§ MR. J. O'CONNELL
having on the 861 Paper a notice of Motion for a Committee on the expediency of taxing Irish absentees, objected. This was a Motion day.
§ MR. SPEAKER
had called on the hon. Member in his turn, but he was not then in the House; and the Motion Paper having been gone through, the House had now proceeded to the Orders.
§ MR. J. O'CONNELL
wished at all events to ask the Home Secretary whether he could now hold out any prospect of the promised remedial measures; whether any immediate step was to be taken, or measure proposed, for providing employment, and thereby the means of procuring food, where there must be a deficiency; and whether a definite day could now be fixed for bringing forward a Landlord and Tenant Bill?
§ SIR G. GREY
was afraid he could give no other answer than that given a few days ago. With regard to the state of some unions in Ireland, the attention of the Government was closely directed to the condition of the people, and they had constant reports respecting it; and there were means at the disposal of the Government which they believed would be amply sufficient to meet any cause of emergency that might arise in those unions. It was not their intention to come to Parliament to ask for a grant for resuming public works, or giving at the public expense gratuitous relief in those parts of Ireland. With regard to a Landlord and Tenant Bill, it had undergone very full consideration, and was still under the consideration of Government; and it was their intention to lay it upon the table after it had received that degree of care which would enable them to present it in a shape in which they thought they could recommend it to the adoption of the House. The Government did not intend to bring forward any business to interfere with the progress of the Crime and Outrage Bill.
§ Order of the Day read.
§ SIR G. GREY
, in rising to move the Second Reading of the Crime and Outrage (Ireland) Bill, said: I wish to be allowed for a few moments to trespass upon the patience of the House while I endeavour to remove a misconception with regard to one part of the Bill, and to notice certain suggestions which have been made to me since the introduction of this measure. By doing this I may probably prevent some unnecessary discussion which might otherwise arise. The point to which I refer is that regarding the augmentation of the police force. The hon. Member for Bucking- 862 hamshire (Mr. Disraeli), after I had stated, on a former night, the outline of the provisions of the Bill, expressed his satisfaction that the state of crime in Ireland was of so limited an extent as to require only an increase of 200 men to the constabulary force. Looking back to the statement I made, I find that the hon. Gentleman's view of the case arose from my statement not having been sufficiently full on this part of the case, and from my not having gone into the existing state of the law having reference to the augmentation of the police in Ireland. I have received several communications suggesting that the increase of the constabulary police force to 200 additional men was too small, and that the police should be increased by 1,000; and also that power should be given to remove police from one county or district to another. Now, I wish to state that the effect of this Bill is to remove all limit whatsoever to the increase of the police, leaving it entirely to the discretion of the Lord Lieutenant to determine what increase shall be made and appointed to the disturbed districts which have been proclaimed. The existing law on the subject stands thus: By the 6th William IV., c. 13, the maximum of the constabulary force in the towns, baronies, and counties of Ireland, beyond which the Lord Lieutenant cannot increase them, except in certain cases, is fixed at 100 men in towns and 16 in baronies or half-baronies. But there are two ways in which the police may, under the present law, be increased: first, on a requisition from seven magistrates at quarter-sessions, stating that the existing amount of the constabulary force in any particular part of the county is insufficient to secure the due execution of the law; and, secondly, by proclamation of the Lord Lieutenant, declaring any particular district in a state of disturbance, in which case he is authorised to increase the constabulary force to the extent, by the first Constabulary Act, of 50 men, but which has since been increased to 100 men. The police have been increased in several counties by virtue of this power, given by the 6th of William IV.; and, under the existing law, half the expense of such increase is defrayed out of the Consolidated Fund, and the other half is levied on that part of the county in which the increased force is required under a grand-jury presentment. The Lord Lieutenant has already the power to remove any portion of the constabulary force from one county 863 or from one part of a county to another, where they may be required; it is not therefore necessary to give him any additional power in that respect by the present Bill; for, by the 27th section of the 6th William IV., express power is given to the Inspector General to remove the police to other counties or to other districts of the same county, subject to the Lord Lieutenant's direction. A reserve force was created by the 2nd and 3rd Victoria, c. 75, to the extent of 200 men, in addition to the appropriated force. By the 9th and 10th Victoria, c. 97, this reserve force has been increased to 400 men. These men are ready to be sent on any sudden emergency from Dublin, either to assist in repressing crime or in apprehending offenders, according to the discretion of the Lord Lieutenant. They form a sort of depôt, answering the same purpose as a regimental depot, where they undergo training, and are accustomed to discipline, which is essential to their organisation and efficiency. The effect of the 3rd Clause of this Bill will be to remove the existing limit of the police, and to give the Lord Lieutenant the power to increase the force to such an amount as he may think fit. And, as we thought it possible that a considerable increase of police might take place under this discretionary power, it was thought desirable that the depot of the reserve force should be increased to meet the demand for new supplies of men from time to time. It is therefore proposed to increase the reserve force to 600. I hope I may have made myself clearly intelligible to the House. I hope it will now be understood that no limit is placed upon the amount of the constabulary force which the Lord Lieutenant may send into any district proclaimed under this Act. I need scarcely refer again to another material part of the Act, with respect to the charges that will be incurred by sending an additional force into any disturbed district. By the present law, half the charge is paid out of the Consolidated Fund, and half by the county or district into which the additional force is sent; but, under this Bill, the whole charge will be imposed on the county or district requiring the increased force. But suggestions have been made, and which are already provided for in the Bill, namely, that the charge for the increased force should not be necessarily co-extensive with the whole county or district which may be proclaimed; but that if the Lord Lieutenant shall think fit to pro- 864 claim any county or district, he may do so, and that the additional police force may be appointed to act for a portion only of the district or county; and that that portion only shall be chargeable for the expense of maintaining such force. There is one other point to which I wish to advert, and to which attention was called by the hon. Member for Meath (Mr. H. Grattan) on a former night. I refer to the Special Constables Act, 2 and 3 William IV., c. 108. That Act gave a very useful power of calling into exercise those duties which devolve upon the inhabitants of a district where crimes and disturbances exist, by calling upon such inhabitants to aid in the execution of the law. The Lord Lieutenant is anxious that it should be known that it is his desire and wish to put into operation the powers of that Act in all cases whore it is thought he can safely do so. The hon. Member for Meath said that the people should be accustomed to act themselves in the vindication of the law. I most entirely agree with the hon. Member, and think that aid should be given by gentlemen and by persons of all classes to the utmost of their power in the execution of the law in all districts, however disturbed they might be. The hon. Member adverted to one instance in which the provisions of that Act had been carried into effect by an hon. Friend of mine, the hon. Member for Roscommon, and his brother (Lord De Freyne) who did by virtue of that Act call out their tenants to aid in preserving the peace; and he believed that by these exertions valuable aid had been rendered in preserving the peace in that portion of the country. I am told, also, that the same course has been taken by the other Member for Roscommon (Mr. Grace) on his estate in that county, and also on the estate of Lord Dillon. Indeed, we are frequently met with the statement that the powers of that Act cannot be safely put in execution in the most disturbed districts, owing to the uncertainty as to the dispositions of the parties who might be called upon to act, and the apprehension that the parties so called upon may be participators in crime. I hope that these fears are exaggerated. I hope that gentlemen residing in the disturbed districts will be ready to avail themselves as much as possible of the provisions of the Act of 2 and 3 William IV., c. 108, and will aid the Government in inducing some portion of the population, even in those disturbed districts, to 865 take upon themselves a share in the repression of crime. The only other part of the measure to which I think it necessary now to advert, is that relating to the law of accessaries. It was stated the other night that the Government had not proposed any alteration of the law with regard to the instigators of crime. My hon. Friend the Member for Hull has given notice of an amendment of the law with regard to accessaries after the fact, which I shall be ready to consider when I see what the proposal is; but it is doubtless of the greatest importance that the person charged with instigating to crime should be amenable to law. This is a subject to which the Lord Lieutenant and the Government have directed their serious attention; but they are of opinion that the means of punishing such offences is given already by the law, so far as the law can afford those means; but the difficulty consists in proving the offence—in obtaining evidence of the words spoken, and reducing mere rumour into positive testimony on oath. Speaking of the Roman Catholic priesthood, it is the opinion of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, that as a body they have rendered very great assistance in maintaining the law, and repressing crime and disturbance. Statements have been made as to words having been spoken by some individuals amongst them exciting to the commission of crime; but in one instance only has any such statement been confirmed by sworn information. That statement is now under consideration of the Lord Lieutenant. The House may be assured that if any case shall be brought forward in which the Lord Lieutenant shall feel that there is sufficient ground for instituting a prosecution with a prospect of success, he will not shrink from the discharge of that part of his duty any more than from any other duty that may devolve upon him as the administrator of the affairs of Ireland. It may be useful for me to state what are the provisions of the existing law with regard to offences of this description. The provision of the 9th George IV., c. 54, sec. 23—which Act is entitled "An Act for the better Administration of Criminal Justice in England," was afterwards transferred into an Irish Act, and made applicable to that country. The words of that Act are—And for the more effectual prosecution of accessaries before the fact for felony, be it enacted, that if any person shall counsel, procure, or command any other person to commit any felony, 866 whether the same be a felony at common law, or by virtue of any statute or statutes made or to be made, the person so counselling, procuring, or commanding, shall be deemed guilty of felony, and may be indicted and convicted as an accessary before the fact to the principal felony, either together with the principal felon, or after the conviction of the principal felon; or may be indicted for and convicted of a substantive felony, whether the principal felon shall or shall not have been previously convicted, or shall or shall not be amenable to justice, and may be punished in the same manner as an accessary before the fact to the same felony, if convicted as an accessary, may be punished.That is the general law in England and in Ireland with regard to accessaries before the fact. Besides this there is a provision in another Act, the 10th of George IV., c. 34, sec. 9—That every person who shall solicit, encourage, persuade, or endeavour to persuade, or who shall propose to any person to murder any other person, shall be guilty of felony, and be subject to capital punishment equally with the murderer himself.The first Act relates to accessaries before the fact to felony, and the second (which I believe is not repealed as to this enactment) relates to encouraging and persuading to murder. I do not know how it would be possible to enact a more stringent law upon these two descriptions of offence. I will not occupy the House any longer, having risen only to remove a misconception as to the powers possessed by the Lord Lieutenant regarding the police force in Ireland, and to anticipate questions that may possibly be put to me from a variety of quarters respecting certain provisions of the Bill, I beg to move, Sir, that the Bill be now read a second time.
§ SIR R. PEEL
I rise to ask a question of the right hon. Gentleman upon a point which I dare say he has already considered; but it appears to me that the enactments of this Bill might be made more distinct than they are at present—that is to say, that instead of referring to other Acts, some of which the right hon. Gentleman must admit may be rather doubtful as to their application, it would be better to re-enact such portions of those Acts in ex-tenso as it is the intention of the right hon. Gentleman to continue in force, and so make the present Bill contain all the enactments necessary for the objects required, instead of legislating by way of reference to former Acts. I wish not to throw the slightest impediment in the way of passing this Bill; but, thinking it possible that difficulties may arise in consequence of re- 867 ference being made to former Acts, I would merely suggest whether those difficulties might not be obviated, and the law rendered more clear and intelligible.
§ SIR G. GREY
I presume the observations of the right hon. Gentleman relate more particularly to the 17th Clause of the Bill, by which the provisions of the Whiteboy Acts are rendered, by way of reference, a portion of this Act. I do not think any advantage would be gained by re-enacting those clauses seriatim in this Act. The Whiteboy Acts are the 15th and 16th George III., and the 1st and 2nd George IV. They enumerate certain offences to which certain penalties are attached, such offences occurring in counties or districts marked by agrarian disturbances. In order to a prosecution under those Acts, it is required that evidence shall be given as to the state of the county or district in which the offences are committed. This evidence is necessary before you can convict any offender. All that it is now proposed to do is—not to make the slightest alteration in the provisions of the Whiteboy Acts, which are well known, but to dispense with the preliminary proof as to the disturbed state of the county or district in which the offence is committed, and to require simply a proof of the issuing of the proclamation by the Lord Lieutenant, stating that in his opinion it is a district requiring the provisions of the Act to be applied to it.
§ MR. JOHN O'CONNELL
said, that he had listened with very great amazement and sorrow to the speech of the right hon. Baronet. He was sorry to witness the hostile feeling displayed towards Ireland in that House, and the disposition there was in it to encourage an infringement upon the constitution and liberties of the people of that country. The right hon. Baronet had seemed annoyed at the questions which he put to him; he regretted that should have been the case, while at the same time he admitted that they were a mere repetition of those which he found it his duty to put to him on a previous occasion. But he had done so in order to give him one more chance to put himself right with the people of Ireland, and in order to hold out some show of reason for the passing of this Bill of Coercion, or an earnest intention of remedying the distresses of the people. He did not think he would have to trouble him again with these questions; and he feared that it was now the bounden duty of every Irishman to proclaim aloud to the 868 people that there was no hope of either mercy or justice from an English House of Parliament, and that they must sit down and give themselves up to despair. The right hon. Gentleman had noticed some objections which had been made by some English Members during the progress of the debate; and he prayed the House to mark that those of Irish Members were not even treated with the decency or courtesy of a reply. He certainly was of opinion that some little decency ought to be used towards them when they were dragged at great personal inconvenience to attend there in the midst of a Parliament which, if not hostile, was certainly not well disposed to their country, and that when relief and mercy were denied to them, at least the small attention might be bestowed upon them of answering their objections. It was hopeless indeed for Irish Members to expect to be listened to by that House with attention; and he, therefore, did not think it necessary to dwell at any length upon the circumstances contained in the Bill. No later ago than last year the noble Lord at the head of the Government had declared that he would be no party to coercion without measures of relief; yet he now introduced a Coercion Bill more stringent than its predecessors, unaccompanied by a single remedial measure. He (Mr. J. O'Connell) had compared the statement of the right hon. Gentleman who brought in the Bill with the statement of the late Government in reference to the same subject; and he was bound to say that Her Majesty's Government had not made out a case in point of criminality at all equal to that of their predecessors in office to justify their demand for the Bill. It was sufficient, however, that the late Government should be overturned on that Bill. No terms were, of course, to be kept with Ireland. It was a habit of that House—a custom of the English mind—to treat Ireland with disregard; and the right hon. Baronet might push the measure as fast as he chose, because he was sure he could carry it in that House with a high hand, so it was for the coercion of that country. Irish Members had no means of resistance in their power, nor had they any opportunity of redress. They could not even use the forms of the House with success, though he, for one, should glory in the term "factious" which would be applied to their opposition, if he could avert by the use of those means the blow now aimed at the liberties of his 869 country. They could not hope to succeed even in playing what was vulgarly called "the long game," such was the temper of the House in regard to this measure. The Government had trampled on every sentiment of decency and consistency in their conduct as respected it. Was that the way, he would ask the House, to convince his country and its representatives that they were in error in supposing that only from their own Parliament could they hope for common justice? The deep-seated convictions of a whole nation on that subject could not be removed by a contemptuous silence, when the Government would not condescend to argue a point of such immense importance with Irish representatives. Every attention was paid to the observations of English representatives, especially when they suggested severity; but nothing that the Irish Members could say was attended to. England had usurped the power of legislation; she now usurped the power of suppressing remonstrances. He would now turn to the practical objections to the Bill; and if the right hon. Gentleman who had charge of it wished to vindicate his consistency and that of the Government he would not hesitate to answer them. The first was in reference to the preamble of the measure. He (Mr. J. O'Connell) had permitted the Bill to be brought in on the assurance of the right hon. Gentleman that it should only be extended to the five or six counties which were disturbed, although he knew well that his conduct in so doing would be misinterpreted in Ireland; but he now found that this assurance had been broken, not only in substance but in the letter; for the application of its provisions was in the power of any Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, and there was no restriction whatever as to the county or district. It was not needed that such county or district should be in a state of disturbance or afflicted with outrage; the most peaceable as well as the most troubled were liable to the process, and the Lord Lieutenant could place it without the pale of the law, by his own act, without any consultation with the authorities of the country. It was, in fact, the establishment of a dictatorship in Ireland—an office unknown to the constitution, and the Lord Lieutenant was actually an absolute dictator. He (Mr. J. O'Connell) admired the career of statesmanship of that noble Lord who now held the office of Lord Lieutenant of Ireland; but he was surrounded by men who had an interest in keeping the truth from him; he was ig- 870 norant of Ireland himself, and the truth was walled out from him. Yet to this noble Lord the most absolute powers were intrusted over the liberties and property of the Irish people. He (Mr. J. O'Connell) acquitted the right hon. Gentleman of intentional breach of faith on this head; and he believed it to be the result of ignorance of the nature of the machine placed in his hands by the cunning sub-artificers whom he employed in the matter. If the smallest infringement of the liberties of the people of England had taken place, there would be plenty of Hampdens and Pyms in that House ready to set the country in a blaze; but there was not one of them to say a word for Ireland—the Irish were of course out of the pale of the constitution, which was made for Englishmen, and not for them. The power to be intrusted to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland was said by the right hon. Gentleman to be confided because of that nobleman's high character; but suppose a change were to take place in the Government—and more improbable things had come to pass—would their supporters feel equal confidence in the judgment and character of the individual who should replace that noble Lord, and whose political principles they should naturally and necessarily hold in distrust? He hoped before the debate was concluded, that he should get an answer to these objections to the measure; and he hoped he should get it from the hon. Member from Drogheda at least; who, though he well knew the influences by which that hon. Gentleman was surrounded, was not, he trusted, wholly oblivious of their common country. Then with respect to the operation of that part of the Bill which related to the search for arms; there was no safeguard in it for personal liberty. It was, in fact, at the mercy of any policeman; and it should be borne in mind that the police in Ireland were a peculiarly constituted body. Originally they were taken from the Orange portion of the population; and though that element of evil was somewhat mitigated of late years, at least three-fourths of the officers of that force were to this day among the most embittered Orangemen in Ireland. Yet it was to this "small fry" that the execution of the Bill was to be committed. He (Mr. J. O'Connell), under these circumstances, hoped that the clause would be so amended as to make it necessary for a stipendary magistrate to be present at each search for arms. He said a stipendiary magistrate, because the local magis- 871 tracy was not always to be trusted. The appointments even to the stipendiary magistracy were not such as to give confidence to the people; but they were less objectionable than the local magistrates, many of whom might have a direct interest in the case. He instanced the appointment of Dr. Ryan to the stipendiary magistracy of Clonmel, in the county of Tipperary, as one specially objectionable to the people of that district, with whom he had always been in a state of bitter hostility. Yet the Government had not only appointed him in opposition to the wishes of the Members for the county and two of the boroughs, but they had actually gone beyond the law to do so, as he was older than the regulations for that office prescribed. In that and other respects Her Majesty's Government appeared to follow in the footsteps of the late Government, filling as they did posts of importance in Ireland with men who were known to be bitterly hostile to the people of that country. He begged hon. Gentlemen not to be led away by the statement of the right hon. Gentleman (Sir. G. Grey), as to the clause sanctioning the levying of half the expense of the carrying out of this Act on the disturbed districts—being merely a copy of the old Acts which had been passed in former times, with regard to outrages committed in England. It was the owners of property—the feudal barons—they upon whom the responsibility of carrying out the ordinary laws rested, that were compelled to pay the expenses incurred by the Coercion Acts centuries gone by. In fact, the Saxon principle, if carried out now with regard to Ireland, would make the stipendiary magistrates who had the charge of the disturbed districts, and not the people, responsible for the crimes and outrages committed in Ireland. And that was a most sound, wholesome, and excellent principle. If the Government persisted in their attempts to carry this Bill, and it received the sanction of the Legislature, he could only prognosticate its complete failure, and that before six months had elapsed from the time it passed, parts of Ireland would be covered with blood. It must have that effect inevitably. Any person who was acquainted with Ireland must know that if they attempted to levy the cess imposed by this Bill on disturbed districts, their attempts would be attended with the shedding of blood. It was well known that many districts could not even pay the poor-rates. Perhaps some might 872 say, "Oh, but we'll send the police and military to collect the cess." But they had tried that system before; they sent the police and military to collect small sums of money which the people were disinclined, but which they were able to pay. He did not recollect what was the exact sum which they succeeded in collecting, but he recollected distinctly the proportion which it bore to the expense of its collection. They collected somewhere about 12,000l. or 13,000l. for tithes; but the expense of police and military amounted to 28,000l., and at last the Government was obliged to desist and proclaim peace. But in the first instance they said, as they said now, that they would stand up for the dignity of the law, heedless of the feelings of the people; but they discovered in the end that they had taken a very wrong course, whilst, on the other hand, they might have at first made a virtue of necessity, and gained the affections of the people. He asserted with the most solemn conviction, that it would be utterly and hopelessly impossible to carry this Bill into operation, as far as regarded the collection of cess, without causing the shedding of blood. They could scarcely devise any more effectual plan than this Bill, if they wished to make the police, who were unfortunately unpopular in several districts, still more the objects of the people's aversion; and if the Bill were carried, they would also make the military, who had hitherto been popular in Ireland, the subjects of popular odium; they would also bring the Government and that House into contempt amongst the people of Ireland. He had hoped that, before this time, the Government would have brought forward some remedial measure which would have held out a sort of premium to the well-disposed, and shown the people of Ireland that the Legislature believed that there were other and better means of restoring peace to Ireland than the passing of Coercion Bills. But the Government had not given the slightest intimation of such a course; nay, there was every reason to believe that not only would the Bill pass that House in its present form, but that, when it reached the Committee in the other House, there was almost absolute certainty of still more stringent clauses being introduced into it. They might anticipate that, from the reports which had been published in the newspapers of the conversations that had passed in another place, and the compliments which were 873 paid to noble Lords who denounced the people of Ireland as murderers, and their priests as the abettors of murder. What could he expect from the right hon. Gentlemen on the Treasury Bench, when their Colleagues in the other House had even gone so far as to compliment that noble Lord who had once filled the office of Secretary for Ireland, and whose hatred of Ireland and her religion amounted even to insanity—what, he asked, could be expected from a Government that could condescend to compliment that noble Lord's denunciations of Ireland and her priesthood, and who had scoffed at confession, that solemn ordinance in the Roman Catholic Church, and which, of course, its members held in the highest veneration? He certainly did acknowledge that the provision in the Bill about the licensing of arms was a good one, inasmuch as it did not vest the power of licensing in the hands of the magistrates of the disturbed districts. Such magistrates would, of course, be keen partisans; and it would have been a sad provision if they had been constituted the judges in such matters. As he had had occasion to find so much fault with the other parts of the Bill, he must say that, in his opinion, Her Majesty's Government had, in this respect, taken a very wise course. He came now to a very severe clause, that which related to the old White-boy Acts. He most strongly objected to that provision, and on this ground, that whereas the powers of the Whiteboy Acts, severe and cruel as they were, could not be brought into play unless disturbance, crime, and outrage were proved to exist in a district, this Bill, whilst it proposed to let loose upon the people of Ireland all those severe enactments, did at the same time utterly do away with the necessity of any such proof. In fact, the Bill provided no security against those dreadful severities being put into execution in the most peaceable district of the country. It gave not the slightest shadow of protection, although the contrary had been stated in the speech of the right hon. Baronet (Sir G. Grey), when he introduced the Bill. The Bill would make an absolute and despotic dictator of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, who, without the slightest practical knowledge of Ireland, or the slightest proof of the disturbed state of any district, might proclaim the most peaceable portion of the country, and bring down upon it the horrors of this and the Whiteboy Acts. Now, he must say nothing was more strongly im- 874 pressed on his mind than that Her Majesty's Ministers were engaged in a retrograde course with regard to Ireland. Before they assumed the reins of government they asserted that Ireland was not to be governed any longer by coercion, but by just and impartial laws; and they declared that, if such legislation were adopted towards her, she would soon emerge from her present state of gloom and poverty into one of brightness and prosperity. But now that they had the government of that unhappy country in their hands, they forgot their pledges and their professed principles, and were doing all they could to postpone that bright day, the advent of which they had so loudly trumpeted. They were going back to what might be called the dark ages of legislation towards Ireland; nay, more, they were going beyond what might be called those dark ages, for they were attempting to bring down again upon Ireland the severities and cruelties of the Whiteboy Acts, which were passed in the worst days of political and religious intolerance, without requiring the proofs which were required, even in those times, of the existence of disturbance. Her Majesty's Ministers were about to outdo, in severity towards Ireland, any former Government, notwithstanding the distinct declarations to the contrary on which they succeeded in obtaining office. Everything in Ireland would henceforth be at the will of the great dictator, the Lord Lieutenant. Even the Coercion Bill of 1833, which contained some very severe clauses, did not allow one step to be taken before a district was declared by a presentment of the grand jury of the district to be in a disturbed state, which presentment, of course, like any other presentment, could be traversed to the next assizes or sessions of the district. But this Bill trampled the law under foot. There was also another severity connected with this provision, as to the Whiteboy Acts, to which he strongly objected. Parties indicted under that provision would be indicted for a misdemeanor, whilst they would, at the same time, be subjected to penalties attaching to a felony. The effect of that provision would be, that the indicted parties would be deprived of the invaluable privilege of challenging the jury, which was allowed even to a felon—indeed he might observe, by the way, that, in his opinion, the right of challenge ought to be allowed in all cases. The eighteenth clause took away the right of traversing the indictment. And how, then, would the 875 Bill work? In this way—any policeman who chose to revenge himself on his neighbour—and any one conversant with the state of things in Ireland must know that there were plenty of such policemen—might lodge information against him, and before the party had the slightest opportunity to prepare himself for defence, without notice he might be called upon to answer any charge that the policeman might bring against him, and have no chance of procuring a postponement of the trial. It was well known that witnesses could be easily procured to support any charges whether made by the police or others. Now that, surely, could not be just. If the Government thought that by listening to the bloodhound cry of journals hostile to the people of Ireland, and the exaggerations of what was going on amongst them—if they thought that by ruling the Irish people by the iron hand of coercion instead of justice, they would succeed in establishing peace in that country, he must distinctly tell them that they would find themselves completely mistaken; and the fact that coercion without remedial measures had proceeded from a professedly Liberal Government, would only have the effect of still more exasperating the people of Ireland. The whole experience of Ireland was against coercion. Why, then, did not the Government act justly and wisely? Why did they not consider the case of the tenants as well as of the landlords? Why did they not show some regard to the constitution and to the law? He had gone through the chief matters in the Bill to which he objected. They were many and grievous. He had been indeed no way prepared, when he gave his consent to the first reading, for a Bill of such petty, minute, ingenious, torturing details. It was the most deceptive measure ever brought before the House. In other Coercion Bills there had been frank, bold, avowed oppression. In this enactment it was covert. This was an insidious, deceptive, sneaking Bill. It deserved no other terms. It did underhand that which its authors had not courage to do plainly and openly. It went beyond the powers of the worst clause of the worst previous Act. It was calculated to meet the people at every turn—to annoy them in their persons, their pockets, and their liberties. It was therefore that he felt it to be his duty most vigorously to oppose the Bill. He knew that that opposition would be ineffectual. He knew that he had no chance of defeating the Bill— 876 that he had no chance of obtaining even a mitigation of the Bill; and he knew from what he saw stated in the newspapers, what was the bloodhound cry used to urge the measure forward. He knew that in another place, where the bitterest enmity, where an insanity of hostility to the Irish people had been more than once expressed, he knew that there, at least, the Bill had no chance of improvement. There, in the place to which he had referred, the cry was, "Down with the priests, punish the priests, oppress the priests, carry out the principle, crush the priests!" Oh, crush them, and see in what state you would soon have Ireland, deprived of her best and surest peace-makers! These were the men, indeed, who had alone controlled the exasperation of a people enduring suffering more intense than those of any nation on the face of the earth. But nothing could be done on their behalf. He found it utterly impossible to obtain even a shadow of justice. Government had turned their minds against Ireland. They had told the people of relief, and now withheld it. They could not even name the distant day when their measures of relief would come. Why did they not come forward with the Landlord and Tenant Bill? The House was told that Government found the subject too difficult, and that it must be put off. But at all events let the measure be introduced. Even were it not passed—were it to be laid upon the table before Christmas—were Ireland to be allowed to see its provisions, to assure itself that they were those of an honest Bill—were only this to be done, he did assure the Government that it would do much towards facilitating the restoration of peace in Ireland. In the meantime he, and the other Irish Members who acted with him, felt that they, at all events, had done their duty. If blood were shed, let it be on the heads of those who would not stay these calamities. He and those who acted with him would have at least the consolation of knowing that they had done their duty to themselves and to their country.
§ MR. B. COCHRANE
said, he was, indeed, surprised at the speech which had just been delivered by the hon. Member for Limerick (Mr. J. O'Connell). He (Mr. Cochrane) understood the Hon. Member to say, when this Bill was introduced, that if he did not give it his most cordial support, he at all events recognised the necessity of such a measure. But it appeared that 877 the Hon. Gentleman now turned back, as if afraid—E'en at the sound himself had made"—and he now took a totally different view of the Bill, which he declared was introduced in compliance with a bloodhound cry. The hon. Member had compared that part of this Bill for the Prevention of Crime and Outrage in Ireland with other measures which had been brought forward at different periods; and he compared, at the same time, the state of crime in Ireland now with the state of crime at other periods. He was rather astounded that the complaint made against this measure was, not that its provisions were too severe, but that they were not sufficiently coercive. He had expected that the hon. Member would have insisted on the Bill being made more stringent, rather than have delivered such philippics as he had delivered in that House against the Bill. The hon. Gentleman appeared to him to have but one panacea to meet the difficulties of Ireland, and that was, that England should send plenty of money to Ireland. He must say, that his feeling was, that all legislation should go upon this principle—that all that Government was bound to do, and all that Government could do, was to call forth the energies and the resources of a nation; but that it was most foolish to hold that any Government, as a Government, could stand between the dead and the living, that the plague might be stayed. Though every one must lament when famine, and pestilence, and suffering fell upon a nation, yet he contended that the alleviation of that distress was not the especial province of Government, but of private charity; and he would ask hon. Gentlemen in that House, whether that private charity had not been most nobly and generously extended by the people of this country to Ireland during her recent calamities? He must say, further, that if there were any bright spot which he should have expected to discover in the great darkness which overwhelmed Ireland in the present time, it would have been the gratitude, the kind, generous, and grateful feelings that the conduct of this nation ought to have called forth. And, therefore, when the hon. Gentleman had stood up, as he had done the other night, and said England had done nothing for Ireland—when he said that Ireland owed no debt of gratitude—and that we were bound to do what we had done—he uttered language which 878 in his mouth was most grievous to hear-As he had before said, he contended that the chief duty of a Government was to call forth the energy and industry of its people, and not to stand entirely in loco parentis; but they did call upon the Government to stand in loco parentis; then it was the first duty of the Government to do all in its power to prevent crime and outrage in the country. He should like to ask the House how far they had ever found any favourable result from their concessions to Ireland? After 1793, when the penal laws were abrogated, came the United Irishmen of 1796. It was then that a treasonable correspondence was kept up with Prance, and that the Irish Rebellion broke out. After the Catholic Relief Bill—that Relief Bill which the Duke of Wellington said would give security to the Church, and strength to every department of the Government, and tranquillity to the country at large—after that measure, after the names of Anglesey, Fortescue, Besborough, and now Clarendon, had been added to the list of the great and good men who had governed Ireland—they found the country in as bad a state as it ever was, and even worse than when placed under the most stringent system of coercion. He held in his hand copies of letters which passed between the Duke of Rutland and Mr. Pitt in 1783, the Duke of Rutland being then Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.That country," says the Duke of Rutland to Mr. Pitt, "must be governed in the most manly and undaunted manner; and he stated frankly that, however much Great Britain might wish by legislative measures to ameliorate the state of Ireland unless she ruled with a firm hand, that country would never be at peace.And such he believed was the case with Ireland now. They might go on granting and granting to Ireland, but unless they were determined to make their stand somewhere, and insist that the law was to be carried out in all its vigour, he believed that further concession was perfectly useless. The hon. Member for Nottingham (Mr. O'Connor) brought forward the other night the question of Repeal. He (Mr. Cochrane) thought it was a significant occurrence that an English Member had brought forward that question; and he would warn the hon. Gentlemen who advocated repeal to take care that the cry of repeal did not at last come from this side of the water. He believed that that day would come. He remembered the words of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tam-worth, in 1843 when he said, with refer- 879 ence to the impression which the advocacy of the repeal of the Union seemed to convey, that Irish interests were sacrificed to British interests by the maintenance of the Union, he believed that a repeal of the Union would be fatal to both countries; it would be dangerous to England, and Ireland would become the most wretched, the most distracted, and the most outcast part of the civilised globe. Irishmen do not know, said the right hon. Baronet, how much they owe to the Union with England. When he spoke of the repeal of the Union, he did not mean merely that repeal which the hon. Member for Limerick advocated, namely, the sitting of a Parliament in College Green. He remembered the hon. Gentleman's father insisting on the desirableness of a Parliament sitting in Dublin, because then, said he, "if your Members did not vote exactly as you liked, you could knock them on the head with your short knob-sticks." Now, that was not the repeal of the Union which he meant. He believed that the day would come when this country would call out, unless Ireland changed her conduct, for the entire repeal of the Union. Ireland would then be left to its own resources. [Ironical cries of "Hear!"] Hon. Gentlemen might cry "Hear;" but he should like to know in what sort of position Ireland would then be. He could not help referring to the tone and temper of the speeches of the hon. Gentlemen opposite, and of those of the Irish priests to their constituents in Ireland. He at least could not be accused of any bad feeling towards a body of men whom he believed to be truly respectable, having himself, no longer ago than the previous night, given his vote in favour of the Roman Catholic Relief Bill. But he did say this, that they had a right to look to the language that was made use of by those gentlemen. At that very meeting at which Archdeacon Laffan had uttered the violent language attributed to him, Mr. John O'Connell was present. At that meeting they had a clergyman denouncing landlords, and talking of the Saxon not daring to shoot those whom he considered his oppressors. And Mr. John O'Connell made a speech in which the following occurred:—Your clergy, your beloved clergy, ever true to you, and to you have been, as you ought ever to be, true, and whose counsel, if you listen to them as you have ever listened, must keep you safe—I say that beloved clergy would not be here, if you or any of us were to commit crime. You 880 who are assembled here this day have come for a pure and holy object;"—Good God! 'a pure and holy object!'—"You have come to look for the preservation of order, for the preservation of society, and when we go to Parliament we shall be able to tell them that the men of Tipperary, so long oppressed, so long calumniated, so long denounced, have assembled in peacefulness and good order to demand their rights.And all this was said at the very same meeting that Archdeacon Laffan delivered that horrible and iniquitous address. Who could have believed that that address would have been suffered to pass without rebuke? Was there in that address any "peaceful assertion of the great rights of society?" Then came Mr. Maher, who said—Some of them were so sanctimonious that they would sooner spend hours listening to a stupid preacher, than to the important truths inculcated at that meeting."Important truths" those were, certainly, to be imparted to his fellow-countrymen. It was one of the highest importance, no doubt, that their fellow-countrymen should be told by Archdeacon Laffan that the Saxon had not the courage to shoot him whom he supposed to be his oppressor. He (Mr. Cochrane) therefore contended that every man, as a gentleman, as a man, as a citizen of the world, was bound to have expressed his abhorrence of such horrid language. But was that all? He found that high authorities in the Irish Church did not complain at all of this language, made use of by the inferior clergy. He found John, Archbishop of Tuam, said—I cannot but congratulate you, and the Catholic people of Ireland, whose sentiments of attachment to religion and public order are so happily represented in your association, on the tone and manner in which you have treated the representatives of the Holy Father to his faithful children in Ireland.Dr. Ryan, the Bishop of Limerick, said—The higher classes, forgetful of their Christian obligations, trample on those they are placed over; they treat them like cattle—cold and callous to the voice of humanity—dead to the ordinary feelings of commiseration—untouched by the cries of famine and pestilence, the wailings of hunger, the lamentations of women and children, and the terrible condition of the poor man—they exercise over their victims a system of heartless cruelty, calculated to bring down the vengeance of Heaven on their heads.He asked the House, was this language becoming men who styled themselves the pastors of the people, and ministers of 881 peace? Was it right or proper that Government should stand quietly by whilst those men inflamed and exasperated the passions of the people? Were they to be allowed to go on denouncing and pointing out the victims for assassination? Was not such heartless cruelty calculated to bring down the vengeance of Heaven upon the land? He admitted the distress and suffering which the people endured; but this very fact rendered them tenfold more susceptible of such inflammatory language. He had no hesitation in saying, that men using such language, whether curates, parish priests, or bishops, in whatever light they might be regarded by the law, were, in the eye of Heaven, accessories before the fact, and the instigators of murder. Their guilt was aggravated by their cowardice—With the cold caution of the coward's spleen, Who fears not guilt, but always seeks a screen, And keeps this maxim ever in the view, What's basely done should be done safely too.He regretted to see men in such a position, and with so much influence, such evil counsellors. One would have thought that, as Christian men, not to say as pastors, they would have been unceasing in their endeavours to assuage the angry feelings of their flocks, and by good advice and example endeavour to keep them out of the path of crime. In the words of Wesley, he would call on Her Majesty's Government vigorously to exert the laws against those who by their lives and principles inflamed the people to madness—to teach the people that there was a difference between that liberty which was glorious, and a licentiousness which was only its abandoned abuse. How (said he) shall we appeal to the feelings and touch the hearts of this infatuated people? Never—until the cause of that infatuation is removed; never—until the Government are prepared to act with vigour, and shrink from no responsibility, to strike at the root of the evil, and to teach the people that the law, like death, levels all distinctions. Then, and not till then, will we have such a union as will be binding and real, and without which it would be better to have a union of kind feeling and of Christian virtue only.
§ MR. HUME
could not understand what the opinion of the hon. Member for Kilkenny of that House must be, when he asserted as facts what were fallacies, and attempted to impose on the public allegations that were not borne out by the facts. 882 He (Mr. Hume) would not go beyond the present time; but no person was ever more constant and true than he had been against the system of coercing or ill-using the people of Ireland. He had throughout advocated the removal of all ground of complaint, and that they should be treated in a manner to make them satisfied with the Government. If there were any charge of inconsistency against the present Ministry for proposing a Coercion Bill now, having on a former occasion voted against the measure of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth, it lay equally against him; for he voted on that occasion against that Bill. He had always voted against Coercion Bills; but was this a Coercion Bill? Was there anything in it that consigned the whole people of Ireland to coercion? No; and yet the hon. Member for Limerick talked of this Bill as a Bill to attack and punish the people of Ireland. He (Mr. Hume) denied that allegation. It was intended to punish those who committed murder—who caused mischief, and disturbed Her Majesty's peaceful subjects. It was not to coerce the people of Ireland, but to give protection to the innocent, that they might honestly follow their occupation without molestation; and they had a right to demand from that House such protection. The Bill was to punish the few who violated the law; it was inappropriate, therefore, to say that it applied to the whole of Ireland. Then the hon. Member said, "We, the Members for Ireland, are against it." He (Mr. Hume) had looked at the division list—and had he been in his place he should have swelled the majority in favour of the Bill—and he found that, out of 105 Irish Members, only 14 had, in the first instance, voted against it; and on the second occasion, only 13. Taking the aggregate, they were in the proportion of 91 to 14, and 92 to 13 in favour of the Bill. 33 and 34 had actually voted for it. It was too much, then, to say that the Irish Members were against it. The hon. Member had repeated so often, "We, the people of Ireland," that he was reminded of the old story of the three tailors of Tooley-street, who began their address, "We, the people of England." The hon. Member put himself in the situation of the three tailors of Tooley-street. He flattered himself, and was inflated with the idea, that he was the representative of all Ireland. He (Mr. Hume) was not now a representative for Ireland; but had he been so, he should have considered himself called upon 883 to deny the allegation of the hon. Member. The hon. Member spoke for himself and a few whom he was considered to represent; but the notion of his being the representative of Ireland was altogether unfounded. Another charge, of a most serious nature, which the hon. Member brought against this Bill was, that it placed the people of Ireland under the dictatorship of Lord Clarendon; that he could do what he pleased; that it was to invest him with absolute power. But the hon. Member had either misconceived or mistaken the powers conferred by this Bill; no such thing could be done but by the intervention of the Privy Council. The hon. Member had spoken of the inconsistency of some Members of that House; but why had he not taken care of his own? He (Mr. Hume) found a very curious letter, signed "J. O'Connell," (dated, "Library, House of Commons, 11½ P.M., 29th November,") and addressed to the editor of the Freeman's Journal. That letter was written to show to the whole Irish nation what was the opinion of the self-styled representative of all Ireland. The hon. Gentleman said—The Government proposition to-night is to give the Lord Lieutenant power to increase the police force in the disturbed districts, and to prevent the carrying of arms in the same. Arms, however, may be retained at home by all who apply for license, not to a magistrate, but to the Government officer, sent down to hold a kind of sessions for the purpose. The Bill is to be only of partial application.Now, was not this a very fair statement of the scope and aim of the Bill? And how did the hon. Member reconcile this criticism with what he had stated of the Bill that evening? How were they to explain his inconsistency between the remarks on the 29th, and the speech that night? The hon. Member in his letter went on to say—And the moment the Lord Lieutenant has withdrawn his proclamation, the right of carrying arms will be again allowed. This is, it must be acknowledged, very different from what we expected, and, if fairly administered, may not inconvenience any but the authors of these disturbances.This was the very reason why he (Mr. Hume) supported the Bill; this was the reason why the Government should be supported by every lover of rational liberty.The new measure may in the disturbed districts be useful, and the increase of police is absolutely necessary,"—said the hon. Member, in his letter to the Dublin newspaper; and what, there- 884 fore, was his justification for the tone he had taken that night? The hon. Member was not treating the subject as became him; if he was anxious to see justice done to his country, and to have her grievances redressed, the hon. Member would do well not to bring forward unfounded charges. To the statement of real grievances the House would be always attentive; but all confidence would be lost in the hon. Member if he made assertions altogether unsupported, and completely at variance with what had been said by himself on former occasions. The hon. Gentleman complained that the policy of this country to Ireland had always been oppressive. Perhaps, if he (Mr. Hume) referred to past speeches of his own, the same sentiment would be found declared; but it was useless, and loss of time, to go into that question now. Past policy would not warrant them in sitting still when assassins and murderers were in the land. There could be no justification for those murderers, and no justification for the Legislature if they were left unpunished. He had listened with the deepest regret to that speech of the hon. Gentleman the other evening, in which he entered into a long argument to show that these outrages in Ireland might be somewhat excused, on the ground that the conduct of the landlords was cruel and unjust. It was a dangerous office to assume, that of an apologist for murder; and he believed that the statements read by the hon. Member from the newspapers were wholly unfounded. The colouring given by the hon. Member to the conduct of Major Mahon was as different from the truth as light from darkness. Allusion had been made to the case of Mr. Cardan; was it meant that he ought to be punished because his conduct, in the view of the people, was oppressive? Did the hon. Member know that this gentleman had been shot at seven different times; and was he now to be held up by the priests, supposed to be peacemakers, to the execration of the whole of Ireland? If the hon. Member was a lover of peace, and anxious to save blood, he was not taking the means by which he might accomplish his object. He had warned the Government that if this measure were carried out, blood would be shed; but had not blood been already shed? And let the hon. Member not forget that while by these tirades he was obstructing the progress of the Bill, more murders might be added to the list. It was not true that the people 885 of England were retrogading in their love towards Ireland. He could give the hon. Member the results of his own experience; and during the whole of his long public life he had never attended a public meeting, whether of the working or other classes, where the wrongs of Ireland had been spoken of without having heard the cry of "Shame!" burst from the assembly. And when, in the favourite words of the hon. Member's deceased relative, "Justice to Ireland" was demanded, the expression of public feeling was always sympathetic, and the response invariably was, "Let justice be done." The people of England saw abuses by the Irish, and they would not tolerate them. They heard of a priest denouncing from the altar, in the morning, some obnoxious individual, and they heard again that in the evening that individual had fallen by the hand of the assassin; and when they knew that this wretched murderer could afterwards obtain absolution from the priest for his abominable crime, they could not be ignorant of the power possessed by the priests, and they could not but question if that power was exercised to the best purposes. If there was any class of men in Her Majesty's dominions who ought to be more especially circumspect than another in their public declarations, it was the class of parish priests in Ireland. Their exemplary conduct, in general, as pastors, their strict attention to their duties, the readiness with which they granted aid to their distressed parishioners, and the reverence paid to them by their own flocks, gave them the greatest possible influence for good or evil; every word they uttered was important, and they should be, particularly at this period of excitement, excessively cautious in using any expression which might convey condemnation or dislike of any person in their neighbourhood. He had always maintained the interests of the Catholic clergy, from the highest to the lowest; he had struggled during his public life to place them on a footing of exact equality in civil rights with the clergy of the Protestant Church; and he had looked anxiously to see the heads of the Church taking some decisive step, cautioning their clergy against the use of the expressions imputed to them. He did not doubt that all he had read in the newspapers was true; and, as the heads of the Church had had the same opportunities for observation, it behaved them, in the station they filled, to have come forward to caution the priests for the future, 886 if the allegations were true, or to undeceive the public if they were false. For these reasons he regretted to see the Irish Members offering an opposition to the Bill which was altogether unjustifiable and unnecessary. The hon. Member knew enough of the customary observances of the House to be aware that, not having voted against its introduction, the objections which he entertained to the Bill should have been offered seriatim in Committee. As a consistent man, the hon. Member ought to have supported the Bill until it had been committed. It was true that the Government had still much to do in bringing forward remedial measures; but it could be no reason for rejecting this Bill that this came first. This was a remedy for murder; and to stop murder was the most important of the objects they could now have in view. No doubt the Government would not fail in its duty; there would be no loss of time in entering upon that policy of conciliation towards Ireland which would eventually make the people contented and happy; but in the meantime this Bill must be carried, and without any delay. He feared the evil was deeper than might at first appear. He feared there was a deep-laid conspiracy against the payment of rent—a conspiracy, in fact, against property as against life. And what were the foundations for security in society if property was not to be protected? If such designs were in contemplation, the responsibility would rest upon Her Majesty's Government of looking deeper into the state of Ireland than was at all contemplated by this Bill. He was glad that Ministers called for no law that was not constitutional. This Bill was not unconstitutional: protection was wanted for life, and no more was proposed to be given. Would any Irishman or Englishman say that less should be granted? Things had arrived at that pass that the Government was bound to step in, and until peace was restored there would be no chance of employment being offered, or of habits of industry arising among the people. At present it could not be expected that any wealthy man would remain in Ireland, or that any capitalist would speculate there, in land or otherwise, when they saw every landed proprietor of liberal feelings, and testifying anxiety to improve the condition of those around him, threatened with assassination or absolutely murdered. The new cry of tenant-right appeared to him to be a proposition for the tenant and landlord to be 887 come joint proprietors, and there could not be a more dangerous notion. A law to that effect would attack the root of all industry, and render the people more miserable than ever. He had seen some letters lately, describing the condition of an estate in Ireland. The parties were in arrear for three, four, and five years; they had been requested to give up the land or to pay the rent; and their reply was that they would do neither the one thing nor the other. The land in several places remained altogether barren; but they resisted until the sheriff was called in, and even when they were ejected the landlord was obliged to pass by all arrears, and, still worse, to pay them for going peaceably. Was this to be tenant-right? and if such a system were acted upon, could they expect to secure prosperity in Ireland? While no one was more anxious than he was to accord every proper privilege to Ireland, he could not witness, without condemning, the attempt now made to resist the Legislature in taking measures to protect life and secure property.
§ MR. CALLAGHAN
could not help thinking, after the speech they had just heard, that the hon. Member for Montrose was "fallen, fallen from his high estate." The hon. Member had most decidedly failed in explaining his change of opinion towards Ireland. They, the representatives of Ireland, had looked to the hon. Gentleman as a fair arbitrator, who would be likely to acknowledge the rights and anxious to maintain the liberties of their country; and, thus disappointed, he felt more than ever desirous of seeing that state of things when the Legislature to which Ireland had to appeal would be of a character more impartial and more merciful than at present. He thought that the hon. Member for Limerick had acted with perfect consistency. The Irish Members had at first been agreeably disappointed at the apparent mildness of the measure, and they had, therefore, offered no opposition to its being introduced. They had since found that it gave irresponsible power to the Lord Lieutenant; and on that ground he, for one, now objected to it. The hon. Member for Montrose seemed to take all the charges uttered against the Irish priests for granted, merely because the calumnies were generally believed in England. The hon. Member proposed to direct the hierarchy of the Catholic Church as to the course they should pursue with the priests; but he would find he was as- 888 suming a very dangerous office. He (Mr. Callaghan) denied altogether the charges against the clergy. The hon. Member for Tipperary (Mr. Maher) had sufficiently disproved the insinuation that Archdeacon Laffan had offered any encouragement to outrage; he had exhorted the people to preserve peace and protect the law, and it was now a gross injustice to repeat the charge. The expenses of the operations under the Bill were to fall upon the districts. Now, the Government had given the House no information as to the cause of these assassinations, and by whom they were committed; the Bill was founded on the supposition that they were perpetrated by the lowest orders, and yet the expense was to fall upon the tenant-farmers and other classes not implicated in the crime. If the knowledge could be arrived at of who the parties were who were really guilty of these murders, one difficulty in the way of legislation would be removed. He had read that a noble Lord, a friend of his, had come forward at a large public meeting, at which Mr. Roe's case was discussed, and had said that he knew all the facts. Now, if that were the case, he could only have gained his knowledge from some person present at the murder; and if so, why was not that man produced to prove what he knew? He did not see how this Bill could protect life and property; he did not object to it because it was not at once accompanied by remedial measures, for he did not disbelieve the Government when they said that they would bring forward such measures; and he was not one of those who expected that such questions as the relations between landlord and tenant could be solved at once. He concurred with the hon. Member for Montrose in the hope that nothing would be done by that House in reference to this question of landlord and tenant which would be unjust to any man. The landlords of Ireland were disposed to agree to any fair and reasonable proposition; but the difficulties of the question were very great. He had not been in communication with any Member of the Government, and could not pretend to accurate information of the fact; but he had heard that a Bill upon the subject of landlord and tenant had already been prepared by the Government, and had been submitted to the Lord Lieutenant, and returned by him to be altered, as he did not consider it properly adapted to its purpose. He was not disposed to cast any doubt upon the sincerity of the policy avowed by 889 the Government of proposing remedial measures, nor was he desirous of deferring legislation for the protection of life and property until those remedial measures were actually before the House; on the contrary, he would join heart and hand in assisting any honest attempt which he believed would attain that object. Much had been said about statements that had been made by Roman Catholic priests from the altars. Now, there was not a chapel in the country at which some well-educated and loyal men did not attend; and he did not believe that any Roman Catholic clergyman would dare to get up in the face of his congregation and make any statement calculated to lead to assassination and murder. It was the habit in every country chapel to take notice of deaths and marriages, and of any remarkable occurrences that might have taken place in the parish; but these notices were generally of a harmless kind, and, indeed, tended to do good. Ireland had had too many Coercion Bills already, and he could never vote for one.
§ MR. O'CONNOR
would not follow the hon. Member for Montrose into the confessional, because, upon that point, the hon. Gentleman had answered himself; for he had remarked upon the facility with which absolution for these murders could be obtained, and in the very same breath had spoken of the high character of the Roman Catholic clergy. If one reason more than another could be shown for producing remedial measures contemporaneously with this Coercion Bill, it was to be found in the statement of the hon. Member for Montrose himself, when he said that at every great public meeting he had attended, the people of England, when the question was mooted, had always denounced the tyranny and oppression exercised by the Government of this country over the Irish people. He would, however, turn from the remarks of the hon. Member for Montrose to the Bill itself, which he could now show even better grounds for opposing than he had done at first. The Bill was a constructive Coercion Bill, and so it had been admitted to be by the right hon. Baronet himself, in answer to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Tamworth, whom the right hon. Baronet had told that the Bill embraced all the previous Acts of coercion that could be put in operation at the will of the Lord Lieutenant. It was then that he (Mr. O'Connor) recognised in this measure a great legal draw-net, and that its 890 presumed mildness was nothing but a mockery, a delusion, and a snare. There was no better way of answering a Whig Government than from its own lips, and he could do so effectually on this occasion, but, unfortunately, was not prepared with the formal indictment; for he had searched the library in vain for the 85th volume of Hansard, containing the speeches of the noble Lord opposite at the time the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth introduced his Coercion Bill. However, he had a pretty good memory, and remembered perfectly well the substance of the speeches made by the noble Lord and right hon. Gentleman now in the Government in opposing the introduction of that measure. The ground of opposition was, that remedial measures were not at the same time introduced; and hon. Gentlemen now in the Government declared then that until that was done they would resist the Bill in every stage. And what was the state of Ireland at that time? It was described by the noble Lord the Member for Lynn as in a more riotous and disordered condition than it was represented to be at the present time; but still the cry was that the Bill should not be passed until remedial measures were produced. And if he required further reason for opposing the present Bill, he should find it in the tactics then pursued by the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire and his party, but which would probably not be the same now as when the object was to turn out a Government. Up to this hour, where were the remedial measures that had been promised for Ireland? The hon. Member for Montrose had said that he would oppose the giving an equal title to the tenant and the landlord; but the Landlord and Tenant Bill that he would support was one which confirmed the property of the landlord, while it enforced the performance of his duties. At the same time, he would make ejectment more easy than now. He would not only give an interest in the land to the landlords, but to those who cultivated it. He wished the House now to consider what had caused the two last Coercion Bills for Ireland; and he could show that the conduct of the landlords and the Protestant clergy in that country had been the direct cause of the two measures of 1823 and 1833. What produced the outrage and confiscation of property in 1823? Four bad harvests had taken place; the people were not able to pay war-rents; and yet the landlords, accustomed to receive 891 them, would not abate one farthing so long as a particle of property remained to be distrained upon. At the same period, too, so dreadfully hostile was the Protestant clergy to the people of Ireland, that when the war tithes could not be recovered by themselves, the parsons let the tithes to the proctors for three-fourths of their value upon condition that they did not remit the other fourth. Similar oppressions preceded the Coercion Bill of 1833. With respect to the present Bill, he maintained, that it was at once folly and injustice towards the Irish landlords to give the Lord Lieutenant this shut-up knife, with as many blades in it as he chose to open; for he was certain that the Irish landlords would find in the end that they had been the greatest sufferers by it, and they, as well as the English landlords, would be led to exclaim, "Why did we not look to remedial measures instead of having the agricultural labourers thrown upon us for their bread?" The law, as it at present stood, had not been applied in Ireland alike to the rich and the poor man. A cousin of his (Mr. F. O'Connor), who had been educated in England, was appointed, upon his leaving Oxford, to the office of stipendiary magistrate in Ireland, and the first case upon which he had to adjudicate was a summons by a labourer against a landlord for wages. He gave his decree against the landlord, and the consequence was, that the landlord next morning called the magistrate out, and the magistrate had the misfortune to shoot his adversary. [A laugh.] Such was the state of society in Ireland. There was a laugh when the landlord was shot in a duel; but there was sympathy for him when he was otherwise shot. Why not better the law in Ireland? Let them teach the peasantry to rely upon the ordinary law of the land in the same way that they had done with respect to the colliers in the north of England, whose disorders were wont only to be increased by extraordinary measures, but who had become quiet and peaceable by a mild administration of the ordinary law. If, then, a system of relaxation and the habit of teaching the people to rely upon the ordinary law, had had the effect in England, why not try the same thing in Ireland? It was because they thought they were a strong Government, and that they could do as they pleased with Ireland. The Government had been asked in vain to produce their remedial measures along with this measure of coercion. Their an- 892 swer was that they intended to bring forward a Landlord and Tenant Bill, but there were such difficulties in the way that they must have more time to consider it. Well, suppose they had no Landlord and Tenant Bill ready—had they no other Bill? Were they so incapable that they could do nothing for the Irish people but coerce them? There was the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. W. S. Crawford), an Irish landlord. He did not ask them for a Coercion Bill; and, just as he believed the thirteen Irish Members who had voted against this Bill to be better representatives of Ireland than the other ninety-two, so he believed the hon. Member for Rochdale to be a better representative of the Irish landlords than those whom the Government were in the habit of listening to. It was a curious fact that when there was anything required to be done for England, there was an easy way of doing it; but when anything was required for Ireland, it was felt to be such a complicated question that it required twenty-five years to look at the principle, and other twenty-five years to look at the details. He admitted that the present Bill was mild in appearance; but it was capable of being stretched to any purpose the Lord Lieutenant chose to apply it to. He asked again, where were their remedial measures? He might probably be told, "Oh, though they are not on the table of the House, they are in our box; but we do not wish to distract attention just now when the object is to arrest assassination." ["Hear, hear!"] The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Ireland cried "Hear;" but what did he say when he sat on the other side of the House? The right hon. Gentleman then said, "You must not bring in a Coercion Bill unless you precede it by remedial measures;" and he moved an amendment to that effect. Now, he did not ask the Government to bring in their remedial measures first; he merely asked that they should proceed pari passu with their Coercion Bill. The reason why the Government were so tardy in introducing remedial measures was, that they did not understand Ireland, and were afraid that by chance they might trench upon the rights of the landlord; but he maintained that they could not by possibility do justice to Ireland without at the same time doing justice to the landlords. The Government showed extreme sympathy with the Poles, with the people of every nation on earth except the Irish; but when the history of their own day and their own rule came to 893 be written it should be characteristically written in blood, for they had made a Golgotha of Ireland, and destroyed its peace and prosperity. It was strange that the law officers of the Crown were not present on that occasion to tell them whether or not this Bill embraced all the previous Coercion Bills, as he believed it did. With respect to the Catholic priesthood of Ireland—to whom allusion had so often been made in the course of these debates—he, as a Protestant, begged to say, that he had had more intercourse with them than any Catholic in Ireland; and for this reason, that the Catholics had intercourse only with the priests of their immediate neighbourhood, while he had mixed with them in all parts of Ireland; and he defied hon. Members to point out to him a more pious, forgiving, humane, religious, or excellent body of men. In fact, the fault he had to find with them was, that they were too subservient to the landlords in their neighbourhood. Whenever they happened to be anything good at all they held them up to the admiration of their flock; but he did not believe that they denounced them from the altar. If the conduct of the landlords merited denunciation, it was sure to be known sufficiently to the people, who would not require the priest's word to urge them on.
§ LORD DUDLEY STUART
considered that it was a most melancholy circumstance that that House should now be called upon to consider a measure of this kind, after so many years of professions from various Governments, and he believed the honest professions, of a desire to ameliorate the condition of Ireland. He felt that it was most melancholy that they should at that time of day be occupied in discussing a measure in some degree coercive in its character. He fully admitted that the people of Ireland had been brought into their present condition by the misconduct of former Governments—by misgovernment conducted during years and centuries. The seed of the present state of things had been sown by former Governments, and that was a reason why he thought that the House was doubly bound to do all in its power to promote the welfare and advantage of Ireland, as some compensation for the injustice and misgovernment which she had experienced. He thought that was a reason why they should look upon the faults and offences committed in Ireland with indulgence. But that was no reason against passing this Bill, which was meant not to press upon the people of Ireland, but to put a stop to 894 a state of things which was almost without a parallel. Some of the hon. Gentlemen who represented Irish constituencies had spoken as if there was some hostile feeling in that House and in the country against the people of Ireland. He utterly disclaimed all feeling of the sort. He utterly disclaimed it for the constituency which he represented, and he disclaimed it for the country at large. He believed that the people of England desired that their Irish brethren should participate in every advantage which they themselves enjoyed; and he could not take that Bill as any proof to the contrary. The hon. Member for Limerick had made use of an expression the other evening with regard to the feeling of that House towards Ireland, which he had heard with a great deal of pain. The hon. Member, deliberately repeating what he had asserted in heat and exasperation, said, that there was not one instance in which a feeling of kindness or justice had been expressed in the House towards his country. He (Lord D. Stuart) lamented to hear such words from one bearing the name which the hon. Member bore—a name which he should always pronounce with that admiration due to transcendent talents exercised, as he believed, according to the dictates of duty, as understood by their distinguished possessor—he lamented to hear such words from an hon. Gentleman, who, in consequence of his bearing that name, might naturally be looked upon as one who stood high in the confidence of the inhabitants of that portion of the empire to which he belonged. But he confessed he had been greatly consoled when, on a division, he had found the hon. Gentleman exciting so little sympathy among his Colleagues that he had actually been placed in a minority of his own countrymen. An endeavour was made to show, not only that bad feeling prevailed against Ireland in that House, but that it pervaded the whole people of England; and some expressions in the Examiner were quoted, in which the writer, in the glowing language which belonged to him, said, that the people of England were ready to support the Government in a much stronger Bill than this, and even to assent to a Bill which should enact that a man should be first hanged and then tried. He believed that the article alluded to contained a great deal of truth; but the hon. Member who made the allusion must know, no man better, how quickly popular feeling passed from one extreme to the other. The hon. Member did not appear 895 to know, although he ought to know and to acknowledge, how great sympathy prevailed throughout this country for his suffering brethren. The hon. Member thought nothing of the 10,000,000l. voted by this country, though a relative of his, by the by, a short time since, seemed inclined to deny the 10,000,000l.—he meant the hon. Member for Tralee, who said he should like to have it proved that a quarter of a million had been devoted to this purpose. [Mr. M. O'CONNELL: I said I should like to see it proved that a quarter of the sum had been expended.] It would be found, by reference to the documents connected with the subject, that more than 7,000,000l. of the sum had been expended. It was perfectly true, no doubt, that the people of this country were ready to support the Government in a much more severe Bill; but it was not that they hated the Irish people, but because they hated the murderer—because they hated the assassin—because they could not, they would not, bear the cowardly villains who shot at their fellow-man from behind a wall, through revenge for either real or supposed injuries; and they were resolved to do what they could to put an end to such a state of things, not by idle proclamations—not by sermons nicely balanced between inflammatory sentences on the one part, and entreaties not to commit crime on the other—but by real practical measures. Did any man suppose that if a similar state of things existed in any county of England, this House would not be ready to enact measures of the same kind? Great pains had been taken to show that this measure could not prove a cure for the evils incident to the ancient condition of Ireland; but who ever supposed that this Bill was presented with such an object? It was not presented as a cure, or as a remedial measure, or as something instead of a remedial measure. If they saw a maniac rushing about endangering the life of every one, would they not at once lay hold of him, and bind him, so as to prevent him doing any more harm? They would know that the strait waistcoat was no cure, but that it was the first step to be taken by every one who wished really to arrest the evil, and would be the most humane course, even though his insanity had been caused by previous cruel treatment. Surely it could not be called in any degree a severe Bill. An hon. Member for some place in Ireland, in one of the debates on this question, declared that it did not deserve the name of coercion; and surely with such a feeling on the part of the people of Eng- 896 land as had been described, some credit was due to Ministers for not having attempted to introduce a more severe measure. One hon. Member had referred to an Italian authority in reprobation of sanguinary laws, from which one would really conclude that this Bill was one of the most violent description, instead of a measure whose highest punishment was imprisonment with or without hard labour. It was said that remedial measures ought to have been introduced at the same time. He certainly did agree in a great many things with many Gentlemen who opposed this Bill; but they appeared entirely out of place and beside the question. He was exceedingly anxious to see remedial measures introduced for Ireland—he heartily hoped and sincerely believed they would be. He did not say that he should not have been better pleased if the Government at the same time that they introduced this Bill had laid on the table of the House a series of Bills of a remedial nature. He should have felt that they were more completely in the right. The question, however, with him was, should he, because they had not done so, do what in him lay to obstruct this Bill, which was to protect human life, and give to the Government the means of discharging its first duties. He could not consent to act in that way—he wished the Bill to pass—he thought there was an immediate necessity for it—and he even grudged the time which he now occupied in addressing the House on the subject. It was not, however, his intention to detain them long; but as the representative of a very numerous and important constituency, he did not feel it becoming, or consistent with his duty, to allow this Bill to pass with a silent vote. The hon. Member for Limerick had demanded, amongst other remedial measures, money. Give us money, said the hon. Member. The Government had not declared even that they would not give money, but had told the hon. Member their determination—their wise determination—not to grant any more money until it had been proved that all the resources of Ire-laud had been exhausted. In that he believed the Government had the complete assent of the people of England. It was with communities as with individuals, you did not always confer on them the greatest benefit by donations in money. He believed, on the contrary, that you conferred much greater benefit by teaching the people how to support themselves—by teaching them to rely on themselves—and 897 by putting them in the way of doing so. No people on the face of the earth were more generous than the English. Their first impulse was always generosity; but soon afterwards they became possessed with a fear that they had been imposed upon. He believed that such a feeling existed in this instance. Englishmen were not satisfied that Irishmen had done all they could and all they ought to assist themselves; and until they were satisfied of this, no power on earth would induce them to grant any further assistance. He believed it to be the first duty of the Government to afford security to life and property; and he thought the House would neglect and desert their duty if they did not do all in their power to assist the Government. If they neglected to do this—if they suffered murder, horrid outrage, anarchy—if they suffered this reign of terror to continue in Ireland, their guilt would be second only to the greatest guilt of modern times, the guilt of the Austrian Government, which not only suffered the tenants to murder their landlords, but instigated them to it, and paid them for it with honours and gold. He would not agree to any line of conduct which would subject the nation to which he belonged to such an imputation. Feeling that there had been a clear case of necessity made out for the Bill, believing that it was not stronger than the occasion required, he felt that he should best discharge his duty to his constituency and country by giving it his hearty support.
MR. M. O'CONNELL
said, an hon. Member had, the other night, quoted a vulgar proverb, that "if niggers were not niggers, Irishmen would be niggers;" and he had quoted it against the character of the Irish people; never recollecting through what process Irishmen had been driven to such a state that they were glad to compete with negroes in the labour market of America. It was their Government which had forced them to the condition of rendering the greatest amount of labour abroad for the smallest amount of wages. The noble Lord who had just spoken was well known as a champion of philanthropy; he had a sympathy for every oppressed country but Ireland. His motto was "Coercion for Ireland; prosperity, and popular legislation, and popular jurisdiction for the people of other countries." There were societies in this country for promoting popular rights. He had written to one of those societies representing the grievances of Ireland; but they had no 898 sympathy for that country; their charity did not begin at home; it began abroad, and ended abroad; and the noble Lord's charity took the same direction. The noble Lord admitted the misconduct of former Governments. Government after Government had been the oppressors of Ireland; they had no sympathy with the Irish people; they had acted as the autocrat of Russia would do, all for his own power, and everything against the people. What Government would the noble Lord support? He ought to support a Government that would heal the wounds inflicted by former Governments, and inspire in the minds of the people a respect and love for the law which the conduct of former Governments had tended to extinguish, and the result had been to make every peasant in Ireland look at the law as his enemy; and yet the noble Lord supported a Government whose very first measure, instead of endeavouring to remedy the faults of former Governments, was the Bill before the House; their first and only measure for Ireland was a measure to keep the people of Ireland in the condition to which former Governments had reduced them. The noble Lord was the champion of the Poles. He believed the Poles had suffered severely. He believed that, next to Ireland, no country had suffered so much as Poland. But the oppression of Poland was a thing of recent times. It dated only a quarter of a century back; and the difference between the case of Poland and of Ireland was that, in supporting the Poles, the noble Lord was supporting those who were rebels against their Sovereign; whilst Irishmen were anxious only to procure relief and redress for evils of long standing; he was an advocate of protection elsewhere, and of oppression in Ireland. But the noble Lord had had no experience of the hardships inflicted upon Ireland; he had never seen fathers torn from their families and cast into gaol for three or four months upon the groundless complaint of some petty official, brought to the mockery of a trial, and after being found guiltless of the charge turned out of the dock to find their prospects in life utterly ruined. If these oppressions had existed in other countries, there would have been an agitation throughout the country; old women in petticoats and old women in breeches would have met together; collections would have been made, and the noble Lord would have stood forth as a champion, as he had done in the case of the Poles. It was necessary in 899 order to get a seat in that House, and to keep it, that a person should have a particular hobby. One Member took up the grievances of an Indian prince, and advocated his cause, and by means of agitating the people of England was put forward to legislate not only for England but for Ireland. Another hon. Gentleman came into the House without taking any distinct line of politics, pursuing a middle course, but always taking care to vote with the Minister of the day, in the hope, perhaps, that he might secure what were called honours, and instead of plain Master he styled "My Lord," or "Sir So-and-so." Such an individual having for four or five years voted as he pleased, perhaps he would take up the cry of the day in the last Session of a Parliament; and if that cry was against Ireland, he was sure to put himself prominently forward, and then go confidently before his constituents, who were sure to send him back once more as their representative. Another Gentleman, perhaps, took up the cause of blacks or Poles, and every description of vagabond who had nothing to recommend him, it might be, but a dirty skin. He was all benevolence towards those people; but when he came to deal with the oppressions that existed at home, his charity instead of beginning there, was found to have gone abroad, and never came home at all. All these men were the advocates and champions of liberty abroad, and of coercion and oppression for Ireland. The noble Lord (Lord Dudley Stuart) had stated that whether they were to have remedial measures or not, the present Bill ought to pass. Now, the noble Lord was not more anxious than he was to put down crime; but he knew more of Ireland than the noble did, and certainly more of it than the noble Lord knew of Poland. All the Irish people wanted was justice. Sir John Davis, whose writings were become a text-book in England, and who filled the office of Attorney General for Ireland in the time of James I,, had stated that no people on the face of the earth loved justice so much as the Irish, provided they saw an intention on the part of the Government to do justice. Coercion, however, was the only remedy they offered—they held out a sword, but withheld the balance; and so long as they continued that system of tyranny and oppression, the Irish people would resist to the utmost of their power. But they had shown that they cared nothing for the people of Ireland; and, in- 900 deed, he very much doubted whether they had any opinions of their own on the subject of Ireland. Their opinions were prepared cut and dried for them in the papers of the day. The Times mixed up the dish that was swallowed, morning after morning, in all parts of England, from the one end of it to the other. People said, "It must be true if the Times says it;" and, without taking the trouble of examining into the matter, without giving themselves the slightest opportunity of ascertaining how the real facts of the case stood, the exclamation throughout the country was, "What a curse these Irish are! The Times tells us they are shooting people again; they must be put down." And accordingly the Minister of the day brought in a Coercion Bill, and the House was ever ready to support the Minister in his coercion of Ireland. He would ask the noble Lord (Lord D. Stuart) to suppose a case. Suppose the autocrat of Russia were to establish a Parliament with 400 representatives from the other provinces of his empire, and only 105 from Poland, and that in Poland everything had been done to clog and narrow the exercise of the franchise; suppose the noble Lord to be a representative from Poland, and that he found nothing but Coercion Bills for the country of which he was one of the representatives, would he not demand from that Russo-Polish Parliament, that before they coerced the people of Poland, they should first do them justice? That would, no doubt, be the conduct of the noble Lord; but here was an Anglo-Irish Parliament doing to Ireland exactly what he had supposed the Russo-Polish Parliament doing to Poland; and yet the noble Lord was found advocating the cause of coercion. Certainly, the Irish people did not expect to have a majority on their side on this occasion. There were many temptations at the beginning of a Parliament which led Members to vote with Ministers, so that the Irish Members could not expect but to be in a minority on the Bill now before the House. When on similar occasions to this he had found English Members declining to vote, he had usually found on inquiry that they were actuated by a variety of motives. One man would say that his constituency went the other way; another, that if he voted with the friends of Ireland he should destroy his influence with Government; another, that it would interfere with a commercial speculation he had in hand; while a fourth, openly avowed that he had no notion of 901 voting against Government, as he might get something from them, but could get nothing by voting against them. The noble Lord had taunted them with the smallness of the minority; but in a question of so much national importance that minority would continue to increase, and would ultimately be triumphant. He would remind the House that Coercion Bills had been tried again and again, and had been found inefficient; and the very last that had been attempted had ruined and broken up the great Whig party. Now, relying upon English prejudices and sympathies, they were once more trying coercive measures; but he warned them not to expect their power to be permanent if they persevered in such a course. He warned them, that although the Irish Members in that House might not be numerous and powerful enough to resist them, the day would come, and that ere long, when those representatives, actuated by the feeling that those who professed to be the friends of Ireland had only inflicted injuries upon her, would hurl them from power as they had hurled the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) and his associates. The noble Lord had referred to the large sums that had been expended in Ireland for the relief of the starving poor; but without going into the various items of the account, he would remind the House that the great bulk of the money voted by Parliament had been swallowed up by the army of engineers, gaugers, superintendents, check clerks, pay clerks, et hoc genus omne; and if they subtracted the amount that those persons had received, they would find how very little had been expended in the actual relief of the starving poor—they would find that those parties had got the lion's share, and that only a remnant remained for the people. If an inquiry were gone into, he should be able to prove that out of the whole sums voted for Ireland last year, three-fourths of it went to the officials and clerks employed at that period, and scarcely one-fourth was expended amongst the actual objects of relief. When they altered the Labour-rate Act and established soup-kitchens, he could state from his own knowledge and from authentic information received from the officials themselves, that in that district and in that union where he resided, the monthly contribution from the public fund was 1,000l., that was 250l. a week. He was convinced that out of that l,000l, not even 250l. had reached the people. The hon. Member for Marylebone (Sir B. 902 Hall), who resided in London, appeared to doubt these facts. If he had been like him (Mr. M. O'Connell) endeavouring to correct the vices of their Acts, he would be then convinced of the truth of what he stated. The noble Lord who spoke last had alluded to the 10,000,000l. that were voted last year for Ireland——7,000,000l. however of that amount was only expended, and 3,000,000l. still remained. When, however, a deputation of Irish Members had waited upon the right hon. Gentleman opposite, last year, for information upon this subject, he informed him that he had only 500,000l. at his disposal. Now the remainder of this 3,000,000l. must be locked up somewhere. It was curious to consider that the late deficit in the Bank of England which called forth the letter of the noble Lord at the head of the Government, and the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, was exactly 3,000,000l. There was 1,500,000l. voted for drainage in Ireland; but how much of it was actually expended? There was no want of applications. If the applications had been all met, a great portion of the distress which existed would have been alleviated in the most useful way. When a country gentleman went to the Board of Works for the purpose of making an application, he was immediately told to send in his papers; but when he had done so and sought assistance, he was told that they had no money. In his own neighbourhood he knew of many such instances. He would, for example, name the right hon. Maurice Fitzgerald, the Knight of Kerry, who had informed him that he had made application for 6,000l., when he was told to send in his papers. When he had thus far complied with their instructions, they returned his papers after keeping them three months, rejecting the application as being without a statement of title. The papers with such statement of title were sent back, and after they had been kept a further period of two months, the papers were again returned with the final answer—namely, that they had no funds. He had made a similar application, and received the same reply, "no money." He would now endeavour to give them a further example of the way in which business was conducted in the Board of Works. A subordinate clerk, who had been employed there at a salary of 150l. a year, succeeded, through the misconduct of the officers who were set over him, in defrauding the public of 22,000l. Being a fa- 903 vourite with some head officer of the board, he was not required to give any security whatsoever. He understood that there would be no prosecution of this person, because such a proceeding might involve certain persons whom it would be inconvenient to implicate. This clerk, with a salary of 150l. a year, had set up his carriage and horses. By an accident he was thrown out of his vehicle and had his leg broken. It being necessary to refer to some papers in his custody, his desk was broken open, when a system of fraud that had existed for many years was revealed. This fact was quite sufficient to give the House an idea of how the business was conducted in the public offices in Ireland. The noble Lord had said, that if such murders occurred in England as were unfortunately recently perpetrated in Ireland, they would have had a Coercion Bill for this country. The noble Lord by this observation appeared to know little of England as well as of Ireland. He would show the noble Lord that more violence, more destruction of property and of life, had taken place in England time after time than what now existed in Ireland, and no attempt had ever been made to enact a Coercion Bill. He would not refer the noble Lord now to ancient dates to prove this fact. He would not refer the noble Lord to the time of the Luddites—but to a period so late as the year 1842. How matters then stood in England, and what was the course taken by the Legislature of the country to put it down, would be easily discovered upon a reference to those papers that were before the House. During that year of 1842, fearful riots prevailed in the manufacturing districts of England. The country was actually in a state of rebellion, and many lives were lost while it existed; yet no Coercion Act was then proposed for England, although it was found that the ordinary powers of the constitution in many cases, were inadequate to cope with the number and the determination of the rioters. The Ministers of that day, instead of resorting to such measures, set about adopting the means necessary for the relief of the distressed and the restoration of trade. The people were immediately quieted by the timely concessions made by the Government to what they asked, and to which they were justly entitled. The Government did not then seek to irritate the sore, but to heal the wounds that had been inflicted. In the month of February, 1842, the people assembled to the number of 904 7,000 or 8,000, at Derby. [Sir B. HALL: But were there any murders committed by them?] He would show that immediately. He did not come there as unprepared with facts as the hon. Baronet might imagine. The hon. Baronet might have a lively recollection of the doings of Rebecca, in his own immediate neighbourhood. At that time, perhaps, through the exercise of the hon. Baronet's great ingenuity, and the intrepid stand he had made in the front of these affrays, when he held not merely the scales but also the sword of justice, he was instrumental in restoring peace and order through Wales. The hon. Baronet could, no doubt, show by his own conduct on that occasion how easily such riots could be put down. No Coercion Bill was asked or sought for at that period. The hon. Baronet had asked him whether there were any murders committed then? Now, he would just read a few passages taken at random from the book before him. He found that on the 29th July, 1843, the gate of Plasnydd was broken down, when Captain Napier, with four of his men, came up with the rioters. A conflict ensued, in which Captain Napier was severely wounded, and one of the rioters was shot. The Examiner of the 12th August described an affray on the previous Friday, in which the New Inn gate was broken down, the toll-keeper's wife shot at, and deprived of sight. That he (Mr. O'Connell) admitted did not amount to actual murder, but it was something very nearly as bad. For a considerable portion of the year 1843 whole districts in Wales were in a state of insurrection—all descriptions of violence were committed, and the people rose openly against the law. Instead of coercion being then resorted to, the rebels and assassins of that period were parleyed with, and the law was soon altered for their convenience. An active and influential magistrate stated, in September, 1843, that it was almost impossible to get a constable in Wales to do his duty. There then occurred the case of a woman 70 years of age, who was shot merely because she kept a toll-bar, and the coroner's jury returned a verdict to the effect that "she died from an effusion of blood on the chest which occasioned suffocation, but from what cause to this jury is unknown." Did any man hear ever of such an absurd and unintelligible verdict? Did that jury perform their functions properly and conscientiously? Yet murders and similar verdicts were of not unfre- 905 quent occurrence in Wales in 1843, and still the ordinary law was deemed sufficient to repress crime there. Why, then, was coercion proposed for Ireland? Had Irishmen not a right to ask for the same measures of justice as were given to their brethren in Wales? Had they not a right to ask for the due execution of the ordinary law, and for remedial measures, and to have them granted to them as well as to Welshmen? But instead of remedial measures and the execution of the ordinary law—because crime was committed in Ireland in 1847 by no means in proportion to the extent that was committed in Wales in 1843—a measure of coercion was instantly proposed. The fact was, it had always been a maxim with the Governments of this country to have different remedies for the evils of England and Ireland—to have one law for the rich, and another for the poor; but while they continued in that course of policy, if policy it could be called, they would find Ireland still struggling against their legislation; and that, instead of succeeding in obtaining her regard by coercive measures, their Coercion Bills would pass away, and the recollection of the injuries inflicted upon the people would remain for ever. What the Irish Members wanted was to see the remedy which the Government proposed, and if it was feasible they would join them in carrying it out; but as they knew nothing of the Government remedial measures, they must persevere in their opposition to the Bill before the House.
§ SIR W. SOMERVILLE
was sure the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down would excuse him if he declined to follow him through the very extensive range of circumstances which he had alluded to in the course of the address which he had made to the House. The hon. Gentleman had given an account of the Rebecca riots in Wales; he had commented upon the merits and demerits of the Board of Works in Ireland; and the hon. Gentleman had talked of a Russo-Polish Parliament, for the purpose, he supposed, of referring to the noble Lord the Member for Marylebone (Lord D. Stuart); but having listened attentively to the hon. Gentleman's speech, he must confess that he could detect very little in it which had reference to the measure under consideration. The hon. Gentleman who led the opposition on the present occasion, and the hon. Member for Nottingham, had enlarged a great deal more than he thought 906 the occasion required, upon what appeared to them to be the inconsistency of Members who on former occasions resisted coercive measures for Ireland, and now introduced measures of a similar description. He did not think that if the circumstances, both as regarded the occasion on which the present measure was introduced, the nature of the proposed measure itself, and the spirit evinced by the Government in introducing it, were considered, it would be difficult to show that there was no parallel whatsoever between it and those previously brought forward. The present measure had been met by a most cordial spirit of satisfaction on both sides of the House; and that spirit had been most especially evinced by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth; and so strongly did he feel the imperative necessity for passing the Bill in order to put a stop to the reign of terror which now prevailed in Ireland, and that those frequent assassinations which were bringing disgrace upon his countrymen should be prevented, that if he could hurry the passing of it by one single moment he would do so, and be content to rest under the charge of inconsistency. He supported it as a measure that was wanted for the occasion. His right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department had, by the speech which he had made to the House, in proposing it, spared him the necessity of going through the category of crimes which were now rife in Ireland; but it was not alone the number of crimes that had been committed that alarmed him. It was the type and nature which those crimes exhibited. And let not hon. Gentlemen be too much swayed by the number of crimes, as detailed. Let them take, for instance, some one of those which excited the greatest horror in this country, and consider its consequences. Let them take, for example, the murder of Major Mahon. As a murder it stood but for one in number. But see the consequences connected with it. Let them look at the terror which it spread throughout the country; let them take into consideration the sympathy evinced by the entire neighbourhood with the perpetrators of that deed of blood, and let them look at the picture of the murdered man's remains having been carried to the grave surrounded by armed friends to prevent the remains from being insulted. Let them look at and consider those things, and then tell him, if they would, that no steps should be taken 907 promptly to put a stop to such a system. But admitting that the crime existed, and that it was of such a nature as to call for some immediate remedy, the question then arose—was the remedy proposed by Her Majesty's Government a fit and proper one for its suppression? It would, he admitted, he difficult for any one to pronounce in a positive and authoritative way, that the Bill would be absolutely sufficient; but hon. Gentlemen should not think that because a measure was very strict and stringent, it would be therefore more particularly adapted to the exigencies of the case. His opinion was, that the measure before the House would, if sufficiently carried out (and seeing that the House, as well as Her Majesty's Government, had every confidence in the noble Lord the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, he having the same confidence also, had no doubt that it would), be sufficient to stay the hand of the assassin. The hon. Gentleman who opened the debate said that he had been deceived in the nature of the measure to be proposed. He said that it had been stated early in the debate, that as crime was only partial in Ireland, so should the remedy be partial also, but that this Bill was a general application. Now, if he understood his hon. Friend rightly, what he would expect Government to do would be this—to define the precise districts in which crime existed, and then by Act of Parliament to apply a remedy to those districts. But supposing the Government had mentioned certain counties, and certain portions of counties, and certain townlands, in which they knew that crime was still existing, and that they had not taken any power to go beyond those specific limits, and supposing that after the enactment had passed the crime went beyond those boundaries, how could they follow it? Would not the House have laughed at them for such conduct? Thus much, however, he would undertake to say on behalf of the noble Lord the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, that wherever crime was prevalent, and wherever those assassinations took place, there, and there alone, would that measure be applied. But when the time for applying it did arrive, in that noble Lord's hands the application would be speedy, and, he trusted, effectual. The hon. Member for Nottingham seemed to hold that no case had been made out for the application of the Government to Parliament for those additional powers. He had talked of "trumped-up cases." Why, 908 he believed that at all events the murders that had taken place were notorious. Was the murder of Major Mahon a trumped-up case? Had the story of the murder of Mr. Lloyd been trumped up? Had the many other assassinations which he should say with shame had brought disgrace upon the Irish name, been trumped up? Was it not notorious that those murders had taken place, and that the criminals who had committed them were still living and at large? The hon. and learned Gentleman had been pleased to say that he highly approved of the task of licensing being committed rather to the stipendiary magistrates than to the hands of the justices of the country; but then it appeared that the Lord Lieutenant had lost the confidence of the hon. Gentleman, because of his late appointment, he supposed, of Mr. Ryan to the office of a stipendiary magistrate. If that were the appointment alluded to, he could assure the hon. Gentleman and the House that in making it the Lord Lieutenant was actuated solely from a desire to benefit the public. Mr. Ryan had been pointed out to him as a man who had been peculiarly active in bringing punishment upon criminals, and therefore he was appointed. The hon. Member further said, before proceeding with that Bill they ought to lay upon the table of the House the whole of the remedial measures which they intended for Ireland. Now, take any one of them—take, for instance, the landlord and tenant law. Suppose it had been introduced, what must have been the course pursued in regard to it—it would have been brought in and read a first time, and, as a matter of course, there it must have remained until after Christmas; and what would be the effect of it upon the crimes which were now disgracing Ireland? It might be very well to give the tenant a right to be repaid for improvements; but was that a remedy which could be proposed to cure the existing evil? In his opinion the best landlord and tenant law that could be framed would prove no remedy for the state of things now existing in Ireland. The ruffians who were guilty of those enormous crimes were certainly not landlords: he did not believe they were tenants. It was an attempt to organise a wide-spread reign of terror, under which the people should neither pay rent nor give up the land. No law of landlord and tenant could possibly be applied as a remedy for such a state of things. The case of the Government had been fully proved, 909 and he believed the Bill would be found to be well adapted for the purpose to which it was to be applied. He believed the powers it proposed to grant would be carried out in such a manner as would satisfy the friends of order and the friends of Ireland. There was no coercion in the Bill. It was not a Coercion Bill. It was an attempt to give protection to life and property; and it was a Bill which was sought not alone by the landlords of Ireland. They were not the only class who would thank the Imperial Parliament for passing such a law. The middle classes and the farmers of that country, and all who were the lovers of order and good government, would deeply thank them for it. He believed further, that the poor labourer and the cottier would deeply thank them, for he was not one of those who thought the character of his countrymen was to sympathise with the murderer and the assassin. That apparent sympathy proceeded in many cases from the operation of the reign of terror established throughout the country; if they were left to exercise their better judgment, the greater portion of Irishmen would act very differently. All classes in Ireland—the rich, the middle class, the farmer, and the cottier—would thank them for passing such a law. It was no measure of coercion to take from the hands of an assassin the weapon which he was about to misuse. He had heard the speech of the hon. Member who opened the debate that night with much surprise. He did not know what had happened to that hon. Gentleman, or what it was that could have coerced him into changing the opinion so quickly which he had announced on the first evening of the debate. He regretted that his hon. Friend's better judgment had not prevailed; and he appealed to every hon. Gentleman present who had heard the opening speech of his right hon. Friend (Sir G. Grey) to say whether he had not correctly described, in that speech, every provision that the Bill contained. He (Sir W. Somerville) felt it his duty, not only on account of the position he held, but as a friend of Ireland, to support the second reading. And he believed he could not better nor more correctly describe the Bill, than by using the words of his hon. Friend, which had been that evening quoted by his hon. Friend the Member for Montrose, an opinion which, it should be remembered, had not been merely spoken in haste, but deliberately written, namely, that "this Bill, if firmly adminis- 910 tered, will not be inconvenient to anybody but the authors of outrage and crime."
§ MR. GRACE
said, he had hoped the hon. Member for Tralee (Mr. M. O'Connell) would have spared him the pains of offering, and have saved the House the trouble of listening to some remarks he felt it to be his duty to make as a Member for a county (Roscommon) which he regretted deeply to say was at this moment disgraced by disorder and crime. He rose in consequence of some allegations which had been made by that hon. Member, reflecting on the character of an individual who had been laid low by the hand of the assassin—the late lamented Major Mahon. That lamented Gentleman had resided within a few miles of where he (Mr. Grace) lived, and he had thus an opportunity of knowing that many of the charges that had been brought against the deceased were to his own knowledge utterly groundless. When these charges had been brought forward by the hon. Member for Tralee on the first night of the Session, he felt desirous of clearing the memory of the murdered man from any stain that they might affix, and of saving his friends from the pain of having them go forth uncontradicted; but his better judgment told him not to rely on his own opinion alone, but to consult others in the first instance. He did so: he went to the fountain source, and from the information which he there received he was now doubly able to declare that those charges were false. He mentioned the facts to the hon. Member for Tralee on the preceding evening. The hon. Gentleman took his statement coolly, and made no reply. He told the hon. Gentleman that he thought it was fairer for him to mention the matter to him privately, than to contradict him publicly in the House; and the hon. Gentleman said this evening that he would give such an explanation as the case required. He had listened to the speech of the hon. Member in expectation of hearing that explanation, but in vain, and it was only because the hon. Member left the House immediately after, that he (Mr. Grace) did not at once rise to address them. He did not wish to say anything in the absence of the hon. Member; but as the hon. Gentleman was now present, listening to what he said, he begged to tell him that what he (Mr. Grace) now stated was the fact.
§ MR. MAURICE O'CONNELL
I must claim the indulgence of the House while I explain how the matter stands. The hon. 911 Member for Roscommon is perfectly right in stating that I said to him I would state in the House how far my statement on a former evening was contradicted by him. Unfortunately, in the heat of debate, other matters occurring to me, it escaped my memory, and I have to apologise to him for not making the explanation sooner. The hon. Member will bear me out that the statement which he made to me amounts to this—that whereas I stated that two vessels were freighted by the party to whom I allude with emigrants, and that one of them returned, as being unseaworthy, he has given me evidence in contradiction to that statement. I confess that it was an omission on my part not to have stated that circumstance before; but I beg now to say that I am perfectly convinced that the statement I heard as to the return of a vessel laded with emigrants, and freighted by the party to whom he alluded, was not properly founded. I made the statement on representations made to me since I came to London, and I now give the hon. Member the full benefit of the contradiction. I have no evidence to support my first statement, nor do I wish to bring up any. I should be exceedingly sorry to state anything here which I did not believe to be true, or which on being corrected by competent evidence I should not be ready to retract. I believe that the statement which I put forward as to the return of that vessel was not correct, and I now rise to apologise for not making that explanation before. [An Hon. MEMBER: Will the hon. Member name the authority on which he made the charge?] He was not aware that hon. Members of that House were called upon to name authorities for every statement they made. If authorities were to be named for every statement that was made there, he believed a great many parties would be placed in a very extraordinary position.
§ MR. S. CRAWFORD
had abstained from offering any factious opposition to the Bill now before the House; but he wished to take this opportunity of expressing his opinions upon the principle of the measure. The present Bill was precisely similar in principle to those measures which on many former occasions had been introduced with a view to the repression of crime in Ireland. It was founded on the principle in coercion—on the principle of endeavouring to repress crime by powers beyond the ordinary powers of the law. He acknowledged that the provisions of 912 this Bill were milder than those of many similar measures which had preceded it; but he thought the main question to be considered was, would the Bill effect the object it was intended to accomplish—the repression of crime? It was not his intention to enter at all into the question as to the unconstitutional character of the Bill. He was at once prepared to say, that if he could persuade himself that it would operate effectually, he would readily give it his assent: but he did not believe that it would have the effect of putting down crime in Ireland. He did not think that either the right hon. Home Secretary or the Secretary for Ireland had shown that this Bill would operate effectually for the repression of crime. He would ask the House to consider what were the causes of crime in Ireland. It had been said that the disturbances and crimes which were unfortunately so frequent in that country had nothing to do with distress; that a man in distress would beg, but he would not murder. Now, such a statement was certainly directly opposed to anything he had before heard. He had always considered that distress led to the commission of every crime, and of the greatest crimes. There was no part of Ireland in which there was so great a number of ejectments as in Tipperary; and that was one of the causes which excited to crime. The cause of crime was as clear as the noonday; it was the system of landlordism in Ireland. There were many kind and benevolent landlords; but he spoke of the system as the main and, he might say, the only cause of all this distress and crime. It was proved by reports innumerable in the possession of the House—reports that had never been refuted; and the House ought either to proceed to remedy the evils, or direct those records to be burnt. We heard a great deal about landlords' rights—about the sacred rights of property; but were we to have no respect for the rights of labour, the rights which the poor man obtained by the sweat of his brow? The labouring man in Ireland had no security for any return for his labour; and hence the hatred of the lower classes, in many cases to the higher, and the want of confidence in the law and Government. We heard of landlords' rights—what were landlords' rights? In a great many cases they were the rights of robbery, instead of the rights of justice. It was not a right that any man ought to enjoy, to be able to take that which was produced by the poor man's 913 labour, and then turn him out; we might call these landlords' rights, but they were landlords' wrongs, and ought not to be permitted to exist. The slaveholder might talk of his right over the person of his slave; but was it fitting that, in a country like this, any man should have a right to wrong the tenant of his property, and turn him out to die in the ditch? That had been done in repeated instances. There was a very recent case in the county of Leitrim, where the owner of the property published a letter in a newspaper, not denying what he bad done, but defending it, because be said the tenants owed him twelve or fourteen years' rent. If a landlord was guilty of such a lapse, there must have been some neglect, some oppression, some overstraining; and a landlord was not justified then in taking advantage of that omission, and coming down upon the tenant and turning him out. If there must be Coercion Acts, there ought to be a law that would prevent the taking of life by the oppression of the landlord, as well as a law to prevent the taking of the landlord's life. When the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) produced his Coercion Bill, he proposed a Bill for the purpose of temporarily protecting ejected tenants; it was to give power to the Lord Lieutenant to suspend the execution of writs of habere until he could ascertain that provision was made in some form or other for the people who were to be turned out, or that they would be relieved by the board of guardians. Would the Government consent to give that power to the Lord Lieutenant as they were ready to give him extraordinary powers for coercion? With regard to the law of landlord and tenant, he should have to move next week for leave to bring in a Bill to secure legally the tenant-right as it existed in Ulster, and to extend it to the rest of Ireland; but he did not consider that tenant-right could be established on any other principle than that of reward of industrious operations. The English tenant was differently situated from the Irish; the Englishman had a right to either work or food; in Ireland a poor man could get relief only at the discretion of the board of guardians. He would not pretend to say that the Landlord and Tenant Bill, or any one single measure, would cure the present state of things in Ireland. To effect that object would require a combination of beneficial measures, and among them he would enumerate the Waste Lands Bill, and the Bill for the sale of encumbered 914 estates. He was told that the Government intended to introduce a Landlord and Tenant Bill; and though he was convinced of the sincerity of their intentions, yet that was not such a pledge as deserved any weight in that House. It did not appear that the Government were agreed on the provisions of the Bill; and yet to make their pledge of any value it was necessary that there should be a statement of the provisions of the Bill. When the Protection of Life (Ireland) Bill of the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) was before the House, the noble Lord now at the head of the Government demanded that the Bill on the landlord and tenant question should be introduced before the second reading of that Bill; and the Landlord and Tenant Bill was accordingly so introduced. He, therefore, could not be wrong in following the example of the noble Lord, and in now making a similar demand. He believed that the present Bill would not be effective for its object. The evil was the private shooting at individuals. How would this Bill prevent that when all other Coercion Bills had proved ineffective to stop that evil? The only way in which to make the people respect those placed over them, and respect the laws of the country, was to do them justice, and until that was done, they never could enforce respect for the laws. It was not his intention to give any factious opposition to the measure; and if the Government passed this Bill, let them pass it on their own responsibility, and let the consequences be on themselves; but he wished to ask whether they meant to fulfil their promise respecting remedial measures?
§ MR. MOORE
said, he totally dissented from those hon. Gentlemen who had expressed their determination to resist all measures for the suppression of undoubted crime in Ireland, unless accompanied by measures for the remedy of undoubted evils. He dissented from those hon. Gentlemen as much as he did from the hon. Member for Bridport, who seemed to think that the care of the necessities of the miserable and dying was not the duty of the Government. The loss of human life by famine, and the loss of human life by assassination, were evils both of great enormity; and therefore, holding, as the right hon. Member for Tamworth had expressed it, no parley with assassins, he tendered to the Government his humble but strong support in carrying out this tardy act of justice which they had under 915 taken to perform. In reference to the present state of things in Ireland, in which a confederation of murderers had superseded the authority of the laws, and scattered death and consternation through the land, the Ministers called for certain powers which they considered sufficient to remedy the evil. They were bound to demand from the Legislature sufficient powers to check the enormity of the evil; and he therefore said that they were responsible to the House and the country for the sufficiency of the powers they demanded for the security and protection of human life in Ireland. But if they were responsible for the protection of life in the disturbed districts, they were also responsible for the lives of those in other parts of the country, where crime had never yet reared its head, and where the people were always patient and obedient. Parcere subjectis et debellare superbos was the administrative policy of an empire which proved itself able at one time to rule the world; and if the English Government pursued a contrary policy, and a contrary policy it had too long and too often pursued—if it allowed the patient and obedient to die unheeded, and at the same time allowed security to the murderer to stalk unpunished through the land—it virtually abdicated the functions of Government, and really made the law what the hon. Member for Nottingham (Mr. F. O'Connor) styled it—a mockery, a delusion, and a snare. But with regard to the sufferings of those humble martyrs in other parts of the country, what might be in store for them they had had but very sparing information. They had much of the fearful statics of crime, and the numbers that had perished by the hands of the assassin, but they had heard nothing of the myriads that had died from famine. They had heard much concerning the obstacles which crime threw in the way of all ameliorations of the condition of the people in the south and west of Ireland; but nothing had been said respecting the state of demoralisation created in other parts of the country by the misapplication of the public funds during the past year. He apologised to Her Majesty's Ministers for alluding, even incidentally, to some of those grievous errors which had marked their Ministry. He did it with great reluctance, not to recriminate upon them, but in justice to the people of his own country, whose character had been wholly perverted, and whose conduct in the bitter hour of trial had been studiously misrepresented, 916 for the unworthy purpose of turning the blame aside from those who deserved it, that it might fall upon the already crushed and broken-hearted. But while speaking in vindication of the people of Ireland, he would not be supposed to say one word in extenuation of those horrible atrocities which, in one part of that country, disgraced the name of Irishmen, and cast a slur upon humanity itself. He thanked Her Majesty's Ministers for the measure they had introduced, and accepted it as a boon and an act of mercy, as well as of justice. He hoped that from all those who had so long languished under this reign of terror, the Government would receive a cordial co-operation, and that, in a very brief space, an Irishman might be able to speak of his countrymen without being obliged to make such disgraceful and humiliating exceptions as the present state of things compelled him to make. But, setting aside this horrible conspiracy, this sodality of blood, he much feared that in speaking of the character of the Irish people the minds of too many of those whom he was addressing had already arrived at the foregone conclusion, that the people of Ireland were a headstrong and undeserving race. The people of England had voted for the relief of destitution in Ireland a sum of money which no other nation had ever voted for a similar purpose, and which, perhaps, no other nation in the world could have supplied. The people of England subscribed for the relief of that distress in a spirit of unbounded munificence and generosity, such as no other nation could have done. Hon. Gentlemen knew that Englishmen had done their duty as men, and they then asked, what return had the people of Ireland made for all this unbounded generosity? If hon. Gentlemen had witnessed what he had witnessed during the last twelve months, they would be inclined to make some allowance, even if they had beheld a feeling of ingratitude displayed among a people whom despair had almost deprived of reason. He would ask hon. Gentlemen—setting aside all party feeling, and looking at the facts themselves—what had been the conduct of the people of Ireland under all these trials? He would ask them whether they believed that the English people would have borne their sufferings with more patience, or have exhibited more gratitude, and have paid more obedience to the laws? He was in the midst of them during the whole of that trying period: and he should have thought that their 917 endurance, their fortitude, and the gallant cheerfulness with which they bore up against their afflictions, would have silenced the voice of calumny itself. He would now advert for one moment to another class of persons, of whom much that was severe had been said—he alluded to the Roman Catholic clergy of Ireland. For the first time, after centuries of wrong and insult, the State, during the late period of affliction, recognised their position as being at all events the de facto pastors of the people, and availed itself of their assistance in carrying out the laws of the country; and he would venture to assert that, as a body, they proved themselves worthy of the trust placed in their hands. When the calamity first broke out in all its horrors, he found it his duty to assist the Government in their efforts to give relief to the people; and he could assure the House that the exertions of the Roman Catholic clergy at that time appeared almost superhuman. But these labours, extremely exhausting in themselves, were in addition to their already exhausting duties as the Christian pastors of the people. And yet the Roman Catholic clergy had been the objects of the bitterest invectives, and of the gravest accusations. But what after all did their accusers establish? They had shown up the aberrations of one clergyman. They had regularly proclaimed the discovery that out of many hundreds of victims that had fallen from this confederation of crime in Tipperary, two of them were alleged to have been denounced at the altar by a Roman Catholic priest. The report was no sooner uttered than believed. It was not asked what was the general character of this clergyman. The country were satisfied on this general Tipperary accusation to pass a more than Tipperary verdict, and not only to convict the party accused, but to include in the impeachment the whole body of those unimpeachable men whose general character, whose propriety of conduct, and whose unwearied exertions during the calamitous visitation of last year, ought to have protected them from the slightest whisper of censure or reproach. It had also been said, that whatever the Irish priesthood or the Irish people might have done, there had been agitators and popular declaimers going through the country, who, like foul-mouthed men, had said things that disgusted, and naturally disgusted, the minds of the English people. For those persons, whoever they might be, who, in Ireland, made it their business or 918 their pleasure to sow hatred and ill-will between the subjects of this realm, and who endeavoured to keep alive those flames of dissension which it should be the object of every good subject to extinguish, he could not too strongly express his indignation. But he would ask hon. Gentlemen, had all the calumny been confined to Ireland? Had there been no firebrands, no vilifiers, on this side the Irish Channel? It was all very well for the right hon. Home Secretary and the noble Lord the Member for Marylebone to disclaim all feeling of animosity towards Ireland, but he would trust his own eyes and ears. He could not shut his ears and eyes against the abuse which, during the last few months, had been poured upon the devoted heads of the Irish people. Had the Government no organs in the press? What had been the conduct of those organs, and what prompted their conduct? The answer would be found in the language of Caliban—But they'll nor pinch,Fright me with urchin shows, pitch me i'the mire,Nor lead me, like a firebrand, in the darkOut of my way, unless he bid them: butFor every trifle are they set upon me:Sometime like apes, that moo and chatter at me,And after, bite me: then like hedgehogs, whichLie tumbling in my barefoot way, and mountTheir pricks at my foot-fall: sometimes am IAll wound with adders, who, with cloven tongues,Do hiss me into madness.It was unnecessary to ask any Member of that House whether he had read the articles which had appeared in the Times during the last twelve months. That paper was the organ of public opinion in this country, and the leading journal of Europe; well, it had stooped not only to pander to vile animosities of race, but even to tamper with the social virtues of the English people. The tendency of its articles was to exasperate and inflame the minds of the people of England against their Irish fellow-subjects. What other tendency had the speech of the hon. Member for Nottingham? What other tendency had the pompous platitudes of the Member for Bridport, or the smooth homilies of the hon. Member for Marylebone? True, they did not all use the same language; neither did all assassins use the same instruments. A Tipperary murderer would blow out a man's brains with a vulgar blunderbuss; but a Borgia or a Brinvilliers was not less dangerous because the one would stab with dexterity, or the other 919 poison with decorum. The abuse which had been heaped upon the Irish people meant this only, "No more money for Ireland." In that part of Ireland with which he was connected, the population was the most peaceable and virtuous which was to be found in any part of the empire. For years it had fed the British army with as brave men as ever stood on a battlefield. They had borne the British colours through the ranks of our enemies in every contest in which we had been engaged, and had kept the Queen's peace at home. Not a single deed of blood was recorded against them. Were these patient and obedient people to be left to perish from want? That question must be answered before the expiration of six months. To avert the calamity to which he had referred, he relied upon the good feeling of that House, and believed that although the English people had for a moment been goaded into a state of feeling foreign to their character, they would hand down to posterity the same reputation for generosity which they had inherited from their fathers.
§ CAPTAIN HARRIS
felt it necessary to address a few words to the House in consequence of an observation which had fallen from the hon. Member in the course of his fluent speech. He (Captain Harris) had felt it his duty to put certain questions respecting the language alleged to have been used by some Roman Catholic clergymen; but it was hardly necessary to state that he was not actuated by any feeling of animosity against the Roman Catholic clergy as a body. On the contrary, he believed that the majority of those clergymen discharged their duties in an exemplary manner. The hon. Member had spoken of the aberrations of some of the Roman Catholic clergy; but he (Captain Harris) would care little about their aberrations and eccentricities, if they did not lead to such fatal results. The question which he put to the Government was to this effect—had they taken any steps towards prosecuting those priests who had made themselves accessaries before the fact, by denouncing from the altar landlords and others who seemed to have given offence to the parties whom those priests addressed? The answer which he received was in the negative. The Attorney General made a fair exposition of the law: that hon. and learned Gentleman stated that a person exciting other parties to commit a crime, where that crime was murder, did render himself liable to prosecution as an acces- 920 sary before the fact. But, though they heard that from the Attorney General, he could not help observing that there was a remarkable omission on the part of the right hon. Secretary whose speech they had heard. It was not unworthy of notice that that right hon. Member was scrupulously silent when it came to the question of prosecuting the priests. Upon this particular subject he (Captain Harris) had placed on the book a notice; and, though most unwilling to impede the progress of this Bill, he at one time was strongly impressed with the conviction that he ought to bring forward that Motion, and submit it for decision to the House; but he now wished to state that he intended to withdraw his notice, in consequence of the assurance which the House had received in the beginning of the evening from the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for the Home Department, to the effect that the Government were prepared to carry out the existing law to the utmost, in the case of exciting language from the priests. To these observations he felt bound to add, that he thought Government ought to go somewhat further. They ought to have inserted a clause in the Bill pointing especially at the offence to which he was now directing their attention. He considered that the want of such a clause formed a material defect in the Bill as it stood, for juries in Ireland would not convict a priest, unless the crime was specified in the statute. Moreover, a priest might denounce a landlord from the altar—that gentleman might not be murdered, but the denunciation might have such an effect upon his mind, and produce such excessive alarm, that the person so denounced might be afraid to leave his house. It appeared to him, then, that a denunciation of that class ought to be made of itself a misdemeanor.
§ SIR W. VERNER
rose for the purpose of observing, that three-fourths of the speeches which the House had heard on the subject, had been delivered by hon. Members on the other (the Ministerial) side; for, though some friends of the Government spoke from the front Opposition bench, yet their speeches were quite in the spirit of the other side. Another object which he had in rising was to notice an expression which an hon. Member had used, perhaps unguardedly, with respect to courts-martial. He observed now in the House several gallant Officers belonging to both branches of the service, who were not pre- 921 sent when the observation that he referred to was made—when the House was told that the practice of courts-martial was to shoot a man at night, and try him in the morning. He protested against such charges being made. Courts-martial were conducted upon principles of the strictest honour.
§ MR. O'CONNOR
rose to explain. He spoke of military coercion—not of the ordinary course of military law; he referred to the drum-head courts-martial of the year 1798.
§ The House divided on the question that the Bill be now read a second time:—Ayes 296; Noes 19: Majority 277.
|List of the AYES.|
|Abdy, T. N.||Cardwell, E.|
|Acton, Col.||Carew, W. H. P.|
|Adair, H. E.||Carter, J. B.|
|Adair, R. A. S.||Caulfield, J. M.|
|Adderley, C. B.||Cavendish, hon. G. H.|
|Aglionby, H. A.||Cayley, E. S.|
|Alcock, T.||Charteris, hon. F.|
|Alexander, N.||Chichester, Lord J. L.|
|Anson, hon. Col.||Childers, J. W.|
|Anson, Visct.||Clay, J.|
|Arundel and Surrey,||Clay, Sir W.|
|Earl of||Clements, hon. C. S.|
|Ashley, Lord||Clerk, rt. hon. Sir G.|
|Baines, M. T.||Clifford, H. M.|
|Baldwin, C. B.||Clive, Visct.|
|Baring, rt. hon. F. T.||Clive, H. B.|
|Baring, T.||Cobbold, J. C.|
|Barnard, E. G.||Cochrane, A. D. R. W. B.|
|Barrington, Visct.||Cockburn, A. J. E.|
|Bateson, T.||Cocks, T. S.|
|Bellew, R. M.||Coke, hon. E. K.|
|Benett, J.||Cole, hon. H. A.|
|Bennet, P.||Colebrooke, Sir T. E.|
|Berkeley, hon. Capt.||Coles, H. B.|
|Berkeley, hon. H. F.||Colvile, C. R.|
|Bernal, R.||Conyngham, Lord A.|
|Birch, Sir T. B.||Coope, O. E.|
|Blackall, S. W.||Corry, rt. hon. H. L.|
|Blake, M. J.||Courtenay, Lord|
|Bourke, R. S.||Cowper, hon. W. F.|
|Bouverie, E. P.||Craig, W. G.|
|Bowles, Adm.||Currie, H.|
|Bowring, Dr.||Davie, Sir H. R. F.|
|Boyd, J.||Dawson, hon. T. V.|
|Boyle, hon. R. E.||Deering, J. P.|
|Brackley, Visct.||Douglas, Sir C. E.|
|Bramston, T. W.||Drumlanrig, Visct.|
|Bremridge, R.||Drummond, H.|
|Broadley, H.||Duckworth, Sir J. T. B|
|Broadwood, H.||Duff, G. S.|
|Brockman, E. D.||Duff, J.|
|Brooke, Lord||Duke, Sir J.|
|Brotherton, J.||Duncan, Visct.|
|Brown, H.||Duncan, G.|
|Browne, R. D.||Duncuft, J.|
|Buller, Sir J. Y.||Dundas, Adm.|
|Bunbury, W. M.||Dundas, Sir D.|
|Bunbury, E. H.||Dunne, F. P.|
|Burke, Sir T. J.||Ebrington, Visct.|
|Burroughes, H. N.||Edwards, H.|
|Campbell, hon. W. F.||Ellice, rt. hon. E.|
|Elliot, hon. J. E.||Lewis, G. C.|
|Evans, W.||Lincoln, Earl of|
|Ewart, W.||Lindsay, hon. Col.|
|Farnham, E. B.||Littleton, hon. E. R.|
|Ferguson, Sir R. A.||Lockhart, W.|
|Ffolliott, J.||Lushington, C.|
|Filmer, Sir E.||Macnamara, Major|
|Fitzpatrick, J. W.||M'Gregor, J.|
|Foley, J. H. H.||M'Naghten, Sir E.|
|Forbes, W.||Mahon, The O'Gorman|
|Fordyce, A. D.||Maitland, T.|
|Fortescue, hon. J. W.||Mangles, R. D.|
|Freestun, Col.||Manners, Lord G.|
|French, F.||Martin, J.|
|Frewen, C. H.||Martin, S.|
|Gibson, rt. hon. T. M.||Matheson, A.|
|Glyn, G. C.||Matheson, Col.|
|Godson, R.||Maxwell, hon. J. P.|
|Gore, W. R. O.||Moore, G. H.|
|Grace, O. D. J.||Morgan, O.|
|Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.||Morison, Gen.|
|Granger, T. C.||Mostyn, hon. E. M. L.|
|Grattan, H.||Mowatt, F.|
|Greene, T.||Mulgrave, Earl of|
|Gregson, S.||Mundy, E. M.|
|Grenfell, C. P.||Newport, Visct.|
|Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.||Norreys, Sir D. J.|
|Grogan, E.||Nugent, Sir P.|
|Guinness, R. S.||O'Brien, Sir L.|
|Hall, Sir B.||Ogle, S. C. H.|
|Hall, Col.||Osborne, R.|
|Hallyburton, Lord J. F.||Ossulston, Lord|
|Hamilton, G. A.||Paget, Lord A.|
|Hamilton, J. H.||Paget, Lord C.|
|Harris, hon. Capt.||Paget, Lord G.|
|Hastie, A.||Palmer, R.|
|Hastie, A.||Palmerston, Visct.|
|Hay, Lord J.||Parker, J.|
|Hayter, W. G.||Patten, J. W.|
|Headlam, T. E.||Pearson, C.|
|Henley, J. W.||Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.|
|Herbert, H. A.||Perfect, R.|
|Heywood, J.||Peto, S. M.|
|Hildyard, T. B. T||Pigott, F.|
|Hodgson, W. N.||Pilkington, J.|
|Hood, Sir A.||Pinney, W.|
|Hope, Sir J.||Plumptre, J. P.|
|Hornby, J.||Plowden, W. H. C.|
|Hotham, Lord||Powlett, Lord W.|
|Howard, hon. C. W. G.||Price, Sir R.|
|Howard, hon. E. G. G.||Pusey, P.|
|Hudson, G.||Raphael, A.|
|Hutt, W.||Rawdon, Col.|
|Ingestre, Visct.||Reid, Col.|
|Inglis, Sir R. H.||Rendlesham, Lord|
|Ireland, T. J.||Renton, J. C.|
|Jackson, W.||Ricardo, J. L.|
|Jermyn, Earl||Rice, E. R.|
|Jervis, J.||Rich, H.|
|Jocelyn, Visct.||Robartes, T. J. A.|
|Jones, Sir W.||Robinson, G. R.|
|Jones, Capt.||Romilly, J.|
|Keogh, W.||Russell, hon. E. S.|
|Keppel, hon. G. T.||Russell, F. C. H.|
|Ker, R.||Sadleir, J.|
|King, hon. P. J. L.||St. George, C.|
|Knox, Col.||Salwey, Col.|
|Labouchere, rt. hon. H.||Seaham, Visct.|
|Lascelles, hon E.||Seeley, C.|
|Lascelles, hon. W. S.||Seymour, Lord|
|Lennox, Lord A.||Sheil, rt. hon. R. L.|
|Lennox, Lord H. G.||Sidney, T.|
|Lewis, rt. hon. Sir T. F.||Simeon, J.|
|Slaney, R. A.||Tyrell, Sir J. T.|
|Smith, rt. hon. R. V.||Vane, Lord H.|
|Smith, J. B.||Verner, Sir W.|
|Smollett, A.||Verney, Sir H.|
|Somerville, rt. hn. Sir W.||Villiers, hon. C.|
|Spearman, H. J.||Vivian, J. H.|
|Spooner, R.||Vyse, R. H. R. H.|
|Stafford, A. O'B.||Waddington, H. S.|
|Stanley, hon. E. J.||Walmsley, Sir J.|
|Stanley, E.||Watkins, Col. L.|
|Staunton, Sir G. T.||Wawn, J. T.|
|Strutt, rt. hon. E.||Welby, G. E.|
|Stuart, Lord D.||Westhead, J. P.|
|Stuart, Lord J.||Willcox, B. M.|
|Stuart, H.||Williams, J.|
|Talfourd, Serj.||Willoughby, Sir H.|
|Taylor, T. E.||Wilson, M.|
|Tenison, E. K.||Wodehouse, E.|
|Tennent, R. J.||Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.|
|Thesiger, Sir F.||Wood, W. P.|
|Thicknesse, R. A.||Wyld, J.|
|Thompson, Col.||Wyvill, M.|
|Thornely, T.||young, J.|
|Turner, E.||Tufnell, H.|
|Turner, G. J.||Hill, Lord M.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Anstey, T. C.||O'Brien, T.|
|Callaghan, D.||O'Connell, M.|
|Crawford, W. S.||O'Flaherty, A.|
|Devereux, J. T.||Power, N.|
|Fagan, W.||Reynolds, J.|
|Fox, R. M.||Roche, E. B.|
|Greene, J.||Scully, F.|
|Keating, R.||Wakley, T.|
|Morgan, H. K. G.||O'Connor, F.|
|O'Brien, J.||O'Connell, J.|
§ Bill read a second time.
§ On the question that the Bill be committed,
§ MR. EDMUND B. ROCHE
said, that whatever might be the course of other hon. Gentlemen, he, for one, would offer no further opposition to the Bill.
§ MR. JOHN O'CONNELL
regretted the course of his hon. Friend; but he was not prepared to desist in his opposition to the clauses of the Bill.
§ Bill to be committed.
§ House adjourned at half-past Twelve o'clock.