§ SIR J. GRAHAM
Sir, in the absence of any Member of the Government more immediately connected with Ireland, it is my duty to propose to the House the first reading of a Bill which has come down from the other House of Parliament. The hon. Member for Stockport, just before the division, stated that some mysterious motive had swayed the conduct of Government in pressing this Motion upon the House. Now, Sir, I hope the House will indulge me with a patient hearing on the present occasion, while I endeavour to state the urgent reasons which in my judgment operate conclusively in demonstrating that no time ought to be lost in the unhappy condition of affairs which it will be my duty to lay before the House. The task is a painful one; but at the same time there are some consolatory reflections connected with it. I do not present myself on the present occasion to bring any sweeping or general accusation against the Irish people. The case which I am about to bring before the House is not one which affects Ireland collectively; it is a case of a local and 334 topical nature, but affecting particular localities to an alarming extent. Sir, there are other reflections connected with this matter which are equally consolatory. An accusation has come from one quarter of the House to-night, that we have delayed this measure too long. I confess it is more gratifying to my feelings that the accusation should be, that we postponed it too long, than that we brought it forward abruptly, prematurely, or unnecessarily. I also must be permitted to state in justice to the Government that we have now for nearly five years conducted the affairs of this country in very difficult times, and under adverse circumstances; that during that time we have been charged with the responsibility of governing Ireland, and preserving peace, law, and order; and that, up to the present moment, we have discharged that arduous duty, relying on the existing law, and without applying to Parliament for any extraordinary or unconstitutional powers. Nay, Sir—although I do not dwell with unnecessary stress on the fact—there has been more than one instance in which we have relaxed existing laws, in which we have not deemed it our duty to apply to Parliament for the renewal of Acts of a coercive character for Ireland. When we have called for re-enactment, we have, in more than one instance, remitted the more obnoxious portions of the law. I will refer, as an illustration, to the renewal of the Unlawful Oaths Act. That was an Act containing, as it appeared to us, provisions of an objectionable character. Under the original Bill the onus lay on the innocent person to prove his innocence; we threw the onus on the accuser, thus relieving the accused of the difficult task of proving a negative. Then in the Arms Act, although in some points we increased its stringency, yet there were many obnoxious penalties which we removed, for instance the prohibition against a man carrying on the trade of a blacksmith without a license. In this and similar cases we repealed the enactments and remitted the penalty. I must also be perduced to remind the House that the various measures brought forward by Government in the course of the last two years have been conceived in a spirit not unfriendly to the feelings, more especially the religious feelings, of the Irish people. Our measures have not been conceived in a sectarian spirit, though there may be difference of opinion as to their practical effect. Those measures were intended as peace-offerings, if they 335 have not been universally so received. I would more particularly refer to the Charitable Bequests' Act, by which great facilities were afforded for the endowment of the Roman Catholic clergy, and for providing glebe houses and chapels for the ministers of that persuasion. I would also refer to the Bill, which I myself had the honour or proposing, with reference to the education of the Roman Catholic priesthood at Maynooth—a measure which, I am sorry to say, gave great offence to many of those of my hon. Friends on this side, who were generally the supporters of the Government, but which, nevertheless, we felt it our duty to the Irish people earnestly to press. Then, with regard to the question of education generally (and I only glance at the matter as affording another conclusive proof that, in our legislation for Ireland we are actuated by no hostile spirit or feeling against the people of that country), the Irish Colleges' Bill, which it will be remembered I brought under the special notice of Parliament, in the course of the last Session, is, I think, a measure which, if carried into execution in the manner I anticipated, will diffuse amongst the middle classes of Ireland all the benefits of an improved, an extensive, and a liberal system of education. So also with respect to the National Board — we have adopted measures for giving increased facilities for extending the benefits of that institution, large as those benefits are already—inasmuch as between 400,000 and 500,000 children are educated in Ireland at this time under the national system, and that too in a manner which would do credit to any part of the United Kingdom — we have also taken measures for providing district schools in various localities in Ireland for carrying out the system still further, and affording its benefit to the children of a somewhat higher class. I must also refer to another matter which is, in my opinion, one of primary importance. It will be remembered that Her Majesty's Government, acting on the advice of the Landlord and Tenants' Commission, brought forward in the other House a Bill for the improvement of the law and the better regulation of the relations of landlord and tenant in Ireland. The subject being one of great difficulty, the Bill was not considered by the other House as then proposed, sufficiently matured to receive their sanction. During the recess, we have given the subject increased attention, and in concert and co-operation with the Com- 336 mission over which the Earl of Devon presided, and of which four Members of the House formed a constituent part, in concert and co-operation with those hon. Gentlemen and the other Members of that Commission, we have endeavoured to improve and mature that measure. It is at this moment in an advanced stage of preparation; and sanctioned, I believe unanimously, by that Commission, it is now receiving the final consideration of the Government, and I trust shortly to be able to present it to the House. Then, Sir, I must observe with reference to this measure, painful as it is to me to propose it, unconstitutional as I admit it to be, I, for one, was convinced of the necessity of some such law in the early part of the Session; but though I foresaw the necessity, I could not reconcile it either to my judgment or to my conscience to be a party to its introduction while I saw the extreme physical want and distress of the Irish people, arising from the failure of the staple article of their food, the accounts of which have been in various ways brought before this House. I say though I saw that necessity, I felt that it was a matter of primary importance that provision should first be made, by an effort of the Government to relieve those physical wants, so far as legislation could effect that object; and I, for one, could not consent to be a party to the introduction of such a measure as the present, unless I had previously obtained the sanction of the House of Commons to the introduction of the measure which has been brought under your notice, and the principle of which has been affirmed by the House—the Bill to open the Corn Trade, and to place articles which are of the first necessity, as forming the food of the people, on the cheapest possible footing. I must be allowed to remark, that the good effect of what has been done in this direction is already perceptible. The admission of maize free of duty is already operating most beneficially in Ireland. The demand for that article, I am informed, has already become great. It is found to be much cheaper than oats, and is superseding the demand for that description of grain in Waterford and the other ports in which it has been admitted. And I have reason to believe that the consequence of introducing maize into Ireland will be, in some degree, to supersede the use of potatoes among the people of that country as the chief article of food, and gradually, as I hope, to elevate the scale of their living. 337 The prejudice against maize, as an article of food, is gradually subsiding in Ireland; and I am confident that the measures I have referred to, together with the advances and loans of public money, for the promotion of public works in Ireland, which Parliament has authorized to be made, will have a most beneficial effect on the physical, as well as upon the moral and social, condition of the Irish. I believe that, by a judicious expenditure of those funds, the productive powers of the country will be increased; the physical energies of the people will be brought into action; their moral qualities and social habits will be improved; and when they find themselves employed, as they will be, for wages, and supporting themselves and their families by their industry, they will be enabled to subsist without being, as they are now, entirely dependent on the produce of their holdings; and the tendency will be to raise the scale of their living, to increase their physical comforts, and improve their habits of life. And by these means, with the extension of the blessings of education amongst the great body of the people, we expect that the social and moral condition of the people will gradually improve, and the effect will be most satisfactory; and not only will these measures, I trust be satisfactory, in regard to the increased benefits they will confer upon, and the improvement they will gradually effect in the condition of, the Irish people, but also the effect of this improvement will be reflected in our legislation: because the Legislature will naturally have greater confidence and trust in a people so elevated and so improved, than in a people debased by crime; and thus our legislation, in regard to Ireland, will be guided by a more confiding and a more conciliatory spirit. But, Sir, time is required to accomplish these great and necessarily progressive improvements; and in the meanwhile we have to deal with a case of urgent and pressing importance, in regard to which no time can, in my opinion, safely be lost; but we must apply such a remedy as is within the immediate power of the Legislature. I do not stand here to prefer an indictment against the people of Ireland: quite the contrary; for I have the pleasure of stating to the House, that of the thirty-two counties of which Ireland is composed, in the majority of them it will be found, by a reference to the statistical returns, that life and property are as secure as in most, if not in every 338 county in England. I repeat, that this is not a case affecting the whole thirty-two counties of Ireland; so far from it, I am in a condition to show, that in eighteen of them crime, far from increasing, has actually diminished within the last year. It is unnecessary for me to detain the House by specifying the counties in which this diminution of crime has taken place. Suffice it to say, that there are eighteen counties in Ireland out of the thirty-two in which there has been no increase; and that there are many in which the returns show that in the year 1845 crime has actually decreased. [Mr. O'CONNELL: Tyrone!] Yes, in Tyrone there has been a large decrease. I find by the Constabulary Returns for the county of Tyrone, that the number of crimes in 1845 was 180, as against 220 in the preceding year, showing a decrease of forty in the course of one year. But I will go further, and state, that I do not think this Bill could be maintained by a reference to more than ten out of the whole thirty-two counties; and still further I will say, that if it were not for the condition of five of those counties, I, as a Member of Her Majesty's Government, could not conscientiously propose, and Parliament would not be justified in passing, such a measure. I will state which those five counties are. I am sorry that I shall have occasion to trespass upon the attention of the House at some length; but in proposing a measure like the present—a measure which I am bound to admit is of an unconstitutional character, and which extraordinary circumstances alone can justify—I feel it incumbent upon me to explain to the House what those circumstances are, and lay before them the grounds upon which it has been brought forward. Those five counties to which I have referred, the present condition of which not only justifies, but calls for this measure, are Tipperary, Clare, Roscommon, Limerick, and Leitrim. I have said there are five other counties in which crime has also increased, but not to so great an extent as in these. Those counties are Cavan, Fermanagh, King's County, Longford, and Westmeath. Then, in the ten counties in Ireland in which crime has increased, and crime of that peculiar character which I am disposed to term insurrectionary, I will state the extent of that increase by a reference to the returns of the actual number of crimes committed in each of those counties, in the two years 1844 and 1845:— 339
In Westmeath there has been an increase of 120. In the other counties the Returns show:—
In 1844. In 1845. Cavan 109 257 Fermanagh 80 166 King's County 226 301 Longford 205 372
Now, Sir, I think I can present this matter to the House in a light, which, while it appears to me to be most conclusive, is at the same time most alarming. By the last returns, I find that the whole population of Ireland is 8,175,000. The population of the five counties to which I have alluded, and I would fix the attention of the House on this, the whole population of these five counties of Tipperary, Clare, Roscommon, Limerick, and Leitrim, is 1,412,000, or little more than one-sixth of the whole population of Ireland. Now, the crimes to which I more particularly refer are of an insurrectionary character, affecting and endangering life, and attacking and destroying property. The offenders are generally actuated by motives of revenge, arising from individual wrong; and, considering themselves injured, instead of resorting to the law for redress, they seek to obtain it by their own hands. The crimes thus committed are homicides, firing at the person, aggravated assaults, assaults endangering life, incendiarism, killing or maiming cattle, demanding and robbery of arms, bearing or appearing in arms, administering unlawful oaths, threatening notices, levelling or destroying fences, malicious injury to property, firing at dwelling-houses. Now I will compare the number of these several crimes, committed in these five counties, with the number committed in all the other counties of Ireland; and I have to state that the homicides, in 1845, in the five counties, were 47; while, in the whole of the rest of Ireland, the number returned was only 92. Therefore, in five counties, with a population of only one-sixth of the whole population of Ireland, the number of homicides committed in the year amounts to one-third of the whole number committed in the whole of Ireland. In those five counties, in 1845, there were 85 offences of firing at the person. There were only 53 such offences in the rest of Ireland. Therefore there 340 were two-thirds of the whole number committed in those counties. Of aggravated assaults in those counties in 1845, there were 190, and 350 in the whole of the rest of Ireland; that is, there were two-fifths of the whole number in the five counties. There were in those counties 110 assaults endangering life; 127 in the rest of Ireland, or one-half of the whole arose in those five counties. There were 139 offences of incendiarism in the five counties, 339 in the rest of Ireland, giving two-sevenths of the whole for the five counties. Killing or maiming cattle, 108 in the five counties, 164 in the rest of Ireland, or two-fifths of the whole arose in the five counties. Demanding and robbery of arms—a crime of the most suspicious and fearful character—in 1845, in the five counties, there were 420 offences; in the rest of Ireland 131, or four-fifths of the whole arose in the five counties. Appearing armed; of these offences 64 were produced in the five counties in 1845; in the rest of Ireland only 25 or two-thirds of the whole arose in the five counties. There were 190 offences of administering unlawful oaths; there were only, of offences of a similar description, in the rest of Ireland, 33, or six-sevenths of the whole amount arose in the five counties. In the year 1845 there were reported 1,043 offences of sending threatening notices, in the five counties; only 901 such offences in the rest of Ireland, that is to say, eleven-twentieths, or more than one-half of the whole, were committed in these five counties. Attacking houses, 309 in the five counties, 174 in the rest of Ireland, or three-fifths of the whole amount arose in the five counties. Of the offence of levelling and destroying fences, there were 22 instances; in the rest of Ireland, 34, or three-eighths of the whole have been committed in the five counties. Of malicious injuries to property, 104 in the five counties, 306 in the rest of Ireland; being one-fourth of the whole in the counties. Now, Sir, I would beg to observe, that the last crime is the most important and most deserving of the careful attention of the House; for the worst symptom, I do not fear to say, of the last few months, has been the increase of the crime of firing into dwelling-houses after dark, with the malicious purpose of wounding promiscuously the inmates, whoever they may be. Now, the number of these offences of firing into dwelling-houses was, in 1845, 93 in the five counties; 41 in the rest of Ireland, being seven-tenths of the whole in the five 341 counties. Then, Sir, let us ask what, up to the last moment is the condition of those five counties? I have here a return made up to the end of February, respecting four out of the five counties, in the two months of the present year, January and February; and in those months there were in Tipperary, 8 homicides; 6 offences of firing at the person; 13 robberies of arms; 18 firings into houses; 69 offences of sending threatening notices; 14 attacks on houses. In Limerick (exclusive of the city of Limerick), there were, within two months, 3 murders; 5 firings at the person; 12 firings into houses; 26 robberies of arms; 50 threatening notices sent; 18 attacks on houses. In Clare there were in those two months, 1 murder, 1 firing at the person, 7 firings into houses, 20 robberies of arms, 17 threatening notices sent. In Roscommon there were 1 murder, 5 firings at the person, 3 firings into houses, 31 robberies of arms, 61 threatening notices sent, 42 offences of administering unlawful oaths. Now I must be permitted to say, that if in the discharge of my painful duty it were necessary to bring under the immediate notice of the House the details of the crimes to which these returns refer, it would revolt the feeling of the House, and moreover it would be impossible to go through the detail satisfactorily. I shall not therefore make a particular statement of these crimes; but it will be my duty to classify them, in order to endeavour to put the House in possession of the general character of them. Observe, I shall confine myself (except in those cases in which I shall explain that I am deviating from this rule), to the five counties I have named; and allow me also to say, that I shall read to you nothing which has not been laid before the Government by responsible officers—either by resident stipendiary magistrates, or officers connected with and acting under the constabulary force—their reports being forwarded to me from the Government in Ireland; and let me further observe, that the crimes I am about to detail to the House are neither of a sectarian nor political character. This is a remarkable feature in the case. Protestants and Roman Catholics—Orangemen and Repealers, all are equally the victims of these crimes. There is nothing exclusive in their character; and they appear to find their victims in each sect almost in proportion to their respective numbers. Again, this state of crime is by no means new in these particular districts: unhap- 342 pily the evil appears to be rooted. The efforts of former Governments as well as our own have been put forth for the purpose of eradicating this species of crime; but all have signally failed. Since my attention has been directed to this subject, I have found, too, that this description of crime, if allowed to continue unchecked, has a tendency to spread; and other counties in the immediate neighbourhood become infected. This is shown by what I stated at the commencement, that in some other counties within the last 18 months, crime has increased, and requires the strong hand of the law to check it. Before, however, I specify the particulars of many of these crimes, I will ask you to consider for a moment what a serious disgrace their existence is to the age, to the Government, and to the country in which we live. They are in fact a blot on Christianity, a disgrace to our civil policy: they appear to me to be inconsistent with the boasted liberty of this country—with the freedom of our institutions—the beneficence of our laws—the refinement of our manners—the wisdom of our age—and the purity of our religion, the precepts of which are common to us all; which we believe to be derived from Divine origin; which we inculcate as the doctrines of truth; but which are so violated by these crimes that we are disgraced and lowered to the level of a savage or a heathen country. I am unwilling to detain the House longer than is absolutely necessary; but on a subject of this importance I consider it my duty to illustrate what I have stated by specimens of the crimes. They are only examples of those crimes, the general numerical result of which in these five counties I have already stated to the House. The first class of crimes to which I will call your attention is that of "persons murdered or injured in consequence of their relations having taken or refusing to give up land;" or murders in connexion with the occupation of, or ejectment from land. The first case which I speak of occurred in Tipperary in May, 1845. A certain man had received a portion of land with his wife as her fortune, on condition of his paying a specified sum of money to her relatives. The wife died; the man married again; the friends of the deceased wife wanted to recover possession of the land, which was refused; the man was several times assaulted, and was ultimately compelled—the Report states—
In 1844. In 1845. Increase. Leitrim 228 922 694 Roscommon 264 716 452 Limerick 321 460 139 Tipperary 908 992 84—to quit the land and the neighbourhood. A 343 feud was thus created between the friends of the first and second wives. As a party of the former were returning from the market of Roscrea to Moneygall, they were waylaid and assaulted with stones by some of the latter, and several serious injuries were inflicted. John Kennelly (belonging to neither party), who happened also to be returning from the market, endeavoured to interpose as a peacemaker, when he was knocked down, and the back of his skull fractured by a blow of a stone. While down he received a second blow of a stone on the side of the head. Kennelly died in about a week.There was another case in Tipperary:—The brother of the deceased had taken a few acres of land some few years ago, from which the former tenant had been ejected. He had been (previously to this murder) served with a threatening notice to quit. As deceased sat with his brother in the evening, four men entered the house, two of them presenting a pistol at each of the brothers, and demanded why they did not obey the notice. One of them struck the deceased on the head, breaking his skull, which he did not long survive.I should now wish to produce some proofs of the interference with the relation of landlord and tenant, and the murderous consequences of such interference One instance, occurred in the case of a Mr. Samuel Smith, on the 18th of January, 1845, in Tipperary:—The attention of a resident of Borrisofarney having been attracted by a horse passing his door without a rider, he discovered, at about eighty yards distanee on the road, the body of Mr. Smith; the skull broken in two places, and the brain protruding. At the inquest held the medical examiners were of opinion that the injuries could not have been received by falling from the horse, nor did the dress of the deceased exhibit any appearance of his having been dragged along the road. The deceased, who was a resident of Dublin, had been visiting some of his tenants, and was returning to Busherstown, whence he had come that morning. It is understood that he was about dispossessing two persons of a farm, which was to be given to another.There was another case of the same nature in the county of Clare:—The deceased man's father had taken land at Dogneire, from which James Sexton had been previously ejected. Deceased was returning home from that place, when he was shot in the face from behind a hedge, his assailant following up the attack by inflicting severe wounds on the back of the head with some sharp instrument.Then there is a most frightful case of a gentleman, Mr. Patrick Clarke, being shot on his own premises, at noonday, on the 31st of October last:—This gentleman was shot dead by two men while riding round his own demesne, superintending his workmen. It appears that Mr. Clarke, several years ago, had purchased the estate in question, but had never, until recently, resided there. Having been induced to visit the place, and to prolong his stay, he had discovered that, in 344 his absence, he had been subject to a system of fraud on the part of his tenantry, which he had determined to check and put down. No sooner was this intention discovered, than attempts were made, by threatening letters (the receipt of which he kept a profound secret), to get him to remove from the place, to which intimidation he did not not yield, persevering in his system of enforcing the payment of old arrears by his tenantry. In connexion with the cause of the murder, endeavours are made, in some quarters, to represent the deceased as a rigorous landlord, of hasty and tyrannical disposition; but these statements are not borne out.This brings me to make some remarks upon absenteeism. I agree with those who hold that absenteeism is a great evil; but to discourage absenteeism we must render the counties of which I have spoken habitable. Are they habitable under circumstances such as these I describe? Here is a gentleman who had not been resident since the purchase of his estate several years ago; he comes down to settle upon it; he commences improving his estate; he expends money, and calls forth labour; he rides out from his house to superintend his men; and, as has been seen, is shot at in noon-day and killed. It appeared that he had been subjected to some fraud on the part of his tenants; he was determined to punish it; his intention was no sooner known, than attempts were made by means of threatening letters, the receipt of which he kept a profound secret, to induce him to leave the place; he resisted, and it is therefore shown that the system of enforcing the payment of arrears from tenants is met with the crime of murder. Another case was that in the county of Limerick, in January, 1846, of James Lynch:—He had served ejectments on a number of small tenants on his farm. He was fired at, at about noon, within fifty yards of his residence, had survived the shot but a few minutes. It appears that no person can be found who witnessed the attack; but there is circumstantial evidence against a man named Coshean, who has absconded. Lynch was a middleman, and his own was the life in the lease under which he held.Then there is this case:—I have to report that on last night, the 6th instant, about the hour of half-past seven o'clock, a party of seven men, disguised, with their faces blackened, and handkerchiefs tied round them, and three of them armed with guns, and others with bludgeons, entered the houses of Owen Meany, Bridget Meany, and James Molowny, of Cragboy, in the district of Tulla, and beat the following persons very severely: — Owen Meany, James Molowny, Michael Meany, and Thomas Meany; the latter had his skull fractured, and died in two or three hours afterwards; the others received cuts and bruises on their heads 345 and bodies; two female inmates of the houses were also struck, but not seriously hurt. On going away they fired two shots, and then proceeded to the house of Michael Hogan, of Shanakill, in this district, and beat him and his two sons, but not seriously. The deceased is son of Bridget Meany, and bore an excellent character. An inquest was this day held, at which I attended with Captain Leyne, and it has been adjourned to Monday next, the 9th instant. The reason assigned for these outrages is, that in the year 1843 the lands of Cragboy and Shanakill were divided by the agent under the Court of Chancery, on which occasion there were three under-tenants on the division which fell to the lot of Bridget Meany (mother of the deceased), James Molowny, and Michael Hogan; one of these under-tenants was deprived of the land he then held, and the other two, it is alleged, are now about to be dispossessed; there is no doubt, therefore, but that they caused the outrages to be committed.This is another case:—I have to report that, on the night of the 20th instant, about half-past 6 P.M., at Cally, in the parish of Killmarathy, as Mr. Alfred Waller was returning to his residence, and alone, he was waylaid in a field by four men, who severely assaulted him on the head and arms with bludgeons and stones, inflicting two severe cuts on his head, and dreadful contusions on the left arm, which fractured one of the bones below the elbow. A few (3½) acres of land Mr. Waller had at his disposal were the cause, inasmuch as his assailants, while beating him, desired him to 'give up Coona, give up Coona' (the name of the little townland which persons of the name of Keeffe pretended to have a claim to). Mr. Waller's life is not considered in any imminent danger.From this it is seen that neither religion nor relationship none of the ordinary feelings of social life, appear to have had the slightest effect in these cases; it is seen that these crimes are committed promiscuously, both by day and by night. I have gone through this class of cases, illustrative of the interference between landlord and tenant with respect to the occupation of land. A notice of ejectment is followed by the summary infliction of death; the execution of a decree of the Court of Chancery in reference to a similar Act has the same consequence. I must now call attention to another class of cases, those of magistrates when executing their magisterial duty. I will first direct notice to the case of Mr. M'Leod, a magistrate in the county of Leitrim, in November, 1844:—Towards the close of November, 1844, the peace of the northern part of the county of Cavan, and the adjoining parts of Leitrim, had become very seriously disturbed by numerous armed and organized bodies of Whiteboys. To meet these circumstances, the magistracy applied for an increased police force, and an additional stipendiary magistrate. The required police were immediately supplied; and Mr. M'Leod, the resident magis- 346 trate stationed at Enniskillen, was selected by the Government, and temporarily placed at Ballinamore, in aid of the local authorities in the suppression of the illegal organization referred to. On the day above stated, Mr. M'Leod had been dining with Mr. W. Percy, justice of the peace, of Garadice, and had set out in the evening on his return to his own quarters. Finding Mr. Percy's lodge gate shut (contrary to practice when company is entertained), Mr. M'Leod was in the act of desiring the driver of his car to get it opened, when he was fired at from behind an opening in the evergreen at the lodge gate, where the assassin, aided by the light of a candle left (as if designedly) in the lodge, is believed to have deliberately taken his aim. The gunshot penetrated the heart and lungs, and caused instantaneous death. There is no doubt that a conspiracy had been formed; and it is an ascertained fact that a notice of the murder was posted at Enniskillen two days before its perpetration. That this outrage is referable to feelings of revenge prompted by Mr. M'Leod's discharge of his magisterial duty, but one opinion has been expressed; two circumstances, have, however, been mentioned as its immediate exciting cause; by some it is attributed to his having refused to bail certain individuals in custody on serious offences; by others, to a decision made by Mr. M'Leod some days previously at Bawnboy Petty Sessions.Another part of this case presents a circumstance most remarkable, and of fearful import. There is no doubt that a conspiracy had been formed, and it was ascertained that notice of the intended murder had been posted up in the town of Enniskillen. The preparations were as notorious in the neighbourhood as they were a secret to the victim; and there is no doubt that the whole neighbourhood were participators in this crime. In the case of Mr. Bell Booth, justice of the peace, I am bound to say, that it did not occur in one of the five counties to which I have referred; it was in the county of Cavan, though on the borders of Leitrim. Here is the report:—As George Bell Booth, Esq., justice of the peace, was returning from divine service in his gig, with two of his children, some person unknown shot him dead. Although the above awful circumstance took place within 200 yards of the village of Crossdoney, and many persons were passing along the road from their respective places of worship, yet there was no immediate attempt made on their part to secure the assassin, who effected his escape. The police from the surrounding stations made every exertion to discover the perpetrator, but without success. Mr. Booth was an efficient and most useful magistrate, and always ready to afford assistance when necessary. From that hour to this the assassin has escaped punishment.No more erroneous impression could be formed, than to conclude that these crimes arose from any one particular cause, either political or religious. Those who commit 347 such offences, interfere in every way with the letting of land, with the ordinary circumstances of domestic life, between master and tenant; constantly threatening notices are sent by the peasantry to particular individuals that they must increase the dowry of a daughter, that they must sanction or must not sanction the marriage of a son; and unless such notices are immediately obeyed, summary vengeance is executed. Here is a case of interference between master and tenant:—Waters, John (county of Tipperary), had been in the employment of Henry Goring, Esq., of Riverlawn, and was a stranger at the place. As he was returning to his master's residence, with a man named Corrigan (whose services as ploughman were likely to be superseded by those of Waters), several men, armed with bludgeons, according to the statement of Corrigan, leaped off the road into the grove. Corrigan says he ran away, and looking back saw the party strike Waters to the ground, and that on returning shortly after, he found Waters speechless.So that the crime of this man was the endeavour to replace a servant. Then there is the case of Thomas Linney, East Galway, who was shot through the lungs. He had recently been engaged as a steward by the Rev. Mr. Butson, of Clonfert, who had discharged his former steward (named Coates), retaining, however, in his service two of Coates's brothers, a coachman, and stable-keeper. To these and to their father, old Coates, who lived in the neighbourhood, and to another stableboy suspicion attached, and they were apprehended. Several threatening letters had been previously sent to Mr. Butson, desiring him to discharge Linney. I should not refer to a case which the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn has brought under the notice of the House, except that unhappily it was accompanied by very gross circumstances. In that case, a married woman, pregnant, who was on the road, was shot at in the open day. A child she had with her at her breast was killed, and the mother was also killed. I will mention the circumstances of the outrage, and the cause to the House.Mrs. Fanny M'Elhill, of Tyrone, was the wife of a wood-ranger, who had made himself obnoxious by prosecuting trespassers. She had proceeded from her dwelling, with her little daughter, when she was fired at from a wood by the roadside. Some of the charge entered the child's head, and it is feared her brain is injured. The mother was wounded in different parts of the body, and died in a day or two after, having previously given birth to a still-born child.I should not have mentioned this case unless it had been mentioned by the noble 348 Lord, as it was not in one of the five counties, but that of Tyrone. [Colonel RAWDON: Was the crime committed in the day time?] Yes, in the day time. In South Tipperary, on the 17th of January, 1846, Patrick Murphy was fired at as he entered his own dwelling one of three men. He had been employed as keeper on property seized for rent. Again, the noble Lord the Member for Lynn has referred to another case, which is in the county of Tipperary, and it is remarkable, as it shows that these acts of violence are connected with gross interference with domestic arrangements, such as the keeping of servants. In that case, at the dwelling of an old lady, eighty years of age, arms were taken away; she was beaten, and a pistol twice snapped in her face in the road. The case occurred in December, 1845. Now, I beg the House to consider the state of society in Ireland consequent upon these outrages. I will read a notice issued by a mining company from Dublin, dated November 26, 1845, relative to the state of things at Earls-hill colliery, barony of Slievardagh, in Tipperary; it is signed by Mr. R. Purday, the secretary, and it shows the social effects of these proceedings. The notice is to this effect:—
§ "Earls-hill Colliery, Barony of Slievardagh, County of Tipperary.
§ "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 Earlshill 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 the continuance of the works until sufficient protection can be afforded to them. "RICHARD PURDY, Secretary.
§ "Dublin, Nov. 26, 1845."
Now this case shows not only the impossibility of providing an effectual remedy for the social evils of Ireland by the influx of capital—for the best remedy for the poverty of Ireland is the introduction of capital—but it proves that unless you put down this state of things, not only will there be no influx of capital into the country, but the social evils of Ireland will be aggravated by the spread of murder and rapine. I do
not apologize to the House for detaining it by the cases I have brought forward, because I do think the circumstances are so grave as to justify me in bringing before the House fully, and without reserve, the state of crime now prevailing in these parts of Ireland, showing that legislative interterference is indispensable if human life is to be regarded as of any value. Here is a case of murder, expressly for preventing the voluntary resignation of land. It is in the county of Tipperary, 27th January, 1845:—
John Ryan (county of Tipperary), a farmer, was about to propose for land, the property of Mr. Philips, of Mount Rivers. There had, in this case, been no compulsory ejectment, or rigorous exaction of rights. The occupier, it is said, voluntarily resigned one-half of the farm, alleging his inability to hold the entire, and continued to retain the other half. The deceased, represented to be of respectable character, of some substance, and a native of the place, made no secret of his intention to propose for the unoccupied land, and had no apprehension of consequences. On his way, however, to the proprietor, he was assailed by two men, strangers to himself, one of whom pulled him from his horse and fractured his head with a stone. He survived only a few days. Two persons were taken into custody on strong suspicion; but the injured man, evidently fearing the consequences to his family, would make no disclosures tending to their identification.
So that, at the last extremity of death, such is the effect of the reign of terror, the dying man, out of regard for the safety of his relatives and friends, aware that his end was close at hand, dared not make disclosures tending to identify the parties, lest he should compromise the safety of his relatives in this region, when savage vengeance is triumphant. The two men, who had been taken into custody on suspicion, were discharged for want of evidence, the dying man refusing to give any explanation. Now, it is clear how little human life is valued in some particular parts of Ireland. I have heard it said, that, in the five counties, the great body of the people are tainted—I do not believe it: the bands are small, though perfectly organized; but the number of persons comprising these lawless bands is insignificant compared with the great body of the people. But, still, evidence cannot be obtained, and the law is, by reason of this, inoperative; and if these small bands prevent the due exercise of the law, these outrages remaining unchecked, the bulk of the population will yield to terror, and become unwilling accessories to crime. Here is a case in Galway, not one of the five counties:—
Patrick Swift was found dead in the river of the town of Galway; there were several marks of violence about his body and head. He had come to the town to give evidence in a civil bill case, which was dismissed in his (Swift's) absence. Some threatening expressions were used towards him by some of the relatives of the defendant who were chiefly interested in the case.
No doubt that man was murdered to prevent his evidence being taken, and the cause was lost. Observe: no debt for more than 20l. can be recovered by civil bill process: so to secure success in an action for debt of less than 20l., an innocent witness is deliberately murdered. Now, here is another case in Tipperary, 26th June:—
John Lundrigan.—Twelve months ago a man was murdered on the mountains off Ninemile House, near Carrick-on-Suir, and the friends of the murdered man prosecuted. A woman related to the prosecutors was married to a publican named Egan, who owned a tent erected on the racecourse of Ballina. On the evening of the 26th of June, a party of twelve or fifteen men entered the tent and grievously assaulted Egan and his servant Lundrigan with stones. On the following day the matter came to the knowledge of the police, who proceeded to the tent, and found Egan pursuing his usual avocations, complaining but little of his injuries, unwilling to afford any information upon the subject, and totally denying any knowledge of the assailants. At that time, and for a day or two after, Egan suppressed all reference to the case of Lundrigan; and it was not until the latter was speechless, and past recovery, that Egan apprised the police of his condition. Lundrigan died that day, and Egan became so ill that his recovery for a while was doubtful. Although several persons confidently believed to have been concerned in this outrage were arrested, the witnesses at the inquest were evidently determined on screening the perpetrators, and the prisoners were necessarily discharged for want of evidence.
I will take another case in Tipperary (a remarkable case), showing the striking manner in which every member of a family was attacked, and their unwillingness to give evidence to convict:—
§ "Nenagh, Feb. 9, 1846.
§ "Between seven and eight o'clock on yesterday morning, a party of twelve men, all armed with guns, made a simultaneous rush into the dwelling of Michael Gleeson, who was in bed, as was all his family, with the exception of his daughter Judy, who had opened the door; the armed men dragged Gleeson out of bed, and beat him about the body and head with the butt end of their guns, inflicting two wounds (seemingly dangerous) on his head. Gleeson's son, who slept in an opposite room, hearing the uproar, got out of bed, and was immediately attacked in his attempt to oppose his assailants' ingress to his apartment; one of the villains fired a shot at him which missed him, the two balls striking the wall in his rear. After a struggle they forced into his room, and treated him in a similar way to that of his father, inflicting three severe cuts on his head. After breaking twelve panes of glass and all the delph in the 351 house, and ordering Gleeson to give up the land (9½ acres) to Seymour, or they would pay him another and a more serious visit, they went away. Gleeson came into possession of his land twenty years ago, and out of which Seymour was dispossessed for non-payment of rent. Though there were five of Gleeson's sons in the house, not one of them informed the police of this occurrence. Had they done so, there is little doubt but that the Corbally party would have succeeded in tracing the offenders, as they were seen to pass up the mountains within less than a mile of that barrack (Corbally). Nor would they even describe to me any of this gang, although Gleeson's daughter and one of his sons, from the opportunities they had, could, I am convinced, do so; however, such is the system of terror prevalent in this district, my belief is, that had this gang murdered old Gleeson, not one of his family would come forward to vindicate the law, unless forced to do so. I directed the constable at Corbally to bring into Nenagh on to-morrow the son and daughter of Gleeson, and should their evidence be of any importance I will report accordingly. The resident magistrate approves of the suggested reward (50l.)
§ "CHARLES G. O'DELL, Chief Constable."
Now, observe this; though there were live sons in the house, not one of them informed the police of the occurrence. Had they done so, there is little doubt that the Corbally party would have succeeded in tracing the offenders, as they were seen to pass up the mountains within less than a mile of that barrack; nor would they even describe any of the gang. I will not trespass on the time of the house by detailing many more particular cases; still there are two or three which give so faithful an impression of the condition of more than one of these five counties, that I must be permitted to read these few extracts to the House. Here is another case from Tipperary:—
I have to report that constable Patrick O'Hara, and sub-constables John Franklin, James Burke, John Young, John Mulrooney, and Anthony Cullen, of the Clonlough station, were on patrol in the neighbourhood of Ballinahinch, about 7 P.M. last night, when they were fired on by a party of Rockites, about eight in number, who no doubt lay in wait for them; the police (four of whom had loaded arms) returned the fire, but cannot say with what degree of effect. The Rockites' fire, I am sorry to say, told on sub-constable Cullen; he is severely wounded in both arms; the ball, which passed through the left and lodged in the right arm near the elbow (but not in the joint), has been extracted by Dr. Carey, of this town, who was immediately in attendance. The police took but one prisoner, and one stand of arms (a pistol). The prisoner is a young man, about eighteen years old, a servant boy of a farmer. The police detected him giving the signal to the Rockites to rush from their hiding place, near a house where the constable O'Hara states he called to receive some information about unregistered arms, and a party whom they met on patrol the Friday before, and whom they suspected to have been firing shots and disturbing that neighbourhood, but found no arms with them.
One fellow on this occasion, on being searched by the police, attempted to wrest the carbine from sub-constable Young, and him they have summoned for obstructing them in the discharge of their duty, by order of the magistrates.
In this case it is shown that a party of armed men were lying in wait for the police at 7 o'clock in the evening, and actually commenced the assault by firing a volley upon them. Here is another case, reported by Mr. Graves, a stipendiary magistrate:—
Dances are held constantly in the several townlands. This is done solely to give a tangible excuse for the gathering together of a number of persons. I have had those dance houses most carefully watched by the police, and I find there is no drunkenness, no rioting; everything is conducted peaceably, but during the time dancing is going on inside the houses numbers of men are congregated outside; I am quite sure with no good intent.
This report shows that even the most innocent amusements may be perverted in the disturbed districts into opportunities of planning the perpetration of crimes. I have another report, received only the day before yesterday, from the county of Clare; it is dated March 24, and contains a notice of a description corroborating what I have already stated in reference to those crimes; a gentleman named Floyd was suspected of having given information that led to the apprehension of four men, who at the last Clare assizes were convicted and sentenced to transportation; he was not a witness in the case; he was only suspected of having given the information that led to the apprehension of the men; and the report contains a notice in which he is threatened with death unless before a certain day he obtained a pardon for the convicts. I have but one more case I wish to bring under the notice of the House; but it shows such an amount of interference with mere matters of domestic arrangement, that I wish to draw the attention of the House to it; it shows the spread of tyranny and open violence, and a breaking down of all the rules of social intercourse, that is more alarming than anything I have read. It is a case tried at the last Clare assizes:—
At the last assizes for the county of Clare three persons were tried for a murderous assault on a person named Hehin. The circumstances of the case were these. Hehin was steward of the steam packet carrying passengers on the Upper Shannon. He was in the habit of purchasing milk from a woman for the use of the passengers in the steamer. He complained to her that the milk was not good, and that he wished for better milk for the use of the gentlemen going to the last fair at Ballinasloe, who were to breakfast on
board the steamer. She promised to give better milk, but did not do so, and Hehin ceased to deal with her; and she said he should be sorry for it. Accordingly in a few days after, on the arrival of the steamer at Killaloe, Hehin was watched, and when the passengers had left the steamer, and Hehin landed alone on the quay, he was stopped by three persons, who ordered him to kneel down, asked him about the milk, immediately attacked him, fractured his skull in several parts, and left him for dead.
In this case the parties were convicted. I have adduced this case to show the small value put upon human life, and the summary vengeance that is taken for the most ordinary actions, and on the slightest provocation. I have already in the course of the evening presented to the House a petition, signed by the high sheriff and the majority of the grand jury of Leitrim, praying the House to pass into a law the Bill introduced for the suppression of crimes of this kind. I now wish very shortly to refer the House to memorials presented to the Lord Lieutenant from the whole of these five counties, praying for the enactment of some summary process of punishment for this class of crimes. The address from Tipperary, presented by the Earl of Donoughmore on the 25th of March says:—
We feel convinced that all sources of information are dried up through the sympathy of the ill-affected, and the intimidation exercised towards the well-disposed. We do not dwell on the numerical amount of crimes committed, because it is to their character that we wish to point attention; ejectment from land is no longer the sole origin of these sad occurrences. The slightest cause is now sufficient to endanger life, and no one can tell when that may arise. We do not urge the insecurity of landlords' rights; we do not complain of want of support being afforded to ourselves by your Excellency's Government; but we point attention to the insecurity of the peasant's hut, to the scenes of desolation there constantly occuring, to the prevalence of that species of crime which saps the root of every virtue, and is rapidly eradicating all trace of the original character of the Irish peasant.
I have also the address presented by the grand jury of Roscommon, signed by one of the Members for that county, the O'Conor Don, setting forth the disturbed state of the county, and praying the Legislature to provide means of protection. I will not weary the House with these addresses; there is also one from the county of Leitrim; but two or three of the resolutions adopted by the magistrates and gentry of the county of Limerick I will read: they state—
That murder, breaking open houses for arms, threatening notices, and intimidation, are of daily and nightly occurrence, attacking all classes who do not join or submit to laws made at nightly
meetings of large bands of armed peasantry; that the laws at present in force are not sufficient, in the disorganized state of this county, to repress the outrages that are taking place.
There is also one from the county of Clare, presented by Sir Lucius O'Brien on the 1st of March, 1846, praying for an increase in the constabulary force, on account of the dangerous state of that county. Now, having shown, perhaps at too much length, the unhappy condition of these five counties, with reference to crime, I will briefly state the heads of the Bill sent down from the other House of Parliament, for the purpose of aiding the Government in the repression of these fearful outrages. I shall not conceive it to be my duty in the present discussion to enter upon the general policy of the measure; but when that policy shall come to be reviewed, I shall be prepared at length to defend the various provisions of the Bill. I shall at present merely state what those provisions are. In cases in which the prevalence of murder and crimes against the person shall appear to render it necessary, power is given to the Lord Lieutenant in Council to proclaim the district where such crimes shall have been committed, and then may appoint resident magistrates and additional constables for such proclaimed districts. The Lord Lieutenant in Council is also empowered to levy the charge for the salaries of such magistrates, and the expense of such additional constabulary, upon the occupiers of the district proclaimed. This part of the measure must be taken in conjunction with the announcement made by my right hon. Friend at the head of the Government, that it is intended to propose, under ordinary circumstances, to charge the whole expense of the constabulary upon the public fund. The effect, therefore, of the present Bill will be, to make the payment of this force in the proclaimed districts a penal payment by the tenantry. This principle is not new to the law either of England or of Ireland. Full power is given to the Lord Lieutenant not only to charge the expense of the additional constabulary upon the district, but also to levy a compensation to individuals sustaining injuries of a permanent character, and in cases of loss of life compensation to the surviving relatives. But neither in England nor Ireland is this principle of compensation for personal injuries, new. In cases of riot, and fire-raising, counties are liable for the damage. By the 6th and 7th William IV., power is now
given to grand juries in Ireland to levy any sum they may think fit for compensation for injury done to property, whether moveable or fixed, animate or inanimate; and the power is given to levy this charge not only on the whole county, but, in exact analogy to the principles of the present Bill, on any portion of that county they may think fit. By the 106th section of the same Act, chap. 116, grand juries have the power of presenting any sum they may think proper as compensation to the personal representatives of those who, having to give evidence against offenders, may be murdered previous to the trial, the amount to be levied on the barony where the murder takes place. The principle of the measure is then, in this respect, not new to the law of this Realm. It has been said, that this Bill gives to the Lord Lieutenant the same powers which he enjoyed under the General Constabulary Act. It certainly does give the Lord Lieutenant power to increase the salaries of persons employed in the preservation of the peace; and it also gives the Lord Lieutenant unlimited power to appoint stipendiary magistrates, with such salaries as to him may seem fitting and expedient. Now, I propose by this Bill that the Treasury shall pay those salaries in the first instance, and that the counties shall refund. The Lord Lieutenant shall have power to fix the salaries; his certificate shall be binding upon the grand juries, and they shall be bound to levy sufficient for the payment of those salaries. This, I need scarcely observe to the House, is a principle fully recognized by the existing law. Further, there is by this Bill power given to the Lord Lieutenant to cause the apprehension of persons found out of their dwellings between sunset and sunrise; but they shall be tried by a jury and before a Judge of assize. After apprehension and before trial, the Lord Lieutenant shall possess the power of liberating persons so accused, and he shall also possess the same power of liberation after they have been found guilty. I may here state, that I do not rest these provisions upon former precedents alone; and yet what occurred in other cases is not wholly unworthy of your attention. Nothing would be easier than to show that several of the former Bills introduced with this object, really did bring about the effects expected from them without its ever becoming necessary to carry out into full operation all the provisions of those Bills. In 1834 there was a Coercion
Bill, but no court-martial ever sat under the provisions of that measure; for the mere fact that such provisions had received the sanction of Parliament, sufficed to render the application of them wholly unnecessary. Now, this is a matter to which I wish particularly to call the attention of the hon. and learned Member for Cork. He cannot, of course, have forgotten that, in the year 1835, he took part in the discussions on the Coercion Bill of that period; and I should desire to quote his exact words. They were spoken on the 31st of July, 1835, and are as follows:—
In the present Bill, if I rightly understand it, much of the mischievous tendency of the Coercion Bill is avoided. It directs the magistrates at sessions to deal with actual offences against the laws as they find them, and it also authorizes them to give to a man an opportunity of explaining why he is found abroad at night, and unless he can give a satisfactory explanation, he is subjected to the penalty of a misdemeanor. This is a great improvement upon the former measure; and I am glad to find that the Government is content with it. It gives protection where it is wanted, but at the same time takes from no man the right of being tried by a jury. Its only infringement upon the liberty of the subject is in the power given, as I have already observed, to deal with persons who are found out of their houses by night, and who can give no satisfactory explanation of their being from home. If the Bill shall have the effect of suppressing the baneful practice of nightly outrages, it will be most salutary for Ireland, and one of the greatest benefits that can be conferred upon her in her present state. My only wish with respect to it is, that it had gone a little further, and had endeavoured to put down those affiliated societies which flourish in Ireland in spite of the law, but which, I contend, it is the duty of the Government to suppress.
The onus of proof, the hon. and learned Gentleman justly observed, rested upon the party accused; and I am now glad to be able to call the attention of the House to this, that we have the sanction of his legal authority, supported by the intimate knowledge which the hon. and learned Member for Cork possesses of his countrymen, to show that, with reference to proclaimed districts, this measure is the best that under such circumstances can be adopted. The House will see from the extracts which I have read, that the hon. and learned Gentleman did approve of prohibiting the population of disturbed districts going at large between sunset and sunrise, without being able to account for their doing so. I am very unwilling to trespass at greater length upon the indulgence of the House; but I cannot help adverting to some other of the various circumstances which have the effect of driving landlords away from
Ireland; of compelling them to reside elsewhere; and of causing them to cease employing those labourers to whom, under a different state of things, they would have given full employment. I shall at present mention but one case, which is contained in the evidence published in the second volume of Lord Devon's Report, page 751. It is the case of a Mr. Wilson, a Roman Catholic gentleman residing in the county of Clare. He then resided upon his own property; he constantly resided on it, performing all the duties which as a landlord he was bound to perform. In the course of the last autumn and winter he received three distinct threatening notices. It appears that he had recently let a quantity of land amounting to 140 acres which had fallen out of lease. He divided this land amongst different tenants; but he took the liberty of reserving four acres for the use of an old servant of his, whom he wished to reside upon the land. In the course of the last six months he received, as I have said, three threatening notices; and he was, therefore, compelled to quit the neighbourhood. When he was present at divine worship, for the last time, in the chapel which he usually attended, he, with the permission of the parish priest, ascended the steps of the altar, and, addressing the congregation, said that there were then present the men who sat in judgment upon him, and who passed sentence of death upon him. He repeated that he knew them as well as the time and place at which they decided the question of life and death as affecting him, and pronounced such a sentence as compelled him to quit the country and change his residence. But he declared, that if they would form a committee among themselves, he would submit the matter to such committee, and abide by their decision. There was no concealment in this case; Mr. Wilson openly avowed that it was in consequence of the threatening letters he had received he was compelled, with his wife and family, to relinquish his home. Mr. Carrick, as a friend of the hon. and learned Member, took part in a transaction which I am sure the hon. and learned Member will not forget. I allude to the Clare election, a memorable epoch in the life of the hon. Member. [Mr. O'CONNELL: He voted for me.] He voted for the hon. and learned Member. That gentleman was barbarously murdered. Since Mr. Wilson left the county Mr. Carrick has been shot. I am just about to read a letter from a gentleman who, if I
am not misinformed, is connected with the hon. and learned Member for Cork; Mr. Laing is a nephew of the hon. and learned Gentleman, a Roman Catholic, and a most respectable gentleman. He says—
In reference to my report of the 18th instant, I have now, with much regret, to state that Mr. Carrick died of his wounds this morning. The awful death of this unfortunate gentleman has spread the utmost alarm and consternation among the respectable classes throughout this county, who are looking forward with deep anxiety to the passing of the Coercion Bill, in the hope that it may be the means of putting a stop to that dreadful and appalling system of assassination so perseveringly carried into effect. No man's life is safe; and unless the most stringent and comprehensive laws are immediately enacted for the protection of life and property, the possession neither of the one nor of the other can be considered secure.
There is one other document, which it is my duty to lay before the House. It contains an appeal made to the hon. and learned Member for Cork himself, by Mr. Ryan, a Roman Catholic, and a gentleman who is on such a footing with the hon. and learned Gentleman, that his letter begins "Dear Sir," and ends, "Your ever faithful friend." [Mr. O'CONNELL: He is unknown.] His letter is quite worthy of being read:—
As you value the peace of Ireland, I most earnestly entreat of you to give up your opposition to the principle of the Bill about to be introduced into the House of Commons for the protection of life. It may have some trivial defects, most of which have been modified in the House of Lords; but the well-thinking portion of society of all parties agree that something must be done to suppress crime in this country. It is melancholy to behold whole Sessions of Parliament wasted away in idle debate on measures which turn out to be of no importance, or no benefit to the people.
My noble Friend the Member for Lynn must understand that this applies to the last Session of Parliament.
The Landlord and Tenant Bill, which has been loudly called for by nine-tenths of the people of Ireland, has been overlooked or forgotten, and seven months of a Sesssion of Parliament spent in opposition to an Arms Bill, which proved to be the very reverse of what was anticipated. The Liberal party in the House argued, that it would destroy the constitutional liberty of the subject; that, if passed into a law, the police would search for arms at all hours; that the privacy of families would be invaded; and that even at night we should be subject to the insults of this ruthless body. Well, the Arms Act has now been some time in force, and there is not one instance to be found where the police abused the power with which they were invested. The police are an efficient, well-regulated force, under excellent control; and you may rest satisfied that if they and the higher portion of the Executive had no more honourable motive to guide them in the discharge of their duty than your own influence and that of the press, it would be quite
sufficient to insure a fair administration of the 'Coercion Act,' as you call it. This one fact does away with one of the principal arguments against this Bill. When we see a Government doing all in its power to alleviate the distress of the people; when we see them scorning the ties of friendship and of party to establish a law that will afford the most extensive benefits, by giving cheap food and cheap clothing to the millions; when we see them promising an extended Franchise Bill, a Corporation Bill, and, the most important of all, 'a Landlord and Tenant Bill,' let us not, in the name of common sense, delay, or perhaps altogether postpone, those good measures by a protracted opposition to a stringent Bill, which the state of society absolutely requires. Had the Arms Bill been less opposed and more stringent, the necessity for the Coercion Bill would now be less urgent. Instead of arms being taken from those who were entitled to them, they were indiscriminately put into the hands of evil-minded persons. Thus a facility was given to the disaffected to commit crimes, while the power of detecting or suppressing them was diminished. Armed persons may now go about night and day, and unless the police catch them in the actual fact of committing outrage, no notice can be taken of them. Under the Protection Bill there might be some hope of punishing those lawless villains, who, in reality, abridge the liberty of the subject, by forcing the peaceable and well-conducted members of society to remain in their houses from sunset to sunrise, ay, and sometimes during broad daylight, lest they might be assassinated by these demons.
I have pointed out to the House that the state of society in these five counties, is such that it is not safe to go abroad either by night or by day. The hon. Member for Limerick (Mr. Smith O'Brien) doubts that statement. But look at Sir Francis Hopkins, attacked when on his return from dining with a neighbour. Look at Mr. Booth Bell, shot when returning from church. The state of society is unquestionably such, that the ordinary liberty of private life is not enjoyed. Mr. Ryan proceeds:—
Thank God, the number of delinquents are few. Some dozens of the entire population may be brought to justice under this Act, while eight millions will be benefited by it. The expense will be a mere trifle; we now pay 4s. per acre taxes, a sixth of which only goes to public works, while five-sixths of it are expended in supporting gaols and suppressing crime. The greater part of this burden is to be removed, and a sum of 3d. or 4d. per acre may be called for, but this only in disturbed districts. The only objection to this tax is, that the landlord is not made to pay his share according to his proportion of poor-rates. This, most assuredly should be the case; and I am sure you will insist on his paying a fair portion of it. This point conceded to it, I beg of you to facilitate the passing of this Act. I am not a tyrant landlord who asks you to do so. I am a friend to popular rights, and so far back as 1828, when you called me to the chair of the Catholic Association, to the present time, I have been one of your humble but strenuous supporters.
I thought the hon. and learned Member for Cork said this Gentleman was unknown; he described himself as a friend of popular rights, and as having been a supporter of the hon. and learned Gentleman.
I have given more employment than any man of similar means in Ireland. I never did anything in my life that would call forth the odium of the lawless, or the revenge of the assassin, unless that I assisted in endeavouring to bring the murderers of Mr. Milo Bourke, late of Springfield, and Mr. Andrew Bourke, late of Greenlawn, to justice. These two inoffensive gentlemen were murdered for no other reason but because their lives were in leases of land. They were brothers and uncles of mine. I lost 300l. a year by the murder of Mr. Milo Bourke; and Mr. Bourke, of the Shelburne Hotel, to whom the property of his brother Milo reverted, had been obliged to sell it for one-tenth of its value, because he did not like coming to this country to receive his rents. Since that period there have been ten malicious injuries done to my property, and two attempts made on my life.
I shall not trouble you with a detailed account of all, but merely state what occurred on the 7th of March instant. About 11 o'clock on the night of that day, while my wife, one child, and myself were in my parlour, nine bullets from a blunderbuss were discharged into the window; three bullets were lodged in the shutters, and one struck the fender around which we were sitting; the other five bullets hit the wall outside. All my family, consisting of ten children and five servants, were in the same room, at night prayers, a few minutes before the shot was fired, so that the assassin did not care whether he killed one person or seventeen. Had the 'Protection Act' been in force, the perpetrator of this horrible outrage could have been most easily detected.
I cannot conclude my observations, which I have prolonged to a great extent, better than by adopting the words used by this Gentleman: "As you love Ireland—as you hate injustice—as you abhor outrage and crime—I entreat, I implore you," not to oppose the progress of this Bill. Taking into consideration the further discussions which may arise relative to the state of affairs which I have described: bearing in mind that these fearful outrages do not yet extend to the whole or to a large part of Ireland; but, though limited to five counties, that there is a marked and dangerous tendency in them to spread. I call on you not to hesitate in the adoption of the means which are necessary to arrest the progress of this evil. I do not blame you reluctance: but this measure is necessary; and in the present circumstances of Ireland I entreat you not to delay the first reading of this Bill.
MR. SMITH O'BRIEN
rose, amid loud cries of "go on," and observed that it was not the intention of the Irish Members to oppose this Bill by means of repeated adjournments: on the contrary, they were desirous that the amplest discussion should take place; aad if opportunity for such discussion were afforded, they doubted not but that they would be able to show that many of the evils of which the Government complained so bitterly were to be attributed to the misrule and neglect of the Government themselves. But he supported the Motion for the adjournment on the present occasion, because it was now within half an hour of twelve o'clock; and as the hon. and learned Member for Cork, who had an Amendment on the books, would probably occupy two hours, if not more, with his address, he thought it was scarcely reasonable to ask his hon. and learned Friend to proceed at that unseasonable hour of the night.
was ready to go on, but he was very unwilling to do so, if it could be avoided, at that late hour; for the case he had to deal with was a very heavy and a very important one, and he must consume a very considerable period in addressing the House. He trusted that there was a tendency to conduct this measure in an amicable manner; and, if so, he implored them not to press them (the Irish Members) unnecessarily at that late hour to a statement which might be a lengthened one. They had already been sitting seven hours.
§ SIR ROBERT PEEL
hoped that the House would not think of adjourning at that early hour. It would be quite without precedent that, with such a mass of business before them as yet undisposed of, they should adjourn at half-past eleven o'clock. They had already reduced the nights for debating to four, for they did not sit on Saturdays; and Wednesdays they had, by a recent resolution, determined on devoting to Bills and propositions introduced by private Members. He ventured to promise that, if the hon. and learned Member for Cork would proceed to address the House for two hours, or for an hour and a half, he would be listened to with great attention; but he hoped that the idea of adjourning at half-past eleven o'clock would be abandoned. After the Corn Bill had been disposed of, he would consent to affording every possible facility for discussion on this Bill in Committee, 362 or anywhere else; and, indeed, he was most anxious that both its principles and its details should be canvassed most carefully; but he could not understand what good object could be obtained by vexatious obstruction to the first reading. He hoped that, at all events, the House would not rise before one o'clock.
§ MR. CALEB POWELL
remarked, that all the Irish Members wanted was, that they should be permitted full opportunity of submitting in detail to the consideration of the House the facts and representations which constituted their case.
LORD CLAUDE HAMILTON
ridiculed the idea of the Irish Members requiring an adjournment at that early hour. He thought it an exceedingly selfish proceeding, and which argued very little practical patriotism, that three Irish Members should stand up and insist upon the adjournment of the House, merely that they might retire to bed or elsewhere, to consult their own convenience. Surely, it could not be that their constitutions were worn out by their sedulous discharge of their Parliamentary duties; for many of them had not been soon for months in that House until that night. The hon. Member for Mayo, who had moved the adjournment, looked all freshness, and the very picture of health; and yet so anxious was he for the preservation of his senatorial health, that he would force the House to adjourn that he might have an opportunity of going to bed early.
MR. DILLON BROWNE
said, that after the pointed allusion which had been made to him by the noble Lord opposite, he trusted the House would indulge him while he ventured to say a few words. The noble Lord had declared that he (Mr. Dillon Browne) should not, with his strong Irish feelings, entertain a desire to go to bed at that early hour. He (Mr. Browne) could not help thinking that it would have been well for the House, and for the noble Lord himself, if the noble Lord had gone to bed long ago. But, despite of the noble Lord's irrational gesticulations, and not-withanding that he was, upon the present occasion as offensive as it was his usual habit to be to Members of that House, he (Mr. Browne) would maintain his equanimity, and would endeavour to treat that House with respect, by pursuing a very opposite course to that pursued by the noble Lord. He would respectfully state to the House his reason for moving the adjournment. He did so, because he knew that his hon. and learned Friend the Member 363 for Cork (Mr. O'Connell), who had given notice of an Amendment—which must be prefaced by a long address—to the Motion under consideration, was not prepared at that late hour to address the House. He had also advocated the adjournment, because it was most essential that certain statements which had been made that night, affecting the character of the Irish people, should be effectively met; and this could only be done by granting some delay to obtain necessary information. Those were the circumstances under which he had moved the adjournment; and he could not think he had done wrong, even although he had incurred the wrath of the noble Lord.
§ MR. M. MILNES
did not wish that the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Cork should be put to any inconvenience. The mere circumstance of that hon. and learned Gentleman finding it necessary to address the House at some length, gave a peculiar character to the present Motion. But there were other hon. Members connected with Ireland who continued the debate, and who could express their views without so lengthened a preface. The House was quite ready to hear them. At the same time, as they had never been so long occupied in discussing the question of Adjournment, he thought the sooner they adjourned the better.
§ SIR R. PEEL
would not further oppose the Motion for Adjournment, provided hon. Members who had Motions on the Paper for to-morrow were willing to postpone them. He must say that he consented most reluctantly to the adjournment, though he did not wish to subject the hon. and learned Gentleman to any inconvenience. If hon. Members would not consent to waive their Motions for to-morrow, then the only alternative would be in a further postponement of the debate, which he should strenuously oppose. He should feel it his duty to take the sense of the House on the Motion of adjournment, if hon. Members did not so consent.
§ MR. W. R. COLLETT
was entirely adverse to the postponement of the debate. He had most important documents in his possession, of the nature of which the House was not aware, and which made him most eager that no time should be lost in passing this measure into law. He was not in the habit of addressing the House, and never did so except when thoroughly acquainted with the subject, and able to substantiate his statements by undeniable 364 facts. On this matter, he repeated, he could adduce facts of which hon. Gentlemen were not aware, and which were certainly of a nature not to warrant the adjournment of the debate for four or five days. He considered this measure as vastly more important than the Corn Laws—it was a matter of indifference whether the Corn Laws were repealed or not, compared with this Bill. What was the fact? There was not a steward on his Irish property that had not been shot at—two of them were murdered—and whilst one of his men was giving evidence in a court of justice, he had received a letter to say that his wife and children had been shot at. No man's life was safe in that district. Society was at a standstill; no person—not even the parish priest—was safe. He could bring forward evidence to show that life was not safe, and that, in fact, the ordinary interchanges of society were at an end. Yet, notwithstanding such a state of things, some hon. Gentlemen opposite thought it right to obstruct the Bill. He would not yield to any such obstruction for a single moment; and would sooner sit there and divide continually, than submit to it. The country would, he had no doubt, form a correct estimate of the motives of the men who thought it becoming to give a vexatious opposition to the progress of the Bill.
LORD J. RUSSELL
thought the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) had put the question upon very fair grounds. He thought, however, that if the debate were to be adjourned until to-morrow, it would be a hardship to call upon the hon. and learned Member for Cork to address the House. He hoped, however, that they would be able to proceed at once with the debate, and that hon. Gentlemen who had notices of Motions on the Paper would consent to postpone them.
§ The House divided on the Question, that the debate be adjourned:—Ayes, 32; Noes, 98: Majority, 66.
|List of the AYES.|
|Archbold, R.||Macnamara, Major|
|Bridgeman, H.||M'Carthy, A.|
|Brotherton, J.||M'Donnell, J. M.|
|Chapman, B.||Milnes, R. M.|
|Collett, J.||Moffatt, G.|
|Curteis, H. B.||Napier, Sir C.|
|Esmonde, Sir T.||O'Brien, J.|
|Fitzgerald, R. A.||O'Brien, W. S.|
|Hawes, B.||O'Brien, T.|
|Hindley, C.||O'Connell, D.|
|Horsman, E.||O'Connell, J.|
|Kelly, J.||Osborne, R.|
|Power, J.||Wawn, J. T.|
|Rawdon, Col.||Wyse, T.|
|Somers, J. P.|
|Somerville, Sir W. M.||TELLERS.|
|Thornely, T.||Browne, R. D.|
|Warburton, H.||Powell, C.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Ainsworth, P.||Hotham, Lord|
|Antrobus, E.||Howard, hon. E. G. G.|
|Baillie, Col.||Inglis, Sir R. H.|
|Baillie, W.||James, Sir W. C.|
|Baird, W.||Jermyn, Earl|
|Bankes, G.||Jocelyn, Vise.|
|Baring, rt. hon. W. B.||Johnstone, H.|
|Bennet, P.||Jones, Capt.|
|Bentinck, Lord G.||Kemble, H.|
|Blackburne, J. I.||Labouchere, rt. hon. H.|
|Borthwick, P.||Lawson, A.|
|Bowles, Adml.||Lennox, Lord G. H. G.|
|Broadwood, K.||Lockhart, W.|
|Brownrigg, J. S.||Mackenzie, W. F.|
|Bruce, Lord E.||Maclean, D.|
|Buller, C.||M'Neill, D.|
|Cardwell, E.||March, Earl of|
|Carew, W. H. P.||Martin, C. W.|
|Carnegie, hon. Capt.||Meynell, Capt.|
|Chichester, Ld. J. L.||Morgan, O.|
|Clerk, hon. Sir. G.||Mostyn, hon. E. M. L.|
|Clive, rt. hon. R. H.||Neville, R.|
|Cole, hon. H. A.||Ncwdegate, C. N.|
|Collett, W. R.||Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.|
|Corry, rt. hon. H.||Peel, J.|
|Deedes, W.||Plumptre, J. P.|
|Denison, E. B.||Repton, G. W. J.|
|Dickinson, F. H.||Rolleston, Col.|
|Douglas, Sir C. E.||Russell, Lord J.|
|Entwisle, W.||Russell, C.|
|Escott, B.||Rutherfurd, A.|
|Flower, Sir J.||Sandon, Visct.|
|Floyer, J.||Scott, hon. F.|
|Forbes, W.||Shelburne, Earl of|
|Forster, M.||Somerset, Lord G.|
|Fox, S. L.||Stanton, W. H.|
|Frewen, C. H.||Staunton, Sir G. T.|
|Gladstone, Capt.||Stuart, Lord J.|
|Gooch, E. S.||Tower, C.|
|Gordon, hon. Capt.||Trench, Sir F. W.|
|Goulburn, rt. hon. H.||Walker, R.|
|Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.||Walpole, S. H.|
|Greene, T.||Wellesley, Lord C.|
|Grogan, E.||Wilde, Sir T.|
|Hamilton, Lord C.||Worsley, Lord|
|Harcourt, G. G.||Wortley, hon. J. S.|
|Hayes, Sir E.||Yorke, H. R.|
|Henley, J. W.|
|Herbert, rt. hon. S.||TELLERS.|
|Hobhouse, rt. hn. Sir J.||Young, J.|
|Hope, G. W.||Cripps, T.|
§ The debate adjourned.
§ House adjourned at quarter past Twelve.