HC Deb 19 February 1847 vol 90 cc251-93

rose to call the attention of the House to the fearful accounts of destitution which reached him every day from Ireland, and more particularly from the county he had the honour to represent. He thought it only his duty to acquaint the House with these facts, which called for the immediate prompt interference of Parliament. A fortnight ago the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. O'Connell) stated the deaths in Ireland to amount to 15,000 a day, and that statement had been fully borne out by the accounts from that country: it appeared that 500 persons were dying each day of hunger. The hard-worked priests could not relieve them—multitudes died on the road side—their corpses were mutilated by rats, or they dragged their weary limbs into the poorhouses, that their bodies might not be desecrated by uncoffined burial. He would, with the permission of the House, read some horrible extracts from the local papers:—


"We had intended to run through the individual inquests, but our space forbids us. A few, however, will show the utter ruin and wretchedness of the unhappy people. In No. 4, one poor woman swore that her dead husband and perishing children 'had no breakfast since the harvest.' A constable entered the hovel, and on entering 'saw a coffin before him on the floor.' He asked whose it was, and the mother went, removed the lid, and said it was the corpse of her child. Miserable mother! In No. 5, an occasional spoonful of gruel was the food of six persons for several weeks. No. 7, a young man died in the workhouse three hours after admission. He came for a coffin and a Christian burial. No. 8, the wife saw her husband leave her home on Monday to go to the public works, ten miles distant; next day she saw him dead in the fields!. No. 11, a farmer related that the man placed his hand on the latch of his door, 'which he was unable to lift.' A servant opened it, when the wretched creature fell back and instantly expired! At these inquests Mr. White stated that the last bill for coffins against the unions, furnished the day before, was 671!'"

"Riverstown, 8th. Feb.

"Sir—Half-a-dozen starvation deaths have been reported to Mr. Grant this evening, and he directs me to write to request you will attend here early to-morrow morning to hold inquests.

"JAMES HAT, Head Constable.

"Alexander Burrows, Esq."

"We have just seen one of the coroners, Alexander Burrows, Esq., and it is with the deepest anguish we announce that matters are much worse than they are described in the above paragraph; although he knocked up three horses, he was only able to hold five inquests yesterday; he will resume his awful duties to-day (Saturday). There were forty dead bodies in the district of Maugharow, kept waiting for the coroner. The following are the names of five persons upon whose bodies Mr. Burrows held inquests: Yesterday, John Hagerty, Mary M'Guinnes, Mary Conway, Brian Nolin, and Mary Costello. These deaths all occurred in the parish of Drumcliffe, up to the 10th instant. In the four first cases the verdicts were—'died of starvation.' The facts of the last case are particularly touching. The family of Mary Costello were in a starving state for the last three weeks, the deceased had not any food for two days previous to her death, one of her brothers procured the price of half a stone of meal, for which she was sent to town; on the following morning she was found dead by the road side, with the little bag of meal grasped tightly in her hand. The verdict in this instance was—'died from exposure to cold, and previous want of the necessaries of life.' In our last we accidentally omitted one inquest held upon the body of a man named Owen Mulroony, who died at Cloneen, of starvation, on the 3rd instant. We will publish the substance of the evidence given before the coroner to show the nature of the disclosures made at these awful and hitherto unheard-of investigations."


"MORE DEATHS FROM STARVATION.—On Monday last an inquest was held by Mr. Perrin, deputy coroner, on view of the body of a poor man named Daniel Lee, said to be a native of Moycullen, who was found dead at Mervale, in the county of the town of Galway. The remains of the unfortunate deceased presented the most emaciated appearance, and bore evident marks of the greatest destitution and we. The jury returned a verdict that the deceased had died for want of the common necessaries of life.

"A poor man employed on the public works at the village of Killibane, near Tuam, dropped down from utter exhaustion a few days since. He had been endeavouring to support a wife and large family on his scanty earnings; but that being insufficient to procure a sufficient supply of food, his feeble frame sunk beneath the effort, and though every assistance was at once afforded, his spirit winged its way to another and a better world."


(From Mr. M'Manus, P.P.; Mr. Fitzpatrick, R.C.C.; and Mr. M'Hale, R.C.C.)

"Lainsburgh, Fob. 13, 1847.

"Dear Sir—So incessantly occupied have we been for the last few weeks, both in preparing for eternity and in consigning to the grave the victims of starvation, that we had not time to put their number on public record. Since the 1st of January, the number that perished by hunger in this parish exceeds sixty—there is scarcely a house or cabin that is not the abode of disease and death. In solemn truth, if we even had time for writing a public communication, our hearts have been so unnerved by the magnitude of the calamity, and its numerous harrowing results, that feelings bordering on despair of being able to procure anything like adequate relief, have almost supplanted our humble capability of making any other effort save that of attending to the spiritual wants of the starving people committed to our charge. We have neither rest nor respite by day or by night. Look to the extent of this district, and consider the vastness of the population, numbering twelve thousand souls, scattered over a surface of mountain and sea-coast, upwards of fifty miles in circumference, and you can easily conceive how incessantly three priests must be engaged. Mark, too, that there are not thirty families of this large population that have not fallen into the calamity, for the holdings throughout the length and breadth of the parish do not exceed on an average two acres and a half of arable land; in truth, our people were all of the cottier class, depending entirely upon the potato for their staple food."


"We, with much regret and feelings of horror, have to lay before our readers the details of the deaths of so many of our fellow-creatures, who have been the victims of disease and hunger during the past week, In the neighbourhood of Newport, on Sunday morning last, a poor man named Molloy was found on the road side. His emaciated frame betokened that his death was the result of want. He was a native of Burrishoole. On Friday last a poor man died at Deradda, near Newport, of actual hunger, leaving a family to follow in rapid succession. In the neighbourhood of Breaffy, near this town, the following deaths have occurred from starvation and disease: Michael M'Enally, of Roemon, on the 12th; Peter Swords, of Derrinacrishan, on the 12th; his wife, on the 13th; James Gavan, of Ballyshawn, on the 8th; his wife on the 12th. All these cases proceeded from dysentery and exhaustion. On Sunday, the 7th instant, Mr. Atkinson, coroner, held an inquest on the body of Patrick Maughan, at Doonanarrow. The deceased has a family, who are in the most indigent state. The verdict was—death by starvation. In this village there is not a family that do not appear likely to fall victims to famine! On same day, on the body of James Brislane, at Kilcrimmin. The deceased was put on the public works, a few days previous to his death, and was hastening on Saturday evening to the office of the pay-clerks, but being very weak from want of food he fell on the way, and was found dead next morning. Verdict—death by starvation. On Monday the 8th, on the body of Pat Howley, at Saltfield. The deceased was employed on the public works, and was found lying on the road where he had fallen, by a person passing by, when removed to the nearest habitation he died shortly after. Verdict—death by starvation. On the same day on the body of William Sheridan, at Cloonta. The deceased had been in a state of great destitution, and going from one village to another he fell into a small rivulet which he attempted to cross, and from his debility was unable to extricate himself. Verdict—death by drowning, but attributed to starvation. This coroner states, that there were twelve more in- quests reported in his district; but which, from indisposition, he has been unable to attend. During the past week Mr. O'Grady, coroner, held inquests on the following persons: Anne Philbin, Pat Hannon, Francis Gannon, Jordan Morrisroe, Anne Teatum, Patrick Carey, Thomas Costelloe, Constantine Mullen, John Mulloy, Bridget Mulloy. In each of these cases the verdict returned was—death from starvation."

As an Irish representative, he could not remain silent when scenes, such as those he had described, were witnessed in his country; and he entreated the Government to take measures to supply immediate and effective relief to the destitute people. The House could not doubt the existence of the distress, and he warned them of the consequences, if by delay and inactivity they permitted the people to perish; let them recollect, to use the words of the Irish poet, that— A bold peasantry, their country's pride, When once destroyed can never be supplied.


regretted that Her Majesty's Ministers had thought it advisable to postpone, even for a single day, or to delay for a single hour, the measures which had been announced as destined to afford succour and relief to the unfortunate people of Ireland. It was of the utmost importance the Irish Members should not be detained from their post of duty, in the present crisis; their presence was required in Ireland, and before the sufferings, which he could assure the House had not been exaggerated in the description, their absence only added to the evil. While he bore testimony to the correctness of the statements read to the House, he did not wish to be understood as casting the slightest degree of blame on the Government. He admitted their intentions were most benevolent, and their efforts most praiseworthy; but when famine was abroad, it was impossible for any Irish Member to sit in that House, night after night, without manifesting some impatience and some desire for greater speed in their legislation. He begged to read some extracts from letters, received recently, containing the most afflicting statements of the condition of the peasantry in Roscommon:— You will perceive we are getting worse, when I tell you that the clergyman's horse near this, having died from overwork on parish duty, on Saturday last, four men insisted upon carrying it off to cut up and eat the remains. He was greatly shocked, as you will suppose; but what could he do? He feeds his own family on brown bread, and has given up sugar, to assist as far as he can by this saving. His family are constantly employed in supplying meal, rice, and soup, to great numbers of the destitute who have nothing to eat the days they don't come to them. A member of his family was much rejoiced by receiving 20l. to help her soup-kitchen, from Mr. Forster, the kindhearted Quaker. The distress will continue for many months; and I trust additional help will come, and indeed it should and must be distributed with economy, to effect much good. Six persons here died in houses close to each other and near to this, on Friday last. The few resident gentry make soup, and do what they can, but they cannot reach to half the extent of help required. In one of the houses my informant saw a boy who had been dead four days, for whose remains his mother was looking out for a coffin; and her other son was so near death from exhaustion, that he could not swallow a drink which was brought to him. In this neighbourhood the landlord was a constant resident, had expended for forty years past his whole income there, employed and fed some hundred persons daily, and was now not even receiving his fair and reasonable rents. This was another description of the present condition of the counties of Roscommon and Longford:— I consider this part of the county is in a ruinous state, the land being totally neglected. If men are not immediately encouraged to sow their lands, we shall be still worse off next year. He denied altogether the assumption that the great misery prevailing in some districts, was the consequence of the neglect of the landlords as a body. Some landlords had undoubtedly committed great faults; but in his opinion the resident landlords generally were doing their duty. Cases of distress and starvation had occurred even in places where the landed proprietors were making the most energetic exertions, where they were expending their entire incomes in aiding those in want and in providing employment; and, this being so, how much greater and how much more severe must be the destitution in those places where the landlord did not reside, where the benefit of his means and influence was not felt? He called upon the Government to consider if their measures for temporary relief were adequate to the accomplishment of the purpose in view, and if they were doing wisely in at once withdrawing, from the hundreds of thousands who otherwise would starve, that employment which had been found on the public works. He trusted they would also increase the fund to be granted for the purchase of seed; he asked them to remember how the horrors of the situation of the Irish people would be multiplied if they were next year to be left without the means of further support. It was useless for hon. Members to censure the conduct of the landlords. Many of them were now powerless, unable to collect their rents, and, therefore, altogether incapable of assuming that function which could only be properly exercised by the Government. In the indiscriminate and unfounded vituperation, some distinction should be made between those who were and those who were not doing their duty. The resident landlords, who spent all their wealth and endangered their lives in the country, were held up for execration; while those who were absentees, and who drained Ireland of her lifeblood, escaped attack and evaded punishment.


could assure the House and the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, that the observations made by him on a previous evening in reference to the conduct of the Irish landlords generally, were founded on data of undoubted authenticity and on fact, and that, consequently, he had now not one charge to retract or one word to unsay. The hon. Gentleman was perhaps right in stating, that at this moment the landlords were well disposed to second the efforts of the Government, and would evince that charity which became their position, if they could succeed in collecting their rents. He granted that the rents were not well paid; but when they were well paid last year—when the calamity they had since suffered from was predicted—why was not some provision made for the danger? why was not some exertion used to avert the event? The Irish Members, however, would probably shelter themselves under those two assertions so repeatedly heard in an Irish debate: first, that all the evils of Ireland resulted from the Union; and, secondly, that an English Member could not possibly know anything about the matter. There were many gentlemen in Ireland who were not landlords, and who yet contrived, having formed themselves into an association, to collect great rents. He would ask, what assistance had those rent collectors given to the distressed people? The hon. Gentleman (Mr. D. Browne) had told them of the dreadful state of Mayo; but he had not been able to inform them that the money obtained by this association in the shape of "rent" from that county, had been applied to the relief of the people. It was an anomaly most remarkable, that Members of that House, who were also cognizant of and participators in the proceedings of the association, could rise and call upon Government to supply food to the poor, when they themselves applied not one farthing of their vast funds to that object. They appointed functionaries, whom they called "wardens," in the different districts, not to distribute relief, but to collect funds, afterwards to be placed in that exchequer in Dublin which was filled with the contribution of a people at the point of famine. From April in last year, to the first month in this year, many thousand pounds had been subscribed to the funds of the Repeal Association. Why, he asked, was this money drawn from the people? and why, having been drawn, was not some portion of it refunded in a time of unprecedented distress? [An Hon. MEMBER: We deny the fact.] Was it denied there was this distress? that there was starvation at Skibbereen, and suffering throughout Ireland? If the Irish Members now, after all that had been said, denied these facts, and that these funds had been received by the association, certainly they must be allowed to be the most extraordinary people in the world. It was quite as extraordinary to hear hon. Members get up and contest the liberality of the English nation. Subscriptions were being raised in every quarter: men and women of every class were subscribing: and that, therefore, was not the time for the representatives of Ireland to keep alive bad feeling in their own country, or to check generosity here by taunts and aspersions of the most unjust character.


would go the whole length with the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, in what he had said with reference to the collection of the funds to which he had referred from many parties in Ireland, and particularly from the starving people of that country; and, he would add, what was deeply to be regretted, that he believed the unfortunate people had no option whatever in the matter, but that it was compulsory upon them to make those payments. There was one subject to which he would shortly direct the attention of the House, as it was one of the very greatest importance, and had been, he believed, the chief cause which had led to the present state of that country—he meant the subletting of land, or, more properly speaking, the cutting it up into shreds and patches, known by the name of the conacre system. He did not believe the House had any idea of the extent to which this system was carried in Ireland. They were told that this state of matters was originated by the former proprietors of the land, and that pre- sent landlords were only suffering from the misconduct of their predecessors; but was it not unjust that the landlords of the present day should be made responsible for the conduct of those who lived, perhaps, sixty years ago? The parish in which he resided, was situated two-thirds in Tyrone and one-third in Armagh. At the commencement of the present distress, a relief committee was established, of which he was chairman, and a fund raised, by means of which they distributed meal once a week and soup twice a week; and a single statement or two of the proceedings of that committee would show to the House the extent to which the subdivision of land was carried. There were seeking relief from the fund 430 families; and of these, 35 families only possessed as much as one acre of land. Most of them had none, but only 35 possessed as much as one acre. But, perhaps, the matter would be better understood by taking the state of one townland, in which there were 35 families, consisting of 166 persons. The whole amount of land in the possession of these 35 families was eight acres and a few perches; of these eight acres seven were in the hands of four persons, which left one acre and a few perches to be distributed amongst the remaining 31 families. This would give the House some idea of what out-door relief would become in Ireland. It would show that to attempt to give out-door relief would convert all Ireland into a great poorhouse, and that the whole landed property of the country would not be sufficient to support the poor. He should like to know from the hon. Member for Bath what description of landlords in any country would like to have such a tenantry upon their properties. He must say that if Ireland was the curse of England, the conacre system was the curse of Ireland. He had received a letter from the rector of a parish adjoining to his, and who had been induced to write in consequence of some observations as to the want of exertion in Ireland, which had been made in that House. This clergyman he knew to be indefatigable in his efforts to relieve the wants of those around him; he had not merely given his personal labours for that purpose, but had expended his means also, so that he had been himself left not only without money, but without food. He was the brother of a noble Lord, a Member of that House; and as the circumstances to which he had referred were in the highest degree honourable to him, he had no hesitation in saying that he meant the Rev. Mr. Clements. In his letter he stated, that on several nights when he had been out very late, he had witnessed the loom going in every house he passed for miles; and that on returning on one occasion, at two o'clock in the morning, from the bedside of a dying man, he found the people as entirely engaged as by day. He knew families where they got up almost simultaneously after twelve on Sunday night; and other families who sat up three nights in the week. There was a notion that in the north of Ireland the people could support themselves by means of the linen trade; but when he mentioned that for a web of sixty-four or sixty-five yards only 2s. was paid, some idea might be formed of the earnings that could be derived by this branch of industry. Every day's post brought him intelligence of the dreadful amount of misery which prevailed. He had received a letter from his agent that day, who stated that though they constantly heard of vessels laden with grain sailing for Ireland, still the price of food continued to rise; and, what was worse, the grain purchased by the relief committee was adulterated to such an extent with beans and other articles that they were often forced to return their purchases. The dealers joined together to raise the prices of food; and the day which they selected for that purpose was Saturday, when they knew the poor people received their wages. He maintained that the Irish landlords did everything in their power to relieve the distress; but though their means were ten times greater than they were, it would be impossible to do all that the necessities of the case required; and he contended that the present was a time when they had a right to look for relief from this country. It had been said the other night, by way of reproach, that the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) had an understanding with the noble Lord at the head of the Government. Now, that was precisely what he wished to see. He wanted to see the wisdom, the talent, the energy, and the experience of every party united for the relief of the distress in Ireland. He should like to see such a remedy applied to the evils of that country, as would enable them, should they again be visited by such another calamity, to meet it in a way that would make it press less heavily on the country. He cared not whether the noble Lord and the right hon. Baronet concocted measures out of the House or not, provided those measures were for the good of Ireland.


Sir, I am not disposed to make any complaint of the conduct of Gentlemen connected with Ireland, especially of those who are about to return to their own country to perform there most important duties, and who have taken this opportunity to lay before the House statements as to the appalling distress and misery that exist in many parts of Ireland. Some of those Gentlemen have expressed an opinion that this House was not fully aware of the depth and extent of that misery; but they will at least do me the justice to say, that I have never attempted to conceal from the House what my opinion was upon that subject. I have said—and I now say—that I believe it is scarcely possible to overstate or exaggerate the amount of human suffering which in many parts of Ireland is now endured. It is impossible for me—imperative as the duty is, that I should read the accounts which every day's post brings, of details the most distressing, as to the effects which scarcity of food has produced in Ireland—to disguise what my impressions are upon that subject. And let me say that if the statements which have been made by hon. Members, have been put to the Government in order to urge them to take every means in their power to alleviate that distress, I can assure the hon. Members who have made those statements, that it was altogether unnecessary. It is not because the Government are unaware of the misery existing in Ireland, or indifferent to the extent of that misery, that anything can be wanting in what they have done for that country; but that the powers of the Government are far more limited than those Gentlemen seem to think. Gentlemen may suppose that the exertions of the Government and the Legislature have not been most judiciously applied under the circumstances; but still they must admit that they have been applied on a most enormous scale; that we have not spared the power or finances of this country in the attempt to cope with an unparalleled state of distress. I believe I may say that more than 600,000 persons are at this moment employed and receiving Government money under the Act of Parliament that passed at the end of last Session. This is an enormous effort—an effort we cannot make without taxing the finances of this country most severely; but under the circumstances, we thought we were justified in making that effort. Sir, it is not possible in a Christian land to see our fellow-creatures perishing by thousands without at least attempting to cope with the calamity which has fallen upon them. And I have the satisfaction of stating, that if these efforts have not prevented the occurrence of such scenes as we have heard described to-night—if they have not prevented the extreme misery and destitution, and loss of human life, which have been brought before us in the accounts of this evening—accounts which, so far from controverting, I am prepared to say are not overcharged—yet, if we could take into account those who have been saved from untimely deaths by the exertions which Government and the Legislature have made, they might be reckoned by hundreds of thousands. The measure to which I have already adverted, has been the principal means which Government has resorted to in the discharge of the duty devolving upon them; but it has not been the only one. The establishment of soup-kitchens, through the medium of the relief committees, who have been actively engaged in raising contributions from private sources, has been extensively followed all over the country; and the Government has liberally granted money to meet the contributions so made from those resources. Had I been aware that this discussion was to come on, I should have come down to the House prepared with facts to show that this system has extended itself throughout the country to the most distressed places in Ireland, and that it has worked in such a manner as greatly to stop the progress of famine and disease unfortunately affecting so many parts of the country. One great cause of the misery that now prevails in Ireland, is doubtless the high price of provisions; but no one will suppose that it is in the power of the Government, when other causes operate to make provisions high, to interfere by artificial means so as to make them low. It is not in Ireland alone, but in France and other countries, that there has been a rise in the prices of provisions; they have been extremely high in France, and it is as impossible that Government could keep the prices of provisions low in Ireland whilst they were high in other countries with which Ireland has intercourse, as to keep the level of the Irish Channel below that of the Atlantic Ocean. Do all you can, you can only mitigate these calamities; you cannot prevent them; without a change in the social system of Ireland, it is impossible to prevent great distress in that country. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Mayo (Mr. D. Browne), who introduced this discussion, has called the attention of the House to the state of the county he represents. Mayo has, I believe, at all times, been one of the most distressed counties in Ireland; and in the present state of that country, Mayo is suffering more than any other county in Ireland. Of the numerous cases of deaths which have arisen from starvation, a very great number have happened in the county Mayo. I believe in most of the cases, the individuals have belonged to the class of mendicants, at all times a very miserable class in Ireland; but at other times, they have a great resource in the charity of the poorer classes; but, in the present year, the mendicants have no means whatever of obtaining assistance from those classes, and their habits render them peculiarly averse to resort to the poorhouse, until the last pressure of want comes upon them, and then they enter it only to die. I believe it is in this class of mendicants that mostly, not exclusively, the deaths have happened. How the Government could prevent this, I am at a loss to imagine. I am ready to bear my willing testimony to the exertions of many among the clergy and the landholders of Ireland, as far as their means permit, to relieve the distress around them; at the same time, I must say that I think it is the duty of all persons of influence, whether landholders or clergymen, not only to co-operate with individual charity, but to do all in their power to prevent the circulation of mischievous delusions amongst the poorer classes. I am anxious to call the attention of the hon. Member for Mayo and of the House to a communication I have received to-day from the county of Mayo, which convinces me, that unless persons of influence in Ireland, whether landholders, clergymen, or belonging to any other class interested in the preservation of property, exert their influence to prevent the people from becoming the victims of delusion, the consequences will be alarming. I understand that in a part of this wretched county of Mayo, an organized combination exists to discourage systematically the cultivation of the soil; the authors of which promise the poor people that if they will but leave off cultivating the soil, the Government and this country would be obliged to maintain them. I call upon all the influential classes in that country, whether landholders or clergymen, to exert themselves by every means in their power to warn the unhappy people of the consequences of falling into this snare. The consequence would be that the state of the country next year must be far worse than it is at present. The communication to which I referred states, that a great body of men, amounting to 200, went round, warning all persons not to attempt to till the land this year. Now, when Gentlemen call upon the Government and the House to employ the most energetic efforts to enable us to meet this great calamity, I think we have a right to call upon all classes to use their utmost influence with the poorer classes, and to co-operate with the House and the Government in warning them of the consequences. I cannot pass over one subject which has been adverted to in the course of the present discussion—I mean, the conduct of the landlords of Ireland, with regard to the exaction of rents in the present crisis. I believe that in some parts of the country, especially in Mayo, there have been many civil-bill processes, not always connected with questions of rent, and not always at the instance of the landlord, but mostly at the instance of middlemen; but I am afraid that in some parts of the country these suits have been going on to an extent which all must deplore. But, with respect to the conduct generally of the landlords of Ireland, I am bound to say that, according to my information, they have exercised their rights with forbearance towards their tenantry, who, by the total failure of the potato crop, had no means of paying their rents. I am bound to say, from the information I have received, that the landlords of Ireland, as a body, have exercised their rights with forbearance. I have letters from different parts of the country upon this subject; but I forbear reading them; I confine myself to the general practice. I have a letter from Cavan, from the assistant barrister, Mr. Murphy, dated January 9, in answer to an inquiry upon this subject, in which he says— In this county, the ejectments have diminished considerably in amount within the last two or three years; at this sessions, not more than one-half of what I have known in former years. Upon the whole, the landlords in this county have acted with kindness and forbearance to the tenantry; Lord Farnham, at the head of them, admirably. I am bound to say that most of the great body of the landlords of Ireland have conducted themselves in this manner with regard to the class of tenants who depended wholly upon potatoes. With respect to another class of tenants, who were solvent men, well able to pay their rents, and who did not depend upon their potato crop, not only were the landlords justified in making them pay their rents, but they could not be expected to contribute to relieve the necessities of the poorer classes, if they were not to compel those tenants to pay their rent who were able to pay it but would not, but took advantage of the general state of the country as a pretext for not paying their rent. I will not detain the House at any greater length upon this occasion. I sincerely hope that the elements of dispute which have been introduced into the present discussion, will not be allowed to interfere with the consideration of the measures before the House. I shall think it most unfortunate if in the discussion of Irish measures such topics should be allowed, night after night, to obstruct our progress. If this is to be persisted in, I should despair of making any progress in the important work before us. Before I sit down, I will just advert to what fell from the hon. Baronet opposite (Sir W. Verner) as to the delay of the other Irish Bills. After full consideration, it is the opinion of Her Majesty's Government that they ought not to postpone those Bills till after Easter; I think it would be improper to do so, and I give notice that on the 8th of March, the Government will proceed with these Bills.


shared in the anxiety of the right hon. Gentleman as to the state of Ireland, and wished they might at once proceed with the business of the evening. He deplored that so much bitterness had been introduced into this debate; but the fault did not lie with him or with those with whom he acted, but with others who had thrown out so much taunt and reviling. The hon. Baronet the Member for Marylebone (Sir B. Hall), had attacked two or three of the Irish Members in a most severe manner, without having given them the least notice of his intention to attack them. He cared as little for the hon. Baronet's attack as for his courtesy; but when charges of delay, and having thrown bitterness into the discussion, were made, it was but fair to show where the blame rested. If hon. Members were willing to relieve Ireland, they ought not to accompany their charity with a taunt or a sneer—they ought not to make the unfortunate recipients wince under the dole which was extended to them. They might talk as they liked of the amount of that charity, but the whole of it did not equal the amount of money of which Ireland had been defrauded by the iniquitous policy of this country. Let not hon. Gentlemen provoke him to tell them to be just before they were generous. On two occasions Mr. Pitt had confessed that up to a certain period England had constantly endeavoured to crush the prosperity of Ireland. Up to what period? Up to that period, when Irishmen, forgetting their differences, united together, and wrung from that House, by the dread of civil war, that freedom of trade which, in eighteen years, enabled Ireland to make an advance in prosperity unequalled in the history of nations. The Union, effected by bribery, since confessed, followed. Ireland lost her Parliament, and her population were reduced to depend on the lowest description of food, the failure of which had reduced them to a state of complete destitution. England was now paying for her misgovernment of Ireland. When these things could be proved, was it not monstrous for England to seek to evade the penalty? One standing topic with certain hon. Gentlemen was that of the Repeal rent, which they looked upon as money taken from the people. It was asked, what had been done with the money? The English Parliament, year after year, refused to grant religious freedom in Ireland. An association was formed. The shilling contribution represented a man. The amount was an index to the aggregate who were determined on obtaining their rights, and before whom the Parliament of England gave way and conceded emancipation. That was the Catholic rent. It had been asked what the Repeal rent had done? It had enabled them in many instances to put down petty tyranny, and to secure justice to the poor peasant who had no friends. The Repeal rent had also enabled the people of Ireland, at the time of the State Trials, in 1843, to vindicate their own cause, and prevent a precedent from being established as dangerous to the liberties of Englishmen as that prosecution which had followed to his death the ancestor of the noble Lord on the benches below him (Lord John Russell). It had enabled the people of Ireland, through the agency of the poor man's penny, successfully to fight against and resist the whole power of the Government of England, unscrupulously used as it was. It should be borne in mind that the decision of the court below in the case of these trials of 1843, would have been used as a most dangerous precedent against the liberty of the subject, not only in that country, but also in England, had it not been reversed. He did not make this allusion to the trials from any personal consideration; for the men who were attempted to be made the victims of that prosecution, having once entered into the struggle in their country's cause, were prepared for any issue. They were resolved to shun bloodshed and violence, unless in the event of the Irish people being denied those rights of the constitution to which as British subjects they were entitled, in which case they were prepared to meet the aggression at the peril of their lives; but they risked their property, and everything that could make life valuable, and were resolved to do so still, until the great object of their political ambition was achieved. He did not speak, therefore, from a personal motive in making this reference to the trials of 1843; but this he did not hesitate to say, that had not the decision been reversed, it would have been pleaded as a fatal precedent for the overthrow of liberty in all parts of the British empire. How was its reversion brought to pass? By the help of the pence of the Irish peasant. Knowing that it was his cause that was at stake, he freely gave his money for its sustentation; and he had the gratification of seeing an unjust sentence trampled on and legally set at nought. The hon. Gentleman (Sir B. Hall) had this advantage over him, that the hon. Gentleman had taken him unawares in this attack. He was not prepared for such an onslaught. Had he been so he would have been in a position to go into the items, and to give the details of tyrannical aggression repelled, of the poor man's cause asserted, and of popular information diffused throughout the country by the instrumentality of the Repeal rent; but he would not now pause to dwell upon such matters. The hon. Member was welcome to his taunt. There was nothing more easy than to deal in such imputations, at the very moment when those who had the management of that rent were paying the expenses of the association out of their own pockets; but the sensible and the honest-minded would know what amount of value should be attached to such insinuations. The hon. Member had talked about Repeal being "a phantom." If it was so (which he most emphatically denied), it was at least a gorgeous, a beautiful, and an attractive phantom; but their Union had produced nothing that dazzled the fancy, or captivated the imagination. It had produced not a phantom, but the ghostly reality of the most appalling state of things that had ever existed in a Christian land. It was the denial of Repeal, the fraudulent abolition of the Irish Parliament, and the inexorable refusal of that House to hear the remonstrances of the Irish people in this behalf, that had reduced Ireland to the miserable condition in which she was now placed. With respect to the Ministry now in office, he was far from blaming them. He gave them credit for the best intentions. In their efforts to mitigate the distress in Ireland, they had gone farther than public opinion in that House and in England would warrant them. They were in advance of public opinion in that House and in the country, and were consequently entitled to the gratitude of the Irish Members, even though their exertions might fall very short indeed of answering the expectations which had been formed in Ireland. They (the Ministers) were bringing odium on themselves by their exertions to alleviate Irish suffering, and the Irish people were grateful to them for the sincerity and kindliness of their intention; but he very much feared that there were still in that House many hon. Members who even yet were not fully cognizant of the fearful extent of the calamity which afflicted Ireland, nor duly sensible of the appalling results which would accrue from it to this country when the wretches who were famishing at the other side of the Channel would come over to this country to spread disease and desolation amongst the English population. To those who were thus sceptical, he would recommend an attentive perusal of the letter of Commander Caffin, which appeared in the journals of that morning, merely observing in reference to it, that it would be no difficult matter to find a thousand parallels for the dreadful scene in Schull, depicted with such touching power by the gallant officer. He was in hourly receipt of accounts from Ireland, which pictured a state of things quite as afflicting, if not more so, in a thousand other districts. It was full time that the English Legislature should turn their attention to the condition of Ireland, and bear in mind that they owed a debt both of good government and of money to that cruelly-wronged country. He had to apologize for trespassing at such length upon the attention of the House; but the Irish Members who sympathized in the fortunes of their country, and had her interests at heart, would be less than men if they did not repel the shameless revilings of the Member for Marylebone with that just indignation which their fealty to their country and to the cause of truth demanded of them.


observed, that notwithstanding the extraordinary character of the attack which had been made by the hon. Member for Marylebone, the Irish Gentlemen in that House had some cause of consolation in the reflection that the hon. Baronet's feelings were not those of Englishmen generally. Most assuredly they were not the sentiments of the well-conducted and sensible amongst Englishmen. He appeared to be unboundedly indignant at the idea of public subscriptions being raised for political men or for political purposes in Ireland; but he had entirely overlooked the fact of such subscriptions being of frequent occurrence in this country. Was it not notorious that for one highly distinguished politician there had been collected in this country, within the course of a few months, no less a sum than 90,000l.? and was it not a fact equally well ascertained, that there had been such a collection on foot in England as the Spottiswoode Fund? The plundered and misgoverned people of Ireland subscribed that they might recover their lost property and their filched liberties. The hon. Member had attacked a great public body—the Repeal Association of Ireland. To that body he (Mr. Grattan) belonged, and considered it an honour to be connected with it. He would fearlessly stand up for it, and defend it to the last for its many virtuous acts. It had been called into existence by the infatuated policy, and the disastrous system of misrule, adopted by this country in reference to Ireland. Why had that House withheld Catholic emancipation from 1800 to 1829, and why had they invariably pursued towards Ireland such a course of conduct as rendered such bodies as the Catholic Association and the Repeal Association necessary? Why had they neglected the advice of such men as Fox, Wyndham, and Ponsonby, and coerced the Irish people to the conviction that England was unwilling to concede anything she could withhold, and that they had no chance of getting even an instalment of liberty, unless they concentrated their powers, and made a joint-stock fund with their money? It was the gross misrule of England that had called such bodies into existence. He conceived that gross injustice had been done in many instances, in the course of this debate, to the landed Irish proprietors. He was in receipt of a letter from one of the landlords who had been thus aggrieved, Sir R. Lynch Blosse, against whom some most unjustifiable charges had been made by Mr. Otway, the Poor Law Commissioner. To this document he would take the liberty of soliciting the especial attention of the House. [The hon. Member read the letter, and the writer denied that any arrears of poor rate were due on his property. When the last rate was struck, his agent offered to pay the proportion of the rate for which his property was liable; but, in addition to this, the collector claimed an arrear of rate which was not due. The fact was, it was due by a former collector, to whom it had been duly paid, and who had been dismissed from his office. The receipt for the money was produced by the agent, and the rate was then refused. The letter concluded with the expression of a hope that Mr. Otway, before making statements which were to come before Parliament, would make it his business to inquire whether there was any foundation for them, and not again expose himself to the discredit of making charges which were so easily answered.] He trusted that the House would consider this letter as completely satisfactory. The charges which were brought against Sir R. L. Blosse had as little foundation in fact as those which the hon. Member for Marylebone had brought against the Repeal Association. As a gentleman and a man of honour, he could unhesitatingly declare, that he joined that association for a good purpose, and to divest it of the sectarian character which previously belonged to it. He joined it because he thought it would be the means of stepping between the two countries, and preventing that which, so help him God, he then feared and still apprehended—separation. He had examined the accounts of the association; and to this distinct assertion he pledged himself, that, as far as he could see, not one single penny of the money had gone into the pockets of any private individual, and least of all into the pockets of a certain individual, to whom he would not more particularly allude, as he was a Member of that House. But this he did know, that the predecessors of the present Government permitted the Irish people to assemble in thousands, and hundreds of thousands, between the months of May and October. Tara met, and Mullaghmast met, and not one word to the contrary did the Government utter, until at at length there came out, on a dark night, a Castle proclamation. The first he heard of their prosecution was when he was abroad, after attending several of the meetings. Such conduct as this convicted the Government of incapacity and ignorance, and showed that they were bad lawyers and bad statesmen, who succeeded in nothing but in making themselves ridiculous. No less than 25,000l. were paid by the Irish people to defend themselves from the insanity of the proclamation and prosecution, and this was paid out of the Repeal rent. With reference to that fund he would say, as Chatham had said in reference to the American war—"There may have been extravagance—there may, in some instances, have been injudicious expenditure; but it is idle to conceal the fact, that it is a question of oppression on the one side, and of liberty on the other." It was not in the power of the hon. Member for Marylebone, nor in that of the petty parish he represented, to put down such sentiments or to crush such principles as these. As to the soup-kitchens about to be established in Ireland, if the noble Lord the Member for London were, unhappily for the country, to go out, he did not know of any one who was so competent to supply his place as M. Soyer, the cook of the Reform Club. His letter on the soup-kitchen question was admirable. If cooks were not given under the Act of the noble Lord at the head of the Government, he predicted the kitchens would fail. The Irish landlords, he denied, had neglected their duty. They were most severe sufferers from this calamity. He knew one landlord in the county of Tipperary, who had a rental of 13,000l., and could only get 700l. out of it; another in Leitrim, who had two estates, one of 500l., and another of 700l., and who could only collect 5l.; and a third, in another district, who had a rental of 7,000l., and only received 15s.; and a fourth who, out of a rental of 3,000l., only obtained 3l. 10s. If any of the landed proprietors had neglected their duty, it was the absentees, and not the resident landlords, who were culpable. A statement had been made by a relief committee in the Queen's County, a short time since, which was to the following effect: Value of property held in the district by absentees, 25,578l.; value of property held by resi- dent proprietors, 530l. Amount subscribed for distress by the absentees, 208l.; ditto by the residents, 459l. With respect to the Bill of Indemnity which was about to be committed, he thought it right to remind the House that not more than seventy-seven presentments had been made under Mr. Labouchere's letter. He had a statement that only ten depôts were open in Ireland since the month of November, and only a sum of 146,000l. was granted in purchasing provisions.


had come down to the House with the expectation of a Bill being proposed to render valid certain proceedings which were adopted for the relief of the people of Ireland, and for the employment of the labouring poor of that country. When he came into the House, the hon. Member for Mayo had communicated to the House a number of cases of extraordinary suffering, and an hon. Gentleman opposite had done the same. A personal altercation succeeded, and then the speech of the hon. Gentleman followed; and, although he had pursued him with great care, it defied his ingenuity to characterize his statement. There was "sound and fury, signifying nothing." They were told the people of Ireland were starving; but it was now about half-past eight o'clock, and though they began business about five o'clock, they had not yet got into Committee on this Bill. He thought it due to his countrymen on the present occasion fairly, and as briefly as he could, to state the case of Ireland, and the way in which he considered it on the present occasion. He never heard a Member representing any portion of the English people get up in his place and deny that it was their bounden duty to do all that in them lay to mitigate the miseries of Ireland. They had differed from Government and with many Gentlemen as to the precise mode of relieving that distress; but there was not a man amongst them but said he wished the distress of Ireland should be relieved. Yet the hon. Gentleman the Member for Kilkenny had charged the English Members with being the authors of the miseries of Ireland; and another Gentleman, the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Grattan), had said it was a punishment of Divine Providence upon them, in consequence of their horrible atrocities to Ireland; but he feared that the hon. Member did not recollect or know what he was saying. He did say that, though it was a rather Irish mode of retribution, that the offended people should be punished, and not the offenders. He charged the hon. Gentleman with saying that; he said it was a visitation of Divine Providence, brought on the people of Ireland in consequence of the conduct of the people of this country. [Mr. GRATTAN: The hon. Gentleman has mistaken me.] "Mistaken!" I charge the hon. Gentleman with saying it. He may say he did not intend to say it. [Mr. GRATTAN: I deny that I said it. I appeal to my hon. Friend near me whether I said it or not.] I am quite willing to accept the hon. Gentleman's retractation; but I must trust my ears.


I rise to order. I submit to you, that if a Member in this House denies having made a statement in this House, and if another Member says he accepts his retractation, that that hon. Member is out of order in not having accepted the total denial.


thought the conduct of the people of England on this occasion was far above the attacks of either hon. Gentlemen. Could it be believed that at this time the people of England, his countrymen, should be charged with a disregard of the feelings and miseries of the Irish people—that they should be charged at this time with being the cause of the visitation which was now unhappily felt in Ireland? Could it be said that those generous millions who were actually vieing with one another in the exhibition of their charitable feelings, were chargeable with anything like the atrocity with which those hon. Gentlemen were pleased to charge them? If they were open to those emotions with which they were charged, they might withdraw all their kindness and benevolence; but he (Mr. Roebuck) knew his countrymen so well as to know that in their bosoms there would be created a still further desire to do good to their fellow-countrymen in Ireland, in order to give the lie to all those base assertions connected with their conduct. It was not requisite at that time to refer to all that had been done to justify his countrymen against anything like this species of attack; but what he was there to do he would do, in spite of all this violence and vituperation which had been visited upon Englishmen who chose to get up and insinuate that there might be a better mode of supplying the wants of the Irish people. He would carry out the argument of the hon. Member for Marylebone. And what did he say? That there were certain Gentlemen in that House who got up and gave them an affecting description of the miseries of the people of Ireland; that Gentlemen came there and asked them to subscribe; but, said he, "I have a right to consider the situation of my own countrymen, and the conduct of those who ought also to contribute to relieve the misery of Ireland." He said he saw in that House Gentlemen—he could not help pointing his finger at them—who were accustomed to take rent from the people of Ireland, and he gave a significant instance of collections from the Irish poor by a body of Irish gentlemen in Dublin. He pointed to the month in which these collections were made, and he showed that no contribution from that body of gentlemen had been made to ameliorate the misery of the people of Ireland. He would go a step further, and say that the Irish landlords had not contributed, as they ought to have, to relieve the miseries of the Irish. Why did they say so? He took the case of Skibbereen, and he had a right to take it. There was a poor law in Ireland, and the people of Skibbereen were fully capable of paying the poor rate to a very great extent. The poor rate was not fivepence in the pound, and that poor rate was not collected. Were not English Gentlemen then justified in turning round and saying—"Before you wring from our people those enormous sums which we are now paying for the maintenance of the people of Ireland, are we not justified in calling on the Gentlemen from Ireland to bear their full quota?" He would say, they were not come there to bandy abuse with any Gentleman; but they had a right to consider the state of their constituents. What was now occurring in a town in the county of Somerset? He held in his hand a paper, calling a meeting in the town he represented, to relieve the poor in that district. He had received description after description of the state of the peasants—of the people in the county of Somerset, who were absolutely at this time living on the lowest possible kind of food, of which they had the scantiest supply. They were at the present moment—(and hon. Gentlemen knew what the English peasant was and what he was accustomed to be fed upon)—they were at the present moment, out of a large portion of Somersetshire, living on horse beans, and had a very small quantity of the same. They were absolutely obliged to go into the fields to pick up rotten turnips to get food from them. He was not bringing forward those instances to throw them in the teeth of those Gentlemen who asked them to relieve Ireland; but he said when this was the condition of their own peasantry, it became a solemn duty on their part to see that all paid their shares; and, depend upon it, they would make them pay their shares. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Meath had talked of the Government, and had charged them with having distributed only some petty quantity of meal. He said they had established an insufficient number of depôts, and had distributed some small quantity of meal; but he (Mr. Roebuck) asked, did not the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Ireland state in that House, not an hour and a half ago, that 600,000 persons had received relief from the Government funds? The hon. Member had charged the Government with dereliction of duty, because he said they were niggardly in the distribution of meal; but the statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Ireland showed that 600,000 persons were receiving support from the Government. The hon. Gentleman had said there was an insufficient distribution of meal; and the answer to that was, 600,000 persons were fed. The conclusions from that reply were unanswerable; but the statements of the hon. Gentlemen were those of heat and passion and utter indiscretion, and were not based upon that which ought alone to guide them in making declarations in that House. He was quite prepared to give to the Government the most unqualified meed of his approbation (if it were worth a farthing) for their kindly-meant endeavours for the relief of the people. He believed they had assumed to themselves a responsibility that hardly any Ministry ever before took upon themselves to relieve the people. They had spent moneys which in any other case would have alarmed and terrified an Administration; and they would no more dare go on with that degree of expenditure than put their right hands in the fire. But they, having a thorough confidence in the kindly feeling of their countrymen, knew that they were perfectly safe in doing that which was right, and generous, and benevolent, towards the people of Ireland. It was that very feeling that made them bold; but when they knew what it was that made them bold, they ought not to hide from themselves the extraordinary steps they had taken, and the great responsibility which they had the courage to take upon themselves. The Bill which he held in his hand proved what he asserted. There was a large deviation from an Act of Parliament; and so great was the noble Lord's confidence in the feelings of this country and of Parliament, that, although they had sat many weeks, they had not troubled Parliament to pass a Bill, for they felt quite certain that the kindly feelings of Englishmen would induce them to pass it. Was this then a time for this species of remarks? These were the remarks of the hon. Member for Kilkenny and of the hon. Member for Mayo, detailing the misery that exists in Ireland; but did they deserve the comment that had been made upon that statement—that they had created the misery—they being anxious and willing to do all they could to relieve it. There must, in a visitation like this, be much misery and suffering; but was it honest towards the Government, or the people of England, to say, "That is your doing—see what you have done for Ireland!" What, he asked, was the meaning of this reiteration? They acknowledged all the misery of Ireland; but they only said, "For God's sake, do you come forward yourselves, and aid and assist us in giving relief." He (Mr. Roebuck), as a representative of the English people, would say to the Government, that he entreated of them, in all they were doing for the relief of Ireland, to be aware of the frightful consequences to which he would direct their attention. An hon. Gentleman opposite had said—and the statement was verified by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Ireland—that the land of that country was not now being tilled, but that there was a combination in parts of it not to till the land—[An Hon. MEMBER: In Mayo]—but let them beware lest they created a state of feeling that would lead of necessity to the same result. Let them beware, that, in their proposals of regenerating and relieving Ireland, they did not take away the people from the tilling of the soil, and make them dependent on the Government not only for this year, but the coming year. If Ireland were dependent, and if she put down her hands, and did not assist herself, the year that was coming would fall with tenfold horrors upon her. They who told the Irish people that, were not their enemies but their friends; and they who called upon the Irish gentlemen to assist and aid them in stimulating the industry of the population, and in telling the people not to depend upon Government for support, were, in reality, the most beneficial friends that Ireland could have at the present moment. It might be said that Ireland had lost her best adviser—that her large wolf-dog was dead—the name might remain, but the substance was gone—the great spirit had fled, though the name was still cherished. He (Mr. Roebuck) had seen, when going into the City, a great name over an old firm; but the great name, in reality, was gone—the capital was withdrawn—an empty name remained—a name, nothing more—without wealth to conduct its concerns, without one single particle of intelligence to direct it. So it was with the Irish: they had now nothing but the name, and empty and violent vituperation, to support them; and it might be truly said, that although there were the contortions of the Sybil, the inspiration was gone.


had been unwilling to delay the regular business of the night by taking any part in that preliminary discussion; but after the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Roebuck), he (Mr. Shaw) could not remain altogether silent. He would, however, endeavour to reply to it briefly, and, although that might be difficult, with good temper. He concurred with the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Ireland, in deprecating the acrimonious spirit which had been so constantly infused into the debates of that Session, upon the calamity with which Ireland was visited. He must say, however, that generally, and on that night in particular, the acrimony had not been introduced by the Irish Members. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Mayo (Mr. D. Browne), who had commenced the discussion, and his (Mr. Shaw's) hon. Friend, who had followed him (Mr. Lefroy), could hardly be blamed for laying before the House and the country some few of the instances with which they were daily supplied from Ireland, of the truly heartrending sufferings of the people in many parts of that country, especially when the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) had, in an early part of the evening, put off the other Irish measures for a fortnight; and those hon. Members had done so in no irritating spirit. He was not so much surprised at the bitterness of the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Roebuck)—for it seemed constitutional to him—as at the unprovoked attacks made by the hon. Baronet the Member for Marylebone (Sir B. Hall)—so contrary to the hon. Baronet's usual habit and demeanour in that House—against the Irish landlords. The hon. Baronet it certainly was, who had led to all the interruptions and altercation which had occurred that night. The hon. Baronet had very inappropriately, as he (Mr. Shaw) must think, referred to the proceedings of the Conciliation Hall in Dublin, and that naturally provoked an angry reply from Gentlemen connected with that association,—which it was not for him to defend, no more than some of the sentiments elicited from the hon. Gentleman the Member for Meath (Mr. Grattan); although he must so far agree with the hon. Member, that what he had said had not been fairly represented by the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Roebuck). Nothing could have been more unfair on the part of the hon. Baronet, than to have selected one instance out of 136 poor-law unions in Ireland, where the law had been badly administered, and hold that forth as a sample of all, while the Poor Law Commissioners had given a very favourable account of the general progress of the law since the date of their last report. More unjust and injurious still was it, without sufficient inquiry, to hold up the names of private individuals to opprobrium in that House for neglect of duty. Two cases, those of Lord Lucan and Sir William Becher, had been met and answered on the moment in the House. Another very strong case of misrepresentation, that of Sir F. Lynch Blosse, had been that night alluded to by the hon. Member for Meath (Mr. Grattan); and he would then mention a third. He had received a letter from a clergyman residing in the neighbourhood, stating that the greatest pain had been given to a venerable and much-esteemed lady, the Dowager Lady Carbery, by a statement made in that House by the hon. Baronet (Sir B. Hall), that the estate of Lord Carbery, in the county of Cork, was neglected. That estate was not in the hands of Lord Carbery at present, but of that benevolent lady, who was then residing on it, and devoting her time and her fortune to alleviate the poverty and distress that, from no fault of hers, prevailed there; and he would take that occasion to remark, that there did not appear to have been that reasonable caution which ought to have been observed, in the writing or in the publication of some of the official letters, on the subject of Irish distress, which had been laid on the Table of the House. The hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Roebuck) complained that the Irish Members had accused the people of England of violence and vituperation. The hon. and learned Gentleman seemed to have mistaken himself; for the people of England—the exertions and the sympathy of the Government and the English public—had been acknowledged by all Irish Members who had shared in those debates; while the violence and vituperation of the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Roebuck) had been, and, as he (Mr. Shaw) considered, very justly denounced by them. The hon. and learned Gentleman was in error when he said that the 600,000 men, then employed on public works in Ireland, were paid with English money. It was no such thing. The money was, no doubt, advanced, not by England, but from the Imperial Treasury; but all freely charged, to the enormous extent of 6,000,000l., on their own lands by the maligned landed proprietors of Ireland. And what was the other great boon of which the hon. and learned Gentleman so vaunted and complained, namely, the Bill for the improvement of landed property, and to afford employment to the labouring classes? Why, this, that a sum of 500,000l. was to be granted for that purpose, in addition to the 1,000,000l. voted last year, without reference to the present calamity; and that was to be supposed adequate to meet the emergency, and a sufficient means of enabling the landed property of Ireland to bear the accumulated charges that were about being cast upon it. His object was not then to find fault with or discuss that Bill, which was not before them; but to rebut the absurdity of its being represented by the hon. and learned Gentleman as an extraordinary boon to Irish landlords. The different circumstances of England and Ireland were not sufficiently borne in mind during these discussions; the poverty in Ireland being probably tenfold greater than that in England, while the property in Ireland available to meet it, could not bear a proportion of one-tenth to that of England. Call it a poorer country, if you will, and find fault freely with the system that prevails there; but do not make your accusations personal. The real gravamen of the charges made by the hon. Baronet (Sir B. Hall), and reiterated by the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Roebuck), and which had caused such just offence to Irish landlords and Irish Gentlemen in that House, was this: "Be charitable yourselves, before you seek charity from us." Now, he would not stand up in that House to declare that every landlord in Ireland did his duty, any more than he would deny that there were good and bad in all bodies of men both in that country and in this. But he would boldly grapple with the insinuation that charge conveyed, and say that, take them as a body, the landlords and resident gentry of Ireland were at that moment cordially sympathizing with, and generally devoting their time, their energies, and their fortunes to alleviate the miseries of the deeply suffering people of that country. It was painful to be driven, as they were, to speak of their own exertions; for if they could be tenfold greater under the present crying exigency, it would be no more than their obvious duty. But he had spent the last six months in Ireland, a daily witness of what he described; and he spoke not of individual cases, but almost every friend or acquaintance that he had in Ireland was engaged in attending to the public works, the relief committees, or otherwise providing for the wants of the poor; their sons, their daughters, their entire families, forsaking their usual amusements and pursuits, wholly gave their time, and minds, and means to mitigate—and withal they could do little more than mitigate — the sad destitution which pervaded that country. It was not more distressing to him (Mr. Shaw) to have such statements drawn from him, as if in the spirit of self-praise on behalf of the Irish resident gentry, than it must be to the class of high-minded English Gentlemen whom he addressed, to hear their undoubted generosity vaunted, and Ireland upbraided with her poverty at such a moment as that. It had pleased Providence to send an awful visitation on a large portion of their people; surely, then, it was not too much to expect that it should be received as a national calamity, and discussed without mutual recrimination in that House by the representatives of every part of the United Kingdom. He trusted that such might be the spirit of their future debates on the subject, and that the House would now pass on to the proper business before them.


I wish to say a few words before the House goes into Committee upon this Bill. I agree so entirely in the spirit of the observations which have been made by the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, in asking the House to depart from that bitter- ness of spirit in which hon. Members have spoken on one side of the House and the other, that I could not refrain from adding my wish and exhortation to hon. Members to go into the consideration of these measures in a better temper towards those who come from a different part of the empire from themselves. I am far from boasting of the generosity of Parliament; but I think we may also claim to be exempt from the charge of insensibility to the distress of the Irish people, which, before the Session began, was so freely advanced. Now, there are but one or two matters on which I wish to make any observation; but with regard to the future prospects of Ireland, it is impossible to look forward to what may happen next year, without feeling the most serious apprehensions. Although I can hardly believe that any efforts which Parliament, or the Government, or the people can make, can carry us through that transition which must take place in Ireland without very great suffering, still I think that by taking precautions, which are within our reach, these sufferings may be considerably mitigated. I am sorry to find, as my right hon. Friend has stated to-night, that there is a great neglect of tillage by the small tenants, and in Mayo almost a determination not to assist at all in its cultivation; but I have also heard from a Roman Catholic priest in a totally different part of Ireland, that the smaller tenants not only say that they could not cultivate land, but that they did not intend to do so, because they did not believe that they would derive any advantage from the prospective harvest. This arises, I am afraid, from a very unfortunate constitution of society—a very unfortunate constitution, I repeat, of society in that country, because I observe that when Irish landlords speak of their tenants, and the conduct of tenants, that they are apt to find some fault with them, speaking of them as neglecting the cultivation of the soil, and of concealing the real amount of their produce; and the tenants, when speaking of their landlords, continually say that they are pushing their rights to the utmost, and depriving them of the very means of existence, in their efforts to force the payment of rent. I think that in a period of real calamity like the present, unless a better spirit be displayed—unless the landlords do show a greater spirit of confidence—unless they go more among their tenants, and convey their wishes with that forbearance which I really think they mean to exercise—and unless the tenants be brought to believe that they may rely on the forbearance of their landlords, that the prospect for the next year is gloomy indeed. I do think the landlords on their part, and the clergy of different persuasions on their parts, might contribute greatly to this end. I do not believe that any legislative enactments that we may pass in the Imperial Parliament, or any enactments that could have been passed in a Parliament sitting in Dublin, had such existed, would prove effectual, unless a spirit of co-operation and kindness existed amongst the various classes to make the laws effectual. There is another matter upon which I would say a word, because while I do not think that there is the smallest hesitation on the part of the people of this country to make any sacrifice to relieve in a degree the pressure of the great calamity which has fallen upon Ireland, yet I believe that in the opinion of the people of this country, and the opinion which is springing up amongst the people of Ireland, that the distress, that the want, that the actual state of starvation to which the people may be reduced, ought to give them a claim on the property of Ireland—I believe the same claim which exists on the property of England in years of great distress. I believe it is the opinion—the growing opinion, that whatever may be done for the present, that in future a provision by law should exist, by which, when the workhouses are full, relief ought to be given to all those who are in a state of destitution. I have not heard, myself, from the Irish Gentlemen a contradiction of that general impression. I do not believe that that proposition, when we come to discuss the mode in which relief should be given, will meet with resistance—that whatever discussion there may be about the details—upon the mode in which the proposition should be carried out—I do not believe that with respect to the principle itself there will be any portion of the Irish representatives who will give resistance to it. I say this at the present moment, because I do believe that while there is no reluctance to agree to the measures proposed by Her Majesty's Ministers, there is a notion, which I deem to be unfounded, that with respect to the future, Irish landlords wish to avoid the burden of providing for the destitute. My own impression is, that they will not attempt to avoid the burden. I believe that all classes are prepared to agree to measures which impose any pecuniary sacrifices on the people of this country, if they are satisfied that measures of the kind I have alluded to will be cheerfully assented to on the part of the Irish landlords. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Shaw) has said, and other Irish Members have said, that for all the advances made, Irish proprietors are ready to charge themselves. I do not mean to say anything to the contrary. There is no intention, however, to impose that charge upon the landlords without assistance. There is no intention to ask them to bear the whole; but if the proposition of the Government be carried out, there will be a sacrifice made by all parties in the United Kingdom, it being proposed that one-half of what is advanced to the present year, according to the Act of last Session, shall be remitted. I have not heard a single objection to that proposition. I do not believe it will be objected to; but it is expected that the property of Ireland—although a poor country—still it is expected that Irish property shall be liable to the charge of affording relief to the Irish poor.


hoped they would be allowed to discuss the measures before them without the introduction of topics calculated to excite hostility on either side. Nothing could give him more satisfaction in that House than the appointment of a Committee of resolute men, who would not be afraid to visit the scenes of Irish distress—if necessary, the charnel-house and the hospital—to see the condition of Ireland as it was, both as respected the people and the conduct of the landlords. He would volunteer to accompany any such committee or commission, and assist them in procuring information. With reference to the measures introduced by the Government, he was bound to express his opinion that they were utterly inadequate to the present crisis. He could not help, too, expressing his surprise, that after five weeks' consideration before the meeting of Parliament, they should have already sat upwards of four months, and yet the measures for the relief of Ireland, which they were told would be brought forward, had not been submitted to the House. With respect to a permanent poor law, he, for one, was ready to tender to the Government his support of the principle of that Bill. He had always been an advocate for a poor law in Ireland; and the opinions which he expressed many years ago in favour of that measure, had been confirmed by subsequent experience. With reference to the measures of temporary relief, he feared that the establishment of soup-kitchens would disappoint their expectations, and be by no means applicable to many parts of Ireland. The adoption of a system of out-door relief, whether in food or money, was a duty which ought to be performed not only in the present year, but in all others. With reference to the able-bodied poor, he thought the Government had not provided productive employment for them to the extent that was desirable. There was no security against the recurrence of famine; and even under the most favourable circumstances they must contrive to stimulate employment for several years. Then he wished to know how the Government would absorb the labour of the country. What would 1,500,000l. do in taking off the roads 600,000 men? At most it would only give a year's employment to 100,000, and what was to become of the remainder? He thought the Government were to blame for not resorting to colonisation; for he thought a large portion of the population might advantageously transfer themselves to the colonies under such circumstances as would guarantee their future well-being. That resource, however seemed put aside altogether. Again, it was well known that there were numbers of men employed at this moment on the roads, who ought to be employed in the fisheries. He had heard of no scheme on a large scale for transferring this portion of the population back to their natural and more profitable employment. He thought, too, the Government were much to blame for not preparing some measure to adjust the relations of landlord and tenant. For want of this, many tenants who possessed capital, were unwilling to employ it in cultivating the soil. Any proposition, however, of this nature appeared to be indefinitely postponed. Neither did he hear anything of an absentee tax to compel the landlord either to sell his estate or reside in Ireland, or to make some equivalent compensation. The proposal of the hon. Member for Lynn (Lord G. Bentinck) had been rejected. He confessed he deeply regretted it. Everything he had heard in the discussion, only confirmed the opinion he had formed—that it was a measure that would do more good even than its proposer contemplated. He thought they might have much more usefully expended on railways the millions they had employed in the destruction of roads. When it was said the finances of the country could not bear it, he would ask were they not ex- pended freely on much less useful objects? If there should be a rebellion in Ireland tomorrow, they would cheerfully vote 10 or 20 millions to put it down; but what they would do to destroy life, they would not do to save it. The hon. Member then read some letters relating to the distress in Ireland, and said the distress there last year was not a tenth part of what it now was; yet much more was then done by the Government. He had hoped the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) would not have refrained from offering his counsel on this great emergency—that he would not have limited himself to finding faults, which might be found in every plan—but, as a statesman, would have told the Parliament of Great Britain how this great crisis ought to be met. He told the noble Lord that it ought to find means to remove from the roads the immense army placed upon them; but he did not venture the smallest possible suggestion how it was to be accomplished. As to the proposals before them, they were nothing but a series of temporary expedients. These would be useless, for he would frankly tell the hon. Member for Bath that he saw no reason why the present state of things should not continue for several years. He therefore implored the Government to lay before the House and the country a system which should give the people of Ireland an assurance that they would be employed on something else than useless works, and that the painful scenes which were taking place every day, and which it was in their power to prevent, should not be permitted to recur.


said, that one or two circumstances had that evening occurred, to which he deemed it his duty to allude. The hon. Member (Mr. O'Brien) had spoken of the measures proposed by Ministers as inadequate to meet the evils which existed in Ireland. In this opinion he agreed in so far as a permanent remedy was concerned; but the measures in question had not been proposed as permanent measures. In connexion with these proposals, he must say that he rejoiced at the declaration that had fallen from the noble Lord at the head of the Government. He must say that no speech which that noble Lord had made from that bench that Session, or for many Sessions, held out such a prospect for the relief of Irish distress as the speech he had made that evening. He had promised a substantial poor law for Ireland; he had promised that which the hon. and learned Member for Bath had pointed at as necessary—namely, that the property of Ireland should be responsible for the relief of Irish distress. He did not believe that there was much difference, after all, between the opinions of honest men, although acrimonious feelings had been excited in the expression of them. He did not believe that there was any honest representative—that there was any portion of the representatives of Ireland, or England, or Scotland—who did not wish to see equal justice dealt out between the two countries. This was the object of his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Bath; and he begged to tell the hon. Member for Limerick, and the other Irish Members, that justice from the Imperial Legislature implied equality of burdens as well as equality of rights. The whole argument lay in that. The English people were willing to give their Irish brethren equality of rights, but equality of burdens must be a condition. With the exception of three hon. Members, no representative had proposed amendments on the measures of Her Majesty's Government: although the Member for Limerick had expressed his regret that Ministers had not brought forward a great and comprehensive plan for the relief of Irish distress, still he had not brought forward any plan of his own. The noble Lord the Member for Lynn had acted differently. He did propose a measure which he thought would be a great improvement, and the House had dealt with it. The hon. and learned Member for Bath had adopted a similar course. With regard to the all-important point, about the cultivation of the soil, he was glad to learn from accounts he had himself received, all that was required to enable the Irish people to reap the rich advantage which the present Session held out, was exertion. He suspected that the noble Lord at the head of the Government understood the intensity of the distress which prevailed in England; but he (Mr. Escott) was in a position to corroborate the statements which had been made on that head by the hon. Member for Bath. Had it not been for the meritorious exertions of the landlords in the West of England, the people there must have been in as bad a condition as were the people of Ireland.


had no intention to protract the debate, or impede the progress of the Bill; but he had heard, he confessed with no little surprise, hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the question, taunt those with whom he acted with not having proposed a great and comprehensive measure for the relief of the present distress in Ireland. He (Viscount Bernard) should not occupy the House for any time; but be could not hear such taunts thrown out against the side of the House on which he sat, against the Irish Members and the Irish landlords, without offering a word in reply to them. It was not their fault if the progress of relief for Ireland was impeded, and the debate protracted night after night by the taunts of hon. Members on the other side; but he, for one, should not in that respect imitate them. As far as he was personally concerned, he should have passed over these taunts against the Irish landlords without notice, being only anxious for the relief of the suffering poor; but residing, as he did, in a part of the country where these gentlemen were particularly attacked, he felt it to be his duty to rise and repel the accusations launched against him. The hon. Member for Marylebone had attacked the Irish landlords on a former evening upon the authority of statements made in a blue book; but he cautioned the hon. Member against the assumption that everything contained in the blue books was true; and he cautioned the House against being led away by them. One of the allegations of the hon. Gentleman was, that a nobleman had property in the neighbourhood of Skibbereen of the value of 15,000l. a year. But he held in his hand a letter from the agent of a venerable lady in that district, the widow of the nobleman alluded to, in which it was stated that her property in the two baronies of the county of Cork was of the nominal rental of 8,500l. a year—that the actual rental was scarcely ever more than 5,000l.—and, that during the last year only 2,000l. was received from it. A noble and eloquent Lord, in another place, had borne testimony to the great sacrifices that had been made by that excellent lady in the cause of the poor in her district; and, therefore, it was not necessary for him to do more than confirm that noble Lord's statements. [The noble Lord then read a letter, or letters, from Ireland, which were almost wholly inaudible; but which corroborated, as far as could be gathered from an occasional word, his general assertions.] Another gentleman, whom he had the honour to know, was put down in that blue book at 4,000l. a year. He had stated his belief that his income did not amount to more than 400l.; but he had had a letter from that gentleman, who, he was bound to say, was quite unaware that his name was brought before the public as it had been, in which he asked to be informed as to the intentions of the Government in advancing loans to the landlords of Ireland on the security of their estates, and whether they would introduce a measure to enable the proprietors to dispose of incumbered property; proving a most commendable anxiety on his part to improve his estates, and to give employment and relief to the poor people of his neighbourhood. It was also alleged against the gentlemen of Ireland in his district, that they did not pay up their poor rates; but he held in his hand a paper which showed that out of five rates which had been struck in a year and a half, there was only an arrear of 124l. due in that district. The Irish landlords had been charged with an inimical feeling to the introduction of a poor law into Ireland. He had always admitted that it would be better if Ireland and England were upon an equality in that respect; and he believed that to be the sentiment of a great number of the landlords of that country. It was not, however, the fault of the Irish landlords if there was not an adequate poor law for Ireland. There was no opportunity for its introduction. If it had been proposed before the present time, it would have ruined the operation of the existing law. The Government were alone responsible for it. Year after year Irish gentlemen had applied to them to change the present poor law; but it was not changed nevertheless. He urged upon Her Majesty's Ministers, in the most earnest manner, the great danger which would accrue at the present moment if a sudden stop was put to the system of relief upon public works at present existing in Ireland. A letter from his own neighbourhood, which he received that morning, stated, that the stoppage of some of the public works in that district had created the greatest destitution among the poor people. It was impossible that agricultural operations alone could absorb the whole population of the country; and he urged upon the Government the necessity, not alone of not suspending the public works at present in progress, but of bringing forward others. It was not too late for them, even now, to reconsider their determination as regarded the Bill of the noble Lord the Member for Lynn, or to introduce some measure analogous to it in character, and having in view the same object. Among other works which would be of a most re- munerative character in every respect, were the neglected harbours of Ireland, in many of which, from the want of the necessary attention and expense, vessels at this moment incurred great risk of danger. A notice was on the Paper of the House, in the name of the Secretary to the Admiralty, for a breakwater and harbour in the island of Portland; but he asked the House and the Government, whether, under the present circumstances of Ireland, the cost of that undertaking would not be better applied to the harbours of that country? The hon. Member for Marylebone had taunted the Irish landlords with having received their rents last year, and with not being prepared against the present contingency; as if human foresight could provide against a visitation of Providence. A most unfounded charge was now made against them. How could they anticipate a famine? They did all in their power, as far as his own knowledge of the facts went, to induce their tenants to cultivate a less destructive crop than the potato; but if tenants on leases refused to accede to their wishes, what could they do?—what power had they to compel obedience to their wishes? The noble Viscount, who was somewhat inaudible, was understood to conclude by expressing a strong hope that out of the present calamity might come a great good for Ireland, and that by its means the people of that country might be induced to forego in the future all political and religious differences, and unite, one and all, for the development of its resources.


bore testimony to the correctness of the hon. Member for Winchester; but that was no reason why they should not extend all the assistance in their power to their Irish fellow-subjects. It was his wish to defend the conduct of the Irish landlords generally; but he was bound in justice to state that he knew many instances of the most praiseworthy conduct on their part. The hon. Member read a letter from a Roman Catholic clergyman, describing the misery existing in Connemara, and stated that a chief cause of the distress in that country was the immense number of small farms; whatever they might do for Ireland would be ineffectual as long as this system of small holdings prevailed. A poor law would be futile as long as they continued to exist; a poor law in Ireland would be impeded in its effect by the want of machinery to work it. Where were the men who could act as guardians? The class that should supply them did not exist. Many of the present evils had been pointed out at former periods; the precarious nature of the potato as a national food had been pointed out in 1823, when an inquiry was instituted into the state of agriculture. But he trusted a better day was dawning on Ireland; even the present afflictions might tend to hasten it. It had been said of the two great calamities that befell the metropolis, that they proved the occasions of exercising great Christian virtues. As to the measures of the Government, and any blame that had been cast on it for what took place last autumn, he was fully convinced of the difficulties it had to encounter. He was convinced no one was more anxious to promote the welfare of Ireland than the noble Lord at the head of Her Majesty's Government; and to measures calculated to prove beneficial to Ireland, brought forward by any party, he should give his support.


did not wish to detain the House from going into Committee, as he perceived evident signs of impatience; but he must express the regret with which he had heard the speech of the noble Lord on a former evening. He had hoped the noble Lord would have proposed some great plan for the advantage of Ireland; and though his feelings were with the Government, he confessed he was disappointed in its policy. He thought indeed the Labour-rate Act would do both direct and indirect good; and he hoped that the efforts made by the Irish landlords at the present time would not be judged only by the sums they gave to public subscriptions.


appealed to the noble Lord the First Lord of the Treasury to alter the day which had been named for going into Committee on the Poor Relief Bill. It would probably have fallen under the notice of the noble Lord, that the day to which the Committee had been postponed, occurred at the very time when the assizes were being held throughout Ireland; and the absence of many hon. Gentlemen desirous of taking part in the discussion on that very important measure, would consequently be occasioned. If, therefore, it was possible, without any serious prejudice, to postpone going into Committee to a still further day, it was most advisable to do so. He made this suggestion in no spirit of opposition to the Government: it was simply a matter of convenience; and he, for one, was not at all scared at the prospect of out-door relief being applied to Ireland.


was afraid, if he postponed the Order of the Day for a still further period, the only effect would be that they would fix upon another week, when there would be other assizes, and when the request of the noble Lord would again be preferred by some other hon. Member. The subject was one of great importance, and he was most unwilling to accede to the suggestion. He admitted it was desirable that the representatives of Irish constituencies should be present at the discussion which would take place; and it was with regret he could name no more convenient day. The desire was to send up the Bill as early as possible to the House of Lords.


felt convinced it was only the pressure of public business which put it out of the power of the noble Lord to grant the delay for which he had asked. He was well assured of the earnest anxiety prevailing in that House to pass speedily all the measures calculated to alleviate the distress which existed in Ireland. He tendered his thanks to the English Members for the liberal spirit which they were now evincing towards Ireland. He thought that some hon. Gentlemen had fired up with unnecessary warmth, in answer to the remarks which had fallen from various quarters, in reference to the course which Irish landlords should now take. Some of those observations were, no doubt, offensive; but excellent, and salutary, and perhaps necessary, advice, had thus been conveyed; and, in consideration of the sound sense, the manner and the language in which the recommendation was couched, might have been passed over. It was a humiliating confession certainly; but it could not be denied that there had and still existed in Ireland too strong an inclination to rely, in the hour of need, upon the English Treasury, to the neglect of those means of relief which were at hand at home. It was of frequent occurrence that offence was given, when none was intended; for instance, he had been more offended by the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Recorder for Dublin (Mr. Shaw), than by any speech he had heard. The right hon. Gentleman had stated that the English Members had proved ungenerous to Ireland in her misfortune. [Mr. SHAW: I spoke only of two indviduals.] Why did not the right hon. Gentleman mention the boundless generosity of the people of England, as evinced in the great subscription funds? The right hon. Gentleman laid too little stress on that point, and paid too much attention to the attacks of individual Members of that House. If he did not mistake, the right hon. Gentleman was one of a party which at Dublin had proposed that all the expenses of the public works should be paid by the Government out of the Consolidated Fund. [Mr. SHAW: I was not.] He had, however, seen the name of the right hon. Gentleman in the newspaper. ["Oh, oh!"] Then he was mistaken or deceived; and it only showed that he ought never to trust to the Irish newspapers.


, in explanation, said, that after the extraordinary statement of the noble Lord (Lord C. Hamilton), he (Mr. Shaw) must explain, although to those who heard him, it would be hardly necessary, that while he complained of the tone taken by the hon. Baronet the Member for Marylebone (Sir Benjamin Hall), and the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Bath (Mr. Roebuck), he (Mr. Shaw) had fully acknowledged the generous feeling which had been evinced by the Government and the English public towards Ireland in the present emergency.


merely rose to express his grateful sense of the great kindness of the House in permitting a night to be devoted to an Irish debate. It could not be desired to throw any impediment in the way of Her Majesty's Ministers; and it would be a great deal better if hon. Gentlemen would reserve speeches and discussions until the intentions of the Government were fully explained. If Gentlemen would peruse with attention the details in those newspapers they were so fond of quoting—if they would only read and reflect on the letter in The Times of that morning, from an officer engaged in Her Majesty's service on the coast of Ireland—if they remembered this was only one of many letters which were received every day, and took into account the difficulties with which the Government had had to contend—every one in that House possessed with feeling and discretion would sink his differences, from whatever part of the United Kingdom he came, and give all his assistance, honestly and impartially, in carrying out the plans and seconding the efforts of the Ministry. He sincerely hoped that, after what had fallen from the noble Lord the First Lord of the Treasury, the batteries levelled by the Members for Bath and Marylebone against the Irish land lords would be silenced. He might take this opportunity of saying what he was unable to state the other night, as he was not fortunate enough to catch the Speaker's eye, that he deeply regretted he could not support the Motion of his noble Friend the Member for Lynn. He was convinced, however, that if the Government could have done so, they would have been anxious to propose some measure similar to that submitted to the House by the noble Lord; because if, at any future time, Ireland should be visited by such a calamity as was now afflicting that country — if, for instance, the oat crop should fail—the only mode of effectually distributing provisions throughout the country would be by means of a network of railway similar to that which had been established in England. He believed that, if an extensive system of railways had existed in Ireland, much of the present distress might have been avoided; and he hoped this consideration would induce the Government to give their attention to the establishment of railways in that country. He would intreat every hon. Gentleman who wished well to Ireland and to the empire, to allow the Government to get on with their business—to let the people be fed, and then to discuss other measures if they thought fit to do so.


assured the noble Lord who had just sat down, that he would most willingly follow the advice he had given to the House; and he was sure that the tone and manner in which that advice had been given, must have been most gratifying to hon. Members on both sides. He had not intended to take any part in the proceedings of the House that night; he had come down in order to listen to the discussion which he expected would take place on the Bill; and it would have given him much pleasure if the House had gone into Committee long before that time. With regard to the charges which he was represented to have made, he could repeat what he before said, that he had read certain statements from an official book, and had requested to know whether it were possible those statements could be true. He had made no charges; and he had been gratified to hear hon. Members of that House declare that the statements to which he had referred were untrue.


wished to notice an assertion which had been made, that Irish tenants showed no disposition to pay their rents or to labour on the ground. He thought it only just to the Irish tenants to say that, in the part of Ireland with which he was connected, they had evinced the utmost willingness to pay rents, and to bestow their labour on the land. He had been much gratified to hear the announcement of the noble Lord at the head of Her Majesty's Government with respect to the Irish Poor Law. He wished, however, to inform the noble Lord, that a resolution against the principle of out-door relief had been signed by upwards of seventy Irish Peers and landed proprietors; for he thought it right the noble Lord should know that, if he intended to proceed with his measure, he must be prepared to encounter a strong resistance. For his own part, he (Mr. S. Crawford) was satisfied that nothing could be so beneficial to Ireland as a proper and efficient Poor Law.

House in Committee.