§ MR. CONOLLY
said, that regarding as he did the opportunity of bringing forward accusations, whenever it became necessary, against any officer of the Crown, no matter how exalted his rank or dignity, as one of the most valuable privileges of a Member of that House, he would be careful that in calling attention, as a matter of serious duty, to the appointments made by the present Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, he would not allow a word derogatory to the private character of that illustrious individual to pass his lips. He should not follow the example set in the other House of reflecting on the personal qualities of a man whom Her Majesty had honoured by choosing him as the representative of the Crown in that portion of the country. But he would say this, that if his Motion were well grounded—if the accusations which he had to bring against that distinguished individual were founded in fact, and the policy of the Government in Ireland were such as to make him indignantly reclaim against it, then it was high time that that nobleman should be recalled from the office of Lord Lieutenant which he was not fit to hold. Hon. Gentlemen might say these were bold words, but he had great provo- 1000 cation. He was not now speaking of the appointment of Mr. Acheson Lyle to be Lord Lieutenant of the county of Derry, but he must say that a grosser and more desperate insult had never been offered to the inhabitants of a free country. No man who held the commission of the peace in England could suffer such an insult without reclaiming against it. Why should they be less esteemed in Ireland than in England, and have burdens placed on their shoulders too heavy for them to bear? There were burdens placed on the minds of men that were much heavier than any that were placed on their bodies. When a great and leading county, which had played no undistinguished part in the history of Ireland, was subjected to this gross and studied insult by the representative of the Sovereign, every one who had the good of the country at heart felt the insult and indignantly resented it. He had a right to feel warmly on this subject, because his ancestors had once held that valued post which was now dragged in the mire. He said it was studiously dragged in the mire. Whether intentionally or not, it seemed to be the sad office of a Whig Government to lower these appointments from time to time. The office was formerly given to a man below the rank of all who had held it before him, he meant the late Sir Robert Ferguson. ["Oh!"] He was, no doubt, an excellent man, in all the relations of life unimpeachable. Yet he took it upon himself to say that he was not of the rank of those who ought to hold that office. It seemed, by a strange fatality, that everything a Whig Government and a Whig Lord Lieutenant could do was done to irritate and dishonour that free and faithful county. He saw an hon. Gentleman on the Treasury Bench (Mr. Bagwell) laughing. How did he know that the turn of his own county might not come next? He seemed to rejoice at this slight being cast on the county of Derry; let him see to it that the same odious game was not attempted to be played on the banks of the Suir. Sure he was that there were noble spirits in Tipperary who would not sit down patiently under such an insult. Well, he would now open his case; and first, with regard to this notorious case of Mr. Acheson Lyle. He could state of his own knowledge that whether the absolute estate of Mr. Acheson Lyle in the county of Derry was £1,600 or £1,800 a year, he was not of that order of men from whom Lords Lieutenant were 1001 usually taken. He believed that the system of such appointments was calculated to bring upon Ireland grievous evils; it was a system which had formerly been the curse of Ireland, and which he hoped had been abandoned for ever—the system of setting the north against the south—of hounding on the Protestants against the Roman Catholics, and dividing them, so that English ascendancy might trample on both. It was not to be tolerated that abuses of the description to which he was then directing the attention of the House should be revived in Ireland merely for the purpose of bolstering up a decaying faction. The real object of these practices was to ensure the return of Whig candidates at Parliamentary elections in Ireland. He was not specially alluding to the amount of property held by Mr. Lyle. That was not the point he wished to make. But he contended that Mr. Lyle was not of that class from which the Lord Lieutenant of a high spirited county like Londonderry ought to be chosen. He was the chief taxing officer in the Court of Chancery. He had obtained that office through the favour of the present Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, who had ever since taken care that his nest should be well feathered. He had got for himself an appointment worth £2,500 a year, another for his son worth £800 a year, and another for his son-in-law which brought in £1,000 a year. And was it fitting that that well-salaried gentleman should be placed at the head of the unpaid magistracy of a loyal and distinguished county? The very moment he had been raised to that high position, he had gone down to Londonderry and recorded his vote—which he had not dared to do before—for Mr. Greer, who had been reprobated by every independent and respectable person in the county. He and his son and his son-in-law, the three stipendiaries of the Government, had voted for Mr. Greer, for whom his fellow-citizens had shown such an estimation that he was not likely to stand again on the hustings. For Mr. Lyle, personally, he entertained a feeling of the most incomplete respect—[Laughter.]—he begged pardon—it was a mere slip of the tongue—he had meant to say that he held that gentleman in considerable estimation as one who was most competent to fill the office of Master in Chancery, and who was most zealous in his attention to business. There was, however, in his opinion, a wide chasm between sitting be- 1002 hind a high stool in Dublin for the purpose of taxing bills in Chancery and occupying the position of Lord Lieutenant of a county such as Londonderry, with the power of selecting militia officers, and other important functions. That the position was one which could hardly be very agreeable to Mr. Lyle himself was proved by the fact that when he had gone down to Londonderry, burst forth with his new plumes fresh upon him, and had announced himself in the room in which the grand jury of the county was assembled as the recently appointed Lord Lieutenant, the intelligence was received in perfect silence, no member of the grand jury having risen from his seat. Now, a more unfortunate position for a gentleman to be placed in he could scarcely conceive, although he must say that that of Lord Carlisle was pitiable in the extreme. It was, he thought, quite evident, from what he had already stated, that it was exceedingly impolitic, as well as unjust, for a Whig Government to adopt the pettifogging system of appointing to high office men professing their own political creed simply because they happened to have the power. The feeling of the people of Londonderry was, at all events, opposed to such a system, and Mr. Lyle was looked upon there as the single black sheep in the whole flock. He and Mr. Greer had coupled themselves together, and the result was that when they took one side of the street every honest man bent his steps along the other. The man by whom such an appointment had been made was, then, he should contend, not deserving of the name of a statesman, and Lord Carlisle, whatever he might say about his probity and integrity, had, in making that appointment, done more harm than by all the folly he had ever talked in the course of his life. Having said thus much of the case of Mr. Lyle, he should pass to that of another Lord Lieutenant of a county, who with consequences more calamitous still, had been chosen as the object of Lord Carlisle's favour; he alluded to Mr. Tenison, a gentleman well known in that House, who had lately been transferred from the Lord Lieutenancy of the county of Leitrim to that of Roscommon. Now in the latter instance, as in the former fitness had not been regarded as the prime qualification for office—a line of policy which, if it continued to be acted upon, must prove to be eminently prejudicial to the public service. The first extraordinary piece of intelligence with respect to 1003 Mr. Tenison on record was that he and his agents had made backstairs complaints against as honourable a man as any who had ever occupied the position of sheriff in Ireland—Mr. Balfe. The accusation thus made against Mr. Balfe was, that he had been guilty of subornation of perjury, and his name had in consequence been erased from the list of Sheriffs for the year on which it occupied the fond place without the possibility of his knowing anything of the infamous slander which had been propagated to his prejudice. Mr. Balfe was a Roman Catholic gentleman of the county of Roscommon, and one of the largest dealers in cattle in the west of Ireland. Among the frequenters of Balinasloe fair there was not one whose name would be a better passport for a Bill for £5,000. He was a high-minded, straightforward man, and nobody could say a word against him. Yet his reputation was to be whispered away, and his name erased from the Judges' list as unworthy of holding the office of sheriff of his native county; a nominee of Mr. Tenison being substituted—why? Because Mr. Balfe had taken a prominent part in the election for the county against Mr. Tenison; but a petition being presented against the return it was expected the election would be declared void, and it might be convenient to have a partisan in the office of sheriff, as Mr. Tenison was again to contest the county. But he believed the Whig prestige was over in Roscommon as well as in Londonderry, and he begged to tell the hon. Gentleman opposite that it would not last much longer in Tipperary. Mr. Balfe wrote to Colonel Larcom, who, according to the custom of his office, put him off, and referred him to the Lord Chancellor. The Lord Chancellor, foolishly enough, gave a reason—that he had heard rumours that Mr. Balfe had been guilty of the crime of subornation of perjury, and he wished to know whether it was true or not. Mr. Balfe wrote back an indignant denial, fixing on those three magnates, Mr. Tenison, the Lord Lieutenant, and the Lord Chancellor, the iniquity of this disgraceful transaction. ["Oh, oh!"] A more disgraceful transaction never took place in a free country Had it taken place here, the whole Ministry would have been swept away by one of those torrents of public opinion which during the Crimean war had been directed by the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield. When a flagrant outrage was committed on the good sense 1004 and feeling of the House of Commons, that House knew well how to resent it. No one who was implicated in this disgraceful transaction should be employed as a servant of the Crown. What did Mr. Balfe write to the Lord Chancellor, having brought home to him and his two accomplices the guilt of the transaction? [The hon. Member here read a long communication from Mr. Balfe to the Lord Chancellor of Ireland, detailing his grievances.] ["Hear, hear."] He was sorry to be obliged to trouble the House at such length, but when a man in the position of Mr. Balfe had suffered from so extraordinary an abuse of power, that House, and that House alone, was the place in which to denounce the proceeding, and he must therefore raise his voice against such a scandal. Mr. Balfe was declared ineligible to serve in the shrievalty; he was tried by an unjust tribunal; he was put to an expense of £1,000 in proving his own innocence, which he did most successfully; and then, when redress was indignantly demanded of the English House of Commons for so flagrant a misuse of the prerogatives of the Crown, hon. Gentlemen listened to the appeal with impatience. He had not done yet. He had other cases to show that corruption ramified the whole body politic of Ireland, and was instigated and directed by the Lord-Lieutenant himself. It was necessary that these plague-spots should be laid bare to the House. Mr. Ormsby Gore, now a Member of that House, being anxious to stand as a candidate for an Irish county, applied in the usual way to the Lord-Lieutenant to be released from his office as sheriff. He received a curt refusal, dictated obviously by partisan motives. Just for the same reasons that the upright Mr. Balfe was removed from his post of sheriff Mr. Ormsby Gore was retained at his. At the previous election the Hon. Mr. Cole wished to stand for the county of Fermanagh, where no Whig was known to exist. The permission was accorded to him which was denied to Mr. Gore, and the Whig interest did not suffer in consequence. Again, when a vacancy occurred in the county of Longford, Mr. Hughes, the Judge of Assize, applied to the Lord-Lieutenant to free him from his office, in order that he might stand for the county. As Mr. Hughes was a Whig, he was relieved of his office of Judge of Assize, and being returned for Longford the Government 1005 added to their ranks one more supporter. Such was the consistent and straightforward dealing of Lord Carlisle! But that was not all. The Reform Bill was introduced into that House. It was to increase the number of Whig voters in Ireland, and it was of course desirable also to have Whig sheriffs to conduct the elections for the Whig interest. If that was not a fair deduction from the facts, he knew not what other conclusion any jury of sane men could gather from them. In the county which he had the honour to represent (Donegal) the sheriff was a particular friend of his. Judge Perrin was the Judge at the last summer assizes, and the names of three men, all well known as men of substance in the county, who had served as grand jurors, were sent up as eligible for the shrievalty. Somehow, however, neither of these three names was placed first on the list by the Judge, but the name of an individual of whom he (Mr. Conolly) had never heard, though he knew almost everybody in the county, was selected from the county of Derry—that person being a leather-cutter, who had a small estate in Donegal. Yet that was the man who was foisted into the office of sheriff, to the exclusion of men of ten times his substance and of quite equal qualifications. And why was he so foisted into the office? Because he had seconded the nomination of the notorious Mr. Greer. Lord-Lieutenants of counties were thus created in Mr. Greer's interest; sheriffs' lists were doctored in Mr. Greer's interest; in short, nothing was bad enough for the Government to-day in that favoured gentleman's interest. Judge Perrin went to Derry, and doctored the list there also, a man highly eligible for the office of sheriff there being removed. And who did the House think was placed in his room? Why, the person who had proposed Mr. Greer. These were the gentlemen who were chosen to manage everything under the new Reform Bill, and of course to return Whigs like Mr. Greer. But the Bill of the noble Lord the Member for London broke down, and this grand scheme for corrupting the Irish elections broke down with it. The same course was adopted in Fermanagh and Tyrone. These were the facts. Let the Chief Secretary for Ireland disprove them if he could; he should be very glad to see the obloquy removed from the name of a man whom till within the last six months he believed to be incapable of being concerned in such transactions. 1006 It was fearful that such things should be imputed to him—Et dici potuisse, et non potuisse refelli.If these matters could not be clearly explained, Lord Carlisle was not entitled to the confidence of the people of Ireland, and still less was he entitled to that of his august Mistress. Of all men who held office under the Crown the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland ought to act with the greatest prudence, because he represented Royalty, and any fault of his tended to cast a slur upon the Crown, which it was said could do no wrong. He put it to the House whether the existence of such disgraceful scandals as he had referred to was creditable to the public service, or likely to contribute to good government, good order, or peace in Ireland. Of Lord Carlisle he had nothing to say; it was not his business to praise him. Let the noble Lord clear his public conduct of the stigma which it was his duty to cast upon him, or let the House agree to his Motion. The hon. Member concluded by moving—That this House, having regard to certain appointments made by the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, is of opinion that fitness has not been primarily considered in these appointments; that this House is further of opinion that the incautious and inconsiderate use of the prerogative of the Crown is prejudicial to the Public Service.
§ MR. GREGORY
said, that when the appointment of Mr. Lyle was discussed upon a former occasion, he should have taken an opportunity, if the debate had not been abruptly closed, of expressing his disapprobation of that appointment. But since that time he had done what his hon. Friend (Mr. Conolly) ought to have done. He had endeavoured to ascertain the real facts of the case; and he was bound to say he was honestly convinced that the Government was not open to censure upon the ground of that appointment. The explanations given by the Earl of Carlisle, in "another place," had been satisfactory to him on the point. At the same time he was ready to acknowledge that, abstractedly, a gentleman of the avocations of Mr. Lyle was not the person who ought to be selected for the Lord Lieutenancy of a county. A Lord Lieutenant ought to have considerable local knowledge of the county, inasmuch as the appointment of magistrates, the selection of militia officers, and the nomination of deputy-lieutenants, vested in his hands. Certainly it was an appointment without endowment, but its possession was a distinction which gentle- 1007 men were anxious to obtain. And, considering that all the prizes in Ireland, from the bench down to the small fishes went to "barristers of seven years' standing," and thus fell to the lot of the learned profession, he thought that, as a general rule, the office of Lords-Lieutenant ought to be filled by country gentlemen, and not from the bar. The county of Londonderry, however, stood in an exceptional position to that of almost every other county in Ireland. The landed property of the county was almost entirely occupied by the large City companies. The landed proprietors of Liberal opinions were very few; those of Conservative opinions were, comparatively speaking, few; and he must add that the Conservatism of Londonderry was not of that moderate description which was generally found in the south, the west, and the east of Ireland. He (Mr. Gregory) recognized the propriety of what was called "sticking to one's own party," because so long as this country was governed by party it was necessary to do so. Still, there were exigencies in which, for the sake of the country, it was essential that this rule should be departed from. He believed there was no great hostility among the great bulk of the Conservative gentry of Ireland to Her Majesty's Government. In proof of this, he might refer to the Attorney General for Ireland, who, at his late election, expressed his thanks to the Conservatives of the great county of Cork for not having shown any disposition to embarrass the Government by keeping their law officer out of Parliament. Under these circumstances, it might, perhaps, have been advisable if, in this case, the Government had selected the Lord Lieutenant from their political opponents. A Liberal Government had done so upon more than one occasion, and he believed it would have been politic on the present. But, so far as he understood, the adoption of such course in Londonderry was impossible. The two great landed proprietors in Londonderry were Lord Garvagh and Sir Harvey Bruce. Lord Garvagh, however, was not a resident proprietor, and he had moreover taken an opportunity of informing the Earl of Carlisle that if he appointed him as Lord Lieutenant, he might expect nothing from him but hostility as a political opponent; and as to Sir Harvey Bruce, he had held a high position connected with the Orange Society. Under these circumstances it was impossible to have appointed either of 1008 these two gentlemen. His hon. Friend (Mr. Conolly) had said he intended to treat the Earl of Carlise with respect. But he showed that respect in a very extraordinary manner; nor could he see any signs of it in the terms of the Motion itself. The imputation which his hon. Friend had sought to convey against the Earl of Carlisle was contradicted by the whole tenor of the noble Earl's life. The Earl of Carlisle was incapable, in his opinion, of doing anything wittingly which was not honest and straightfoward. His aim was to do everything which lay in his power to improve the material prosperity of Ireland, to assist it by his counsel and his liberality, and therefore when it was objected to him that he had visited baths and washhouses and taken an interest in matters of the kind, he (Mr. Gregory) read the accusation in another way, for he remembered what had been said by M. Guizot, that the material improvement must precede the moral amelioration of a country. He rejoiced, too, that the time had arrived when the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland could afford to be more of the Ædile, and less of the Proconsul, and that he had leisure to lay plans for the benefit of the people, instead of being engaged in drawing up indictments and bills of pains and penalties against them. But there was one subject to which he wished to advert before sitting down. Some short time ago the hon. Member for Birmingham pleasantly and pertinently described the position of a certain class of statesmen in that House who were labouring under the ban of proscription, and whom the hon. Gentleman likened to the "Hivites, Hittites, and Perizites." Those Gentlemen had escaped from the ban and now sat in high places. They occupied the foremost place in Her Majesty's Councils, but Mr. Brewster still remained under the ban of proscription. Considering the position which he had occupied at the bar for the last twenty years he ought not to have been forgotten when the Government came into office. He had had no communication with Mr. Brewster on this subject, and probably Mr. Brewster would be displeased with him for thus publicly alluding to the circumstance; but he must say with regard to Mr. Brewster, that if every person in Ireland qualified to judge could be consulted, he believed there would be not the slightest difference of opinion as to which was fitted to be Lord Chancellor, Mr. Brewster, or Mr. Brady. In con- 1009 clusion, he would offer a few words of advice to the Secretary for Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman had gone to Ireland with the reputation of being a man of such high principle that he would not lend himself to any transaction which bore a questionable aspect; but he would remind the right hon. Gentleman that the paths about Dublin Castle were devious, slippery, and dirty, and he would beg of him to distrust those guides who, for reasons best known to themselves, would lead him into those paths. In making this pointed allusion, he begged to say he in no way referred to his right hon. Friend the Attorney General. He trusted the right hon. Gentleman would be guided entirely by his own judgment, and that when his information failed him he would take the advice of disinterested persons. If he pursued this course, he would have no reason to look back with any shame on his connection with Ireland.
§ MR. CARDWELL
While the hon. Member for Donegal (Mr. Conolly) was speaking I felt perplexed to know whether he really intended to conclude with a serious attack. He has brought forward as the main object of his Motion a charge which has been twice considered and discussed—once in the House of Commons and once in "another place," where my noble Friend the Lord-Lieutenant, in his own forcible and graceful language, explained the motives of his conduct. The major part of the argument which the hon. Gentleman had addressed to the House had really no relevancy to the Motion which he has placed on the paper. He referred to the case of Mr. Lyle, and also to the appointment of Mr. Tenison to the county of Roscommon, which took place before the present Government came into office. [Colonel FRENCH: It was the Act of the Earl of Carlisle.] It would be a sufficient answer, therefore, to this case to say that when my noble Friend resigned his former Government he received through the Earl of Derby the gracious communication of his Sovereign's entire satisfaction with his conduct. [Mr. CONOLLY: I spoke with reference to what took place in December last.] If, however, any charge, referring to an earlier period, is to be brought against my noble Friend, it ought to have been brought forward when the facts were fresh in everybody's recollection; and it ought to have been brought forward with a notice pointed to the circumstances of the case. The ap- 1010 pointment of Mr. Tenison took place before I had any connection with the Office. I know nothing of the circumstances of the case. I know not what are the qualifications of Mr. Tenison for the office. With regard to Mr. Lyle's case, four-fifths of the county of Londonderry belong to the London companies. Of those on the list of Deputy-Lieutenants there were two peers—the late Lord Strafford and Lord Garvagh—but the former was non-resident, and the property on which the latter resided was not yet his own. Among those who possessed a fortune qualifying them for the office was Mr. Lyle. He had a fortune larger than that of his predecessor in the county. He had long resided there, and was about to take up his permanent residence in the county, and he possessed legal knowledge. With regard to his character, I cannot do better than repeat what my noble Friend said of him in "another place." These are my noble Friend's words:—As to his personal qualities, I know him to be judicious, discreet, sensible, unblemished in character and in the whole course of his life; in short, he is made of just the stuff to fit him to be a lieutenant and to enable him adequately to perform the duties of that office. Really, if I had not been specifically called upon to do so, I should feel ashamed of detaining your Lordships so long by making excuses—that is not the word I ought to use, but by giving reasons—for the appointment of such a man, because he does not possess all the mere external attributes of fortune and position of which many far less qualified than he is can boast.I do not know to what length the hon. Gentleman would carry his fastidiousness; but I am not aware that ancient family, competent fortune, unblemished character, and a legal education have ever been considered disqualifications for any office. It was from a sense of his merits alone that my noble Friend appointed Mr. Lyle. The hon. Gentleman said, when Mr. Lyle went into the grand jury room, the twenty-four grand jurors refused to salute him, and that he was the one black sheep among them, as being the only supporter of Mr. Greer; but surely that fact is not conclusive against the fitness of Mr. Lyle. It may account for the objection which the hon. Member has thought proper to raise against it. I shall pass by the other circumstances of the case very shortly, for I feel that it is not right to occupy the time of the House. The hon. Member made a charge against my noble Friend of having displaced a man from the office of high sheriff on a 1011 vague rumour, and insinuated that there had been assassination in the dark. The course pursued by my noble Friend was precisely the reverse. The name of this gentleman appeared at the head of the list of sheriffs, and my noble Friend received a letter containing a specific charge purporting to be attested by two witnesses, and referring to the last election for the county. My noble Friend did not think it right to appoint that gentleman to be sheriff for the present year until that charge had been disproved. But my noble Friend did not do it in the dark; he communicated both the statement and the evidence, and enabled the gentleman to forward his reply. [Mr. CONOLLY: When?] Why, at the time when it occurred, in December last. The hon. Member has also stated that a gentleman who was desirous of offering himself as a representative of the county was not permitted to resign the post of high sheriff which he held; and the hon. Member not merely insinuated, but has openly stated, that this was done with a view of preventing that gentleman from having the opportunity of coming forward as a candidate at an election. That occurred long before I had the opportunity of knowing anything about it, and I should have been unable to give any answer if it were not that an hon. Friend now sitting beside me has mentioned what I was not before aware of, that the circumstances were referred to the law officers of the Crown, who advised my noble Friend that he had not the power of accepting the resignation. The charge therefore against my noble Friend is, that he did not violate the law and act in opposition to the opinion given by the legal advisers of the Crown. The hon. Member drew an invidious contrast, and said that the present Baron Hughes was permitted to do what was refused in the other instance, being released from attendance at the Assizes, in order that he might offer himself as a candidate. Does not the hon. Gentleman perceive that one act may be legal and the other altogether illegal? The next charge is still more extraordinary. A charge has been made against the late Judge Perrin, that in five of the northern counties he selected sheriffs to suit the purposes of the Government. I do not think it is fair to bring charges against absent men without notice. It is obviously the duty of a Judge not to take the directions of a sheriff or under-sheriff as to the names which he 1012 shall submit; in fact, a complaint was made on the opposite side of the House no later than last Friday evening that the Judges are too much in the habit of being influenced in this manner by sheriffs and deputy-sheriffs, and that, consequently, an equality of choice does not exist. I have no knowledge of the details of the case, but I am as certain as if I were acquainted with them all that Judge Perrin was influenced by no other motive than a desire of discharging his duty as Judge of assize, and, whether he did it or not, it is obvious that to concoct a charge against the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland out of hearsay rumours as to what other persons have done is a course that scarcely deserves a serious answer. My noble Friend has had more opportunities than most men of acquiring a knowledge of Ireland, and of gaining not only the esteem but the affectionate regard and attachment of all who know him. In defending himself he said that if his character now required vindication it was not worth the trouble of defending. I regret extremely that the hon. Gentleman should have put together a series of charges like these, and have brought them against one nearly the whole of whose public life has been identified with the sister kingdom—the qualities of whose heart and mind peculiarly fit him for winning the sympathies of that warmhearted and generous people—who has at heart every interest of Ireland, from the greatest to the smallest, and has attracted to himself the universal affection and esteem of those over whom he has been placed as the representative of the Sovereign.
§ COLONEL FRENCH
[who was received with cries of "Divide!"] said, it was unfair for hon. Members to prevent Gentlemen from delivering their opinions on a subject which had not yet been two hours under discussion. The topic was one that only concerned Irish Members, and if Gentlemen did not wish to hear statements save on one side, it was easy for them to withdraw. His right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland had no right to make the attack on the hon. Member for Donegal to which the House had just listened. Motions like that before the House were very difficult to introduce, and, in supporting complaints as to the discharge of public duties it was hard to avoid the appearance of intending a personal attack. He was one of those who could not agree in the eulogium which had been passed on the Earl of Carlisle. With the exception of 1013 the hon. Member for Gal way (Mr. Gregory) every person outside that House believed that the selection of Mr. Lyle had been an improper and an unfortunate appointment. The hon. Member for Galway said there was no one else to appoint but Lord Garvagh and Sir H. Bruce. The latter the Government would probably not have selected, but Lord Garvagh, though he might have written a strong letter, by no means sent the threatening communication which had been represented. Lord Garvagh's father had been appointed Lord Lieutenant by Earl Grey, and he had 10,000 acres and a residence in the county, which his mother occupied. If the Government chose to take a Whig there was a resident gentleman with 5,000 or 6,000 acres (Mr. Oglivy) whom they might have appointed. The antecedents of Mr. Lyle he would briefly state to the House. He was formerly an assistant barrister (Mr. Anthony Blake), and the Whig Government of the day created the office of Chief Remembrancer, with a salary of over £3,000, to which he was appointed. That office he held for about a year and a half, when he complained that the duties were too onerous, and Mr. Lyle was appointed to act as his deputy at a salary of £2,000 a year. Mr. Blake devolved the principal portion of his duties upon that gentleman, and shortly afterwards he explained to the Government that no necessity existed for two officers, that the deputy could discharge the duty pretty well, and he accordingly retired on full salary. Mr. Lyle stepped into his place, and soon afterwards made it known to the Government that there was not much to do; for he proposed that he should have a pension of £2,000 a year, that he should be appointed to a Mastership in Chancery then vacant, and that he should be allowed to count the time towards a retiring allowance from his first appointment to the office of Deputy Remembrancer. All that had been agreed to, and the position of Lord Lieutenant of Londonderry was now added. The right hon. Gentleman stated that the office of Lord Lieutenant ought to be unaffected by political considerations; but what were the steps taken by Mr. Lyle? The first thing he did was to go down and vote for a political candidate, and the next was to announce that on the first vacancy he should offer himself for the representation. It was certainly strange that a gentleman should be chosen for this post of distinction whose principal means were furnished 1014 from the Exchequer. He had an accurate statement of all the lands in his possession. These did not produce £1,000 a year, and were not held in fee, as had been stated, but to a great extent under corporations, and some on episcopal tenures. The hon. Member for Donegal was not the only person from whom complaints as to the appointment had emanated. The English press, from the highest Conservative journals to those of extreme Radical politics, had condemned, and even denounced in strong terms not only this appointment, but that of every Lieutenant of a county made by the Earl of Carlisle. As to the case of Mr. Balfe, he was bound, as the transaction had occurred in his own county, to declare that his right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary was not correct in stating that a communication was made from the Government to Mr. Balfe that such a charge was hanging over him. On the contrary, the whole thing was done in secrecy, and he was passed over without any communication being made to him. No information whatever was given by the Government until he indignantly called for the reasons of his having been subjected to such treatment. How his right hon. Friend could have made such a mistake he was unable to imagine, more especially as the correspondence had been printed and laid on the table of the House. Notwithstanding all the Lord Lieutenant's amiable qualities, he did not think there was the slightest public confidence either in his acts or in his intentions. There had never been a Lord Lieutenant, who, to his knowledge—and he (the hon. Member) communicated very freely with great numbers of people of all ranks in Ireland—was so little respected, and amongst thinking people so little popular, as the Earl of Carlisle. Would any hon. Gentleman assert that the noble Lord had upheld the dignity of the Crown which he was said to represent? The hon. Member for Galway (Mr. Gregory) had, indeed, spoken of him as running here and there and opening wash-houses; but in these journies, undertaken with the view of inaugurating Turkish baths, he saw an instance of a morbid desire to seek after popularity without ever obtaining it. ["No, no!"] Hon. Gentletlemen might cry "No, no!" but he spoke what he deemed to be the opinion of the majority of the Irish people. Was it, he would ask, to uphold the dignity of the Crown to entertain at dinner a troupe of theatrical performers and a horse-tamer at 1015 breakfast, or to attend at the opening of a shop in Grafton Street in Dublin, when, according to the statements made in the newspapers, he drank a glass of champagne and made a speech to the assembled shopkeepers and astonished cabmen? [Cries of "Question!"] He was speaking to the question, and in conclusion had only to say that whenever there was a termination to the present Viceroyalty in Ireland it would only be remembered for bad appointments and unfulfilled promises.
§ MR. M'MAHON
said, it was expedient that the relative proportions between the number of Catholics, Presbyterians, and members of other persuasions holding office in Ulster should be borne in mind when the appointments of Lords-Lieutenant for that province were being canvassed. He had in his hand a return which showed that, out of the magistrates of Ulster, 817 were Episcopalians, 31 Presbyterians, and only 19 Roman Catholics. In the county of Londonderry there were only 6 Presbyterian magistrates and not a single Roman Catholic; in Monaghan no Roman Catholic magistrate; and in Tyrone no Roman Catholic, and only 2 Presbyterians holding that office. It was under these circumstances, he contended, quite clear that in that province neither the Roman Catholics nor the Presbyterians had their due share of these appointments, although many gentlemen of the latter persuasions were well qualified to fill them. It was said that when Mr. Acheson Lyle entered the grand jury-room in Londonderry not one of the grand jurors would speak to him. Well, he found that of the 207 grand jurors in the county there were only 3 Presbyterians and 3 Roman Catholics. In all the official situations in Ulster, consisting of 323 persons, there were only 19 Presbyterians, and 6 Roman Catholics. From these facts he thought it was clear that the Government ought to make some innovation on the practice of Ulster. It was well known that as a general rule the Lords-Lieutenant appointed the magistrates of their respective counties, and if these officers were strong partisans, as they often were, there was no chance of a gentleman of opposite politics being appointed a magistrate. The Government ought to abolish the office of Lord Lieutenant altogether, and place the appointment of magistrates in the hands of the Lord Chancellor; or, if they could not do that, they ought to make many such innovations as the appointment of Mr. Acheson 1016 Lyle, which he was rejoiced to see as that of a gentleman who would discharge with impartiality the duties of an office for which his legal attainments eminently qualified him.
§ MR. W. R. O. GORE
said, as his case had been alluded to in the course of the debate, he rose to say that he did consider himself to have been rather harshly treated, when the Government refused to relieve him from his office of High Sheriff of the County of Sligo, when he wished to become a candidate at the general election. But he did not accuse the Lord Lieutenant, who acted under legal advice. So far, therefore, the Chief Secretary for Ireland was correct, but he was in error in stating what the opinion of these legal advisers was. Their advice was to the effect, that if he was released from his office inconvenience might arise; but they did not state what that inconvenience was. He would only say one word more in reference to the case of Mr. Brewster. The hon. Member for Galway had referred to that case with the deep sympathy of a personal friend, as well as a political partisan. He could not boast of personal friendship, but he knew well that Mr. Brewster was facile princeps of the bar of Ireland, and he thought it was a perfect scandal to any Government that such a man should be passed over.
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
said, he wished to say a word on the case of the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Ormsby Gore). On the occasion when the circumstance alluded to by the hon. Gentleman occurred, he (Sir George Grey) had the honour to hold the office of Secretary of State for the Home Department, and the Earl of Carlisle applied to him to know what was the practice, and what would be the course adopted in England in reference to a person holding the office of high sheriff of a county being permitted to resign office, in order that he might himself become a candidate at a general election for that county, when the writs were actually in his hands. He told the noble Lord that he believed it to be an undoubted fact that such an application would be unconditionally refused. Nothing was more common than an application to be excused from serving the office of high sheriff when an election was expected, and the applicant desired to become a candidate; but there was no precedent, and no case could be adduced of a gentleman being released from the office of high sheriff 1017 under the circumstances in which the hon. I Gentleman opposite made his application, and he (Sir George Grey) certainly told the Lord Lieutenant that he could not consistently with his duty comply with the request which was made to him.
§ MR. M'CANN
said, he had just heard the name of a learned and constitutional Judge—Judge Perrin—mentioned for the purpose of casting obloquy on him. He had known that eminent Judge for a period of forty years, and he begged to say that he was not only a distinguished, but an honest man, and it was the first time during his long life he had ever heard a slur cast on his honoured name.
§ CAPTAIN ARCHDALL
said, the hon. Member for Wexford (Mr. M'Mahon) had evidently spoken from a deficient knowledge of Ulster, or he would have known that the number of Presbyterian and Roman Catholic magistrates were quite in proportion to the qualified gentlemen of those persuasions. In his own county there was only one Roman Catholic gentleman, and he was now fulfilling, with general satisfaction, the office of high sheriff. With regard to the administration of justice, he believed the people had the utmost confidence both in the magistrates and grand juries. With regard to the Motion, he believed the hon. Member for Donegal would receive the thanks of the people of Ireland for the course he had taken; but, looking to the feeling of the House, he hoped he would not force it to a division.
§ MR. HORSMAN
As one who has been concerned in some of the transactions referred to, perhaps the House will allow me to say a few words. I should not like this discussion to close without stating what I felt in regard to it. I listened to the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Donegal (Mr. Conolly) with a great deal of interest and with still more of curiosity, because I could not help thinking if the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland did not make fitness the primary consideration, if he so abused his prerogative as to make partizanship the main test of qualification for office, he must be now a very different man from what he was when I had the honour of serving under him three years ago. I do not think my hon. Friend could have duly considered the character and effect of this Motion. I have, during times of great party feeling and animosity, known strong Motions directed against Governments; but I do not remember one of 1018 so large, grave, and sweeping a character as this. And, if it is remarkable for the comprehensive gravity of the charge, it is not less so for the comparative insignificance of the evidence to support it. I will not go into the facts. The House has heard the statement of my hon. Friend the Member for Donegal on the one side, and the counter-statement of my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland on the other. I would only say, let it be admitted for the sake of argument that the hon. Member for Donegal had proved his facts, that would be a very long way off showing the justice of such a sweeping condemnation as he has asked the House to adopt; because I consider his Motion to mean, not that the Lord Lieutenant has fallen into error, not that he has shown a want of judgment, but that habitually, systematically, he has degraded his high office by making fitness the secondary consideration in his appointments, and jobbery and favouritism the first, to such an extent as to call down upon him the judgment and condemnation of Parliament. Now, making due allowance for the case of Londonderry, I must, in all frankness, say, that I lament an Irish representative of his position and character should have made a charge so wild and extravagant that it hardly does deserve a very serious refutation. I may say not only that I believe it to be entirely unfounded, but I ought to say that I know it must be so; for no man had better opportunities than I had during the two years I occupied the position of Chief Secretary of knowing, not what were the motives or feelings, but I will say what were the high principles, by which the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland was actuated in making his appointments. I know that fitness for the public service was always his first consideration; I know that the benefit of the public service was his first principle of duty; and I am quite certain that no man ever excelled him, and very few ever equalled him, in the extent to which he was willing to make personal feeling subordinate to public duty, and identifying his own character with the moral elevation of the people he was sent to govern. But I will state to the House, and I am sure my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary will excuse me for stating, what I think the House ought to know, as it will place beyond a doubt the groundlessness of this charge. The hon. Member for Donegal speaks as if the Lord Lieutenant used 1019 in these appointments an absolute power, consulting no one, advising with no one, but making every appointment according to his own personal feelings and predilections. Now, Sir, my right hon. Friend will forgive me for stating that if the Lord Lieutenant makes any improper appointments, it is far more the fault of the Chief Secretary than his own. I know when I was in the office now filled by my right hon. Friend (Mr. Cardwell), the Earl of Carlisle made a rule which no Lord Lieutenant ever made before, most characteristic of his own generous disposition—that, as his Chief Secretary in the House of Commons had to defend the appointments of the Lord Lieutenant, it was but fair he should be consulted on them; and, having laid down this rule, having done it voluntarily and conscientiously, I must say he did most faithfully and loyally adhere to it. There was not one vacancy that occurred during the two years I was Chief Secretary on which the Earl of Carlisle did not communicate with me, asking me to get all the information to enable him to make a safe and good selection, and to avoid falling into a mistake; not only that, but I will say that if on any occasion from personal feeling of his own he might have been about to make an injudicious or improper appointment, it was only necessary to point out the fact to induce him to cancel it. The only rule he laid down was personal fitness, overriding every other consideration, political partisanship not being a sufficient qualification. I need not say that I am cognizant of, and to a great extent responsible for, the appointment to which my hon. Friend alluded, on the vacancy in the Lieutenancy of the county of Roscommon. It occurred while I was in Ireland, about Christmas. The Earl of Carlisle was in Ireland when the vacancy occurred, but he immediately afterwards went to England. I know all the information was communicated to him in writing. I was in correspondence with him for some weeks on the subject. I am cognizant of all that occurred. I laid before him all the grounds of his decision, and I can certainly undertake to say that nothing whatever occurred in regard to that appointment but after full deliberation, and taking the advice of other parties of higher position and more entitled to give advice than I was myself. I am also cognizant of what took place with regard to the Sligo case, and the right hon. Gentleman who last addressed us has 1020 correctly stated the facts. Is it not, then, I say, rather strange that the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, who was the first to put restrictions on his own patronage, and who acknowledged his responsibility to Parliament, should be to-day dragged before the House of Commons as one wanting in fairness and conscience, and whose administration is so corrupt that it ought to be visited with the censure of Parliament? I would only make one remark with reference to the observation of the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Colonel French) that the whole administration of Ireland, from top to bottom, is dirty and corrupt; my opinion is, after a good deal of thought, that, taking not Dublin alone, but Ireland as a whole, there is no part of Her Majesty's dominions, at home or abroad, in which there is so little abuse and so little corruption in its administration as in Ireland. The time was when abuses did exist to such excess, all parties got such a bad character, that I believe of late years there is no appointment which the heads of the Administration are so careful in making as that of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, and I believe that both parties in making their selection have been fortunate in their choice. I believe that the noble Viscount (Viscount Palmerston) could not have fixed on a noble Lord who has so many high qualifications for the office as the Earl of Carlisle, and I believe the party opposite could not have chosen any one who could have performed the duties with greater satisfaction than the Earl of Eglintoun. I believe it is not the least recommendation of these two noblemen that while they are strong partisans they are free from anything like political animosity or sectarian and religious prejudices, and that while they have the confidence of their own friends they have that which is a great gift in Ireland—that conciliatory disposition which is likely to secure the good-will and respect of their opponents, and to bury in oblivion those rancours and party heats which my right hon. Friend so justly described as being at one time the curse of that country.
said, he should not have risen to address the House but for the reference made by the hon. Member for Donegal to his respected friend Judge Perrin. He had heard that reference with considerable pain; for he had imagined that nobody could mention the name of that eminent person in the House in any other terms but those of respect and commenda- 1021 tion. The hon. Gentleman not having thought proper to give the slightest intimation that he intended to impugn the recommendations made by Judge Perrin for the office of sheriff in Donegal, Londonderry, and the north-western circuit of Ireland generally, it was impossible for him to enter then into the details connected with those recommendations. He could only meet the charge of the hon. Gentleman, as far as Judge Perrin was concerned, with the most emphatic denial. He believed there was no man in Ireland more incapable than that distinguished person of acting from any other than the purest and most honourable motives; and he thought he was only expressing the common opinion of the bench, the bar, and the people of that country in giving utterance to that conviction. Judge Perrin, now retired at the close of a long, arduous, and successful career, was among the many able, upright, and constitutional Judges who had adorned the Bench of Ireland, and there were few abler, and none more upright or more constitutional, than that eminent person.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
Sir, I cannot allow what has been stated by my hon. Friend the Member for Roscommon (Colonel French) to pass uncontradicted. That hon. Member said he wished that when I was called upon to form a Government I had adhered to my original intention not to recommend the Earl of Carlisle for the office he now holds. I assure my hon. Friend he has been totally misinformed as to what were my intentions; for, from the first moment it became my duty to consider by whom Her Majesty should be represented in Ireland, my thoughts and intentions immediately turned to the Earl of Carlisle, and they never for an instant varied. My decision was founded on the experience we had of his former administration, upon my knowledge of his character, and my conviction that the welfare and prosperity of the Irish was the most earnest desire of the Earl of Carlisle's heart. And, differing entirely in opinion from my hon. Friend on this point, I am quite sure that that appointment was not only most gratifying to the Earl of Carlisle himself, but was most popular in Ireland. I shall not now enter into the main question. My right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland, and my right hon. Friend the Member for Stroud (Mr. Horsman) have, I think, convincingly shown that there is no foundation whatever for 1022 the charges brought forward by the hon. Member for Donegal.
§ MR. CONOLLY
replied. He had seen the noble Viscount drag so many of his friends out of scrapes that he was not surprised at the course he had pursued on that occasion. The noble Viscount had met his statements with a blunt denial, which would go for what it was worth. None of the charges that he had brought forward had been refuted. His object had been entirely answered. He had called the attention of the House to these scandals, and it would go forth to the British public that such things existed. The right hon. Member for Stroud had met his allegations Pharisaically. Whatever eulogies might be pronounced upon the Earl of Carlisle, the north of Ireland rang with accusations against him. Having done his own duty in this matter, he left the House to pursue the course it thought best.
Motion made, and Question,
That this House, having regard to certain appointments made by the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, is of opinion that fitness has not been primarily considered in these appointments:
That this House is further of opinion that the incautious and inconsiderate use of the prerogative of the Crown is prejudicial to the Public Service.
§ Put, and negatived.