HC Deb 23 November 1847 vol 95 cc64-148

A Message being received to attend the Lords Commissioners, the House went; and being returned,


reported the Lords Commissioners' Speech, and read it to the House: then


said, that in rising to propose that an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, conveying the thanks of that House for the gracious communication from the Throne, he must, in the first instance, request that indulgence for himself which had usually been accorded to new Members of that House. This was the more needed in his case, because unfortunately it was out of his power to congratulate the House upon the prosperity of the country. The commercial towns of this country had, he deeply regretted to say, for some time past been afflicted by an extreme depression. The majority of the mills in the manufacturing districts of Lancashire were working short time, and a considerable number were stopped altogether. It might probably be found that much of this state of things was-owing to undue speculation in railways—a. time which would most likely be characterised as the iron age of England. He found that the amount of loans authorised and shares created under Acts of Parliament for railways in Great Britain and her colonies, was no less than 299,147,000l. Of this amount there was already paid on shares 120,640,000l., and on loans 40,409,000l.; making 161,049,000l., leaving outstanding engagements for 130,098,000l., as further money to be applied for railways. This enormous sum, abstracted from the ordinary course of trade, was of itself enough to create difficulty and embarrassment; but when it was associated with the deficient harvest of the last year, and the failure of the potato crop—circumstances which caused a great diminution in the demand from foreign countries for British manufactures—it would be admitted that much of the poverty thus created must add to the depression of the manufacturing interest. As far as the town of Manchester was concerned, he would inform the House that the demand for the weekly consumption of cotton had greatly decreased in the present year. The following was a comparative statement of the last three years:—In 1845 the weekly consumption was 30,000 hales; in 1846, 31,000 bales; and in 1847, 20,000 bales; being a diminution from the amount consumed in 1846 of no fewer than 11,000 bales. Besides this decrease in the consumption of cotton, he regretted to say there had been over-speculation in Calcutta. Great East India and other houses had largely speculated in corn. The result of these vast speculations in different parts of the world had been a great depression of trade, and the unexampled scarcity of money. This state of things had continued for some time, till at last such a point of difficulty was reached, that there was a panic throughout the commercial world. Money could not be found to discount unexceptionable bills; and even now it was quite certain that some time must elapse before confidence could be perfectly restored. During the period of the greatest pressure, he viewed with satisfaction the determination of the noble Lord at the head of Her Majesty's Government and the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to recommend to the Directors of the Bank of England to enlarge their discounts; and he could only assure the House of his conviction that if, at that critical period, this or some other similar course had not been adopted, a much more serious derangement of commercial interests would inevitably have followed. He, therefore, congratulated the noble Lord upon the result of his letter of the 25th October, because, through its instrumentality, the panic had been allayed, and merchants found that they could obtain money on good bills. Confidence had consequently been restored in a certain degree, and he felt reason to hope that it would continue. The alarm and confusion which had prevailed in some of the manufacturing districts might be illustrated by the fact, that, during the emergency, the manager of the Branch Bank of England at Newcastle had, with great good sense and liberality, taken upon himself to advance money to the Newcastle Bank upon proper securities. He had, however, to send to Leeds by the electric telegraph for further supplies, which were forthcoming by the express train the same day in sufficient amount to meet the demand in Newcastle. This circumstance, showing, as it did, the prevalent feeling of alarm, fully justified the noble Lord in the course he had adopted. Notwithstanding the permission given by the Government, there had happily arisen no necessity for infringing the provisions of the Bank Charter Act; confidence was now much restored, and yesterday the Bank of England had been enabled to reduce its discounts to 7 per cent; and in a short time it would, in all probability, be at perfect liberty to resume its wonted arrangements as in the ordinary course of business. The unhappy state of Ireland was alluded to in Her Majesty's most gracious Speech. It was one which must bespeak the deep attention of the House. Every hon. Member must agree with him that the atrocious crimes now prevailing in Ireland must, by some means or other, be put an end to; and he had no doubt that a thorough investigation would be made of the measures intended to be brought forward to enable Her Majesty's Ministers and the law to produce a cessation of crime. He considered that to the famine from which the people of Ireland had suffered, and to the long series of years of misgovernment they had undergone, much of the present condition of that country was owing. Remedial measures were required. He was happy to see in the Royal Speech an allusion to the measures intended to be brought forward for the improvement of the social condition of the Irish people; and that the Lord Lieutenant had been commended for the course he had pursued. The Lord Lieutenant, with great judgment, had directed the attention of the agriculturists of Ireland to the advantages of improving their crops; and he had wisely recommended them in future to instruct their workmen in the best means of improving cultivation. These recommendations had been attended with some effect; for he had reason to believe that, with regard to green crops especially, Ireland was already greatly improving her cultivation, and that further improvements would be adopted. The foreign relations of this country had been wisely administered by the noble Lord; and Her Majesty assured the House that She looked with confidence to the maintenance of peace with all foreign countries. The House would rejoice that means had been taken by Her Majesty, in conjunction with Her Allies, to restore peace in Switzerland. There were few countries in Europe in which peace and dignity were more thought of than in Switzerland; and he had no doubt that the efforts made with that view would be viewed with satisfaction in that country. With regard to the slave trade, the House would be glad to learn that Her Majesty's Government had concluded a treaty with the Republic of the Equator for the suppression of the slave trade. The Republic of the Equator was only a small State; but that traffic having been carried on under its flag, he congratulated the House upon the circumstance that this treaty would give to Her Majesty's ships the power of searching any vessels belonging to it. He felt fully assured that the House would cordially agree in the recommendation of Her Majesty; that in accordance with the same system as had heretofore met encouragement in that House, the navigation laws should come under the consideration of Parliament. The shipping interest was undoubtedly one of the important interests of this country. During the last Session there was a Committee sitting on the subject of the navigation laws, over which his right hon. Friend the Vice-President of the Board of Trade presided. It had made its report, and out of that report an amusing work had been written by the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent (Mr. Ricardo), termed by him the Anatomy of the Navigation Laws. In reference to the announcement made by Her Majesty of the appointment of a Sanitary Commission, and in reference to Her recommendation to Parliament of measures relating to the public health, he would observe that there could be no more efficacious means of stopping the progress of that fatal epidemic the Asiatic cholera, which had on a former occasion made its appearance in this country, and had again exhibited itself in certain parts of Europe, than by attending to the drainage and sanitary condition of towns. He was sure the House deeply concurred in Her Majesty's sympathy for the sufferings of the working classes, and also in her admiration for the excellent manner in which they had borne their privations. He could speak from his own personal knowledge on this subject. In the large manufacturing district of Lancashire the working classes had been exposed to severe privations. They had in some cases been wholly out of work, in others they had been put on short time, and yet they had borne their sufferings with patience and magnanimity. He was sure that the working classes in the manufacturing districts had gained the respect of the House by the conduct exhibited by them during a period of great distress. One bright light had gleamed across that distress—when, on Her return from Scotland, Her Majesty had passed through the manufacturing districts, and on that occasion the operatives, who had shown great anxiety to see Her, received Her with the greatest enthusiasm. The hon. Gentleman then concluded by proposing the following Address to Her Majesty:— That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, to convey to Her Majesty the Thanks of this House for the gracious Speech which Her Majesty has commanded to be made to both Houses of Parliament: That we thank. Her Majesty for informing us of the causes which have induced Her Majesty to call this Parliament together at the present time: To assure Her Majesty that we sympathise with the great concern which Her Majesty has been pleased to express for the distress which prevails among the Commercial classes: That we lament to hear that the embarrassments of trade have been aggravated by a general feeling of distrust and alarm; and that we thank Her Majesty for intimating to us that Her Majesty has authorised Her Ministers to recommend to the Directors of the Bank of England such a course of proceeding as might restore confidence and be suitable to the emergency: To thank Her Majesty for the assurance of the satisfaction which Her Majesty expresses in being able to inform us that this course has been adopted without any infringement of the Law, that the alarm has subsided, and that there has been a mitigation of the pressure on the Banking and Commercial classes: That we rejoice to learn that the late abundant harvest, with which this Country has been blessed, has had the effect of alleviating the evils inseparable from a want of employment in the manufacturing districts: That we concur with Her Majesty in lamenting the recurrence of severe distress in Ireland, in consequence of the scarcity of the usual food of the People: Humbly to express our concurrence in the hope which Her Majesty entertains that the distress may be materially relieved by the exertions made to carry into effect the law passed in the last Session for the support of the destitute Poor: That we cordially participate in the satisfaction expressed by Her Majesty, that the Landed Proprietors have availed themselves of the means placed at their disposal, by the liberality of Parliament, for the improvement of their land: That we lament, in common with Her Majesty, the atrocious crimes which have been committed in some counties of Ireland, and that spirit of insubordination which has led to an organised resistance to legal rights: Humbly to thank Her Majesty for informing us, that the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland has used with vigour and energy the means placed at his disposal by Law for the detection of offenders, and for preventing the repetition of offences: To thank Her Majesty for the intimation Her Majesty has given us, that Her Majesty has felt it to be Her duty to Her peaceable and well-disposed Subjects to ask the assistance of Parliament in taking further precautions against the perpetration of crimes in certain counties and districts in Ireland, and to assure Her Majesty that we will take the subject into our most serious consideration: Humbly to thank Her Majesty for the deep anxiety and interest which Her Majesty takes in the present condition of Ireland; and to assure Her Majesty that we will give our best attention to measures which Her Majesty recommends to the consideration of Parliament, which, with due regard to the rights of property, may advance the social condition of the people, and tend to the permanent improvement of that part of the United Kingdom: To assure Her Majesty, that we participate in the great concern which Her Majesty has expressed at the breaking out of the Civil War in Switzerland: To express our gratification that Her Majesty is in communication with Her Allies on this subject, and that Her Majesty has expressed Her readiness to use, in concert with them, Her friendly influence for the purpose of restoring to the Swiss Confederation the blessings of Peace: That we cordially rejoice in the confidence which Her Majesty has expressed with regard to the maintenance of the general Peace of Europe: To express our gratification that Her Majesty has concluded a Treaty for the suppression of the Slave Trade with the Republic of the Equator, and humbly to thank Her Majesty for having giving directions for laying this Treaty before Parliament: To thank Her Majesty for having directed that the Estimates should be prepared, for the purpose of being laid before this. House, and for informing us that they will be framed with a careful regard to the exigencies of the Public Service: Humbly to assure Her Majesty, that we will take into our consideration the Laws which regulate the Navigation of the United Kingdom, with a view to ascertain whether any changes can be adopted which, without danger to our maritime strength, may promote the commercial and colonial interests of the Empire: To thank Her Majesty for informing us, that Her Majesty has thought proper to appoint a Commission to report on the best means of improving the health of the Metropolis, and to assure Her Majesty that, in obedience to Her recommendation, such measures as shall be laid before us relating to the public health shall receive our earnest attention: Humbly to assure Her Majesty, that we participate in the deep sympathy which Her Majesty has expressed for the sufferings which afflict the labouring classes in the manufacturing districts of Great Britain, and in many parts of Ireland, and that we fully concur in the admiration which Her Majesty evinces for the patience with which these sufferings have been generally borne: Humbly to express our regret that the distress which has prevailed among the commercial classes has affected many important branches of the Revenue; and, in common with Her Majesty, we trust that the time is not distant when, under the blessing of Divine Providence, the Commerce and Industry of the United Kingdom will have resumed their wonted activity.


said, that in rising to second the proposed Address, he had to claim the indulgence of the House, for the same reason as that urged by the hon. Member; and he would also claim it on the general ground of the inexperience under which he proceeded to address hon. Members, though this might, perhaps, in their eyes, do injury to the cause he had undertaken. Those who had witnessed for themselves the state of distress and famine which had existed in this great capital, during the course of the last stoppage of trade, must be able fully to appreciate the patriotic feelings which induced Her Most Gracious Majesty and the Government to authorise an interference with the existing state of the law in reference to the Bank. However, the course taken had not, in fact, led to an infringement of the existing law; but he conceived that such a proceeding, on the part of the Crown, was entitled to receive the warmest thanks of the House. With respect to the allusion that the late abundant harvest had only mitigated the evils consequent on the want of employment in the manufacturing districts, he begged to express his trust that that House and the other branch of the Legislature would originate such measures as in future years of abundant harvests might insure to the working men the means of more prosperous and consecutive employment. There was another point which it was necessary for him to advert to, not only because the matter was connected with the great commercial interests of the country, but also because it had become, to a certain extent, a national feeling. He alluded to the navigation laws, which had taken their station as one of the Palladia of the State. He was glad that this subject was to be submitted to an examination, though he was not one who thought that examination necessarily implied abandonment; and he trusted, that in the inquiry to which those laws might be subject, no prejudication would be allowed to bias the judgment of the House. A prejudication of abolition would be as absurd as a prejudication of conservation—nay, perhaps, more so; for in conservation we knew what we possessed, but in abolition we did not know what we might obtain. ["Hear, hear!"] He was glad to hear that assent from hon. Members opposite, which he took as a proof that they would submit to a full and fair inquiry on the question. With regard to the suffering which pressed so heavily upon our commercial, and, through our commercial, upon our industrious classes, it might be well for us, as an empire, that our pride should be abated for a moment. ["Hear, hear!"] Chastisement, for a moment, would be found useful. If, in this chastisement, he could bring himself to think that the mighty efforts of this empire could be really discouraged by any blow to our commerce, however severe, he might lament that such had occurred; but knowing the indomitable energies of the British people, and how they strove against what might overpower the energies of any other nation, it might be as well that they were called on from time to time to consider whether their course had been in accordance with such principles as ought on all occasions to guide it. It would afford that House, he was sure, in the sincerity of its feeling, unmixed gratification to learn that another link had been stricken from the chain which hound the limbs of the slave. He conceived there could be but one opinion on the advantage, both morally and physically which must result from the establishment of a treaty with the republic of the Equator. As his hon. Friend had told them, under the former arrangement a kind of chicanery had been carried on, which whilst England asserted her great privilege of being the friend of the slave, must have interfered with her exertions to a considerable extent, or have paralysed them altogether. At a time when they felt the greatest pride in the weight and importance which this country had obtained in the councils of the world, it was then, more especially, that they were called upon to interpose their friendly advice in the affairs of another State; much more so when that State by its constitution and political arrangements claimed kindred with our own, and when, unhappily, the internal condition of that State was such as to require the friendly advice of those interested in its welfare. It was a terrible thing to the friends of constitutional freedom to see it borne down by the step of the invader; it was terrible even when obscured by the smoke of a successful battle; but it was more terrible still when the blood of brethren was shed in a domestic quarrel upon their own soil. Speaking as an individual Member, he thought he might infer from the paragraph in the Speech which contained the assurance that the peace of Europe was likely to be preserved, that the better day which was dawning beyond the Alps would ere long shine upon new kingdoms, admitted into the confederacy of free peoples—he thought they might infer that the people would do honour to the Sovereign—that the Sovereign would aid to preserve their rights—and that they might be permitted to exercise within their own frontiers that which was the undoubted right of nations—the right of deciding what their municipal and constitutional government should be. With regard to the health of towns, that subject had received so much of the public attention, that it would be scarcely necessary for him to dwell upon it for an instant; and he was of opinion, that the least possible delay should be allowed to interpose between the announcement of the project and the carrying of it into complete execution. The project, however, was one of such magnitude, that it required the most careful consideration; and if it was necessary for them to take measures against present evils, he would also say, as his hon. Friend had al- ready observed, that they must make preparation for another and a ghastlier visitor. They had too much reason to believe that cholera was already on its way: short time, at best, would be allowed to make such preparation as human laws could make; but short as the time might be, it would be lamentable indeed if those preparations should not be made. There was another point on which he did assure the House he should proceed to speak with a sense of oppression under the over pouring magnitude of the subject. In the Address which the House had had the honour of receiving from the Throne, allusion was made to the state of Ireland—to suffering, to endurance, and, alas! to crime. Whatever measures might be in preparation for Ireland, or whatever measures the progress of events in that country might call forth, this at least they knew—that to render life desirable it must be made secure. The State had a right to demand an account of the blood of every one, of the highest as well as of the meanest of its subjects. When he thought of the scenes that had been enacted in Ireland lately, believing as he did (and he took that early opportunity of expressing that belief), what a great, what a noble, and what an easily guided people the Irish were, still when he heard of the murders and assassinations that were perpetrated there, his heart positively sickened. In the old disastrous times, from which he, for one, would never raise the veil, except to select an example for admiration, terrible as the outrages were which were committed, still Christian charity might hope from time to time to find some palliation, some excuse that might be urged on behalf of the wretched man who had committed crimes which were viewed with abhorrence by his fellow-subjects. When the distressed man was driven forth upon the world with no shelter where he could hide his head, though they could not excuse the deed, still, as he had said, Christian charity might, in its fullest exercise, endeavour to account for the offence. In those days, happily passed away, of unmitigated political rancour, the madness of politics might hurry a man into crime; but now, when the Legislature had decreed—wisely, justly, and humanely decreed—that for all destitution upon Irish soil, the Irish soil should find provision so long as it existed—when political enmity and religious strife had passed away—that now the gigantic figure of veiled mur- der should arise, was horrible and astounding. He believed that it was within the precincts, at all events within the analogies, of the law to check and repress crime; but he spoke as an individual Member again, and said that at all events life must be protected, and if they could not walk in the ways of the constitution, better the bayonet of the soldier than the ermine of the judge, rather than that crime should stalk abroad unreproved. But whilst they attempted to suppress crime, it was necessary at the same time to educate, to instruct, to improve, and to sharpen the moral apprehensions of the people. It would be for them in their legislation to set the moral guilt of their transgressions before these unhappy men, and to teach them that not only that one is criminal who fires the musket against his unhappy victim, but that there may be others criminal in a greater or a less degree—that there are shades of complicity in guilt—that not only the actual assassin is criminal, but that the district which neglects to apprehend the offender—that those who protect him, that those who knowingly aid him to escape from the law—are all accessories with him, and were act and part in the dreadful deed. They must show continually to the people of Ireland that there are duties as well as rights which belong to all classes—a lesson which was perhaps occasionally forgotten; they must tell them that the Government, so far as Government could, would abate that moral pestilence, and the physical outrage; and that it would stand forward to protect the meanest as well as the highest of its subjects against the suggestive denunciation and the assassin's blow. It was not his province to suggest what remedial measures might be submitted to the consideration of that House, neither was it his province to predict the reception which they might meet with at their hands; but this he knew, that, after the repression of crime, there must be a confidence engendered between man and man, for it was useless to attempt to conceal the fact that there was not at present that confidence between man and man which should exist. Confidence, like all noble things, was of slow growth; but he trusted, however, they were on their way towards the establishment of that confidence. Measures with that end in view were undoubtedly the best calculated to tranquillise the country; and then, every attempt should be made to develop the great, the almost inexhaustible resources of that country. It was difficult for those who had not travelled in Ireland, as he had done, or who having travelled had not dwelt, or who having dwelt had not made themselves familiar with the condition of the peasantry and the physical circumstances of the country, to imagine how much her resources might be developed, and what a wide field existed for the exertions of the Legislature in spurring on the people to industry and energy. Whether those measures, or similar measures, would be brought forward or not, he could not say; but he thought he might be permitted to warn the House not to expect too rapid results from any remedial measures. It was not in one day that the Saxon serf expanded into the English yeoman—it was not in one day that the bated breath of submissive communes swelled into the patriotic notes now ringing beyond the Alps; so it might not be in one day, in years, or in generations, that Ireland could be regenerated; but though the goal was afar, the first step might be taken, and though it might fall to many successive Gentlemen to supply the places which they now occupied, yet at every meeting of the British Parliament he trusted they should hear of some ground gained, of some advantage to Ireland, some nearer approach of the establishment of that perfect confidence which was so necessary to the peace of both the islands. But let legislation do what it would, under the most happy circumstances legislation could do but little. It might, however, prepare the balance in which men might go voluntarily to adjust their differences. Legislation could draw around the residences of the wealthy and round the huts of the poor a wall of defence which should secure to them the profits of their industry. That was a duty which fell upon them as Members of the British Senate. A great and glorious duty it was! Other senates had decreed the extermination of a rival, the extension of their own empire, the annexation of another. Be it their proud task to draw into closer union with them a country which should be a rival only in constitutional progress. But the energies of this country would be in vain—in vain the powers of their legislation, unless they might look for assistance from all who possessed any power and influence in Ireland. He called upon the 5,000 men who taught deeds of Christianity in Ireland, he called upon the 3,000 magistrates who in the different districts administered her laws, and he called upon the people of Ireland to contribute to the improvement of their country by seconding the efforts of Parliament. And he would remind them that the English people had an abhorrence of crime, and despised sloth; that they abhorred him who defaced the image of his Maker, and despised him who did not turn to profit the talent committed to his charge; but he would remind them, also, that for the peaceful and industrious there was no sacrifice, no exertion, no degree of patience which the English people would not be ready to undergo. He should also call, in the course of their deliberations, upon the many Gentlemen in that House who made the condition of Ireland the subject of their daily, their hourly, their unceasing consideration, for their assistance. He doubted not they would contribute the result of their experience freely and ungrudgingly; and he dared promise himself that the subject would be discussed with that fairness and that propriety which its magnitude and importance pre-eminently demanded. In the belief that the objects he had ventured to dwell upon were attainable in the exercise of a large, a generous, a comprehensive, and an intelligible policy; and believing that such would be the policy adopted by that House, he now begged leave to second the Address.

The Address read by MR. SPEAKER.


said, it was with great regret that he felt himself compelled upon that occasion to address the House. He had thought the crisis which had occurred in Ireland would have been avoided. He should now confine himself to a few words; and he could assure the House that it was nothing but an intense sense of public duty actuating him, equally with other hon. Members from the sister kingdom, which made him present himself upon that occasion. He had heard some portions of Her Majesty's Speech with great satisfaction, and others with great regret. He was sorry to say also, that some of the sentiments which had fallen from the hon. Seconder were not in accordance with his own, for he thought there were other means of probing the wounds of Ireland than by the bayonet of the soldier. He was a supporter, and a cordial supporter of the noble Lord at the head of the Government, and he heartily wished that that noble Lord could devise some means for extricating his country from the difficulties which surrounded her. He wished the hon. Mover and Seconder could have propounded some panacea for his unhappy country. For himself, as he did not think the bayonet of the soldier would cure her wounds, so neither did he think that an agricultural lecture was exactly the salve for Irish distress. They had now full time to discuss the question. England was at peace, her character stood in high estimation, and the new slave treaty, like the 20,000,000l., had added new laurels to her brow. France submitted, and America would not interfere with us. The hon. Seconder had passed a very proper eulogium upon the Irish people, and did them no more than justice when he expressed a hope that the union between the two countries would be still further cemented. The union which the hon. Gentleman referred to, however, was not such a union as he desired. He did not think that a union by force was the best, or that a union of poverty and wealth was the best. He did not think they were secure, when every day they had to go to that House with petitions of distress. He should wish, as the hon. Member had spoken about unanimity and concord, that he could see a solid union—not a parchment union, but a union of the heart and the affections. He rejoiced to say that a former Amendment which he had moved with reference to the Catholics of Ireland had been carried. The present Amendment affected both Catholics and Protestants, and in a still greater degree demanded the attention of the House. He reprobated as much as any man the horrible crimes and murders which had disgraced his country; but let not the House imagine that Irishmen were willing to submit to the charge of coming there as beggars, or of having their countrymen stigmatised as murderers. They were neither the one nor the other, though Providence had afflicted them. With regard to the Irish poor-law, on which Ministers congratulated themselves, let him remind the House that the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland had lately said three things—first, that the poor-law had not succeeded; secondly, that it had not been carried into effect; and, lastly, that he trusted the House would carry into immediate effect measures of relief. Now, what were those remedial measures? Was the Landlord and Tenants Bill one? Was that a Bill which could be called an efficient remedial measure? It was not; it would cause a social compact in Ireland. The landlord and tenant question was not a social one. But here he must be allow ed not to omit, on the part of the people of Ireland, to return thanks to thousands in this country who had not only felt for the distress of Ireland, but relieved it. He had the honour of belonging to the Central Relief Committee, and he knew them well; they had earned for themselves the heartfelt gratitude of the Irish people; and, though their names were not known, they were looked up to with honour, or, at least, whenever they were known, they would be. In many cases their signatures were anonymous; but the Irish people returned them thanks from the bottom of their hearts now, and he trusted that those persons would have that reward which belonged to humanity, to charity, to piety and religion hereafter. With respect to the distress in Ireland, he, with other Irish Members, was not of opinion that sufficient had been done. He was not of opinion that the poor-law would relieve the great mass of misery in Ireland. He wished Her Majesty's Ministers to adopt some means of immediate relief; for the Secretary of Ireland ought to be aware that the poor-law had utterly failed, the boards of guardians in numerous cases having declared their inability to carry it out. Did hon. Gentlemen know that the property of Ireland was in a great degree gone? Did they know how gentlemen were situated there? A noble Lord had stated to him that he bad rents due to the amount; of 22,000l., that he had 200 policemen and bailiffs out to collect that money, and that all they obtained was 200l. Another noble Lord had been compelled to part with his carriages and horses; and a third, who had an estate in Tipperary, had a rental of 7,000l. a year—6,000l. he paid for interest in this country, and he had to live upon the other 1,000l. a year, which he could not collect. That would give English Gentlemen some idea of what an Irish rental was. No doubt the distress of the people had been in some degree relieved by the exuberant harvest; but collectors, creditors, and landlords, swept away almost everything; in one parish every single article of food was under distraint, and in another every tenant had been served with an ejectment. It was only fair to ask what were men to do? would not this account for, in some degree, though he (Mr. Grattan) would never palliate, acts of violence? He held in his hand copies of five hundred letters from Roman Catholic clergymen, in answer to letters sent them by the relief committee of this country, stating the numbers of persons in distress in each of those parishes, the length of time which the distress had lasted, the means which had been adopted to remove its pressure, and the number that had died from famine. His right hon. Friend the Secretary for Ireland had received 175 of those letters, and he (Mr. Grattan) had 330. It appeared from that statement, that 244 parishes had food for nine months, six for eight months, one for seven months, four for six months, twenty-one for five months, fifty for four months, eighty for three months, thirty for two months, thirteen for one month, and in twenty-five parishes where there was food for not more than four weeks, the population exceeded 160,000 souls. He asked whether the poor-law could be carried out in Mayo? In Clare, an attempt was made to seize for rates; but the only instrument the bailiffs could get was an old Irish bagpipe, and with that the army marched off to pay the poor-rates. The fact was, they went there into a perfect vacuum; there was no food, the land was uncultivated, and the houses were deserted—there was a mass of misery almost inexplicable. When his right hon. Friend prepared that part of the Queen's Speech, he thought he would have done well if he had consulted some Irish gentleman, because it was a great cause of complaint that an army of persons had been sent over to Ireland who knew nothing of their situation and condition. The right hon. Baronet was quite right last Session when he said, "You have an army of 10,000 people in Ireland—dismiss them." If the noble Lord were going to continue to work with the same materials, he would fall far short of the remedy required, and he would not be able to give the relief he anticipated. They had left the roads impassable, so much so that the Under Secretary nearly lost his life in one of the ruts left by his noble army. He trusted his right hon. Friend would obtain possession of the 515 letters he had referred to, and submit them to Ministers. What a picture of unparalleled distress they presented! In five counties 34,850 persons had died of starvation; in six others 37,000 had so died; in other nine 5,454 persons; in ten (and this was in the north of Ireland), 6,111 had died; in all he believed that not less than 115,929 persons had died of starvation. He knew well that meal had been sent to these places; but then it had been sold at such a price that the people could not buy it, and died accordingly. Now Mr. Pitt did not proceed in this manner in 1800. He said, "We must keep the people alive, and therefore we will let no corn go out." But what was the course taken this year and the last? Why they were actually carrying out more corn than they did before. Corn was going out at 10s. a barrel, while they were obliged to buy it at 20s. a barrel; and Indian corn, which could have been bought at 91. a ton, they were afterwards obliged to give 201. a ton for. The right hon. Baronet in 1845 suggested the propriety of adopting a measure on the subject quoad the three kingdoms. The principle was admitted, but it was said it could not be applied to the then state of Ireland. Now he asserted the best method was not to go to foreign markets, and buy food dear, but to keep to the home market where they could buy cheap. What remedy was applied to all this? The poor-law. But were they aware of what they were paying for levying the poor-rate? Did they know that, in fact, it could not be collected—that 15, 20, and even 25 per cent had been offered for collecting it, and had been refused? He would now turn to another subject—the absentees. He held in his hand a paper issued by that excellent body of men—the Society of Friends, whose memory would long be cherished in Ireland, for their kindness, humanity, and Christianity. Ireland would never forget the steady, silent course of these humane and Christian men—Christian in heart and not in lip only—who administered relief wherever it could avail the sufferer, and poured consolation into the dying ear where they could not ward off the fatal stroke. Might they be blest in time and in eternity! These excellent individuals had published a statement of their visit to Ireland, and of what they saw there. Amongst other things they stated that, in one district of the county of Mayo, there were sixty-five absentee landlords, without, for the most part, resident agents; and that from these they had received no subscriptions. They mentioned other districts in which the landlords did nothing to relieve their tenantry; others, with a population of 40,000, in which the landlords were all absentees; and they stated also the names of 145 parishes in Ireland in which there was not a single resident proprietor. Now what was to be done in such a case? Why, he should send them back again. Do as Cromwell did in a similar case; send these landlords home to discharge their duties. He spoke as a victim. He was at that moment paying in Wicklow for the support of individuals who came from Skibbereen and other places, because those places had no resident landlords. What was the case with Donegal? He was not afraid to mention names, and he would ask, therefore, why did not Lord Palmer-ton go back and live there? He had heard it said in that House, "Sell up the Irish landlords." He had no objection. Let them sell up amongst others the noble Lord. There was Lord Lansdowne, too, why did not he go and reside in Ireland? He knew that noble Lord's estate well. He was an excellent individual, and he did not say that his agent was not a worthy man; but he would ask, what was the use of his building houses which people could not occupy? Why he was even building two-storied houses for cattle, but the cattle could not go up to the second story. Hon. Members laughed at Irish bulls, but Irishmen laughed at English farm-houses. Why in the county he represented, the greater part of the landlords were absentees. The fact was, the English settlement in Ireland had failed; and he maintained their ancestors had no right to go to that country and take property, the proceeds of which their descendants now ran away with and spent in other countries. He had no objection to Englishmen for neighbours; and he said if those who had property in Ireland would stay there and do their duty, they might live there happily and without fear of assassination. He said, that if a steady, respectable body of resident proprietors and occupiers would associate themselves together for the purpose, they might set these assassins at defiance. He thought the Lord Lieutenant should go out with his staff and a drummer, and call out the indolent and timid gentry of the disturbed districts, and say to them—"Let me see you doing your duty tomorrow with ten or twenty retainers each, and I will relieve you at night, and thus we will keep the country quiet between us." He was satisfied this would succeed now, as it succeeded when it was tried by Lord Donoughmore. The hon. Gentleman talked of bayonets. He had no objection to them when necessary—perhaps he had carried one—but why call for such costly assistance when they had already a constabulary force of 9,000 in Ireland? Why were these men not employed to keep down these outrages? Why, two-thirds of them were the sons of small farmers in Ireland, and miscreants who had no interest but to agitate the country. Why not take these men from the peaceable districts, where they were a useless expense, and send them to those districts where they were wanted, instead of burdening the country with additional soldiers? It was true that atrocious outrages had been committed in Ireland, but then they were confined to six counties. He maintained that the process of ejectment was the originating cause of these outrages. He had seen families turned out on the road-side, and children crying in the ditches for shelter and for food: he had seen a state of things that was a disgrace to a Christian country obtain in Ireland. He also remembered the generous sentiments expressed by English gentlemen and the English press on the subject of what was called in his country "the general clearance system;" but still hundreds of families were weekly turned out on the world without a home and without a morsel. Hon. Gentlemen might talk of carrying out the law; but there was one law which could not under any circumstances be carried out fairly in. Ireland—he meant the law of ejectment. By that law the landlord was empowered to seize and take possession; but if at the time he made his levy, the sick wife or mother of the tenant was put out on the world, was it surprising that the incendiary should be at hand, and that the outgoing of one and the incoming of the other should be illuminated with incendiary fires? How, in such circumstances, could the people so thrust out feel anything but the most deadly sentiment of revenge? He was not afraid to name names in the matter: what was the cause of Major Mahon being shot? He was a most excellent individual, it was stated, and he had freighted two ships in which he sent out those tenants he had cleared from his estates, to America. But one of these ships was unfortunately lost, and the survivors having some of them returned and told their sad story, nothing could persuade the people that emigration was not a plot against their lives. Added to this, it was stated that Major Mahon said he would make a sheepwalk of Strokestown. Within a fortnight afterwards he was shot. There was the case of another individual, who was said to have brought several ejectments against a great number of his tenantry, and who, in making his will, devised his estate to the next heir only on condi- tion of Ms turning out those poor people; and in case he should not do so the estate was to pass to the next of kin, on the same condition; and he failing in the condition it was to pass to a third party, in default of whose obedience it was to revert to the Board of Public Works. These being the facts, he thought that allowances should be made for the feelings of those unfortunate people who were the victims of such a state of things. He thanked God that these sentiments were not entertained by several landlords; but that they were acted on by some was quite sufficient. For these reasons he and those with whom he acted, found fault with the Address as well as with the Speech from the Throne, of which it was the echo. Neither proposed any specific remedy for a state of things which was acknowledged on all hands to require remedy. He did not see how they—nor indeed how the House—could go so far as to agree with Her Majesty's Ministers, in their application for extraordinary powers for Ireland, when the disease which required to be cured existed only in six counties. Individuals employed by others generally stated what was most agreeable to the parties who employed them; and therefore he assumed that the answer of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland to the recent memorial of the Catholic prelates of that kingdom was most satisfactory to the Government. Those venerable men had made themselves acquainted with the whole case of Ireland, and in accordance with their views of duty they waited upon the noble Lord the Viceroy of that country. In his reply to that address, the Lord Lieutenant suggested a specific measure for the relief of the distress which prevailed; and it was that he blamed Her Majesty's Government for not adopting; because if they had done so, it would have saved him the painful task of performing what he deemed an imperative duty—namely, proposing an Amendment to the Address. The Lord Lieutenant, in his reply to the statement of the prelates, said— If ever nation at any time was imperatively called upon by circumstances for united exertion, it is Ireland at the present moment; hardly emerged from a calamity which has no parallel in the annals of history, we are about to enter upon another crisis of appalling magnitude, which finds us unprepared and weakened by division. If ever there was a time when selfish feelings and party Strife should be replaced by Christian charity, it is now, in the presence of a great and common danger. There is no man upon whom some duty does not devolve; and if those classes possessing influence in their respective spheres will meet to- gether, and recognise the absolute necessity of those duties being performed, and will to each apportion his share of the burden, the difficulties of all will be diminished to an extent which now appears impossible; and if the exhortations of religion, never in vain addressed to the Irish people, be heard in behalf of order, and self-sacrifice, and resignation, then we may humbly hope that the blessing of the Almighty will attend efforts so made to meet the calamity which, for purposes to us inscrutable, has been permitted to fall on this country. Mr. Trevelyan and Sir J. Burgoyne had also borne testimony to the distress of Ireland, in two letters which they had, with no particular courtesy towards his country, addressed to a public journal, the Times, in this country. The noble Lord then said— I am, however, painfully alive to the fact that in many districts there exists dreadful misery, which no amount of local exertion can relieve; and there the sacred and paramount duty of Government—the preservation of human life—will be performed. The Legislature has placed a large sum, under favourable conditions, at the disposal of the landowners, and I know that this will afford much employment to the poor in work really reproductive; and I trust that Parliament will see fit to sanction a measure which, while strictly guarding the rights of property, shall at the same time place the relations between the landlord and tenant upon a footing more sound and satisfactory than at present. That was a very different version of the state of Ireland from the version just given in the Royal Speech. The Lord Lieutenant pledged the Government, by this reply, to the preservation of human life, and also pledged them to the adoption of a measure placing the relations of landlord and tenant in Ireland on a more satisfactory footing. That was what the Government should have brought forward in the Speech—that was what the noble Lord at the head of the Government should have boldly and manfully stated—that was one of the remedial measures that should be applied to Ireland for the purpose of settling the vexata questio involved in it. He now asked the noble Lord was it his intention to do so? He paused for a reply; but he saw no symptoms of one. Why would he not adopt the Bill of the hon. Member for Rochdale; or why would he not accede to the resolutions of the hon. Member for Northamptonshire on the subject? English landlords did not wantonly turn out their tenants—there was mutual confidence in general, and the law was rarely resorted to; but it was, unhappily, far different in Ireland, where, as the Earl of Clarendon said, the penal spirit of the law was that still in operation. In Ireland the letter of the bond was required, because there was no confidence, and because the landlord's successor or his executors might not see fit to sanction the arrangements he might have entered into previous to his death, or carry out his wishes. When hon. Gentlemen talked of agrarian outrages in Ireland, they should talk also of the causes which led to them; they should talk of the inducements to crime, as well as of the crime itself, for the purpose of preventing the one by removing the other. That done, there would be but strict justice in punishing the midnight assassins, who brought disgrace upon their country; that done, there would no longer exist any sympathy for the criminals. The condition of Ireland was full of grievances. The country felt the absence of its nobility; it felt the want of local legislation. He was not the apologist of public men; but there could be no doubt of the sincerity of the hon. Gentleman who first mooted the question of repeal, any more than there could be of the desire of the people for a domestic Legislature. They felt they would be much better united if they had a body of noblemen and gentlemen resident in the country to attend to their local legislation. How long was it, for instance, that the Irish Members in the English Parliament had to dance attendance in the last Session, waiting for the most important business of the Session, as far as it affected Ireland—namely, the Bill of the hon. Member for Rochdale? That Bill had been read a first time at the commencement of the Session, and yet it was not debated until towards the close. The people of Ireland wished to be united with England; but they held the opinion—an opinion grounded upon common sense—that no body of men living out of their country could govern them so well as they could govern themselves. England had received Ireland sound and free at the time of the Union. The country was not poor; it had manufactures; it had a Parliament of its own; and, above all, it had a resident gentry. All these were absorbed by England, or taken away, and in their stead was sent an army of 50,000 men to keep the country. England was at peace at present, and he hoped it would long be so; but he was greatly afraid that, in the event of a war, his country would be made the battle-field of the conflict of England with her enemies. He therefore implored of the Parliament to consider the effect of steam upon modern warfare, and in connexion with it the unwise policy of keeping 5,000,000 or 6,000,000 of the Irish people in a state of enmity to England, when they might easily be attached to her interests. There were now 9,000 police and 20,000 soldiers in that country; but such a state of things could not be maintained in the event of a war. Ireland had shown great forbearance in the persons of her representatives in the past Parliament. They were now, however, ready to take their stand for their country, and speak out in her defence. Mankind in future ages would never believe that, with 53,000,000l. of money annually in the English Exchequer, that country could not save the dying Irishman. He, and those with whom he acted, were quite ready to aid Her Majesty's Government in the application of the law to the disturbed counties; but they could not consent to its application to the whole country. In accordance with what he deemed an important duty, therefore, he should move as an Amendment that all the words of the Motion after "that" should be omitted, and that the following words should be substituted in their place:— That though the present Poor Law may materially alleviate the existing distress in some districts of Ireland, yet as it must be quite inadequate in others, it will be absolutely necessary to devise immediate measures to avert famine and pestilence from a large number of Her Majesty's subjects in that country.


seconded the Amendment. He did not mean to deny that the state of Ireland at present was most appalling. The state of crime was positively worse in the six counties which his hon. Friend had mentioned, than it had been described by the public press. The state of poverty and social disorganisation in Ireland was frightful to a degree. It was not a war of class against class—it was a disorganisation of society, and he thought it was an occasion of all others when Her Majesty's Ministers, and those who supported them, proposing and seconding the address to-day, ought to be prepared to recommend something beyond the vulgar expedient of "the bayonet." When he used that expression, he did not use it as implying anything personal, but as incumbent upon the Legislature of the country. He said, that this bayonet and this coercion was a vulgar expedient; worse than that, it was perfectly futile, because, look at your history for past centuries in this country and in Ireland—look at the manner in which you had governed Ire- land—in every page of your history you would find coercion, the bayonet, martial law, and blood; yet now, in the middle of the nineteenth century, you had Ireland in a worse state, socially and physically, than it ever was for a period of many years; and therefore he said, speaking of it in a statesmanlike view, that this expedient of force, this expedient of the bayonet, was to all intents and purposes a vulgar expedient. He trusted the House would bear with him whilst he gave them the experience of a practical man on this question of Ireland. He traced the present unhappy state of Ireland, the immediate cause of the misery and crime, to causes which were deep. In the first place, he traced it to the universal poverty and distress which existed there; in the second place, to the unfortunate and untoward disputes whish occurred between landlord and tenant—the fatal question of the land; in the third place, to misgovernment in every shape and form as to the past, and misgovernment now, at the present moment, and most especially in the Executive of the country. It was unnecessary to waste much time in proving the poverty of Ireland—it was admitted on all hands Ireland was held out among the other nations of the world as the most miserable and most poverty-stricken country in the world; and he must say, that the proposal of the hon. Gentleman who seconded the Address, and all the course which he had chalked out of relieving the poverty in Ireland, by carrying out the poor-law, and the poor-law alone, would turn out to be a most fatal expedient. He did not mean to say that there were not many cases in Ireland in which the poor-law, as a poor-law, ought to be carried out fully and entirely; but he said, that the majority of cases at present in Ireland were such that the poor-law could not possibly meet but one. Take the case of the union of Skibbereen, which had become so unfortunately notorious. What were the facts in Skibbereen? The valuation of the whole of the union was 96,000l. The population in 1841 was 106,000. Supposing that 10,000 had since been carried off by the famine, 96,000 people had to be supported on 96,000l. a year, which was something less than 1d. a day for each man. How was it possible your poor-law could meet a case of that kind? That was a case in his own county. He could repeat a number of cases of the same kind in which the poor-law would completely break down; and therefore he said it was futile to depend on the poor-law to relieve the present distress of Ireland. Nobody had a greater horror of the crime which had been committed in Ireland than he had. There was no one who deplored it more, or thought it a more national disgrace; at the same time when he heard the people of Ireland represented as a mass of assassins and murderers, he was bound to say, as an honest man and an Irishman, that it was a foul and unfounded calumny. It would be dishonest and ungrateful in him if he were to sit quietly by and allow the people to be so designated. He believed he had come in contact with a greater number of the lower orders in Ireland than most persons. As an agriculturist he employed more people than most agriculturists in the United Kingdom—as a landlord, managing his own estate of 20,000 acres, he was constantly placed in a position to observe the people of Ireland—and as a landlord he had done everything which any landlord in this country might do. He had dispossessed tenants whenever he thought it necessary—he had encouraged extensive emigration—he had punished persons—he had been in the habit of doing all that since he was nineteen years old, and he had never been molested or interfered with in the discharge of his duties, and the exercise of his rights as a landlord. He had always tried to act fairly and justly by the people—it was possible that in some cases he might have acted unjustly towards them—and yet he had spent his life in Ireland, and had never been molested, nor did he require even a bolt for his protection. A charge was often made to the effect that there was something in the Celtic blood which proved injurious to the character of the people; but it did not appear that the people of Ireland were, in England or America, disposed to commit those crimes which took place in Ireland. Did they ever hear of the chairman of a Railway Board in England being shot by an Irishman? Not a bit of it. On the contrary, Irishmen were well conducted in other countries because they were treated with fairness and justice; and whilst he did not attribute the blame to the present landlords of Ireland, he would say that he believed that the crime which prevailed in Ireland was caused by a system of unfairness and injustice. With respect to the question of landlord and tenant, no one had spoken upon the subject who did not admit that the present system was unsound, and ought not to continue. He would remark to the House that the question of landlord and tenant was one which was more vital to Ireland than to England; for in Ireland, if a poor man is thrown out of the possession of the land which he occupies, and thereby thrown out of employment, he must die. In England there were manufactures and means of industrial occupation, besides those immediately connected with land; but in Ireland, dispossessing a man of land was like a sentence of death upon him and upon every one connected with him. With respect to tenant-right, he had heard of cases which recently occurred, of farmers in England asking for tenant-right; and he would say, that, until in Ireland they gave a tenant-right by allowing a tenant to sell his occupancy in such a manner as to realise the value of his improvements upon the farm which he occupied, they could not expect content or satisfaction on the part of the tenants. It might be said that they ought to be prepared to put on paper a plan for the settlement of that question; but they never ought to be consenting parties to a Coercion Bill for Ireland until they first made good the promises which they had made to the people of Ireland, and removed the radical causes of the evils of Ireland, thereby doing their best to repress those evils. With regard to the question of the suppression of crime, he was one of those who did not believe that there was any reason to go beyond the present law in order to suppress crime in Ireland; but if they wished to suppress crime by means of the existing law, they ought to carry out that law efficiently; and he maintained that the Executive in Ireland were in a condition to carry out the law efficiently, if the proper exertions were made by them for that purpose. The whole system of conducting the trial of criminal offences at assizes was unsound; and nothing was more common than for a clever criminal lawyer to fight his way through an indictment, whilst in courts presided over by assistant barristers the case. was different. At the assistant barristers' courts, where the more light and trivial offences were tried, and where the punishments were of course less, the exceptions were the acquittals; whereas the exceptions at the assizes were the convictions. That was a distinction which bore out his view that the present system of conducting criminal trials at assizes was unsound. It was the custom to say that the people of Ireland were opposed to the law, and that they would not pursue a man who had committed a crime; and in proof of that allegation, a case was recently mentioned in the Times where a man in the county of Tipperary was murdered, and the murderers passed unmolested through the garden of a man named Harding, although Harding was himself present; and the question was asked, why did not Harding arrest the murderers? How could he have done so when the murderers were armed? If five or six armed policemen were in the neighbourhood, and, instead of being on the spot, were polishing their muskets, how could it be expected that Harding was to arrest those armed men? Indeed, if the police came and asked Harding to assist them in arresting the murderers, and he refused to do so, he might well be blamed; but how could it be expected that he would engage with five or six well-armed fellows? Another subject of well-founded complaint on the part of the Irish people was, that scarcely any of the heads of the public departments in Ireland was an Irishman. The head of the army in Ireland was, it was true, an Irishman; but the head of the police was a Scotchman; and he believed that almost every department in that country was presided over by one who could not possibly understand the country, unless some of the Scotchmen possessed that gift of second-sight for which in former days they were so remarkable. The right hon. Member for Tamworth had no Irishmen in his Cabinet; and he (Mr. Roche) would say, that, constructing a Cabinet for Great Britain and Ireland without a single Irishman in it, was an insult to his country. There was one Englishman in the Cabinet of the noble Lord who now conducted the affairs of the country, and that Englishman was better than many Irishmen—he meant the nobleman who presided over the affairs of Ireland (the Earl of Clarendon)—a nobleman who would, he had no doubt, earn for himself the title "ipsis Hibernis Hibernior." It was unpleasant and invidious to find fault with parties connected with the administration of the law; but he would nevertheless say, that the existing law would be found perfectly efficient in suppressing crime, if it was properly administered, and if justice was equally done between landlord and tenant—if justice were really done to the people, and if they were governed not by the crotchets of English ideas as to the administration of the poor-law, or under the supposition that they were not disposed to support or assist themselves. He therefore protested against agreeing to any coercion of the country until it was shown that the existing law had been properly carried out, and had failed in effecting its purpose. What would they do by coercion? What would they effect by an Arms Bill? Why this: by the latter measure, they would disarm the honest portion of the people, and place them at the mercy of all the vagabonds in the country. A Coercion Bill was in operation in Tipperary in 1818, and 1,441 persons were arrested under that Bill in the county of Tipperary, of whom upon trial only 11 were found guilty. Out of those 11, there were 7 whom the attorney who defended them considered were unjustly convicted; upon which he memorialised the Lord Lieutenant, and 7 out of the 11 were pardoned; so that 4 men were all who were convicted out of the 1,441 who were arrested. They might have done justice, it was true, on the four persons; but they made upwards of 1,400 discontented persons. That was one result of coercion. How in the nineteenth century could they propose coercion, when it was admitted that poison was entering into the body of the land—when injustice was rendered and done to all classes in Ireland? How could they at such a time propose to send soldiers and bayonets to Ireland, and adopt a course calculated to make every good and honest man disaffected? That was not justice to his country; but it was the act of officials who would not carry out the existing law. He would recommend them, in the first place, to feed the starving people in Ireland; in the second place, to settle the relations of landlord and tenant, and to give vigour to the Executive. His advice was, "Be just, and fear not."


thought, from the remarks which had fallen from the Mover and Seconder of the Amendment, that he must have been misunderstood upon one point. In what he had addressed to the House he expressly guarded himself against being supposed to advocate a recurrence to the old system of governing Ireland, and expressed a hope that the powers with which the Government might feel it necessary to arm itself, would be analogous to the provisions of the existing law. He further stated, that he was prepared to advocate the having recourse to extraordinary measures only in order to prevent the dissolution of society, in certain districts.


entirely con- curred with the Mover and Seconder of the Amendment in the importance which they had attached to the question of tenant-right. He had prepared a Bill on that subject for England, and he would be grateful to the hon. Members if they would give him their assistance in urging it upon the House for its adoption. It might appear presumptuous in him to offer any suggestion to Ministers on the subject of Ireland, but he felt himself justified in saying that they were called upon to fulfil the promises which had been made, not only by themselves, but by others who had preceded them in the Government, of doing impartial justice to Ireland. Whatever might be the character of the present House of Commons in other respects, he believed that no House had ever assembled with a more firm determination to do its duty fairly and impartially, and to be no longer blinded by mere words and conventional expressions. With such a House of Commons the system of shams was at an end. [Cries of "Hear, hear!"] It was gratifying to him to find that the expression which he had used met any sympathy from the House; but what he meant to express was, that the system of doing one thing when it was another which was required, would no longer be endured. It appeared to him that no measures for the pacification of Ireland could ever succeed until the question respecting the Established Church in that country was solved. The Episcopal Church was established in England because the bulk of the people were Episcopalians. In Scotland the Presbyterian Church was established for a similar measure. It could not be doubted that if we were to send to Ireland ten bishops, 1,000 priests, and 40,000 bayonets, we might establish the Protestant Episcopal Church there; but he wanted to know upon what principle of justice the Church of the minority in Ireland was to be made the Established Church. This was a discrepancy which did not exist in any country in the world but Ireland, which, although Roman Catholic, had to maintain a Protestant establishment, but which even the royal family of Saxony did not dare to press upon that country. What was justice to Ireland? Justice to Ireland, and to all Her Majesty's subjects in Ireland, required that starving people should be kept alive; but justice required that they should be kept alive by their own labour, and not by the labour of others. Most true it was that the poor-law in Ire- land had hitherto proved inoperative; but, certainly, every sentence which he had heard that evening from those hon. Members who had spoken on the subject showed him that the Irish Gentlemen did not understand what the poor-law was. It had not been proved that the poor-law was ineffective; but they had proved that they were not willing to work it. Another thing which was required, not only by justice to Ireland, but by justice to all Her Majesty's subjects, was, that they should have a right to lawful protection, and a right to reside where they pleased, whether in Ireland, Scotland, or England. It was quite a secondary consideration by what means that right should be enforced, whether by an Arms Bill or the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, or any other mode; and there would be no justice for Ireland unless Thuggism was eradicated from the land, and unless not only the active perpetrators of outrage were punished, but its clerical authors and instigators also. But on that head he would say no more. He entreated hon. Gentlemen to throw the whole weight of their influence on the side of good order, and by every means in their power to strengthen the hands of the Government.


Sir, the House will permit me, perhaps, in the first place, to recall their attention to the terms in which the Amendment has been moved to the Address proposed by my hon. Friend the Member for South Lancashire, for I am afraid that the spirit and object of the Amendment will stand some chance of being lost sight of altogether when we come to details upon the fertile ground of Irish grievances and sufferings. The terms of the Amendment are— That though the present poor-law may materially alleviate existing distress in some districts in Ireland, yet, as it must be quite inadequate to do so in others, it will be absolutely necessary for the Government to devise immediate measures to avert famine and pestilence from a large number of Her Majesty's subjects. Now, Sir, on the part of Her Majesty's Government, I regret that I feel myself bound to offer a decided opposition to the introduction of those words into the Address which has been moved and seconded in answer to Her Majesty's gracious Speech from the Throne. I think that the spirit of that Amendment is directly opposed to the spirit evinced by the speech of the hon. Gentleman who moved it; for I am sure it is his desire, as it is the desire of the Government and of every gentleman in England and Ireland, to excite a spirit of self-reliance among the people of Ireland, and to put an end to that degrading system of reliance on extraneous aid which I believe would be promoted and encouraged by an acquiescence in the Amendment which has been proposed. Sir, it became necessary in consequence of the great calamity with which it pleased Providence to visit Ireland last year, to grant large and unsparing aid to the people of that country. But is this necessity to be perpetual? and are we now to be told that the people of Ireland require to be protected, not from a calamity which is pressing them down as it did last year, but from a calamity which is coming upon them three or four months hence? Are they to be told that they need do nothing for themselves—that exertions are to be made for them by others—and that the money necessary for their support is to be derived from the general taxation of the country? I am sure that such is not the feeling of my hon. Friends who moved and seconded the Amendment; and I think that the hon. Gentleman who spoke just now with so much ability (Mr. Drummond), spoke too hastily in saying that the poor-law had proved inoperative in Ireland. ["No!"] I see that the hon. Gentleman did not intend to go so far, and I am glad he did not, because although from the information which is already on the table of the House, it appears that the poor-law will be in some parts of Ireland insufficient for the support of the people, still, I must say, that the exertions which have been made are sufficient to justify fully the expectations with which Parliament passed that law, and to justify the the terms in which reference is made to it in Her Majesty's Speech. I will only allude to the collection of the poor-rate to show that such is the case. The aggregate amount collected was 330,000l. before the introduction of the present measure; but in September in the present year the amount of rate collected was 73,000l., and in October 121,000l., as compared with the collection of 26,000l. in October last year; and in the course of the present month I have no doubt whatever the amount of rate collected will exceed, and I believe considerably exceed, the rate collected in October. These funds are now raised from the soil of Ireland for the relief of the poor of that country, and they are raised to carry this law into effect, in some cases by Irish gentlemen, though in others, I am sorry to say, by paid agents, when those whose duty it was to enforce the law have failed in their duty. Allusion has been made to some places where the guardians have failed to carry the law into effect. The whole correspondence on the subject will shortly be laid before Parliament, and I will not now enter into a discussion upon it with the imperfect information which I possess; but I will only say that in my opinion the board in Dublin have been perfectly justified in the measures which they have taken in reference to those places. I feel, however, the fullest confidence that the law will be the means, in a majority of the unions, of meeting the distress which may be felt. I think there are about 130 unions in Ireland. I believe that in twenty-two of these unions we must expect, from the information which we have received, that external aid will be required to meet the exigencies of the people. But, Sir, does it therefore follow that we should pledge the House in terms to the adoption of immediate measures to avert famine and pestilence—which I presume means an immediate grant of money—without knowing what resources Ireland herself may have? Last year a large store of provisions was purchased by the Government; a portion of those provisions will still be applicable. The Government will not be wanting to meet any cases of emergency which may arise, and they have no fear of any immediate necessity for any interference on the part of this House, or for any interference at all on the part of the House, in the way of making further grants of money. I must, however, repeat that I do trust that by the exertions of the owners of landed property in Ireland, the people will be brought to rely on themselves, which is the only course which can place Ireland on the footing on which she ought permanently to stand. I will just read an extract from a letter which has been received from a gentleman at Bantry, addressed to a member of the Poor Law Commission:— I hope and trust that upon no account public works, as measures of relief, may be sanctioned; and I can assure you, with moderate assistance from the associations, we can get on well here. The landlords must, where they can, give employment; never had they a better opportunity to improve their properties if they only understood their position. And I am not inclined to do anything for a property that does not do what it can first. In principle, I assure you, it would be wrong, since of what use is assistance unless it gives permanent benefit? You have seen enough of temporary advances and measures, and what good are they? Why, this, that the party is worse off after every attempt, since proper machinery to disburse the funds cannot be found. No, the Government can assist, after every local exertion is made; but, believe me, they cannot do everything. It is because I think that the spirit of this Amendment—though I do not impute that spirit either to the hon. Gentleman who moved, or the hon. Member who seconded it—implies that the Government is to do everything, that I oppose its introduction in the Address. I do not think that I need say anything more with regard to the Amendment itself; but I must say a few words with regard to the subject of crime in Ireland, which has been touched upon by the hon. Member for Cork. I do not now enter into that painful detail of crime which it will be my duty to lay before the House upon bringing in the Bill which, on the part of the Government, I have given notice of for an early day, for the better prevention of crime in certain parts of Ireland. I wish, however, to say, in answer to what fell from the hon. Member for Cork, that the description given m the newspapers is not to be taken as a description of the state of crime in the whole country, and that he was contending with an imaginary enemy when he supposed the contrary to be the case. The information which the Government have received, lead them to believe that in many parts of Ireland, life and property are as secure as in England. With regard to those remedial measures which the hon. Members for Meath and Cork have demanded before recourse was had to measures of coercion, I must say, I think that they have hardly done justice to Her Majesty's Speech, in saying that no such remedial measures had been held out. Her Majesty says— Her Majesty views with the deepest anxiety and interest the present condition of Ireland, and She recommends to the consideration of Parliament measures which, with due regard to the rights of property, may advance the social condition of the people, and tend to the permanent improvement of that part of the United Kingdom. The hon. Member for Meath says, that he cannot discover in the Speech any allusion to the state of the relations between landlord and tenant in Ireland; but does the passage which I have just read, say, or not, that Parliament will do well to consider measures which, with due regard to the rights of property, may advance the social condition of the people of Ireland? I can assure the hon. Member that this question is one which has most deeply en- gaged the attention of my noble Friend the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, and of Her Majesty's Government, and that we do intend at a fitting period to submit a measure to Parliament on that subject. I do not say that this measure may not be without difficulties to encounter; but I can assure my him. Friends, the Members for Meath and Cork, that the subject has engaged the most serious attention of Her Majesty's Government, and that Her Majesty's Speech has alluded to it. I do not wish now to anticipate the discussion which must take place with reference to the success which has attended the working of the poor-law—waiting as I do for accurate and authentic information before I enter upon it; but I hope that my hon. Friend will not persevere in pressing his Amendment, and that he will agree in the suggestion made by the hon. Member for West Surrey, and enable the House to carry an unanimous Address to the foot of the Throne. I trust that, entering as we do upon a new Parliament, we may anticipate that all measures which relate to the permanent improvement of Ireland, may be received by the House with an absence of party spirit, and that the general and prevailing feeling of the House will be to wish to see Ireland prosperous, and her happiness placed on a secure and permanent foundation.


began by observing that the distress in Ireland was now becoming more urgent than ever; and from what he knew of the country, he could assure Her Majesty's Ministers that they would be grievously disappointed were they to trust to the operation of the poor-law, or to the mere distribution of those small remnants of stores which might be still left in the depots, if their object was the preservation of human life. He could assure them that the destitution was more extreme than it had been this time twelve months. There might be in some districts food for a few weeks, in others, perhaps, food for some months; but there were many and large portions of the country in which the people were without food, and in which, at this moment, it was almost impossible to collect any rates. What hope was there, then, of the poor-law meeting the whole extent of the evil? Three millions of people had been receiving relief; and it would take the sum of at least seven millions sterling to provide for that amount of distress. Where was such a sum to come from? This country, rich as it was, had been alarmed when rates some years ago amounted to 7s. in the pound. What hope could Ireland in her poverty have, were such an amount of suffering flung entirely upon the rates for relief? The hon. Gentleman read the following statements, referring to Roscommon and Sligo:— DETAILS OF DESTITUTION IN THE ARCHDIOCESE OF TUAM. The Catholic rector of the parish of Abbey-knockmoy in the archdiocese of Tuam, states:—Four hundred of my parishioners have died, and almost the entire of them from fever and insufficiency of food. The present population of the parish is about one thousand families. Two hundred persons have been obliged to desert their holdings, between those who have been compelled to emigrate, and those who have been evicted. Not more than fifty families will have a sufficiency of provisions, after paying rents and every other liable rate, to last them until next harvest. There are at this day 350 families in actual destitution; and of the other 490 families, half will have provisions until Christimas, and the other half may struggle on until February. The Rev. M. Flannelly, R.C.C., Crossboyne, states: The reduction of my parishioners is about 500 persons by famine, and its consequent disease. The present population of my parish is 850 families, or 4,200 individuals. About 150 families have been obliged to desert their holdings, and are now houseless and destitute of abode. About 50 families out of the entire population have food to sustain them until the coining harvest. About 300 families are in a state of deep distress, many of whom at present have not a turnip to support them, and all of whom will be very soon in a state of utter destitution. The Rev. Denis Tighe, P.P, of Ballagha-derrin, gives the following account of the parishes of Kilcoleman and Castlemore:—The population of this parish at the commencement of last year was near 12,000; it is now reduced to 9,860 persons; 478 died of famine and its immediate consequences since the 1st of October, 1846. There are at present 138 families suffering from fever. The great bulk of the people hold very little land, which is of inferior quality; it barely supplied potatoes in past years, and now that the potato crop is gone the poor are in the greatest distress. I find that 129 families were obliged to desert their little holdings and cabins. There are at present 470 families, consisting of 2,246 persons, in extreme want, living on turnips and a little Indian meal. No language can describe the miserable condition of the most of them. The landlords are for the most part absentees, some of whom are at present selling out the oats of their poor tenants and exacting rents with the utmost rigour. Parish of Ballintubber, per Rev. James Browne, P.P.—The reduction in the number of my parishioners by famine and its consequence, epidemic disease, since October, 1846, has been about 840 souls. About twenty families have been evicted in Burriscarra; their houses were all thrown down. The system of eviction is now progressing in Ballintubber, and distraints for rent frequent and oppressive. Parish of Balla, per Rev. Martin Browne, P.P.—The reduction in the number of my parishioners by famine, and its consequences, epidemic disease, since October last, is 300. Seventy families emigrated to America and England, and forty were obliged by their landlords to surrender their tenements. I consider the condition of the coming season more alarming than that of the past, as vast numbers of the poor parted with their cattle and sheep, &c, in order to procure means of subsistence during the awful crisis through which they have passed; and the landlords, with very few exceptions, are most pressing in their demands for rent and arrears. Keepers are to be seen by night and day in all directions. The poor, on this account, will be very unwilling to prepare a tillage for the next year, as they would be toiling for their taskmasters. Parish of Kilmoylan and Cummer, per Rev. Patrick Duggan, P.P.—Since October, 1846,145 deaths have occurred; and, considering the number of deaths, compared with other years, I am positive in stating that 110 of the number were owing to want and its various consequences. The present population in my parish is 3,681. About 40 families have been obliged to quit the place, or to go to the poorhouse. It is my deliberate opinion, after making every and most minute inquiry, that out of the 647 families in the electoral division, there are not 20 of that number who will have food enough to support themselves till the ensuing harvest. There are at this moment 250 families living almost entirely upon turnips; almost all the crops must be sold to pay rent and taxes. The prospect for the approaching season is infinitely worse. Numbers were obliged to consume their whole stock in the exorbitant prices of food during the crisis. Besides, and above all, the usual confidence is gone, and now no dealer in provisions will trust any poor man for the space of a day, or the price of a shilling, as was, time immemorial, the custom with the retailers of food. Parish of Dunmore, per Rev. P. Brennan, P.P.—I compute the number of deaths in the last 12 months by famine and its consequences to amount to at least 1,000. I am of opinion that there are still 12,000 persons in my parish. Out of that population no more than 200 families have food to sustain themselves until the coming harvest I hesitate not to say that there are at least 800 families in a state of the most abject destitution. The people have, with very few exceptions, scarcely any clothes wherewith to cover themselves. The coming season is more terrific than was the last year, for the people's means have been perfectly exhausted, and they are now left in a dreary hope for the future. Parish of Kilcoleman, per Rev. James Hughes, P.P.—From last October to the 10th of last April, the death census which was kept was 350, from famine and epidemic; since that period to the present it has been 250 more; total 600. The present population of my parish is 8,451. More than 60 families have been obliged to desert their holdings. Of the population of this parish, 800 have not food, or means to procure it, to support them until next March; there are 1,000 without any land, or trusting to one rood, in great destitution. No one can account for how those creatures live. There is more than another 1,000 equally destitute at present, although, having from three to five or six acres of land. There are in the parish over 3,000 above the age of seven years, who could not attend at mass on Sundays and holidays for want of clothes. Parish of Luckagh, per Rev. John Burke.—Since April, 1846, at least 250 died up to the present date, and three-fourths of said number of actual destitution. During that period over seventy families were ejected by legal proceedings from their holdings by landlords in this parish, and about thirty emigrated. After paying rents, taxes, &c, out of the present crop, I do not think there would be over twenty householders in any parish that would have a supply of food until the coming harvest. Parish of Achill, per Rev. James O'Dwyer, P. P.—The reduction in the number of my parishioners by famine and its consequence, epidemic disease, since October, 1846, has been about 600. The present population of my parish is 6,000. One hundred families have been obliged to desert their holdings. Out of the population about twenty families have food to sustain themselves until the coming harvest. The people are badly clothed. The prospects of the people of this parish for the coming year are much worse than they were last year. They sold almost their entire stock to support themselves the last year. Parish of Partree, per Rev. Peter Ward, P.P.—The reduction in the number of my parishioners by famine and its consequence, epidemic disease, since October, 1846, has been upwards of 1,000 souls. The present population of my parish is about 900 families. More than 100 families have been obliged to desert their holdings. Out of that population seven or eight families have food to sustain themselves until the coming harvest. About 600 families are still in a state of utter destitution. The people generally are badly clad, badly fed, and badly housed. The coming year appears to me to be more alarming than the last. One-tenth the number of cattle, sheep, pigs, poultry, &c, is not to be had—no means, no food. DETAILS OF DESTITUTION IN THE COUNTY OF ROSCOMMON AND PART OF COUNTY OF SLIGO. Sligo county, united parishes of Tavnagh, Drumcollumb, and Killmacallan, per Rev. Edward Feney, P. P.—Reduction in the population by famine or disease, 400; present population, 1,000 families; families obliged to desert their holdings, nearly 200; families having food till next harvest, 400; families with houses and a rood of land, or more in destitution, 300; clothing extremely bad; very few new garments made at all. The condition of the people, compared with that of last year, is decidedly worse. There is much less food. Pigs have nearly disappeared, poultry is scarce, cattle few. Union of St. John's, Coolderra, and Calry, per Very Rev. Owen Feeny, Admr.—Population, 22,277; number of families holding a cabin, and not more than an English rood of land, 1,513; number of families in better circumstances, having provisions for one, two, or three months, 872; number of families totally destitute, 1,353. Ahawish parish, per Rev. Michael Brennan, P. P.—Amount of population, 6,333; number of destitute people who have no species of support, 1,971; number of families holding a cabin and an English rood, 35; number of families above the class who have no present provisions, or at most only for one, two, or three months, 602. Roscommon, parish of Rilcorkey, per Rev. Michael M'Gavy.—The parish of Kilcorkey is four Irish miles long, and not more than one mile broad in any direction. It contains at present 578 families; about one half of the entire are unprovided for, about ninety-eight being totally destitute. The actual deaths from starvation from the commencement of the potato disease are twenty-seven, and the deaths produced by disease arising from privation of food about sixty; 127 families emigrated, or left the parish, within the above period, and thirty-five families are at present suffering from fever, dysentery, &c. Within the parish twenty-one divisions, varying from three to fifteen acres, have been left unsown. The produce of the present harvest, if left entirely with the poor, would give support for six months, or perhaps longer. The rate is 2s. 11d. in the pound. They have no pigs, and I may say, as to poultry, about one-third or one-fourth of what they possessed in former years is the extent of what they now have. The poorhouse is upwards of three miles away. There are upwards of 600 inmates. The principal landlords are Mr. Goff, representatives of the O'Connor Don (deceased), Mr. Paynam, and Dennis O'Connor. Dennis O'Connor is the only resident landlord. Parish of Kilross, per Rev. Luke Cullinan, P.P.—Catholic population, 2,556; Protestant ditto about 500; total, 3,056. The poorhouse is now filled, and neither public or private employment is given in this locality. I calculate the number of the destitute who have no species of support at 300. The class of families holding only a cabin and an English rood is nearly extinguished by landlords, and the prevailing distemper, fever, and dysentery, &c. I calculate their numbers at present at fifty families. It is impossible to give an accurate return of the class that can support themselves till next harvest, as their numbers are daily decreasing. The landlords are seizing on the crops without mercy, and leaving many families who were heretofore comfortable without a morsel of bread.——has this week carried off the crops of six families living on the town-land of——,and——has seized on almost all the crops in the parish of——.I have met every day during the week his horses and carts to the number of ten or twelve carrying off the oat crop of the poor people to his haggard, leaving them nothing whatever for their support. It was a heartrending sight, and their cries, I am sure, reached the throne of the Most High. I understand that others of the landlord class are about to follow the example. Frierly parish, per Rev. Edmund Henry, P.P.—Number of families, 860, population 4,310, left their holdings, 40; number of families having food for twelve months, 60; number with tillage not sufficient to pay their rent, 500; number of families in utter destitution, 204; reduction in numbers, 306. Clothing very bad. Indeed the prospects of this season are far and far away more alarming than those of the last. Parish of Elphin, per Rev. M. Fahy, P.P.—The population of this parish reduced from 8,000 to 5,334. Widows and orphans, infirm, Ac, 684. Return of destitute at present, 3,000; deaths from actual starvation, 360; ditto from starvation brought on by want of food, fever, and dysentery, 542, making deaths from all causes amount to 902; emigrants, including those of 1846 and 1847, 428; number now in fever, dysentery, and other sickness, 263. In general in those calcula- tions I made allowance for the deaths that occurred since the relief lists were struck by the clerks of the several divisions in this district; on the whole I believe I am under the number in each case. Parish of Ardcam, per Rev. B. Hester, P.P.—Population at present in the union of Ardcam and Toomna, 1845, widows, orphans, &c., 1,059; totally destitute, 3,482; died of actual starvation since the commencement of the potato rot, 483; died by disease consequent upon famine, 344; total deaths, 807; emigrated, 1,088; number of families having no land, 463; individuals sick at present, 230. Parishes of Aughana and Aughnasurn, per Rev. Domk. Noon, C.C.—In the parish of Aughana died of fever, since October, 67; of famine, 137; emigrated to other countries, 230; dispossessed of their land, 100; persons having food till harvest, 40; persons holding one rood of land and cabins, and destitute of means, 272; persons not holding one rood of land, and who are in a state of starvation at the present moment, 862. In the village of Aughnasurn, died of famine, since October, 76. In Smulternagh, died of famine, 53. In Aughnagonia, Farnaghy, Carncarthe, and An-nah, died of famine, 64; in all 193. The above villages are on Lord Lorton's property. Families without land, 87; those having a cabin and one rood, 46; dispossessed of their holdings, 13; emigrated to other countriss, 164; died of fever, 97. So the gross deaths from famine alone are 330, and from fever 161. And there are in Aughana and Corregeenrae, at the present moment, without any means of subsistence or support, in a state of starvation 1,343 individuals. Their condition as to clothing very bad, the prospect for the coming season far more alarming, in consequence of the means being abstracted from the people. In every village the drivers are to be met with, and not one shilling given by any of the landed proprietors in the way of employment. It would be desirable if some resolutions were drawn up to the effect that all benevolent societies should cease to put money into the hands of parties who are only abusing it, and, generally speaking, using it for proselytising purposes, and giving it to persons who don't most need it. Parish of Baslick, per Rev. M. Flood, P.P.—The population of the parish of Baslick, and the number of deaths since October, 1846, up to October, 1847, are as follow:—Number of families, 529; number of families lodged and scattered through the parish, 35; population, 2,938; died, 322; families gone to America and elsewhere, 82. Of the present population, 180 families have no gardens; 130 families are able to support themselves for half a year; and the remainder of the inhabitants will be lost if immediate relief and employment be not given them. There are very few trusting to less than an acre of land; and some who have from seven to twelve acres have neither crop, cow, calf, or pig. They are generally all in want of clothes, and are now hard pressed for the rent and poor-rate, 2s. 11d. out of the pound. They are able to give the priest nothing; and I am sure I will not have half the number this day half year, as they will be ejected out of the hind, and the remainder, with the exception of the number stated, will die of starvation. A great many of the youth of this parish went to America this year past that are not taken into this account. Clonfeulough parish, per Rev. J. Boyd, P.P.—Population, 3,780; number died of starvation and disease brought on by insufficiency of food, 300; emigrated, or quitted their holdings, 500; holding less than a rood, 500; at present in great want, 1,000; after six months, if landlords press, 2,000 will be in want; if equally distributed, the corn crop would maintain the gross population about five months; in general very badly off in respect of all kinds of clothing. Lisanuffy parish, per Rev. J. Boyd, P.P.—Present amount of population, 3,859; died since October, 1846, of starvation and diseases super induced by privation and want of food, 289; having less than one rood of land, 1,009; number of those who emigrated or quitted their holdings, 553 In great distress at present, one-third of the population. If landlords press for rents, two-thirds will be reduced to want in six months. If equally distributed, the com crop would support the aggregate population for about four or five months. About half the population in a sad state for want of clothing. United parishes of St. Peter's and Drum, per Rev. Martin O'Reilly, P.P.—Five hundred and forty-eight have been consigned to their graves since October, 1846, of which number 430 died of famine and its natural consequences, epidemic disease. The present Catholic population is 6,756; 82 families have been obliged to desert their holdings, and before three months will elapse 410 families will have to do the same: 826 persons, or 165 families, with great economy, will be able to support themselves until the coming harvest, after paying rents, taxes, &c. &c; 4,509, some of whom have a rood of land or more, and others but a cabin, are still in a state of utter destitution: 4,000 are very badly clothed, nearly naked. The prospect of the coming season is by far more alarming than the past; landlords and other creditors are seizing upon the crops and cattle. In addition to the above heartrending circumstances, fever is very prevalent. United parishes of Killeemad, Killarkin, Easterstown, &c, per Rev. Matthew James Bauch, C.C.—600 individuals have perished by famine and its consequent, epidemic diseases, since last October. The present population of the parish is 7,367 individuals, or 1,349 families, Protestants included: 136 families have been obliged to desert their holdings; some of those still remain scattered through the parish, having cabins, and others have gone to America. Including Protestants and Catholics, 127 families will be able to meet all their demands until next harvest; but I consider that if many of those are not indulged by their landlords, they will have no capital to continue as tenants afterwards. 491 families, or 2,440 individuals, having a rood of land or more, together with a house, are nevertheless in a state of destitution; the remaining number of families, that is, the class between the independent and destitute, would have a sufficient quantity of food to support themselves and families if not called upon to pay any rent or taxes. But this cannot be expected; and supposing them to pay a fair proportion of the rents, &c, now due, they might have about a quarter's provisions. In this calculation I contemplate the case that no public employment will be given. Many of the roads in this district are in an unfinished state, Drainage on a large scale was contemplated, but the Board of Works declined, though everything required on the part of the landlords was complied with. If this was gone on with it would greatly relieve this district. One landlord has taken a part of the million and a half voted to landlords; but I do not think this will much relieve the destitute, as, in order to give employment, he requires, as a condition, that one half year's rent at least should be advanced. The condition of the people as to clothing is so very bad that two-thirds of those who were regular attendants at chapel cannot now make their appearance in public. In many instances the children are quite naked. The Protestant clergy and some Protestant gentry are distributing some light clothing; but they give it only on condition of parents sending their children to proselyting schools, or of themselves appearing at church or lecture. In one part of the parish a Presbyterian minister has been employed to preach to the people. The same conditions are required in order to get the food at their disposal. In fact, every effort is being made to lead our starving people away from their faith. In my opinion the prospects of the coming season are much more alarming, for poultry and pigs have almost disappeared. In their other stock the poor are reduced to at least one half. With regard to tillage, a great portion of it will not be fit for a grain crop next season. Some are now digging it up and mixing manure with it in order to prepare it for grain, but this is a new experiment which many fear will fail. My great cause of apprehension for small cottiers is, that last year they had some poultry and some little furniture, which they disposed of when tightly pinched; but this year their little cabins are completely naked—they have no resource. United parishes of Ballintubber and Drimatample, per Rev. Thomas J. Dillon, P.P.—After the strictest inquiry I am fully convinced that upwards of 500 persons died of famine and its consequences since the 1st of October, 1846, to 1st of October, 1847; 166 families had to desert their houses and holdings. The present population is 717 families, or 3,754 persons. Of the above population 487 families are in a state of destitution; 151 families have from three to six months' provisions; 79 have food and sufficient means for twelve months. The condition of the people as to clothing is most wretched. Comparing the condition of the people now with their condition last season, the prospect for the coming season is far more alarming. As to cattle, sheep, pigs, poultry, &c., the poor have little or none, Kilkevan parish, per Rev. John Tighe, P.P.—Died of epidemic disease brought on by insufficiency of food, 112; the present population is 1,306 families, 110 of whom are Protestants. There are gone since October last 274 families, either to America or England, or to their graves; 300 families have sufficient food for the year after paying rents, taxes, &c. There are 430 families in this parish who have little or no land, who are in utter destitution. These 430 families have no clothing, but mere tattered rags. They are infinitely worse this year than last. Many who had cows last year have neither cow, calf, or pig this year. N.B. When speaking of mortality in this parish, I do not include the poorhouse, where beyond 1,500 have died. Roscommon and Kilteevan parishes, per Rev. John Madden, P. P.—The number of deaths from fever, famine, and dysentery, from October, 1846, to October, 1847, is 536. The present population is 7,300; number of families who deserted their houses is 124. The number of families who can support themselves for two or three months, 280; number of families who are destitute, there being no public works of employment for their support, 1,015. Their clothing is very bad, and the prospects of the coming year are more gloomy than the last. I know many who were obliged to desert their holdings; others left them untilled under the delusive hope that Government would give them seed. United parishes of Ogula, Kilcooly, and Killucan, per Rev. M. Lennon, P.P.—The population of these parishes is 5,663; the number of widows, orphans, and such like, unprovided for, 843; the gross number of persons totally destitute, 2,461. The deaths from disease produced by starvation from the commencement of the potato failure to last September, about 106; fever prevails in 60 families at present. Those in the poorhouse exceed the limited number of 300; the rate is 3s. in the pound; 579 persons have emigrated during the same period. The produce of the present harvest would support the people for about four months without any allowance of rent, &c, and we have no apparent means of supplying the deficiency except by the Poor Relief Bill. No public works at present, no private employment. About 208l. was raised during the recent famine by local subscriptions. There are neither pigs nor poultry in the possession of cottiers; with respect to others they may have a fourth of the poultry of former years—pigs, one in 80. The landlords of the parish are Lord Crofton, Robert H. French, Esq., Minors Balfe, Thomas Barton, Esq., Minors Goff, James Somerville, Esq., Daniel Kelly, Esq., Daniel H. Farrell, Esq., Jeffrey M. Ffrench, Esq., all non-residents except the last mentioned. The misery and privation the people are enduring is truly awful—without food, clothing, shelter from wet, &c. Were it not for the relief they receive from those who are but a degree removed from want above them they must actually starve. I had the good fortune to reserve until now about 170l. of our relief fund. It is just now of the greatest benefit. We give out weekly about two tons of meal. The people must actually perish in hundreds if immediate relief be not afforded, and I see no prospect of any except the Poor Relief Act. Here we have the finest land stocked with fat cattle, yielding to the landlords large rents. Those are all non-resident. They gave their ten or five pounds subscription, but no further assistance to the poor. Evictions are numerous, and no remedy against this system, but a heavy rate to feed the people. Now, having read these appalling statements, he would ask were the measures which they had yet heard of on the part of Government calculated to meet such emergency? All the accounts which he had received concurred in stating the condition of the country to be infinitely worse than it had been this time last year. There was a total loss of stock on the part of the small farmers, and multitudes of people had no means of providing themselves with clothes suitable to the approaching winter. They would have to face the inclemency of the season naked as well as starving. Surely such a state of things required the immediate attention of Government and of Parliament. He must say too that he could not think it was worthy to have laid the whole stress of the necessity for this early meeting of the House upon matters connected with the late proceedings of the Government in regard to the monetary crisis. It would have inspired them in Ireland with greater confidence had they been told that the distressed condition of that country was the real reason for the assembling of Parliament—as however, he trusted, for the honour of humanity, it was. Well, then, the question now was, what were to be the measures enacted? They had been told of the remnants of food in the depots. So far the intention was excellent; but how much food was still stored in these receptacles? It would be very satisfactory to them and to Ireland, if Government were to state the extent of these stores; and still more so, were they to be assured that in case the supply should prove deficient, that Parliament would be called upon to make up the necessary quantity. He trusted that the time was come for looking the condition of Ireland in the face, for inquiring into the cause of her perennial evils, in order to lay the axe to the root of the mischief, and to sow deep the seeds of permanent prosperity. They were promised a measure relative to landlord and tenant; but what hope of more extensive reforms did Government hold out? Why, they had heard it said, and that too in a certain jubilant tone, that the poor-law would be sufficient for the present, and that Irish property was now beginning to support Irish poverty; but neither in the last Session nor now had they heard of any Ministerial Bill calculated to sow the germs of Irish prosperity. What had been already done? There were the loans to landlords and those for public works—no doubt very good temporary stop-gap measures. But was it the best plan for making a man rich to tell him to run deeper and deeper into debt? That was positively the moral taught by the Government measures of last Session. He implored them, were it only for the credit of this House and of this country, to consider the state of Ireland, and to give them the substance and not merely the shadow of relief. And all such measures to be effectual must be speedy. Whilst they were speaking the people of Ireland were perishing. If they intended to get rid of the difficulty by leaving the people to starve, they could go no better way about it than that of passing long evenings here engaged in financial debate, unmindful of the claims of a perishing population. There were means of relief which could be put into instant operation. There were the roads, which, if allowed to remain all the winter in their actual unfinished state, would be utterly destroyed, and so much of the public money as had been expended on them as utterly wasted. In the Minute of Government the finishing of the roads was not determinately settled, but was put in the alternative. So that it was left either to the Government or to the country to complete them. It might be an excellent measure to give the people the food that remained in the granaries; but he called upon Government to give them employment also—to finish the roads, and thus to render that expenditure profitable which had already taken place upon them. The Government had made no declaration of their future intentions. It would be impossible to leave the matter in its present state; and he implored them therefore to give him and those Members who acted with him an excuse for getting rid of the Amendment, by some declaration with respect to their Irish policy. He could have wished that it were not necessary to insist on the Amendment. Let some Member of the Government get up and state in specific terms the amount of relief they were prepared to give to Ireland, and what they were ready to do without any further application to Parliament. He could not help expressing the regret he felt that the right hon. Baronet (Sir G. Grey) should have thought it necessary to read a letter such as the House had heard from an anonymous writer. It was quite right the person who wrote it should be desirous of concealing his name; but it was too bad that at a time when the screams of the people were appealing to the House for food, the letter of a skulking heartless creature should be thrown into their teeth by the right hon. Baronet. The clergy knew best the real distress of the people; and if the right hon. Baronet wanted any information on the subject, he should have applied to them; and not they only, but every one who was acquainted with Ireland, exclaimed, "Charge us as you will—lay any expense upon us that you like, but save the people from death." The right hon. Baronet (Sir George Grey) said the hon. Member for Cork had dealt with an imaginary opponent when he controverted the assertion that all the people of Ireland were abandoned criminals, and that he had done so needlessly. But was there no such thing as the Times newspaper? Was that an imaginary opponent? True, it was but a newspaper; but then it was a great organ of public opinion in England, and would not dare to write in such a strain of the people of Ireland, if it did not know it would be borne out by the feelings of the public in this country. The people of England gave that insolent, infamous, calumnious, and felon newspaper their support, which was believed to be the organ of the Government; and it was vain to exclaim while such was the fact, that the people of Ireland, who arraigned British feeling, were dealing with imaginary opponents, and not with the British public, who sanctioned such calumnious attacks in that newspaper upon the Irish clergy and people. Those who supported it, were part and parcel in these attacks; and as long as that paper was in such favour, they had a right to take it as an exponent of English feeling. They might talk of persons trying to create hostility between the two countries; but he defied them to show, in the most extravagant speech of some misguided young man on the other side of the water, anything so calculated to excite such ill-feeling as the writing in the Times. He would now turn to the subject of coercion. The hon. Member who seconded the Address had spoken out with candour as to the means he would adopt to quiet Ireland, and had told them plainly that those means should be the removal of the ordinary law, and reliance on the bayonet alone. The hon. Member said they were bound to show the people of Ireland that there were duties as well as rights, and that it was incumbent on the Government to teach them so. He (Mr. O'Connell) entirely concurred with him; but if that were the duty of Government, had they fulfilled it? Had they taught the landlords to do their duty? and what measures had they brought in to teach it to them? He fully joined in the denunciations of the poor man who committed a crime; for he felt as he stood there, that his feeble advocacy of his country was weakened by the consciousness of the horrible crimes that were committed there. But why was it that the crimes of the rich had not been denounced? How often had the House been informed of the details of ruthless exterminations, when whole families had been thrown out on the road-side to perish of hunger, or driven to drag on a wretched existence in the overcrowded towns; and next day some hon. Member would come down and declare upon his honour that there was no truth in the story; for that the landlord in question was one of the most humane and compassionate men in the world, and would not be capable of acting so cruelly? But these hon. Gentlemen, in their anxiety to defend the landlords generally, proved too much. The House, however, had made no effort to check these evils, nor had anything been done to remedy these cruel acts, except the production of an abortion of a Bill. He willingly invited any charge that might be made against him, of being one of those who excused the crimes of the tenantry in the discharge of his duty; and he did not hesitate to affirm that the crimes of the landlords should be suppressed also. As soon as he felt that the powers of the ordinary law had failed to terminate disturbance, he would be ready to go any length to strengthen the hands of the Government; but he contended that it was now high time to put down the crimes of the landlords of Ireland. The House had been far too remiss and tardy in dealing with this monster evil, as it had been well termed by an Englishman, Mr. Wiggins, one of the most extensive land agents in Ireland. The hon. Seconder of the Address said, that after the suppression of crime, Government should take measures to establish confidence in their intentions, and to secure prosperity to the people. When had they ever done so? Had they not suppressed crime before now, and never taken any steps to bring about such a desirable end? If, then, the House agreed to give them those increased powers, they had no security that the Government would care to perform their promises once they had obtained the means of coercion. The hon. Member had drawn a parallel between the Irish people and the Saxon serfs; but he (Mr. O'Connell) denied its accuracy. The Irish might be poor and miserable, but, thank God! they were not serfs. They had been long suffering and oppressed; but it was a fatal mistake to think that they could much longer endure their wrongs. It was quite true that the hon. Members of the House were perfectly safe in this metropolis; it was quite true that the mighty arms of England might crush the mad efforts of the people; but that could not be done till they had deluged Ireland with blood, and when they had made a desert of corpses they might call it peace if they pleased. How strong would England be then? Let the House go on in its career of promises never fulfilled, and of threats always executed, and such must be the result of the conduct; but let them do their duty, and hold out the hand of justice and fellowship to the people of Ireland, and his life on it they would soon find an ample return in the present peace and in the future prosperity of the empire. He could, if he wished, enter upon a favourite ground with Members of that House, and institute a comparison between the crimes of England and of Ireland for the last three months; he could show them how the poor Irishman, deprived of every means of life, and left to starve with his helpless children by the road-side, committed no crime till driven to desperation; and then he could ask them if they believed that was the character of English crime? But he did not wish to pursue the subject, though the provocation was great, for nothing was so popular with English Members. He would not call on them to answer his question, but would merely call on them to look at the number and enormity of horrible crimes which were committed in this boasted land of England. Turning to another topic, he could not but declare that great reparation was duo to the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) from Members on the opposite side of the House, who had turned him out of office, aided by the hon. Members near him. Why had they done so? The right hon. Baronet had carried one of the greatest measures, and effected one of the greatest changes that had been introduced for many years. He (Mr. O'Connell) had accused him in that House and elsewhere of being a deadly enemy to Ireland; but he could not but say the right hon. Baronet had by his conduct at the close of his official existence nobly redeemed much of his bygone career, and had redeemed it at the sacrifice of office. There was a strong and general feeling, however, that he had been turned out because he was preparing for a Coercion Bill, without taking steps to lay the axe at the root of the evil. But the present Government were doing the very same thing. He could not go with them in that course, and he deplored their new attempt to coerce the people of Ireland. Above all, he regretted that the right hon. Baronet (Sir W. Somerville), whose opinion he was so happy to agree with in former days, should have sanctioned Government in this course. There must be something in the very air of office that weakened the sympathy of the right hon. Baronet for the cause of his country; and he could not but feel great regret that he had taken this step. The Ministry, of which the right hon. Baronet was part and parcel, were criminal and guilty if they asked the House to pursue a system of coercion before they had laid the axe to the root of those evils which caused all the crime that distracted the country. He had some passages of the speech of the noble Lord the Member for the city of London (Lord J. Russell) on the coercion debate in 1845. Might he ask the noble Lord what change had come over the spirit of his dream within the last eighteen months, and why he did not now maintain the opinions he had then so forcibly expressed? The noble Lord, speaking then of a state of things which threatened the very existence of the country, said— I came down to this House, and I asked for increased powers. I asked for powers to increase the military, and I asked for powers to increase the constabulary force. The right hon. Gentleman now the First Lord of the Treasury agreed with me in those proposals. I obtained his support. Those measures, together with prosecutions under the ordinary law, were resorted to, and the country was restored to a state of tranquillity. After the right hon. Gentleman opposite came into office disturbances of a similar nature occurred in the manufacturing districts perhaps still more alarming. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursued exactly the course I had taken. He sent down an increased military force, he ordered prosecutions before the ordinary tribunals, and the country was restored to a state of tranquillity without any resort, as was their opinion in 1817 and 1819, to the Legislature for the purpose of obtaining extraordinary powers. He asked them to try the same experiment again, and not to pass any coercive measure which would add to the long and black catalogue of offences which must be settled some day or other. In June, 1846, the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) made use of the words he had quoted; and he (Mr. O'Connell) now addressed him in turn, and told him that he would vote for an increase of military and constabulary, if it were necessary, and would support the Executive to the utmost; but would not cease to resist coercion till all else had failed. Let the Executive do this—let them issue special commissions, and transport and execute the convicted on the instant they were found guilty, as was done by the present Chief Justice of the Queen's Bench in Ireland; let them try every means before they infringed upon the constitution. There was nothing in the accounts from Ireland today that would warrant them in doing so. They read that the people had turned out in Limerick on the occasion of a murder, and captured the murderers. [Sir R. H. INGLIS: The supposed murderers.] The hon. Baronet might amend the phrase if he liked, though he could not see his object in it. The Government should encourage this spirit, and not turn it into gall and bitterness. In another case, in the parish of Kilnacady, the sub-sheriff, trusting to the people, had executed ahabere without the aid of the police, and had succeeded in doing so unmolested. The Government could come to the House with a great show of strength if they said, "We have tried the powers of the ordinary law, but they have entirely failed—disorder and crime still continue, and we ask you therefore for additional powers." He did not know what measure they could propose on such grounds that he would not be prepared to support. But why should they not adopt this step? Why not investigate the causes of these crimes; and what difficulty would they experience in doing so? The Government had let those evils in the relation of landlord and tenant grow up to such a pitch, that the people were losing all sense of distinction between right and wrong, though the remedy would have easily been found in a mild measure if they had intervened in time. It was not the case, however, that the people were so bad as they were represented. Even in Tipperary where they were all said to be so base, there were many who had no fears of violence, because they did their duty. The hon. Member for Tipperary, and his cousin, who were the two largest landowners in the county, were perfectly safe, went out at all hours and kept their doors open, but nevertheless made no unworthy concessions to the people. His hon. Friend near him had ejected tenants within the last few months. Had he been shot at? No; and the reason was, that he dealt with the people fairly, gave them every chance; and the consequence was that he had the feeling of the people with him when he turned a tenant away. But that was not the only case. There was the instance of his friend Mr. Bianconi, whose estate was in the very worst part of the county. The former owner of it had been shot at, and had left the country; and his father had been also shot at, and killed dead before his own hall door. In that state Mr. Bianconi bought the land. [Mr. B. OSBORNE: But he does not reside there.] The hon. Member said he did not reside there. If he had thought his statement would have been contradicted, he would have been prepared with authorities. He was sorry to see the hon. Member so ready to take the part of the landlords. Let him beware of bad advisers; the hon. Member had come to Tipperary with the best intentions, but he feared the hon. Member had allowed his ear to be abused, and he could assure the hon. Member, if he only trusted to the people, he would find it for the benefit of himself and his estate. There were then these landlords, and also Lord Lismore and Mr. Chapple, who did their duty, and the consequence was that their tenantry were happy, and they themselves were at peace. The Government called for increased powers; but they should consider that those very powers would have to be exercised by a partisan class—by those same landlords who were themselves the criminals. By coercion they would be but arming a body of partisans against the people. He repeated his most earnest entreaty to the Government to consider well what course they were about to take. They had promised eighteen months ago that coercion would be at an end, and had allowed the interval to pass without doing anything. They threw out the Bill of the hon. Member for Rochdale—the Tenant Compensation Bill—and had not introduced any measure of real benefit to the people during their whole term of office. He called on those Members who now for the first time took their seats to look into Hansard, and see the strong declarations of the Government of the day that the peace of Ireland was in danger, and that it was absolutely necessary for the existence of society that strong powers should be given to Government to repress the disorders of that country. These powers were not given to Government. Twelve months passed away without coercion, and, above all, without legislation for the evils of the country, and society was not destroyed nor peace extinguished. Let them take warning from this, and not be carried away by the denunciations of those who added to their statements the weight of their official position, and let them not copy the conduct of those who denied every just claim, and enforced every harsh measure with respect to the people of Ireland. It was true that he believed he would not influence many of them by his words, and that the voice of the people of Ireland and of their representatives had no influence in that House. He believed there was no sympathy for them to be found there. But the representatives of Ireland were bound to discharge their duty; and he therefore declared that as he had been prepared to give the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) every opposition in his power, in case he had attempted to coerce Ireland, so was he prepared to resist in the most determined way, to the utmost of his power, any measure of the noble Lord in a similar direction.


had hoped that, after the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department, the hon. Member for Meath would have been allowed to withdraw his Amendment; but in that hope he was disappointed by the speech of the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down. He was exceedingly surprised at what had fallen from the hon. Gentleman, who took to himself the title of leader of the Irish people. [Mr. J. O'CONNELL: No.] At all events the hon. Gentleman put himself in that position, whether he assumed the title or not. The hon. Member said that no measures of a conciliatory character had during the last eighteen months been adopted in respect to Ireland. The hon. Member who made that sweeping accusation must have forgotten what was done in the last Session. He (Sir B. Hall) had taken a prominent part—too prominent for the ability he possessed—in endeavouring to reform the abuses in Ireland; and whenever he heard statements like those made by the hon. Gentleman he would endeavour to show up those abuses, and to show that those statements made by persons who had had everything from this country was not founded on fact. Was the sending 8,000,000 or 10,000,000 of money to Ireland nothing? Had England not done everything in her power to stay the famine, the plague, and the pestilence with which it had pleased Providence to afflict Ireland? And was not all the necessary money cheerfully granted by the people of this country? Had they not at the commencement of the last Session of Parliament entertained the hope that the labouring classes of this country might be relieved from some portion of taxation, and did not the people patiently submit to all that money being granted for the sake of Ireland, without ever asking a single Member of the House of Commons to demand the reduction of a single tax? Was the House then to be told that it had done nothing for the people of Ireland? Let him tell the hon. Gentleman, who assumed the title of leader of the Irish people—[Mr. J. O'CONNELL: No, no.] At all events the hon. Gentleman put himself in that position, though he would say, "The Lord defend us from such a leader!" Let the House hear what the hon. Gentleman had done for Ireland—he who held a distinguished position in that country. Had he endeavoured to alleviate the distresses of his country; or, on the contrary, had he, by attending certain meetings, sanctioned language inflammatory in character, and calculated to excite the worst passions of the people, incentive, as it had been, to murder, and to assassination? Had he, when he heard that language, ventured to denounce it? Let the House bear in mind what the hon. Gentleman had done, and when he came forward and said that he would be against all coercive measures, let the House consider what was the speech he made in the Repeal Association the other day. Why, if there was any truth in man, the hon. Member would become a victim on the floor of the House of Commons, should coercive measures be carried. No wonder, therefore, that the hon. Member did not desire coercive measures—he wished to save himself from immolation in that House. Therefore he says, "I will not be a party to coercion, because, if I have spoken the truth, I shall, in the event of coercion, have to die on the floor of the House of Commons." Let the House consider the state to which Ireland had been brought by agitation. It was bad enough when there was only one Repeal Association there; and, looking at the way in which this repeal cry had been dealt with—considering the protestations made that in each successive Parliament the question should be submitted to the House of Commons—and considering also that each successive Session had passed by without the promised question being brought forward—he looked upon this repeal cry as the greatest possible political humbug that was ever foisted upon the notice of the public. He believed that if it were not for the hon. Gentleman opposite, the Member for Nottingham (Mr. F. O'Connor), the repeal question would not be discussed this Session by any of those who called themselves the old Irish repealers. He remembered that an illustrious individual—certainly one of the greatest men of our day—used to tell the Irish people, occa- sionally, that if repeal were not carried in six months, or in some such short period, he would lay his head on the block. However, after the lapse of the stipulated time, they saw, notwithstanding that repeal was not carried, the hon. and learned Gentleman and his partisans walk into that House with their heads as firm on their shoulders as ever. This was the way in which they humbugged the people. He thought it was right to use plain language, and show up this sort of humbug. He was ashamed to use that word so often; but it was the only one he could find applicable to the matter. All that was done in respect to this question of repeal by the Repeal body in Ireland appeared to be this—they listened to some inflammatory speeches, and a good deal was said about their anxiety to have a Parliament in College Green; a great deal was also said about the necessity of England doing a great deal more, and advancing more money for Ireland; and then the meeting adjourned after an announcement that the amount of the rent was 351. or 36l. At one period there was but one Repeal Association in Ireland; but there were now four. There was the Repeal Association, the Irish Confederation, the Irish Council, and the Council of Distress and Safety. At a meeting of the Repeal Association, the hon. Member (Mr. J. O'Connell) alluded to the proceedings of the Irish Council in these words:— Allusion had been made to the Irish Council; he had attended it, and though he recognised much of good, and perhaps of benevolence, amongst the gentlemen who had taken a prominent part in the formation of the body, he thought it was deplorable, at such a period of distress as this, that they should come to resolutions so very vague, in many cases unmeaning and complicated, with many and serious omissions. With regard to the subject of the income-tax, he thought nothing could be more unwise than for the Irish to invite the lash to their own backs. Now, it so happened that the hon. Gentleman had, at a meeting of the Irish Council, seconded a resolution in favour of an income-tax. Such was the consistency of the hon. Gentleman! He first of all invited the lash to the back of the Irish, and then said it was unwise to do so. But the hon. Gentleman proceeded to explain— It might be said, he had himself seconded the resolution in favour of it; but when he was asked to second it, he said he did not agree to this resolution. 'Oh,' said they, 'but you are not called upon to agree.' Distinctly he was told, 'We don't ask unanimity of opinion; we rather seek diversity of opinion;' and he (Mr. J. O'Connell) said, if you want diversity of opinion, you are quite certain of having it. Sir Coleman O'Loughlen, who was present, here observed— Do not, for God's sake, go on with these resolutions; if you do, the English people will laugh at us. Mr. JOHN O'CONNELL: No!] At all events, Sir Coleman O'Loughlen used words to that effect. So far as regarded the hon. Gentleman's consistency. Perhaps, if the Chancellor of the Exchequer proposed the extension of the income-tax to Ireland, the hon. Gentleman would come forward and second the proposition. But what was to happen at last? For the purpose of showing this, he would refer to another speech made by the hon. Gentleman. On Monday, Nov. 15, at the Repeal Association, Mr. John O'Connell rose to address the Association:— There were," he said, "some rumours of a Coercion Bill being passed to repress crime in Ireland. Now, when he went into Parliament next week, if he found that a Coercion Bill was pressed on, instead of the promised measure to reconcile the landlord and tenant, and if every means were not first employed to test the ordinary law to the fullest extent, he pledged himself that he would die on the floor of the House of Commons before he would allow it to be carried through. Did the hon. Gentleman mean to fulfil that pledge? If the hon. Gentleman meant to carry out the intention he had expressed, he (Sir B. Hall) would certainly be present to bemoan him; and he could assure the hon. Gentleman that, if he meant to die on the floor of the House, everything should be done "dacently." The hon. Member for Kilkenny (Mr. J. O'Connell) had said that, because there were three or four landlords in Tipperary and Limerick who could go out in safety at any hour, and who had no locks or bars for their doors and windows, that there was no necessity for a Coercion Bill; but these cases formed the exceptions and not the rule. When he looked at the present state of Ireland, and read the horrible accounts of assassinations and outrages which took place in that country, he had no hesitation in declaring that, although in 1833 he voted against the Coercion Bill which was then proposed, because he did not believe so strong a measure was necessary at that time, and although he did not think such a measure was requisite now, yet, having heard the statement of the Secretary of State for the Home Department, and knowing the kindness of heart of that right hon. Baronet, and that he would not put forward any measure which would be unnecessarily coercive towards Ireland, he did not think that the law was sufficient to meet the existing evils, and he should be prepared to strengthen the hands of Her Majesty's Government, so far as his humble aid and vote would go. There were in Ireland a class of persons who possessed great influence over the minds of the people, and who, he believed, might by the exercise of their power be instrumental to a very great extent, in the repression of crime—he alluded to the Roman Catholic priesthood. He wished to observe, that he was himself intimately connected with Roman Catholics. From that connexion he had been led into intimacy with many Roman Catholic priests; and he believed that there was, generally speaking, no body of men more exemplary in their conduct, more desirous of fulfilling the duties of their calling, or more anxious and willing to afford spiritual aid to those placed within their circle. But he must say, also, that, as was the case in all communities, there were some exceptions, one or two of which he thought it his duty to bring under the notice of the House. Before he did so, however, he wished to call their attention to an exhortation to the people of Ireland, put forth by the Roman Catholic priesthood of that country, so far hack as 1762, at a time when the Roman Catholics were subjected to civil disabilities, when their lives could scarcely be considered safe, and when their property could hardly be regarded as secure. In March, 1762, a general fast was ordained "for the success of His Majesty's arms;" and an exhortation was issued by the Roman Catholic priesthood, and was read in the chapels, to this effect:— We think it our duty to remind you of the thanks you owe to Almighty God, who, in these calamitous times, leaves you in the enjoyment of peace, and the blessings that attend it. We exhort you to behave in the same peaceable manner, and to avoid everything in public and private that might give the least shadow of offence. Length of time, your constant, ready, and cheerful submission to the ruling powers, have greatly worn off the rigour of prejudice against you; but whether we shall be deemed worthy of future favour or not, it is our duty, as ministers of Jesus Christ, strongly to enforce the duty of a submissive, obedient, and peaceful behaviour, and yours, as Christians and good subjects, to fulfil them steadily in your practice. That exhortation was issued in 1762; would to God that such exhortations were put forth now! The author of The Past and Present Policy of England towards Ireland, from which he had taken the above exhortation, added— Such was the language of the predecessors of the O'Connells and the M'Hales. Had they not recently seen meetings throughout the disturbed districts of Ireland, at which priests, who were dignitaries of the Roman Catholic Church, had used language far different from that? He was about to allude to a meeting an account of which, he had no doubt, had been read by every Gentleman present; but he was anxious to call special attention to it on this occasion, because four Members of that House were present at it; and he wished to ask those hon. Gentlemen whether they heard the language he was about to read, and which was ascribed to a Roman Catholic archdeacon? He wished to know whether those hon. Gentlemen came forward on the occasion to which he referred, and repudiated the language used by the archdeacon, and whether they called upon him, as a minister of religion and a disciple of the Lord Jesus, to withdraw these sentiments and expressions? A meeting was held at Cashel, at which there was— A full muster of priests; four Members of Parliament, namely, Mr. J. O'Connell (the lion of the day), Mr. N. Maher (who acted as chairman), Mr. F. Scully, and Mr. M. Keatinge, besides a sprinkling of small landowners. The Venerable Archdeacon Laffan, in seconding the resolution, said— In doing so, he rose with a feeling of deep sensation. He looked around him, and he saw an assemblage of his brother Tipperary men—the good and the noble-hearted, though perhaps excitable Tipperary men—who were called, by the Englishmen, murderers. The Saxon scoundrel, with his bellyfull of Irish meat, could very well afford to call his poor, honest, starving fellow-countrymen savages and assassins; but if in the victualling department John Bull suffered one-fifth of the privations to which the Tipperary men were subject, if he had courage enough, he would stand upon one side and shoot the first man he would meet with a decent coat upon his back. But the Saxon had not courage to do anything like a man: he growls out like a hungry tiger. All these remarks, he might observe, were received with cheers. He had no doubt that some of the four Members of Parliament he had mentioned were now present, and he wished to ask them whether Archdeacon Laffan made use of this language, and whether, when such inflammatory language was uttered by one of their own priesthood, they remained silent, or joined in the cheers which greeted his sentiments? He had read the speech in order that those hon. Gentlemen might have an opportunity of coming forward and stating what course they pursued. Were they silent on the occasion he had mentioned? If he might believe the newspapers, they were. He would ask the House whether, under such circumstances, those hon. Gentlemen ought not to have said, "We are dealing with an excitable people; 15,000 persons are assembled before us; you, a minister of religion, a disciple of our Savour, one who ought to be a peacemaker, should not tell these poor people that the way to redress their wrongs is to shoot the first man they see with a decent coat on his back?" Ought not the priests to have told the people, "Conduct yourselves decently; do your duty, not only towards your God, but to your country; and if you discharge your duty as men and as Christians, we, who hold this high and sacred calling, will do all in our power to ameliorate the condition of the people, and to obtain from the Government the redress of your grievances." He hoped that the conduct of a minister of religion, in addressing an excited crowd in such language as he had read, would call forth the censures of his superiors; that the discipline of the Roman Catholic Church, which he believed was generally wielded for good and useful purposes, would be applied to this case; and that, if it were possible, the archdeacon would be dismissed from the high situation which he held. But the Irish priesthood, instead of now issuing such addresses as that which had been put forth in 1762, denounced men from the altar. One man who was denounced was shot the same day; another was denounced from the altar one day and was shot the following evening. These were not imaginary cases; he wished to God they were. What was the evidence of a priest in the county of Tipperary, in a case where a man named Callaghan had been murdered? The following was the examination:— Did you denounce the murdered man from the altar?—I did. When did you denounce him?—On Sunday at mass. When was he murdered?—At 5 o'clock the same evening. But was it because a man was a bad landlord—because he was unkind and inconsiderate to his tenants, that he was thus murdered? Not at all. Was Major Mahon a man of such a class? He (Sir B. Hall) believed that unfortunate gentleman was a most excellent man. But what were the facts attending his murder? He was denounced by the priest on the Sunday; and on the Monday, while returning from his chari- table office in Roscommon, he was shot dead in his carriage. Could it be said, then, that the priests had no power in Ireland? The meaning of the Amendment proposed by the hon. Member for Meath seemed to be, that, because the Irish poor-law was insufficient to provide for the maintenance of the poor, they should be supported by the people of this country. He (Sir B. Hall) must say that he, as the representative of one of the largest constituencies in England, would not sanction any further grant of money for the relief of the people of Ireland until he found that the means of Ireland herself were utterly exhausted. It appeared, according to the returns made by the Poor Law Commissioners, that the rateable value of property in Ireland was no less then 14,000,000l., and it was generally understood to amount to as much as 20,000,000l.; but, until these returns were published, hon. Gentlemen connected with Ireland used to come down to the House and state that the rateable value of Irish property was not 10,000,000l., and he even remembered one Gentleman asserting that it was not more than 6,000,000l. He considered that as the rateable property in Ireland was so considerable, it was somewhat hard to tax the poor people of this country for the support of the Irish people, when Ireland possessed amply sufficient property to maintain its own poor. He was, therefore, prepared to vote against the Amendment. With regard to the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny (Mr. J. O'Connell), he could only say, that believing that further powers for the repression of crime must be granted to that excellent man, the present Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, who had shown the utmost anxiety to do everything that would promote the welfare of that country, he should be happy to give his assistance to the Government whenever they might call upon him to support a measure with such an object.


said, that the speech of the hon. Baronet who had just sat down, and which had been listened to with so much attention, and had elicited the applause of the House, was precisely that description of speech which was calculated to excite the feelings of the Irish people. The hon. Baronet had been pleased, in the early part of his Address, to be facetious upon certain statements which had been made by his (Mr. M. O'Connell's) brother at the meetings of certain associations in Ireland; and he had been particularly facetious on his brother's (Mr. John O'Connell's) declaration, that sooner than suffer a Coercion Bill to pass he would die upon the floor of the House. He (Mr. M. O'Connell) must say he did not think such a necessity would ever arise. He believed the Irish Members understood how to defeat a Coercion Bill now as they had done before; and, with the blessing of God upon their efforts, they would defeat any such measure. He hoped Her Majesty's Ministers would listen to the counsels of more wise and experienced persons than the hon. Member for Marylebone (Sir B. Hall), and would thus relieve him and his friends from the necessity of opposing any measure of coercion they might bring forward. The hon. Baronet had assailed the character of the Irish priesthood, and had read the first part of the speech of one clergyman, and part of the evidence of another. He begged to say, notwithstanding the statements of the hon. Baronet, that the Catholic clergy had inculcated peace, good order, and submission to the laws, upon the people. He would ask whether, if the people of England had suffered the same privations, had been reduced to the same necessities, and had been exposed to the same cruelties as the people of Ireland, they would have remained quiet? What influence, he asked, could have been brought to bear upon the people of England which would have had the same effect upon them, under such circumstances, as the influence of the Catholic clergy had had upon the Irish people? And yet these priests were the men who were selected by the hon. Baronet as the subject of his denunciations in that House. The Address issued in 1762, which had been referred to by the hon. Baronet, stated that the Catholic clergy were bound to preserve peace and order, and this they had done. The great mass of the people had obeyed them, and the clergy had preserved peace and order from 1762 to 1846. Did hon. Gentlemen mean to say that the great mass of the people of Ireland had not been obedient to the laws? Would they venture to say that the Catholic priests of Ireland had not inculcated submission to the laws, and that three-fourths of the people had not obeyed them? Why, against what portion of the country was it pretended that coercive measures were required? Professedly against only six out of thirty-two counties; and yet hon. Gentlemen met him with a laugh, when he told them that three-fourths of the people of Ireland had been obedient to the laws. That laugh, and the speech of the hon. Baronet who last addressed the House, showed how little was known in that House and in England of the state of Ireland and of the feeling of the people; and he must say he believed that the speech of the hon. Baronet would not tend to remove any portion of the acerbity which might exist in the minds of the Irish people against the present Government and the rule of England. What, he would ask, had called into existence those three or four societies in Ireland to which the hon. Baronet had referred? What was it but the misdirected efforts of the English Legislature; what was it but their having taken a wrong course, and having proposed coercion rather than amendment of the law? The hon. Baronet had stated that 10,000,000l. had been sent over to Ireland last year; but he wished the hon. Gentleman had favoured them with some sort of evidence in support of his assertion. He was satisfied that the entire amount expended in Ireland did not reach one-fifth of the sum mentioned by the hon. Baronet; and a very considerable portion of that amount was subtracted for the payment of the army of 15,000 men who were employed in the distribution of relief. With regard to the Amendment before the House, the objection of Irish Members, on the remedial point, was this—that the Address asserted what they knew to be incorrect, that the poor-law measure of last Session, in conjunction with the others, would be sufficient to afford the necessary quantity of relief to the destitute. He did not attend in the House last Session, because he conceived it was right to be absent; and he who was gone had put it upon him as a sacred duty that he should remain in Ireland amongst his late father's people, and examine into the state of the tenantry, and contribute in every possible method to their relief. Those efforts, thank God, with the aid received from various quarters, were successful: that portion of the country was, as it had always been, decent; it was in a better state than almost any other district in Ireland. But the returns which had been made out, or would be, to be laid before the House, would show that in that district, taking the whole of it, there was not on an average two months' provision for the people. Regarding this as a sample, how could the means of subsistence be eked out by the people for the period that must elape before next harvest? Where were they to get seed? How were they to manage their land? To be sure, they had an agricultural lecturer sent down, but he did not understand a word of their language; for the prevailing language of the district was Irish, and he might as well have lectured in Hebrew as in English. Let those returns be laid upon the table; let coercive measures be postponed till then; let the state of Ireland be ascertained, owing to the defective crops, the short sowing of potatoes, the pressure of the misery of last year and the year before; and if, after that examination, hon. Members could conscientiously say that the people were likely to be relieved by any poor-law that could be passed, let it be worked out, and let every property in the country be sacrificed till it had been worked out; he, for one, would not shrink from his part. But if the House found from those returns that there was no probability of a sufficiency of food, would they refuse to make an advance, and supply the deficiency? Let them take the estate of the landlord if they pleased, and make him answerable for what they would; but above all things let them not starve the people, and least of all for a crotchet. Taking the average of Ireland, it would be found that there was no resident landlord who had not more than a year's rent due to him, and who had not sacrificed, and was ready to sacrifice, at all events, 25 or 50 per cent to enable the people to get through their difficulty. People talked of an estimated rental of so many millions; but there was not 6,000,000l. of it spent in the country. Irish members were turned back invariably without that for which they came here; and they saw those who sneered at them, or met them with long strings of figures, raised to high office, and honoured with peerages, perhaps: who could wonder that there should be excitement in Ireland? The hon. Baronet (Sir B. Hall) read the address of 1762. If he would look to the addresses of the present priesthood from the altars; if he could be amongst them, and hear those addresses; if he would attend to the injunctions of their bishops, their pastoral letters published twice or thrice a year; or if he would even condescend to read the conclusion of the speech of Archdeacon Laffan to which the hon. Member referred—but it would not suit his case—the hon. Member would find that the very crimes he attributed to the priesthood, as the exciters of them, were universally denounced, and that if there was violent language on the part of an individual, it was excited by the calumnies heaped here in former days, and elsewhere constantly, not only upon the people, but upon the priesthood. If there should have been an alteration in the tone of the priesthood since 1762, was it to be wondered at? In 1762 they were loyal; during the war the Catholic people of Ireland were supereminently loyal and obedient to the law; and now, after twenty years of peace, when the state of the people was found to be not better—not so good as it was in 1762 with the exception of their political privileges, was it to be wondered at that they should be excited, and that the successors of those clergy should not be as quiet and as passive instruments as when their hopes were still young, and their expectations unclouded?


would not have trespassed on the attention of the House in this debate, were it not for the interest he took in one of the questions raised—the relations of landlord and tenant in Ireland. He had heard from the Home Secretary that Ireland was not to be without hope that a measure on that subject would be brought forward by the Government. That declaration, however, was very unsatisfactory, for at the commencement of last Session the then Secretary for Ireland told the House the same; and over and over again, during the Session, the subject was stated to be under the anxious consideration of the Government, and yet the Session passed and nothing was done. It was right that the attention of Parliament should be called to the neglect of British Legislatures and Governments on this head, after they had indelibly written in their own records for upwards of twenty years past that the relation of landlord and tenant in Ireland was the cause of the sufferings and disorders in that country. The Committee of 1825 put as the first measure to be attended to by the House, a remedy for the defective state of the law of landlord and tenant in Ireland; the Committee in 1830 said the same thing; in 1836 the Poor Law Commissioners reported a mass of evidence to the same result; and then there was afterwards the Land Commission with all its evidence. Had not the Governments and Legislatures of England been responsible for the neglect of this important subject? Were not the present Government under a deep responsibility for the blood shed within the last six months? His firm belief was, that if a proper measure had been brought for- ward and carried through the House in the last Session, we should not hare had one of the murders which had disgraced the country. He would therefore put it to the present Government to consider that responsibility, and no longer to trifle with this great question. What was the cause of the disorders of Ireland, but the disregard of the rights of property? We heard of the sacred rights of property; but were there no rights of poverty? Had the poor man no rights of property? But the rights of labour were not secured. English Members had no idea how the Irish tenant was situated, because they would have no idea of placing their own tenants in such a situation. The landlords of England did not expect their tenants to sit down upon a bare sod, without a house or the means of cultivating the land; they did not expect a tenant to farm land without improving it; and if he did improve it, they would not claim to turn him out without any compensation for what he had done. But that was the fate of the poor tenant in the greater part of Ireland. He sat down upon a bare sod; he had to make the necessary outlay, and therefore he had reason to expect that he should be allowed the reward of his labour expended on the land, and a return for the beneficial interest he had created. The people of Ireland considered that the promises of this House had been broken, and they were never to expect any fulfilment of promises made by British Governments or British Legislatures. During the Government of the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) two Bills were brought in relating to this subject, and one of them was still before the House when he left office; the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) then stated that the question would be considered by the present Government, and that early in the next Session a Bill should be brought in; so that the noble Lord was under a double pledge and engagement not longer to neglect this subject. The consequence of the relation of landlord and tenant in Ireland being allowed to continue as at present, was that the tenants considered the landlords as tyrants, and the people felt themselves slaves, and there was a want of confidence between them. If the Government would refer to the evidence before the Land Commission, and see how the tenants fared under all the machinery of landlordism, they would not be astonished at the disorder that pervaded the greater part of Ireland. The people were told to have self-reliance; how could they when they did not know that they might not he turned out in six months; and in many cases were the more certain to be turned out if they made improvements? Secure the tenant his interest in the land, and you would produce benefits never yet known in Ireland. Confidence existed in the part of the county of Down with which he was connected; and there was not an able-bodied man unemployed there, nor any difficulty in providing for the poor. The tenant-right was now established by law in the north of Ireland against third parties; and inquisitions for awarding damages to be paid by railway companies requiring the land had been held, and the interest of the tenant-at-will had been paid for at a rate settled by a public legal decision. What the tenants required in that part was, that they should have the same right against their landlords. He had brought in several Bills, which, perhaps, he had made too complicated in his anxiety to remove objections; but he was now of opinion that the simpler the measure the better. It was not for him to go into details. His object was to impress upon the House and the Government that no matter what means they took, they never would obtain security for property, or peace and good order in Ireland, until they went to the root of the evil which he had pointed out, and remedied the grievance which the tenants suffered, arising from the present relations in which the landlords and tenants stood towards each other. On some estates in the south of Ireland it was the custom to give the tenants notice to quit every six months, in order to keep them under the power of the landlord. Was it possible there could be any improvement of the land under such circumstances? He wished to point out another important consideration. The Government had intimated that a measure would be introduced affecting this very question; the result was, that even those landlords who were willing to grant leases withheld from doing so in consequence of the uncertainty of the law. What was the consequence? Many persons were deprived of the franchise, and the number qualified to act as jurors was inconveniently diminished. It was, he was aware, perfectly useless for any private individual to bring forward a question of this important nature with a view to its enactment. For it to be successful it must be undertaken by the Government; and his object now was to call upon them to discharge their duty in that respect. A proposal had been made by the Lord Lieutenant to send forth lecturers to improve the people of Ireland in their knowledge of agriculture. He gave the noble Lord full credit for the good intention with which he made the proposition; but it was impossible any such plan could be of the least avail until the tenant should obtain security that he would be compensated for the improvements effected by him. No man would think of improving an estate until he possessed that security. He did not pretend that any measure could be introduced that would at once effect any very great improvement in the condition of the people of Ireland; but this he would maintain, that some enactment on the landlord and tenant question was absolutely necessary as a groundwork for all further improvement. No man was more anxious than he was to give the Government any power they could justly call for to put down that dreadful assassinating principle which prevailed in some parts of Ireland; but he would not delude the Government, the House, or the British nation by inducing them for a moment to entertain the idea that it could be put down by any coercive measure. If a coercive measure were to go hand in hand with some properly-devised ameliorating measures, then he would willingly accede to any proposition of that kind; but he would in no degree consent to give the Government coercive powers without some subsequent measures of an improving character being finally substituted for them. With regard to the existing poor-law in Ireland, he entertained serious doubts whether it was a measure calculated to answer the purpose for which it was intended; at all events, to meet the present state of distress in that country. At the same time he could not sanction the proposition for drawing front the public funds the means required as at substitute for that inefficient poor-law. He was perfectly certain that there were resources in Ireland, sufficient both for employing and feeding the people, if those resources were brought into action. He should be the last man to agree to a proposal which should take from the distressed working classes of England those scanty means which they now possessed, in order to support the poor of Ireland, and thereby relieve the property of that country from those liabilities which justly devolved upon it.


rose to reply to the ques- tion which had been put to him by the hon. Baronet the Member for Marylebone, as being one of those Members who were present at the meeting held at Cashel the other day. The hon. Baronet asked whether he heard the speech made by the Rev. Archdeacon Laffan at that meeting. He begged to state, that he did hear that rev. gentleman make the speech alluded to by the hon. Baronet. In its commencement it certainly was an intemperate speech; and if the rev. gentleman had continued in the same strain as he commenced, he should have felt it his duty, as chairman, to have remonstrated with him, and have prevented his proceeding. But the rev. gentleman in the conclusion of his speech advised the people to obey the laws; and he appealed to the Members of Parliament who were present at the meeting to promote all measures that would tend to preserve peace and good order, and assist in handing over to the civil power all who were perpetrators of crime. With respect to the manner in which the rev. gentleman referred to discharged his ministerial duties, he could affirm that there was not a more peaceable parish in all Ireland than the one in which Archdeacon Laffan resided. He had assisted that rev. gentleman to suppress a faction in the parish of which he was the curate, in the county of Tipperary; and he had seen that rev. gentleman take into custody the leaders of that faction, and hand them over to the authorities to be dealt with according to law. On one occasion, a clergyman in the town of Thurles came to him, and gave him information of certain parties who were at that time suspected of levying contributions to support some persons who were supposed to have done a good work in attacking a certain landlord. He immediately informed the civil authorities; the parties were at once detected in the very act of committing the crime; they were brought to trial and convicted. That clergyman was the same individual from whose speech the hon. Baronet had this evening, for his own special purposes, selected a particular portion on which to comment; but which speech, if he had read throughout, he would have found was not of that dangerous character he would seem to ascribe to it.


said, that after having listened with attention to the speech of his hon. Friend the Member for Meath (Mr. H. Grattan), and to the speeches of his hon. Friends the Members for Cork and Rochdale, he must say, that he considered that no Amendment could be less necessary than the one which had now been proposed. He certainly had entertained the hope, after the speech of his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department, that his hon. Friend the Member for Meath would have felt inclined to adopt that course which appeared on the present occasion to be the most proper, and would have withdrawn the Amendment. His hon. Friend had entered at large into the subject of the state of Ireland, and had endeavoured to trace to its source the cause of crime in that country; and the conclusion at which his hon. Friend had arrived was, that the distress which universally prevailed in Ireland was the real cause of crime. Both with regard to the extent of the distress, and the enormity of the crime that existed in Ireland, he (Sir W. Somerville) wished it was in his power to state that the extent of the crime of which they had all read and heard so much, had been exaggerated, and that the state of distress had been greatly overdrawn; but, unfortunately, he was not in a condition to contradict the statement as to the extent of crime that existed, or to declare that the picture drawn of the distress was overcharged. But while they were referring to the state of crime in Ireland, there was this consolation—that that crime was of a very local character; it was confined to a part of King's County, and the counties of Limerick, Clare, Roscommon, and Tipperary. It also partook of this most remarkable feature—that it resulted from a spirit of resistance to the payment of rent. Formerly, when they took into consideration the statistics of crime in Ireland, they used to hear, even from the landlords, the hardship of dispossessing the people of their holdings. At that period, whenever the landlords came forward, it was not to assist in dispossessing the people, but simply to demand a fair rent, as agreed upon between the parties. At the close of 1846, though outrages were very frequent in Ireland, they were mostly connected with the distress at that time prevailing. There was plundering of provisions, slaughtering of cattle, and crimes of that description which distress and want alone accounted for; but agrarian crimes were less. With the loss of that root upon which the population of Ireland mainly depended, seemed to have passed away that love for land which had always been a strong characteristic of the people; but new hopes had since been raised, and a change had taken place in the feelings of the population in regard to land. Add to this, that emigration, which was so popular during the last year, had become unpopular in this. Many reasons might be assigned for this change of feeling among the people. Fever attacked the emigrants when on board ship, and fever attended them to the shores to which they had gone. These accounts reached their friends at home; it could not, therefore, be a matter of surprise, that under such circumstances emigration should become unpopular, and that the people should ponder well before they left their native shores. There was also this additional feature in the state of crime as it now existed, that the crimes were committed by armed bodies of men to an extent much greater than formerly. His hon. Friend had said, that the law, as it at present stood, had not been put in force by the Executive Government. On what ground did his hon. Friend rest that assertion? He did not know; but this he did know, that there never had existed a period when the law had been put in force with greater vigour than it had been by the present Government. Then, with regard to the issuing of a Special Commission. Of this he was quite certain, that whenever sufficient evidence of the guilt of the parties should be collected, and a sufficient number of prisoners should be put into gaol to warrant a chance of a conviction, the Lord Lieutenant would not delay a single hour in issuing a Special Commission. But what was the real state of the case? The murderers of Mr. Roe, of Major Mahon, of Mr. Lucas, and of Mr. Bayly, up to the present moment had not been apprehended; his hon. Friend would therefore at once see that the issuing of a Special Commission under such circumstances would be of no avail; and where the evidence would not warrant such a step, instead of its having a good effect, it would be mischievous. His hon. Friend was in error to suppose that it was in the power of the Lord Lieutenant to issue Special Commissions ad libitum; and if his hon. Friend, before charging the Government with attempting to introduce measures of severity in order to suppress crime in Ireland, would have patience and see what those measures were to be, he might find reason to believe that it was possible to devise measures which should not outrage the feelings of the people, and yet might have the effect of suppressing crime in Ireland. The course adopted in Mr. Roe's case—that of protecting those who were engaged in a lawful object, namely, the collection of rent—not by interposing or aiding in raising that rent, but simply protecting from violence those who were so engaged—the adoption of that step was attended with the best effect. It was, at the same time, a course perfectly novel, and he believed it would be the means of inducing persons, who possessed the legal power to discharge those trusts which they sometimes now refused to do. He would now turn to another topic adverted to by his hon. Friend—namely, the distress which existed in Ireland. He grieved to say, that no one could possibly exaggerate a description of the sufferings which the people of Ireland had passed through during the last year. He felt that he could fairly allude to that subject without in the least palliating the crime which they all deplored, because it did so happen that those districts where crime was most rife were not the districts in which distress most existed. While, therefore, they gave vent to those feelings of indignation which the people of England naturally felt at the contemplation of the crimes committed in Ireland, let them not forget to offer their meed of approbation to those suffering people in the western districts who had been visited with a calamity such as had never befallen any nation before, and who had borne all their miseries and sorrows with a patience and a forbearance worthy of every commendation, and without the commission of any crime. The crisis of last year left the great mass of the people without the ordinary means of support. The small farmers, and indeed many of the more wealthy farmers, were obliged to part with their capital in order to supply themselves with food. The landlord in many instances received no rents; the labouring population lost their employment, and in thousands of cases were unable to procure subsistence. It was hardly too much to say, that in such a state of things society itself was in a state of disorganisation. What was the course which the Government pursued? It proposed an Act which had since been called the Rations Act. By that Act the Government undertook to feed almost the entire population of Ireland. It might not be uninteresting to the House if he read to them a few extracts from official documents, stating the number of people who were receiving rations in one single week under that Act. The number receiving gratuitous rations in Ireland in one week in July, 1847, was 2,569,926. He believed that no Act of Parliament ever was passed that was more effectual for its object than the Act of the last year. Upon principle it was perhaps a perilous thing for the Government to undertake the feeding of an entire population; but peculiar circumstances having forced it upon the Government, and they having undertaken it, he believed it was the most successful Act that ever was passed, and that it was carried out in the most satisfactory manner. The persons who were employed in Ireland in carrying that Act into effect performed their duties in an efficient manner, and he believed that in no instance had there occurred a case of fraud or pecuniary defalcation with respect to any of the individuals so employed. That was a most satisfactory circumstance. The harvest generally had been abundant, though the quantity of potatoes sown last year was very small. In ordinary years the value of the potato crop was estimated at 15,000,000l. or 16,000,000l.; but this year 4,000,000l. was, perhaps, the utmost of its value. It was under these circumstances—the expiration of the temporary Act of last year, and the gathering in of a comparatively plenteous harvest—the Government was called upon to put in force the new poor-law, no other means of relief being left for the destitute poor of Ireland. It had been said that that law was unsuccessful, but he dissented from that representation. No doubt the period at which the law was first brought into operation was unfortunate, looking to the vast amount of destitution which prevailed throughout the country; but considering all the difficulties with which its administrators had to contend, the success of the law had exceeded his expectations as well as the expectations of others, who, it was true, had not entertained such favourable hopes of it as he had. Considering the crisis through which Ireland had passed, it was a great thing to be able to state that three-fourths of that country were self-supporting. He believed he was justified in stating that by means of the new poor-law three-fourths of Ireland were self-supporting. It was known that the distress which had afflicted the western districts of Ireland was not yet at an end; but the Government had adopted proper precautions by obtaining accurate information as to the prospects for the ensuing winter, and by appointing inspectors. It was perfectly true, as had been stated by an hon. Member who had spoken from that (the Ministerial side of the House), that in certain parts of Ireland the poor-law alone would not be sufficient for the relief of distress; but that was no reason for not pressing the provisions of the law as far as possible in those parts of the country in which it was adequate to the effectual relief of distress. It was due to the people of Ireland to show that they could depend on their own resources; and it was due to the people of England that they should be convinced that those resources had been been applied. He hoped that some means would be devised by which the people in certain parts of Ireland, to which he had referred, might be assisted through the crisis which still impended. The time for the consideration of that subject would arrive when the Government was convinced that the powers of the ordinary poor-law were insufficient to meet the urgency of the case. The hon. Member for Meath had said, that a number of boards of guardians had abandoned the duties imposed upon them by law; but he was not aware that a single board had thus abandoned its duty. Some boards had been dissolved; but there were circumstances connected with them which rendered it absolutely necessary they should be dissolved, irrespective of any voluntary abandonment of duty; and for his part he must venture to express a doubt whether it would be lawful for any board of guardians voluntarily to abandon a duty imposed upon it by Act of Parliament. The affairs of the unions of which the boards were dissolved were administered by paid commissioners; and it would be useless to deny that they had had great and almost overwhelming difficulties to contend with; nevertheless, those difficulties had been overcome, and although the affairs of those unions had not progressed as he could have wished in all respects, still nothing had occurred to demonstrate that the ordinary poor-law had failed. It had been the aim of the Government to carry the poor-law into effect in a manner to disarm all opposition. They had avoided enforcing the rules in a harsh and arbitrary manner, and it was to be hoped that by a continuance in the same course the law, which was now only beginning to take root in Ireland, would eventually become popular. Once more he requested his hon. Friend, before condemning the measures about to be introduced by the Government, to wait until they had an opportunity of ascertaining whether they were of a harsh or unconstitutional nature. He might state that the crimes which it was intended to repress being of a local character, the remedy about to be applied would also be of a local character. Under these circumstances, he hoped that his hon. Friends would not think it expedient to press the Amendment which they had proposed. The hon. Member for Cork had alluded to the Irish Executive Government in no very complimentary terms; but he could assure the hon. Member that if he supposed that part of the Executive which sat in Dublin led an idle life, he was very much mistaken. He must declare to the hon. Member that the Irish Executive was actuated by an anxious desire to carry the law into effect with perfect impartiality; and he could further assure him that the police of Ireland was not the idle force he imagined it to be. On the contrary the police lead a most harassing, and, in their own opinion, a very hazardous life. An hon. Member had said, that he (Sir W. Somerville) had always shown himself the friend of Ireland before he joined the Government, and had remarked that he ought not to pursue a different course in consequence of having taken office. He did not know what he had done since he had taken office which could justify the hon. Member in making that observation. It was satisfactory to him to know that at the period of his taking office, the hon. Member conceived him entitled to the character which the hon. Member had given him; and it would indeed surprise him if he should ever do anything whilst he continued in office which would justly entitle him to an opposite character, or enable any person to say that his conduct had been guided by any but the most humane and kind feelings towards Ireland. Did he not entertain such feelings, he would be a most unworthy colleague of the Ministers with whom he had the honour to serve. Whatever mistakes hon. Members might think had been committed, either by Ministers or by the Parliament, no impartial man, either in or out of the House, could be of opinion that they had not been influenced by the best intentions, and the sincerest wish to confer upon the people of Ireland all the benefits which it was in their power to bestow. Having troubled the House with these observations, he would conclude by expressing a hope that the Amendment would be withdrawn.


* said, the wish expressed by the right hon. Gentleman who had just down was one in which he did not in the least concur. It was not to him of the slightest consequence whether the hon. Mover of the Amendment under consideration should see fit to withdraw his Motion or not; but he entirely agreed with some hon. Gentlemen who had spoken on the subject, who thought the Amendment ought to be withdrawn. Doubtless the hon. Member had, since bringing his Amendment forward, discovered that which a wise tactician ought to have discovered before, that a division would prove that whatever union might be between England and Ireland, there was a good deal of division on the other side of the Channel. He should give his support to the Address, and should wait to see what the measures were to be brought forward by her Majesty's Government, before he gave an opinion upon them. On the very mild and temperate speech which had just been addressed to the House, he would venture to offer a few comments, though not at all, as the right hon. Member for Drogheda would find, in the spirit of opposition; but he merely wished in the first place to remark on what he thought was a discrepancy between the statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department and the statement of the right hon. Member for Drogheda, who appeared to think that the poor-law would be self-supporting in three-fourths of Ireland, though in the other quarter he considered there would be found a necessity for a grant from Government? He understood the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary to say that the funds of the British Association would be found available and sufficient to meet the difficulties that would arise. But if, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Drogheda said, the poor-law would not be found self-supporting in one-fourth of Ireland, and if, as the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary said, there would be no grant come from the Government, then he would ask what was to become of that one-fourth part of the people? But he should say that the success of the poor-law in three-fourths of Ireland, made as it was at a time of the greatest difficulty, and imposing as it did on the property of the country a burden of the most unprecedented * This Gentleman sat in the preceding Parliament under the name of Mr. Stafford O'Brien. magnitude, and such as in the annals of history they could find nothing like, except in times of declared revolution, he thought the success of that law did entitle the owners of property in Ireland, who, through their representatives in the last Parliament consented to that charge on property, and who, according to the admission of the Executive Government, had in the greater part of Ireland done their hest to carry the law into operation, the especial protection of the Legislature. And when hon. Gentlemen spoke of the Government coming forward now in the old spirit of the Coercion Bills to put down outrages in Ireland, he would beg to remind them that the great difference between the past and the present occasions was, that now no person need by law starve in that country; and therefore they (the landlords) did ask and demand that the same Legislature which had enacted that law, and had imposed that tax upon them, ought now to enable the property of Ireland to fulfil its engagements, and to protect the poverty of Ireland by the enactment of laws which would serve the purposes of binding society together. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Drogheda had stated that the peculiarity of the assassinations and the attempts at assassination at the present day, was that they were all connected with land. He would grant that these crimes were in the greater part connected with land, and with the collection of rates; but the right hon. Baronet should not deceive himself, or take too favourable a view of the state of society in that country. He ought not to remain under the impression that crimes tending to ensure the non-payment of rents would stop where they began. Let them look at the last murder, of which the account had reached London that morning—a murder committed in the county of Limerick, near to a property belonging to his (Mr. Stafford's) father, and which had nothing to do with the collection of rent. A farmer of the name of Dillon lent money to persons, from whom he found it impossible to get the money back. He accordingly went to Limerick to consult his law agent, and on his way home he was barbarously murdered. Many of these crimes were not at all connected with land or with the payment of rents, but they were connected with the possession of property; and, treat it as they would, disguise it as they would, the civil war—if he might be allowed to apply the phrase, though it was too mild a term for the sys- tem which prevailed—the civil war which now prevailed was a war against property; it took the form of resistance to rents, of resistance to rates, and of resistance to debts; and if they chose to thwart the endeavours of the Executive in their efforts to suppress that war, they would wrest the responsibility from the Government; and the reprobation of allowing such a state of things as that which now prevailed to continue would fall, not upon the Government who might bring in measures to repress these outrages—not on the portion of the House that were ready to support such measures, and to judge fairly of their merits, and who would not be deterred from doing their duty by the fear of being charged with supporting old Coercion Bills and old arbitrary codes—but it would fall an hon. Members who, by their opposition, might prevent such measures from passing into law. The evil which they to deal with in Ireland was not that of solitary assassination—it was not the solitary murder that they had to consider, but it was the system of connivance in these murders—the system, he might say, of sympathy with those assassinations and with those murders. It was this sympathy which supported crime, and which he was afraid would be found to prevail to a greater extent in Ireland that in any other country. They found that the criminal law in England acted well, because it met with the sympathies of the people, and because its execution was entrusted in the hands of the people, who believed that it was their safety and their defence; but when they came to apply the principle of that criminal law to Ireland, they found no sympathy in its favour, and none of those ends attained by it, which all parted with a portion of their natural liberty to obtain. He knew that some hon. Gentlemen opposite would say, "Bring-round the sympathies of the people, do away with the oppression, the injustice, and the abuses that they are now subjected to, and you will then get the people of Ireland on the side of the law as they are in England." He, for one, never stood up in that House as the advocate of old abuses. He never denied that the landed proprietors were to a great extent deficient in their duty. He never opposed the introduction of a landlord and tenant law. He would receive with favour any measure the Government might bring in on that subject; but he felt at the same time that unless they meant to confiscate the property of Ireland, and to sacrifice life in that country, they should bring forward measures to protect the one, and to defend the other. He did not speak of a law to protect the rich. He challenged any one who knew the country as well as he did to deny that the wish of the improving tenant, that the wish of the best class of farmers, and the desire of the honest frieze-coated peasant, were for some such protection as he now asked from the Government. Let them not imagine, because they read in large letters of the murder of a magistrate, that the system of terror and of alarm ceased there. Let them not imagine that because they saw resolutions passed at meetings of magistrates, or because they saw letters in the newspapers from persons in responsible positions, that there was not close by that spot a set of men to whom they had to look for the improvement of their agriculture, and for the amelioration of the tone of society and the bettering of the condition of their poorer brethren. The sympathies of that set of men were with them when they brought forward a measure to protect their properties, which though little, was dear to them, and to defend their lives. Therefore when he asked for strong measures, when he approved of all that Lord Clarendon had done for the protection of property and life, and when he said that he tendered to his Excellency and to the Government his hearty thanks, he did not believe that he stood there to vindicate the rights of the man only with a thousand acres, but he was also the advocate of the honest and industrious poor man. When hon. Gentlemen spoke of assassination being confined to the counties of Tipperary and Roscommon and a few more, and that they were caused by the system of ejectment which was carried on by the landlords, did they, he would ask, mean that ejectments were not enforced in other counties? Even if they proved that ejectments were most extensively enforced where murder was most rife, the case would still not be made out accounting for all these disturbances, and still less a case for opposing a law which was intended to extend not to the whole of Ireland, but which would invest in the Lord Lieutenant, in whom he, for one, had the greatest confidence, a discretion as to the districts to which the coercive measure was to be applied. He would, with the permission of the House, state the particulars of one crime which occurred in the district with which he was connected, and which would show the state of society in that part of the country. He knew that there were enormous crimes committed by individuals in every society; but still he thought the facts he was about to mention would give an idea of the state of feeling which prevailed in that part of Ireland in reference to crime and criminals. He alluded to the recent attempt to assassinate Mr. Bayly near Nenagh. Mr. Bayly was a man of whom he would only say that all who knew him would feel that any eulogy was unnecessary. He was a man—and he (Mr. Stafford) said it with grief, though he found it to be his duty in his place in Parliament not to conceal the fact—whose character was such as to affix a deeper shame and disgrace on the state of society in which an attempt could have been made to assassinate him. He was in Nenagh, and waited there until the shades of evening fell, in order that he might see the result of an experiment which he had been most anxious to carry out—namely, lighting the town with gas. He was returning home with his brother-in-law, Mr. Head, when two men were seen inside a wall, and on the other side of the road was a young country girl. The murderers fired. The shot entered the jaw, forcing some of the teeth through the other jaw, and splitting the tongue across. After the deed was perpetrated, Mr. Head heard the country girl, who had been evidently placed on the road to watch for Mr. Bayly, and convey the fact of his approach to the assassins by some signal, cry out, "Well done, boys; now make off as smart as you can." Mr. Head took the body of his brother-in-law into the house of a tenant hard by. The wretched man presented a spectacle horrible to see. There were people in the house who saw him, and yet when Mr. Head cried to them, "For God's sake go for a surgeon," he blushed for Tipperary—he blushed for human nature—to say that not a single soul would go for the surgeon, and the brother-in-law was himself obliged to leave the victim in torture and agony, and go himself to Nenagh to procure a surgeon. If Mr. Head had asked these people to pursue the murderers, and if they had refused, some excuse might be found for their conduct, much as their fear would be to be deplored; but he would leave it to the House to say, as men and as Christians, how they could reconcile it to their feelings to leave the country in such a state as that case, which they knew was not a solitary one, would exhibit. For himself he lived without barred windows and without bolted doors, and he never had a threatening notice sent to him, or an attempt made to assassinate him; but he did not speak the less strongly on that account. He left the system which he had described to be dealt with by the House. The Government had acted wisely in calling Parliament together, and on that House now rested the responsibility of further measures.


thought the speech just delivered by the hon. Member for Northamptonshire was most ungenerous and most unfair, for if he were to describe murders committed in England he too might harrow up the feelings of the House. But English Gentlemen would not therefore seek for measures beyond the law to put down such crimes in England. No man was more anxious to repress crime in Ireland than he was, and more ready to assist the Government in putting down crime provided that the Government were determined that there should not be a recurrence of crime. They heard of coercion being asked for Ireland, but improvement was never proposed by Her Majesty's Ministers. There was tranquillity in starvation, and quiet in the grave, and as long as these could be obtained there would be no improvement. The power of the Government was sufficient to repress crime, and there was no necessity for coercion beyond the law. The cause of crime in Ireland was misgovernment. He had determined to abide by the proposition of the right hon. Baronet (Sir G. Grey) who had stated that there would be ample time to discuss these subjects; and he should not have risen but for the harrowing and unfair speech of the hon. Member for Northamptonshire. He asked the Government to solve this problem for him, and until they did, they would be justly chargeable with every crime committed in Ireland, How did it happen that with a genial climate, an industrious people, and a fertile soil, the Irish people, in this age of progress, were so far behind other nations not so highly favoured—that they alone were retrograding, while other countries were progressing in civilisation? He would solve the problem for them. It was because they had been disinherited class after class, until the Government were obliged to ask for Coercion Bills, as salves for the wounds themselves had made. What did Government propose with a view of preventing the necessity of other Coercion Bills? Why did they not propose their remedies first? The Government had first disinherited the Church; they fed the landlords upon 25 per cent of the Church property; the free-trade party were then allowed to feed upon the landlords; and now the hon. Member for Northamptonshire had said the landlords were not able to feed the people without the help of Government. The landlords had it in their power, he maintained,. to discharge their duty to the people to-morrow if they chose. There was just one master grievance in Ireland; and if that were removed, it would do a thousand times more good than setting the people to knock down hills and dig holes. Give the tenantry perpetual tenures and corn-rents, and all would be right; and, until they did that, the Irish people would be eternally coming to the Government for assistance, and the landlords for Coercion Bills. They were constantly hearing of the virtues of every man who was murdered, and the valour of the landlords; but they ought not to forget the starvation and sufferings of the people. Members ought to remember their own avowal, that there was no other employment but on the land in Ireland, and that land must be had to subsist. He could not join in the eulogiums on the Irish landlords. They were not to be compared for a moment to the English landlords. And what was the reason? The reason was, that most of their estates were mortgaged; and their management was handed over to middlemen, in order that they themselves might reside in England; and those middlemen oppressed the tenantry. He entreated the Irish Members to sink all their differences, and unite together for the benefit of Ireland; and, if necessary, he would join them in opposing the attempt of Government to inflict a Coercion Bill on Ireland until they showed the remedies they had to propose. He should consider himself as a soldier in the cause of Ireland, although not now resident there, and he would sit in that House, stand in that House, and sleep in that House until they succeeded. How could they hope that the Catholic population, the outlawed population of Ireland, would all at once come to recognise and respect the law? It would, indeed, take generations to reconcile them to the law; but let the Government proceed peaceably and progressively, and they would arrive in course of time at this desirable result without coercion. Coercion Bills would only check their progress towards it. It was a melancholy thing to think that to-morrow, on 'Change, the report of a new Coercion Bill for Ireland would raise Consols two per cent. Ireland was the battle-ground of the Stock Exchange; and Government was obliged to have recourse to Coercion Bills as a means of propping themselves up. Instead of passing Coercion Bills, let them set the people to cultivate the land. The land was something. Let the Government proceed to base their measures on a reality, and not a fiction. He would quote the motto of the right hon. Member for Tam-worth—"The science of agriculture was only in its infancy." He had made this a household word in every cottage in England. He begged them not to talk to him of over-population, and emigration, and poor-laws, while one acre of land in the country remained uncultivated. If when the land was cultivated to its utmost extent, emigration should be found to be necessary, he would agree to some measure of that kind, but not till then. He considered that the present Government not likely long to retain their places, because they were the weakest party in the House; and the proposed measures would not add to their strength. He was willing to give his cordial support to every measure which was for the good of the people; but he should oppose every measure they brought forward, because he had no faith in them. He repeated that he was ready to give his support to every measure that should be propounded for the good of the country; but, as the Government were not likely to propound one of that nature, he should give them his decided opposition. He thought that a good reason, a good notice, and good logic.


, after the statement of the hon. Member for Drogheda (Sir W. Somerville), as to the intentions of Government, begged to withdraw his Amendment.

Amendment withdrawn.


wished to refer to a part of Her Majesty's Speech which had excited no observation, although in point of fact it was the most prominent part of it, and referred apparently to the cause of the House being assembled at such an unusual period of the year. Whether other circumstances mtght not also have prevailed to occasion that earlier attendance, he did not pretend to say; but, independently of them, the commercial distress which had recently pressed upon the country, and which he wished he could say did not now prevail, and the interference which Her Majesty's Government felt themselves under the necessity of making, for the purpose of averting, perhaps, a greater calamity than ever had occurred in the commercial history of this country—this was a subject which appeared to him to require more notice on the part of some of the Members of Her Majesty's Government than any one had yet paid to it. There were some very remarkable circumstances connected with the first paragraph of Her Majesty's Speech. It recorded not only the fact of the alarming state of public credit in the country, but also that Her Majesty's Ministers, acting, as he really believed, on a very just view of their responsibility, did interfere, and he thought wisely, at a very critical moment, to avert the calamity that was impending on us. He gave the Government credit for that interference. He thought that if they had not interposed they would have failed to discharge a very important duty. The position of affairs was this, that the Bank of England, under existing circumstances, was incapable of giving the commercial world that relief and assistance without which, in all human probability, the law of 1844 would have occasioned that calamity to which he had referred. The proceedings of the Government were, of course, irregular in their character. Parliament not being assembled, the Members of the Government, stating that they did so in consequence of a determination at which the Government had arrived, proposed to the Bank of England to do what, without such a statement, and an accompanying assurance that on certain events happening they would be indemnified by Parliament, would not have been done. The Bank of England, receiving that suggestion, acquiesced in it, as they were bound to do. If they had not acted upon it, the responsibility on them would have been tremendous. They did act upon that suggestion, and the public in general believed that this measure saved the public credit, and that through it we were now enabled to congratulate ourselves with an expectation that the worst dangers were passed by. Such being the state of things, he certainly did expect, on the part of Her Majesty's Government, that they would at least have given the House all the papers and documents relating to this, as they said themselves in their communication with the Bank, most extraordinary measure. He expected that they would have applied at the earliest possible period for the sanction of the House for what they had done. He did not suppose it possible, nor was he yet prepared to believe that Her Majesty's Government, because the Bank had not actually exceeded the issues which under the Act of 1844 they were enabled to make, would maintain that there had been no infringement of the law. He was unwilling to impute to Her Majesty's Government anything like subterfuge or sharp practice. To say that authorising the Bank of England to do that which they could not have done, and would not have done, without the authority given them by the Government, was not a contravention of the Act, was absurd. He would, however, at all events say to Her Majesty's Ministers, that the House ought to have a full account of the state of things at the Bank when they put forward the notice suggested by the Government. They had at present nothing but newspaper accounts of the transaction, and they had no authentic copy of what had passed between the Bank and the Government. The House should have been told by some Member of the Government that information on the subject should be supplied; and it was not till he saw the House actually proceeding to a division that he ventured to rise and draw attention to this very singular state of things. If it had been intended to give the House more information on the subject, he thought that it should have been given before a division was demanded. There was a Motion announced to the House for a Committee on this question; but the terms of the notice did not justify the inference that what had already taken place between the Government and the Bank would be the subject of inquiry. The notice was given by his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer; and he had no reason to think that his right hon. Friend had any intention of bringing this matter under discussion. He was not prepared to offer any objection to the measure itself; on the contrary, he thought that it was imperatively required. But surely such a departure from the law, under the authority of Government, on the part of the Bank, should come under the solemn consideration of the House, and should either be formally approved or disapproved of by it. There was another, too, connected with this matter, not adverted to, indeed, in the Speech, but in those letters which appeared in the public papers, representing that a communication had taken place between Her Majesty's Ministers and the Bank. It was stated that Government had recommended that the rate of interest should be fixed at as high a rate as 8 per cent, and that part of the profit arising out of this high rate of interest should be appropriated to the public service. What part of those profits the public was to derive, what arrangements had been made, and to what extent the Bank had acted on the suggestions of the Government, and had discounted at the rate of 8 per cent, remained yet to be told to the House. He was sure he need hardly say, in the presence of such a statesman as the noble Lord at the head of Her Majesty's Government, that the act of raising money without the authority of Parliament was an unconstitutional act, and in every case in which it occurred required the special approbation and confirmation of Parliament. It had been suggested in the public papers that, inasmuch as the Act of 1844 had not actually been infringed, this part of the proposed arrangement with the Bank would not be effected; but if he read right, the letter referred to all the advances made by the Bank under the authority of the letter of license issued by the Government. That was the point which he thought should have been adverted to and explained by some Member of the Government before the debate closed; but he need not say more now, as he felt certain that that explanation would be given. It had been said that no indemnity was required; but he was sure that a sanction on the part of Parliament ought to be given before this measure could be considered a lawful and justifiable measure on the part of the Government. It would be premature to enter now into discussion upon the merits of the Bill, as that subject would be fully considered when the Motion was made for the appointment of the Committee; but he wished to know from the Government whether, in the present state of commercial distress, they would venture to proceed, without some intermediate suspension of the measure of 1844, upon an inquiry which would probably not be a short one—whether they would leave things as they were at present, subject to a recurrence—which, however, he sincerely hoped might not be the case—of similar evils at no distant period, and from the chance of which the country might now be relieved. The favourable turn in commercial affairs had been at- tributed to the measures of Her Majesty's Government; and he was very willing to believe that those measures had tended to produce that effect. But the Bank had been reduced to a very low ebb in notes; and although their coffers, which had been so nearly empty, were now largely replenished, yet the same thing might happen again; and if such were to be the case, were we to depend upon the Government taking the same course they had before taken; or were they prepared to take some measures now to prevent the recurrence of the same evil, before entering upon an inquiry which might possibly be drawn out to a considerable extent? He merely threw this out as a suggestion to the Government. He had thought it right to draw the attention of the House and the Government to what appeared to him to have been an omission on the part of the Ministers in the course of the debate; and hoped that, before the close of the discussion, some more satisfactory explanation would be given.


My right hon. Friend, if he will allow me so to call him, must see, from the turn this debate has taken, that it was scarcely possible the explanations he wished to hear could have been given, and that what has been, in fact, an Irish debate, was not an opportunity for making financial statements. He will, I think, acknowledge, that it would not have been a convenient course to mix up these two subjects; and, I trust, will hold me excused for not having made a speech as to commercial affairs upon an Amendment of this kind. I certainly had conceived it most probable that the conduct which the Government has pursued in this matter would give rise to some observations to-night, and accordingly I came down prepared. I admit that the House is fully entitled to an explanation on the part of the Government. The House has a full right to expect it at our hands. But I think they will not consider it necessary for me to give it now. The subject might give rise to a discussion of some length, which would be inconvenient at this time of the night. Whenever the proper opportunity shall occur—certainly on Tuesday next, if not before—I shall be ready to state the views of the Government, and give the fullest explanations which the House can desire. I will only say on the present occasion, that I am glad the right hon. Gentleman approves of the course we have taken. That course has not—although it might have—led to any infringement of the law; but still the Government felt it to be their duty to call Parliament together at the earliest possible opportunity, for the purpose of asking for a Bill of Indemnity, if required; but, at all events, to give the Legislature an opportunity of expressing an opinion upon our conduct. It is not the intention of the Government to submit any Motion to the House. With respect to the papers alluded to by the right hon. Gentleman, it was impossible for us, consistently with the forms of the House, either to lay them on the table or to make a Motion for their production; but we should be guilty of great dereliction of duty if we did not produce them at the earliest possible opportunity. The letter to the Bank has been withdrawn. The reserve in the Bank is now upwards of 5,000,000l.; the bullion in the Bank amounts to 10,250,000l. These circumstances are sufficient to inspire the whole commercial world with confidence, and I do not think that it is now necessary to continue that letter. Parliament is now assembled, and the Government has the power of applying for legislative sanction to any measure which an unforeseen emergency may require.

Motion agreed to, and Committee appointed to draw up an Address.

House adjourned at a quarter past Twelve o'clock.

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