stage upon which this question of the rejection of this Bill altogether is to be tried. But the occasion having been taken, I do not feel myself relieved from the responsibility of stating how far I think the measure of the Government ought to be sanctioned and admitted by this House, or how far we ought to agree with the Ministers in the policy they are at present pursuing. I think that, looking to the Bill itself, there was a remarkable failure in the statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the 548 Home Department. The right hon. Gentleman, Sir, stated very clearly the places in which these crimes are taking place, and to which they are confined. He stated also the counties in which these crimes have increased; he stated the nature of these crimes; and with the utmost clearness he mentioned the precise enactments of this Bill. But the most important step of the whole deliberation—the most important which the House could enter upon—viz., the connexion of the evil with the remedy, of the disease with the cure—that step was lightly and briefly passed over by the right hon. Gentleman. He stated that these evils exist in certain counties, and he then stated at once the enactments of this Bill. But how the right hon. Gentleman proposed to prevent these crimes, how to prevent murder by this Bill, in that step I think the right hon. Gentleman's demonstration was incomplete. If therefore I should agree that the House would do well to assent to the first reading of this Bill, I think I am bound to state also, that in the future stages of it, I shall have objections to offer going to the foundations of some of its principal provisions. I do not blame the Government for the existing state of things; nor whatever may have been done by former Governments, or the Government in which I bore a part, do I think a primâ facie case is made out against them as the cause of the increase of crime. In my view, these crimes, connected with the social state of that country, which have now gained such force and front, have been operating with more or less force for the last eighty years. It was early in the reign of George III., if I am not mistaken, that crimes of this description, in Ireland, first attracted the notice of statesmen. That our ancestors, and that we ourselves, have not applied sufficient remedies to these evils, may be matter of blame; but, that there should now appear in that kingdom the long catalogue of crimes which the right hon. Gentleman read to us, I do not consider as of of itself furnishing ground of accusation against the Government. But when I come to consider the remedies, reflection, induces me to think that we ought not to rest satisfied with having copied the measures which for forty or fifty years have been transmitted to us; and I think we ought to observe in this case that great rule of legislation, that we should endeavour, as much as possible, not to confound 549 the innocent with the guilty. I can exemplify what I mean by reference to some very severe Acts that have been passed at different times for putting down crimes of somewhat similar character to these at different periods of our history. In the reign of George I. an Act was passed for putting down a crime which beginning, I think, with deer stealing, attained at last such a height, principally about Waltham, that bands of armed men appeared in the night with their faces blackened, and committed various outrages, such as setting fire to houses, and other crimes endangering life and property. Parliament, in order to put a stop to these excesses, thought fit to pass a stringent Act, going beyond the ordinary severity of the law; but although the Parliament determined to put a stop to men appearing in arms at night with blackened faces, and firing houses, they took care to point out that which should serve as an indication of the crime which they desired to check; and therefore they enacted that persons going with their faces blackened and armed at night — things which tended to show that they were engaged in some project directed against life or property—should be amenable to the law. Then, in the instance of the Whiteboy outrages, the Parliament of Ireland took similar precautions for the guidance of the persons to whom it confided the execution of the law which it passed to put down those outrages. They enacted that persons going armed in disguise, and wearing badges, or dressed in a particular manner, should be liable to the penalties of the law. To take slighter indications of the crime aimed at, they probably considered would not have been safe, though they did take slighter indications than are usually admitted by the law, to show that the persons arrested were persons of whom it was presumed from these appearances that they were compassing an offence, and meditating a crime. But when I come to this Bill, and similar Bills which have been passed with reference to Ireland, I find that the offence designated is the offence of violating the proclamation of the Lord Lieutenant, forbidding the inhabitants of the district to be out an hour after sunset and before sunrise. Now, Sir, that of itself is not an offence. It is a thing that is likely to be committed by persons of the most innocent lives; and we know that on former occasions, under Acts of this kind, persons in Ireland, engaged on their innocent and lawful oc- 550 cupations, have been arrested and placed in prison; and it is even alleged that persons who would have proved their innocence have been transported under these laws. Now, Sir, be it observed that it is a habit of many persons in Ireland, as it is in this country, to be out after sunset in spring, summer, autumn, and winter, for objects to which no blame can attach. A peasant is afraid that his cattle may have wandered—he goes out to see after them; or that his fences have been broken—he goes out to see that they are not broken; or he may have been attending somebody that is dying; and on some more joyful occasion he may have been, perhaps, to a fair or merrymaking; and such persons, let me observe, are more likely to be found out after dark and arrested than those whose objects render it necessary for them to observe more mystery. Nevertheless the peasant I have described is liable, if found out of his home, to be brought before a magistrate; and unless he can show a lawful purpose for his being from home, he may, if the person arresting him think his being out suspicious, be committed by the magistrate to prison for trial. Now, Sir, I think this Bill so liable to objection in this respect, that if it reaches the Committee, I shall endeavour to demonstrate to the House that it ought to be amended, so as to render it similar to the enactment which I have mentioned as having been passed for this country and for Ireland on similar occasions, and that we ought to have and describe some precise indications by which it may be known that the person is suspected of an attempt at crime. Sir, if we do not adopt that course, I am persuaded we shall run great risk of causing an insurrection in those districts. If we involve in our criminal net all the population of the country, we run great risk that those who have no connexion with crime may become so discontented with their situation, that we can no longer depend upon them either for the maintenance of the law, or for that which it is admitted they retain at present—their political allegiance. I should wish the clause enacting this to be omitted from the Bill altogether; that is to say, I would omit the clause enacting that all persons who, after the Lord Lieutenant's proclamation, shall be found out of their houses between sunset and sunrise under suspicious circumstances should be liable to arrest; and, instead of saying "under suspicious circumstances," I would state distinctly what are the suspicious circum- 551 stances which would justify the magistrate in committing the person arrested to prison. With respect to the means for enabling the Lord Lieutenant to impose a rate upon the people for the payment of an increased constabulary force, I think that so much a matter for consideration in Committee, that although I think there is some weight in the objections which were made to it, yet, on the other hand, it is so desirable to have an increased constabulary force in the offending districts, that I think the Bill should go into Committee for the purpose of considering that clause. But now, Sir, there is another question which arises upon this subject—I cannot but refer to this Bill as originally introduced. I hold a paper in my hand which is published in this town, giving an account of the five stages of the Bill as it passed through the House of Lords; and I cannot but remark that as that Bill was introduced it was a permanent character, and contained no clause by which its duration was limited. It has been my fortune, Sir, to hold a situation in which I was to a certain degree connected with the Government of Ireland. I certainly did not interfere actively in that Government, but I considered myself responsible for the acts of the Government, and took care to be informed of every step taken. Now, during that time I agreed to a Bill of a similar character to the present; but I agreed to it under the persuasion that means might be found of so executing the law and administering the government of Ireland, that it would not be necessary to put that Bill in operation. The Bill of 1835 is the one to which I now allude. With reference to that Act I do not remember any case whatever in which it was put in operation during the five years which it remained on the Statute-book. The right hon. Gentleman who spoke last, said that confidence was a plant of very slow growth on subjects of this kind. I quite agree with the right hon. Gentleman in that sentiment. It was from being convinced of the soundness of that opinion that I agreed to any measure of this kind. But, Sir, during the time in which Lord Normanby was Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, and in which my noble Friend near me was Chief Secretary for Ireland, and in which Sir Michael O'Loghlin, Chief Baron O'Grady, and Chief Baron Woulfe, held distinguished situations as law-officers of the Crown, it was their endeavour—and I had the satisfaction of witnessing rather 552 than superintending their earnest, patient, and constant endeavour—in conjunction with my lamented Friend, whose memory I shall ever hold in respect, I mean the late Mr. Drummond—I say I had the satisfaction of seeing their efforts from day to day to inspire the people with confidence in the ordinary administration of the law, crowned with success. They did, to a great degree, induce the people of Ireland to believe that if those quarrels which they were apt to dispose of by bloody arbitrement were brought into a court of law they would have justice; and by that means the ordinary powers of the Constitution were found sufficient for Ireland as they were for England. I had the satisfaction of thinking that that great measure, to a certain extent, succeeded; that although the short period, during which the attempt was made, was not sufficient to give that perfect confidence in, and that constant reliance upon the impartiality of the law which should exist, yet there was great progress made in establishing that, which I think must be the stable foundation of the future welfare of Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman who spoke last has denounced or rather protested against all party allusions on this subject. The right hon. Gentleman and those who act with him were not always so scrupulous. I read with some astonishment a speech which was delivered not long ago by that right hon. Gentleman to his constituents, in which he stated that the late Gevernment had left Ireland on the eve of an insurrection, and that the present Government had restored it to tranquillity. Now, Sir, while I acquit the Government of having, by any acts of theirs, produced the present state of crime in Ireland, yet I cannot think that the right hon. Gentleman and those who act with him ever did justice to our exertions, or ever fairly represented the state of Ireland under the late Administration. I was in hopes that when the Bill of 1835 expired, it would not be necessary to ask for any other Act of a similar nature. I am sorry to find that the Government of the present day say that it is necessary. I am sorry to hear the right hon. Gentleman likewise protest against the mixing up of the question of remedial measures with the present Bill. I think this is a serious, I had almost said a fatal, mistake on the part of the Government. They must be aware, connected as they are with a party in Ireland, which is but a small minority of that country, that they should endeavour 553 by every means in their power to make an impression in Ireland of their fairness and impartiality; and they should avoid above everything exciting the suspicion that they are not bringing forward, earnestly, remedial measures at the same time that they are bringing forward measures of coercion. Observe, that this is not a Bill brought forward on the first days of the Session, accompanied with a declaration that it must be passed in great haste, because murders might be prevented by its immediate application. This Bill has been under consideration for some time, and cannot pass for one, two, three months and a half, probably nearly four months, from the first meeting of Parliament. Why, then, should it be said, in respect to a measure of this kind, that it is wrong to introduce remedial measures at the same time? Allusion has been made to a Bill which was called a Coercion Act, under Lord Grey's Government, for which I, as one of the advisers of the Crown, was responsible. That was a measure far more severe than the present. It was intended to meet a serious and calamitous state of things; but the Government which brought that forward felt it to be their duty to introduce remedial measures, at the same time that they introduced that measure of severity. It was stated by a right hon. Gentleman the other day that Parliament met that year on the 29th day of January, and that the Bill was introduced on the 22nd of the following month. Though Parliament met on January 29th, some time was occupied by the election of a Speaker. It will be remembered that the King's Speech was not delivered till the 5th of February; and on the 12th of February, one week after that, Lord Althorp introduced a measure which, besides making a great reform in the Protestant Church of Ireland, exempted the whole Catholic community of Ireland from the payment of church cess, which had previously been felt as a very great grievance. On another day Lord Althorp declared his intention of pressing through Parliament a Jury Bill, which was brought into the House the previous Session, but which was allowed to drop in the House of Lords. On the occasion of the first introduction of the Coercion Bill—when it was ordered to be printed, I think—the hon. and learned Gentleman who moved the Amendment to-night asked Lord Althorp what were his intentions respecting the remedial measures. Lord Althorp said he had already announced several remedial measures, and that he 554 trusted the House would have sufficient confidence in him to believe that he was in earnest in wishing to carry them through, and to approve of the course he had adopted. The hon. and learned Gentleman said he was not satisfied, and asked what expectation Government had of carrying their measures through the other House? Upon which Lord Stanley at once declared, that unless the remedial measures were passed as well as the measures of severity, the Government was at an end. This was the spirit in which Lord Stanley, as a member of Lord Grey's Government, then acted. There is another declaration which Lord Althorp made, which, somehow or other, seems to have been forgotten. It was a declaration with respect to the municipal corporations of Ireland. Lord Althorp proposed to refer that subject to a Committee. He said, that there was a Bill introduced for the reform of the corporations of Scotland, but he would refer the subject of the English and Irish corporations to the same Committee; and he said he should give his reasons for this. He said—In the first place, it was exceedingly desirable that the institutions of the two countries should be assimilated as much as possible; and, as a general rule, whatever it was proper and right to do with respect to a corporate body in England and Wales, it would be proper and right to do with respect to a corporate body in Ireland.That was the simple, plain, but emphatic and decided statement of Lord Althorp, on the 14th of February, two days after the introduction of the measure for the abolition of church cess, and eight days before the Coercion Bill was introduced into the House. I find that the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. O'Connell) said on that occasion—He knew of no greater grievance in Ireland than the existence of the corporations in question in their present shape; and nothing could be more satisfactory to the people of Ireland than the approaching certainty that that grievance would be redresed.This was in the beginning of 1833. Thirteen years ago the hon. and learned Gentleman declared his confidence that the grievance was about to be redressed. There was a Commission on the subject in 1836; a measure was afterwards introduced; it was passed by this House, but was thrown out by the other House of Parliament. Three or four years were taken to discuss it. The measure was at length passed; but in a crippled state, not giving the people of Ireland that, which, as it 555 seems to me, they had a right to, after all the pledges and promises made at the Union and afterwards; and it is only now, in 1846, that the right hon. Gentleman (Sir R. Peel) has promised that the corporations of Ireland shall be placed on the same footing as the corporations of England. Why, I say, does not this show that there is a tendency to refuse what is just with respect to Ireland? and does it not, in a great degree, justify the mistrust of the people, when the Government declare, at the same time that they have continued these acts of partiality, that they wish to legislate for the good of Ireland—that they are as anxious for the good of Ireland as the Irish themselves—and that there is no privilege which England enjoys which they are not willing to concede to their fellow subjects on the other side of the Channel? There is another important question upon which I would hardly have pressed the Government, were it not that by the testimony given to-night, and which I have heard frequently given by themselves, they have become debtors to Ireland, by the obligations which they have voluntarily incurred. They appointed a Commission to inquire into the tenure of land in Ireland. That Commission went through Ireland, evidence was taken, and the knowledge that some recommendations would be made, induced a belief in the mind of every person that such laws would be introduced as each man imagined would be a remedy for the grievances which had long been felt. That the relation of landlord and tenant is in an unsatisfactory state is what no one will deny. That any Bill which this Parliament can pass can so regulate these relations that there will not be much left to the justice, the sense of fairness, the moderation and good sense of the landlord, on the one hand, and the tenant on the other, is what no man can affirm. But this state of things makes it absolutely necessary for the Legislature to do all that it can. It is necessary to do so, in the first place, because the law is in an unsatisfactory state, and such grievances as can be remedied by the Legislature ought to be remedied by legislation. It is necessary, likewise, to do this, in order that the extravagant expectations—expectations naturally extravagant — which were raised by the appointment of the Landlord and Tenant Commission should be set at rest and quieted by our decision. That is what we can do, and that remedy is in your power. You should call on Par- 556 liament to devote its utmost attention to the subject. But you should let parties know that if they ask us to go further, and disturb the very principle upon which all property rests, and thereby make property less secure in Ireland than it is in other parts of Europe, then it is full time that you should convince them that they are in error, and call on them to relinquish such expectations. You must let it be known, in justice to all parties, that Parliament can do no more than secure the property of each person, whether landlord or tenant. With reference to this subject also, I trust that, before the second reading of this Bill, a measure will be laid on the Table of this House, having reference to the law of landlord and tenant, that we may know what are the intentions of the Government on that subject. In asking that this should be the case I think we are asking no more than Lord Althorp and Lord Stanley were ready to propose when they made themselves responsible for the severe Coercion Bill of 1833. I am not disposed to shrink from the responsibility of that Coercion Bill. I thought at the time that it was necessary for the purpose of preventing murder and outrage. I had no other feeling in assenting to the Bill. But I am not convinced that it is necessary that you should have similar provisions in any Bill to be passed now. I am disposed to think that a Bill with other provisions, more resembling those Acts passed as to crimes of this nature both in England and Ireland, would be more effectual for your purpose, and less likely to excite that irritation and discontent which, above all things, we ought to fear in Ireland. Let us remember, in legislating on this subject, that although we agree with the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for the Home Department and with the right hon. Gentleman who has last spoken, that there can be no more serious evil, to the poor as well as to the rich, than the prevalence of those organized bands who take the case of every man, rich and poor, under their own decision, and before whose secret tribunal the case is not weighed in the scales of justice, but dashed down by the hand of passion; while, I say, we agree that there can be no greater evil to a country than this, yet in legislating for Ireland we must not forget the whole state of that counrty. I will not now occupy any length of time, by glancing even at the principal topics suggested by that subject; but I 557 wish you to keep in mind this main consideration, that the attachment and affection of the people of Ireland are to be preserved by your showing the utmost care that you do not neglect their interests—that you are not disposed to punish crime in that country by a different measure to that by which you punish it in England—that you will take seriously into consideration their grievances. And here, Sir, though I don't wish to enter into those party discussions which the right hon. Gentleman deprecates, I cannot but regret that the measures of the present Government, even when they have had the best intentions, have not been such as to inspire in Ireland confidence in your justice, and respect for your authority. Time has been allowed to go by, while the tranquillity which this Government found on coming into office continued to prevail, as if there were not great grievances remaining which required the master hand of the Minister to consider and redress; and, when grievances give rise to complaint, and complaint is followed by remonstrance, and remonstrance grows into a wide-spread and formidable agitation, then remedies are applied, just, perhaps, as far as they go, with this fatal taint about them, that they are attempted to be undertaken because there are in existence associations formidable to your power. It seemed as if the maxim of the Government had been not fiat justitia, ruat cœlum, but ruit cœlum, fiat justitia; as if the remedy following the loudness of the complaint was intended to divide the agitators and complainants, rather than simply to dispense justice to those who complained. Sir, I do hope that in the measures to be framed the Government will proceed in a different spirit; that they will have no secondary and inferior object of attaching part of the Catholic clergy to one side and part to another—of putting down agitation in this part of the country or in that—or of weakening this association or that; but that the Government will seriously consider what were the promises made by this and the other House of Parliament at the time of the Union—promises dictated by Mr. Pitt, and acquiesced in by both Houses; that they will look to the account; see whether these promises have been kept; and, if they have not been kept, then that they will fulfil them at once, not as a concession to demands, but as a simple fulfilment of justice.
§ MR. S. HERBERT
rose for the purpose of correcting a misapprehension into 558 which the noble Lord had fallen, respecting a statement made by him (Mr. S. Herbert), in a speech which he had not long since addressed to his constituents. He had not stated in that speech that Ireland was at the time less disturbed than at the period of the accession of the present Government to office; but he had merely said that Ireland was then less disturbed than at the period preceding the State Trials.
LORD J. RUSSELL
said, he was glad to hear that explanation from the right hon. Gentleman, as it entirely removed the misconception into which he and others had fallen upon that subject.
§ MR. BRIDGEMAN
The right hon. Baronet the Secretary for the Home Department referred to a threatening notice which had been sent to Mr. Wilson of the county Clare. As he was acquainted with all the circumstances of that case, he would state for the information of the House that Mr. Wilson, having introduced a system of subsoiling, to which his tenants were opposed, they did forward him a threatening notice, but not with the intention to do him bodily harm, but merely to deter him from persevering in a course to which they were opposed.
§ MR. J. KELLY
would not have so soon after taking his seat in the House, obtruded himself on its attention, were it not from his thorough conviction of the dire consequences which would ensue to Ireland, if the Bill before the House were suffered to pass into a law. So strong was that conviction impressed on his mind, that he could not content himself to give a silent vote to a Bill which would brand his country as a nation of assassins. It was, to be sure, stated by the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government, that it was his intention to find employment for great numbers of the people of Ireland; but he would ask, would not the tendency of the contemplated measure be to give them employment on board the hulks, or to drag out a miserable existence in chains in Sidney, or in some other penal settlement? The Bill before the House, instead of providing the poor of Ireland with the means of procuring wheat and oats, and other agricultural commodities, to meet their pressing necessities, rather makes provisions for an armed soldiery, or insolent police force, to promote and to secure, as may be supposed, the peace of Ireland; but his firm opinion was, that instead of checking crime, it would rather give an increased stimulus to disturbance. 559 Such was his indignation at the contemplated measure, that he was surprised that hon. Members from all sides of the House did not rise up in a body to protest even against its very introduction. It was a reflection on their sense of justice. He objected to the Bill, because if carried into a law, it would completely subvert and destroy all constitutional freedom in Ireland. He objected to the Bill, because there was not made out a sufficient case to justify its introduction; and he was certain, were such a measure brought into that House having England for its object, resting only on the evidence adduced by the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for the Home Department, such a shout of execration would be raised against it by every English Member, and who would be joined by the Irish landlords of that House, as to compel its withdrawal. He objected to the Bill, because it had not been proved that the law in force in Ireland, if carried out with justice, with firmness, with impartiality and energy, was not sufficient to meet any emergency. The law, as at present, was found rather too strong on a recent occasion in the perpetration of what he must call a most sanguinary act; he alluded to what had happened in Mullingar, where an unfortunate individual had suffered the extreme penalty of the law. When that man was first put on his trial, the jury disagreed: what was the course then pursued by the Government? On the next day but one they put the unfortunate man again on his trial, and in empannelling the jury, there was struck off some of the most respectable men in the county; and why were those men excluded? Because they happened to be of a particular religion? Were they living in the nineteenth century, or were they living in the bloody days of an Elizabeth, or a Mary? Was the right hon. Baronet, by such a Bill, about to revive the dismal scenes of those periods? If the House were to support the right hon. Baronet and his Colleagues in such a project, there might be posted up in every jury-box in Ireland a placard containing the famous inscription, which was emblazoned on the gates of Bandon—"Turk, Jew, or Atheist may enter here, but not a Papist." He objected to the Bill, because there was not a commission instituted to inquire into the state of crime in those five counties, which, it appeared laid the foundation for that Bill. If a commission so instituted had produced such evidence as would 560 prove that the law could not be vindicated without such a measure as that before the House, he would even consent to the introduction of a stronger one; but that such would be the case was very doubtful. He objected to the Bill, because it should not be brought forward except as the last resource, and only when every remedial measure had been tried and had failed. He objected to the Bill, because of the arbitrary power it would confer on the underlings of a Government, which had by its most unconstitutional proceedings conduced to bring the law into contempt in Ireland—and which was the case in the late State prosecutions. It had been stated by the right hon. Baronet and his Colleagues, that the hon. and learned Member for Cork had a fair trial. That might be their opinion; but he would tell the House that such was not the opinion entertained by the people of Ireland. A Conservative gentleman of a most influential family, resident in Limerick, was asked, "Do you conceive Mr. O'Connell had a fair trial?" His answer was, "A fair trial, Sir! Do you think I am a fool? He had not a fair trial; if the Government had given him a fair trial, I would have become a Repealer." Let the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government, instead of bringing in coercive measures, let him bring forward conciliatory measures; let him bring forward measures which would meet the approbation of the Members for Ireland; which would meet the wants and wishes of the people of Ireland. Let him restore those magistrates who were so unconstitutionally superseded: and superseded because they advocated the repeal of an Act of Parliament. He could in truth affirm, that those Members who opposed the Bill before the House were as anxious to promote the tranquillity of Ireland as any Member of Her Majesty's Government. Their time, their talents, their energies, all their ties, were connected with the "green isle." They were not men who were anxious for anarchy or for confusion. Their wish was, that peace and happiness and concord should reign triumphantly in Ireland; and because that was their wish, they were anxious to stop the progress of a Bill which could not retard, but rather accelerate, crime. Instead of making matters better, it would only increase the crimes it was intended to repress. Entertaining such feelings, he would oppose the Bill; he would do everything in his power to oppose it: that was his determination, 561 and such being his determination, he would cheerfully support the Amendment which had been brought forward by his hon. and learned Friend the Member for the county of Cork.
§ MR. SEYMER
could not discover any wish on the part of any in that House, or of any section of any party in that House, to trample on the liberties of the people of Ireland. It was therefore a very serious thing to make such a charge, nor should it have been lightly made. In reference to what the hon. Member who just sat down had stated, he would ask him to point out a single English county in which murders were committed in noon-day. Let him show a single county where secret tribunals sat to adjudicate on the cause of others—there to decide, and of themselves, who should be first murdered, who should be first sacrificed to their vengeance. Let him point out where such a state of things existed in England. Let the hon. Member point out where, in England, the practice prevailed of intimidating witnesses from coming forward to give their evidence before a jury, no matter how important or how trivial the case: were not witnesses always, in England, at liberty to act according to their own discretion, without fear, and without intimidation? Let such a county or such a district in England be pointed out, and he would assist the Government to have such a county or such a district brought under the provisions of the Bill then before the House. On referring to the records of the crimes of Ireland, he found that out of 170 who were charged with the crime of murder, only eight had received the sentence of death. In that enumeration he had omitted cases of shooting and other grievous offences, which were in many instances not less aggravated in their character than that of murder. But he might fairly assume that nine-tenths of the offences in Ireland were against the person. Suppose that crime to that extent prevailed in England—suppose that nine-tenths of the crimes in England were against the person—would it not be absolutely necessary to introduce some measure which would check crime of so alarming a character. He, for one, would be very sorry to let such a state of things continue, from the difficulty to get juries to convict, even on the clearest evidence, and while the peasant should be tried by his peers as the law directs. Yet it was, in his opinion, that in the disturbed districts of Ireland, the services of a class of 562 persons as jurors, should be secured, who would be free from dictation, above intimidation, and who would give their verdict according to the evidence produced. While the crimes committed in Ireland were not of a political nature, yet he could not quite acquit those persons who were connected with those political agitations which prevailed in that country. He would not accuse any hon. Gentleman of encouraging crime, yet he could not separate from his mind one fact, that those who sympathized so deeply with the people of Ireland, would appear also to sympathize with them in their crimes, and thus indirectly, as it appeared to him, to encourage crime in Ireland. Allusion was made to the case of Seery; but that individual was convicted on the oath of a most humane and a most respectable gentleman, Sir Francis Hopkins. He was convicted on his oath: the verdict was brought in by the jury, and of that verdict the Judge approved, and the sentence was carried into execution by the Government. He was aware that the rev. Mr. Savage expressed his belief that Seery was innocent, and for no other reason but because Seery had said so. But if hon. Members were to look at the list of criminals executed in the course of the last century, they would find that one-half of those who suffered the penalty of the law had asserted their innocence; and did they believe that half the number of those who suffered death for the last hundred years, died innocent victims? In an account which was given of Seery in the Freeman's Journal, he was styled a "martyr." When a convicted murderer was so designated, when he was called a "martyr," had he not a right to assume that such a proceeding was well calculated to encourage crime in Ireland? But there was something connected with the conduct of some public men, which made it difficult to understand their actions. In England things were properly designated. They were honestly called by their proper names; but such was not the case in Ireland. For instance, in Ireland there was what was called the "Loyal Repeal Association;" but if it were a loyal association, why should men of talent connected with that association create dissension and disunion between that country and England? If "loyal," why excite hostile aggression against this country? In Ireland even the press abused the liberty which it enjoyed. What was the language of the Repeal press in reference to persons who emigrated 563 to America? That "if they were to fight, it would be for that country which supported and which would protect them;" "that there they might be enrolled as Irish brigades to oppose British insolence, and to revenge British oppression." Was that "loyal" language? Gentlemen met week after week, and made speeches in a place called "Conciliation Hall," the tendency of which was to create dissension among Her Majesty's subjects; but to call such a place "Conciliation Hall," even in Ireland, was rather a bad joke. But the language of "Conciliation Hall" had excited the people to such a pitch, that a gentleman, who bore the title of "head pacificator," had to be sent on a message of "peace" through the country. In his tour he visited the North of Ireland, which, if not the signal for bloodshed, was certainly the cause of just alarm to the peaceable and industrious subjects of that province. He would refer to a most deplorable circumstance — the disposition which so generally prevailed in certain districts of Ireland to shoot the resident landlords; it would appear as if they wished to get rid of them altogether. It appeared to him that however much of what was amiable and generous was to be found in the Irish character, yet there was a signal want of what Englishmen would call plain common sense; and perhaps one of the advantages of the Union with England was by its common sense to modify and regulate the magnificent and flowing ideas of Irishmen. He was much struck with an observation which was made to him by an Irish resident landed proprietor. He would not mention his name, as he did not wish to expose his friend to danger. What was the observation of that Irish gentleman? "It is well known," said he, "I am opposed to a repeal of the Union, because I know it would be a great injury to the country: yet I am quite sure that no Parliament composed of Irish gentlemen would long assemble in College Green without adopting some measures for the protection of life, and for the security of property in Ireland. You can form no accurate idea of the state we are in here. We must always, in these parts, carry with us loaded pistols, and not unfrequently it is necessary to be accompanied with mounted police." He expressed surprise that hon. Members opposite, who represented Irish constituencies, could oppose the first reading of a measure that had already obtained the sanction of the House of Lords, having for 564 its object the suppression of crime, and the protection of life in that country.—The hon. Member concluded by thanking the House for the attention with which they had heard his observations, and intimated his intention of voting in favour of the first reading of the Bill.
MR. P. S. BUTLER
said, that after the speech of the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, he felt greater diffidence than usual in addressing the House; but, for his part, he could not aspire to the distinction of being a fluent and eloquent speaker, and would only endeavour to adhere to the sound principles of common sense which, as far as he knew, had always had some influence with a British audience. He denounced as much as any one in that House the horrible, disgraceful, and cowardly act of assassination; and he believed that the hon. Members who sat around him fully entertained similar feelings on the subject. But he was also opposed to the introduction of the measure proposed by Her Majesty's Government—not only, he said, because it was opposed to the great principle of the Constitution, but that he believed it would prove ineffectual in the attainment of the object contemplated. He had no hesitation in saying that if it was even proposed to suspend the Habeas Corpus Act—which was so repugnant to the British people—if he felt satisfied that it would have the effect of putting an end to those disgraceful acts in Ireland; he would be the last man to interfere when the adoption of the measure by the House would have the effect of putting an end to those acts, which he considered to be a disgrace to the country to which he belonged. He could not, however, look upon the proposition under discussion as anything more or less than an old friend with a new face. He had some little experience in Ireland, and it was his solemn belief that if they passed that Act, it would entirely fail in the object proposed. He recollected the occasion when the Insurrection Act had been introduced into Ireland, and the reasons which had led to it, which he would take leave to relate briefly to the House. There was a nobleman, who had been residing in this country, who possessed a very large property in Ireland, the leases of which were about to fall, and were only depending upon a single life. The persons who were in occupation of this land were in a comparatively independent station in life, and in a higher class of society than usually held similar tracts 565 of land. A number of these men decided upon coming across this country for the purpose of making fresh proposals to the nobleman who was their landlord for a renewal of their leases. The agent, who lived in that country, on hearing of their determination, told them that they were about to spend their money in a very useless errand, alleging that their landlord would not receive any proposal that might be made direct from themselves; and then he volunteered to come across himself for the purpose of doing what he could with his Lordship for them. Those men confided in the gentleman who made the offer to them, as he was a large leaseholder, and brother to a Roman Catholic bishop; he came across to this country, but instead of making arrangements on behalf of the persons who had commissioned him to act for them, he obtained for himself leases of the entire land which they held, and some time after his return to Ireland he had the whole tenants upon that property ejected out of their holdings; the consequence of which was, that not many weeks had elapsed after his having done so, before this gentleman was murdered on the road to his private residence. He did not mean to say that that murder was justified. There were six men tried and found guilty of having been the perpetrators of the act, upon what did not appear to him, as he was present at the trial, to be very conclusive evidence. One of the witnesses was an approver; and the evidence of such a person should always be received with great caution. The other witness was a young woman of rather questionable character, and the corroborating circumstances were not very strong. However, the jury who tried the prisoners found them guilty, and they were all executed in the county Kilkenny. But mark the result of that trial and execution upon the minds of the people it was intended to deter: the nephew of the gentleman who had been murdered, was also murdered within a quarter of a mile of his own house, within a short period of the execution that had taken place. It was shortly after these occurrences, he said, that the Insurrection Act had been introduced into Ireland, and all parties agreed in opinion that it had entirely failed in the object for which it was intended, and that there never had been a more useless measure proposed. The hon. Member for Dorsetshire (Mr. Seymer), had refered to an article in the Nation newspaper; but without replying to that hon. 566 Member's remarks in similar language, he could sufficiently retort upon him, by quoting the language that had been used by a writer in one of the principal morning papers in London, in reference to a priesthood, amongst whom there were many good Christians. Had the hon. Member not read, he asked, in an English newspaper, an article wherein they were called "surpliced ruffians," and a "demon priesthood?" The noble Lord the Member for Lynn had, in an eloquent manner, spoken of the heinous crime of murder in Ireland—more particularly of that of women—which he deeply deplored had too often taken place; but at the same time he wished to observe that the crime did not appear to be confined to Ireland; and if he was disposed to recriminate, he could point out a history of cases that had recently occurred in England fully as bad as those that had taken place in Ireland. By a Paper that had been printed containing an analysis of the crimes committed in England, as compared with those of Ireland, he found that in 1845 no less than 113 murders had been perpetrated in England, the majority of which were of women; but he would not harrow the feelings of the House by entering into a narrative of the particulars. That that description of crime was on the increase in England could not be denied, he said, as it had been already admitted to be so by the Times newspaper, in proof of which he read the following extract from that paper:—By far the most serious feature of the age is the increase of infanticide. Not a day passes but the disclosures of an inquest or a trial establish the melancholy truth that human life is losing its value in England. The laxity of the verdicts, and the leniency of the sentences, equally prove that we are becoming familiarized with the crime, and that we consider it palliated by the extreme provocation of the circumstances. Crime, however, is crime, and its guilt rests somewhere. If it rests not on the person, it rests on the system—on those who tempt, and goad, and drive to crime. We are relapsing into a criminal and vitiated system. What we have been accustomed to read of with horror, the indifference to infant life in Lacedemon, in Rome, and other States of heathen antiquity, in China, in India, and elsewhere, and what we have set down as the worst blot in their imperfect civilization, is becoming the characteristic of England.The hon. Member apologized for having occupied the attention of the House so long; he wished that his motives should not be misconstrued, and repeated his opinion that the Bill brought down by Her Majesty's Government was not calculated to effect 567 the suppression of crime, but only aggravate and increase it, and therefore he was determined to give it his most decided opposition.
§ MR. FITZGERALD
said, he felt great embarrassment in being obliged to oppose the measure under discussion; but he hoped that the course he was about to pursue would not be misconstrued. He believed it to be his duty to give his vote against the measure; and he wished it to be understood that his doing so should not be attributed to party feelings, as he should be happy to support Her Majesty's Government upon every measure that he believed really calculated to benefit his country. He was willing to give his support to any measure that would have the effect of putting an end to the commission of crime in Ireland; but he could not believe that the measure proposed would do so. One clause of the Bill included the county (Tipperary) that he had the honour to represent. He regretted most sincerely the number of assassinations that had been committed in one riding of that county; but the right hon. Baronet had made a great mistake in not making a difference between the north and south riding of the county, for although the northern riding was in a very disturbed state, and outrage was of frequent occurrence there, in the south riding it was quite the reverse, as the people were all orderly, peaceable, and industrious, and a great many of the inhabitants belonged to the Society of Friends. There were many causes in Ireland tending to embitter the feelings of the peasantry against the aristocracy. There was the difference of religion, and the consciousness that the majority had been misgoverned and severely dealt with, on account of their faith. There was, too, the oppression that had been in many cases practised on them, because of their voting, not on the side of their landlords, but according to their consciences, at elections. When the 40s. freeholders were abolished, the landed proprietors thought they could have it all their own way; but the 10l. freeholders had shown the same patriotic determination, and the consequence was, that in most cases the popular representative was the successful candidate. The indisposition to grant leases, arising from political; and, in some instances, religious considerations, was another cause of discontent; and the desire to maintain ascendancy of creed was hateful to the people. But these men, whose acts and policy had aroused the indignation of 568 the people, were the first to call for a Coercion Bill to crush by force the very discontent they had occasioned. It must be admitted that England had neglected that duty towards the Irish people which they were not only bound, but which they had undertaken to perform. It was confessed there had been a long period of misgovernment: was it wonderful, under such circumstances, that there should be disturbances. He could mention another cause too. Lord Devon's Commission had been appointed, and under circumstances, too, which led the people to form very exaggerated notions of its results; but there had been no result whatever, and a feeling was now prevalent that it had been appointed for the purpose of throwing dust in the people's eyes. His opinion was, that it was in the reign of Elizabeth the misfortunes of Ireland originated—a most glorious reign for England, but a most disastrous one to the sister country. Whenever Ireland had been kindly governed, she had shown herself capable of appreciating it. Was not this instanced in the viceroyalty of the Marquess of Normanby? and did not the departure of that nobleman from her shores exhibit, in the liveliest manner, the gratitude of the people for a just and impartial Government? Were not the Irish people more tranquil and contented during that period than they had been for centuries before; and did they not continue so under the Whigs, and until 1842, when the going Judges of assize expressed themselves highly gratified at the tranquillity of the people and the absence of crime? The hon. Gentleman referred to the charges of Baron Lefroy, in Roscommon, Mayo, and Galway; of Mr. Justice Crampton, in Armagh and Down; of Mr. Justice Burton, in Kildare and Meath; of Mr. Justice Torrens, in Drogheda and Sligo; of Mr. Justice Doherty, in Wexford and Kilkenny; of Mr. Justice Perrin, in Antrim; and of Baron Richards, in Clare, all of which were congratulatory at the improved manners and conduct of the people. The fact was, the people reposed a degree of confidence then in the administration of the law and in the magistracy; but since then those magistrates in whom they confided had been removed; their great leaders had been tried by a packed jury and imprisoned; the Government had suppressed their meetings, and virtually annulled the right of petition, and they were now about to coerce them. It had been truly stated by the Times newspaper, that the monster evil 569 in Ireland was the want of confidence in the administration of justice — that indeed was at the root of all, and that evil the present Government had done a great deal to increase. His motive in opposing the Bill was not to protect or palliate that system of violence which he deprecated: it was because he thought the Bill would fail in its professed object, and still further exasperate the people. He had been among the magistrates who were dismissed by the Government on account of their politics, and must say, that that dismissal had not grieved him. It relieved him from a post of trouble and responsibility which he had never sought, and which he only accepted of at the request of his neighbours; neither had he sought the representation of the place he now represented, nor expended a farthing on his election; but having accepted the trust, he would discharge it to the best of his ability. He had the most sanguine hopes that beneficial changes would take place before long in Ireland; it would depend upon the wisdom and the prudence of the statesmen of this country, whether they should take place without bloodshed. He did not agitate for a separation of the two countries, though he believed it would be for the advantage of both countries that some arrangement should take place by which the two countries might be governed by separate Legislatures. He had great hopes that the noble Lord the Member for Lynn and his friends would, on a calm consideration of the subject, agree with his views; and if the noble Lord should hereafter become Prime Minister of the country, as he might very probably be, would it not be a source of gratification to the noble Lord, as well as secure for him the good wishes of Irishmen, that he would say he had supported the Irish Members on such a subject, rather than by persevering in his present course?
§ Debate adjourned.
§ House adjourned at a quarter past One o'clock.