§ LORD RICHARD GROSVENOR
then brought up the Report of the Address to HER MAJESTY on the Lords Commissioners' Speech.
§ MR. WHITESIDE
Sir, as the Address which has just been read contains a congratulation upon the general condition of the country, I wish to submit a few observations upon a subject which was not touched, and could not properly have been touched, last night. As it appeared to me, the best portion of the speech of the hon. Gentleman who seconded the Address (Mr. Goschen), if one might prefer any part of a speech which was generally so good, was that in which he touched upon the internal prosperity of England. He drew, with the pencil of an artist, a picture of the great prosperity of England; and thinking rightly that it would not be perfect if he did not introduce into it a darker shade, he discoursed wisely and eloquently upon the condition of the poorest of our working classes. He feared that what he said of the general prosperity of the country might to their ears savour more of irony than of truth. In fact, the hon. Gentleman appeared to be apprehensive, lest they might be sceptical of the truth of that statement, the general veracity of which we must all rejoice to admit. The sentiments which he expressed were worthy of the abilities of the hon. Gentleman, and I cordially respond to all that he stated as to the general condition of this country. But I would ask of any impartial man, when that speech shall be read in Ireland, with what feelings will that portion of it be regarded which touches so judiciously and so eloquently upon the prosperity of the Empire? I desire to make a few observations upon the condition of Ireland, to which I am satisfied, that if they are sustained by fact and fair 174 argument, the House will listen with interest. I deny that this is a provincial question. I decline to consider it in that light; because whatever concerns so large a portion of the Empire as Ireland never ought to be regarded as merely provincial. An eminent and distinguished person who once adorned the Whig benches gave his reasons for interfering in a great debate got up on the other side of the House upon the subject of Ireland. No doubt his words will be remembered. They were the words of a brilliant Whig in opposition. Lord Macaulay thus described the importance of Ireland to England—That country. Sir, in extent about one-fourth of the United Kingdom, in population certainly more than one-fourth; superior probably in internal fruitfulness to any area of equal size in Europe; possessed of a position which holds out the greatest facilities for commerce, at least equal to any other country of the same extent in the world; an inexhaustible nursery of the finest soldiers; a country beyond all doubt of far higher consequence to the prosperity and greatness of this Empire than all its far distant dependencies, were they multiplied four or five times over; superior to Canada added to the West Indies, and these both conjoined with our possessions at the Gape and in Australasia, and with all the wide dominions of the Moguls—such is the state to which you have reduced it, that it is a source not of confidence and strength, but of alarm and weakness. How do you govern it?" [3 Hansard, lxxii. 1170.]I propose to make one or two remarks upon the state of that country, and then to ask the question which Lord Macaulay put under different circumstances, "How do you govern it?" I think it right to state, that I have given notice to my right hon. Friend the Member for Tamworth (Sir Robert Peel), that it was my intention to take the earliest opportunity of presenting this question to the House. The condition of Ireland ought to be clearly understood. But before I refer to the condition of that kingdom, I must advert to the official statement made on a former occasion by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Although I do not think that he fully exhausted the subject, yet for the purposes of this debate it may be enough to advert to a passage of that statement. The right hon. Gentleman has a poetic fancy; and since he returned from Greece I have detected a superior finish in his style, which induces me to think that if he did not outwit the crafty Ulysses, he contrived to suck in honey from the lips of Nestor. In his anticipations, however, with regard to revenue from Ireland, the right hon. Gentleman had been as much disappointed as he has been with 175 regard to the much larger subject, the revenue of the country. By an alteration in the rate of the spirit duties the right hon. Gentleman imagined that he would gain half a million; but, instead of gaining what he imagined, he lost a considerable sum by the operation. It was necessary to give Borne explanation of the matter; he was obliged, therefore, to touch on that unpleasant theme, the condition of Ireland; and I confess that in no portion of his statement do I so fully concur as in the sentiment with which he introduced it.I refer," said the right hon. Gentleman, "to the state of Ireland, and I very much doubt whether the attention of the public has been fully awakened to the amount of calamity which during the last few years has befallen that portion of the United Kingdom. The depression under which it labours is generally diffused; its extent is as broad as the area of its agricultural industry." [Hansard, clxx. 207.]have condensed the figures which he gave, and from these it appears that the amount of the four principal items of agricultural production was each year from 1856 to 1859 on an average £39,437,000. In 1860–1 it fell to £34.893,000; in 1861–2 it fell to £29,077,000, being a decrease of £10,360,000; in 1862–3, low as was the point previously reached, it descended yet lower, and fell to £27,327,000 from the former average of £39,437,000; thus showing a decrease of somewhat above £12,000,000 sterling.This amount," said the Chancellor of the Exchequer, "equals nearly one-half of the total estimated value of the agricultural products of the country as measured on the principal items or constituents of agricultural wealth. It falls not very far short of the established annual valuation of the country, which is £13,400,000.And he makes this concluding remark—The state of circumstances thus exhibited is one not less remarkable than painful.The only part of the right hon. Gentleman's speech to which I take objection is, that while he put the facts with his accustomed clearness before the House, and moralized on the distress they exemplified, he did not suggest any remedy; he proposed no measure of redress, but left the subject, I presume, to the wisdom of the Imperial Parliament. That was the state of things at the date when the Chancellor of the Exchequer spoke. But what has occurred since? There are a number of writers in Ireland whose opinions I fear to quote with regard to the harvest just concluded; but there is a very respectable organ which represents the opinions of Gentlemen who sit 176 below the gangway, The Daily News, and in its summary of the events of the past year the writer says—The impression of the cheerfulness of that harvest is still vivid. Never was a bountiful harvest more welcome. But for one drawback, therefore, we should have been in the highest spirits about our home prospects. We have saved £20,000,000 by such a season, but Ireland seems to be in almost as bad a plight as last year. There seems to be no doubt that the losses of Ireland by three previous bad seasons have been greater than the country can afford, so that the benefit of this year's fine weather has been little felt. By degrees, however, we come to see that the prodigious emigration taking place from all the ports was natural and necessary, under the homestead law and the dearness of labour in the United States. True as this is we all feel it a grief and shame that Ireland should be so inferior to other countries as a residence for the working classes; and while not at all desiring to detain those who are going away to improve their chances in life, we cannot but wish that these chances were improving at home faster than they do. This has been one of the troubles of the year.Those were the words of the writer who summed up the history of the year in the journal called The Daily News. Next to agriculture, the two great interests affecting land in Ireland are the distillery and the paper trades. What has been the effect of the legislation of the right hon. Gentleman upon those two branches of industry? Figures have been placed in my hands by distillers, showing that the diminution of consumption or production has been equal to about 5,000,000 gallons, which, with the duty added, they value at £1 a gallon—a large estimate. In the year 1835 I am told there were ninety-one distilleries in Ireland; they are now reduced to twenty-five, and from that number must be deducted one which was closed last year. This depressed condition of the spirit trade is ascribed by my informant to the increased duty imposed upon that article by the right hon. Gentleman. I am aware what a delicate thing it is for a Member of Parliament in these days to say a word in favour of the British producer; it amounts almost to a crime to do so. But when I see a trader with a large capital embarked in any kind of manufacture, by a sudden change of the law deprived of a large portion of the property which he imagined belonged to him, I do feel sympathy for him, and I would desire that the process of his extinction might be as painless as possible. The right hon. Gentleman spoke hopefully of the benefits which were to follow from the 177 alteration in the paper trade. Upon this subject accounts have reached me, both from a publisher and a paper-maker. To the publisher the change was comparatively immaterial; he did not care a farthing where he bought his paper; but all he got from abroad was so much taken away from the home trade. But his informant mentioned in his communication that the supplies which he had been in the habit of receiving from one firm in Galway exhibited a great decrease since 1861, when the duty ceased, owing to the difficulty under which the manufacturer was put of procuring materials. During the year ending the 30th of September, 1860, the publisher bought from that firm paper to the amount of £3,436; during the same period in 1861, £2,468 worth; in 1862 they were only able to supply him with paper to the value of £1,336, and last year the amount fell to £1,235. The paper millowners themselves ought to be the best judges of the effect upon them of the abolition of the duty. I have already referred to one mill in Galway. I will now give the House the case of the Dripsey Mills, in Cork, the proprietor of which, Mr. Alfred Greer, has empowered me to make use of his name. That gentleman says—Probably the best reply I can give to your note will be simply to repeat what I told you a few days since in Dublin has been my own experience of the effect of the remission of the penny Customs' duty on foreign paper imported into the United Kingdom. I commenced to manufacture paper over twenty years ago in the South of Ireland, and during every monetary crisis and commercial difficulty through which we have since passed I have always been able to keep the mills at full work and my hands on full wages, until last year, when the pressure became so great that I was reluctantly obliged to put both my mills upon half-time, and to discharge a portion of my workers, many of whom have emigrated. The remission of the Customs' duty on foreign paper while the export, duty on rags is maintained by foreign countries, has acted as a bounty given by our Government to foreign paper manufacturers, and has rendered it utterly impossible for me to compete with them in London, which has hitherto been my principal market, and last month I relinquished my premises there. In my own experience my local collection of rags has advanced in price from 50 to 100 per cent; the lower sorts from £i 10s. per ton to £9 or £10, and the better sorts from £11 10s. to £17 per ton.During the famine years of 1847–8 this gentleman was able to employ all his hands; but now he states that he is "frequently met on his way to the mill by women and girls, weeping for work." The paper and whiskey interests being disposed of, I come now to the question of small 178 holdings in Ireland, and I allude to this subject for the purpose of calling attention to the theory propounded by certain political economists, which will inevitably produce results greater than any which have yet been exhibited. We speak of Holstein, of Schleswig, and of Denmark. Why, what is the population of Denmark compared to the emigration from Ireland? According to the official Returns which I hold in my hand, I find that from June, 1841, to March, 1851, the emigration from Ireland was 1,240,737; from March, 1851, to April, 1861, 1,276,773; and from April, 1861, to July, 1863, 201,057; making a total of 2,718,567 persons who quitted that country from 1841 to 1863. I should like to know whether a parallel is to he found for such an emigration in the history of any other country in the world. But even this statement does not place all the facts before the House, because, while we are speaking, the figures are growing larger. Steam now has not only removed many dangers of the passage, but it has enabled emigration to continue all the year round. By this improvement in the means of transit, aided by the pressure of Imperial legislation, the emigration is both more rapid and more persistent than formerly. There can be no doubt whatever that the general legislation of the Empire for a long time past, however well it may be sustained in argument, has borne harshly and severely upon Ireland. The great Whig organ, The Edinburgh Review, has made that admission. I do not say to such an assembly as I address that we are to meddle with the Corn Laws; but I invite the attention of those who say they are friends of the working classes to this matter. When you altered the Corn Laws you stated that the same amount of labour would not be required in raising food as before, and that the people might purchase cheaper food by the extra labour that would be bestowed on manufactures. But in Ireland there are no such manufactures, and therefore it was that Sir Charles Trevelyan, and the other able men who investigated the condition of Ireland during the famine, pointed out that if we intended to preserve a reasonable number of people in Ireland, some new system should be devised for stimulating those who were in the country to undertake new modes of employment; otherwise it would be impossible to maintain the existing population. I think their views sound, and the result that they anticipated 179 followed. But what is the result?—be-cause the question is, not whether you can recall the millions who have emigrated, but whether the causes which produced that emigration are still in operation, and whether you are to tell the working classes and small farmers of Ireland plainly, but politely, the sooner we get rid of you the better. There are few gentlemen in this House who have not read Mr. Mill's Political Economy. Mr. Mill is a clear, able, and logical writer, and though you may differ from him sometimes, you do not find it easy to answer him. Now, he is of opinion that the cottier class—that is, the tenants of one acre—must cease to be. I agree with him. I think we must finish them off. There are 40,000 families of that class still in Ireland, and with four or five persons in each family this would make from 160,000 to 200,000 persons to be got rid of. Then there is the class of holdings under five acres, about 85,469, and that adds materially to the figure of the population also to be got rid of. Then there are the holdings between five and fifteen acres, 183,931 in number, and if you add 141,000 holdings of between fifteen and thirty acres, and follow out the principles of those who contend for this theory, that small farms and small farmers are not to be allowed, you will dispose of another million and a-half or two millions of the inhabitants of Ireland. But is that theory true? I do not dispute that large farms may be necessary and useful in a rich country, but I dispute the theory that you must have only farms of a certain size in such a country as Ireland. If any man has lived for a time in Belgium, the Low Countries, Switzerland, the Valley of the Arno, Tuscany, or Lombardy, he will see, I think, that the conclusion of Mr. Laing is strictly true, and that, though allowances must be made for differences of soil and climate as to the productiveness of each country, yet as regards the size of the farms, the facts are against the modern theory. Take the county of Armagh and the county of Cork, and you will see very extraordinary results. Armagh contains 328,076 acres, of which 178,672 were under tillage in 1863, 24,066 being under flax. Cork, with an area of 1,849,613 acres, or nearly six times as many as Armagh, has only 481,655 acres under tillage. The principle which is upheld by the friends of the present Administration in Ireland, who profess to be sound political economists, will, if carried to its legitimate conclusion, lead to very 180 awful results. But this theory is met by facts which they can neither answer nor deny; and my argument is directly opposed to it, if I have brought before the House the position of Ireland sufficiently for the purpose of that argument. I ought not, however, to quit the subject without drawing attention to the fact, that it is computed that within the last thirteen months 100,000 fighting men have gone from our ports to the United States of America. Thus it appears that whole armies are going from Ireland to fight the battles of America, and while subtle lawyers are fighting sham battles in the law courts, and puzzling their brains to find out why a ship which is but a mere log upon the waters until it is manned, should not be launched, the American emissaries are enlisting in Ireland, and inducing to go to the States, under great promises of high pay and remuneration, thousands of men of that stuff which in former times, on many a bloody field, defended your Empire and maintained your glory. If these are insignificant facts, dispose of them as such; but I would ask, in the history of what country are facts of a similar nature to be found? And what are the only circumstances of alleviation which I can discover to have been suggested by the eminent persons connected with the local Government in Ireland? I watched what was said at a late meeting of the National Board by Lord Carlisle, who always speaks in a graceful manner, and he pointed out the immense advantages of associating the emigration with education. At this crisis we are teaching the Irish peasantry astronomy, algebra, natural philosophy, geology, and other mysterious sciences, and when all that is done what is the result? We only succeed in making each educated youth a discontented subject of the Queen, who quits the country as soon as possible. This is the happy effect that follows from our national education. We fatten the ox that he may be cut up in England, and we polish the Celt that he may be cut up in America. By-and-by, if the Chief Commissioner of the National Board were to settle down in the far west of Ireland, he might exclaim with Robinson Crusoe, as he looked around, "I am monarch of all I survey." I have fulfilled my mission, I have discharged my duty, I have educated the people, and in this happy country there are now neither parents nor pupils. But what remedy for such a state of things is suggested? Hon. Gentlemen no doubt do not read the Irish papers: but our press and pamphlets are 181 now reviewing the arrangement as to taxation at the period of the Union, and what occurred at the time the two Exchequers were amalgamated, and the people declare they cannot pay the burdens of taxation which are now imposed upon them; and I would submit to the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that he will find it difficult to get a high paying power in Ireland, for if cattle take the place of men, these innocent animals do not consume excisable articles, just as the hon. Member for Sheffield will admit they do not use knives and forks. With these facts before us, I ask the House whether, as the successive bad harvests of Ireland have not been caused by the people, as these great calamities have not overtaken them by their own act—I ask, would it not have been a gracious thing to have expressed in the Royal Speech a sympathy such as had been expressed on a former occasion for the sufferings of the artizans of Manchester. If you compare the wealth of the two countries, Ireland and England—their mineral wealth, their commercial wealth, and their manufacturing power—you will see how vast a loss to Ireland is £15,000,000 or £20,000,000, and that that figure must be multiplied by ten to represent a similar amount of distress in England. It might, therefore, well have occurred to the Government, that it would have been a graceful thing to have referred to such great domestic events. These are matters as well worthy the consideration of the House as events affecting the smallest principality in Germany. If I ask myself what are my hopes from the local Government of Ireland in reference to this state of affairs, I confess I have none. Some time last Session I walked into the lobby, and I met there a merchant from Belfast, and I asked him what brought him to London. He said he had some business with the Government. I asked him why he had not disposed of it at the Government offices in Dublin, and he replied, "Oh, the Government of Ireland is only Larcom and the police." I reflected on what he said. The next morning I began to repeat to myself "Larcom and the police," until I thought I understood the meaning of the phrase. I understood with humiliation it meant, that the real authorities that exist in Ireland are the Under Secretary and the police, and that the rest are mere "leather and prunella." The police is the real power in the country. Who is the gentleman who is Under Secretary in Ireland? 182 He never appears before the House or the country. He writes orders, pulls the strings, does the real work, and is exempt from observation and responsibility. I respect him sincerely, but he is a permanent Under Secretary. In former times an Irish country gentleman was generally Under Secretary. I remember three such gentlemen,—Mr. Lucas, Mr. Pennefather, and Mr. Wynne—and I venture to say that although they were gentlemen of somewhat different opinions, three more able, useful, and excellent servants of the Crown could not be found in the Empire. By the new Treasury system such men are passed over. I look next to the mode in which we are governed by English statesmen and Irish Secretaries. I have three of the latter before me at this moment. They visit us unexpectedly, remain a very short time with us, and, like migratory birds, fly away by night. The right hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Horsman) was our Secretary for a time. I remember hearing him say that he had nothing to do, and I must do him the justice to say that he did that very agreeably. The fact is that a Secretary for Ireland may do as much or as little as he pleases; he may, if he likes, throw the whole work on the Under Secretary. But in Ireland the right hon. Member for Stroud found nothing to do—the reason he says so was because he did nothing. If he had applied his clear understanding to the questions and subjects that a conservative administration was obliged to consider, difficult, troublesome, and repulsive, no doubt they were, he would have found that many great questions affecting Ireland remained to be dealt with. When my right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Cambridge was Secretary of State for the Home Department, he came to Ireland, as a sensible Secretary ought to do, and he found that abundant work remained to be done for the benefit of the country by those who chose to undertake it. However, the right hon. Member for Stroud left us, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the city of Oxford (Mr. Cardwell) became our Secretary. We never knew why the right hon. Gentleman came or why he left. Those will be difficult questions for the future historian of our country to solve. The right hon. Gentleman was more industrious than his predecessor. He copied some of our Bills, and copied them badly. The right hon. Gentleman presented us with a new penal law. I have about as much respect for the inventors of new penal laws 183 us for the inventors of new poisons. The right hon. Member for Oxford kept us here for months in the summer while he passed with difficulty a law aimed against the young men of Londonderry for singing songs and hanging effigies of well-known traitors. The result has been that his law has ever since remained a dead letter. Londonderry is one of the three improving towns in Ireland, Cork is the second, and Belfast the third. The author of the right hon. Gentleman's indignation seemed to be a Protestant rebel named Lundy, whom our fathers somehow neglected to execute, and whom their posterity have been executing in effigy ever since. Then came the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Tamworth (Sir Robert Peel). He dashed into Dublin, penetrated into the interior, crossed the mountains that separate Sligo from Enniskillen, forced his way into Londonderry, and from the unconquered city is reported to have addressed a letter to the noble Viscount, in the words of great Julius to the Senate, Veni, vidi, vici. The right hon. Gentleman appears to have been under the delusion that from personal considerations and from our respect for the honoured name he bears, we were all to change our places in this House. I, for one, have no objection to change places in this House in the regular way; but I object to change my party and my friends. However, when I remember the eloquent speeches of the right hon. Gentleman—some as eloquent as those which he lately delivered at Tamworth—I hardly wonder that we were all expected to be converted. The difficulty was to find out what we were to be converted to, and to what party the right hon. Gentleman belonged. I own I do not quite understand the politics of my right hon. Friend. I have been informed that the noble Viscount has been described as a Radical, then that he was a Reformer, next that he was a Whig, and finally that he was a Tory. The right hon. Baronet attaches himself to the noble Viscount and he is proud of the connection. But I should like to know how it can be imagined possible to govern a kingdom of the size of Ireland by the exclusion from its local Government of the industry, property, and intellect of the country. I ask those Gentleman opposite who write despatches to assert that the will of the people ought everywhere to be regarded, that monarchs may be elected by universal suffrage, and that kings, if necessary, should be changed like sentries, 184 I ask them how they reconcile the Government of Ireland with their notions of the supremacy of the people? What is the theory of the Government of Ireland? Your theory of government is that every gentleman of property and intellect is to be excluded from the smallest share in the political government of his native country. And who invented that theory? The men who proclaim to all other countries the questionable doctrine, that every country ought to be allowed to choose and change its own rulers. If that be the theory of the present Government, how has it been accomplished in Ireland? How is our present Government composed? It is framed on the principle of counteraction, and the local Government of Ireland seems to be formed on the same principle. It is a common subject of observation that there are two parties in the Irish Ministry—one to resist, control, and baffle the other. We have a Whig Lord Lieutenant. The Earl of Carlisle is a highminded nobleman, greatly respected for his courteous and dignified conduct; all that he wants in Ireland is a party. That old and respectable party of which he is a leader—the ancient Whig party—has died out in Ireland from sheer exhaustion, and there is a strong disposition to secure a specimen of this once powerful party, to embalm him like an Egyptian mummy, to put him in a glass case with the superscription, "The last Irish Whig." I admit that in the time of the first Earl Grey the Whigs were powerful in Ireland, and we have a clue to the causes of their extinction. When they were possessed of power they were politically exclusive, intolerant, and selfish. They excluded the intellect of the country, and the intellect of the country resented the exclusion and resents it still. That is the real cause of the decay of the Whig party in Ireland. What, then, is the state of the peculiar party of which the right hon. Gentleman (Sir Robert Peel) is believed to be a Member? From a close analysis of the representation it is believed, that at the next general election there will be returned to Parliament from Ireland the twenty-fifth part of a Peelite. These are the rulers of Ireland—and where is their Parliamentary support? I ask, if Lord Carlisle were to address 10,000 men in any part of Ireland, on the question whether they would give their support to the ancient Whig party, would 500, would fifty, would five men say they were Whigs? I have described the condition of the local Government of our 185 country, and I ask how can you expect to conduct a Government successfully so composed? The right hon. Gentleman (Sir R. Peel) is regarded as a Conservative, the Chancellor Brady is one of the admirers of O'Connell, and the Lord Lieutenant is said to be the mediator between the two contending parties. I refrain from making any attack on the Chancellor Brady. He is taking part in a movement for raising a statue to O'Connell. I was utterly opposed to O'Connell's political principles, but I do not believe that O'Connell was animated by the purely selfish views of which he is sometimes accused. He paid me a high compliment once, for I had the honour of defending him. I believe he merely desired to sever the Union between the two countries, and establish a Parliament in Ireland of which he was to be the supreme head. The Chancellor Brady never deceived anyone; he has always openly avowed and maintained his political opinions; but what I cannot understand, and never could understand in political life, is how men can sit down in the same council to deliberate for the common good of the country when they hold opinions diametrically opposed. When we were in office, in the Government of Ireland, under Lord Eglinton, we may have been inefficient, but at any rate we knew each other and liked each other; we worked amicably together, and we gave no trouble to the Secretary of State for the Home Department, who was always regarded by us as a kind friend, zealous to do whatever a humane man could do for the benefit of the country. Now, the first thing you hear when you enter the Pour Courts, is some gossip about the conflict which is going on between the two opposing parties in the local Government. I may mention a very amusing circumstance which has lately occurred in our country. I do not know whether hon. Gentlemen have read the description of certain letters which recently appeared in a Dublin journal, and which letters were said to have been signed "An Old Tory." We always thought when such epistles appear at this side the water that they came from some one who did not fill the character he assumed—some one who was endeavouring to take the part of "A fine Old English Gentleman, one of the olden time." Well, one morning it was discovered that the letters not actually published in the newspaper were written by an official in the Court of Chancery—the son of the Chancellor. The "Old Tory" was a brisk young 186 Radical. When the thing was found out, his not unfair defence was that he thought there was an intrigue in motion to put the Chancellor out of office, and he therefore composed these letters in the character of an old Tory, writing up the very respectable opinions which I regret he does not profess, and writing down the Peelite party. That is the last event in the policy of our country. Now, I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman (Sir R. Peel) whether he really believes that a local administration divided as this is can carry on the government of the country. I say it is not possible for a Government to be wisely administered under such a system, and those who are responsible for the maintenance of that system must take the consequences. I say nothing of the disposition of patronage. The Lord Chancellor has always acted on one avowed system; and I believe that if my great countrymen who have figured in this House or out of it—Ponsonby, who led his party, Plunkett, Curran, Bushe—of whom Sheil remarked that they were thrown away upon a profession and a province—were living now, and stood before the Chancellor, and it were necessary to fill a high place, the question would not be which had the superior abilities, the most splendid genius, but which belonged to his political creed. I do not complain of that, because I do not seek any redress on the subject. Those who have established the present mode of government in Ireland, must take the consequences. I place the facts before the House, and I ask the right hon. Gentleman if he thinks it possible that he can become the political Coriolanus of the day. I have described the general condition of Ireland: but, though gloomy in certain provinces, there is a bright spot in that country; whilst two provinces are in the state I have described, I ought not to sit down without touching on the flourishing condition of Ulster. In that province the population has maintained its position by their skill and industry, and they hope that the like industry and the like success which has rewarded them may be extended to the other districts of Ireland. I abjure the policy which holds, that if one part of our country is prosperous, we should be content; it is my conviction that Ireland cannot be truly contented, or truly happy, unless a similar amount of the prosperity which prevails in the north should be extended to the west and the south. As to the idea that agriculture is to 187 be discouraged, I ask in what age of the world was such a policy ever known? What was the condition of the greatest empire that ever existed? Rome practised agriculture and she practised arms, and the foundation of the Roman Empire was laid when Cincinnatus held the plough with his victorious hands. Commercial Carthage perished in the strife with Rome; the splendid organization of the Greeks could not save them; and, when the Roman agriculture began to decline, the politic Emperor sought to revive her agriculture, not by the sophistry of the calculator, but by the imperishable charms of verse. There cannot be a strong or a prosperous country if agriculture is to be abandoned in two of its provinces. I have laid before the House the condition of Ireland, and I ask would it have been too much to expect that a few gracious words of sympathy for our distress should have been inserted in the Royal Speech, and is it too much to expect from your benevolence to suggest, your wisdom to contrive, and your ability to apply some remedy which may staunch the bleeding wounds of my country?
§ SIR ROBERT PEEL
said, he regretted that his right hon. Friend had not adopted the recommendation of the distinguished leader of the Opposition, in abstaining from introducing matters of controversy into the debate on the Address in answer to the Speech from the Throne. But he had no hesitation whatever in meeting him on the points he had raised that evening, and of referring to two or three matters which he had adduced with his usual ability and sarcasm. The right hon. Gentleman had alluded to what he said had been the common subject of conversation in the Four Courts of Dublin. lie had drawn an amusing picture of what ho wished the House to believe was the real state of things as regards the position of the Members of the Government in Ireland. He (Sir Robert Peel) did not know whence the right hon. Gentleman obtained his information; but this he could honestly say, that he had no reason to believe matters were as the right hon. Gentleman had stated. No doubt there might have been some differences of opinion among the Members of the Government, and perhaps on the subject of Tyrone, to which the right hon. Gentleman has alluded, that might have been the case. But he could assure the House there was very little truth in the sweeping allegations of the 188 right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman had referred to some gossip about the letters, "An Old Tory," which he might very well have abstained from. He had next endeavoured to attack individual Members of the Irish Government, who were not present, in an unfair manner. He said he heard a person in the lobby of the House allege that the government was carried on by "Larcom and the police;" but he must remind the right hon. Gentle-man that the person he was thus speaking of was General Sir Thomas Larcom, and that he held the same position when his right hon. Friend held office in Lord Derby's Government as now. Doubtless the right hon. Gentleman did all he could to remove him; but he (Sir Robert Peel) never heard any one find fault with either the ability, temper, and spirit of conciliation with which his hon. Friend, General Larcom, conducted the business of his office. In corroboration of that statement, he might appeal to his noble Friend opposite (Lord Naas), who he was glad to remark nodded his assent in corroboration of the opinion he had expressed. The right hon. Gentleman was very random in his statements. Last year he took him (Sir Robert Peel) up very sharply for making some accidental mistake in figures. Tonight, however, the right hon. Gentleman had gone much further himself in the way of error. He said that during the last thirteen months 100,000 fighting men had left Ireland to swell the ranks of the Federal army; and that from 1851 to 1863—[Mr. WHITESIDE: No; I said 1841.] Well, then, that from 1841 to 1863 no less than 2,700,000 persons had emigrated from Ireland. At all events, the right hon. Gentleman was wrong on one point, and probably he was wrong on the other. The total number of persons who emigrated from Ireland in the last twelve months, large as that number unquestionably was, did not exceed 120,000, including men, women, and children. He was positive, therefore, that the right hon. Gentleman was wrong on the first point. The right hon. Gentleman had also alluded to the small holdings of land in Ireland, and thought it a misfortune that the number should be diminished. He (Sir Robert Peel), on the contrary, thought that the cause of emigration had nothing to do with political or religious questions, or the land question, but was the natural consequence of want of employment amongst agricultural labourers, who naturally went to places which promised 189 adequate remuneration for their labour. He maintained what he had often stated in the House, that he did not think it an immense misfortune for Ireland that emigration should be going on. No doubt it was a sad thing that men should be induced to leave their country by false pretences, and find themselves in America drafted into the Federal army. But men could not be prevented from leaving this country if they pleased to emigrate. The right hon. Gentleman had next referred to a period when Ireland had a population of 8,000,000. It should, however, not be forgotten that at that time the vast majority of the Irish were the worst clad, the worst fed, and the worst housed of any people in the world. Probably the right hon. Gentleman had been writing letters to country gentlemen who did not give him the exact state of the case. If the right hon. Gentleman would go through the country as he (Sir Robert Peel) had done, he would be compelled to agree that the social condition and the comforts of the agricultural labourer were every year improving, and that there was a vast increase of comforts and social enjoyments to be found in the homes of the poorer classes. The right hon. Gentleman and the right hon. Member for Buckinghamshire express their regret that there should be no allusion to the state of Ireland in the Speech from the Throne; but there was no special reason for it. The state of Ireland is, undoubtedly, far better than it has been for the last two or three years. Lord Derby said, very truly, that the depression of two or three bad harvests must naturally weigh on the people at the present time, But, undoubtedly, the weather, which was the most essential point, had been and still is far better than he (Sir Robert Peel) recollected since 1861. The potato crop had not been so good as it is in any year since the famine period. It was good in quality and abundant. The turf had been well saved; and thus the two main elements for the comfort of poor persons were most promising. The autumn had been rather wet, and a good deal of the abundant harvest of last year had been lost by flood. Nevertheless sufficient had been saved to make it, he would not say an average year, but a year far better than the three preceding years. The winter which followed had been unusually favourable for sowing, and therefore the prospects of the country on the whole were satisfactory. The Royal Speech referred to the prospects of the 190 country being on the whole satisfactory, and of course the agricultural condition of Ireland was included in that general reference. The right hon. Gentleman said that the condition of Ulster was far preferable to the condition of the three other provinces. He (Sir Robert Peel) quite agreed with him. In Ulster there was an immense flax culture. The flax produce in Ulster was of the annual value of about £4,000,000, and it was manufactured into linen goods in the province to the value of about £20,000,000. Probably the circulation was limited to Ulster, and consequently its condition was far better than that of either Leinster, Munster, or Con-naught, where there were no such resources. But at this moment a movement was going on with a view to extend the flax culture to the other three provinces, and every one must hope that the movement would be successful, because it would give employment to those hands who could not find occupation in agricultural pursuits. It appeared from the very full report on the farming interests of Ireland, which had lately appeared in The Farmer's Gazette, that prices were well maintained; and there was therefore no cause for discouragement as to the future. The prospects of the coining year were full of promise; and he, therefore, did not agree with the right hon. Gentleman that there was any want of proper consideration of Ireland manifested in the preparation of the Speech from the Throne. The condition of that country was comprehended in the allusion to the general prosperity of the country. He believed that Ireland was progressing; that the people were raising themselves from the moral and social depression in which they had recently laid; and judging from the general movement that was perceptible in the country and the existing desire to give a healthy stimulus to industry, there would result in a short time the gratifying prospect of our seeing the gallant and gifted people of Ireland—to use the language of the right hon. Gentleman—recovered and emancipated from the depression of the past three years.
§ MR. BENTINCK
said, he did not rise for the purpose of following up the discussion which had taken place between the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin and the right hon. Baronet opposite: but he could not refrain from making one remark on what he had heard in the course of the debate. It appeared to him that both his right hon. 191 Friend and the right hon. Baronet had blinked the question they had been discussing. He would appeal to any man who had a knowledge of the agricultural history of Ireland, and ask him to reply "yes" or "no" whether the exodus from Ireland, on a great scale, did not begin immediately subsequently to the financial policy of 1846? Probably he might be told by those holding a different view of the subject, or who were hampered in the expression of their opinion, that the Irish famine was the cause of that exodus. But we had just been told by the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for Ireland, that the exodus continued on an increasing scale when the agricultural condition of the country was comparatively prosperous; and therefore he (Mr. Bentinck) contended that those who held with him that the exodus was mainly caused by our financial legislation were justified, and he would appeal to any man in the House who was not hampered in his statements, and who was able to state what he conscientiously believed, whether he was not perfectly grounded in the statement which he had made? There were one or two other points on which lie would ask permission to say a few words. He thought the House, after the great excitement which had prevailed relative to the debate on the Address, had been somewhat disappointed at not hearing more on the great questions of the day. They had, it was true, learned something. They had learned that a great and portentous quarrel was now being waged in Europe, in which all the parties concerned were unquestionably in the wrong. Now, no quarrel was so difficult to make up as one amongst people who are all in the wrong; and therefore he was afraid that the aspect of affairs led to anything but a hope of an early termination of the war which had just commenced. It must be admitted that the chief cause of the quarrel must he ascribed to what in political parlance was called "the development of the liberal principle." Wherever was found "the development of the liberal principle" there invariably were also found following such development anarchy and revolution. That process had been carried on some time in Germany, and he appealed to any Member of the House who had followed the march of events, whether what was called "the development of the liberal principle" was not the obvious cause of the state of things we now so much deplored. The people of this country seemed to forget that the con- 192 duct of affairs at home did not depend upon the conduct of affairs abroad; and they invariably heard upon all occasions, when the affairs of foreign countries were under discussion, long diatribes in favour of what were called liberal institutions; and, what was more, they had invariably heard for some years past from the Government of this country every possible encouragement given to anarchy and revolution in every part of the world. That seemed to him to come with a singularly bad grace from a party who were always pluming themselves upon being the advocates of peace; and he would venture to suggest to the Government, that if they were honest and sincere in their desire for the maintenance of peace they would not take every possible opportunity of giving counsels and suggestions which were invariably followed by anarchy and revolution. Something was said in an earlier stage of the debate upon the mode in which the noble Earl at the head of the Foreign Office had dealt with the proposal of the French Government for holding a Congress at Paris. He was not now about to discuss whether the wording of that refusal was or was not exactly what it ought to be, or whether the noble Earl ought to have been more courteous; but this he was bound to say, that he thought the noble Earl could have taken no other course than he did in rejecting that proposal, which had been happily described in one of the public journals as a proposal "to assemble a large number of people together in order to decide what they would quarrel about." He cordially agreed with his hon. Friend the Member for Inverness-shire (Mr. H. Baillie) in his regret that there was no allusion in the Royal Speech to the subject of American affairs, or to the conduct of the Federal Government, upon recent occasions, towards this country. He did not say that the Government were called upon to recommend Her Majesty to say more than they had already said as to their intention with respect to non-intervention between the North and South; but he thought that the Government ought to have told them something as to their intention or otherwise of consenting to allow the continuance of the paper blockade, which had been existing for years past, and which was becoming every day a farce more complete and more absurd; and whether, in the event of that blockade not becoming effective, they will not take some steps to render it altogether neutral. He also 193 thought the House had a right to know from the Government what was their intention with respect to certain outrages which had been recently committed on the British flag by Federal cruisers; because, although some of these cases might be fairly considered as cases which might be decided by the proper courts, there were one or two of recent occurrence which were quite out of that category—cases of deliberate piracy and murder, and involving a direct and positive insult to the British flag. There was an instance of very recent occurrence, where a deliberate and cold-blooded murder was committed by an American officer of a Federal vessel on board the ship Saxon. He thought they had a right to know from the Government what steps they had taken in order to deal properly and promptly with what he would describe (as far as they knew of the facts) as one of the most piratical and murderous proceedings to be found in the records of such outrages. A great deal was said in the course of the debate on the Address, from the front bench in another quarter, in condemnation of the tone taken by the noble Earl at the head of Foreign affairs, whom they charged with having threatened a great deal and having done nothing. He was one of those who regretted that the noble Earl should have said so much at a time when it was probably his intention to do so little; but he did not think that the blame attached solely to the noble Earl, because it appeared to him that the blame must be shared by the whole of that House. If the noble Earl was wrong in giving utterance to those magniloquent threats which he had not the means or intention of carrying out, what must be said of the British House of Commons, which went on night after night discussing the propriety or otherwise of embarking in a great European war at a time when the country had neither troops nor ships sufficient for our own defence. That was a position which they were called upon fairly to look in the face. They were plainly and deliberately discussing whether it was not becoming in them—whether they wore not called upon by feelings of honour or motives of interest—to enter into a struggle with nations whose armies consisted of from 300,000 to 600,000 troops, while if we ran-sacked the country through some wretched 20,000 or 30,000 disposable troops were the most we could muster. If hon. Members would discuss whether the country was called on by its interests to take part in 194 the affairs of Europe, the first thing to be clone was to put the military and naval forces in such a position as would enable the Government, speaking on behalf of the nation, to make their words good. Under any other circumstances, the threats of this country would only be laughed at, for the whole of Europe would feel assured that they were threats which the country was utterly unable to carry out. Were they to learn nothing from the past? There was hardly a Member of that House who was not old enough to recollect what he always considered the ill-advised declaration of war against Russia. But if the proceeding was ill-advised, the mode in which it was carried out, and the consequences of the precipitation with which we embarked into that war, were something which it was frightful now to contemplate, and formed one of the darkest pages in the history of this country. There was no man who had ever studied the history of the Crimean war who was not aware that not only preparation but all strategy failed, and that nothing but the bull-dog and invincible courage of the British soldier saved the army from destruction at the battle of Inkerman. Now, he had the most boundless faith in the courage of the British soldier, but he said that they had no right to expose the blood of such men to such odds. If they chose to embark in the great battle-fields of Europe, they were called upon, not only in common prudence, but in humanity, to do it upon something like equal terms. They had no right to send their wretched band of 20,000 or 30,000 soldiers to be massacred in order to maintain the honour of England. That was what they did in the Crimean war; and he wanted to know if they were going to repeat that insane proceeding. He wanted to know if they were going to deliberate whether England should or should not enter into a European war in the present state of our armaments. If they were, hon. Members must begin by discarding the cheeseparing policy of the Chancellor of the Exchequer with respect to our military establishments, and the doctrines of the peace-at-any-price party. They must turn a deaf ear to such counsellors as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bucks, who applied the term "bloated" to our already reduced armaments. They must not only re-organize the army and navy, but take measures for maintaining them in an effective condition, so as to avoid those disasters which had made the Crimean war so deplorable. They must not only organize forces adequate, but 195 recollect that those forces could not be organised in a few days. He believed we could not muster more than some 20,000 or 30,000 soldiers at the present time, and that certainly was not a force with which we could go and control the affairs of Europe. And what was the state of the navy? It was well known that the utmost our navy was capable of was to undertake the defence of our shores and the defence of our commercial marine abroad. If it was equal to that it was as much as it could undertake. We had not now a navy which, in addition to the duty of protecting our commerce and defending our own shores, could undertake the blockading of foreign ports. Therefore, he contended that they ought to have some further explanations from the Government with respect to the armaments of this country. He had been induced to go into this subject at length because he had heard a rumour which, if true, was of a most painful character—namely, that in the present state of Europe and of the world at large, the Government contemplated a reduction in the army. He must say, if that statement were true, the inquiries de lunatico which had taken place in other parts of the country ought to be extended to the Treasury benches. He trusted, however, that there was no foundation for this painful and incredible rumour; but he thought the Government were bound to tell them, as they told them that the question of peace or war was undecided, whether in the event of the decision being for war they proposed to carry on warlike operations, giving an assurance that they were not going, as at the commencement of the Crimean war, to sacrifice, to a shortsighted and cruel policy, the best blood and treasure of the country?
desired to make one or two remarks on the paragraph in the Royal Speech with reference to Kagosima. It was there stated that the injury inflicted on that town arose incidentally and inadvertently; but he could not understand how any one who had read Admiral Kuper's despatches could come to that conclusion. The hon. Member for Maidstone (Mr. Buxton) had given notice of a Motion on this question, but it was of so harmless and innocuous a character that he preferred expressing his views on it at once. For his own part, he owned that when he read Admiral Kuper's despatches he trembled for the safety of a son resident in that quarter of the world. One of the gentlemen who was murdered by the Japanese was a personal friend of his own. He had, 196 therefore, every interest in desiring that due protection should be afforded to Her Majesty's subjects in those parts; but, at the same time, he could not believe that their safety or the security of British property would be attained by such highhanded proceedings as had taken place on this occasion. He did not wish to throw any reflection on the Admiral. His experience of foreign stations convinced him that the men whose profession was fighting were least disposed to resort to violence, unless it was absolutely necessary. It was generally the non-fighting men who urged on such measures; and in the present instance, if anyone was to blame, he had no doubt it was, not the Admiral, but Colonel Neale or the Minister who gave him the instructions on which he acted. He was sorry, however, that Admiral Kuper did not express the regret he must have felt at being the instrument of BO great a disaster. He wished he had followed the example of Sir Michael Seymour, who, when compelled to resort to coercive measures against the Chinese, regarded it as a calamity, and performed his harsh duty with the utmost possible leniency. With regard to the Polish question, the Downing Street dialectician had been worsted; for which result he had himself partly to blame, since at the outset he so ostentatiously proclaimed that "words, not deeds," was to be the rule of British policy. The least the Government should have done was to withdraw our Ambassador from St. Petersburg. In spite of the momentary triumph of Russian diplomacy, he felt assured that the cry of butchered men and outraged women would rise to Heaven against the murderers, and that public opinion and international policy would both tell forcibly against them. As to the Congress, he had never read or heard a good reason for refusing to enter it. We had joined the Emperor of the French in many foolish schemes in the Crimea, in Mexico, and in China; but as soon as his project was at all reasonable, we declared we would have nothing to do with him. In the present state of Europe, with not only the Schleswig-Holstein difficulty unsolved, but the French in Rome and the Austrians in Venetia, it was obvious that there were many questions containing the seeds of future wars in Europe. They should remember that it was in consequence of this policy of mutual menace and distrust that Europe at the present moment presented 197 a most portentous spectacle. There were between 2,500,000 and 3,000,000 men in arms—a larger force than existed at any period during the wars of the First Napoleon, and the total charge had been estimated at the enormous sum of £200,000,000 per annum. Surely such a state of affairs was one that deserved the attention of the various Cabinets of Europe. When he remembered that the Emperor of the French himself had pointed out that one of the first efforts of a Congress would be directed to a reduction of armaments, and when he remembered likewise that the right hon. Member for Buckinghamshire and other distinguished statesmen in this country had dwelt with great force on what they termed our "bloated armaments," and had advocated reduction, he could not but regret that the French proposition, so reasonable and so timely, should have been rejected in terms the reverse of courteous. Great Britain could not have suffered from a Congress. She, at all events, had no selfish or sinister end in view; she had already given an unparalleled example of political magnanimity in surrendering the protectorate of the Ionian Islands—an example that should have stimulated other nations to similar acts of self-sacrifice—she desired no further honour and glory than she could always command—she would have entered the Congress, having to fear no loss of prestige, and animated by the sole desire of preserving the blessings of peace. He also regretted that there was no reference to Parliamentary reform in the Speech of the Royal Commissioners. Twice Her Majesty had been graciously pleased to recommend the House to take into consideration the condition of our representative system, and to call upon it to widen the basis of the Constitution, and in 1859 the Government had pledged itself to take the subject into serious consideration. How they had performed those promises and kept that pledge was known to the nation. It was plain that they did not believe in the virtues of the reform movement unless, like the Pool of Bethesda, it was being continually agitated. The truth was, that people out of doors might say of the Members of the House of Commons that they were a set of political Pharisees. Just now hon. Members on both sides were rivalling one another in their admiration of the forbearance and wonderful self-control of the working classes. A calm and philosophic observer would say that this was the very epoch for widening the basis of the 198 Constitution; but no—parties were too intent on their own selfish purposes to do justice to the working classes, who must make themselves disagreeable before they could hope to receive that attention to which they were so eminently entitled. He trusted, however, that when his hon. Friends the Members for Leeds and East Surrey introduced their measures of reform, both the Government and the House—for, after all, a deathbed repentance was better than none—would endeavour, at the close of their existence, to atone for the errors of their youth, and would manifest in a substantial manner some of that exuberant sympathy for the working classes of which we had recently heard so much. In that event he, and he thought the country at large, would still show some sparks of gratitude towards them.
§ MR. O'HAGAN (ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND)
said: Sir, I had not the least intention of taking any part in this debate, and I should not have intruded for a moment on the House, but that an attack of a very extraordinary kind has been made upon a dear and honoured friend of mine who is not here to defend himself, the Lord Chancellor of Ireland. Whatever may be my opinion as to the speech which has been the subject of attack, I cannot fail to see in the new-born sympathy with Ireland which has been exhibited by Gentlemen on the other side—in two places yesterday and here again to-night—a manifest attempt to accomplish a political object. It was not shown in times gone by; it was not lately shown, when Ireland needed it far more than she needs it now. No man can doubt the object of the demonstration, and, on the avowal of the highest authority in another place, we know that it was not meant to have any practical result in relation to the people whose support it was designed, by a few cheap words, to win. But this would not have led me to intervene in the discussion if my right hon. Friend had not thought proper, in a fashion for which I know no precedent or parallel, to assail absent men with personal imputations, and for that purpose to retail the slanders of the press and ventilate the whispers of the Four Courts before the House of Commons. The Larcom of whom he spoke is Sir Thomas Larcom, a major general in the service of Her Majesty, an accomplished gentleman, distinguished in science and in letters, who has spent his life in various important branches of the public service, and has been most eminent in all. Of him 199 I need speak no further; nor shall I speak of the Irish Government; but the House will bear with me whilst I tell them something of the Lord Chancellor of Ireland, and endeavour weakly to vindicate his reputation. He is a man of great ability and great experience. He has held judicial office for more than a quarter of a century. For years he was Lord Chief Baron, and the Irish bar and the Irish public were unanimous in believing that no better, sounder, more learned, or more impartial judge ever occupied that high position. He became chancellor some twenty years ago, and almost without intermission he has since held his place at the head of the profession to which my right hon. Friend and myself have the honour to belong. And that is the man who has to-night been made the object of a wanton and gratuitous attack, without notice or the possibility of reply. Neither his great office, nor his long public service, nor his personal worth has been allowed to protect him. And what is the accusation? First, he was the friend of Daniel O'Connell. Daniel O'Connell, it is said, advocated the Repeal of the Union, and the Lord Chancellor was identified with him in opinion. That is not the fact; every man in Ireland knows that it is not, and I am amazed that my right hon. Friend could have supposed it to be so. The Chancellor was no Repealer; but he has been, through good report and ill report, a staunch and consistent friend to civil and religious liberty. He was so, as much when attachment to that great cause was fatal to his worldly prospects as when it triumphed, and he rose along with it. He sympathised with its champion, helped in its struggles, and rejoiced in its success. If he had been less honest and true, more ready to postpone duty to interest, and more willing to shape his principles according to the shifting exigences of the time, he would not now have had his name paraded before the House of Commons. But he is engaged in erecting a statue to O'Connell! And is that a crime? The people of Ireland raise a monument to a great Irishman, whom they delight to call their Liberator: a man great in intellect—great in achievement: one of the foremost advocates of human freedom who ever appeared in this assembly or any other of the world. No lover of equal laws and free institutions could shrink from subscribing to it. The Lord Chancellor subscribed to it—I subscribed to it. I am proud to make the avowal in this place, 200 and I should be ashamed of myself if I had not been prompt to pay that poor tribute of grateful admiration. And this is the act, so honourable to its author, so consistent with the whole current of his life, which is thrust forward to damage him in the esteeem of the Parliament of the empire. Next, we were told that the political predilections of the Chancellor determine the exercise of his patronage, and that, if the greatest lawyers and statesmen who ever adorned the bar or the senate, sought advancement at his hands, he would prefer to them the weakest, the most ignorant, or the most base, on the mere ground of political connection. I deny the charge. So put, it is utterly unfounded; but if it be only meant, that, full competency and integrity being secured, the Chancellor, for ordinary appointments, would prefer his political friend to his political adversary, it is no charge at all, and requires no refutation. So long as we have constitutional government and conflicting parties, regard must be usually had, on the one side and the other, to political claims; and I have no doubt that the Chancellor holds himself bound to recognise them. I challenge my right hon. Friend to point to a single promotion which he has ever made on the score of such claims, without abundant capacity on the part of the recipient; or, in the least degree, to the detriment of the public service. I defy contradiction when I say that he has never preferred a man unworthy of the place to which he was appointed. But how strangely does such an imputation sound from one who held high office under the Conservative party! Twice, in recent years, that party has had power in Ireland. Two of its administrations dispensed the patronage of the Crown, and dispensed it largely; and I am yet to learn that, in the whole career of either, a solitary Liberal was appointed to a single office. Nay more, the vast majority of the people of Ireland are Catholics; very many, and not the most obscure, of the members of her learned professions are Catholics too; and yet, so far as I am aware, not one Irish Catholic received a position of any public importance during the existence of either of those Conservative administrations. I do not say whether they were right or whether they were wrong in pursuing such a policy. They acted according to their nature, their traditions, and their necessities; but is it not too much that one who was law officer under each of those exclu- 201 sive administrations should make it matter of complaint against the Liberal Chancellor, that he has had some regard to the principle of action to which they adhered with such desperate tenacity? But there is a final charge or statement of my right hon. Friend which I heard with amazement, and to which I can hardly reply with becoming temper. It is alleged that certain anonymous letters were written to a Dublin newspaper by a son of the Lord Chancellor, a clerk of affidavits in one of the offices of the Four Courts. The letters are not before the House; there is no proof of their existence or of their authorship; there is no intelligible statement of their contents. But assume that they exist—that they were written by the son of the Chancellor—that they are the most foolish or malignant compositions which ever brought disgrace upon their author—put the case as strongly as fact or fancy could possibly present it, and with what propriety or decency can the name of the Chancellor be connected with such things? No man dares to suggest that he was privy to them; no man believes that he ever gave them countenance. How does it comport with the dignity of this House that such a miserable transaction should occupy its attention for a moment? How does it consist with the interests of the administration of justice that its highest functionary should have his name associated before the country with an act so paltry and indefensible, in which he had no part? How is it compatible with common fair play and natural equity, that a father should be made in any way responsible for the fatuous indiscretion of his son, of which he was wholly ignorant, and which he could not possibly control? Yet, that is the charge, if I understand him rightly, which my right hon. Friend is not ashamed to make. But I should insult the understanding of the House if I dwelt longer on such a topic, and I dismiss it in the full assurance that neither from it, nor from any other of the statements and suggestions of my right hon. Friend, will the slightest stain be fixed on the fair reputation which the Lord Chancellor of Ireland has borne throughout his honoured life. In his high position—that reputation needs to be guarded as the property of the country, which it behoves to watch that its judges are worthy of respect; and only on that account, and from a strong sentiment of personal regard, have I ventured to trouble the House with the observations it has 202 received so kindly. Although I have spoken without any previous purpose of meddling with the argument, and mainly from the impulse of indignant feeling, I would say a word before I conclude as to the general statement of my right hon. Friend. With much of it I find no reason to quarrel; with many of its views I entirely concur. No man in this House or the other House of Parliament has felt, or at this moment feels, more strongly than I for the sufferings which have been endured by my poor countrymen in the past years. They have been heavy and bitter, and they have been bravely borne, and though their extremity has passed, they have left behind exhaustion and depression. On the gigantic emigration which is still in progress, I confess I look with painful apprehension. The observation was true, that it comes from blended causes. Some of them stretch far into the past, when the old misgovernment of Ireland established evil distinctions between the classes of her people, deranged the natural relations of the proprietors and occupiers of the soil, and left to us a sad inheritance of penury and discontent. Then, the later visitations which have been permitted by Providence induce the departure of multitudes who have ample facility of egress to a more fortunate land, offering richer rewards for labour and a fairer career to industrial effort; and, perhaps, the very strength of those family affections which once made the Irish regard themselves as ascriptiglebœ, and bound them lovingly to their native soil, now swells more than all things else the torrent of the emigration, for it lures them irresistibly to seek a home where their nearest and dearest have gone before them! It is impossible not to look mournfully on their departure—it is impossible to foresee its issues for Ireland and the empire. But stating much that was true, my right hon. Friend did not state the entire truth. It is well to estimate correctly the difficulties and discouragements of our position, that we may labour to remove them. It is well also to recognize any advantages it presents, to save us from despairing apathy. And to Ireland, afflicted as she has been, struggling as she is, such advantages are not utterly denied. She is labouring through a painful transition state; but she has no reason to give up heart and hope, or abandon her striving after a better future. Only for a quarter of a century—a little instant in a nation's life—has she been even partially 203 relieved from the disturbing influences of penal laws, and corrupt administration, and the domination of faction, and the ascendancy of caste, which forbade her moral and material progress. Evils which have endured for centuries cannot be ended in an hour. But, since Ireland conquered civil and religious equality, she has seen much accomplished which gives assuring warrant for all that remains to be done. She possesses a sound and widely diffused intelligence, in which she may hold herself in favourable contrast with any European kingdom. An insolvent proprietary, wholly incompatible with her social progress, has been swept away. The restraints on the alienation of landed property and its quick and facile passage from hand to hand have been largely removed, and we have the path open, and the preparation made, for the simplifying and security of tenure. Equal laws, fairly administered by impartial judges, command the confidence of the people, and, in all their sorrow, through all their trials, they have maintained a purity of morals, and an earnestness of religious faith, almost unexampled amongst the nations of the world. Whilst such agencies as these are in action, we have no need to despair of Ireland. Her history, in its darkest hours, demonstrates the recuperative energy, the resilient vigour, which dwell in the Irish race; and we may confidently believe that those prophets of evil who indulge the hope of the extinction of that ancient and noble race in its own land will be disappointed, and that it will yet, with God's blessing, pass safely through its latest trial, and reach a happy and prosperous development. Even at this moment, Ireland exhibits evidence of a growing spirit of self-reliance and independent effort in the great industrial movement which is pervading her provinces, without the suggestion or the support of the Government, or any influence external to Irishmen themselves. The land of the country still commands very large prices, and the growing industry and forethought of the masses of its inhabitants are proved by the great amount of their deposits in the banks. These are cheering circumstances, and I shall notice only another to which my right hon. Friend, reviewing the general state of Ireland, should scarcely have failed to advert. One of the first duties of a Government is to suppress crime and preserve peace and order amongst the people committed to its keeping. Some things it can do and some it cannot; some economic 204 and social agencies it cannot control, and with some it cannot wisely meddle; but it fulfils an important function of its being if it secures the supremacy of law and gives full security to property and life. Now, I think my right honourable Friend should not have omitted inquiry into this important branch of his great subject when he came to deal with the condition of Ireland. As he has not thought proper to do so, I may be permitted to supply his omission, and to say, as one speaking with some authority because he controls the administration of criminal justice in his country, that, in my judgment, there is, perhaps, no other in the world which is at present so free from crime. Examine, in this regard, the judicial statistics of great and prosperous England. Then go to Ireland, and, notwithstanding all the incentives to fraud and violence which poverty supplies, the contrast against the richer kingdom will amaze you. Now and then, offences of an agrarian character crop up, here and there, but they are not, as in former times, the fruit of combinations and confederacies. They are local, occasional, individual; prompted, often, by a sense of real or imaginary wrong; but they are not of such a character as to prevent the general and normal condition of the country from being one of order, morality, and peace. We have lately passed through the sad scenes of a special commission. We have tried many capital cases, we have had many convictions, and many terrible examples have been made. But, pass through the length and breadth of Ireland and I believe you will find that not as to a single trial, conviction, or execution, is there the smallest complaint amongst the people. Like their forefathers, they are lovers of equal and impartial justice. They see that the constitution has not been strained, that there has been no vigour beyond the law, that the accused have had fair play, and full opportunity of defence, and they are content with the results. It was not always so; and I think it is evidence of progress, and some matter for congratulation, that justice has thus been vindicated, crime punished, and outrage suppressed with the entire approval of the Irish people; and that Ireland can boast of present immunity from serious offences such as she had not enjoyed within the memory of man. I thank the House for its great kindness.
§ MR. HENNESSY
said, that his right hon. Friend the Attorney General for Ireland was not correct in saying that the 205 Government of Lord Derby bad never selected for promotion from the bar of Ireland any of their political opponents. While the Attorney General was speaking, there eat behind him an hon. Baronet (Sir Colman O'Loghlen) who, although a liberal Roman Catholic, had been selected by Lord Derby for a first-class county chairmanship in Ireland. Another Catholic, Mr. Coppinger, had been promoted to a similar position, and a judgeship had been offered to Mr. Sergeant Howley, also a Catholic. The legal promotions of the present Government in Ireland were all based on political considerations, whereas Lord Derby had conferred judgeships on Mr. Baron Fitzgerald and others who had not been known in the political world. The government of Lord Derby had acted in that way while only a few months in office after many years of Whig rule in Ireland. No doubt in that country promotions to the bench were made in general by both sides on party grounds, though no such principle would be permitted to prevail in England. But this miserable question of places and patronage was insignificant and unworthy of notice compared with the serious questions really affecting Ireland. He was astonished to hear his right hon. Friend assert that the present depopulation of Ireland was a natural transition. [Mr. O'HAGAN dissented.] He had understood his right hon. Friend to state that it was a "phase of transition;" but he would ask him whether the wholesale emigration which was taking place from that country might not be accounted for by the fact, that the Government paid no attention to the grievances set forth in the Petitions which were every Session sent in vast numbers from Ireland, and which prayed for amendment in the Poor Law Act, in the system of national education, and above all in the land system. The Irish people asked for the English Poor Law, and for separate education. Both were refused them; while the Government, giving places to liberal Catholics instead of justice to the people, appointed Lord Dunraven to a seat on the Board of National Education, his Lordship having objected to the mixed system, and having opposed the scheme of the right hon. Baronet the Chief Secretary for Ireland, having for its object the further endowment of the Queen's Colleges. As if to illustrate the value of Liberal principles he was asked to aid in the administration of a system which he had denounced. The Attorney General for Ireland was the only 206 Member of the Government who knew anything of that country. They were all aware that the present Chief Secretary for Ireland was a man of ability, and one who was very popular in England. He should be glad to see the right hon. Baronet in the Cabinet for an English Department; but he knew nothing of Ireland, and, therefore, was not fitted to fill his present office. It was surprising that among all their Irish supporters in that House the Government could not find one whom they considered worthy of the office of Chief Secretary. His right hon. Friend had spoken a good deal about things which existed in Ireland, but he had omitted to tell the House about the discontent which prevailed there. The lord lieutenant of a county had recently told him, that from all the accounts he received he believed Ireland was never more discontented than at present. What else could be expected? The laws affecting the Irish people were not just laws, and they were administered from Dublin Castle by Englishmen. The people complained of this in vain. They suffered under grievous and unjust taxation, but they complained in vain. While the state of things of which they complained was allowed to continue they would still be discontented. The right hon. Gentleman had made a speech on the state of Ireland, but although he was formerly the eloquent champion of tenant-right, and although the uncertain tenure by which tenants held their land lay at the root of the evils which existed in Ireland, the right hon. Gentleman had never once alluded to the subject. What had the present Government done in the direction of improving the land system? Nothing. For years Liberal Governments had refused to do anything; but, under the Government of Lord Derby, a Bill was introduced which would have given compensation for retrospective as well as prospective improvements. The population of Ireland, which in 1843 amounted to 8,500,000, had now fallen to 5,300,000. Had it increased in the same ratio as that of England it would have been 12,000,000. Who was responsible for the loss of the people? The British Government. Mr. Stuart Mill said that a Government which saw a people dying off, a population steadily declining, was tried and condemned. That was the case with the present Administration. The right hon. Gentleman had spoken of Liberalism and the Roman Catholic party in Ireland as being identified. In that he 207 was wrong. The Roman Catholic and the Liberal parties in that country were not the same. The Roman Catholic party sought for religious education, but it was one of the main principles of the Liberal party to exclude ecclesiastical influence from public instruction. And so it was with other points which had been included in a recent pastoral of the Roman Catholic bishops. Liberalism was opposed to Catholicity. More than that, it was opposed to the genuine interests of Ireland. Those who wanted to substitute horned cattle for human beings in Ireland are liberal statesmen. The Liberal party, with the blackest ingratitude, have laboured to destroy the very people who years ago put them into power. The Liberal Viceroy openly rejoices at the decline of the agricultural population. Fortunately the Irish people are now beginning to see the objects and principles of the so-called Liberal party. Why, the Irish Lord of the Treasury (Mr. Luke White), although the son of one of the most popular and largest landowners in Ireland, was prevented from representing the county of Longford, in which his father's estates were situated, because he was an "honest" Liberal. The Government had two defenders on the Treasury bench, but out of the 105 Irish Members they would not find another to support them either in this or any other debate.
§ SIR PATRICK O'BRIEN
had not on entering the House the most distant intention of occupying its attention. Statements, however, which had been made during that debate relative to political opinion in Ireland, accompanied by empty generalities echoed in another place, intended, he believed, to affect a future election, and to bolster up an unholy alliance between Irish Catholics and those who for over fifty years had unflinchingly opposed their religious freedom and political regeneration, induced him to offer a few observations. He was not disposed to give to that question of patronage that prominence which it had received. It might, and had no doubt its weight with many, but it was entitled, in his opinion, to but a small consideration in regarding the general effects of the administration of the affairs of the country. As allusion, however, had been made to it, he might observe that the fate Earl of Eglinton administered the affairs of Ireland during two administrations. During that period some £240,000 a year of patronage fell to his lot to dispose of, 208 yet, with the exception of a distinguished scholar and lawyer whom he appointed to some office in his native country of small emolument, and which, by-the-bye, to save Lord Eglinton from awful pressure, he declined to accept, not one single Catholic was appointed under his administration. An alliance to be lasting must be founded upon principle, and, in common with the great mass of his Catholic countrymen, schooled in early life in Liberal principles, he would continue to vindicate Liberal political opinions. His hon. Colleague had asserted that the terms Catholic and Liberal were antagonistic in Ireland. He ventured to distrust the accuracy of that assertion; the religious freedom which they had already gained, and the social rights from which they were still unjustly debarred, had been, and only could be, obtained by the aid and co-operation of Liberal opinions. To suppose a lasting political connection between Irish Catholics, and, to use no stronger term, Irish Toryism, was mere moonshine; it might take effect as a hollow truce, but would never assume the form of an honest fusion; and however the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Whiteside) might indulge in showy generalities, the Irish Catholics would entertain a deep distrust of Tory professions regarding Catholic interests or political rights. The two parties in Ireland were necessarily distinct. The Conservatives, from old associations, were imbued with notions of ascendancy and of high prerogative; and much as hon. Gentlemen who sat behind the front opposition bench, who held the representation of the entire province of Ulster in their hands, might respect and admire the intellectual ability and oratorical power of the Member for the University, they would throw him overboard and desert the administration of which he might be a Member, the moment that they found him exercising Papal predilections, or recognizing, whether as regards land tenure or other questions, popular demands. He joined his Colleague most heartily in his strictures upon the Government in regard to their treatment of the tenant right question, but he could not join with him in lavishing praise upon a Tory administration for their conduct of that vital question, because he recollected that the Bill to which he alluded, introduced by Mr. Napier, the then Attorney General of the Earl of Derby, was designated by that very nobleman as a measure of confiscation, and, in deference to those very Irish Tories (whom the poor Catholic 209 farmers and peasantry are invited to support), the same noble Lord declined all further interference, on the ground that it had already burnt his fingers. He did not believe in the mode of conducting affairs by mere temporary sops, or that "troublesome Catholic Members can be caught by letting them have their way upon this or that subject." In politics broad principles were necessary; and, having regard to them, he, an Irish Catholic, was a Liberal. He did not affirm that Conservatives would deny to individuals the benefits of existing laws; but their legislation, as regards Ireland, was ever directed to serve the interests of a class who denied to the class below them the safeguards which they needed. He might, before he sat down, remind his hon. Colleague that, in adverting to the gallant Colonel the Member for Kidderminster losing his seat in Longford, he forgot to mention that he was not displaced by a supporter of Lord Derby's Government but by a Gentleman who, whilst adopting an independent course, felt proud, as a Catholic, to identify himself with the Liberals of Ireland. A deliberate attempt having been made to hoodwink the people, he had ventured to offer these observations, in which he believed the great mass of Irish Catholics fully concurred.
§ MR. HADFIELD
said, he wished to have some explanation of the paragraph in the Royal Speech with regard to the promised Royal Commission for revising the subscriptions made by the clergy of the Established Church. Questions of the most important kind were now agitating the Church. The Bishop of Cape Town had actually deprived another Bishop of mitre and gown for entertaining heterodox opinions; yet notwithstanding the sentence the deprived Bishop disputed its legality and would retain his income. The subscriptions to the Articles of the Church of England were now declared by the head of that Church to be unjust. Was it not a remarkable thing that after the clergy had been bound by those subscriptions for 200 years (which subscriptions had driven out thousands of learned and conscientious men),the discovery should now be made that they were unjust, and that clergymen ought to be liberated from them. Was it intended to alter the doctrines of the Church of England as well? At present the Church contained within its body the widest extremes of opinion. In the Gorham case it was decided that clergymen might hold and teach opinions for or against the doctrine of baptismal regenera- 210 tion, consistently with the requirements of the Church; and in the Natal case the Metropolitan adjudged the Bishop's doctrine to be unsound. It would be well that the latitude, in doctrine, the clergy were in future to enjoy should be defined. Was Bishop Colenso to be allowed still to hold his see? Another interesting question was this:—What was to be done with the starving working clergy of England and Ireland, of whom, under the head of "Startling Facts," the Clergy Relief Society give such deplorable accounts? One case was mentioned in which a clergyman, from insufficient nourishment, actually fainted in the pulpit. The Report said there were fully 5,000 clergymen of the Church of England whose income did not exceed £80 a year, and some whose total revenue did not amount to £50, while no less than 10,000 clergymen had not more than £100 per annum each. If they were allowed to throw themselves upon the generosity and justice of their congregations, he was persuaded that their circumstances would be vastly bettered. But the State was the great poisoner of all kinds of religious institutions. These poor clergymen were required to disavow connection with any other religious body, and to repudiate all non-conformity. He was surprised that there was no passage in the Royal Speech which inspired the hope that the poor clergy were to be relieved from their poverty as well as from subscription; and as to the proposed Commission, he should like to know what was its nature and what was the extent of the relief to be given by it. He also wished to be informed, whether the noble Lord at the head of the Government intended to consider what was to be done with the Established Church in Ireland. It appeared from the census of 1861, this Church did not include one-eighth part of the population in Ireland; and he wished to learn whether such a state of things was to be allowed to continue.
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
said, he could relieve the apprehensions which seemed to be entertained by the hon. Gentleman as to the object of the proposed Commission. The hon. Gentleman had assumed that that object of the proposed revision of the forms of subscription and declaration was to relieve the clergy from all subscription and to allow them to teach any doctrines in which they might believe, no matter how much they differed from the doctrines of the Church of England. Now, that would be totally opposed to the intentions 211 of the Commission. The terms of the Commission, which would be laid before the House in a few days, recognised subscription as the basis upon which the Commission was to proceed. But, in accordance with the opinions generally expressed by this House last Session, it was proposed to revise the various forms of declaration and subscription now required, some by the Canons of the Church, some by Acts of Parliament, differing in their terms, and, therefore, creating doubt and uncertainty, and liable to various interpretations, with a view to secure the declared agreement of the clergy with the doctrines of the Church, and at the same time to render the subscription as little burdensome and as unambiguous as possible. It would be injurious to the interests of the Church that subscription should be altogther abolished, and that clergymen should retain their preferments while holding and maintaining tenets utterly opposed to the teachings of the Church. He was glad that the hon. Gentleman regarded the endowments of the poorer clergy as inadequate, and would approve of their increase. [Mr. HADFIELD: Not the endowments.] A Report would shortly be laid before Parliament by the Ecclesiastical Commission, showing that out of the funds received by them from the new distribution of ecclesiastical revenues, they had been able to increase the endowment of a great many of the small livings to an amount which, though not large, would certainly remove much of the scandal which had existed in the Church of England in this respect.
§ MR. W. E. DUNCOMBE
said, he could not allow the Report to be agreed to without referring to the state of our foreign relations. Since he had sat in that House there had been no previous Session of Parliament in which those relations were in a more critical position than at present. This country was now without an ally among the great nations of Europe; and in reference to America our so-called neutrality had been plainly one-sided; for by straining the law the Government had acted entirely in favour of the North to the prejudice of the South. He should like to have some explanation from the Government in reference to two questions which had been referred to by the hon. Member for Inverness (Mr. H. Baillie)—the ineffective blockade of the Southern ports, and the seizure of English vessels upon the high seas by Federal vessels without regard to law or justice. He should like also to know 212 whether any step was likely to he taken by European Powers to stop the calamitous war now raging in America, or to mitigate it. More than a year ago the Chancellor of the Exchequer said that the Southern States had "made themselves a nation." Since then they had maintained their armies in the field; had secured their seat of Government, and had retained the hearty allegiance of the population; and he desired to ask how long this was to continue before we should recognize their independence? He hoped that the Government would lose no opportunity of offering their friendly advice in conjunction with that of other Powers to the American Government. With regard to Poland, the Government had departed from the principle of non-intervention, for they had not only addressed strong representations to the Emperor of Russia, but had even proposed the "six points." Before they did that they ought to have discovered the wishes and aspirations of the Polish people. Those people did not wish to recur to the state of things established by the Treaty of 1815, but sought for complete independence. The course the Government pursued was, therefore, inconsistent with the wishes of the Poles. It might have been expected that the affairs of Poland would have caused Her Majesty's Government to seize the first opportunity to come to some agreement respecting this, which affected the peace of Europe. He (Mr. Duncombe) differed from his hon. Friend the Member for West Norfolk (Mr. Bentinck) with respect to the policy pursued by this country when the proposal for a Congress was made by the Emperor of the French. If Her Majesty's Government had given a more favourable answer to that proposal, and England and France co-operated, they would not now be doomed to witness the unhappy spectacle of Austria and Prussia making a gratuitous attack on the territories of the King of Denmark. Indeed, it was of the utmost importance that England and France should be united on their foreign policy; for by such a co-operation they would give the best guarantee to the maintenance of peace and the efficient prosecution of war. It was his belief that by such a course much of the present difficulty and danger would have been avoided. But the foreign policy of Her Majesty's Government seemed to consist of a policy of threats and in remonstrance, generally ending in humiliation. Her Majesty's Government, is treating of the affairs of 213 Denmark, had sent remonstrances and written letters to the various powers; but those remonstrances had been disregarded, for Austria and Prussia had treated the matter with a high hand. What course, then, were the Government prepared to adopt? Were they to submit tamely to this aggression? If they did, such a course of conduct would be inconsistent with the pledges given to Denmark. The noble Lord at the head of the Government had announced that a despatch, which was afterwards read, had been received from Prussia, announcing that Prussia and Austria would guarantee the independence of Denmark. He (Mr. Duncombe) did not think that a satisfactory despatch. It was all very well for these nations to say they would maintain its independence, while, at the same time, they were invading its territories. Schleswig was no part of the Germanic Confederation, and if Denmark entered into any engagement respecting Schleswig in 1851 such an engagement was made under a threat, and it would not now be consistent with the independence of Denmark to require them to give way to the Germanic Powers on this question of Schleswig. It was impossible for England to maintain its place among the nations of the world if they were subjected to their present humiliation; and the only way to restore its relations to a proper footing would be to adhere to the faith of treaties, and at a sacrifice to maintain the independence of nations.
§ Address agreed to:—To be presented by Privy Councillors.