HC Deb 06 February 1849 vol 102 cc306-69

I rise, Sir, in pursuance of the notice given on the first night of the Session, to ask for leave to bring in a Bill to continue, for a limited period, the Act of last Session for suspending the Habeas Corpus Act in Ireland. Sir, Her Majesty's Government would gladly have arrived at the conclusion, if they felt that they could have done so consistently with their duty, that the time had arrived when the extraordinary powers conferred by the Act of last Session, and the continuance of which I now propose to the House, could be entirely withdrawn, and when the ordinary powers of the law with which the Executive is, in ordinary times entrusted, would enable the Lord Lieutenant to adequately discharge the responsible duties attached to the office with which he is entrusted. Her Majesty's Government are deeply sensible of the gravity of the proposal which I have on their part now to make to the House. They are not unmindful of the objection which must and ought to be entertained against the temporary suspension of any portion of the constitutional rights of the people of any part of this realm; but they feel—at the same time that consistently with the most jealous regard to the liberty of the subject—a conviction has been entertained by the ablest statesmen, and in the best times, that there are occasions and circumstances in which the very spirit of the constitution demands its temporary suspension, in order to enable the Government of the country to maintain the constitution itself against the attacks of those who are seeking to effect its overthrow by secret plotting or open insurrection. And it was on one of those occasions, and circumstances of that kind, which, in the opinion of Her Majesty's Government, justified the appeal that they felt themselves obliged to make to Parliament in July last—an appeal to which Parliament responded with a promptitude which had the effect of giving a moral weight and efficacy to the measure then passed, which greatly increased its value. And it is with a deep sense of the responsibility attached to those to whom the administration of the affairs of Ireland is entrusted, that we have determined to recommend to Parliament to continue for a limited period those extraordinary powers that are now about to expire. In stating the grounds on which the Government have arrived at this con- clusion, and on which we rest the proposal which I have to make, I admit—though indeed it is hardly an admission, for it is a notorious fact—that the circumstances of Ireland are now widely different from the circumstances under which my noble Friend (Lord J. Russell) asked the House to agree to the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act in last July. But were I now able to state recent circumstances similar to those under which my noble Friend on that occasion justified the course which we pursued, the proofs would be wanting of the efficacy of the remedy that was then applied to the disease. If the insurrectionary movement which then existed, and which formed the ground of our appeal for additional powers, still continued, I might with truth be told that the measure which I now ask to have prolonged had proved a failure. I am not here to say that immediate insurrection is now likely to take place—that there are portions of the population now in arms against Her Majesty's Government—or that Her Majesty's troops are harassed by marching and countermarching in pursuit of men who have had the folly to raise the standard of rebellion, only to fly at the first sight of danger. No, Ireland is not now in the state in which she was in July last, and which then justified, in the opinion of the House, the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act; but still, especially after what has taken place in Parliament within the last few days, I must ask the House not to forget what the actual state of things then was. We have been told by hon. Gentlemen here, that the insurrection in July last was a mock insurrection, and that the precautions taken at that time by Her Majesty's Government were uncalled for and unnecessary. True, it may be called a mock insurrection in one sense; the followers of those disloyal men might with great truth say that they had been mocked and deceived in their hopes by those who had instigated them to attempts that they should have known were chimerical and impracticable. I do not pretend to say that, at any period of last Session, there was any, even the remotest, chance of the success of an insurrectionary movement in Ireland, or that any such movement could have taken place that would not have been speedily put down by Her Majesty's forces, and by the efforts of the loyal portion of the population, aided by that valuable force, the constabulary—a force that had been appealed to by the rebel leaders as being disaffected and disloyal, but that had to a man proved their loyalty and fidelity. But we must bear in mind the horrors through which the inhabitants of that country would have had to pass, and the blood which would have been shed, before any movement of that character could be entirely suppressed. Measures of this kind must be taken as measures of precaution as well as of cure; as measures for the prevention as well as for the suppression of crime. And here I may remark that one of the charges brought against the Government in July last was, that we had not sufficiently estimated the danger which then threatened the country, and that we had not sooner asked Parliament for the powers requisite to avert it. The House cannot have forgotten the circumstances which were then detailed, and it is unnecessary for me, therefore, to enter here upon them at any length—to read the exhortations that were published weekly in the newspapers established for the avowed purpose of giving life, energy, and organisation to the insurrectionary movement—exhortations to the people to take up arms against Her Majesty's troops—exhortations to seduce the troops and the constabulary from their allegiance, and instructions minutely describing the means by which if they would not be seduced, they might be obstructed and destroyed in the execution of their duty. These facts are not to be now overlooked. It is impossible to forget the establishment and organisation of clubs, which were spread through the country far beyond the limits of that portion of it where the people afterwards broke out into open insurrection. It is very well now for hon. Gentlemen to say that the insurrection was a mock insurrection, because it has failed, and that it never was of a serious character; but I would beg to remind them that I could not at that time enter this House without having letters placed in my hands which had just been received, describing the state of the country; that lead had been torn from the roofs of houses for the purpose of casting it into bullets; and that armed clubs were being established in parts of the country that had been hitherto peaceable, and to which the people flocked in defiance of the exertions of their landlords, in order to read those inflammatory articles, exciting them to treason and rebellion. I must remind the House that these were the circumstances under which Her Majesty's Government asked Parliament in July last to grant them those increased powers, and which every day's information since received has proved to have been well founded. I really feel that I should waste the time of the House by referring farther in detail to the circumstances which then occurred; but there are one or two documents to which I should wish very shortly to allude, in order to show the fallacy of this new doctrine, that the insurrection of last year was a mock insurrection, and that no necessity existed for the precautions that we had felt it necessary to take. I pass over the evidence given at the trials at Clonmel. I pass over the demeanour of the prisoners at those trials, and other matters that I might refer to, in confirmation of the statement of the Lord Lieutenant, in the letter which has been laid before Parliament—as to the absence of anything like regret or sorrow for their misconduct. On the contrary, as his Excellency observes, "Their regret is confined to their failure; and their hopes are directed to a more successful issue on the first favourable opportunity." But there is one letter to which I would beg to call the attention of the House—I allude to a letter of Mr. D'Arcy M'Ghee, one of the persons who took an active part in the insurrectionary movement, and which appeared in the New York Morning Herald of the 12th of October, 1848, and was published in most of the Irish journals afterwards. He begins by stating that several gentlemen in New York, who felt an interest in the affairs of Ireland, were anxious to have some intimation of the causes that led to its failure. He then proceeded:— There are three dates to be borne in mind in reference to this movement—the month of February, when the Continental revolutions began; the 24th of July, when the Habeas Corpus Act was suspended; and the harvest time, which, in Ireland, does not come until September. He then went on to describe the moral-force and Young Ireland repealers:— In 1847 Young Ireland was busy in gaining over the inhabitants of the towns from 'moral force,' and, with the examples of pius IX. and the revolutions of last spring, we succeeded. At any time during the last six months the townspeople were, in terms, committed to attempt a forcible expulsion of British power. This township organisation consisted of 500 clubs, in the total of about 30,000 men of the fighting ago. Of these less than half were more or less armed in July, and the other half were acquiring arms as fast as they could, where money was scarce and military weapons dear. I have known half-employed tradesmen to stint themselves of their daily meals in order to buy a gun. Each club was divided into sections of ten men, with a master to each section, who knew personally each of his ten men. And let me assure our generous American friends, that though the clubs, as clubs, do not meet now together in Ireland, these sections nearly all exist, and form a nucleus of future movement, which cannot be reached or crushed. I assure them of this, both from knowledge of the system, and from the fact that, under the Disarming Act, twenty stands of arms have not yet been captured from the confederates. He then goes on to describe the garrison of Dublin in July to have been 15,000 men—a statement in which there is an inaccuracy. He then proceeds:— The object of making the warfare a guerilla one was, to drag these concentrations to pieces, as the Spanish patriots did Napoleon's armies of occupation; and by bringing them into districts where only infantry could act with case, to put them more on a level with the raw levies of the people. The remainder of the course that might be taken would be to burn the towns and cities, as the Athenians did Athens, and the Russians Moscow. This, I believe, would have been the result on the news of the first royalist blood being drawn in the rural districts, whither these considerations and the Habeas Corpus Suspension Act had driven our leaders. But the rural districts would not move without their clergy, and the clergy were openly adverse or inactive. It is not fair to assume that there was no system of operations agreed on among the confederates. There was a feasible and well-understood plan. What it was, it is not advisible for me publicly to explain. Besides, I had rather a future success should publish it than I. I have no objection—quite the contrary—to explain it to any committee or circle of the friends of Ireland; but printing it would servo no purpose except to arm the enemy. I must say that, after a letter of that kind, coming from a person who had taken an active part in the insurrection itself, I cannot but feel astonished to find any man getting up in this House and saying that it was a mock insurrection. When that letter first appeared, its authenticity was denied, and it was stated in some of the Irish journals that the document was a fabrication of the Government, put forward for the purpose of propping up their case, and inserted through their means in the newspapers, in order to magnify the dangers which were to have been apprehended from the confederate movement. But I do not think that even those persons could now entertain those opinions. The letter was published in New York on the 12th of October, and the communication between these countries and America being now exceedingly rapid, the letter having appeared in the Irish papers, was sent back to America, with the comments made upon its authenticity, and Mr. D'Arcy M'Ghee, who is now the editor of a newspaper in New York, called the Nation, has since commented in his paper on these articles, and has re-asserted the facts which he had before stated in his former letter. I deem it unnecessary to quote what Mr. M'Ghee said on that subject, but it was a complete answer to those who ventured to assert that it was a mock rebellion. I certainly am not prepared to rest the case on this alone; but, after the assertions of those who contended that no insurrection was got up in Ireland, I could not refrain from quoting this remarkable evidence on the subject. I do not believe, however, that there is a second opinion prevailing among the majority of the Members of this House as to the real situation of Ireland in July last, and as to the circumstances then existing having justified the Government in asking for the powers which were then granted to them. These powers were granted but for a limited time. It has been the uniform practice on every occasion on which it has been unfortunately found necessary for Parliament to suspend the Habeas Corpus Act, to fix the suspension for a limited period only. With regard to the Act passed towards the close of the last Session of Parliament, the limitation was fixed with reference to the usual period for the meeting of Parliament, in order that Parliament on meeting again might be able to decide as to whether these powers should expire, or be again revived, and that is the question now presented to us. But, in dealing with this question in its present form, as to the continuance of a measure now in force, we must view it in a different light from that of an original proposition to enact the law. It was originally proposed as a measure necessary to put down an insurrection actually in progress at the time, but not then limited to the time requisite for this immediate purpose. The suppression of an insurrection might be the work of a day, or of a week, or of a month, but the powers might be required to prevent its renewal, and to guard against the danger of its bursting again into a flame when the opportunity offered. That Act being about to expire, the Government asks for a renewal of the powers conferred by it; and the question which we have to ask ourselves is, whether, looking at the recent occurrence of these events—looking at the spirit prevailing in these disaffected parts of the country, and looking at the character of the club organisation, which they had the authority of Mr. D'Arcy M'Ghee for saying still existed—can we say that the time has arrived when it would be safe to take off these restraints, and when there is no longer any danger of a recurrence of those proceedings which compelled us last year to ask for the powers intrusted to us. I admit that this must be a matter of opinion. I admit that there is not an insurrection imminent or flagrant, to call for the prompt exercise of such powers; but has all alarm disappeared? Do circumstances no longer exist which require the temporary continuance of a law, the prompt enactment of which had so great an effect in inspiring confidence in the minds of the well-affected, and striking terror into the hearts of the disaffected? The House is already aware of the views entertained by the Lord Lieutenant, as expressed in the letter to which I have already referred; and though I am not able to quote extracts from the communications that have been made to the Lord Lieutenant, because they have not been laid before Parliament, and are necessarily of a confidential character, still I may assure the House that the Lord Lieutenant has collected information from every available source; and, after the full and anxious consideration which the importance of the matter justifies, he has come to the conclusion that it was his duty—a duty from which he could not shrink—to recommend the Government to ask Parliament for a continuance of the powers vested in him by the Act of last Session. The Lord Lieutenant thus expresses himself:— It was with deep regret that on a former occasion I felt myself compelled to ask for the enactment of this measure, but circumstances have since fully confirmed my opinion of its urgent necessity, and I can have no doubt that the course then adopted by Her Majesty's Government, and the moral effect produced by the almost unanimous support which the Bill received in Parliament, mainly contributed to the suppression of the rebellious movement which unhappily broke out in this country. While availing myself of the extraordinary power confided to me by the Act, it has been my earnest endeavour to limit its operation as far as possible, and to confine the deprivation of personal liberty to the cases of those individuals who were actually engaged in treasonable designs, or who, by encouraging the disaffected, endangered the peace and tranquillity of the country. No instance occurred of any arrest taking place except on sworn informations; no person was retained in custody longer than the public safety appeared to require; and, although the number of individuals whom it was my painful duty to place in temporary confinement was considerable, having amounted in all, at different times, to about 120, yet, considering the extent to which treasonable organisation had been carried, not only in the metropolis, but in several counties of Ireland, the number can hardly be said to exceed what might have been anticipated. The secrecy afforded by the enforcement of the law, and the conviction that its provisions would only be applied against those whose conduct had rendered their detention absolutely necessary, has been felt by the community at large: and the restoration of order in place of that which for a time was a reign of terror, has been hailed with universal satisfaction. But on the part of those engaged in the late treasonable movement, no indication whatever of sorrow or repentance for their misdeeds has been observed. Their regret is confined to their failure, and their hopes are directed to a more successful issue on the first favourable opportunity; nor is there any reason to believe (and upon this point I have collected information from various persons on whose judgment and local knowledge I could rely) that the recent orderly conduct of the people in the districts where disturbances prevailed or were threatened, proceeds from any improved feeling, as regards either the law or the Executive Government. The total absence of support of the authorities in their endeavours to suppress insurrection, the renewed attempts at rebellion in the vicinity of the town where the leaders of the movement were being brought to justice, and the disregard of proclamations requiring the surrender of arms, are facts which indicate that, however the failure of past attempts at insurrection may have weakened the confidence of the disaffected, the feeling which gave rise to and encouraged that movement still remains unchanged, and would again become active upon any occasion that appeared to offer even a distant prospect of success. I shall not again quote from this letter of Mr. D'Arcy M'Ghee, in which he refers to the "vice of loyalty" as being dead among those with whom he was engaged, and in which he alludes to the probable recurrence of a favourable opportunity which might justify, in their opinion, a repetition of the attempts of July last. Without placing much importance on individual circumstances, I may say that the tendency' of all the evidence that we have collected leads to the same impression—and confirms the opinion expressed in the paragraph I have just read from the letter of the Lord Lieutenant. Even within the last few days an advertisement has appeared in Dublin, which I shall beg leave to read to the House. It says— An extraordinary publication will appear on the first Saturday of March, 1840, denominated The Clubbist, being a selection of the most spirit-stirring effusions, extracted from the pages of the proscribed press, and dedicated to the young men of Ireland. Weekly selections from the New York Nation, by T. D. M'Ghee; each number to consist of sixteen pages, to be completed in thirty numbers. Price, one penny each. This will form one of the richest and raciest instruments for the revivification of our 'poor old country.' This shows that these clubbists are ready to take advantage of the expiration of the existing law; and I believe there are at this moment Gentlemen in the House who can testify to the truth of the information which has reached the Lord Lieutenant with regard to the number of these clubbists in Dublin, and to their being ready' to resume their organisation. At all events, there has been great alarm expressed on the part of many loyal subjects of Her Majesty, lest an opportunity of doing so should be afforded them, from the want of power in the hands of the Government. I trust that the proceedings of the last few months have undeceived many, and that the bulk of the people will no longer be the dupes of those whose vanity or vain-glory has led them to delude the people, and to involve them in rebellion and bloodshed. I believe that many of those people are thankful for the Act of last Session, carried into effect, as it has been, with the utmost clemency and forbearance, and that its continuance would be received by them with satisfaction. And here I cannot refrain, in justice to the Lord Lieutenant, from referring to the manner in which he has exercised the power placed in his hands. I do not, indeed, ask for a renewal of these powers, on the ground that in the hands of the Lord Lieutenant there is no danger of their being abused; but still the fact should not be overlooked, that the manner in which his Excellency has exercised the powers entrusted to him has called forth from all classes expressions of confidence and approval. It is but due to the Lord Lieutenant to acknowledge, on the part of the Government, the fact, that throughout the whole period that this Act has been in operation it has not been enforced in any case in such a manner as to call forth a single complaint. In a second address of the corporation of Dublin—a body not likely to estimate lightly the liberties of their fellow-subjects—they tendered to the Lord Lieutenant their heartfelt thanks for the temperate, able, and humane manner in which his Excellency had exercised the powers entrusted to him by Parliament for the suppression of the late unfortunate disturbances. There is one circumstance to be borne in mind with reference to the present question. When Parliament was asked to continue the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act at other times, other Acts of a very stringent character were enforced contemporaneously with the Suspension Act. This was the case in 1803, when the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act was renewed, the Act for the Establishment of Martial Law having been renewed at the same time. In 1822, an Insurrection Act was passed at the same time with the Suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act; and that Act was continued for a long period, extending over many years. On the present occasion the only measure in existence of an analogous character was the Act passed at the beginning of the last Session for the protection of life and property in Ireland. That Act was still in force; but there was no Insurrection Act in Ireland as at the periods he had alluded to; and such being the case, if Parliament suffered the Act for the Suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act to expire, there was serious ground for apprehension that the ordinary powers possessed by the Government would be found insufficient to ensure the preservation of order and tranquillity in Ireland. The hon. Member for Limerick (Mr. John O'Connell) alluded last night, with considerable displeasure, to a passage in the letter of the Lord Lieutenant, which had reference to political agitation. I have bad no communication from the Lord Lieutenant since the speech of the hon. Gentleman was delivered; but I have reason to know that he did not intend to refer to political agitation for reasonable and constitutional objects, but that his desire is to prevent agitation for impracticable objects which has been carried on in Ireland for a considerable period—which led to the events of last year—which forms the bane of Ireland; the bane of her industry; the obstacle to the development of her commerce, and of her internal resources, and to every social improvement; and to that agitation he is of opinion that a check ought to be opposed, conceiving it to be of the utmost importance that Ireland should enjoy repose from such agitation, in order that the attention of the inhabitants should be directed to the pursuit of those objects on which the permanent interests and future welfare of the people depend. On this subject I wish to read one passage from the answer of the Lord Lieutenant to the address of the corporation of Dublin. His Lordship says— On the part of Her Majesty's Government, and on my own, I can assure you that there exists a sincere desire carefully to investigate the causes of discontent in Ireland, and, as for as possible, to remove them by improved legislation. To rely, however, upon legislation alone as a cure, or even a palliation, for evils that are chiefly social in their character, would be to foster a vain delusion, and to neglect those remedies which are within the reach of individuals, and must depend on the strenuous and manly exertion of every class in the community, rather than on the wisest enactments of Parliament; but that which, above all things, Ireland now stands most in need of as the basis of her future improvement, is internal tranquillity. No progress is possible—no country ever did or can prosper under a system of political agitation which arrays against each other men who should be united for their common good, and which is alike fatal to the pursuits of industry and the employment of capital, and to that social order upon which public confidence depends. This system has long been practised in Ireland. I need not dwell upon the results it has produced; but I will venture to express my earnest hope that the warnings of experience may not be disregarded, and that the ingenuity and talents by which Irishmen are pre-eminently distinguished, may henceforward be devoted to the true interests of this country, and to the improvement of those great natural capabilities which might, long since, have rendered Ireland a land of comfort and prosperity. Such, Sir, are the sentiments of the Lord Lieutenant, and they are sentiments in which I entirely concur; and I hope that whatever opinion may be entertained with regard to his recommendation for a continuance of the Suspension Act, there can be but one opinion as to the excellence of the advice contained in the passage that I have just read. I trust that we shall act in the spirit of it, and not look to legislation, or at least to legislation alone, for a remedy for the social evils by which Ireland is afflicted. I ask hon. Gentlemen—and I say this with no view of shrinking from the responsibility which belongs to the Government—I ask hon. Gentlemen not to look exclusively to Government and to Parliament for a remedy for the evils which afflict Ireland. The remedy is, to a great extent, in their own hands. Let each do his utmost by setting a good and useful example—let each stimulate the other to the exercise of his proper duties, and they will accomplish for their own country those benefits and that improvement which no Government and no legislation can ever secure. For those reasons which I have stated, I ask you for the limited continuance of an Act the powers of which are exercised directly by the Executive Government, under its responsibility to the Crown and to Parliament. Her Majesty's Government are anxious to ask for a continuance of those powers only for the shortest period that they think consistent with a due regard to the public interests. Last year, at the close of the Session, Parliament assented to the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act for a period of seven months, having reference to the period when Parliament was to meet again, and to the time requisite for the consideration of the subject. We are now at the beginning of the Session, and we propose that the Act should be renewed for a period of six months from the expiration of the existing Act. An opportunity will then be afforded for considering, before the close of the Session, whether the powers conferred by it may be suffered to expire. I now move, therefore, that leave be given to bring in a Bill to continue, for a time to be limited, the Suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act in Ireland.


said, that before proceeding to the consideration of the Motion before the House, he wished to refer for a moment to the remark made by the right hon. Baronet (Sir G. Grey) with reference to his comments on the letter of the Lord Lieutenant. He wished that House, as the guardians of the constitution, to take notice that a Member of the Executive was to decide what objects were practicable and what were not practicable. He thought it too bad that any Member of the Executive should presume to say to the subjects of a free country that they were not to agitate for the repeal of an Act of Parliament because he thought it impracticable. To be sure the doctrine was now only used with reference to Ireland—to that portion of the empire which was hereditarily insulted and ill-treated, but which treatment caused their Ambassador to be insulted in Spain, and which would one day bring a heavy responsibility on the head of this country. But if they allowed such a system to be introduced even with respect to Ireland, a wicked Minister might hereafter try the same law in England also. Let every Irish Gentleman who heard him, no matter what his politics might be, remember that for the next six months, and indeed it might be later—for the Government had given indications of renewing it again for an indefinite period—but that, at any rate, for the next six months, they dared not hold any meetings in Ireland for any purpose whatever without first going to the Lord Lieutenant hat in hand, and saying to him, "May it please your Excellency to convey to us your opinion whether our object is practicable or not; if you think not, we are your slaves—you have despotic power over us—you can tear us from our business and from our families at your pleasure. You can drag us to gaol without the power of resistance from any one, and no matter whether the informa- tion sworn against us be false or true." There was a Gentleman, a Member of that House, who could verify what he was about to state, that in one large and important county in Ireland the subjects had boon for the moment restrained from petitioning with regard to a grievance—he believed it was the poor-law—but certainly some grievance which had nothing whatever to do with politics. And why was this? From the fear the leading men in the county entertained that Lord Clarendon might disapprove of their conduct, and drag them to prison. If that hon. Member was now in his place, he was sure he would bear him out in every word he had said. He was not, therefore, conjuring up some vain fear, he was not exaggerating the grounds of opposition, when. Heaven knew, these grounds were strong enough already. The hon. Member further said, that the parties proposed to wait till the 1st of March; that they did not like to meet sooner, as they did not know how Lord Clarendon would take their meeting before that time. Now let the House take that one fact along with the plain statement of the right hon. Baronet (Sir G. Grey), and the equally plain declarations in the Lord Lieutenant's letter, that it was intended to abrogate the constitution, and to put the liberty of the subject in Ireland under the power of one man. He could not prevent them doing this; he would, indeed, do his duty to the last; but he knew how powerless he and his friends were. The hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume) had given them to understand that they were not to expect anything from those whom in former times the Irish Members had often stood by. But if this act of tyranny was consummated, it would be the fault of the British House of Commons. A great part of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, and a still greater part of the letter of Lord Clarendon, was taken up with talk about disaffection in Ireland. The noble Earl the Lord Lieutenant calls upon us for a renewal of the powers of this Bill, on account of the spirit of disaffection existing in Ireland. But he had given no proof of this statement. He had quoted from the letter of a gentleman who was considered of very little account in this country—who was disregarded—who was in fact considered as a mere underling in that section of the party to which he belonged; but here the Government had elevated the refugee and the rebel to an equality with the Lord Lieutenant; and what he chose to write in an American newspaper was brought forward as matter of grave accusation against the whole people of Ireland, and as justifying the destruction of their liberties. The right hon. Baronet (Sir G. Grey) said that the House of Commons had frequently suspended the Habeas Corpus Act before. They had done so: there could be no doubt of the fact. It would be hard—unfortunately, it would be very hard indeed—to point to any measure which had not been tried with regard to Ireland during the last forty-nine years. But the House would find that it was equally correct—and he referred to Hansard for the proof of it—that on no occasion, even when the liberties of the subject were least regarded, when external danger was most imminent—when confusion was at its greatest pitch—when we were at the height of a dangerous war; on no such occasion was there any interference with constitutional principles, much less any interference so great as the present, recommended on such slight and miserably inadequate grounds. The right hon. Baronet the Home Secretary admitted that there was at present no fear of an insurrection—he admitted that there was a loyal spirit among a great portion of the people, and therefore he admitted that the Bill was not wanted to put down insurrection at the present moment; but he asked these powers in order to save the Government the inconvenience of applying at some future time to Parliament. It was a matter of convenience that the Government should have these powers. One of his reasons was convenience to the Government. No doubt it would be exceedingly convenient to the Government, and exceedingly convenient to the Lord Lieutenant, that they should be allowed to act upon their sole discretion, without the necessity of accounting to any one; and no doubt it would be exceedingly convenient that Her Majesty's Ministers should not be required to meet Parliament, to meet the obstructions which would there occur, to argue points, and to meet objections. Nothing could be more inconvenient than these obstructions. But then it was no less true that the constitution recognised these obstructions and checks upon the power of the Government; and were they to be told that in the case of Ireland all these obstructions were to be removed, and all the facilities of despotism to be given to the nominally constitutional Government of Ireland? He trusted, therefore, they would hear no more of the argu- ment of convenience. No doubt the Lord Lieutenant would be gratified by being entrusted with this power; it was natural for all men to desire power; it was natural for men, when they had power, to desire more: but was it fair—was it right—was it honest—that this House should give the powers now asked for, on such reasons as had been assigned? But the right hon. Baronet (Sir G. Grey) had, as an additional argument, put forward Mr. D'Arcy M'Ghee's letter. Now, he considered it an insult to Irishmen, that this letter, the production of a rebel and a refugee, who was anxious to sell his newspaper, and therefore adapted his style to the wild and rabid tone of those among whom he was cast, should be brought forward as an actual, tangible, and substantive ground on which this Bill was founded. There could be no doubt that that individual was anxious to make his paper circulate among the warlike sympathisers of America. Were they, therefore, to take everything upon his ipse dixit? and because he said that the clubs were still in existence, were they to ask for a law which did not strike at the clubs, because they had plenty of law for that purpose already; and if they had not, let the Government come down to the House and ask for additional powers. But since the letter had been referred to at all, he asked the right hon. Baronet (Sir G. Grey) why he had not read the whole of it—why he had only read those parts which contained Mr. D'Arcy M'Ghee's allegations? He had not read one word of those parts in which Mr. D'Arcy M'Ghee abuses the clergy, and abuses some of the lay agitators, and abuses the people who had not thrown themselves into the straggle. There was not one word read of Mr. D'Arcy M'Ghee's confession, that by the indifference of the people, and the efforts of some of those parties who had been engaged in popular agitation, the insurrection met with its first blow. Unfortunately, he had not imagined that the Irish people would be insulted by the production of such a letter, and, therefore, he had not brought a copy of it with him; he was, in consequence, unable to read that part of Mr. D'Arcy M'Ghee's letter, in which he stated that from the moral-force agitators the insurrection received its check. The right hon. Baronet (Sir G. Grey) had not read that part of the letter, because it made against his case, and because he wanted to carry his Bill. If the right hon. Baronet expected any advantage from such a course, he could not compliment him upon his candour. But he feared he would succeed. He knew how powerless the Irish Members Were. The English Members had their hands full of the affairs of their own great empire; they could not attend to the affairs of Ireland in ordinary matters; and they did not attend to them, except when the object was to make the Government of Ireland easy to the delegates they sent there, and to stifle the complaints of Ireland. The right hon. Baronet had ended his speech by a flourishing declaration that the people of Ireland ought not to depend upon what the Government could do for them, for the power of legislation could do little. But what was the right hon. Baronet doing to-night? He was declaring that the Government could do everything for evil, but that they were not to depend upon it for benefits. They were called upon to accept a Government whose object was to crush the constitution, and to stifle complaint in Ireland. Yes, the right hon. Baronet liked Government interference—he relished it—he recommended it so long as it was used for evil towards Ireland; but he had not one word to say with regard to the interference of Government in the attempt to improve and to raise up the fallen condition of her people. He would now come to the Lord Lieutenant's letter. There were several statements in that document which were not quite true. He said, that he had confined the operation of the Act, so far as the deprivation of personal liberty was concerned, to the cases of persons who were actually engaged in treasonable designs. Now, he could cite one flagrant instance in the south of Ireland, where this was not the case. He did not mean to deny that a great deal of consideration had been exercised; but he knew one case of a party who had not been concerned in the insurrection at all, and who still languished in prison, though not a single allegation had been brought forward against him. He had been a strong writer against the Young Ireland party, some of whom had been engaged in the insurrection. He thought it was also a mis-statement, that a rebellious organisation existed in the different counties; and the proof of that was that in no county, except perhaps one, had there been an actual outbreak. Then the Lord Lieutenant said, that there had been no indication of repentance on the part of those who were engaged in the treasonable outbreaks. But he would ask, would they, in the case of a murder, pro- claim a whole county? And if not, why should they put a whole nation out of the pale of the law for one outbreak that burst forth in a single corner? Then the Lord Lieutenant proceeded to complain that there was not an improved feeling towards the Executive Government. Now, he (Mr. J. O'Connell) had never heard that the precept, "Love your enemies," was to be carried out so far as that they should love a Government to which they were not indebted for a single benefit—a Government which had not accepted the advice which was given to them by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth, who, on resigning office, had sketched out a course of policy which ought to be adopted towards Ireland—a Government which had been in power for three years, and had during that time passed four Coercion Bills, and was now about to pass a fifth—and yet they were to love that Government, to admire, to reverence, to adore it; or, if they did not, they would have this Bill forced upon them. He did not see that the Government had any claims upon their love. If they thought they had such claims, let them show them—let them go before a Committee and prove the grounds on which there ought to be a good feeling towards them on the part of Ireland. They might say, we have been three years in office, and see what we have done? For years we promised Ireland a franchise; we resisted the attempt of a noble Lord, now a Member of another House, to settle that question; we determined to extend to Ireland a liberal franchise; we promised it again and again; and now, after being three years in power, we have done—what? we have not extended the franchise to Ireland. Then see what we have done with regard to the relations between landlord and tenant. We brought in a Bill which was cordially supported by all the Irish Members. We confessed there was danger in the old relations; we determined and we promised to arrest that danger; and now, having been in promise for three years, we have not redeemed our promise. Then they might go to the question of the corporations, and toll how ungrateful the Irish people were, because the privileges which the English corporations possessed were not given to the Irish corporations, though this liberal and reforming Government had been in power for three years. These were the titles to the love, the veneration, the admiration of the Irish people which this Ministry possessed; and because the Irish people failed in manifesting love, the personal liberty of the subject was to be taken away, and the constitution of the country was to be destroyed. The third reason given by the Lord Lieutenant was, that there had recently been a renewed attempt at insurrection. This paragraph of the Lord Lieutenant's letter was the most astonishing of anything he had yet heard. A few idle boys went one night to a place called the Wilderness, in the neighbourhood of Clonmel. There were not more than twenty or thirty of them altogether; but a local paper, which was opposed to the popular sentiments, published a report that 2,000 men had assembled there. Immediately there was an expedition of cavalry, infantry, and police to the place, and it captured thirteen men and boys—he was not sure but there were some old women among the number. They brought them to Clonmel—they dragged them to the bar of justice—they kept them in prison for three days, and then they said to them—you may go about your business. He said it was an insult to Irishmen to bring forward such a reason as this. He would tell the Gentlemen of England and Scotland that it was also an insult to them, because common sense and common justice were insulted by such an argument being put forward. Then it was said that the arms were not given up. The answer to that was, that they ought to get a more stringent Arms Bill. They had an Arms Bill now in existence, and it had never been complained of. If the choice was to be made, he would say that of the two evils he would choose the least; and rather than have the constitutional liberties of the country taken away, he would be ready to agree to any Arms Bill of reasonably increased severity, if only they avoided domiciliary visits at night, which would be an intolerable grievance upon the people of Ireland. But did the Government know this secret—they who pretended to know such a great deal about Ireland—did they know this, that these very clubbists, these poor starving creatures, who had, perhaps, bought an old musket for half-a-crown, did they know where, two days afterwards, those muskets would be? Would they be treasured up in Her Majesty's Armoury? Most probably not. Would they then be found in the ranks of intending insurrectionists? Certainly not. Where then would they be? Why, in the pawnbrokers' shops; and if they went to those shops, they would find the arms which they were so anxious about, without the necessity of suspending the Habeas Corpus Act. But now he came to what he believed to be the real reason of the Lord Lieutenant. The Lord Lieutenant dared to charge those who had taken part in political agitation with having encouraged the insurrectionary feeling. This was a most audacious calumny; and he was astonished that any individual, who was not a Member of that House, should dare to charge men who were as pure-minded as he could be, with a connexion with men who had excited the people to insurrection and bloodshed. Let the House recollect, that this agitation, which the Lord Lieutenant denounced, had been tried before the Judges of the land. He was the only one of the eight traversers now present, and he could speak from personal experience of the subject. Everything that could be brought against them was crammed into the monster indictment; but the Judges of the land declared that agitation for a repeal of the Union was not a treasonable object. Even while that trial was going on, and during the three months of their unjust imprisonment, the Association met regularly week after week in pursuit of that which the Lord Lieutenant now declared to be an impracticable object, and there was not the whisper of an attempt to put them down. But now, because the meetings of the Association had vexed Lord Clarendon, because they had annoyed him by criticising the lectures which he seemed so fond of delivering upon every imaginable subject—because they had subjected him to ridicule, his vanity was hurt, his repose was disturbed, and, therefore, the Gentlemen of England must compliment him by putting down that constitution in Ireland which they would rather die than see interfered with in their own country. He knew it was altogether idle for him to delay the House upon these topics, and yet it was a solemn matter which was under their consideration. Let them recollect that this Bill was directed against popular agitation; and let them recollect that political agitation was the lever which Englishmen had used in removing local tyranny, and was the mainspring of all their liberties; let them observe, that if they had been told that the freedom of the press, the right of petition, and other sacred rights of which they were justly proud—if they had been told that these were impracticable objects, neither they nor their ancestors would have borne it. And did they expect that Irishmen would? Yes, Irishmen must. They were a perishing people—the strength of the country was gone in the repeated migrations—they were divided and disunited—split into almost as many factions and parties as there were individuals. England had nothing now to fear from them, and might, therefore, be bold, and might throw aside disguise; it would no longer be necessary to wear the thin veil under cover of which they had formerly attacked the constitution of Ireland; and, therefore, with frank tyranny they declared that Irishmen should not seek for the repeal of an offensive Act of Parliament. But the time might come when they would bitterly remember this. He said, the Irish Members would not submit to this. He had spoken without concert with others—he had merely uttered what appeared to him must be the feelings of every man who felt that he must be debased and degraded for ever, if he tamely submitted to this unconstitutional wrong. It might be that resistance was idle at that moment; but if so, the greater was their guilt in bringing forward such a measure as this at a time when the people were so utterly stricken down that he did not believe, even if the man whose power over the hearts of his countrymen had been greater than that of any other individual—one whose loss was now severely felt—if he were now alive, he did not think he would be able to rouse the people into an effort against this new outrage. Despair—utter, hopeless, dread despair—had settled down upon the people. But though the attempt to evoke a feeling against this measure might not be successful, still the attempt would be made. At any rate, the Irish Members would try in their own persons whether the right of the subject was to be utterly trampled upon, and the right of the constitution utterly violated in Ireland. The right hon. Baronet (Sir G. Grey) made an allegation, in support of which he brought forward no proofs that political agitation was mixed up with insurrection, and had led to it. Could the right hon. Baronet be aware of what had occurred in Ireland during the last two years? Had they not read the letter of Mr. D'Arcy M'Ghee, or would they credit one part of that letter and not another? In that letter there was reference to the expulsion—for actually it was an expulsion, though the gentlemen refused to resign their places in the Association—to the expulsion of those gentlemen who afterwards became prominent in the insurrection, because they would not be confined within the limits of legal and constitutional agitation—because they said, they would have a liberty beyond that, and said they would not be bound by the principles which the constitution had established, within which agitation was to be carried on—these gentlemen, because they would not be so bound, had to leave the Association. Periodically, month after month, document after document appeared from the Repeal Association, repudiating the doctrine of physical force, and every sort of agitation except that which was constitutional. The Association did everything possible to prevent those young men from entering into any society which should adopt the doctrines of physical force; and at length, finding all their efforts unavailing, they broke off the conference altogether, and separated themselves from them; and yet, after all, the conduct of these very young men was now brought forward as an argument to bolster up a case against the repealers generally. But it should be made known how contradictory was the conduct of the Government and its supporters. They recognised in England the right of constitutional agitation for the repeal or alteration of any Act of Parliament, whilst they declared that in Ireland the repeal of a certain Act was an impracticable object, and that therefore the constitution should be suspended, and the exorcise of a constitutional right subjected to the solo will and pleasure of the Chief Governor of Ireland. If the House of Commons gave a hearty support to such a proposition, it would be playing false to all its traditions and its principles, and would thereby inflict a greater wound upon the constitution of the country than had ever been given by all the insurrections that had ever taken place amongst the people. There were some hon. Members who had stood by Ireland on previous occasions, and from his heart the thanked them for their past support. Now, when Ireland was no longer regarded, or only thought of to be oppressed and coerced, he trusted those hon. Members would again stand by her. He trusted that those hon. Members who were now agitating for changes which were declared by many to be impracticable in England, I would not oppose him. He regretted to hoar the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume), whose exertions in the cause of reform had entitled him to so much respect, I speak upon the subject of coercion to Ire- land, on the preceding evening, in a tone of levity, and say that he would vote for the measure. Now that the West Indian slaves were emancipated, were the Irish, the only remaining slaves, to be excluded from the hon. Member's sympathy? For slaves they were. Their limbs indeed were not manacled, but there were chains upon their souls. The right hon. Baronet (Sir G. Grey) had said in his speech that he did not place any of his demands upon the grounds of special personal confidence in Lord Clarendon, yet he continually dwelt upon the manner in which that noble Lord had used his powers, and expressed his hope that they would not be used again. Now, he (Mr. J. O'Connell) did not think that Lord Clarendon was entitled to gratitude. He had said in Ireland, upon some occasions, that the noble Lord had acted extremely well. But the reason he praised him was because he had not armed the extreme Orangemen of the north of Ireland against their Roman Catholic fellow-countrymen—because he did not sharpen the bayonet of religious war. But let them look at his conduct in other matters. When Lord Clarendon first went to Ireland, he professed a great anxiety to consult the opinions of persons of all parties, and to adopt their suggestions as far as he possibly could without detriment to the public service. He invited those who might be called the heads of the popular party to give him their opinions, and he specially invited the Roman Catholic archbishops to a conference. They did not wish to go, because their past experience had led them to hope very little from such an interview; but out of respect to his office they waited upon his Excellency. He received them with that courtesy which might be expected, and the conference ended most amicably: but since that period he had not even shown the least wish to avail himself of one of their suggestions. Even in the affair of the colleges the Government were going to war with the people of Ireland upon a question affecting their religion. Was their condition so reassuring that their religious feelings might be tampered with? However, that was a question to which he had merely alluded in passing. To return to his subject: Lord Clarendon invited the archbishops merely, as it would appear, to inflict a personal insult upon them. Now, he impeached Lord Clarendon (having no hope of a graver impeachment being permitted to be brought against him) with not having met the spirit of insurrection in Ireland in time. Before matters came to extremities, in 1848, there were many articles in the newspapers, and many speeches delivered and reported, which undoubtedly infringed the law. Confederation speeches were allowed to go on, although their violence gave offence to the other repeal party. But the fact was that division amongst the popular party in Ireland was encouraged, because the Government wished to divide and so to weaken them. He had also to charge the Government with misconduct in the affair of the late State trials. They had said they could not get verdicts against the parties indicted. Why could they not? In the case of one of the jurors, named Fitzgerald, who refused to agree to a verdict of guilty against one of the State prisoners, the noble Earl, in commenting upon the result, cited the example of Mr. Fitzgerald, who was a Catholic, and a repealer, as a proof that Catholics and repealers could not be trusted. But what was the fact? Another juror, who was a Protestant, had agreed with Mr. Fitzgerald in his view of the case. Yet the noble Earl withheld that fact, and cited only the instance of the Catholic repealer, and he had never given any explanation that he (Mr. J. O'Connell) heard of, of his conduct in the matter. He accused the noble Earl of not applying to ordinary laws to repress disaffection, whilst there was time to do so, and that when at length it had proceeded to extremity, he had asked for powers beyond the constitution. He further accused Lord Clarendon of tampering with the jury lists. On the trial of Mr. Meagher for high treason, the high sheriff made out a panel for the eminently Roman Catholic county of Tipperary, which contained only eighteen Catholics, and 300 Protestants, thereby proving that a power of setting aside Catholics had been exercised. And how had Lord Clarendon defended himself? In the reply which he gave to a memorial that had been presented to him upon the subject, he said, in the first place, that he had no control over the acts of the high sheriff or the law officers of the Crown. But that was no answer; it was an evasion of the charge. His Attorney General had adopted and defended the proceeding, and the objectionable panel returned by the high sheriff. In the next place, the Lord Lieutenant said that no such principle as the exclusion of Roman Catholics had been adopted. That, again, was an evasion. Such a principle had certainly never been put forward, but the practice was adopted; and it mattered very little whether or not a man put forward the principle of intending to rob you, if, practically, he did rob you. Again, the noble Earl had alleged that Protestants had been set aside as well as Catholics. But that was altogether beside the question, the fact being that the Attorney General had in every case retained twelve Protestants upon the juries, and set aside all the Catholics. That fact the Lord Lieutenant never attempted to answer, and until he had answered it he never could be acquitted. He need not have acted as he had done. There were repealers, certainly, who would hardly have found verdicts of guilty, but there were many others who would; and be (Mr. J. O'Connell) asserted that the noble Earl might safely have gone to trial with repealers upon the juries. But when people saw that the Government was not a paternal one—when they came to the conclusion that it was not entitled to the affections of the people, it was no wonder that one or two men should have been found upon the juries of the earlier trials who began to bring constitutional questions with the Government into discussion, and who considered that that Government had forfeited its right to their allegiance. He was not defending such men—he was only describing human nature. In conclusion, he would refer to sonic of the former cases in which coercion similar to the present suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act bad been applied to Ireland. He had come prepared with several quotations, and allusions to various times. But as the right hon. Baronet (Sir G. Grey) had not thought fit to cite them, he (Mr. J. O'Connell) would confine himself to only a very few of those he had prepared. The right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for the Home Department had alluded to the case of 1805. He did not dwell upon it—he seemed rather glad to fly from it the moment he had touched it, as though the parallel had struck him on the moment at being rather unfortunate. At that period England was at war with Napoleon. Il was quite clear that a most inveterate and bloody war was inevitable, and England was then engaged in a struggle for her very existence as a nation. Then, when struggling against all the world, restrictive measures might have been necessary to preserve peace at home; but there was no such excuse at the present moment, What were the statements made at that period? Sir Evan Nepean said— The continuance of this Bill is rendered necessary by the existence of disaffection in Ireland; by the avowed determination of the enemy to invade that country; and the preparations notoriously made for that invasion; by the fact of the collection and association of a number of Irishmen with the forces designed for that purpose; and the actual sitting of a Committee of United Irishmen at Paris, corresponding with the United Irishmen of Ireland, and stimulating them to continue in acts of treason. Was there any such enemy to deal with now? There were ample reasons then given for the suspension of the Habeas Corpus? The then Chancellor of the Exchequer (Viscount Castlereagh), on that occasion said— Are there no circumstances in which the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act without previous inquiry may not only be necessary, but strictly justifiable? What are tile reasons, the strong reasons, at this moment? We are at war with a powerful and active enemy, whose object professedly is to overturn our constitution and liberties. His attention is first turned to Ireland, where his emissaries are perpetually at work. To assist him, those who have fled from their own country are embodied in a kind of regiment. They maintain a correspondence with the disaffected, and have given occasion to the melancholy insurrections we have witnessed. It is not solely on the grounds that there are a number of disaffected; but coupled with the fact that we are now engaged in a war with an enemy who will let slip no opportunity of turning the remains of sedition and treason in Ireland to his own advantage. That was something like a reason. But, were these hon. Gentlemen who were continually professing themselves such deep admirers and disciples of Mr. Pox, desirous of preserving any character for consistency? Were they now acting according to the principles which he laid down? They were not. He (Mr. J. O'Connell) had prepared a Motion for the present occasion, but on consideration he thought it would be better to turn to the very period alluded to by the right hon. Secretary of State for the Home Department, and to use the very words of the Motion which was supported by Mr. Pox in opposition to Lord Castlereagh in 1805; and he now called upon all those hon. Members who adopted Mr. Pox as their apostle, if he might use the term, to follow the example he had given, and to grant the inquiry which he (Mr. J. O'Connell) now demanded. These were the words used by Mr. Pox in opposition to the Motion of Lord Castlereagh:— Much as I have been alarmed at the opinions of the Ministers of this country for several years, yet I confess I never felt an equal degree of alarm to that which the sentiments just uttered by the Minister have excited in my mind. I should hope, Sir, that he did not speak; seriously. If he did, if he really and deliberately holds such sentiments, I must say that I consider him as maintaining sentiments the most alarming that I have ever heard promulgated in this House, or this country, and such as I could scarcely suppose it possible that any man who imagined the people of England retained any regard for their liberties would venture to declare. The right hon. Gentleman never attempted to go the length he has hazarded to-night; he never before ventured to maintain that because some of the people were bad subjects, the liberty of the whole people should be placed at the discretion of the Minister and his agents, by the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act. He always has appeared to me to state insufficient reasons for his rigorous measures, but yet almost any grounds he urged at any time were sufficiency itself compared to those that are laid for the measures now proposed. Unless it be pretended that the measure of justice which is due to the people of Ireland is very different from that which belongs to the people of this country, and that different, nay, contrary, principles of argument are applicable to the two countries, it cannot be said that the English nation enjoys the least security against the suspension of its constitution at the will of any Minister, if this Motion be acceded to on such light grounds, or rather on no grounds whatever. In the whole progress of his hostility to freedom and the constitution of England, never has the Minister uttered anything so dangerous and alarming as to-night. He stated manfully that the character of a man, however pure, is no reason to invest that man with extraordinary powers. This is exactly my opinion; but he adds, that he only alluded to the character of the Lord Lieutenant as an argument against the abuse of the powers. This is to me a very nice and not very intelligible distinction; for the strongest reason in favour of any grant of power is, that it is not liable to abuse. I know there are certain theorists who hold that uncontrollable authority may be safely granted to an able, honeste man. I am not one of those theorists. Let the disposition of a man be what it may, I will not consent to invest him with extraordinary unconstitutional powers, for this plain reason, that they are liable to abuse. The virtue of a man is with me no argument in favour of such grants. The history of mankind, the history of the constitution, and my own experience, forbid such grants. If character were a sufficient reason to justify the constituting of such a power, that reason a Minister could always find among the nobility of the country. I will not entrust such power to any man. My objection is to grant the power proposed to the office, not to the man. Even suppose I allow every merit that may be ascribed to the Lord Lieutenant or his Secretary, and those immediately about his government, still my objection to this Bill would not be removed; for I feel it to be one of the greatest mischiefs of arbitrary power that, even though the principals in the administration of it be ever so virtuous, so vigilant, so able, still acts will be committed by some of those to whom in its various ramifications that power will necessarily be delegated, that the principals cannot prevent, and which, if communicated to them, would make them shudder with as much horror as any other persons would be apt to feel. I trust that by rejecting this measure, we shall show to the people that we have their liberty not merely in our mouths, but in our hearts, and that we will not abandon our duty to preserve that sacred trust upon idle rumours or light immaterial whispers. Such was the language used by Mr. Fox when there was war abroad and the danger of insurrection at home; and now there was only produced by way of reason the half of a letter of a refugee—of a mere newspaper adventurer. The noble Lord at the head of the Government would, of course, back up his representative in Ireland. No doubt he had come down to the House prepared to go the whole length of carrying the measure through. Argument could have no power or weight with him. But he (Mr. J. O'Connell) turned to those independent Members who had themselves some measures of reform in view, and these he entreated to support him. These he entreated not to abandon those Irish Members who had fought in their ranks for every measure of advantage for the people of England. Even though they should be abandoned that night, the Irish Members would never abandon the principles of civil and religious liberty; but he would appeal to the high interests of honour and of principle in the minds of the independent English Members whom he addressed; and if they failed to move, then he should turn to the baser motives and say. If you abandon us now, you may give up your hopes of the reforms you are seeking—you may throw to the winds your plans for reducing taxation and diminishing expenditure, for you will want every soldier you have now in Ireland. This Act alone will breed disaffection; and I tell you you cannot withdraw a single soldier from Ireland. On the contrary, you will have to add to their number. Your revenue will be loaded with additional taxes, instead of your being enabled to reduce those existing. You will, indeed, have the pleasure of once more trampling upon poor Ireland, but you will have to pay for it now—and, perhaps, you will have to pay still more dearly for it hereafter. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving as an Amendment— That a Committee, consisting of twenty-one Members, be formed by ballot, to examine such documents as may be laid before them; and to report to the House their opinion upon these documents, whether the continuance of the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act be a measure necessary to the tranquillity of Ireland at the present time.

After a pause MR. MEAGHER seconded the Amendment.


said, he did not feel much astonished at the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for the Home Department making such a proposition to the House, when he saw so much difficulty on the part of the hon. Member for Limerick (Mr. J. O'Connell) in finding a seconder for his resolution. He (Mr. F. O'Connor) had listened with great attention both to the right hon. Baronet and to the hon. Member; and he should say, that the right hon. the Secretary of State brought forcibly to his recollection the story of the lawyer, who said he would much prefer to have a good subservient jury to the best case that ever went before a court. The right hon. Baronet had altogether abandoned his case, and relied entirely upon the subserviency of the House to destroy the last remnant of Irish liberty. He had praised the constabulary force of Ireland, as being so brave and so loyal that they could of themselves put down any attempt at insurrection. But those men were all Roman Catholics, whilst those in power over them were. Protestants. The men were taken from the body of the people in Ireland; and what did that prove, but that if the people had employment they would be as loyal and as quiet as any in the world. The right hon. Baronet said, that he was not at liberty at present to say why he asked for the extension of this unconstitutional Act, but that it was to enable the Lord Lieutenant to carry out his policy in Ireland. But the right hon. Baronet had not stated to the House what the nature of that policy was. Why, it was merely a repetition of the old story when they wanted to stop the complaints of the Irish, or to frighten the English people. To-morrow the Chancellor of the Exchequer was going to ask for a vote to relieve Irish distress, but before doing so the present Act should be asked for; and in support of it the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for the Home Department could only read a letter published in Now York, by an individual whom the hon. Member for Limerick (Mr. J. O'Connell) called a refugee, but whom he (Mr. F. O'Connor) called a banished man. And before going further he should observe, that it ill became the hon. Member for Limerick to cast a slur upon those who resisted the very tyranny to which he, and those with whom he acted, were constantly opposed. With reference to the speech of the right hon. Baronet, it appeared to him that he (Sir G. Grey) had adopted all that told for him in the Lord Lieutenant's letter, and, like a well-bred barrister, had rejected all that told against him. But was there over so vague, so inconclusive, and so impotent an argument, as that which they had heard founded upon this letter? What did the right hon. Baronet say? Why, that Lord Clarendon ought to be the best judge of what practicable agitation meant. It was acting upon this principle, thus shadowed forth, which had led to all the distresses of Ireland. But let the House contrast the policy recommended by the present, with that urged by a former Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. What did the Marquess of Anglesea tell the people of Ireland? What was his advice? Why, "agitate, agitate, agitate." What, on the contrary, was the Earl of Clarendon's motto? Why, he told them to rely upon him—that he himself was the constitution— I am Sir Oracle, And when I ope my mouth let no dog bark. Now, what would be the effect of this policy? He (Mr. O'Connor) would tell them, it would be to make the Earl of Clarendon the head gaoler of Ireland. Yes; every man who urged a view upon any subject contrary to that adopted by Government, would be imprisoned, and his usefulness destroyed. But he told them that they would fail. They would not thus put down agitation, here or elsewhere. Let them look to what was passing around. Whenever terror was to be struck into England, Ireland was made the scapegoat: whenever war was to be waged with opinion in England, Ireland was to be made the battle-field. But, however weak the Irish party might be in this House—however weak the Irish interest might be in the sight of Government, he warned them that they could not go on destroying the constitution of a portion of this country when on the Continent new constitutions were being granted every day—constitutions in harmony with the advancing spirit of the age. There was one thing, however in which he agreed with the right hon. Baronet the Home Secretary, that it was not to this House or to this Government, but to their own landlords or resident gentry, that the Irish were to look for protection. But what were the facts? The right hon. Baronet knew well that the Irish Gentlemen here would support him in any measure against the liberties of Ireland. Weil, let them stop the progress of public opinion, and what were they to expect? Why, clubs and secret associations, and plotting and conspiracy. Were they to give to public opinion its full scope, they would find that what was right and good and sound and wholesome in that public opinion, would absorb and put down what was bad and wrong and dangerous. He wished to ask this question, would Government dare to behave to England as they were behaving to Ireland? Had they forget the letter of Tom Young of the Home Office to General Napier, asking him to take the command of the Brummagem people, in case every other means of agitation were to fail? But the noble Lord sitting there [pointing to the Treasury benches] and sitting here [pointing to the Opposition benches] is a very different person—as different as night from day. As for himself, he had been taunted with loyalty. But he had to ask, what was the meaning of loyalty? Was the loyalty of a Minister of the Crown, who went down every quarter-day to the Treasury to pocket his salary, the same sort of thing as that which was to be detected in the case of a poor alien, in blood, language, and religion—the victim of grinding middlemen—oppressed by a dominant Church, and tyrannised over by the unconstitutional law of an arbitrary Government? ["Oh!"] Hon. Gentlemen cried "Oh!" Was not Ireland, a Catholic country, subjected to the tyranny of a Protestant Church? He certainly had expected this Session to have heard something in the Royal Speech about the endowment of the Catholic clergy. But the noble Lord at the head of the Government dared not introduce such a measure. The time, however, when a reform in this respect must take place, was possibly not so far off. What Catholicism was in Ireland, the religion of the Jews was in Berlin, and the House knew what had recently happened in Prussia. The House had heard of the necessity of preserving the dignity and authority of the law in Ireland. But how had they showed their strength, and he would add, their impartiality, upon a recent occasion? Why, when two Americans had been incarcerated, they were at once set at liberty upon the demand of the American Minister. Thus, while Irishmen were imprisoned, Americans were allowed to escape. Such had been the weak and vacillating policy of Government; and it was after such displays that they expected loyalty in a starving people. He contended that the conduct of England to- wards Ireland was as bad as had ever been that of Russia to Poland. Had they ever heard of a million of Poles dying of famine? The time was come, however, when Ministers must reflect upon these things. Forty-nine years ago the Union had been carried; and Mr. Canning, then a great authority, had said, "For the good of Ireland let us carry the Union, and then we will do you justice." For twenty-nine years they had sought for emancipation; for thirty-two years they had struggled for the Reform Bill; and for forty-nine years they had had persecution. Ireland was subjected to the persecution of the Protestant Church, and however they might seek to tranquillise the country, they would never succeed until they had destroyed the ascendancy of that Church. In addition to other grievances in that country, there were partisan judges and packed juries. He recollected, as a case in point, that he had the honour once of being counsel for the Crown at the prosecution of Sir George Bingham, and upon that occasion Judge Moore, who presided, told him that he had made a most ungenerous use of the privilege of the Crown. The criminal sat with the judge, and the judge shook hands with the criminal, fined him sixpence, and took him home to dinner with him in his carriage. These were the things which disgusted the people of Ireland; and the time had now come when Her Majesty's Ministers would be obliged to reflect on the many evils by which that people were afflicted. How came it to pass that, with the most fertile soil, the most genial climate, and the most industrious population in the world, there existed in Ireland more misery, more want, more famine than on any other spot of the whole earth? ["Oh!"] He saw hon. Members sneering—he heard them murmuring and muttering—what did he care for that? Not one farthing. No—he looked to public opinion. He saw them now attempting to resist the financial reformers. But what were they doing in all other countries—what were they doing in Republican France? And here let him not be mistaken, he never was a republican—he never would be a republican—that was, unless he very much altered his mind. But what must be the popular opinion of that form of government, judging of it by the efforts which were seen to flow from it in other countries? The people wished for a reduction in the Army and Navy. They were told that they could not have it because England was a mo- narchy. ["Oh, oh!"] Yes, could they hold up their monarchy and point to it as effecting the same reforms and reductions which were taking place under the Republic in France, both in the army and the navy of that kingdom? Would they be able much longer to stand against such pressure from without? He was sorry to see the House nearly empty. The Gentlemen of the "stand-stills," the Gentlemen of the "wait-a whiles," and the Gentlemen of the "go-aheads," seemed all to be absent. Nevertheless, he would tell them that their recent free-trade legislation would be the ruin of Ireland. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Ripon laughed. [Sir JAMES GRAHAM: No, no; I differ from you in opinion only.] He was glad, at all events, to see the right hon. Baronet in his place. He supposed that he had been left on duty by his party as a sort of sentinel until they came back again. He would tell him and the House, however, that he (Mr. F. O'Connor) would much prefer the free-trade measures and measures of concession of the late Colleague of the right hon. Baronet, to the free-trade measures and concessions—which were merely bidding for power—of the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) opposite. As for Ireland, she wanted no relief—she only wanted justice. They dealt with any description of property save that which belonged to a landlord. So much for Ministers in office. What had been the policy of Ministers when out of office? They had first encouraged, nay, created revolution in this country, and they now blamed their followers in Ireland. Quum duces faciunt talia, quid non milites faciunt. Discussion, however, was like the Hue and Cry, that announced the thief's approach; and again he reminded the House that the Reform Bill was carried by means of agitation. The late Mr. O'Connell had once called for 500,000 fighting men; and the hon. Member for Limerick (Mr. J. O'Connell) had said in 1843, if the reports in the newspapers spoke truly—and a lie never appeared in an English newspaper—" Only delay a little longer, and I will lead you on to death or glory." [Mr. J. O'CONNELL: No, no!] Then the papers must have told lies. He believed that any difficulty of which the Irish had to complain was traceable to the conduct of their landlords. The old system was to feed the landlords by patronage, to cultivate their estates by patronage. Now the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) was afraid of them—let them go home and cultivate their estates. He (Mr. F. O'Connor) was not a man much attended to by the House—his opinions were not very popular, but the House would remember that he had proposed poor-laws for Ireland in 1834, with a tax upon absentees, with land premiums, farm premiums, and other similar inducements to improved cultivation. He (Mr. F. O'Connor) held that the House must compel Irish landlords to give leases in perpetuity, then they would not have crowds emigrating every day, and taking with them a great deal of the disposable capital of the country. What would be the effect of tenure in perpetuity? A letter had been published the other day from Mr. Charles Colthurst, who managed the estates of his brother. Sir Nicolas Colthurst, in Kerry. This letter related to circumstances as far back as 1818. There was then a large farm upon the estate, from which not more than 600l. a year could be realised. Mr. Charles Colthurst undertook to get 1,000l per annum for it if he were allowed to let it in small portions and in continuity. What was the result? Why, they cleared annually 1,350l. from the land in question, while there was not a man connected with the locality now who was disaffected to Government. Were they, in the face of facts like these, then, to be told that Government could not interfere in such matters? Were Government not to make regulations between landlord and tenant, when on those regulations depended the tranquillity, the prosperity of the country? But it was hopeless to look to the present Government. They were powerful in opposition—they are powerless in office; and he hoped to see them soon again in the situation which they were destined by nature to fill. Then they would be men who would stand up for economy—men who would drive the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth from office were he to propose another Arms Bill. Such would be the policy of the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) in opposition; but how long would it last after he had crossed to the Ministerial benches? There had been an allusion made by the noble Lord (Lord H. Vane), who moved the Address, to the Chartists. They were told that the Chartists had been put down last April. Now, they had neither been put down then, nor were they put down yet. He had little more to say. Would to God that he had it in his power to stop the progress of the Bill before them! What could be more intolerable, more unjust, and more unconstitutional than that the Secretary of State for the Home Department should come down to the House and tell them that all was tranquil, but that, nevertheless, he entertained certain anticipations of further disturbances, and that in consequence of these anticipations, he asked for an extended limit to the arbitrary powers now in force. What! was Ireland always to be governed by Ministerial anticipations. Let them beware, however, of this fresh attempt to put down public opinion in Ireland. They had lately had many examples that what was called criminality one day might be accounted patriotism the next.


said, the motto of the Treasury beaches that night seemed to be, sic volo sic jubeo. The successors of Fox were now following his example in a remarkably curious manner, for they required a majority of the House to give them a blind and unreasoning support, and it was to be feared that in that expectation they were not reckoning without their host. The only ground upon which the right hon. Baronet (Sir G. Grey) had founded his reasons for proposing the present measure was the letter from Mr. D'Arcy M'Ghee; but he (Mr. Roche) had read that letter, and it struck him that no stronger arguments against the measure had been advanced that night than were contained in the letter in question. Mr. D'Arcy M'Ghee had written with the view of showing why he and his party had failed in their attempt to revolutionise Ireland. He said, "We wanted to raise the people—the people were flocking to our standard in numbers; but a certain party in Ireland interfered, reasoned with the people, and the people fell off." Who was that party? The Roman Catholic clergy; and Mr. D'Arcy M'Ghee fairly admitted that were it not for the Roman Catholic clergy Ireland would have been revolutionised. Now, the Roman Catholic clergy were as powerful at present as they had been in July last. There was no danger that the loyalty of that clergy could be shaken, for that loyalty had been tried for centuries by every species of martyrdom, contumely, and injustice, and they had come out of the fire as pure in loyalty as they had gone into it. Therefore he was of opinion that anything more lame or more vague than the reasons upon which the present application had been founded could not by possibility have been devised. Every interest in Ireland was ruined, and yet the Government came forward with this miserable attempt to suspend the constitutional rights of the people. He was not so great an advocate as others for continued agitation; he was not of opinion that it was right at all times to keep a country in a state of political agitation. When he saw the Whig party on the Treasury bench prepared to vote away the rights of the Irish people, and when he found that the Repeal Association had been swayed as much for the use and benefit of that party—[Mr. J. O'CONNELL dissented]—as for the use of the Irish people—and there was no doubt it had been of use to them, he confessed he was not so sanguine about the utility of constant agitation. But there were times when all good men ought to unite for the benefit of the country; and certainly at no previous time did Ireland require such an effort to be made as at present. What did the Government now propose with a view to prevent the necessity of agitation? A poor-law which might be said to be shelved for the Session in a Committee upstairs. Then there was a Franchise Bill. The franchise was, no doubt, a political right, but it would not feed a starving people. If long ago the Government had given Ireland equal rights and privileges with England, they would perhaps by this have seen Ireland rising by her own power from her miserable position, and saving England the cost of the horrid famine which had afflicted that part of the empire. But it was not until the eleventh hour that even a franchise was offered. He had heard nothing of the vital question of the tenure; and if it should be brought forward, he supposed it would, like the poor-law, be referred to a Committee. And yet he was scarcely surprised at this when he looked at the constitution of the Cabinet, which did not contain what he considered one true Irishman. As for Lords Lansdowne and Clanricarde, they were absentees; and everybody knew that absenteeism was the curse of Ireland. It had been said sneeringly that at a recent meeting of ten Irish Members there were five different opinions amongst them; but, although it might be laughed at, he would say that one out of the five opinions must be right. ["Hear."] Well, they must have been rather queer fellows, if out of the ten not one of them should have hit upon what was right. He certainly believed, that there was not one of the entire Cabinet who could tell right from wrong upon an Irish question. Ireland presented every possible difficulty, socially and politically, and to understand her position, it was necessary to serve an apprenticeship to her; and no man in the present Cabinet had had time to do so. Now, he believed, he could point out ample means with which to reform Ireland, without taking one penny from England. All he asked was justice and fair play. He asked them to apply themselves to the Irish question, and view it as men of business ought; and they would then find within Ireland herself, resources enough to prevent the necessity of application to England for relief. Beginning with her mock court, he asked what benefit was the office of Lord Lieutenant to Ireland? He had a great respect for Lord Clarendon; but the use of the Lord Lieutenancy was just in the inverse ratio to the cost, which might be applied to Irish wants. Then there was the Established Church, which would give a very large fund, which fund was, and is, public property; and yet the people of Ireland get no value for it. The Protestants of Ireland were a mere cypher, numerically, and intellectually not a bit better. Why then continue such an establishment, when the Catholic people about it were starving, more particularly as it was matter of history, that the church property in Ireland once belonged to the Catholics, and went not only to the support of religion but of the poor as well: that was a source of Irish revenue, which, if they were practical and prudent men, they would at once apply to the necessities of Ireland. There was also the land tax, amounting to 1,250,000l., which was spent without control or responsibility, and ought to be applied to national purposes. See, next, what the present policy of the Government of the country cost, that might otherwise be saved. They had 50,000 troops in Ireland, rank and file, and a fleet of observation, which might be readily dispensed with, if a system of justice and not coercion were pursued. There was, moreover, maladministration in almost every public office, which, if amended, might create another saving, and out of all together a fund might be had amply sufficient to develop the resources of Ireland, and to prevent any appeal to this country. But why, he asked again, did they continue the old and beaten track of coercion with the experience before them of the evil effects of coercion, as often as it had been tried? Ireland had had the Insurrection Act in force eleven out of the twenty-four years from 1800 to 1825, and within the same period the Habeas Corpus Act had been suspended three times. Looking to the effect of that policy, he must say that, if experience were to guide them, the last thing they ought to have recourse to was coercion. It was said, that Ireland had always been the difficulty of the English Government; and he predicted that she always would be, until a Government, actuated by feelings of humanity, and having the heads of statesmen, could be found to govern on the principle of justice, and not coercion.


said, it never had been his wish to offer any factious opposition to the present Government, but he regretted, in common with other hon. Members in that House, that the Administration had not shown more activity and energy in carrying out those measures towards Ireland which they had promised whilst occupying the Opposition benches. However, he was willing to believe, that since they came into power there might have been some justification for them in not fulfilling the pledges which they had formerly given. He could not forgot what some Members of the present Government had done at various periods for his country; but at the same time he felt it to be his duty to give the proposition which they now brought forward his most strenuous, most energetic, and most continuous opposition. Ever since the time of the Union, it appeared that the policy of the English Government in Ireland was to rule by means of Coercion Acts, and suspensions of the Habeas Corpus Act. But he thought no Government ever came forward to propose such a measure upon such weak grounds as the present. Last year, when they asked for this Act, there was some show of argument for it, for they were told it was to prevent insurrection. That was not the case now. Even the letter from America, upon which so much reliance had been placed, was repudiated by men of all parties in Ireland. He totally denied that there was any such thing as a general disposition towards disaffection in Ireland, as had been alleged. With regard to one insurrection, as it had been called, he could bear his own testimony that it was little more than the riots of a starving population; and the respectable farmers in the neighbourhood frequently remained out for nights in the fields, to avoid being compelled to join the disaffected. When first he heard of the present measure, he thought it was on account of something beyond what they knew in Ireland, or on account of the incendiary fires in the north, perhaps. But it was apparent from the Lord Lieutenant's letter, as well as the speech of the right hon. Baronet (Sir G. Grey), that its real object was the suppression of public opinion in Ireland. He would be glad to know, would hon. Members around him, representing English counties or towns, agree to such a proposal with respect to their own constituencies? They should change their mode of administering the law in Ireland, if they wished to gain the confidence of the Irish people. They should select for their jurors Protestants and Roman Catholics indiscriminately; and he could see nothing to justify their adoption of a contrary mode of proceeding at the late State trials. At the period of Mr. O'Connell's trial there might have been some valid excuse for the exclusion of the Roman Catholics of Ireland from his jury, because nineteen-twentieths of that body had been favourable to the agitation which he conducted; but that excuse did not exist for the recent exclusion of Roman Catholics from juries, because nineteen-twentieths of them were opposed to the late agitation. They should abolish the Church monopoly in Ireland, and until they did so the people of that country would not be satisfied. He knew that the proposed measure was looked upon as a vote of confidence in Lord Clarendon; but although he respected the character and admired the ability of that nobleman, he protested against the doctrine that the liberties of a whole people should be placed at his mercy.


said, that it appeared to him that this experiment of the Government was somewhat hazardous. He believed, too, that it was an experiment which would fail, as similar experiments had already. There was nothing in the character of the people of Ireland to disqualify them for the enjoyment of liberty— The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves, that we are underlings. He protested against the doctrine that Ireland should be bound by a legislative union with this country while she was excluded from the practical benefits of the constitution. If he were an Englishman, he should pause before he adopted such a policy. Irishmen were told that they lived under the same laws as Englishmen. Why, then, should there be any difference between them? The difference was not in the law, but in the administration of the law. The error of Irishmen had been that they had not, like their brethren in England, stood out for their liberties. But there was now an opportunity for the friends of Ireland; and he augured well for the favourable termination of this debate from the ominous silence observed by the English Members. Why should the Irish Members be asked unanimously to vote in favour of this measure, when there was not a tittle of proof of its necessity before the House—nothing to recommend it but the solitary letter of his Excellency the Lord Lieutenant? Lord Castlereagh and Mr. Pitt never passed coercive measures and suspensions of the Irish people's liberties upon such light and trivial grounds as this. Each of these statesmen was compelled to come down to the House with bags of letters, and statements, and sworn informations to support the imperious urgency of suspending the constitution; and hon. Gentlemen in those times used to insist upon authentic statements and evidence, given on oath before magistrates, ere they could be induced to accede to the application from the Government of the day. In 1796 and 1797 Mr. Pitt had a Committee of the House, and a Committee was also appointed in Ireland, to inquire into the necessity for unconstitutional measures for maintaining public tranquillity there. In the present instance, however, all the evidence before them was the Lord Lieutenant's letter. He (Mr. Grattan) had every respect for particular individuals selected by the Government for the management of Irish affairs; yet he had over and over again told them that they could never administer the affairs of Ireland so long as they continued to exclude from their counsels men who were best conversant with the affairs of that country. An individual (Lord Stanley) had once declared in that House that the English Government must first make itself feared, before it could be loved; but the true and only effective means for gaining the respect and affection of a people towards their authority, was by dealing out to them even-handed justice, and regarding their rights and liberties as sacred and inviolable—it was not sufficient that the British lion should be strong; he should be merciful. The idea of an insurrection being ready to break out in Ireland again, was preposterous and ridiculous. When it was alluded to last night by a Member of that House, it was treated with laughter and merriment, and viewed as altogether a burlesque. It was easy for the heated imagination and excited mind of any man to get up such an insurrection in Ireland; and by the aid of the spy system if they would pay him (Mr. Grattan) he would get one up for them in a very little time. The conduct of the Government was in this respect most reprehensible and pernicious; they made it the interest of any man, whether he was an agitator or incendiary in the county of Down, or an insurrectionist in the south of Ireland, to do as much mischief throughout the country as possible. It was a horrid system, and was never surpassed by any thing practised in the palmiest days of tyranny. The Tory party formerly had recourse to the same abominable system; yet he (Mr. Grattan) had the generous confession from the lips of several of that party, that they had been wrong in their policy, but that they had never carried it out to such a pitch as was done at present. He (Mr. Grattan) denounced the manufacture of pikes for the people; but he must also express his indignation of the system which fostered and fattened the spy. They heard something the other night about "mock mediations;" but now it was attempted to work upon the fears of hon. Members by means of "mock insurrections;" and at length they end by leaving the Irish people only a mock constitution. It was not likely the people would become enamoured of British connexion, when its principal fruits were the suspension of their rights and the denial of their liberties. Indeed, the object of the Government seemed to be to push the experiment to its utmost limits, and try how far the Irish spirit could bear the abstraction of its rights; they appeared to be intent upon bringing the Irish people down to the most infinitesimal quantity of the constitution they could endure; but this was not the way to cement the Union, or to prove its advantages to be equality and reciprocal benefits. This was not the way to silence the repeal agitation, but rather the most effective means to widen the breach, and provoke the demand for total separation. They had been told the Irish people felt no penitence for their past disaffection and rebellion. The people of Ireland not penitent! Why, they had nothing to repent of, they had never joined in any rebellion—it was an insult, a mockery, and a falsification of the facts to tell this House that the people of Ireland, the laity or clergy, Protestants, or Catholics, bad sympathised with or countenanced any insurrectionary movement. It was a foul calumny heaped upon that nation to mix them up with the acts of a few violent and misguided young men whose proceedings had been generally repudiated and denounced by all parties. And even at the recent trials at Clonmel it was a puzzle to the lawyers to find out overt acts against the parties accused—they were obliged to rake up letters written in March, April, May, and June, to make out the charge. Mr. O'Brien distinctly denied all participation in the acts of the more violent party; he separated from it, denounced it, and repudiated Mr. Mitchel's conduct. Mr. O'Brien was charged with going to France to solicit French aid for the disaffected in Ireland; but M. Lamartine's written answer gives a direct denial to the accusation. Mr. O'Brien and Mr. Meagher did no more than what the people of England had done, namely, congratulate the French nation on the acquisition of their liberties. Ireland did not require any such unconstitutional measures; it could be infinitely better governed without than with them, for such measures could never conciliate the hearts or secure the affections of the people; it must infallibly tend further to alienate both from British rule and from the British people. Would a suspension of their liberties excite their love for England? and what charm for a people was there in coercion? Why should the Irish people love the English more than the French nation? The French were as well-mannered and agreeable persons as the English. [An Hon. MEMBER: And bettor-looking.] His hon. Friend added "better-looking," but he (Mr. Grattan) did not think so; there was something open and honest about an Englishman's looks that could not so easily be discovered in the moustachioed visage of a Frenchman. The Lord Lieutenant complained that there was no improved feeling in Ireland as regarded respect for the law. Now it happened that an individual who had been in gaol for seven months was going to be tried this day. Several trials had been attempted in this case, and bad failed; indictment after indictment was preferred—at one time in the city of Dublin, then in the county, then back again to the city. Such proceedings could not surely increase the respect for the law—he must tell the Attorney General that although he (Mr. Grattan) might admit that he was a talented lawyer, he failed in all his endeavours to get a conviction because he had been insane enough to have recourse to a system of selecting or rather of packing juries. In Mr. Duffy's case, 177 jurors were on the panel, 42 of whom only were Catholics; among the first 13 there was no Catholic, among the last nine there were six. Two of the Catholics had died four mouths before; three others had been challenged by the Crown on a previous occasion; and others, when called, were found to have absconded and left Dublin some time ago. Four others were tradesmen; two were public contractors; one was a shoemaker; another hairdresser to the Lord Lieutenant. That was a specimen of how juries were selected in Ireland; and was it to be supposed that these practices could inspire the Irish people with a love and reverence for the sanctity and majesty of the law? Let the House mark further how these jurymen were selected. The documents before him showed one to be chandler to the Chief Secretary; another, purveyor to the Lord Lieutenant; another, engineer to a Government commission; another, was formerly seedsman to the Lord Lieutenant; two were Government sinecurists; another was auctioneer to the Woods and Forests; another, consul to the King of Hanover; and so he might go on enumerating a long list selected from middle-class tradesmen, who must, from various reasons, be supposed to be more or less under the influence of high quarters. Lot them not sanction a repetition of the practices resorted to in Lord Castlereagh's time—arresting individuals, throwing them into prison—destroying their character, and reducing them to poverty, without a particle of evidence to sustain any proof of guilt against them, as the published letters in Lord Londonderry's Memoirs so fully testify. For his own part, he had rather see martial law established at once in Ireland, than see her governed on such a system, and treated with such infinitesimal doses of the British constitution. Was this a time to add to the oppressions of Ireland, when her farmers were flying from the country, the best of her population emigrating—her lands going out of cultivation, and the sufferings of her people were such that he could draw tears from their eyes by recounting them? The Irish people were the equals of the English in every respect. They knew how to die nobly as well as the English. They were ready to fall by their side on the field of honour; let them not now be condemned to perish with disgrace.


said, that he could not concur either in the Motion of the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for the Home Department, or in the Amendment moved by the hon. Member for Limerick (Mr. J. O'Connell). It would be necessary, in the first instance, to state the reason why he would deny to those charged with the executive power those means which, in their judgment, they deemed necessary for the preservation of the public peace. He would acquit the right hon. Baronet (Sir G. Grey) of the imputation cast upon him of concealment and management in the conduct of his case. The grounds on which the measure rested had been laid before them fairly, and without reservation, and neither the right hon. Baronet nor the Lord Lieutenant were liable to the accusation of affecting an air of mystery, or leading the House to suppose that they were in possession of information which it would not be wise to communicate. The common law, the permanent statute law, and the occasional legislation of Parliament, had conferred on the Government powers quite sufficient in ordinary and even in extraordinary times for its conduct. But if these powers were not sufficient, it lay on the Government to show the necessity of the additional powers which they asked for, more especially when the powers they requested concerned the personal liberty of the subject. This had been effected in times of great excitement, by the suspension of the Act of Habeas Corpus. He admitted that the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act now asked for was of a mitigated nature compared with the suspensions which took place at various periods during the reign of George III. But still it was a direct encroachment on the personal liberty of the subject, and it was necessary for the proposers to make out a strong case to justify it. Let the House pause for a moment, and consider what the evidence was on which it was contended this measure was necessary. That evidence was contained, first, in the fact that there had been last year an insurrection in Ireland, and that it was put down; secondly, in a letter supposed to have been written by one of the refugees who fled from justice in consequence of the part he had taken in that insurrection, and which letter was published in America; and, thirdly, in a letter read by the right hon. Baronet from the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, and which was laid before the House by Her Majesty. With regard to the first ground, the answer was that it did not exist, for the insurrection was put down. But it was said that a spirit of disaffection existed. If that was a justification, it existed equally in this country. Had they, he asked, no disaffection in England? Was not Chartism as rampant in this year as it was in the last? They had that night had authority for believing that the Chartism of 1849 would be as dangerous to the State as the Chartism of 1848. Did not the Chartists of 1848 meditate rebellion, commit overt acts of high treason, gather arms, and hold those infernal conclaves for the assassination of magistrates and the police, to which their attention had been so lately called? Therefore, the charge of disaffection might be levelled against the lower classes in this country with as much truth as against the inhabitants of the disturbed districts in the county of Tipperary. But the lower classes were not the only disloyal English. He would remind the House that an hon. Gentleman, filling the high position of a Member of their body, had been going about exciting the masses of Lancashire, and asking them to league with him in an enterprise the avowed object of which was to deprive the Throne of its mighty colonial empire. What were they to think of those who, on the ground of economy, presented to the excited populace of Great Britain the example of the Republic of America, and through the mouth of the hon. Member had declared that if monarchy was inconsistent with economy, they must have economy ruat cœlum? He objected, then, to the selection of Ireland for the application of this law, and complained of its injustice. If it were well to prosecute Mr. Kevin Doherty, they could not justify the impunity conceded to the hon. Member for the West Riding. What was there in the circumstances of Ireland different from those of Great Britain to justify this legislation? They had the Gentlemen of the Manchester school, in the present Session, swelling the majority for the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, and yet they found them wasting the time of the House with idle rant in the course of last Session, on the subject of that miti- gation of the law of treason which they were pleased to denounce as arbitrary and unconstitutional. What was the conduct of those Gentlemen who belonged to the great party of reform, and who were forsooth liberals and friends to the extension of knowledge amongst the people? They were opposing the measures they ought to support, and supporting the measures which they ought to oppose, if they were true to their principles. Why was this? Because last Session it was the case of Great Britain, and now the case of Ireland? He should next make a few observations with respect to the second ground that had been brought forward in support of the proposition of the right hon. Baronet, namely, the letter of Mr. D'Arcy M'Ghee. He was acquainted with Mr. M'Ghee, and could give the House some information about him. What would the House say when he assured them—an assurance he would not give were not the preservation of life involved—for on the supposed accuracy of the statement of Mr. M'Ghee might depend that tremendous question if the writs of error taken by the gentlemen in prison in Dublin were decided against them—that Mr. M'Ghee, to his (Mr. Anstey's) knowledge, at his instance, and mainly through his persuasion, was, down to the end of February last, engaged most honestly and zealously in an attempt to prevent the appearance of revolutionary, or even liberal, principles among the young men constituting the Young Ireland party In the repeal ranks? He had a letter in Ills possession written by Mr. M'Ghee, in such a spirit of loyalty and conservatism as it would not be possible for any gentleman to compose, in a spirit of conservatism or loyalty—nay, he would go further, on the principles of the old Tory school—a more extreme epistle. In that strain of mind was Mr. M'Ghee until the end of February, when the fatal news of the revolution in France reached Ireland; and what was done afterwards was done under the effect of that absorbing excitement which it produced. He (Mr. Anstey) would not pay any attention to the letter which Mr. M'Ghee had written from America. He was a poet, and a good poet, but still a poet; otherwise he would have paused before writing such a foolish and, apparently, such an ungenerous letter, for it might be very injurious to his former associates. He did not think there was anything in the third ground—the letter of his Excellency the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland—to justify this measure. Nothing but necessity could justify it, and that necessity did not exist. What did Lord Clarendon say in asking for a renewal of these powers? Notwithstanding the passing of the Act with so much unanimity last Session, and notwithstanding the flagrant insurrection which was raging at the time when it passed. Lord Clarendon declared that he had not found it necessary to arrest any person under the provisions of the Act, "except on sworn informations." In other words, so far as its letter was concerned, the Act was dead. Lord Clarendon said, that whatever good effect had been produced by it, was attributable to the prevalent conviction of the unanimity of Parliament in passing it. That conviction would not be lessened if the Bill were not renewed. Not only had not Lord Clarendon used the powers entrusted to him, but Her Majesty's Ministers had been enabled, considering the general aspect of public affairs, to advise Her Majesty to make large reductions in the military estimates of last year. Nothing but necessity could justify the renewal of the Act, and in that recommendation they had the assurance of the Government that no necessity existed. Could anything be more dangerous than to accustom the Irish people to this occasional legislation? What was it but to teach them to go on deluding themselves with the vain thought which it was so desirable to remove from their minds, that their safety lay, not in self-reliance, but in an abject dependence on that House and on Her Majesty's Ministers? These were the reasons which induced him to give his vote against the Bill, and for the same reasons he would give his vote against the proposition for a Committee of Inquiry. It presupposed that there was further evidence reserved to themselves by Her Majesty's Ministers, and which they might be compelled to produce before the Committee; and they had already the statements of the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for the Home Department, and of his Excellency the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, that there was no other evidence except that which was a matter of notoriety, and which had been communicated to the House. He would not give his vote for the Amendment, but he was not the less resolved to give his vote against the Bill. He should on future occasions abstain from addressing the House on the principle of the mea- sure; but when the Bill went into Committee, he should propose an Amendment that would, to some extent, mitigate the objections he had to it. In taking this course of opposition, he believed that he was doing that to which both Houses had been recently invited; and that, in the gracious words which they had heard from the Throne—and a more fitting conclusion he could not give to his observations—ho was now aiding Her Majesty to uphold the fabric of the constitution, which is founded upon the principles of freedom and justice.


regretted that, on rising to address the House for the first time, he should feel himself compelled to speak on a subject that must be equally painful to the feelings of all true Irishmen. But representing, as he did, a county that was little, if at all, implicated in the melancholy circumstances of the last summer, he felt it to be his duty, on the part of his constituents, as well as on his own, to express his painful conviction that there did exist a necessity for the continued suspension of this Act. From the statement he had heard that night from the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department, as also from his own knowledge of the feelings of parties and men in Ireland, he felt convinced that the Government were justified in the course they had taken. If this were a measure that was calculated to excite feelings of alarm in the minds of men—if it were a measure that would impress on the minds of men the conviction that a blow was still intended by the rebellious section in Ireland against the Government—if it were a measure that was calculated to cramp the transactions of commerce, or retard the operations of agriculture—if he thought there was an intention on the part of the Government to make this measure in any degree permanent, he should, though deeply impressed with its necessity, feel himself bound to oppose it. He felt, however, that the contrary was the case, and that the powers sought by this Bill were necessary in order to prevent the recurrence of those events which had been so detrimental to the interests of Ireland during the last year. Seeing, then, that there was no intention on the part of Her Majesty's Government to render this a permanent measure, and seeing also that it was not likely to produce any of those effects which had been anticipated, he thought that all who were desirous of seeing peace and order established in the country should give their support to the proposal for a limited extension of the measure. He (Mr. Bourke), as an Irishman, would most gladly give his support to any measure which would insure, oven for a short time, a continuance of peace. What Ireland wanted was, that her children might be allowed to turn their minds, even for a short time, from the contemplation of political theories to the cultivation of the soil, and the development of the resources of the country. The people of Ireland had been accustomed for many years to think more of fighting than of farming, and more of contention than of commerce. It was in consequence of this that they were prevented from taking those steps which other people might have taken in order to defend themselves from the dangers of the famine which had afflicted the country for the last few years. A terrible calamity had overtaken the Irish people, unprecedented in the history of nations, and it found them unprepared, and without any means of defence to shield them from its onslaughts. No person who looked back to the history of the last few years, since the commencement of the famine, could fail to see that there was also another feature in that distress which it was now terrible to contemplate. A spirit was abroad among the people which rendered even famine more hideous than it would otherwise have been. A spirit was abroad which enabled designing men to tell the famine-stricken peasants, that the cause of the deaths of those nearest and dearest to them was not the visitation of Providence, but the effect of bad legislation. The Irish peasant was accustomed to hoar that the Irish people lost by the connexion with England—that their country was ruined by it—that the Saxon sway had ever boon hostile to Celtic improvement and to Celtic prosperity. It was a maniac, an anarchical, and a traitorous spirit that was abroad among the people. Did this spirit now exist in the country? That was the question which they were to decide to-night. Did the spirit now exist in the country which made the Government declare, last year, that the presence of 40,000 men was absolutely necessary in order to keep it in order and quell it? If any portion of that spirit was still in existence, then there was a necessity for the adoption of more stringent measures than those that were usually in force in the country. It had been said that this measure was brought forward for the purpose of putting down the repeal agitation. Lord Clarendon had boon possessed of the power, under the Act, now for nearly six months, and was there a single particle of evidence to show that that power had been so employed? Not a single man had been arrested but what was deeply interested in the traitorous agitation of 1848. There had not been a single instance of any person having been arrested under this Act merely because he held repeal opinions. No Government should attempt to put such a power in force except for the actual suppression of rebellion. The opposition which had arisen to the measure, he confessed, did not appear to him strange. He was not an old man; but still he was old enough to remember the time when those unfortunate men now in prison, whose lives were forfeited to the just sentence of the law, were burning and shining lights in that Association which had for many years held sway over the passions of the Irish people. He recollected when members of the Loyal National Repeal Association were not ashamed to avail themselves of the prestige and traditionary influence of one who bore the ancient name of O'Brien, and were not ashamed to welcome to their councils and to avail themselves of the talents and energy of a Meagher. The fact was, that many of the leaders of the late Confederation owned allegiance to the leaders of the Repeal Association. Where were now the leaders? They were still legislators, but their followers were convicted felons. The masters were Members of Parliament, but the pupils sit in the dreary cells of a Dublin gaol. He might pursue the subject further, and show the intimate connexion that existed between those hon. Members and the unfortunate men now suffering the penalty of their crimes. [Mr. J. O'CONNELL: No, no!] He was prepared to prove his statement; but he would not pursue the subject any farther. He would only remind the House of a fact of which, no doubt, they were all aware—that Conciliation Hall begat the Confederation, and the Confederation begat those miserable scenes of the last year. He deeply regretted that it should have fallen to his lot to be compelled to give his support to this measure, and most sincerely did he hope that this might be the last time that they should over see the Government called upon to ask for a retrenchment—for a retrenchment it undoubtedly was—of the liberties of the people of Ireland.


said, he had recently left that part of Ireland which was considered to be most imbued with an insurrectionary feeling in the summer of last year, and he could affirm, upon his honour, that he never knew the country to be in so tranquil a state as at present; that he never knew political discussion to be so completely at a discount; that he never knew the leaders of that violent party in Ireland, whom he had always opposed, to be so completely prostrate. In the sixteen years during which he had been a Member of that House he had never previously witnessed so little agitation in Ireland. He could not point out a single individual in that country who was even attempting to produce anything like a dangerous or insurrectionary feeling; while the humblest peasant in his neighbourhood, who was imbued with any bad feelings last summer, was now completely convinced of the folly, the weakness, and the wickedness of the men who had led him into insurrection by means of the ideal benefits which they had promised to the country. From the bishop to the humblest curate of the Roman Catholic religion, in that part of the south of Ireland with which he was more intimately connected, there was not one to be found to lend his sanction to anything of an insurrectionary nature. Even the few younger clergy, who were imbued last summer with something of feelings approaching to an insurrectionary character, were perfectly cured, and convinced they were wrong in the views they then took. They were so completely changed that there was not one man among ten of them (if, indeed, there were ten who held those opinions, and to his knowledge there were not), to whom he could point his finger as entertaining any such feelings at the present time. [Laughter.]He should be glad to know what amused hon. Gentlemen. He believed these men were convinced that the insurrectionary movement of last year had inflicted vast injury on the country—and that, impressed with this feeling, they would strenuously resist any tendency to renew that movement in whatever quarter. He therefore, on his part, felt it to be his duty to oppose the demand of the Government for unconstitutional powers, no longer necessitated by the circumstances of the case. When it was considered necessary, last year, to give the Government more power, he did not object to do so; but he believed that it was not necessary for the vindication of the law to supend the liberties of the people; and he felt it, therefore, to be his duty to vote against the measure. He had no mistrust of Lord Clarendon in carrying out the measure; on the contrary, he believed that he administered the law with justice, prudence, and mercy, and also with the highest sense of feeling and honour. But although be had every confidence in Lord Clarendon, still he could not consent to surrender that which in this country was considered the noblest birthright of the subject—his liberty. Ireland had been long enough treated as a slave instead of as a sister; and unless some attempt were made by the Government of this country to raise her up from her present position, they might depend upon it that she would drag this country down to an abyss which was not yet perceived. Coercion Bills were always employed as the remedies for the difficulties of Ireland—remedial measures were seldom or ever attempted. He protested against the adherence, on the part of England to the old system of tyranny over Ireland, merely on the ground of the ravings of some fanatic here, or some transatlantic lunatic, whom the hon. Member for Youghal had accurately characterised as a poet. It would seem as though the Government were even yet ignorant of the awful condition of Ireland and her people. The poor-law imposed upon Ireland, had proved itself utterly unable to meet the exigencies of the case: the men of property were ruined by it, the farmers were compelled to throw up their farms, and labourers were reduced to the verge of wretchedness and misery. There never was an Act which was so universally opposed in Ireland as that measure, and never was there a method of getting rid of a difficulty so generally execrated as referring the matter to a Committee upstairs, because it was considered to be a mere evasion of the question. The Irish people wanted food, and the means of subsistence, and they had asked him (Sir H. Barron) over and over again, what the British Parliament was going to do for the country. He now asked the same question; and the reply was the Suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act. Would that either feed the people or stimulate industry? What, he would ask, had been done with the arterial drainage of the country? Thousands of persons had been turned away from these works, which had nearly been stopped altogether, and the consequence was, that a large addition had been made to the numbers who were without food or employment. These were the advantages which Ireland gained from its union with England, that rich and powerful country. As a necessary result, thousands of persons, who had shown themselves in the worst of times the advocates of British connexion, were driven into the arms of the repealers, on the ground that their interests were totally neglected by the British Parliament. He did not apprehend any enormous mischief from the Act, when its powers were placed in the hands of such a man as Lord Clarendon, but he objected to it on principle, and because no necessity had been made out to justify its passing into a law.


said, that having duly weighed the case put forward by the noble Lord at the head of the Government, he wholly failed to perceive in it any justification of the demand now made upon the House. He would tell the Lord Lieutenant to his face that he first made the giants, and then he slew them. There was a saying that if rats once got into a house, they were never to be got out again. If the viceregal rat-catching mania were to, be indulged, Ireland would never again be free from coercion. The Lord Lieutenant had implicated the whole of the people of Ireland in his charge of disloyalty and treason. The noble Earl's statement respecting the disaffection that reigned there, so far from being exaggerated, was under rated. But he (Mr. Moore) must assert that there were only a few disloyal persons, whilst nine-tenths of the people of Ireland were disaffected to the Government of the country, and dissatisfied with the treatment they experienced. During the last year the case was totally different from I what it now was, for then an insurrection was inevitable; but no rebellion actually broke out, as the people of Ireland had no intention to rebel. Although the Felon and the United Irishman talked as if a I million of men were ready to rise at the stamp of their foot, they bad scarcely more influence with any portion of the Irish people than any mere Saxon in this country. They were not known to and not trusted by the people; and they were, in fact, opposed from first to last by those in whom the people of Ireland did believe and trust. There was no fear of a rebellion now. But what did Lord Clarendon say in support of his renewed request to continue the suspension of Irish liberty? This country," said the Lord Lieutenant, "has been too long trained to a system of agitation to be at once weaned from such a course. What, then, were the objects which the noble Earl proposed to attain by prolonging the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act? To secure for Ireland that continued repose which is so vitally essential to her prosperity—to protect the country from the renewal of an agitation for objects that cannot be attained, and; which for many years has disturbed its tranquillity, scaring away capital, destroying confidence, and rendering impossible the steady application of industry. It was impossible, indeed, to speak too highly in praise of the temper and discretion with which the powers entrusted to Lord Clarendon were exercised by him; but he did not like leaving the lives and liberties of his countrymen at the discretion of an individual. There was a good deal of chance in these matters, and they might have a Lord Lieutenant on whose discretion no reliance could be placed. He thought he could take credit to himself for having opposed that agitation as long, as efficiently, as Her Majesty's Government had done. He had for years consented rather to remain in a private station of life than, to join the agitation, whilst Her Majesty's Ministers sat on the Treasury benches dispensing their patronage to the agitators. The present Government bad been sheltered under the wing of one set of agitators in the same manner that they were about to place themselves under the protection of another similar movement. In his opinion there could be nothing more vile or profligate than the abandonment of former principles, or; the infliction of punishment upon those who had been the associates and coadjutors of the present Ministry; and feeling that the Government had so acted, he should oppose the extension of the Coercion Act to any longer period by every means in his power.


felt it to be impossible to give his support to the Government on the present occasion, and he regretted it. He was always anxious to give Ministers his vote when he could honestly do so. But if the same circumstances which they had represented to exist in Ireland bad taken place in England, he would not consent to vote for the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act. There were circumstances that might justify such an extreme measure; but since last year they were so much altered, even according to the statement of the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for the Home Department, that there could be no justifcation now for resorting to such a proceeding. There had always been a system of coercion practised in Ireland. He looked in vain for measures which should prevent the necessity for coercion. No one knew better than himself the value of a coercive power; but the constant exercise of such a means of government never could produce good conduct in a nation so ruled. Let some measure be adopted which would lead the Irish people to believe that they were to be well governed; and then, if they did not conduct themselves with loyalty and peacefulness, he would consent to do as he had done last year, namely, grant all the powers that were necessary for their coercion. He entertained great respect for the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland; but let him ask the House, when the noble Lord talked of political agitation, where the present occupants of the benches below him would have been but for political agitation? Where would the freetraders have been, where would have been the liberties of the country, if it bad not been for political agitation? Not one single improvement would ever have been obtained from any Executive Government without the same principles of right, just, and honest agitation. Every man had a right to agitate, if he did it in an honest manner. On these grounds he should oppose continuing such powers in the Government of Ireland.


Sir, it is very easy to follow the course of the hon. Gentleman who spoke last but one, and when the immediate urgency of the danger is past to laugh at the risk, and when the security is obtained to make light of the precautions by which that security was gained. Sir, I admit at once that the case which we have to lay before the House at this time is not similar to that which we had to announce last year, when insurrection appeared to be impending, and when the urgency was so great that this House almost unanimously passed in a single day a measure of such vital importance—I will say so hostile to the general liberties of the country—as that which is now under consideration. But, Sir, when the hon. Baronet the Member for Waterford (Sir H. W. Barron) gave his reasons against the measure, I own that they appeared to me to be reasons which my right hon. friend (Sir G. Grey) might very well have urged in his opening speech. The hon. Gentleman says that Waterford was in a state of the utmost alarm: it was expected that a rebellion would immediately break out; nobody felt secure. This measure was passed, and now we find Waterford and the country around more tranquil than it has been for many years. All alarm has subsided, confidence has taken the place of panic, and men feel that they are no longer living under apprehensions of outbreak and rebellion. Really I should have thought that that was as great a panegyric as could well be passed on the effects of the measure we propose. But the hon. Gentleman gives further reasons; and says he must say likewise that the Act has been administered with great leniency; that nothing could be more judicious or merciful than the conduct of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in administering the great powers committed to him. If then here is an Act which has not only produced the most beneficial effects, but has been so administered that no fault is to be found with the authority to whom that administration was confided, I say that this is a case for continuing, at least for some time longer, the beneficial operations of that Act, for entrusting it to the same administration, and for taking care not too soon to remove the bandage lest the wound should bleed afresh, in consequence of which you found it necessary in the first instance to take your precations. Sir, the hon. Gentleman who spoke early in this debate, laid very great stress upon one particular paragraph in the Lord Lieutenant's letter, and then endeavoured to infer from that paragraph that it was on account of the agitation, and because it was for an unattainable object, that the suspension of the Habeas Corpus was not proposed. Now, I take it, although there was some plausibility in that statement, that it took its whole force from the fact of separating that paragraph from the general tenor of the letter, of removing it from the context, and then not placing before the eyes of the House the whole case which the Lord Lieutenant had desired to represent. It would not, I admit, be any ground for a suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, that that agitation was growing, and that that agitation was for an unattainable object; but. Sir, when we find that that agitation, after continuing for many years, and displaying in its course a singular mixture of vehemence and of patience—of disappointments and revivals, and that that course could only be continued, as I believe, by the influence and talent of one man—when we find that that course of agitation has at length led to what might have been expected to have taken place some time before, namely, the separation and division of those who agitated for that object, into two parties—the one still clinging to a hope that by a continued and organised agitation they might at length attain their object—the other party declaring that it was useless to expect anything from discussion; that the time had arrived when they must take measures to prepare and organise rebellion, and to attempt to wrest by physical force that which they had failed in obtaining by petition, by discussion and by agitation—then, Sir, I say that the paragraph of the Lord Lieutenant bears a more significant sense, and is well worthy of being taken into consideration by this House. Such, Sir, has been in effect the course of events. There was a separation—the hon. Member for Limerick (Mr. J. O'Connell) speaks of it himself—there was a separation between those who said that there was still a hope of that which I maintain is an unattainable object (in which I quite agree with the Lord Lieutenant), who still said that they would continue their organised agitation for that purpose, and between that other party which began in the most open way—in a way I believe to which there is no parallel in the history of the world, declaring that their object was treason—that what they wished was to drive the Lord Lieutenant from the Castle of Dublin—to plant the repeal flag upon its battlements—to kill or to seduce Her Majesty's troops—to drive every authority placed there by the Queen from the soil of Ireland—to place a provisional Government in the place of the legal Government then existing—and to inflict a blow upon what one of them was pleased to call "the accursed British Empire." Such was the language used, such was the language declared, such was the language published, and newspapers containing such language—containing such open avowals of treasonable designs were read, as I have been told by Irishmen living in Ireland, having no official authority or official influence there, but merely residing there—were read with avidity by the peasants and tradesmen in the country and in the towns through a great portion of Ireland. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Limerick (Mr. J. O'Connell) and others say that there was not such a course of prosecution taken by the Lord Lieutenant as could have put a stop to that evil in its commencement. Now I totally deny that that is the case. As soon as the Lord Lieutenant could obtain from the law officers an opinion that there would be any chance of a successful prosecution, he directed such articles to be prosecuted. Those who remember the events of last year, may recollect that in some instances those prosecutions were successful, whilst in several others they were defeated; and I may say that, in those cases in which we were defeated, any man in this country, reading the paragraphs that were prosecuted, would have said that sedition was the mildest word that could be used with respect to their character. With this the evil became more dangerous—the effect of baffled prosecutions was to give increased power to those who were endeavouring to effect their purpose by rebellion. Clubs were formed. Those clubs were directed to procure arms. About 7,000 members were enrolled in Dublin alone. That system of clubs spread with marvellous rapidity. In almost every town there was a combination under some name or other, which had the same object in view. Precautions were thought necessary. The hon. Member who spoke last but one said that the Lord Lieutenant first created giants and then slow them. All I can say is that persons used to war—persons who had shown their knowledge of war in the field—did not think it beneath them to take very great precautions lost an outbreak in Dublin or elsewhere should cause a surprise and the sudden loss of blood. Such was the case when this House thought it necessary, on the demand of the Government for fresh power, to pass the Bill for the Suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act. But though that Act was most effectual—though the insurrection was very quickly suppressed—we are not to conclude from that that if no precautions had been taken, and if those preparations for rebellion had been allowed to go on until after the harvest, there would not have been a sanguinary outbreak in Ireland, and a contest in which no doubt the Queen's troops and the loyal subjects of Her Majesty would have been successful, but their success would have been attended with calamities which every Member of this House would have deeply deplored. Then, if such has been the case, if—so far from being a mock rebellion, so far from there having been no danger—there was considerable danger—a danger, too, only averted by extraordinary measures—I do say, pause for a time before you deprive the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland of the means of preventing the commencement of similar movements for a similar purpose, and having a similar object in view. Sir, the hon. Baronet the Member for Waterford spoke with respect to other matters; and, like many Members coming from his country, I think he confounded things which are within the powers of Parliament—matters for which we maybe justly reproached or justly criticised—matters over which we have no control whatever. He said that there was great discontent in Ireland, and that the discontent was caused by the present state of the poverty and distress which existed in the country. Now, with respect to that distress, there are two circumstances most apparent. There is one, which is the infliction of the loss of the staple food of the country, beyond the power of man to avoid—the other is the choice of the particular food as the staple food of the people, and that it is in the power of man to prevent. It is a food which every one knows is of so cheap and low a nature, that those who are deprived of it cannot look to any cheaper food in its default—it is a kind of food which will not keep beyond the succeeding harvest, like corn of different kinds; therefore, the deficiency of one year cannot be supplied by the abundance of the next—it is a kind of food also which is liable to diseases which very often sweep away the greater portion of the whole crop. Now, last year in Ireland, after repeated losses, after the losses of 1845 and 1846, there was, I will not say an unnatural—after so long a dependence upon it—but there was, as I have heard from all kinds of evidence, a desire, and almost a passion, on the part of the people to recover that food; and there was no article of furniture, no little means of comfort, remaining which the peasantry were not ready to part with in the hope of obtaining a renewal of that food on the abundance of which they and their children had so long subsisted. That course was, perhaps, natural, but it certainly has been most fatal. The failure of that food again, in the last year, has been as great as in any year that has passed. Those who had given their all, and spent their all, in the hope of obtaining that abundant supply on which their families were to feed for the whole year, have been again disappointed, and remain helpless and almost hopeless in the land. These are causes for sad lamentation—causes for lamentation that they should have placed their reliance so entirely on the hope of a successful production of the potato for food—a cause for lamentation that it should please Providence so utterly to defeat and disappoint that expectation. These are matters for regret, for reflection—perhaps, for humility; perhaps, for precautions against similar reliance in future; but they afford no reason for coming down to this House, and saying that the British Parliament and the Act of Union have been the causes of a calamity which no man could foresee or prevent. [Sir H. W. BARRON here expressed dissent.] I so understood the hon. Gentleman; but if he did not mean to produce that effect, his language ought to have been made much clearer; and I hope that another time when he introduces the subject, he will take care to make the distinction more evident than he has done on the present occasion. Let us be reproached if you will for our ignorance of Ireland; reproach us if you will for passing so many Acts of restriction on the liberties of the people; but let us not be reproached for that for which we are not accountable. The British Parliament found, at the time of the Union, the people of Ireland living upon this staple food; and they have continued to live upon it up to this time, and with increased numbers. It was not the act of the British Parliament that they should be dependent on this food; and therefore let us not be reproached with this calamity. If we can assuage that calamity, if any English or Irish Member will point out to the Parliament the mode by which the calamity can be assuaged and the distress relieved, there will be every disposition, if that remedy or alleviation is thought effectual, to adopt it, and to act, not in the spirit in which we are accused of acting, of doing that which is hostile to the Irish people; but with the unanimous wish, although not the original cause of the calamity, to do all in our power to alleviate its pressure, and ameliorate its effects. Having said thus much with respect to the Bill now before the House, and with respect to charges sometimes made, I shall not enter upon the subject of other measures with respect to which some Gentlemen have questioned me. When those measures are before the House, I shall be ready to take part in the discussion regarding them. I will only say at present, that we think it our duty to Ire- land itself, and to this country also, that we should arm the Lord Lieutenant with powers to prevent the renewal of an agitation directly leading to rebellion and insurrection—that we believe, that if on the 1st of March this Act were allowed to expire, many of the same persons who have endeavoured to turn the distress of Ireland to their own purposes would again be active; and I should have some fear that they would again have a partial success, no doubt to be again defeated. But if this House wishes to preserve peace and tranquillity in Ireland—if this House wishes that there should be time for any measures of legislation to operate beneficially—if this House wishes to act in the manner most useful to the people of Ireland, who have been misled by this species of agitation, then they will consent to the introduction of this Bill, and consent to the renewal of those powers which it is intended to confer.


said, that he must repudiate the imputation cast upon certain Gentlemen for their votes on a former occasion. He believed they were influenced by the same feelings that influenced him on that occasion, viz., that it was neither expedient nor necessary on that occasion to divide against the Government, inasmuch as they had information they should almost immediately afterwards be called upon to discuss the merits of the particular measure then referred to. He had paid the utmost attention to the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell), in the hope that he would justify Members of the House in voting for the measure; but he confessed that if the defence of this measure which was sot up by the Secretary of State for the Home Department was weak, the defence set up by the noble Lord at the head of the Government was still weaker. When the noble Lord introduced the measure six months ago, he assigned distinct and intelligible reasons for so doing: he informed the House that he consider it his bounden duty to make out a case of urgent and instant necessity; he called on the House to repudiate the measure then introduced, if he should fail to make out such a case, and produce reasons convincing to the understanding and judgment of the House; and as the measure was precisely the same, the reasons for it should be equally strong now as those which were considered necessary and justifiable then. The noble Lord on that occasion did not tell us, as he told us to-night, that Ireland, throughout its length and breadth, was in a state of tranquillity, that the insurrection bad no existence, that it was found easy to administer the Government of the country; but he (Mr. G. Thompson) believed the Lord Lieutenant's letter, and all the admissions of hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House, were concurrent with the fact that tranquillity did reign in Ireland, and the noble Lord urged them to assent to this for the purpose of continuing that tranquillity; but such was not the noble Lord's argument when he introduced this measure six months ago. What was his own language? That, when he called on the House hastily to sanction this measure, he conceived it was absolutely necessary he should prove three things as the ground of his justification for introducing the measure to the House. The first was, that the present state of things in Ireland was fraught with evil. He (Mr. G. Thompson) asked, was such the aspect of things at the present moment—that we were on the eve of an outbreak, if not timely prevented? The second was, that there were means sufficient to produce great injury and danger, unless some measures were adopted to avoid them; and the third was, that this was the remedy which appeared most appropriate in the present state of Ireland. The noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) went on to establish these several propositions by a variety of extracts from speeches recently delivered, newspapers recently published; and he did produce on that occasion an almost unanimous feeling in favour of the necessity of the measure which the House was then called on to adopt, and of the powers which it was requisite to place in the hands of Her Majesty's representative in Ireland. But had the noble Lord done so on the present occasion? Nothing of the kind; and there was this remarkable difference between the period when the measure was now brought forward and on the previous occasion, that whereas, in the latter case the House was on the eve of an adjournment after a protracted Session, they were now just assembled, and had six months before them; and if there was a necessity in the state of things in Ireland that these extraordinary powers should be placed in the hands of the Lord Lieutenant, there could be no necessity now, seeing that a totally opposite state of things prevailed, and that Parliament was in possession of means of receiving rapidly information, and instantly applying a remedy. Not only did the noble Lord declare it to be his opinion that it was necessary he should make out a convincing and irresistible case, but the hon. Gentlemen opposite were of the same opinion; and the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli), following close on the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell), said that they were called upon to vote upon grounds that were made perfectly intelligible to the House. Were they called on to vote on such grounds to-night? They were called on to vote in utter ignorance of what might have induced Her Majesty's representative in Ireland to ask for these extraordinary powers. On a former occasion he had abstained from voting altogether; to-night he should vote with those who had offered their opposition to the measure. He could only regret that Her Majesty's Government had not taken advantage of the present state of things in Ireland to inform the House that it was their wish that this Act should expire on the 1st of March; that they should come down, and, absolutely in the face of their own admission that the people of Ireland had been penetrated by what the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department had been pleased to call the clemency and forbearance of the Lord Lieutenant, should ask the House to act on grounds that seemed to be totally convincing against the passing of any such measure.

MR. SCULLY moved the adjournment of the debate.


wished that the debate might be adjourned. Irish Members ought to be heard on such a subject as this.

The gallery was cleared for a division. The Amendment, was, however, withdrawn.


then proceeded to speak to the original Motion. He hoped that, as representing a county which had been the principal scene of the late disturbances, he should be allowed to say a few words on the subject under consideration. The noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) had failed to impress upon him the necessity for a measure so coercive as the present. The noble Lord had urged its acceptance, not so much upon the ground that there was any disloyalty existing in Ireland, as that it was necessary to put an end to all political agitation which might lead to insurrectionary movement. He feared that, in endeavouring to suppress political agitation in Ireland, the Government would only be adding to the strength of the secret societies, which had ever been the bane of that country. The suppression of political agitation for the repeal of the Union would have the effect of suppressing every other species of political rights; public opinion would consequently be checked on all subjects whatever in Ireland. The suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act would render all public meetings liable to obstruction, and inflict by this means a great hardship on the people. He objected to the Bill, because it was deficient in itself, and because it was a wrong means to the end it professed to have in view. It would, in his opinion, rather tend to increase than to lessen the discontent which was alleged to prevail in Ireland. The noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) expressed sympathy for the distress of the Irish people; but he had not taken the means to relieve that distress, by providing them with employment. This Bill would certainly not relieve that distress. Ireland was never more free from political agitation than it was at this moment; and in no part of the empire was there more profound peace. When the noble Lord brought in the former Bill, he had promised large and liberal measures after the peace of the country was secured. Where, however, were those measures at that moment? A few not important Bills had been introduced, but the important one of all—to provide employment for the people—was not thought of. In Tipperary alone, hundreds of thousands of people were starving for want of work. He objected to the present measure, as he had to the former, not only as being inefficient for the purpose intended, but as being a very improper remedy for the grievances of the country. The people of Ireland were loyal and patient under all their sufferings; coercion was out of place, and therefore he should support the Amendment of his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Limerick.


should have wished to state his reasons for opposing the Bill; but he thought he would better consult the time of the House by taking another opportunity of doing so.

The House then divided on the question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question:"—Ayes 221; Noes 18: Majority 203.

List of the AYES.
Abdy, T. N. Ebrington, Visct.
Adair, H. E. Ellice, rt. hon. E.
Adair, R. A. S. Ellis, J.
Anson, hon. Col. Elliot, hon. J. E.
Archdall, Capt. M. Ferguson, Sir R. A.
Arkwright, G. FitzPatrick, rt. hon. J.
Armstrong, R. B. Fitzwilliam, hon. G. W.
Arundel and Surrey, Earl of Floyer, J.
Foley, J. H. H.
Bagot, hon. W. Fordyce, A. D.
Bagshaw, J. Forster, M.
Barrington, Visct. Frewen, C. H.
Bass, T. Fuller, A. E.
Bateson, T. Gladstone, rt. hon. W.
Bellow, R. M. Glyn, G. C.
Berkeley, hon. Capt. Goulburn, rt. hon. H.
Berkeley, C. L. G. Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.
Bernal, R. Granby, Marq. of
Blackall, S. W. Greenall, G.
Blair, S. Greene, T.
Boldero, H. G. Grenfell, C. P.
Bourke, R. S. Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.
Bouverie, hon. E. P. Grey, R. W.
Bowles, Adm. Guest, Sir J.
Brand, T. Gwyn, H.
Bremridge, R. Haggitt., F. R.
Brisco, M. Halford, Sir H.
Brooke, Lord Hallyburton, Lord J. F.
Brotherton, J. Hamilton, J. H.
Brown, W. Hardcastle, J. A.
Buller, Sir J. Y. Harris, R.
Bunbury, E. H. Hastie, A.
Burke, Sir T. J. Hastie, A.
Busfeild, W. Hawes, B.
Buxton, Sir E. N. Hay, Lord J.
Campbell, hon. W. F. Hayter, W. G.
Carew, W. H. P. Heald, J.
Cavendish, hon. C. O. Heathcoat, J.
Cavendish, W. G. Henley, J. W.
Cayley, E. S. Henry, A.
Charteris, hon. F. Herbert, H. A.
Childers, J. W. Herries, rt. hon. J. C.
Christy, S. Hervey, Lord A.
Clay, J. Heyworth, L.
Clay, Sir W. Hill, Lord E.
Clements, hon. C. S. Hobhouse, rt. hon. Sir J.
Cobbold, J. C. Hobhouse, T. B.
Cockburn, A. J. E. Hedges, T. T.
Cole, hon. H. A. Hodgson, W. N.
Compton, H. C. Hogg, Sir J. W.
Corry, rt. hon. H. L. Hood, Sir A.
Cowper, hon. W. F. Howard, Lord E.
Craig, W. G. Howard, hon. C. W. G.
Dalrymple, Capt. Howard, Sir R.
Deedes, W. Inglis, Sir R. H.
Disraeli, B. Jackson, W.
Divett, E. Jervis, Sir J.
Douglas, Sir C. E. Keppel, hon. G. T.
Douro, Marq. of Ker, R.
Drummond, H. King, hon. P. J. L.
Duckworth, Sir J. T. B. Knox, Col.
Duke, Sir J. Labouchere, rt. hon. H.
Duncan, Visct. Lascelles, hon. W. S.
Duncan, G. Legh, G. C.
Dundas, Adm. Lincoln, Earl of
Dundas, Sir D. Littleton, hon. E. R.
Dundas, G. Locke, J.
Lockhart, W. St. George, C.
Mackenzie, W. F. Sandars, G.
Macnaghten, Sir E. Sandars, J.
M'Gregor, J. Scrope, G. P.
Maitland, T. Seymer, H K.
Mandeville, Visct. Seymour, Lord
Mangles, R. D. Sheil, rt. hon. R. L.
Martin, J. Shelbure, Earl of
Masterman, J. Sheridan, R. B.
Matheson, A. Simeon, J.
Matheson, Col. Slaney, R. A.
Maule, rt. hon. F. Smith, rt. hon. R. V.
Maunsell, T. P. Smith, J. A.
Melgund, Visct. Smyth, J. G.
Meux, Sir H. Smythe, hon. G.
Miles, W. Somerton, Visct.
Mitchell, T. A. Somerville, rt. hn. Sir W.
Moffatt, G. Spooner, R.
Morgan, O. Stafford, A.
Morison, Sir W. Stansfield, W.R. C.
Morris, D. Stuart, Lord D.
Mulgrave, Earl of Talfourd, Serj.
Mullings, J. R. Tancred, H. W.
Mure, Col. Taylor, T. E.
Newport, Visct. Thesiger, Sir F.
Newry and Morne, Visct. Thompson, Col.
Thornoly, T.
Nugent, Lord Tollemache, hon. F. J.
Paget, Lord C. Towneley, J.
Palmer, R. Townley, R. G.
Palmerston, Visct. Townshend, Capt.
Parker, J. Trelawny, J. S.
Patten, J. W. Turner, G. J.
Peel, Col. Villiers, hon. C.
Perfect, R. Walter, J.
Plowden, W. H. C. Ward, H. G.
Plumptre J. P. Watkins, Col. L.
Pugh, D. Wellesley, Lord G.
Raphael, A. Wilson, J.
Renton, J. C. Wilson, M.
Ricardo, J. L. Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.
Rich, H. Wortley, rt. hon. J. S.
Romilly, Sir J. Wyvill, M.
Russell, Lord J. TELLERS.
Russell, hon. E. S. Tufnell, H.
Russell, F. C. H. Hill, Lord M.
List of the NOES.
Barron, Sir H. W. Roche, E. B.
Crawford, W. S. Scholefield, W.
Devereux, J. T. Scully, F.
Dunne, F. P. Sullivan, M.
Fagan, W. Tenison, E. K.
Greene, J. Thompson, G.
Meagher, T. Williams, J.
Moore, G. H.
Muntz, G. F. TELLERS.
O'Connor, F. O'Connell, J.
O'Flaherty, A. Grattan, H.

Main Question put and agreed to; Bill ordered to be brought in.