HC Deb 06 December 1847 vol 95 cc701-48

SIR G. GREY moved the Order of the Day for the Second Reading of this Bill.


rose to move the Amendment which the hon. Member for Limerick had given notice of, and which that hon. Member, had he been present, would have moved. He felt it to be his duty to oppose the present Bill at this and every other stage of its progress. So far as sending an increased police force to certain districts went, he had no objections to the Bill; but he could support no other part of it. Even, however, if he had no other reason for opposing the second reading, he should have found one in the fact of Government attempting to press it on without bringing forward remedial measures pari passu. He asked Her Majesty's Government how they had entitled themselves to come down to the House, and ask it to sanction a measure like the present? Why had they opposed the Coercion Bill of the last Ministry if they now brought forward a measure of a similar nature without in the meantime having remedied one wrong, or conferred one substantial benefit upon the suffering people of Ireland? Surely coercion might have been postponed until relief had been attempted. The noble Lord at the head of the Government stated the other night that the financial condition of the country had been the occasion of Parliament having been called together. Now, in saying so, the noble Lord was depriving himself of all excuse for pressing forward this Bill during the present short and hurried Session. The ordinary law had not yet been stretch ed to its full extent. Why, then, was it wished to have recourse to extraordinary powers and extraordinary laws? The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary had said that he anticipated a new era for Ireland; but what had been done by Government in Parliament to ensure that end? The right hon. Gentleman had gone on to say, that it was the duty of a wise Government to look to the causes of crime, but that at times like the present they were obliged to attend to the most urgent symptoms of the disease. How was it, however, that they allowed the whole of last Session to pass unheeded by without doing anything for the permanent amelioration of the country? How was it that Government disregarded the great causes which led to the disturbances they were now trying to put down by the strong hand? What had Parliament done? Nothing permanent. They had merely granted most inadequate relief during a time of famine. The House had heard of a special commission. The right hon. Baronet stated that it was not yet the intention of the Irish Government to send forth a special commission. And why? Because there were so few cases to be tried; yet on account of these same few cases, they were now asked to sanction a Coercion Bill, and to infringe upon the ordinary limits of constitutional law. He believed that matters in Ireland were getting better. Three cases of agrarian outrage, about which they had heard a great deal last week, had turned out to be mere groundless rumours. The fact was, that Ministers had listened to bad advice. They had acted upon the opinions of bodies of magistrates, who were often actuated by feelings of hostility towards the people among whom they re- sided. They had acted upon the advice of such men as Mr. Carden, who had recommended that in the proclaimed districts the people should be deprived of arms, and that heavy fines should be imposed upon the localities in which the perpetrators of murders were not convicted. Here was a pretty specimen of a Tipperary magistrate. Why, what did his advice amount to, but to giving a district a direct pecuniary interest in the conviction of any persons charged with murder, although they might be perfectly innocent. Another had adviser of the Government was the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth. The right hon. Baronet, by his own statement, however, inculpated himself. He said that he had brought forward such a measure as the present in 1814. Whose fault was it, then, that crime had so long been rife in Ireland, but that of those who had for so long governed it? He hoped that the Government would not take the right hon. Baronet's advice, and re-establish the accursed spy system in Ireland—a system which had been the cause of so much misery. He trusted Ministers would have a care for their reputation. Let them beware of taking the insidious advice of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth. But they heard of remedial measures. Now, what were these? They had been told of the Grand Jury Bill. No doubt it was one much wanted; but after all it was merely a Bill for the regulation of existing establishments, not a Bill which could go to the foundation of any of the great social evils of the country. A more radical and searching measure was wanted at such a time as the present. The same thing might be said of the Sale of Encumbered Estates Bill. But that measure had not yet been even introduced. It might not be introduced, and if it were, it was more than probable that a considerable time would elapse before it came into practical operation in Ireland. He did not think that the House was aware of the great distress which existed in Ireland. He would not trespass upon their kind indulgence as he had done upon the first night of the Session; but he could not forbear reading some additional reports from the south and west of Ireland, which served still further to show the lamentable state of the country:— In the parish of Killeran, the Rev. William M'Laughlin, P.P., with a population of 2,188, the deaths from fever and famine have been ninety, those utterly destitute now are 772, those likely to be so immediately are 1,070. The condition of the people in this parish is much worse than it was last year. They have no clothes, no pigs, no small stock of any description, even their manure heap is gone. In the parish of Killarmine, Rev. T. Glynn, P.P., with a population of 2,648, the deaths from fever and famine have been 100, those utterly destitute now are 2,000; as to the condition of the parish the same remarks applicable to the last are equally so to it. In the parish of Moylough, Rev. William Feeny, catholic curate, with a population of 2,800, the deaths from fever and famine have been 200; not six families besides the gentry have food, and the state of the parish is as the preceding. In the parish of Kilmolara, the Rev. Charles Waldron, P.P., with a population of 3,400, the deaths from fever and famine have been 523; those utterly destitute now are 1,000, those likely to be so immediately all, with the exception of four or five families, and the state of their forms and crops is similar to the preceding. In the parish of Kilcommon and Ribein, the Very Rev. James M'Hale, P.P., with a population of 8,553, the deaths from fever and famine have been 1,447; those utterly destitute now are 3,184, those likely to be so immediately include almost all. In the parish of Kilmeen, the Rev. P. Lyons, P.P., with a population of 900, thirty-five have died of famine, 300 are now utterly destitute, and 300 are likely to be so immediately. In the parish of Cong, the Rev. M. Waldron, P.P., with a population of 4,200, 600 have died from fever or famine, and 350 are now utterly destitute. In the parish of Islanderry, Rev. R. Henry, P.P., with a population of 9,400, there have been 500 deaths from famine and fever, 2,000 are utterly destitute, and 4,500 are likely to be so immediately. He would also take the liberty of reading an extract from a letter of the Right Rev. Dr. M'Hale to Lord J. Russell. The passage was as follows:— Protection for life and property is our prayer. A measure of protection that will embrace the lives and properties of all. Our sympathies are not confined to one class—they extend to every portion of society. If there is no other hope of relief for the starving people here but what can be supplied by the provisions of the poor-law, your Lordship may undoubtedly calculate on a repetition—nay, a speedy repetition—of all the horrors of the famine of last year. We implore then, we invoke in time protection, not only for the property, but for what is by far more valuable—the lives of all the people. Now, what had the Government done to meet this distress, what measures had they adopted? They had heard that there had been a most unexpected collection of the poor-rate, and that it had surpassed anything which could have been hoped for. If the sum thus received was to be spent in the relief of the destitute, some good would certainly be done. But such would not be the case. Her Majesty's Government were well aware that the majority of those unions were heavily in debt, and that those debts would have to be discharged before the monies could be applied to the relief of the distress, and therefore this boasted collection was not available to meet the just demands of the people. They had then nothing but the poor-law to meet an aggravated state of distress during the present year; and he very much feared that the winter of 1848 would bring with it renewed calamity. The measures of monetary relief, such, for instance, as those for lending money upon the reclamation of land and the construction of railways, involved the accumulation of debt more and more. These measures, although useful in themselves, had been rendered almost inoperative by the delay which was experienced in dealing them out. Parties had to wait a long time before they could get the money, although they made every exertion to obtain it by early and incessant application. But even taking these measures at the best, they only involved the principle of steeping the country more and more into debt—they were mere stopgap measures, unworthy of the country and the Minister. A country already sinking under the weight of private debt, ought to have measures devised for its relief which would not increase the burden under which it suffered. He would like to know what element of regeneration was contained in the poor-law? He considered that it would be found to be nothing short of an agrarian division of property. He was entitled to argue against it. It was said, England owed her prosperity to her poor-law; but he said that she prospered in spite of her poor-law. The commercial interests of England had never been neglected—she had everything to encourage her—she had never been afflicted with the curse of absenteeism. She had the entire control of her own resources and her own affairs, and there was everywhere abundant evidence to account for the prosperity of England, in spite of her poor-law. This very poor-law which they boasted of, they had been tinkering at for three hundred years. Ten years ago it was near swamping them, and at the present moment it was again pressing painfully upon them. It was this law they now threw upon Ireland, a country where the majority were paupers, and they said, that as they had found three millions of paupers a dangerous burden, you (Ireland) may commence with three millions and a half. He would wish the House to show a sound sense of the responsibility which they had taken upon them, when they assumed the legislation for Ireland. The Act of Union was basely and recklessly carried, yet being un fait accompli they should make the best of it; and he wanted the House to make the best of it. He would ask the House to discharge the duties which they had taken upon them, and not to confide the distress of the country to the poor-law, and to a measure of coercion. He put this question to the House—how is it to be expected that Ireland can support her poor? In 1836 the Commissioners reported that three millions were destitute in that year, and that the capital of the country was not sufficient to support them. What was the case at the present moment? The capital of the country was greatly diminished, whilst pauperism had greatly increased, yet they called upon that diminished capital to support the four millions of paupers now in that country. It had been stated, that twelve millions was the loss of the working capital; but in this estimate the cows and pigs which helped to support the slender resources of the farmer, had not been taken into account. He believed that they could not estimate the deficiency of the working capital in Ireland under the sum of eighteen millions. His question was—how was that capital, which ten years ago was unable to support three millions of paupers—how was that capital, diminished, able to support four millions now? It could not do it, and the people would perish in trying the experiment. Let them not be trusting to such dangerous chances. If they had a reverence for human life, let them extend it to the people of Ireland. Give money. He asked for money. [Loud laughter.] He heard the laughter of hon. Gentlemen. But he could tell them that they ought to give money, and that it was their duty to do so. Charge the landlords of Ireland for the money if they liked; but at all events let them save the lives of the people. He did not expect to be met otherwite than with laughter, and he was bound to say that he never saw in that House one single real thought for the interest of Ireland. He begged to say, that he had before made that remark hastily and hotly, but now he repeated it deliberately and coolly. Whenever the interests of Ireland came into competition with those of England, they were invariably sacrificed. And if he did ask money, had he not a right to do so? In a few nights a Motion would come on, and he would then prove that they owed it. He had been taunted by the hon. Member for Marylebone (Sir B. Hall) for not bringing on that Motion sooner; but he had al- ready proved that they owed much more than they had given them, and that they therefore ought in common justice to extend relief. If they owed them five hundred millions, yet they being the guardians of the country ought to come forward, especially when by their misleglslation, according to their own confession, they had brought them down to their present state of distress. It could not he pretended that money could not be had. Could it be said that this country which made such wonderful exertions during the war, found itself unable to advance three millions to the people of Ireland? In the year 1812 they paid seventy or eighty millions willingly and cheerfully to support a foreign war; yet they did not stop there—the next year they borrowed eighty millions more; and in 1814 they increased the debt by borrowing one hundred millions of money. If such a proposition could not be maintained, why not give them the money which he demanded? Did they believe the distress was not so great as it was represented? Why, there was not a Member in the House who would not testify that it was more than their officials had reported, and that the destruction of life would be greater than ever. In the name, then, of common humanity, let them save the lives of the hundreds of thousands who must perish unless they gave immediately and adequately. They were bound to extend a rate in aid for Ireland out of the imperial treasury, to which the Irish people contributed their share; they were bound to do this, unless they could show that the property in Ireland could save the people. Fever was rapidly spreading; and, in addition to this, the cholera, which was making such a rapid progress through Europe, would soon be a visitant; its ravages would be fearful among a population predisposed to infection, after two years of insufficient food and clothing. Upon this subject he could not do better than read a letter from Sir William Somerville to Mr. Parker. It was dated Dublin Castle, September 9, 1847, and was as follows:— Their Lordships will perceive that the Board of Health do not anticipate any diminution of fever, which is already in many places assuming a more malignant type, but that, on the contrary, they express their apprehensions that not only fever, but dysentery, scurvy, and other diseases will continue to prevail during the ensuing autumn and winter. Under these painful circumstances I have received his Excellency's instructions to call their Lordships' attention to the state of the law as regards fever relief now in operation in Ireland. In 1846 the Temporary Fever Act (9 Victo- ria, c. 6) passed, by which power was given to appoint medical officers for each union, and the boards of guardians might be required to provide medical relief, charging the expense upon the rates. The general want of funds, however, under which the unions laboured, rendered the Act nugatory; and in the present year the 10 Victoria, c. 22, was passed, which enabled the expenses of medical relief to be defrayed out of the funds placed at the disposal of the relief committees under 10 Victoria, c. 7, and required the relief committees so constituted to provide the necessary medical aid. By the last-named Act no grant or loan can be made by the Commissioners after the 1st of next October; and, consequently, there will be no means, as hitherto, of placing funds from that source at the disposal of these committees for meeting the medical relief. The 15th Section of 10th Victoria, c. 22, only enacts that after the 1st day of October, 1847, the expenses of carrying the provisions of that Act into execution shall be provided by the guardians, as under 9 Victoria, c. 6; but as the latter Act was found to be ineffectual for its object in 1846, owing to the want of funds under which the unions then laboured, its failure might be expected to be still more complete now, when the pressure upon the rates is much more under the provisions of the Poor Law Extension Act of last Session, and when fever has increased to the alarming extent stated in the accompanying return from the Board of Health. It will now, therefore, be for Her Majesty's Government to consider the best course with reference to this painful subject.… His Excellency has reason to believe the funds provided by Parliament will not be all expended, and suggests the expediency of applying a portion of the money thus saved. The letter was most creditable to the writer, and nothing more than might have been expected from him. The statements made were not controverted. The Lords of the Treasury only declare that they have no funds, and that they had no power to make any grant or loan after the 1st of October. Was not this a course of conduct most lamentable? They had undoubted evidence of the poverty and destitution of the Irish, and all they were prepared to give them was a Coercion Bill. In order to show once more the inefficaey of the poor-law to give relief in the present emergency, he would show what was the state of the farmers in the west of Ireland:— The Dublin Gazette of Tuesday evening contains a list of no less than seventy-three insolvents, whose cases are to be disposed of at the courthouse of Nenagh, county Tipperary, on the 7th of December next. Of this number forty-one are set down as 'farmers;' and, as a no less significant sign of the times, there are two 'drivers' in the list. The same Gazette gives the names of thirty-one insolvents who are to be brought before the court-house of Limerick on the 9th of December: of this list ten are 'farmers.' Friday's Gazette contains the names of forty-eight insolvents who are to appear at the court-house of Ennis, county of Clare, on the 4th of December: thirty of this number are 'farmers.' The operation of the poor-law was not only inefficient, but unjust, and bore most heavily on the tenant, while it permitted the landlord to escape with comparatively light taxation. As to an income-tax, he was altogether opposed to it, but thought some scheme should be devised for carrying out the levying of poor-rates more effectually and equitably. Much stress had been laid on various returns presented to the House by sub-officials; but he did not place so much value on them, as it was natural to suppose that these gentlemen, in drawing up those returns, would be influenced by a desire to consult what they imagined to be the wishes of the Ministry. Instead of relying on such evidence, he would rather turn to a document which they might not treat with much respect, as the composition of men to whom he, however, as well as the people of Ireland, looked up with the deepest reverence—he meant the Catholic hierarchy of Ireland. The representations it contained deserved the greatest attention from Government, and should impel them at once to adopt measures of relief. Their lordships said— If the labourer is worthy of his hire—an axiom of natural as well as of revealed religion—and if doing to others as we should be done by be the golden standard of Christian morality, it would be a violation of those sacred maxims to appropriate the entire crop of the husbandman without compensating him for the seed or the labour expended on the cultivation of the soil. Yet laws sanctioning such unnatural injustice, and, therefore, injurious to society, not only exist, but are extensively enforced, with reckless and unrelenting rigour, whilst the sacred and indefeasible rights of life are forgotten amidst the incessant reclamations of the subordinate rights of property. The legitimate rights of property, so necessary for the maintenance of society, we ever felt it our duty to recognise and inculcate. The guilty outbreaks of violence and revenge which sometimes unfortunately disgrace the country, we deplore and reprobate; but, in justice to their general character and habits, we feel it our duty to declare our conviction that there is not on earth a people who exhibit more respect for law and order under such unheard-of privations than the people of Ireland. Hallowed as are the rights of property, those of life are still more sacred, and rank as such in every well-regulated scale that adjusts the relative possessions of man; and if this scale had not been frequently reversed, we should not have so often witnessed in these heartrending scenes of the evictions of tenantry, 'the operations that are done under the sun, the tears of the innocent have no comforter, and unable to resist violence, being destitute of help from any,' which made the Wise Man 'praise the dead rather than the living.' The only available resource now relied on for the relief of such wide-spread misery, is the legal enactment for the relief of the destitute—a source totally inadequate to the magnitude of the evil. In some of the suffering dis- tricts, no out-door relief is allowed to the poor, unless the workhouses are filled with inmates beyond the number they were destined to contain, thus exposing them to the danger of falling victims to contagion, from the overcrowded state of those establishments should they enter, or to death from starvation should they stay abroad; and in other districts, from the reluctance of the guardians to impose rates, as well as from the reluctance and inability of the ratepayers to meet those heavy and successive imposts, the houses are left unfilled, and the poor abandoned to starve. A provision thus left to the capricious discretion of those who administer it, without any compulsory enactment in the case of their neglecting such duty, would not, memorialists submit, be a sufficient remedy even in ordinary times, much less when the destitution is so awful as to be far beyond the reach of the local resources of those afflicted and hitherto populous districts. In offering these remarks on the insufficiency of the poor-law for the magnitude of the destitution that now prevails, memorialists wish it to be understood that they are not made from any conviction that its further extent of stringency would be an adequate remedy for the wants of the people. They look on such a legal provision for the poor as quite inadequate; they discover in it evidence of the decay of the charitable spirit of former times, and of the grinding oppression of the poor that follows the destruction of those asylums in which were treasured, in trust for the indigent, the accumulations of piety, cheaply feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, educating the ignorant, and affording consolation under every infirmity that affects human nature. In such an awful crisis, which threatens such destruction of human life, memorialists, anxious to preserve the souls of their flocks from crime, and society from the danger of disorganisation, beg respectfully, by imploring your Excellency to use your influence with Her Majesty's Government, to procure measures of relief commensurate with the magnitude of the calamity. Far from looking for mere gratuitous relief from the Government for the numbers of able-bodied men who are without food, memorialists should prefer employment, particularly of a productive nature, conscious, from experience, that such gratuitous relief has a demoralising tendency, and may be perverted, as a large portion of the public charities has been perverted by many, into means of proselytism, thus abusing what was destined for saving the lives of the starving, into a most annoying and vexatious aggression on the faith as well as the morals of the poor—an abuse of charity which demands our strongest reprobation. The prospective measures calculated to check the recurrence of famine, and promote the prosperity of the country, memorialists beg to leave to the wisdom of Her Majesty's Government and the Legislature, remarking only, that an equitable arrangement of the relations between landlords and tenants, founded on commutative justice, appears to them so necessary, that without it they despair of seeing the poor sufficiently employed and protected, the land sufficiently cultivated, or the peace and prosperity of the country placed on a secure foundation. Large tracts of land capable of cultivation are now lying waste; the coasts abound in fish, which would give a large supply of food; encouragement to work those and other mines of wealth with which the country is teeming, would be well worthy the solicitude of Her Majesty's Government. The poor are patient and long enduring, though suffering grievously; they are looking with hope and confidence to Her Majesty's Government for relief; and a prompt and humane attention to their wants will save the lives and secure the lasting gratitude of Her Majesty's most faithful people. Such were the statements of those who possessed the confidence and cultivated the minds of the Irish people. In addition to them, there was the great majority of the Irish Members crying out to Government for assistance, and insisting on the necessity of instant relief. One and all, they pointed out to Government the insufficiency of the existing poor-law, and the pressing urgency of an arrangement of the landlord and tenant question. Why should there he any delay in adopting this course? There was a large quantity of capital locked up and concealed by the small landholders, as their only resource when driven out of their farms; and when they despaired of remaining in the country any longer, they used this money to enable them to emigrate, and thus inflicted a dead loss of so much money on the State. This destructive species of emigration would be at once prevented, if security were given to the people; and instead of going to America, they would remain at home and spend their capital on the soil. He did not call on the Government to parley with the murderer or the assassin; but he called on them to protect the honest and industrious, to do justice to the innocent, and to save those who were perishing from want, because the Government were neglectful of their interests. These people were treated with negligence because there was "a difficulty in the way" of doing them justice. Let the House look to the reports of its various Committees on the cause of Irish crime and distress, and they would find them uniformly stating that the insecurity of the tenure led to it all; the same evidence would be found in the digest of Lord Devon's Commission; and no one could doubt that it had been, and would be, the cause of those horrible murders. He had to complain that every little pamphlet or book, the tone of which was concurrent with English prejudice, was taken up and quoted by both sides of the House; but that those works, which laid open the real evil, were passed by in silence—the book, in particular written by an Englishman of the not very euphonious name of Wiggins, which contained the most appalling evidence as to the distress, destitution, and misery, caused by the unsettled state of the relations between land- lord and tenant, was never heard of in the House. Chief Justice Pennefather had given similar testimony from the very bench, and declared that the tendency of legislation, from the time of the Union downwards, had been uniformly in favour of the landlords, and against the tenants of Ireland. In 1814 Sir Robert Peel also declared his opinion, that the evils of Ireland were greatly to be attributed to the unsatisfactory state of the law between landlords and tenants, and read a letter in corroboration of his views from a very influential and high authority. And now it was his duty to allude to the cases of the unhappy men who had been the victims of those horrible crimes. It had been sought to blacken the character of the peasantry, by representations that those gentlemen were the most benevolent, humane, and unoffending of men, and that there was not a shadow of any species of provocation to call for those murders. He was going to read documents to show the peasantry were not those gratuitous murderers which it was attempted to prove they were. He did not wish to say anything harsh of the gentlemen who had been the victims of those crimes; but he felt it his duty to lay these facts before the House. He reprobated and abhorred those murders. Had he not good reason—better than any other man in that House—for doing so? Had not he and the Irish Members, who endeavoured to obtain justice for the people, the conviction that these murders opposed all their efforts? Did he not know, as he stood there, that the hearts of Englishmen were more steeled against his demands on account of those horrible crimes? But if it were only for the sake of their innocent fellow-countrymen, he and his brother Members from Ireland were bound to do their duty, and while they felt horror and detestation for the crimes, to show that the statements that had been made as to the gratuitous nature of them were unfounded. He would refer first to the case of Mr. Roe, and in reference to it would read the following letter:— In the face of denial, I re-assert that the late Mr. Roe broke his word to John Lonergan, at Christmas last, not to disturb him until the following harvest. This I know in my capacity of assistant to his law adviser; and upon my mentioning the circumstance to Mr. George Roe, the agent, he admitted the fact, but added that they saw no prospect of Lonergan being able to pay in the harvest. I replied, that at all events Mr. Roe should fulfil his engagements; and I can now state that if he had done so, John Lonergan would have been enabled to redeem his farm. In very truth, the heavy expenses, as mentioned in my first letter, were resorted to as a means to preclude him from the possibility of so doing. And even now, let the expenses be reduced to the Sum usually incurred by eviction from the local courts, and the rent due of Lonergan will be immediately paid. The excuse assigned for levelling the house, in violation of the law, that is, the fear that the individual evicted should re-enter it, is futile in the extreme, as Mr. Roe knew perfectly well that any one acting such an illegal part was liable to be punished by the local magistrates. I also repeat, that John Lonergan never was for one moment on the public works; and I, as overseer of those works, can vouch for the fact. The poor widow Halley had the choice of evils—either to give up possession and take 1l., or to be forced out by the sheriff and get nothing. She preferred the first alternative, and left the domicile where she had resided in comfort for more than twenty years. And this is what Mr. Richard Roe calls consenting to give possession. Thomas Hackett then received her into his house, and kindly entertained her until he was obliged to turn her out. Whether dysentery or fever was the immediate cause of her death I know not; but she declared her heart was broken by being forced to leave her house in Boytonrath. With regard to the soup-kitchen at Rockwell, it was commenced with 30l., obtained through the influence of the Knock-graffan relief committee, and it was carried on by means of charities both public and private. Will it be credited, that with his own hands Mr. Roe pulled the furze off J. Horan's turf rick, and had them carried away, because Horan had sheltered Daniel Ahern and his family, who were, a few days before, thrown houseless on the world by Mr. Roe? These things are scarcely credible, and yet they are facts known to the public in Boytonrath and its vicinity. I could likewise refer to the case of another tenant, who, on paying a sum of money to Mr. Roe, received assurances that no further demand should be made until harvest; but in less than two months the stock was seized and taken to Cashel, where they were canted at the expiration of fourteen days. Mr. Roe then seized on the green crops, advertised the farm to be sold while the tenant was still in possession, and actually endeavoured to induce the sub-sheriff to dispossess the family, but was defeated at all points by Messrs Dwyer and Weldon, to the latter of whom I was then an assistant. In the year 1839, members of my family, Richard and Timothy Loughnane, of Boytonrath, recorded their votes at the hustings, contrary to the wishes of Mr. Roe, for Messrs. Sheil and Cave. Mr. Roe applied to the courts above, and marked a writ against their bodies, put this writ into the hand of the notorious Long Jim, who has been since transported for perjury. Long Jim alleged that he arrested the Loughnanes at the fair of Caher, though the men were not in Caher that fair day; and on this allegation Jim succeeded in getting a warrant of escape againt them without the necessity of resorting to the usual preliminaries of a summons. This warrant was given to the police, a posse of whom came to Boytonrath at the dead hour of night, arrested the Loughnanes, and handcuffed them, as if they were common felons, and dragged them from the bosoms of their families to the town of Caher. To put an end to all matters of controversy, I challenge the opposite party to an investigation. Let them appoint two gentlemen, and I will appoint two more—let Cashel be made the seat of inquiry; and, if I don't substantiate facts cited by me by the most credible witnesses, I will expose myself to be liable to the greatest censure.—I remain, with very great respect, your friend and obliged humble servant, "WM.LOUGHNANE. Boytonrath Cottage, Nov. 17, 1847. [An Hon. MEMBER: Is the brother of the gentleman who wrote that letter not now in gaol as an accomplice in the murder of Mr. Roe?] He was not aware of the fact. He had read the letter as he received it, and Mr. Loughnane challenged inquiry into the truth of his statements. He next begged to refer to the following particulars in detail connected with the dreadful murder of Mr. Hill and his bailiff:— Within less than two miles of this city (Limerick) is the house of a man named Quane, who for a series of years has held the dwelling, with a small lot of land attached, and has sustained an industrious—indeed, an irreproachable character. The land is part of the property of Mr. Friend, a. native of Limerick. Mr. Friend is, and has been for some years, an absentee, and the management of his property rather recently devolved on Mr. David Fitzgerald, of this city, under, and for whom, Mr. Hill, who was assassinated, transacted business as sub-agent or assistant manager. In the lifetime of Mr. Friend's father, Quane took his allotment of twelve acres and a half, and paid for it the excessive rent of 7l. 10s. an acre. When, however, with the downfall of Bonaparte, the value of agricultural produce was so much reduced, Quane entered into a new agreement with the present Mr. Friend, of whom as well as the agent and sub-agent, he speaks in terms rather of gratitude than complaint, to assume 4l. 10s. an acre; and this sum, together with taxes, making the rent in all about 6l. an acre, he has continued since the second agreement to pay with punctuality. He, however, says, though twelve acres and a half was the quantity for which he stipulated to pay, the land has been re-measured since, and some additional breadth charged to his account. He alleges also that if recently, at any time, he happened to be in arrear, he was not allowed the poor-rate, or not allowed it until the whole arrear was liquidated. Last year he shared the common calamity that fell on all of his class in Ireland. He was unable to pay his November gale; and though he has since reduced the amount by a payment of 51., still the debt hung over him at the beginning of this year. It would appear that Mr. Friend remaining still an absentee, the management of the property was entrusted to a party—not Mr. Fitzgerald—by whom the issues and profits were not over reproductively applied. Spring arrived with the arrear unpaid. Having consumed a portion of his resources, he was not in a position to till his land to as much advantage as usual. The number of Quane's family was nine, and it will be asked how did they subsist for twelve months—the period between the failure of one crop and the growth of another? The answer is, that a son procured employment for himself and a horse at the railway, and it was upon their earn- ings for the most part that the whole family depended. Of course the last March rent remained unsettled for, though often required by Mr. Hill; he 'asked for it often enough.' About twenty days since Mr. Hill had notice to quit served on Quane, and on the following day keepers or bailiffs were placed on his produce. He has had in Mr. Bowles of this city, one willing to assist him, and at his interposition an arrangement, which he was to guarantee, was come to, Mr. Fitzgerald and Mr. Hill being consenting parties, that Quane was to get his produce on condition of surrendering and giving up possession of the land. He was thirty-five years tenant; but he was con-tent to quit on the conditions specified. However, after the terms were settled, Mr. Fitzgerald, having perhaps consulted his principal, declined to carry them out. It is stated that when refusing to do so, and proceeding to remove the property, he proposed to do no more than hold it until possession of the land would be given. But it is replied that Mr. Bowles offered to guarantee the surrender, and that therefore the seizure and removal was unnecessary. At all events, Mr. Hill went on Thursday morning to execute the distress on two stacks of wheat, two of oats, and one of barley. A stack of thrashed corn, which was in the barn, had been removed by Mr. Hill's men; they ' whipped it away with them without cant of any kind.' Mr. Hill and his party approached the house at eight o'clock, and were met some distance down the road by Mrs. Quane and her son, the former of whom continued walking by his side, expostulating with him on the course he was about to take, and asking for a few days' indulgence until she could make up the rent to pay him. He refused. Was not that a case of hardship, and was it not oppressive to the poor man that the terms which had been agreed on should not be carried out? He felt reluctance in detaining the House with these details; but when attempts were made to blacken the character of his unfortunate countrymen, he was bound to bring forward every circumstance to show the crimes done by those in high estate as well. The system was spreading over Ireland. Captain Barry lately sold off the whole crops of his tenantry: how were they to pay the next gale? Colonel Pratt, of Cabra Castle, had served 300 civil bills, and 120 decrees on his tenantry. Mr. Smith adopted the same system; he took everything away from a hen-roost to a horse-shoe." What did the House think of the following case of Colonel Pratt? A poor man, named Conorty, was plaintiff in a civil bill, in which the Colonel was defendant. The man sent a calf to graze on the Colonel's land. The calf died, and the man was refused even the skin, till he brought the case before the barrister, and the Colonel was decreed for 15s. The Ministry came down to Parliament for a Coercion Bill against the people; but if they applied for a Coercion Bill for the landlords, they would bring them to a sense of their real interests, and make them feel that it had no connexion with the destitution of the country. It was only by the full co-operation, on fair and equal terms, of landlord and tenant, that they could hope to go through the dreadful winter that was before them, or bear up against the burden of taxation on the property of Ireland. Something ought to be done—what it was he could not say. He was in favour of tenant-right; and he regretted that the question had been decided before it was fairly before the House. It was no theory, no expected benefit; but a practice which had existed for one hundred years, and the result of which Lord Devon's Commission showed to be prosperity and order. It would at once secure the landlord and the tenant their full rights; and the only objection to it, that it prevented the consolidation of small holdings, and kept the gentry from being neighbours, was not one in which he felt much sympathy. Every human institution was liable to evil; and whatever were the imperfections of the tenant-right, he was sure they were much overweighed by its advantages, and that it would restore the stream of prosperity to its former channels, give security to life and property, and prevent those horrible murders which were so deeply to be deplored. To the Bill before the House he would object, even though he approved of every clause, inasmuch as it was not accompanied by measures for food relief, and for the settlement of the landlord and tenant question; but he still further objected to it, because of the despotic powers it would vest in the Irish Executive. It would make the Lord Lieutenant a dictator—an anomaly quite monstrous in our constitution. His power would be absolute, for though by the right hon. Baronet's (Sir G. Grey's) statement it would have been understood that the Bill was only to apply to disturbed districts, it would appear from the Bill itself that the Lord Lieutenant could apply it to any county or any division of a county, disturbed or not, if he thought fit to do so. The present Lord Lieutenant was an eminently good man—his character stood deservedly high; but the argument against despotism was, that though one absolute monarch might be a good man, it did not follow his successor would be equally so, and it was not constitutional to allow the country to be at the mercy of one man. He could proclaim the whole of Ireland on his mere dictum. The Whiteboy Acts were severe enough; transportation was the punishment for offences under them; but still it could not be made applicable to any district unless a case were made out for applying it; whereas the Lord Lieutenant could proclaim the most peaceful district, if such were his sovereign will and pleasure. A district might be proclaimed, and penalties inflicted at the will and pleasure of the Lord Lieutenant, without anything of a case being made out. As to calling out the country side in the pursuit of the murderer, he believed that the provisions of the Bill would be entirely inefficient; but if the people were really called out, it would be one of the surest ways of letting the murderer escape in the crowd. With respect to the penalty of levying on the district the expenses of the police, that would cause resistance, and there would then be a recurrence of scenes of blood such as those which occurred when the military and police were employed in collecting tithe. No one was more anxious than he was to see the fearful crimes which had lately occurred suppressed; but let the House remove the sources of those crimes. Humanity to Ireland was humanity to England. Ireland could not be crushed down to misery and indigence without dragging down England with her. You could not keep out the inundation of Irish pauperism, which would overwhelm your towns; pass what exclusion Bills you liked, you could not stop the flood; and when the resources of Ireland were exhausted, and her population beggared by the evils of misgovernment, you also would be pressed down by them. Contagious fever would desolate your cities, and you would regret in time that you did not, by whatever toils of legislation, by whatever expenditure of money, prevent those evils. When so high an authority as the noble Duke at the head of Her Majesty's forces, when so illustrious a warrior had his misgivings as to the danger of England in the event of foreign invasion, what, let him ask, would be the position of Ireland? Two contingencies might occur: the invading force landing on her defenceless shores might meet with no resistance from a people ground to the earth and heartbroken by their miseries; or else, in the madness of their despair, they might be guilty of giving their aid to the invader. You might crush the hostile invasion; but in so doing see all the desolation you would create, see the tremen- dous expenditure you would incur, whilst by a judicious policy you might obviate the causes of those evils, win the attached gratitude of the inhabitants, and secure to yourselves the love of the gallant, faithful, and true-hearted population in Ireland. For these reasons he greatly deplored that Her Majesty's Ministers should propose this Bill. He lamented the conduct of the English press in advocating stringent coercive measures for Ireland, with one exception; he must bear his testimony to the public service rendered by the Morning Chronicle, which had placed the duty of Government fairly before Ministers, and had pointed attention especially to the subject of a landlord and tenant Bill, whilst all the other papers were hounding on the Government to the strongest measures of coercion. Whilst the most bitter abuse and calumnies were lavished on the Roman Catholic clergy in Ireland, no account was taken of their unceasing exhortations to the people to abstain from crime. But for them you would have had Ireland an Aceldama of crime, years and years ago; the country would have been deluged with blood, and all would have ended in a frightful convulsion. Did he calumniate the English public in saying there was this hostile feeling amongst them against Ireland? In the Examiner newspaper of yesterday, there was an article which declared— In the present temper of the public mind of this country, Ministers have a carte blanche for the coercion of Ireland;" and afterwards, "a Bill to hang first and try afterwards, would hardly be thought to exceed the requirements of the case. The connexion between England and Ireland, so long as it had subsisted, had ever been marked by scanty and tardy relief, when relief was given, and by prompt and active injustice and oppression. He thought that a better era had arrived in 1846, when he heard many a noble-sounding expression against coercion from Gentlemen who were prepared to coerce to-day. He thought that a time had at length arrived when her cries for common justice would be attended to; but eighteen months had gone by, not one single measure of justice had been passed, and now the Government was found coming forward to propose a Coercion Bill. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving as an Amendment, that the other Orders of the Day be read.

MR. M. POWER (Cork)

admitted that the murders and outrages, which wore, of late, of such almost constant occurrence in Ire- land, were a disgrace to the country; but he thought the present Bill was not a proper remedy, and recommended the Government to use the ordinary powers of the law, and to issue special commissions for the trial of those who were in prison charged with those frightful murders and outrages. He was of this opinion because previous Coercion Bills had failed; for, whilst they only partially checked outrages for the time, they seemed to influence and exasperate the minds of the people generally, and to make them still more discontented with their rulers. Whilst he admitted that the present Lord Lieutenant and Chief Secretary for Ireland gave the greatest satisfaction to the people, and by their able and impartial discharge of their duties reflected credit upon themselves, he earnestly deprecated the placing of extraordinary power in the hands of the local magistracy and landlords, betwixt whom and the people there existed mutual feelings of distrust and aversion; for whilst the former, who were for the most part the descendants of Cromwell's soldiers, regarded the Celts as inferior to them in race, and looked upon them as servants or slaves, disliking their religion and their habits, the great body of the people were, upon the other hand, disposed to regard them as tyrannical masters, or cruel and unfeeling legislators. Where such feelings existed, he repeated his apprehension of seeing the landlord class entrusted with extraordinary powers, for the hard master would never be regarded as a benevolent guardian. He wished to see those measures of amelioration and improvement which the Government announced, and was confident that their speedy passage through this House would do more to conciliate the feelings of the Irish people towards England, and to increase the feeling of obedience and respect for the laws, than any Coercion Bill, however strong in its provisions, or however unanimously supported. He must defend the Roman Catholic clergy of Ireland from the attacks which had been made upon them by the English press; and express his regret to see that, even in the House of Lords their characters had been most foully libelled. The members of that venerable body were unceasing in their exertions to maintain peace and order—to allay the passions of the people; they were to be seen continually on their dreary mission to the abodes of famine, disease, and death; ministering to the wants of the wretched, and, by religious motives, in- ducing the exasperated peasant to refrain from crime. Surely, it was too bad to designate such men as the abettors of outrage. What the press might say or do he would not mind; but to see men high in position thus lending their names to such foul slanders, was unbecoming and undignified. A letter from an Irish Protestant clergyman, inserted in the Morning Chronicle a few days ago, had deservedly eulogised the con-duct of the Roman Catholic clergy. He denied that the institution of confession was incompatible with constitutional liberty; for confession existed in France, Belgium, Spain, South America, and the United States of America, where constitutional liberty existed to the fullest extent. The prince of confessors, the Pope himself, was engaged in attempting to restore constitutional freedom to all Italy. After some further remarks, he concluded by asking what inscription would the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) place upon the tabula rasa of Ireland—would it be "Ireland coerced," or "Ireland free?" He seconded the Motion.

MR. GRATTAN (Sir G. GREY, who rose at the same time, having given way)

proceeded to say, that although admiring the ability of the speech of the hon. Member for Limerick (Mr. J. O'Connell), he could not coincide in the course taken by him. He was not pledged or bound either to support or oppose the Government. He would give a fair and impartial hearing to their measures, and take them for what they were worth, or vote for their utter rejection if such they deserved. He would do this, not for friendship or hostility to Lord John Russell's Ministry, but for the sake of the Irish people. He had no hesitation to declare that he would support this measure for the sake of the Irish people themselves. He would support it because of the imbecility of those to whom it was intended to apply; for it was quite plain that man was in want of mental ability whose only resource was the pistol. Against such impotent legislation he would take his stand. His hon. Friend (Mr. J. O'Connell) had made an able speech of two hours and a half. His hon. Friend had information, ability, perseverance, and his father's love for Ireland, and great moral courage; but at the same time, he thought the course pursued by his hon. Friend inconsistent, and the topics introduced by him irrelevant. He protested that until the latter part of his hon. Friend's speech he could not dis- cover that the subject of it was Irish crime, and his hon. Friend talked about distress and death. He was perfectly right in what he said, but that was no part of the present question. The question of distress had nothing to do with that of crime. The starving man came to ask for bread; but the starving man did not come to take your life. The starving man went to a relief committee, and took a can for soup, or a wallet for bread; but he did not carry a pistol in his hand, or a blunderbuss under his coat. The starving man asked for assistance; but did not come to carry war against his benefactor. His hon. Friend had entirely mistaken the nature of the question before them. What was that question? An Amendment had been proposed to the House at the commencement of the Session under the idea that Her Majesty's Ministers were not paying sufficient attention to the necessities of the Irish people. That Amendment, however, had been withdrawn after the speeches of the Home Secretary and the Secretary for Ireland, in which it was stated that it was the intention of Her Majesty's Government to introduce a Bill to remove one of the most frequent causes of complaint in that country. They stated that there were depôts provided with food in several parts of Ireland, and that arrangements had been made to render those available in case of necessity; that, in short, every proper means would be adopted to keep the people from starvation. This had been corroborated by the Lord Lieutetenant, who, in answer to an application which had been made to him, had stated that it was the paramount duty of the Government to protect the people, and that duty they were determined to perform. It appeared, then, that so far as the Government could act they had acted in relieving the distress of the Irish people; and that being so, he thought that the Irish Members were bound to co-operate with them in protecting the defenceless and unoffending from the attacks of the assassin. The hon. Member for Nottingham moved an Amendment to the first reading of this Bill. His hon. Friend (Mr. J. O'Connell) did not second that Amendment; he did not support it; he did not vote for it. If, then, he did not oppose the measure on its first reading, why did he oppose it now? His hon. Friend had on the present occasion moved an Amendment; but he thought his hon. Friend would act wisely in voting against his own Motion. For his part, he saw very little coercion in the Bill. He would ask any man to consider the Coercion Bills of 1814, of 1822, of 1833, which suspended the constitution, and established martial law, and of 1835—let hon. Members consider those Bills and compare them with the present mitigated, wretched measure. But he would not abuse a Bill he was going to support; he would only say that, compared with those he had referred to, the present was almost an invisibility. Did the present Bill take away the right of the people to the possession and use of arms? No. The Lord Lieutenant was empowered to proclaim a district where outrages prevailed, but not take away the right of the people to the legitimate use of arms. If, however, the authorities saw men with blackened faces and arms in their hands, they would of course interfere, just as in this country they would interfere with a poacher in similar circumstances. These people would be considered as poachers on public liberty; and would be warned that if they did not go away their arms would be taken from them. In order, also, to have some security against the abuse of the possession of arms, it was proposed that persons who required arms should take out licenses. Coercion Bill! Did they call this coercion? Was there any curfew clause, compelling the people to remain in their houses from sunset to sunrise? There was no such power in this measure; neither was there any power to make searches for arms by night. It was merely proposed that at proper hours, and after due notice, the authorities should have a right to see whether those who had no license had any arms in their possession—and if they had what was to become of those arms? He was astonished at the moderation of the Bill. Were the arms to be forfeited? Nothing of the kind. They were merely to be taken from them, and, after a time, restored to the parties again if they conducted themselves well. How such a measure as this could justly be baptized as a Coercion Bill he could not see. The hon. Member (Mr. O'Connell) might call it so; he could not. He admitted that there were points in his hon. Friend's speech which he had pressed very fairly and very justly, and those he thought ought to be attended to. He would agree with his hon. Friend in censuring Ministers if they did not bring forward measures worthy of their confidence; but it was only reasonable to wait until Ministers had been guilty of some dereliction of duty. There was another part of the Bill which his hon. Friend had censured, but which he did not think deserved censure. He alluded to that part which rendered it imperative upon the people to join in pursuit of the murderer. He only thought the Bill did not go far enough. He would make the gentleman come out as well as the poor man. He did not see why the rich man should not have this duty imposed upon him as well as the poor man. He would say, that if a man had property he should stand by his property; that instead of his flying to Downing Street for protection, he ought to take a gun on his shoulder and protect his wife and family at home. He would not say that a man who would not do that deserved to be shot, but he would say that the sooner he left the country the better. Lord De Freyne had sworn in his tenants as special constables, and Mr. Grace had done the same thing; and why should not others follow their example? Were they to believe that the aristocracy and gentry of Ireland had made themselves so unpopular that they could not find ten or fifteen men to stand by them and protect their lives, their properties, their wives, and their children? He would not believe it. So far then as the hon. Member's objections were directed against this part of the measure, he thought them quite unfounded. There were some things, however, which he thought his hon. Friend was quite right to allude to. With respect to Lord Devon's Commission, he thought that the report made by that body was the most unfortunate thing that could have been issued. There never was a more dangerous thing done than to proclaim to the Irish peasantry that they were in a state of greater misery, destitution, and beggary than the people of any other country in Europe—that they were "badly housed, badly fed, badly clothed, and badly paid for their labour." Nothing, he repeated, could be more dangerous than to make this declaration of unexampled distress, if they did not intend to provide an instant remedy. And yet that report had been in existence several years, and no measure had been founded on it. There was another subject of exasperation—he referred to the poor-law. When the poor-law was passed a very proper regulation was inserted, enacting that the landlords should pay the rates for all those of their tenantry who farmed holdings of less than 4l. rent. The immediate consequence of that enactment was, that the middlemen, and some, he was sorry to say, of the head landlords too, attempted to get rid of the smaller holders, and to drive them off their lands. That was another aggravation of the difficulties under which Ireland laboured, and nothing had since taken place in the shape of a remedy. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Ripon was Home Secretary when this measure was brought in: why did he not, at the same time, bring in a Bill to remedy the evils existing in the law between landlord and tenant? He had never heard any answer given to that question? He was sorry that Government had brought forward no measure to remedy the evils which existed in reference to the relations between landlord and tenant. He begged to call attention to the remarks which had been made by Lord John Russell on the 3rd of April, 1846, for his words deserved to be remembered:— 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. 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. He hoped that the Government would keep their promise on this point; but even if they did not, he would not say that he would vote against a moderate Bill like this. He never would admit that there were any causes which could excuse, though they might account for crime, because he never could admit that the being driven from his house could be an excuse for any man committing assassination. But how was Lord Devon's Commission connected with the present case? Because the evidence before that Commission showed that the crimes in Ireland were to be traced to the great disproportion that existed between the demand for and the supply of labour. Land was the only security for existence, and therefore the peasantry clung to it, as they knew that the very existence of their families depended on it. He thought, then, it was the duty of the House not to separate for the recess until a Bill to remedy these evils was laid upon the table. If that was not done, he would willingly join in a vote of censure upon the Government, because it would then be apparent that they were not as anxious to remedy the evils of Ireland as he believed them at present to be. There was another subject to which, though it was a painful one, he felt bound to allude—he meant the statements that had been made with respect to the Roman Catholic clergy. The hon. Member for Waterford had already answered those statements, by referring to the evidence of Protestant clergymen, and he would answer them too. In the relief committees of last year, nothing delighted him more than to see the Protestant and the Roman Catholic clergymen coming arm in arm, and making joint statements as to the necessities of the poor. There was no idea then that the Roman Catholic clergy were exceeding their duty, or that they were abetting assassination. The same answer was given in the evidence of the police magistrates, and from an analysis of their evidence, there was no charitable mind but must be satisfied that the charges were as unfounded as they were calumnious. He knew many clergymen of both religions—he was quite ready to put one against the other; and he was certain that there were many of the Roman Catholic clergymen who knew more of the Thirty-nine Articles than the Protestants. The hon. Member for the University of Oxford smiled; but he would find many of them who would puzzle his hon. Friend in divinity, though he knew a great deal of it, and practised a great deal too. The hon. Member then mentioned a case where an individual had been put to death on a Sunday, while a priest was at prayers in a Roman Catholic chapel. When the priest heard of it he left the altar, censured the people, and told them of the gross crime they had committed. And what was the answer of the people? An individual heard them muttering, "Ah, it is a bad thing; but it is a pity we did not shoot the priest too, for what business has he to interfere?" How, then, could it be said that the priests neglected their duty? He could produce, for the satisfaction of hon. Gentlemen opposite, threatening notices that had been sent to the priests, and even to the bishops themselves, just because they interfered, and would not allow these things to go on. To come back to the Bill before them, he held that it was the duty of Lord Clarendon not to wait for it. It was his bounden duty to protect life; and if the gentry were so timid that they would not protect themselves, he must send the armed police to do it for them; but, at the same time, the Bill ought to be so amended as to call out the cavalry, and force them to keep watch and ward. He knew that the farmers were as anxious for the passing of this Bill as they could be themselves. He hoped, therefore, there would be a unanimous support of this Bill, and that if the Government afterwards failed in bringing forward remedial measures, there would then be as unanimous a vote of censure upon them. For himself, the orders he had given to his tenantry were not to prime and load, but to present and fire. Those were the orders he had given—it was those orders that had enabled him to attend in his place; for he, too, had received threatening notices, and that was the way he had answered them. He would have no parley with assassins, and, therefore, he would support this Bill, which must be supported if they did their duty as men and as Christians.


said, he was very glad that his hon. Friend who had just sat down had been called upon to address the House before himself, as his speech confirmed the opinion which he had risen to state, namely, that it would be unnecessary for him to appeal to the House to reject the Motion of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Kilkenny. He had felt the firmest conviction, that not only the great majority of that House, but the great majority of the Irish Members themselves, would not lend themselves to any proposal the effect of which would be to obstruct—he would not say the future progress of the Bill that was now under consideration—but would obstruct the Government in submitting to the House the Motion for the second reading of the Bill, when the principles of the Bill would properly come under discussion. He had now risen chiefly for the purpose of expressing his earnest hope that those Gentlemen, at least, who felt the importance—an importance he could not himself impress too strongly on the House—of promptly passing that measure, if it were to be of any avail, would not be led away by the speech of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Kilkenny, and the speech of the hon. Gentleman who seconded his Motion, into that wide field of discussion into which they had invited the House. He asked them to abstain from that discussion now, not because he did not feel the importance of the many questions which had been touched upon by the hon. Member for Kilkenny—for he agreed with the hon. Member for Meath that many of those questions were eminently deserving of the consideration of the House—but that was not the time nor the occasion for them to enter into them. He asked those Gentlemen to postpone any reply to the observations which the hon. Gentleman had made; and he called upon the House to allow the Order of the Day to be read that he might move the second reading, when he would address a few observations to the House to explain more fully the objects of the measure, and to remove some misconceptions which were entertained with regard to it. He purposely abstained from doing so on the present occasion, because that was not the proper stage for it. He would only say with regard to what fell from the hon. Gentleman respecting the feelings against Ireland which were entertained in England, that he utterly denied the existence of any such feelings. He believed that the desire of England was, that Ireland should be virtuous—that she should be happy—that she should be contented and prosperous. But there was a feeling in England, a deep-seated feeling, against the progress, the unchecked progress of crime and assassination. That opinion was entertained by hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House, from whatever portion of the united empire they came; and he had to ask them now, at all events, to allow the Government to submit to their consideration this Bill, which, in the opinion of the Lord Lieutenant and the Government, was essential for the suppression of crime, and for checking that system of dastardly, cruel, and secret assassination which was a disgrace to any country calling itself Christian, and professing to be civilised. He would not attempt to follow the hon. Gentleman in his reference to the proceedings of the last Session. Although the hon. Gentleman had brought charges against the last Parliament of indifference to the affairs of Ireland, he would not enumerate that long series of Acts which passed, all conceived in a spirit of generosity and benevolence and justice towards Ireland. He would not refer to the days, the weeks, the months that were spent during the last and preceding Sessions of Parliament in considering the affairs of that country with a view to afford relief, and to mitigate the distress and destitution under which the people were suffering, and to provide permanent relief for that distress. Those subjects would come under consideration at a future time, when the hon. Gentleman might bring on his Motion of which he had given notice. Nor would he now enter into a defence of the conduct of the Government. All he said to the hon. Gentleman was, that if he believed the Government to be reprehensible, and their conduct blamable, let him bring on a Motion to that effect, and let him bring it forward openly and fairly, and he would meet it in the same spirit, and would be prepared to abide by the decision of the House upon that question. At all events, let no opinion which the House entertained as to the conduct of the Government with regard to Ireland, as to the evils which required redress, or as to the means which they had provided of meeting those evils, under which Ireland suffered; let no opinion as to the conduct of the Government prevent their proceeding to consider this measure, which he believed was immediately necessary to check the progress of that crime which was at present prevailing in Ireland. He would not say one word more except to urgently entreat the House to allow the order for the second reading of the Bill to be read, that they might enter at once upon the consideration of the subject.


said, that if he had the slightest notion that this Bill of the right hon. Baronet, as he could wish, would lead to a restoration of peace in Ireland, he would be the last Member in that House to postpone the object which the right hon. Gentleman had in view for a single moment. He was sure that the right hon. Gentleman must have frequently said to himself whilst listening to the support of the hon. Member for Meath (Mr. Grattan), "Defend me from my friends!" It had been the misfortune of Ireland that those persons who undertook to represent her distresses and her grievances never could agree among themselves. He would say of this House of Commons that which he could not say of the House in 1833, 1834, and 1835, that if the Irish people owe it no further favour then this, it was a great one—there never was a more patient hearing, at all events, afforded than had been given to this Bill; though that observation probably would be misrepresented by some Gentlemen in that House. Let it not be supposed that he was defending assassination while he was merely opposing a measure which he conscientiously believed would lead to further assassination. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Meath had concluded his speech by telling them that he would not wait to prime and load, but he would fire first and prime and load afterwards. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Meath had himself proved to demonstration that during the last twenty months the Government had been guilty of the most scandalous dereliction of duty towards the people of Ireland. And yet, with a spirit of perverseness which to all rational men must appear utterly unaccountable, the hon. Member now came forward to declare his determination to support them in their present measure, simply because he had implicit reliance on their good intentions. Anything more anomalous, more irrational, more contradictory than this he had never heard of. It was easy to inveigh against the Irish people—it was easy to impute to a whole nation the shame and criminality which were properly applicable only to the proceedings of a few; but let those who slandered Ireland turn over the page of history, and say what other country presented such an instance of patience and long-suffering as she did. Last year alone, one million of her children fell victims to pestilence and famine, and sank into their cold grave without a murmur, almost without a groan. Some of the members of his own immediate family were amongst the most extensive landholders in Ireland. They were landlords, magistrates, and grand jurors, and were not afraid to walk through the country at all hours of the day and night. Whence arose this confidence? Simply from the consciousness that they had discharged their duty, and had done nothing to place them within the range of the arm af the assassin. If all other landlords and magistrates acted with equal propriety, there would be security for life in every district of Ireland without exception. He would resist this scandalous Coercion Bill to the last. It was unnecessary, and it was disgracefully tyrannical. There could be no excuse for introducing such a measure, unless the ordinary resources of the law had been taxed to the uttermost, and taxed in vain, and unless measures of a remedial and conciliatory character had been found to be inefficient in establishing good order. The hon. and learned Member for Meath admitted that the Bill was a paltry, pitiful, despicable abortion, and yet he was prepared to give it his warmest support. Would he do so if the late Ministry were now in office, and if it were brought forward under their patronage? Would he dare to do so if they were on the eve of a general election? He did not hesitate to predict that the effect of the present Bill would be to bring the ordinary law into disrespect. Such had ever been the operation of penal enactments. The Lord Lieutenant had not (it was idle to say he had) put the ordinary resources of the law into full play. He had power to order a special commission when and where he pleased; he had power to change the venue—to select his own judge—a most invaluable privilege when there was a question of carrying the law beyond its proper bearing—to appoint juries, and to compel the admission of the written evidence of a policeman in cases of criminal prosecution, where the case for the Crown broke down. All these great powers were vested in the Irish Executive, in order to the repression of crime, and the assertion of the majesty of the law. Was it not the duty of the Lord Lieutenant to take care that they had all been tried, and tried in vain, before the Irish people were to be given to understand that they must regard themselves as outlaws who were put beyond the pale of the constitution? The right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth had declared with a good deal of virtuous indignation that he would not stop to parley with assassins; but was it not worth his while to pause and inquire into the seeds of those crimes which so excited his horror? He had told the House how he had paid a reward of 2,000l. to the person who gave evidence to lead to the detection of those who were engaged in a conspiracy to murder a respectable gentleman in the county of Cork some years ago; but it was the very system which was thus fostered and nurtured throughout Ireland that he now regarded with feelings of such terror and alarm. He feared that the operation of the present Bill would be simply this, that the cowardly man would suborn some desperate villain to commit a murder, and would then betray him and fly to the Lord Lieutenant for his reward. A contrast had been drawn between the landlords of England and those of Ireland. The two classes were not to be compared. The good landlord was the exception in Ireland; whereas there was scarcely such a thing known as a bad landlord in England. In Ireland, the tenants, subordinates, and dependants were all compelled to be subsidiary to the folly, the insolence, and the profligacy of the landlord; whereas in England, let the landlord be ever so bad, the rights of the tenant were still maintained inviolate. In England, if there arose a necessity for selling the landlord's estate, it passed into the hands of others before the tenants had been sacked and reduced to beggary. The very reverse was the case in Ireland. The landlords, taken as a body, were heartless and profligate. The English Parliament had, by its legislation, encouraged them in their heartlessness and profligacy, and from that seed sprang the briars and thorns which now infested the land. All these agrarian crimes grew out of and were perpetuated by the vicious principle on which was based the relation between landlord and tenant in Ireland. In England there did not exist the same inducement to commit those offences, and they therefore were unheard of. In England the people were fostered and cared for; in Ireland they were disinherited and trampled on. There had been a long debate in that House on commercial affairs and the monetary pressure; but not one word had been said with respect to the disastrous effect which the tightness of the money market had had upon the fortunes of Ireland. And yet there was no part of the empire which had suffered so cruelly. Almost all the estates in Ireland were now mortgaged. His only surprise was that Ireland was so calm as she was. The right hon. Baronet the Secretary for the Home Department had made an elaborate speech on bringing up his indictment against the Irish people; but he had not made it his duty, as he was bound to have done, to give a faithful representation of the state of things in that country. He had not enumerated the wrongs and sufferings of the Irish people; he had not told the House of their piteous poverty; nor had he, while the financial question was under consideration, taken occasion to illustrate its bearing on Ireland by mentioning this fact, that the solicitor of the Provincial Bank alone had entered no less than 800 declarations on behalf of that establishment. But, to revert to the Bill under discussion, he resisted it not so much because it was unconstitutionally stringent, as because the highest authorities who had written on such subjects had been unanimous in declaring it as their opinion that the effect of such penal enactments had ever been, and must ever be, eminently prejudicial to the character of the community for whom they were enacted. To illustrate this position, and to show that laws of too great severity defeated their own object, by directing men's minds to the desire of revolution rather than to the love and practice of virtue, the hon. and learned Gentleman read extracts from Beccaria on Crimes and Punishments; Montesquieu on the Spirit of Laws; Blackstone's Commentaries; and Lord John Russell on the Government and Constitution of England. With the written sentiments of the author of the last-named work he entirely concurred; but vast, indeed, was the difference between Russell out of office, courting the favour and co-operation of the Irish Members, and the same personage seated on the throne of office, and totally regardless both of Ireland and her representatives. The evidence adduced before the Committee of that House which was appointed to consider the question of introducing alterations in the criminal code, eloquently demonstrated the evil effect of even overstraining the ordinary law; and was it humane—was it wise—at a moment when the Irish were about to again petition, not for bullets but for alms—was it wise at such a moment, after one million of them had gone down to the cold grave unpitied victims of pestilence and famine—was it wise, he asked, at such a moment for a Ministry with professions of liberality on their lips, to come down and ask the assent of the House to a Bill so vicious in principle, so inadequate in operation—a Bill which the hon. and learned Member for Meath denounced, while he supported it, as pitiful, paltry, rubbishy, and despicable? But was it to be wondered at that Ireland should be lost and forsaken, powerless and friendless as she was, when a Gentleman sent to that House to represent, not to coerce her, betrayed his trust, and turned round to invoke the good intentions of a Government who, he admitted, had invariably deceived, invariably betrayed him? It was true that one of the banes of Ireland was a poor and proud aristocracy, who were content to appeal to the bounty of England, rather than put their shoulders to the wheel, and work out their own salvation. But English legislation had made them what they were. England had sown the seed—she now must reap the harvest. English laws and English persecution were the cause of the vices of the Irish people—their virtues only were their own. The Irish peasant, when he left his home and passed to a foreign land, was remarkable everywhere for his industry, intelligence, and zeal. He took the lion's share of the toil wherever he might be cast. He was industrious in all lands but his own. Why was he not so in his own? Because there was a tyrant who ruled over him with a rod of iron, and would not permit him to enjoy the fruit of his labour. The moment one of the peasant class became industrious in Ireland, that moment he sealed, as it were, his own fate, and ruined his prospects. He soon found to his cost that it was for another he was toiling, and not for himself. Until this anomalous state of things was remedied, it was in vain to hope for good order or tranquillity in Ireland. The Ministry who would seek to rule Ireland, should take their stand upon some settled principle of right. The present Ministry did not seek to do that. They did not hold power on any settled principle. They were indebted for it to the mere accident that certain parties who ought to be combined were disunited. The moment there was a prospect of those parties being reconciled and co-operating, farewell for ever to the intolerance of the coercive Whig Government. He knew of old what Whig professions meant, and what value was to be attached to Whig promises. When they were weak, they always courted Ireland, and fawned upon her; when they were strong, they openly betrayed the hatred which lurked in their hearts, and treacherously turned on those who had supported them. How had they acted a few years ago when weak? Instead of sending an agricultural man to be Lord Lieutenant of an agricultural country, they sent an officer decked in silks and feathers, no other than a Marquess of Normanby, who at the time these crimes were being engendered, instead of issuing proclamations, and making the law respected, careered through the country like another Don Quixotte, declared a general gaol delivery, and went about letting thieves, villains, and pickpockets loose on society. He remembered when all this was done to court popularity among the Irish people; and now they came down to that House for a Coercion Bill, by which they might override the ordinary law once more. Was ever anything half so absurd? Nothing, unless indeed it were the mild provision (mild as mother's milk) of the present Bill, which made it imperative that when a murder was committed, half the population of a county, children of sixteen, and old men of sixty, should scamper through the corn fields after the murderer, or else make up their minds to submit to imprisonment for two years. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary had read letters descriptive of the state of Ireland; but he knew well how nefariously such letters, and the information conveyed in them, were got up by parties interested. He could relate to the House many instances to prove the base means resorted to for the purpose of misrepresenting and injuring, for interested purposes, the people of Ireland. In 1833, while professionally engaged at Clonakilty, he was thrown from his horse; and, while suffering under the injuries then received, was sent home by a friend in his gig. While so travelling, he fell into conversation with the servant who accompanied him; and this person told him, that at the time Whiteboyism was at its height he was living with a captain in the army; that a major belonging to the same regiment was on a visit to his master; and that they, accompanied by two or three other persons, went out at night with their faces blackened, and swore in the people in their neighbourhood to be Whiteboys, in order that they (the officers) might thereby get employment. He communicated this information to Lord Hatherton (then Mr. Littleton, and Chief Secretary for Ireland), and offered to bring forward the man as evidence, provided measures were taken for his protection, and the means given him of going to a foreign country, if necessary; but he would not interfere in the case, because the parties concerned were gentlemen. He himself had an Orange Protestant steward, and he had received a threatening notice, requiring him to dismiss that steward. He took no notice of it, and his plantation was cut down. He received another notice; but he asked only for the ordinary law, and he went out with four men and five double-barrelled guns, and, as soon as the plantation was attacked, they fired ten shots wide of the mark to frighten the assailants away; but the man who had written the letter had a private pique against the steward for impounding his cattle. In 1823, a tenant of his family, named Phinn, had received a notice that Captain Rock would call for a large quantity of whiskey; and when Captain Rock did call, he was accompanied by some of the yeomanry; the captain of the yeomanry corps, who was only one field off, was put on full pay shortly afterwards. They had themselves only to blame if crime did exist; and it was not fair to punish crimes which they had encouraged. He knew also of a magistrate at Cork, who had wishdrawn a warrant for the apprehension of a man, named Ross, on a charge of murdering one Ganovan, in consequence of a letter which he had received requiring him to do so, and saying that Ross was as good a Protestant as ever lived, and Ganovan a rank Papist. Would they now prosecute the priests, and not prosecute that Cork magistrate? The priests were powerful, and for this reason, they were the only consolers of the poor man in Ireland; they were always by the sick man's bed; and the religion which they taught was firmly planted in the hearts of the people. The hope to destroy it was vain. That was the state of the Irish peasant. The middleman, as soon as the landlord abandoned his country and his duties, became the magistrate; he took the position of the landlord, and he had no interest but to get the last shilling from the peasant. That was the system which exhausted the land, and made the Irish come to this country, and require that to be raised by taxation which the land ought to produce. But it was one of the principles of political economy, so much vaunted in the present day, that it mattered not whether the landlord's money was spent in Ireland or elsewhere; that it was to come back again. But was he to be told that it mattered not to the industry and productiveness of that country whether the capital of the landlord was to be employed there in the improvement of the country, or whether it was to be spent in foreign countries? He had spoken as a landlord and as a barrister. He would now speak as an agriculturist, and he was admitted to be one of the best in Ireland. He had had great experience, and he ventured to assert that no labourer earning 8s. a week was ever brought before a magistrate for any offences of the nature which were now so prevalent. In 1822 the right hon. Member for Montgomeryshire (Mr. C. W. Wynn), who was then President of the Board of Control, paid a just tribute to the character of the Irish people. That right hon. Gentleman said that, when he reflected on their many admirable qualities—on their genius and intelligence—on their steady devotion to any cause which they heartily espoused—on their patience under privation and suffering, and on their generous hospitality—he could not but condemn that policy by which all these excellent qualities had been perverted, and all these gifts of nature and Providence had been rendered the fruitful source of crime and bloodshed. But, notwithstanding that opinion, Parliament passed a Coercion Bill for Ireland, and suspended the Habeas Corpus Act in that country. In passing any measures for ameliorating the condition of Ireland, it was necessary to enforce the rights of the people, or the landlords would take care to derive all the benefit. When the Legislature gave the landlords of Ireland 25 per cent of the Church property, did the tenants gain anything? No; the landlords pocketed the whole, and the wages of labour, instead of being raised, were reduced. Of the amount which had been recently granted for the relief of the Irish people, no less a sum than 350,000l. had been expended in patronage, while only 30,000l. had been advanced to landlords for the improvement of their estates. And why was this? Because so many technical impediments were thrown in the way of granting such advances. He was satisfied that they could not improve the condition of the labourers and farmers of Ireland without improving the condition of the landlords; and how was this to be done? Not by giving the landlords money, but by inducing them to make their estates worth money. He was ready to maintain, in spite of agriculturists, and of free traders, and of political economists, that there was not an acre of land in England or in Ireland which was let at half its value; and that if a better system of agriculture were established, the value of the land would be very materially increased. The landlords of Ireland had managed their property according to the science of politics, instead of by the science of agriculture; and their great object had been to obtain bishoprics or commissions in the army for their sons, and good matches for their daughters, instead of endeavouring to improve their estates. In the good old times of the Hutchinsons and Beresfords, boys were put down in the army list for promotion from the time of their birth; and when he was eleven years old, there were two lieutenants in his class at school. At that time the Beresfords got everything; and when Lord Cathcart visited the family, as he had seen a great many Beresfords in the army list, he requested to be introduced to the young heroes; and, after dinner, these instructions were given: "When the lieutenant wakes let him come down into the room; when the captain wakes bring him down; and when the colonel wakes put on him his regimentals, and bring him here." He must say he was glad that the hon. and learned Member for Limerick (Mr. J. O'Connell) had seen the prudence and propriety of opposing the measure now before the House; and he hoped the hon. Gentlemen who usually acted with him (Mr. O'Connell) would adopt a similar course. He had suffered much persecution, but he was willing to forgive the Government for their share in it if they were prepared to redeem their pledges with regard to Ireland. The fact was, that the present was a Government of toleration; and the best way to promote the welfare of Ireland would be by a combined action of the Irish Members and landlords, irrespective of politics, of classes, and of religious creeds. If those gentlemen boldly stood out for the rights of property (not only for the rights of the landlords, but also for the rights of the labourers), they would be too strong for the Government. He regretted that the right hon. Member for Tamworth was not in his place to-night; for if the right hon. Gentleman had been present, he would have been glad to have given the right hon. Gentleman some information on the subject of tenant-right; but as that question was to be brought before the House by the hon. Member for Rochdale, he would abstain from commenting upon it at present. He begged, in conclusion, to assure the right hon. Secretary for the Home Department that he would oppose this Bill from the preamble to the last clause; he was determined to divide on every possible opportunity; and, as a reason for not passing the measure, he begged to call the attention of English Members to the position of the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. S. Crawford). That hon. Gentleman, who had divided against this Bill, was one of the largest and best landlords in Ireland; he sought for no Coercion Bill to secure him against his tenants' wrath; he could walk over his estate by night and by day in safety, for while he fairly required his rent, he also performed his duty. If he conscientiously believed that this Bill, or even one of a more severe character, would have the effect of repressing crime in Ireland, he would readily give it his support; but it was because he understood the character, the condition, and the constitution of his countrymen better than the right hon. Home Secretary, that he had determined that this insidious measure should not go to the country—at least with the stamp of his (Mr. O'Connor's) approval. He was determined to perform his duty; but he begged to say, that if the right hon. Baronet (Sir G. Grey) thought proper to introduce efficient remedial measures with regard to Ireland, he (Mr. O'Connor) would have great pleasure in giving them that support to which he might consider they were entitled.


said, that he was not going to imitate the kind of taste displayed by the hon. Member who had just addressed the House, in the attack which he had made on his hon. Friend the Member for Meath (Mr. Grattan). He believed that that hon. Member held as high a place in the estimation of the people of Ireland as did the hon. Member for Nottingham. Neither would he allude to the hon. Gentleman in his new capacities of landlord, lawyer, and agriculturist. Neither would he engage in combat with one whose ministerial aspirations were so sanguine and so ambitious. Neither would he attempt to follow him in his other flights. What he wished to do was, to advert to the measure now submitted to consideration; and he thought, from the peculiarity of his position, that the House would grant him its indulgence for a few moments, while he stated his reasons for giving his support to the second reading of the Bill. He would support the measure because it did not go too far, and because the circumstances of the country, he thought, required it. Another reason was, that the provisions would only affect certain guilty characters in the disturbed districts, and that they would go far to protect the great majority in those districts from the reign of terror which prevailed. Under present circumstances, well-disposed men were compelled to enter into unwilling collision with the law, and into unwilling sympathy with crime. He would support the Bill for another reason, and that was, because he believed it would be administered by the present Lord Lieutenant of Ireland with that moderation and with that temper which would not outrage the feelings of the people, and with duo regard to the liberties of the subject; while, at the same time, the necessary pro- tection to life and property would be extended to all classes. Another reason for supporting the measure was, that he conscientiously believed that the majority of the people of Ireland had no sympathy with lawless offenders; because he believed that while, on the part of many persons, a feeling existed that the relation between landlord and tenant might have justified an open, manly resistance, there was not a single individual, with the exception of those lawless characters themselves, who would not say that no state of things could justify assassination, whether committed under the cloud of night, or perpetrated at noonday upon unarmed and unresisting victims. He felt that there was a feeling in Ireland which recoiled from such atrocities; and he believed that the majority of the people, for the sake of the public, for the sake of the honour of their country, for the sake of their individual liberties, were anxious that murder should be suppressed. He believed that in Tipperary the priesthood were anxious that the murderous spirit which disgraced that district should be extirpated. He believed that the murderers were beyond the reach of all moral or civil restraint; he believed they were outcasts from society; he actually believed that they traded in blood; he firmly believed that they had no interest whatever in the relations between landlord and tenant; and he further believed that they were induced to commit their vile crimes, to shed innocent blood, through the base influence of lucre. He repudiated, in the strongest manner that language would enable him, all sympathy with such miscreants; and he would give his humble support to a measure which had for its object the preservation of society against their nefarious operations. The hon. Member, after depicting the circumstances connected with the assassination of the Rev. Mr. Lloyd, asked if that transaction was not base, brutal, and barbarous? Was it not dastardly, cowardly? Did not every one who was animated by a spirit of chivalry, and influenced by the spirit of a man, join in an expression of detestation at the perpetration of such a murder; and would he not readily lend his vigorous help to aid the working of a law intended to prevent the recurrence of such atrocities? The man who declined to do this was a disgrace to his country, to his religion, and to manhood. He might be told that the proposed measure was unconstitutional. True; but was it not a much more unconstitutional act to subject the peaceable population to the continuance of such terrible crimes? He would assert that it was much more unconstitutional to leave the country to the ravages of a body of lawless marauders. As to the alleged causes, he was not on that occasion going to enter into them; for he wished, in the vote he was to give, to separate as distinctly as he could the cause from the effect. He wished to give his vote without any reservation; he wished to hold no parley with murderers; he wished to give his vote without any equivocation, lest by the most remote inference it might be supposed that, by any consideration or stipulation connected with remedial measures, he palliated the crime of murder, or sympathised with the murderer. He would go as far as any Member in the advocacy of remedial measures, and measures, too, of the most comprehensive character; but if he was to advocate the passing of such laws, it would not be because murder had been committed, or because he was intimidated by assassination, but because he believed the system to be vicious, and required to be corrected. With the permission of the House, he would advert to a subject connected with the administration of the law in Ireland. He did not consider that the law was administered in all respects in the way calculated to secure the suppression of crime, or generally for the advantage of society. He would call the attention of the Government to a few facts. The House, perhaps, would be surprised to hear that several of the Crown officers employed in the administration of the criminal law were incapacitated from the performance of their duties by age and infirmity. In Connaught, the senior prosecutor, a gentleman, he believed, of the highest respectability—he did not attach the blame to the present Government, but to previous Irish Governments—had been ten years superannuated as assistant barrister; and, nevertheless, he was entrusted with the discharge of the duties of Crown prosecutor. Again, a gentleman who lately died was superannuated for five years as a Crown prosecutor, and still he was allowed to perform the duties of assistant barrister. In the one case, a person who had been superannuated as an assistant barrister had been allowed to act as Crown prosecutor; and in the other, a person superannuated as Crown prosecutor had been allowed to discharge the duties of assistant barrister. From these facts the natural supposition was, that Government had great favour and indulgence for incompetency both in the assistant barristers' court and the court of quarter-sessions. After adverting to another case of incompeteney from physical causes in one of the Judges, the hon. Member remarked that the circumstances merited the consideration of the Government, in connexion with the due administration of justice. In no country was the administration of the laws more narrowly watched than in Ireland; it formed the subject of conversation and criticism at home; and whatever tended to shake confidence in the due administration of justice ought to be removed.


held in his hand a book, published in 1846, entitled Debate on the First Reading of the Protection of Life (Ireland) Bill, by R. D. Browne, Esq., M.P. The writer stated that Ireland lost 300 faithful representatives by the Union; and then, referring to the division, and adapting a poetical quotation, he exclaimed— Of our three hundred, thirty-three Have fought a new Thermopylæ. Among those 33 was the hon. Member who had just addressed the House. The book contained his own speech, reported by himself. [Mr. D. BROWNE: No.] Well, the book was edited by him. The hon. Member then read an extract from the speech of the hon. Member for Mayo (Mr. Dillon Browne), in which that hon. Member had maintained that coercive measures had always been ineffectual in putting down outrage in Ireland, because they had been unaccompanied by any remedial measures. It was, therefore, with some feeling of humiliation and shame that he (Mr. M. O'Connell), as an Irishman, rose in that House when he found an hon. Member from Ireland now advocating doctrines which twenty months ago they repudiated with scorn, and who now proposed to vote for a measure to which at that time they would have scorned to give their aid. He alluded not merely to the hon. Member who had just sat down, and who he was sorry to say had obliged him to adopt this position with reference to him, but he also alluded to the speech of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Meath. He had to complain of a little want of fair play on the part of the hon. Gentleman. Hon. Members were now present who could bear him (Mr. M. O'Connell) out in what he was about to state. At the suggestion of several Irish Members—himself amongst the rest—the hon. Member for the city of Limerick forbore bringing on a notice which he had on the list on Thursday last, in order not to delay the debate on the Bank question, on the distinct understanding that he should have—as he wished to speak on Irish distress—an opportunity of doing so. An Amendment was to have been moved by the hon. Member for the county of Limerick (Mr. W. S. O'Brien), and seconded by the hon. Member for the city of Limerick; and in the absence of the hon. Member for the county of Limerick, that Amendment had been moved by his (Mr. M. O'Connell's) brother; yet the hon. Member for the county of Meath, having made that stipulation, turned round upon him and accused him of going out of the question; and he said further, that distress in Ireland had nothing to do with outrages in Ireland, although it had been admitted on every occasion that agricultural distress in Ireland was the frightful source of discord. He had ever been amongst the first to denounce agrarian crime; but where there was a party in a country that had no remedy by law, and that was driven out to starve, what human nature was there, let him ask, that could withstand such temptation to crime? Would they like to see such an experiment in England? But the hon. Members for Mayo and Meath appeared to be astonished that some of them (the Irish Members) should resist this Bill at this stage. Let it not be forgotten, however, that they had permitted the first reading of the Bill, when, if they had chosen, they could have prevented the measure from being brought in oven yet. But they did not; and why? Because remedial measures were promised; because in 1846 they had upon record, on the first reading of the Coercion Bill of that year, that the present Government would propose a measure for the settlement of the vexed question of landlord and tenant in Ireland. That measure was put off upon one pretext and another, and now the Government asked them to sanction a measure for infringing the constitution, without accompanying it with any measure of an ameliorating character. Was it to be wondered at, then, that under these circumstances they should take every possible means to prevent the further progress of this Bill, or that they should strive to delay it by every possible method that Parliamentary usage afforded them, until Government declared what it was they intended to do with the much confused and much abused relations of landlord and tenant, and how they proposed giving justice and protection to the peasant? He had objections to this Bill on grounds extraneous to the Bill itself. He objected to it particularly on account of a conversation which had taken place between the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth and the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for the Home Department. It would also be in the recollection of the House that the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth suggested the propriety of establishing a detective police in Ireland; and it would be in the recollection of the House that the Secretary of State for the Home Department stated that such a force was in the course of organisation, and that they were not merely to be employed for the detection of an intention to commit crime, but that they were to be employed on a roving commission throughout the country, and go about among the people, in order to ascertain who those were who were ready to commit crime, and then remain watching until the schemes of the parties should be brought to such a stage as that the law might lay hold of them. That, he was sure, was a system which no Englishman would sanction. He, as an Irishman, could not hear of it wish out shame and indignation This, therefore, was a strong additional reason why he would not give any further power to the Government by this Bill. It was a measure not merely for supporting and carrying out the spy system, but one for absolutely organising it. Such a system led to perjury, to all sorts of crimes, and even to the murder of the unfortunate agents employed under it. The right hon. Baronet at the head of the Home Department had stated, in answer to the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth, that a detective police was now being organised—that they were to have a corps not merely of occasional recruits in this service, but a body of men fully disciplined, fully appointed, and fully accoutred, acting with the authority of Government under the name of a detective police; but which really and truly would be a force employed, though perhaps not so intended by the Government, in entrapping the people into crime, for the purpose of earning "blood money." During the last Parliament there was a considerable discussion on a portion of the spy system. The right hon. Gentleman then at the head of the Home Department (Sir J. Graham) was accused at the time of having encouraged the opening of let- ters at the Post-office; and one of his most active assailants was Punch; and he (Mr. O'Connell) recollected, that in that publication there was an engraving of the right hon. Gentleman (Sir J. Graham) instructing the letter carriers in the art of opening letters, drilling them, and giving them the word of command. Now he should hope, if this detective police were established under the present Government, that at all events they would have the successor of the right hon. Gentleman—he meant the present Home Secretary—depicted in the same way and in the same lively manner, giving instructions to a corps of Irish informers. Such a measure as that now proposed was without precedent in the history of any country except that of Ireland. The crimes which occurred in some parts of Ireland were as abhorrent to his feelings as they could be to those of any man; and he had used all the influence which he possessed to enforce obedience to the law as the primary duty of the people; but because he abhorred crime, it did not follow that he must approve of a grossly unconstitutional measure like that now proposed. He fully concurred in the maxim which his late father always so forcibly inculcated—"He who violates the law is the worst enemy of Ireland;" but whilst denouncing individual transgressors, he could not consent to a wholesale violation of the constitution. Crime in Ireland would be suppressed by the tenantry themselves, if the landlords would set the example by exerting themselves in re-establishing order. The measure before the House was a landlords' Bill; its object was to aid grinding landlords who neglected their duty. Why had not the Landlord and Tenant Bill been brought into the House before the second reading of this Bill was proposed? Why had not its leading provisions been stated? It was understood that the Bill was actually in print, and, therefore, there could be no valid reason for not putting the House in possession of its enactments. Report upon report had been made upon the subject, but yet nothing had been done respecting it. Lord Devon's report contained several suggestions which he would enumerate. In the first place, it was suggested that tenants should have leases and compensation for improvements which they made upon their land. That suggestion had not been carried into effect. In the next place, it was suggested that landlords should build houses for their tenants, and that the burdens on land should be reduced and put under better regulation. How stood the case at present? Had the burdens on land been reduced and put under better regulation? On the contrary, where the tenant paid 1s. in rates in 1845, when Lord Devon's Commission terminated, he paid 3s. or 4s. now. He should say that it would be much better to set the constitution totally aside, than to endeavour by a Bill of this sort to make the people pay that which in their best days they could hardly be expected to pay. In such a state of things it would be a tremendous exercise of power to come in upon the people with an additional police force in any district which the Lord Lieutenant might be pleased to indicate. It was all at his pleasure. He might put any district he thought proper under the operation of the Bill. It could not have been forgotten that elsewhere, as well as in the course of the present discussions, much had been said about what were called denunciations from the altar. Now, he possessed the best evidence that, in a very recent case, the clergyman accused of one of these denunciations, that of Major Mahon, was perfectly innocent of the charge, having never uttered a word on the subject. But, notwithstanding all that had been said with reference to this matter, he could not help asking them what they in England would think of a man recently come into a considerable estate who, having a village near his demesne, took from the villagers the little fields in which they were accustomed to graze their cows and raise their poor pittance of food, in order to add them to his great demesne? What would be thought of a landlord whose tenantry were in the utmost want of fuel, and who would not allow them to gather the waste wood in his plantations, but took care to have it all made up into faggots and sold for his own profit? Until the noble Lord at the head of the Government put on the table of the House remedial measures for Ireland, they would find him ready to obstruct, by every means in his power, the progress of the present measure.


wished to state to the House the reasons why he was disposed to give a somewhat reluctant support to this Bill. A matter of 200 constables and a partial disarmament were not very strong measures to put down robbery and murder; neither did he foresee, like some more susceptible Gentlemen, any assault against the liberties of Ireland in this Bill, although he admitted that those liberties had been in abeyance ever since Ireland was a country, and that they would continue to be in abeyance, so far as this Bill was concerned, whether it was accepted or rejected. At the same time, he regretted that the noble Lord at the head of the Government had not more clearly indicated the remedial measures which he intended to propose for Ireland. That country had long groaned under a bad aristocracy and an alien priesthood; and besides that, we had robbed the Catholics of their property, and ruined the manufactures of the Irish. As he was fully convinced that religious animosities were the main cause of misgovernment in Ireland, he reminded the House that the outward and visible sign of that misgovernment, the Protestant Established Church, still existed. He did not indeed pretend that the present outrages in Ireland were directly chargeable upon that grievance, or that they would be pacified simply by its removal. He had, he confessed, very little faith in the immediate operation of any remedial law, or any remedial set of laws, upon the condition of Ireland. We ought to retrace every single step of misgovernment before we could even hope to begin to tran-quillise Ireland. Delicta majorum immeriti luimus.


said, he considered it necessary to give the House some information on several of the topics which had been under discussion. The right hon. Baronet had cited the case of Mr. Roe; and that case had been mentioned by several other hon. Members. So far from the Romish priesthood being parties to the agrarian outrages so common in some parts of Ireland, the very reverse was generally the fact. In the chapel of the parish in which Mr. Roe resided, the priest, after that gentleman's death, mentioned his loss in terms of the greatest regret. He said Mr. Roe was a great loss as a resident gentleman, as a magistrate, as a poor-law guardian, and in every relation of life. He was said to be a great loss to the country; that the subscription to the poor in that district had been originated by Mr. Roe; and that that gentleman had subscribed more than was expected from him. The priest showed also that Mr. Roe's mother and sister had established by their own personal exertions a soup kitchen, and had thus saved the lives of many poor famine-stricken creatures. He mentioned these facts because the hon. Gentleman near him had read a letter which implied the reverse of these facts. He could not support the Bill, because he conceived it would be a complete failure without remedial measures. In order to show how much more effective mild treatment was than coercion, the hon. Member mentioned an estate of 300 acres in Tipperary which at one time had on it the worst tenantry in all Ireland; so had, that on the priest being removed, they nailed up the chapel door, and would not allow mass to be performed, and it was not performed until the introduction of a military force into the neighbourhood. The estate had been for many years in Chancery, and the people were unaccustomed to the payment of rent. For a long time no one would purchase this estate, until, at length, Mr. Pennefather—now Baron Pennefather—bought it, and from that moment there had been but one man from that estate before a court of assize. Mr. Pennefather told them, "You must pay me a fair rent, and I will do so and so; I will do my part, and you must do yours." If other men would do as he had done, there would be no occasion for coercion. He would not, therefore, support any measure which did not conciliate the people.

MR. FAGAN moved the adjournment of the debate.


hoped the Motion would not be pressed. The hon. Gentleman was a new Member of the House, and when he was informed that, in future stages of the Bill, there would be ample opportunity of addressing the House, he was sure the hon. Member would not act unfairly or offer a factious opposition. There was great inconvenience, and it was contrary to the usual practice of the House, to discuss the Bill generally on an Amendment.


said, that his conduct would never render him obnoxious to the charge of being factious; but he felt that the line of argument pursued that evening by some of those whom they thought supported their views demanded some reply. It was therefore not fair to call upon him to forego this opportunity, the more particularly as there were other Irish Members who wished to address the House at this stage of the proceedings. When the measure proposed was one of coercion for Ireland, whatever course they might adopt, ought not to be called factious. He proposed now to act strictly according to precedent; and those Gentlemen who now held the reins of Government had acted in a similar manner when in opposition, without being called factious.

The House divided on the question of adjournment:—Ayes 18; Noes 289: Majority 271.

List of the AYES.
Anstey, T. C. O'Flaherty, A.
Callaghan, D. Power, Dr.
Devereux, J. T. Power, N.
Greene, J. Reynolds, J.
Keating, R. Roche, E. B.
Meagher, T. Scholefield, W.
Morgan, H. K. G. Scully, F.
O'Brien, T.
O'Connell, J. TELLERS.
O'Connell, M. J. Fagan, W.
O'Connor, F. O'Connell, M.
List of the NOES.
Acton, Col. Castlereagh, Visct.
Adair, H. E. Caulfield, Col.
Adair, R. A. S. Cavendish, hon. C. C.
Aglionby, H. A. Cayley, E. S.
Anderson, A. Chichester, Lord J. L.
Anson, hon. Col. Clay, J.
Arkwright, G. Clay, Sir W.
Bagshaw, J. Clements, hon. C. S.
Baines, M. T. Clerk, rt. hon. Sir G.
Baldock, E. H. Clifford, H. M.
Baring, rt. hon. F. T. Clive, Visct.
Baring, T. Cobden, R.
Barnard, E. G. Cockburn, A. J. E.
Bateson, T. Cocks, T. S.
Bellew, R. M. Cole, hon. H. A.
Bennet, P. Colebrooke, Sir T. E.
Beresford, W. Coles, H. B.
Berkeley, hon. Capt. Cowper, hon. W. F.
Berkeley, hon. G. F. Craig, W. G.
Bernal, R. Damer, hon. Col.
Bernard, Visct. Davie, Sir H. R. F.
Birch, Sir T. B. Davies, D. A. S.
Blackall, S. W. Dawson, hon. T. V.
Blake, M. J. Deedes, W.
Bolling, W. Deering, J. P.
Bourke, R. S. Denison, J. E.
Bouverie, E. P. Dodd, G.
Bowles, Adm. Drummond, H.
Bowring, Dr. Duckworth, Sir J. T. B.
Boyd, J. Duff, G. S.
Bremridge, R. Duff, J.
Bright, J. Duke, Sir J.
Brisco, M. Duncan, G.
Broadley, H. Dundas, Adm.
Broadwood, H. Dundas, Sir D.
Brockman, E. D. Dundas, G.
Brooke, Lord Dunne, F. P.
Brotherton, J. Du Pre, C. G.
Browne, W. Ebrington, Visct.
Browne, R. D. Elliot, hon. J. E.
Bruce, Lord E. Enfield, Lord
Buller, C. Evans, J.
Bunbury, W. M. Evans, W.
Bunbury, E. H. Ewart, W.
Burke, Sir T. J. Farrer, J.
Burroughes, H. N. Ferguson, Sir R. A.
Busfeild, W. Ffolliott, J.
Campbell, hon. W. F. Fitzpatrick, J. W.
Cardwell, E. Fitzwilliam, hon. G. W.
Carew, W. H. P. Foley, J. H. H.
Carter, J. B. Forbes, W.
Fordyce, A. D. Mahon, The O'Gorman
Forster, M. Maitland, T.
Fortescue, C. Mangles, R. D.
Fortescue, hon. J. W. Marshall, J. G.
Fox, R. M. Martin, S.
Freestun, Col. Matheson, A.
Gardner, R. Matheson, Col.
Gibson, rt. hon. T. M. Maule, rt. hon. F.
Glyn, G. C. Maxwell, hon. J. P.
Godson, R. Melgund, Visct.
Goulburn, rt. hon. H. Meux, Sir H.
Gower, hon. F. L. Miles, P. W. S.
Grace, O. D. J. Mitchell, T. A.
Graham, rt. hon. Sir J. Moffatt, G.
Grattan, H. Molesworth, Sir W.
Greene, T. Monsell, W.
Gregson, S. Moore, G. H.
Grenfell, C. W. Morpeth, Visct.
Grey, rt. hon. Sir G. Morison, Gen.
Grey, R. W. Mowatt, F.
Grogan, E. Neeld, J.
Guinness, R. S. Newdegate, C. N.
Gwyn, H. Newport, Visct.
Haggitt, F. R. Noel, hon. G. J.
Hale, R. B. Nugent, Sir P.
Halford, Sir H. O'Brien, Sir L.
Hall, Sir B. Ossulston, Lord
Halsey, T. P. Paget, Lord A.
Hamilton, G. A. Paget, Lord C.
Hamilton, J. H. Palmer, R.
Hardcastle, J. A. Palmer, R.
Hastie, A. Parker, J.
Hastie, A. Patten, J. W.
Hayes, Sir E. Pearson, C.
Hayter, W. G. Peel, Col.
Headlam, T. E. Perfect, R.
Heald, J. Pigott, F.
Henley, J. W. Pilkington, J.
Herbert, H. A. Pinney, W.
Harvey, Lord A. Plumptre, J. P.
Heywood, J. Plowden, W. H. C.
Hodges, T. T. Raphael, A.
Hodgson, W. N. Rawdon, Col.
Hood, Sir A. Renton, J. C.
Hope, Sir J. Repton, G. W. J.
Hope, H. T. Ricardo, J. L.
Hotham, Lord Ricardo, O.
Howard, hon. C. W. G. Rich, H.
Howard, hon. E. G. G. Romilly, J.
Inglis, Sir R. H. Russell, F. C. H.
Jermyn, Earl Sadleir, J.
Jervis, Sir J. St. George, C.
Jervis, J. Salwey, Col.
Jones, Sir W. Sandars, G.
Keogh, W. Scrope, G. P.
Keppel, hon. G. T. Seaham, Visct.
Ker, R. Seymour, Lord
King, hon. P. J. L. Sheil, rt. hon. R. L.
Labouchere, rt. hon. H. Sibthorp, Col.
Lascelles, hon. E. Simeon, J.
Law, hon. C. E. Slaney, R. A.
Lemon, Sir C. Smith, rt. hon. R. V.
Lennox, Lord A. Smith, M. T.
Lennox, Lord H. G. Smith, J. B.
Lewis, rt. hon. Sir T. F. Smyth, J. G.
Lewis, G. C. Smythe, hon. G.
Lincoln, Earl of Somerton, Visct.
Lindsay, hon. Col. Somerville, rt. hn. Sir W.
Littleton, hon. E. R. Stafford, A. O'Brien
Lockhart, W. Stanley, hon. E. J.
Macnamara, Major Stanley, E.
M'Gregor, J. Staunton, Sir G. T.
M'Naghten, Sir E. Strutt, rt. hon. E.
Stuart, Lord D. Walmsley, Sir J.
Stuart, Lord J. Walter, J.
Sturt, H. G. Ward, H. G.
Sutton, J. H. M. Watkins, Col. L.
Talfourd, Serj. Wawn, J. T.
Taylor, T. E. West, F. R.
Tenison, E. K. Westhead, J P.
Tennent, R. J. Willcox, B. M'Ghie
Thicknesse, R. A. Williams, J.
Thompson, Col. Willoughby, Sir H.
Thornely, T. Wilson, M.
Tollemache, J. Wodehouse, E.
Towneley, J. Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.
Townley, R. G. Wood, W. P.
Trelawny, J. S. Wyld, J.
Turner, G. J. Wyvill, M.
Vane, Lord H. Yorke, H. G. R.
Verner, Sir W. Young, John.
Verney, Sir H.
Villiers, hon. C. TELLERS.
Vivian, J. H. Hill, Lord M.
Vyse, R. H. R. H. Tufnell, H.

hoped hon. Members would allow the Order of the Day to be read that night, as the debate might be taken on the second reading.

MR. O'CONNOR moved that the House do now adjourn.


seconded the Motion.

Motion withdrawn. Order of the Day read. Bill to be read a second time the following evening.

The original Motion was then agreed to.

House adjourned.