§ MR. DISRAELI
Sir, in rising to make a Motion before the Orders of the day, I doubt not the House has anticipated its purpose. It is to move an Address to Her Majesty, expressing on the part of this House its sympathy with Her Majesty on that distressing intelligence which arrived on Saturday last, and which occasioned Her Majesty so much grief, and still occasions her so much anxiety. I am sure that mine will be the common voice, when I express the sorrow and indignation with which the House and the country heard of the attempt to assassinate His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh. If anything could aggravate the atrocity of that act it would be, I think, the circumstance under which it was perpetrated. His Royal Highness was visiting the most distant possessions of the Sovereign; he was—not in the letter, but to a certain degree, in the spirit—representing the Majesty of England; he had 1335 elicited a sentiment of earnest enthusiasm, which, I am sure, must have touched the heart of this country, and he had commanded throughout the whole of his travels the reception which was due to his intelligence and to his cordial manners. At the very moment this act was perpetrated, he was fulfilling one of those offices which are the most graceful appanages of his illustrious rank; he was establishing a new charity—and that charity, in favour of the noble profession to which he is devoted—in which, I may say, he has distinguished himself, and of which, I trust, he will live to be an ornament. It is impossible, in noticing this subject, to avoid referring to the cause of such an act. We live in an age of progress, or we sometimes flatter ourselves that this is our happy fate. But there appear to be cycles of our progress in which the worst passions and habits of distant ages are revived. Some centuries ago the world was tortured with the conviction that there was some mysterious power in existence which could command in every camp, and court, and capital of the world, a poniard at its disposal and devotion. It seems at this time, too, that some dark confederacy of the kind is spreading over the world. All I can say is, I regret that, for a moment, such acts should have been associated with the name of Ireland. I am convinced myself, as I have stated before in this House, that the imputation is unjust. I believe that these acts — and the characters who perpetrate them — are the distempered consequences of civil wars, and disorganized societies; that when their dark invasion first touched the soil of Ireland—the nation, as a whole, entirely repudiated them. And the manner in which, in that land, another son of the Queen has recently been received, has proved that the loyalty of the Irish nation is unchanged and undiminished; and that those amiable and generous feelings, which have always been the characteristic of the people, flourish with the same vigour that we have before recognized. I trust that, under these circumstances, I may move—That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, to convey to Her Majesty the expression of the sorrow and indignation with which this House has learned the atrocious attempt to assassinate His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh, while on a visit to Her Majesty's loyal Australian Colonies, and of their heartfelt congratulations to Her Majesty on His preservation from mortal injury; and to assure Her Majesty of the sympathy of this House in Her Majesty's 1336 present anxiety, and of their earnest hope for the speedy recovery of His Royal Highness.
Sir, I rise for the purpose of seconding the Address which has just been moved by the right hon. Gentleman. I heartily concur—every man must concur, in the sentiment of sorrow and in the sentiment of indignation which are expressed in the terms of that Address. And we must all, I think, feel a sincere thankfulness to the Almighty who has been pleased on this critical occasion—if not entirely to paralyze the arm of the assassin, yet to prevent, at all events, as we trust, the fatal consequences at which the assassin aimed. Now, Sir, I do not know whether, judging as I judge, merely from expressions contained in the telegraphic intelligence, it would be wise or safe for me to assume as positively demonstrated that this foul and loathsome deed is connected with Fenianism. If it be so, I am sorry to say it only adds another dark shadow to the disgrace which previous acts of horror have brought on the name of that conspiracy. But whether that be so, or whether it be not, it cannot in the main affect the sentiment with which I am sure this Address will be voted by the House. Every man who has the smallest share of human feeling must be profoundly moved, on the one hand, at this new cause of anxiety to Her Majesty, and, on the other, at the fact that Her Majesty has been spared another deep and severe affliction in the midst of that crushing affliction which has darkened her days. And as regards the Prince himself, undoubtedly if anything could have disarmed the hand of the criminal one would have thought it would have been his youth, his great intelligence, and the kindly and genial manners which have endeared him to all with whom he has been brought in contact. This is a subject in which few words, I think, are best, the object being simply to convey to the foot of the Throne the dutiful and loyal assurance of sentiment which we entertain in common. I will only say, therefore, that I most cordially second the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman.
§ MR. WATKIN
It is stated that a more recent telegram has been received respecting the health of his Royal Highness, and announcing that the person who fired at him has been tried, found guilty, and sentenced to be hanged. I wish to know if that be true?
§ Resolved, Nemine Contradicente, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, to convey to Her Majesty the expression of the sorrow and indignation with which this House has learned the atrocious attempt to assassinate His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh, while on a visit to Her Majesty's loyal Australian Colonies, and of their heartfelt congratulations to Her Majesty on His preservation from mortal injury; and to assure Her Majesty of the sympathy of this House in Her Majesty's present anxiety, and of their earnest hope for the speedy recovery of His Royal Highness.—(Mr. Disraeli.)
§ To be presented by Privy Councillors.