§ MR. MAGUIRE
said: Mr. Speaker, I should indeed be sadly insensible alike to the immense importance of the subject I am about to introduce, and to the dignity of this assembly, if I did not respectfully and earnestly claim the liberal indulgence of the House while I attempt, however inadequately, to discharge that duty. Owing to the prominent position which the Motion has assumed, I have been more than once half tempted to shrink from the task I have undertaken; but, Sir, the occasion is too solemn, and the crisis too grave, to admit of mere personal considerations. I placed my Notice on the Paper at the close of the short Sitting in November, and I did so for these reasons: in the first place, because during that Sitting there was no authoritative statement, proposal, or even declaration of opinion, having reference to the affairs of Ireland, its hopes and expectations, its present or its future; and that, in the second place, I was determined, so far as in me lay, to challenge, by open and advised speaking on my part, the Statesmen and party Leaders of this House, and the representatives of the English people, to a full and free discussion of that which, above and beyond all others, has become the question of the day—that question which, in the solemn words of my hon. Friend the Member for Westminster, in the opening of his noble appeal in behalf of the Irish people, rises at least once in every generation, "to perplex the councils and trouble the conscience of the British nation." In doing this much, I trust I have not overstepped the duty of a private and independent Member, who for many years has had a seat in this House. Surely, Sir, the time has come when we should deal with this Irish question, not in a party 1289 spirit, which I deprecate—not in a sectarian spirit, which I abhor—but in a broad, comprehensive, and generous spirit—a spirit at once wise and patriotic. The state of things in Ireland is calculated to inspire any commonly thoughtful man with feelings not merely of anxiety, but of foreboding and alarm. Ireland presents at this moment—sixty-eight years after the passing of the Act of Union—the aspect of a country on the eve of a great struggle, rather than an integral portion of the heart of an Empire in a state of profound peace, and having friendly relations with all the nations of Europe. It is occupied by a powerful and well-equipped army, such as one might expect to see maintained in Poland under Russian rule, or such as the Sublime Porte would dispatch to a revolted province of European Turkey. Its cities and towns are strongly garrisoned, its barracks are filled to their uttermost capacity of accommodation, and squadrons of cavalry and detachments of infantry are quartered in districts which for many years had never beheld the face of a British soldier. Besides this powerful and thoroughly equipped army, you have in Ireland what you may term a supplemental army—13,000 of the finest gensd'armerie to be found in any country or under any flag. Under ordinary circumstances—such as I hope to witness again in Ireland—the duties of these 13,000 men would be of a purely civil character, while their most daring achievement would not go beyond the maintenance of peace at a contested election, the suppression of a street riot, or the stopping of a faction fight at a country fair; yet these 13,000 Royal Irish Constabulary are drilled and disciplined like ordinary troops, and are supplied with the most effective and deadliest weapons known to modern military science. Their barracks, hitherto mere stations, are being converted into so many fortresses, with stanchions, iron shutters and iron doors, and loop-holed masonry—so constructed or strengthened as to resist anticipated attack—so many village fortresses, to awe the disaffected, and inspire the timid with confidence. Formidable fleets occasionally lie in Cork harbour—a harbour deserted in times of tranquility—round which armed boats row, as if an enemy's fleet were holding it in a state of blockade. Gunboats are to be found far up some of the principal rivers, or in remote creeks; and swift cruisers keep watch and ward round the coast, on 1290 the look-out for suspicious craft. The Government gaols are filled with political prisoners—indeed, almost the only prisoners in the country, thanks to the wonderful absence of crime; for were it not for the Fenians, who have been a godsend to the lawyers, whatever they have been to the Government, the Irish Bench would ere this have been sacrificed to the merciless pruning knife of Financial Reform. Trials at Commissions, trials at assizes, trials at quarter sessions, investigations in jails, domiciliary visits, ransackings of houses, and even streets, in search of arms or documents—denote the dangerous political agitation to which the country is a prey. Then, to crown all, public liberty is dead, personal inviolability at an end; for now in Ireland—in this integral portion of the United Kingdom—in this part of an Empire at peace with Europe—any man—any poor man—may be arrested on the whisper of a spy, the oath of a practised perjurer, the suspicion of an ignorant policeman, or the folly or the fussiness of a foolish or a scared official. The expression of an independent opinion exposes him who utters it to the immediate attention of the authorities, while the proclamation of a national sentiment is a clear proof of Fenian sympathies. To object to unnecessary "remands," secret investigations, or crushing prison discipline, is an unpardonable offence—at least with the hyper-loyal—in a country whose constitutional liberty is on a par with that enjoyed by the subjects of the Emperor of Morocco or the King of Abyssinia. To illustrate the notion formed by those to whom is left the practical administration of the law in the streets of an Irish city, I may mention that at the late Limerick Assizes, terminated but a few days since, the presiding Judge (Mr. Justice O'Hagan) greatly surprised, indeed intensely disgusted, a member of the Royal Irish Constabulary by informing him that, even though a man did hesitate to give his name, a policeman was not permitted, as a preliminary to further proceedings, to seize him at once by the throat. I now come to the material condition of the country whose constitutional freedom is practically at an end. The material condition of Ireland is naturally a question of deep anxiety to the statesman and the legislator; and the question is this—is Ireland improving?—is Ireland at a standstill?—is Ireland retrograding? It is the interest of those who desire, as the phrase 1291 is, to let things alone, to represent her advance, if not something marvellous, at least highly gratifying. Those people who say, "Let well alone"—really let ill alone—point with satisfaction to statements which appear in certain Government pamphlets, and to statistics published by Mr. Donnelly, and judiciously handled in The Times and the Pall Mall Gazette, as proofs of wonderful progress, and of the wisdom of their agreeable policy of "letting well alone." How is this marvellous or gratifying prosperity proved? By the comparison of periods. What periods? The years 1851 and 1867. As well might one contrast the condition of a feeble convalescent, reeling from a bed of fever, with that of a man in his ordinary health, as to compare the state of things in 1867 with that in 1851. The famine, which commenced in 1847, and raged in 1848, did not end in 1849, and was felt for several years after; in fact, until 1856 or 1857, Ireland had not fairly turned her back on the years of famine. See the state of things in 1851. In that year there were 750,000 persons in receipt of Poor Law relief. In that year 44,000 persons had been evicted from their holdings, while 73,000 had been evicted in 1850, and 72,000 in 1849. In the same year emigration assumed indeed the character of the hemorrhage described in after years by the First Lord of the Treasury, for no less than 290,000 persons left Ireland permanently in 1851. And to cap the picture, property, which has since been selling at twenty-five, and twenty-six, and even twenty-seven years' purchase, was then to be had at fifteen, and twelve, and even ten years' purchase. Now, I ask, is it not bewildering the public mind—is it not deceiving the people of this country—to endeavour to establish any comparison or analogy between a period like that of 1851 and the present time? But let us take the year 1859—an ordinary or normal year—and contrast it with the year 1867. I admit there is a large increase in sheep; but no one who knows Ireland regards an increase in sheep—to which the human being has been made to give way—as a conclusive proof of Irish prosperity. There is also an increase of goats to the number of 4,000; yet even the most enthusiastic will hesitate before taking that increase as a proof of marvellous, or even gratifying progress. Look at the other side of the picture. There were in Ireland 113,000 head of cattle, 107,000 horses, and 500,000 acres under 1292 cereals less in 1867 than in 1859; and 1,139,000 acres of land under cereals less than there were twenty years before. Such a diminution of the agricultural wealth of a country can hardly be regarded as a proof of its progress. If it be progress, then I do not know the meaning of the term. But there is something worse. Not only is there a diminution of agricultural wealth, and in the extent of land under cereals, but there appears to be a falling off in the productive power of the soil. Why is this? To what is this to be attributed? Is it to a failure in the land, or to the change of climate, or to Providence? The falling off in the production per acre—which is proved beyond question by tables quoted by Lord Dufferin—is not attributable to a failure of the powers of nature, nor to changes in the climate, nor to Providence, but to a very simple human cause—namely, that the farmers are beginning to lose heart from want of security, and would rather hoard their money, or put it in the banks, than invest it in the land, at the mercy of landlords who are not guided by higher laws than those which Parliament has established. The condition of the country towns necessarily follows the state of agriculture, on which they depend. The state of agriculture is most backward, as a rule. I do not appeal to the evidence of Judge Longfield, who thus described it; I rather appeal to the experience of every English tourist, and the testimony of every amazed American traveller. The country towns of Ireland, save those which are sustained by manufacturing industry, are sinking and mouldering into decay—steadily but surely going back. Of course, I do not speak of cities such as Cork, Limerick, Waterford, and others, or of towns in which, as I have said, there are special sources of employment; I refer to the country towns, and to these generally, and I repeat that their condition is deplorable, getting worse day after day; that a feeling of despair is taking possession of their shopkeepers and people in business, whose only hope is in emigration to another land. And now, Sir, what is the state of feeling in Ireland? If I were to say that the general feeling was one of discontent, I should be adopting a mild but most imperfect mode of endeavouring to describe the terrible reality. If I said there was an almost universal feeling not only of discontent, but of something approaching to disaffection, I should be much nearer the mark. This would disprove the statement 1293 made by the noble Lord opposite (the Earl of Mayo) the other night, when he said that only ten or eleven farmers were taken up under the Lord Lieutenant's warrant, and then asserted that that small number showed the loyalty of the farming class in Ireland, arising from their contentment with the British law. I do not describe the feelings of those who only believe in revolution; it is not necessary for me to do so. I leave that feeling to be described by the Law Officers of the Crown, and by the Judges of Assize. But there is a feeling almost as dangerous as that—there is a feeling of despair growing gradually over the minds of men, and steadily absorbing those who are opposed to revolutionary objects—men who love peace and order, and desire legitimate progress by constitutional means. They despair of obtaining redress from the justice and wisdom of Parliament, or from the honesty or wisdom of statesmen. There is in their minds a sense of despair respecting the future of Ireland. There is also a large class in Ireland, who, hoping against hope, and believing in the wisdom of certain English statesmen, and the justice of the English people, as in their fears, still hope that a better state of things may dawn upon their country. What is the cause of the feeling of alienation from England that lies in the heart of the Irish people—a feeling that is common not to one class but to many classes—and to some of what are termed the better classes in Ireland? The causes are many. Parliament is responsible for some of those causes, certainly not for all. Parliament is responsible for a great deal; but the feeling is partly owing to the past as well as to the present. It is owing to the history of the country, to the traditions of the people, and to the legislation or non-legislation of this House. Sufficient account is not made of the effect produced in the mind of Ireland by the records of the past. England has attempted to blot out the history of Ireland; and in the National schools of Ireland, the page of her history has been deliberately closed. But the eager student, the moment he got beyond the school-walls, when he read that dark and blood-stained page of cruelty, oppression, and wrong unequalled in the world, felt his heart glow with indignation, or chill with horror. Tour legislation should attempt to wipe out, if you can, the history of the past. Solemnly, I wish that there would rise up some great and potent 1294 wizard, some genius of beneficence, who, representing the atonement as well as the wisdom of the English people, would, by generous legislation and wise government, bury for ever the bitter memories of the past. But where is this political Prospero to be found? Is he to be found in the front rank of the Ministry, or in the front rank of the Opposition? If the memory of the Irish people be not blunted, it is the fault of Parliament; for by bad laws, or by allowing links of former bondage to remain unbroken, you preserve a chain of connection in the mind of the country which reaches from the present to the past. Hon. Gentlemen have no doubt heard of the Penal Laws, those terrible engines of persecution and degradation, and possibly think that they existed only in remote centuries. But such is not the case. These laws are by no means of such remote date, and some of them still linger on the statute book, to shame our modern enlightenment. The memory of that evil code lives fresh in the minds of the Irish people: by bad legislation, or by refusing redress through good legislation, you keep alive the spirit which those laws engendered. It is only ninety years—a short time in the history of a nation—since it was an offence liable to imprisonment for life if a priest celebrated mass, or a Catholic taught a school in public or in private. A venerable ecclesiastic of my church—the Catholic Dean of Cork, Dr. Collins—often told his friends that when he was studying his Virgil with other law-breakers, in a ditch, they were obliged to have a scout on the top of the fence to watch the approach of the spy. It is only seventy-five years ago since the Catholics of Ireland were allowed to possess the franchise. It is only a short time since the learned professions were open to Roman Catholics. Not a very long period has elapsed since the time when a Protestant might, in the streets of Cork and Dublin, take from the Roman Catholic owner a horse worth £100, and pay him but £5 for it. It is not very long since the son of a Catholic could rob his father of his property by professing the Protestant religion. We have in Ireland, and perhaps in this House, the descendants of men who had thus obtained the estates of their fathers; and no doubt they will now stand up for the rights of property to which their predecessors had no right, and for the revenues of a church to which their forefathers did not belong. English writers and politicians—even the 1295 very best of them—oftentimes reproach the Irish with ignorance, idleness, want of trade, want of commerce, want of energy, and want of business habits. Do they ever remember that the Government of England, not so very long since, had done everything in its power to destroy the manufactures, the trade and commerce of Ireland? And it was not until 1782 that Ireland, owing to the then attitude of the Irish people, recovered her legislative independence. England is responsible for the legislation before and after the Union; for before it the Irish Parliament was merely a subordinate and subservient body, to which that of England sent its decrees. I assert, without fear of contradiction, that under the Irish Parliament, from 1782 to 1800, though it was an unreformed Parliament, crowded with the servants of England, and at the beck of the English Minister, Ireland made a wonderful advance in all that constituted the life of a nation—liberty, prosperity, and power—trade, commerce, manufactures, industry, and intelligence. But England was jealous. She was determined to destroy the constitutional liberty of Ireland, and deprive her of the right of governing herself; and she did so. It is a fact beyond all dispute that the Union was carried against the declared wishes of the Irish people, by fraud, violence, terror, false promises, and corruption of the most infamous and wholesale character. As one fact indicative of the feeling of the people, I may state that there were but 5,000 signatures in favour of the Union, while there were 700,000 against it, at a time when public meetings convened by the sheriff were dispersed by the bayonets of the soldiery. England then assumed a grave responsibility before the world. The Union was, no doubt, described as a great marriage contract; but, although the bride was dragged to the altar, and the executioner was ominously near the officiating priest, the English people, represented by their Statesmen and their Parliament, declared that they would carry out the conditions to the spirit and the letter. Now, how have the various promises made at that time been since redeemed? It was stated that Ireland would henceforth share in the power, the prosperity, and the contentment of England—in fact, that a new era of happiness and glory had dawned for lucky Ireland. Among other things, docks and arsenals were promised to various places. Cork was to be one of these 1296 favoured harbours. How had that promise been performed? Hon. Members would find an extraordinary note in the Naval Estimates that day, which would give them some information on the subject. At length—sixty-five years after the Union—an attempt was going to be made to give this dock and arsenal to Cork, but the construction of those works was made conditional on the number of convicts at Spike Island and the other prisons in Ireland; so that, because Ireland was comparatively free from crime, and did not possess many convicts, the promise held out at the time of the Union was not to be realized for another twenty years. Then, again, emancipation was promised. That promise was not redeemed until twenty nine years after the carrying of the Act of Union, and not until the Duke of Wellington declared that it was dangerous to withhold it any longer from an excited people. Lord John Russell was certainly right in saying that everything that Parliament had done had been done through fear, and not in a generous spirit; and that measure, instead of being an olive branch of peace, was planted with thorns, which lacerated the feelings of the Catholic people of Ireland. It was not until riot was universal and massacre frequent that Parliament allowed the landlord to become the proctor, and to levy the tithes from the tenant in the shape of rent. Then as to the agricultural population of an agricultural country, let us see what this Parliament has done for them, and in what position they now are. The present condition of the Irish people has been summed up in a single sentence in a pamphlet published within the last few days by a Protestant and Conservative gentleman, Mr. Marcus Keane, who describes himself as the land agent of several large estates, as well as a landed proprietor of thirty years' experience—The great mass of the Irish tenantry have no better title to their holdings than the will of their landlords.That is the condition of the mass of the tenants of Irish soil from whom we expect the virtues of angels and the loyalty of a Court Chamberlain. The legal position of the agricultural classes of Ireland is not credited by Americans. I remember, for instance, crossing in the autumn of 1866, in a stormy night in October, and finding myself alone with an American gentleman who was returning to his own country. I can assure the House I was in no mood 1297 for argument at the time, as it was with the utmost difficulty I preserved the semblance of a sitting posture. But the American traveller was, like his countrymen, anxious for information. The traveller said to me, "You are a Member of the British Parliament?" "I have that honour," I replied. "You are an Irishman?" I said, "I have that greater honour." The gentleman then entered into conversation, and said that he desired some information on a point about which he was in doubt. He had heard in Ireland, but could not believe the statement, that the majority of the tenants in that country were without leases. I replied that the statement was quite correct, and that the tenants had no security for their industry but the honour and good faith of their landlords. I was asked what was the proportion of those without leases, to which I replied that, according to the popular notion, they numbered five-sixths, and the landlords themselves acknowledged them as being three-fourths. To this my acquaintance returned, "My God! is that a genuine fact?" "A genuine fact, I assure you." "Why don't you put it down?" "Unfortunately, we can't." "Why don't you change the laws?" "Unfortunately, we are in the hands of those who make the law, and they are generally Irish landlords and English landlords, many of them holding property in Ireland." "Well," said my friend, "we would settle that in our country very soon; it is an Almighty grievance, and you ought to put it down." Now the logic of the American was not only that of the Fenian, but of the Premier of England; for in 1844 the right hon. Gentleman asked, "What would Gentlemen say of a country in which such things existed?—they would answer—the remedy is revolution." I do not believe that revolution is the right remedy; on the contrary, I believe in the wisdom and justice of the people of England, and of the men who lead parties in this House, and I believe the question will be settled, some time or other, according to the interests of all parties. Would hon. Gentlemen opposite be loyal if their position, their wide possessions, their ancestral domains, depended upon the will of another person? You would be slaves if you were. I am sorry that the late Sir Robert Peel did not live long enough to carry out the enlightened views which he had formed on this subject. The action of the Incum- 1298 bered Estates Court was looted to with hope, but the favourable anticipations indulged in for the occupiers have not been realized. I will refer to three cases, to show how the beneficial operation of the change has not touched them. In 1865 the case of "Clark v. Knox," was tried at the Tullamore Assizes, and it came out that land occupied by a body of contented, industrious, improving tenants was sold in the Incumbered Estates Court to a stranger, who made the condition of the purchase the clearing of the estate of the men, women, and children on the holding. In the second case, Mr. John Carden, whose memory is honoured in Tipperary, decided to sell a property not very long since, and the condition of sale was that he should clear the estate of the Queen's subjects. He died before his amiable object could be accomplished; but his successor had been called on in a Court of Justice to complete the contract, and those tenants were driven from the land, and it may be have gone across the Atlantic, to be your enemies for ever. It is reported that if Cuvier or Professor Owen had been shown a toe nail or a tooth of an extinct animal, he could build up a model of the monster, and describe its habits and voracity; and so from the character of a single such act as I next describe may be indicated the nature of irresponsible landlordism. My third case is paltry and contemptible, but it resembles the toe nail of the mastodon; it shows the nature of that enormous monster which preys upon Ireland. One of the new benefactors of the country, Mr. Hogan, a builder, of Dublin, was attracted by the description of some property in Wexford which was for sale. It was stated to be occupied by three tenants, who "paid their rent punctually;" and thinking its purchase would be an admirable commercial speculation, Mr. Hogan paid his £1,050, and purchased the estate, including the tenants, body and soul. The tenants were paying at the time of the sale something under 18s. an acre to Lord Valentia, an absentee landlord; but this benefactor to the country—this creation of a great social revolution—made a demand of £2 an acre, and the alternative was a notice to quit, and this although one of the tenants had built a house on his holding valued at £200. Mr. Hogan, the builder, might have shuffled his three tenants out without a word; but the Wexford People scourged him in its columns to such a degree that 1299 in his exasperation he sued the editor for libel before Mr. Justice Whiteside, not long since an ornament of the House of Commons. I am happy to say the jury disagreed, and though the paper has been called on to pay its own costs, the Dublin trader has enjoyed no triumph. In his charge, Lord Chief Justice Whiteside said there is a law higher than the law of the land, which every man should carry in his breast, a law inspired by God himself—and that is, to do to others as he would be done by; and a feeling of indignation was excited in that Court against the monstrous tyranny disclosed. Surely it is time that this fundamental question of landlord and tenant should be settled on an equitable basis. It has often been said that the Irish made speeches, but did not make distinct proposals to remedy the existing evil; that I am bound to condemn as an unfair description of what Irish Members have done. Three years ago my hon. Friends and I met in Dublin and in London day after day, considering what was the least we should look for, what the most we could demand—that is with a hope of success; and after sacrificing many cherished hopes we embodied in the form of a Bill the very least that could be regarded as fit to meet the emergency. I often regretted ever having done so, for the result was miserably deficient. However, the Chancellor of the Exchequer of that day introduced the Bill with certain modifications, and in that the House has the last proposal of the Irish Members who represent the interests of the tenants and also the real interests of the landlords. But how was it received? It was met by a statement on the part of the Irish landlords that an attempt to carry it would be the signal for a universal notice to quit throughout the country, a declaration of war by the landlords against the tillers of the soil. Last year the noble Lord the Chief Secretary for Ireland, who had denounced the Bill of the Liberal party as confiscation and flat burglary, brought in his Bill. The noble Lord's Bill is good to a certain extent, but it fails, as every Bill with a like defect must fail, because it does not give security of tenure. This want is the great evil of Ireland; and this must be provided for, if Ireland is to be regenerated and the Empire is to be saved. I repeat that if the Empire is to be saved from all kinds of calamity, Ireland must be pacified; and without justice to the largest and most important class in the 1300 country there is no hope of peace. The noble Lord is willing to grant public money for the improvement of land either through the tenant or landlord, and no doubt if the tenant invests his own money he is to be secured from the appropriation of its results by the landlord; but no attempt is made to secure the tenant in the enjoyment of the improvements he has made; and unless this is done the real grievance will remain unmet. The real grievance is that the people hold their land at the will of others. It is true that a large body of the landlords of Ireland are benefactors to the country, rejoicing in the prosperity of the people, and enjoying the confidence of their tenants to such an extent that in many instances the tenants think of asking them for a lease; but beyond this boundary is another large body whom I would not dare to trust with the liberty and the property of the great mass of the Irish people. The noble Lord, therefore, is bound to move a step in advance, and deal with tenure as well as with improvements. What would do two years ago will not do for to-day. In 1860 the Irish Members warned the Government as to what would be required; but the Government paid no attention to their warning, and the Act of 1860 remains a dead letter to this hour. The Conservative Government in 1852 proposed a Bill which gave a claim to the tenant for the value of improvements made during previous years. That Bill was read a third time by the House of Commons, and I assert that no Bill which does less than that will meet the necessity of the case. It is absolutely necessary that the property of the tenant shall be protected from the landlord's rapacity and caprice. The noble Lord has said that the farmers are quite contented, and he bases his assertion on the fact that only eleven farmers have been arrested under the Lord Lieutenant's warrant. That, however, is capable of explanation. The farmer is a cautious man, who considers long before he moves, and always waits to see how things are going. I will, however, as an answer to this statement, read a few words spoken, on the 6th of August, 1866, in "another place," by the Earl of Kimberley, the late Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, a man of great sagacity and prudence, who, while he administered the law with a firm hand, made most solemn appeals for a settlement of the land question. The noble Lord said—As regards the farming classes—of whom I 1301 have frequently seen it asserted that they did not sympathize with this sedition—I regret that, in its full extent, I cannot repeat that statement. In the South and West of Ireland, although the occupiers of farms did not take a prominent part in the conspiracy, yet, as a matter of fact, it was known that had the rebellion actually broken out, in many parts of the country they would have been prepared to join it."—[3 Hansard, clxxxiv. 2079.]There is a pamphlet which has been written by the hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. Butler-Johnstone)—whose ability we all must admire, however we dissent from his views—which contains a remarkable quotation from a very remarkable man. I quoted the late Lord Lieutenant, and the hon. Member quotes Dr. Moriarty, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Kerry. If anybody has given offence to those who favour Fenianism it is the Bishop; but in giving evidence a short time since before a Committee of this House he said—If the Grand Turk came over to Ireland and gave the people a hope of throwing off the British rule, he would be followed by every man, woman, and child in the country.This is, no doubt, a rhetorical expression; but it meant a great deal. There is also the statement of Mr. Marcus Keane, a Conservative gentleman of wealth and standing, a landowner and extensive land agent, who in writing to the Marquess of Conyngham, penned a passage which is well worthy of attention when we are told that the land question has nothing to do with Fenianism. Mr. Keane said—The strength of Fenianism lies in the sympathy which it receives from a large majority of the tenant class. As a mere conspiracy, Fenianism is not very formidable; but as a principle pervading the Irish nation, and actively influencing the minds of many who have never thought of becoming avowed Fenians, I look upon it as more serious than I can easily find words to express.Is the House to discredit testimony like this? Again, in reference to the rentals of Ireland, Mr. Keane wrote—The rentals of Ireland are steadily following the improvements of the tenants"—not the improvements of the landlords—"some landlords suffer a considerable margin to exist between the actual value and the rent paid, while others lose no opportunity of forcing the rents to the highest amount that circumstances will permit.A great deal is said about the North of Ireland; but things are not as pleasant there as many persons affect to believe. I have been told on the best Presbyterian authority, by ministers high in the Presbyterian Church, that the protection given by tenant-right is being gradually lost by invasion day by day, and by the constant 1302 attempts of large landowners to destroy that much boasted custom in various ways. A pamphlet which I hold in my hand gives a great deal of information about the properties in the North of Ireland, in the hands of different London companies. These properties, I maintain, ought never to be in such hands; and the Government will act wisely if it strike first and hardest at them, as the worst class of absentee proprietors. They are a set of people who, imagining that they are landlords, readily adopt all the prejudices, all the vices, and very few of the virtues of landlordism. There are 300,000 acres of land owned by certain London societies in Londonderry, which is honoured by being christened after London. Some of these societies are very good. The Grocers are good landlords—perhaps their very trade makes them kind; but the Pewterers, the Barbers, the Shavers, the Hammerers, and the Grinders, are terrible with their Irish tenants. Among the statements contained in this pamphlet, which has never been denied, is the following:—The Drapers refuse to give long leases or leases for building in towns or for manufacturing purposes, and the result is that towns have dwindled away, and there are no manufactures or manufacturing industries upon the estate.I come next to the Ironmasters, including the Barbers, the Coopers, the Pewterers, the Scriveners, and the Lord knows what. Of these the pamphlet says—There are few leases on the estate, nearly all the farms are let from year to year under special agreements, giving the company power to put an end to the tenancy upon three months' notice to quit. There are no manufactures upon the estate, owing to the fact that the companies refuse to give perpetuity leases to encourage business men with capital to invest it in trade on the estate.The description given in the case of the Mercers ran thus—There are no leases on this estate. Every tenant is required to sign a special agreement whereby a three months' notice to quit can determine the tenancy. There are no manufactures on the estate.This state of things in the North of Ireland is not satisfactory, as you will find ere very long. It may be said that there is the same law for England as for Ireland. That is always said, and it will be said again, no doubt, from the other side of the House. But, though the laws may be the same, the circumstances of the two countries are entirely different. England is rich, and has many industries; Ireland is poor, and has very few. In Ireland, the land 1303 is the principal industry; and, if it were so in England, questions connected with land would assume very much greater prominence than they do at present. But here only one-third of the people follow agricultural pursuits, while in Ireland two-thirds at least are dependent on such occupations. Then there is this difference also—In England, the landlord, as a rule, does everything; while in Ireland, as a rule, everything is done by the tenant. The Irish Members demand to know specifically from the noble Lord what measure of relief he proposes to bring in to settle this great question. The House or the Irish people are no longer to be put off with proposals for a Commission. There was a Commission in 1832, and another in 1845. The Report of the Devon Commission was laid on the table, and the recommendations made sank deep into the hearts of the people, and these recommendations are now treasured up with a sense of wrong, because they have never been acted upon. What we want is not another Commission, but vigorous measures to allay great grievances—measures not to injure landlords, but while securing the tenant the soil, depriving the landlord of the power of sending the Queen's subjects into the workhouse, or of changing them into enemies of the Throne. This is what we demand. Now I come to the question of the Irish Church; and upon this question also we demand from the Government clear and specific statements of policy. There must be no evasion, no shuffling, no dodging—using the latter word in a strictly Parliamentary and Pickwickian sense: we must be told what the Government are going to do with the Irish Church. An alien Church was condemned by the First Lord twenty-four years ago, when he said that that which could not be defended was doomed. The Irish Church cannot surely be defended, unless, perhaps, by some Gentleman who believes that St. Patrick was a Protestant, and that the tithes originally belonged to the Protestants. There is no similar state of things to the Irish Church in any other part of the British dominions. I have myself been in all the British American Colonies, and I have heard dignitaries of the Protestant Church tell with the utmost satisfaction that in those colonies there is no State Church to divide man from man. If a similar state of things as exists in Ireland were introduced into Canada, in six months there would be an uprising of the people, and in twelve 1304 months the Stars and Stripes would be floating upon the ramparts of Quebec and upon the Senate House of Ottawa. Compare England herself with Ireland. England has an Established Church, which is in accordance with the sentiments of the great majority of the people. ["No!"] Well, at any rate, there is a large body of Dissenters who have a respectful sympathy with the Established Church. And in Scotland the Established Church is in accordance with the religious feeling of the majority of the inhabitants. ["No!"] Well, then, they have in that country, in addition to the Established Church, a free kirk, which is flourishing, as it deserves to do; and at any rate the State Church is not the Church of the minority of the people, while in Ireland the State Church is the Church of a small minority of the people. How can anyone get over the fact that there are only 700,000 Protestants, or Episcopalians, in Ireland, and that they enjoy all the religious endowments of the country? Suppose that the Catholic Church in England had the entire ecclesiastical revenues of the country, and that the Protestant clergy were left for support to the voluntary offerings of the faithful; suppose Archbishop Manning, instead of living in an unpretending house on a modest income, upon which there are innumerable claims, enthroned at Westminster Abbey, and living in Lambeth Palace, surrounded by all the pomp and splendour which wealth and patronage can create; what would the English people say if they saw him go in state surrounded by Jesuits, Oratorians, and other religious orders, who now live in poverty, to celebrate mass in St. Paul's Cathedral or Henry VIIth's Chapel? What would the English Parliament do? Would Exeter Hall be silent, or would the Protestant Association remain dumb? I should not be surprised if the hon. Member for North Warwickshire confined his opposition to sonorous eloquence or startling statements, and was not to be found holding high office in some new Fenian organization. And as for the hon. Member for Peterborough, the lineal descendant of the stout Cromwell, why he would not be able to contain his indignation at the spectacle of the bloated pomp and dignity of the Papal Church. England would not stand it for a moment, and the people of Ireland will not stand it any longer. We are told that this is a sentimental grievance. Parliament did not mind it so long as there 1305 were only 100,000 or 150,000 signatures to petitions yearly upon the subject; they said they were the signatures of small people—that they were those only of priests and peasants and agitators; but now we have the solemn declaration of the noblemen and gentry and the professional and mercantile classes of the country, that it is a slander upon them to say that they did not feel the existence of the present state of things as an insult and a wrong. We have been told that the Catholics only want a portion of the spoils of the State Church. This has been repeatedly and solemnly denied. But we have now the solemn declaration of the Catholic Bishops upon the subject. There is a great deal of important matter in Earl Russell's pamphlet; but the noble Earl is somewhat unfair when he says, with a sneer, "The Irish prelates prefer their grievance to pay from the State." In 1837, 1841, and 1843 declarations on the subject of the Established Church and ecclesiastical endowments were made by the dignitaries to whom I am referring. They held a general meeting in Dublin in October of last year, and these declarations were adopted—The Archbishops and Bishops of Ireland, seeing that the Government and Parliament are preparing to deal by law with the Irish Protestant Church Establishment, deem it their duty to declare—1. That the Irish Protestant Church Establishment is maintained chiefly, almost exclusively, by property and revenues unjustly alienated from the rightful owner—the Catholic Church of Ireland.["Oh, oh!"] As the Archbishops and Bishops do not want anything from the House of Commons in the shape of endowment, I hope hon. Members will leave them whatever consolation they can derive from their historical quotations. The declarations proceeded—That Irish Catholics cannot cease to feel as a gross injustice, and as an abiding insult, the continued, even partial, maintenance of that Establishment out of that endowment, or in any other way, at their expense—an Establishment to which, as to their fountain head, are to be traced the waters of bitterness which poison the relations of life in Ireland, and estrange from one another Protestants and Catholics, who ought to be an united people. 2. That notwithstanding the rightful claim of the Catholic Church in Ireland to have restored to it the property and revenues of which it was unjustly deprived, the Irish Catholic Bishops hereby re-affirm the subjoined resolutions of the Bishops assembled in the years 1837, 1841, and 1843; and, adhering to the letter and spirit of those resolutions, distinctly declare that they will not accept endowment from the State out of the property and revenues now held by the Pro- 1306 testant Establishment, nor any State endowment whatever. The following are the resolutions referred to:—Resolved, 'That, alarmed at the report that an attempt is likely to be made during the approaching Session of Parliament to make a State provision for the Roman Catholic clergy, we deem it an imperative duty not to separate without recording the expression of our strongest reprobation of any such attempt, and of our unalterable determination to resist by every means in our power a measure so fraught with mischief to the independence and purity of the Catholic religion in Ireland.'—Resolution of the Irish Bishops in 1837. Resolved, 'That his Grace the Most Rev. Dr. Murray be requested to call a special general meeting of the prelates of all Ireland, in case that he shall have clear proof or well-grounded apprehension that the odious and alarming scheme of a State provision for the Catholic clergy of this portion of the Empire be contemplated by the Government before the next general meeting.'—Resolution of the Irish Bishops in 1841. Resolved, 'That the preceding resolutions be now re-published, in order to make known to our faithful clergy and people, and to all others concerned, that our firm determination on this subject remains unchanged; and that we unanimously pledge ourselves to resist by every influence we possess every attempt that may be made to make any State provision for the Catholic clergy, in whatever shape or form it may be offered.'—Resolution moved by the Most Rev. Dr. Murray, seconded by the Most Rev. Dr. Slattery, and unanimously adopted at a meeting of the prelates of Ireland, in Dublin, the 15th of November, 1843, the Most Rev. Dr. M'Hale in the chair. 3. That in thus declaring their determination to keep the Church in Ireland free and independent of State control or interference, the Bishops of Ireland are happily in accord with instructions received from the Holy See in the years 1801 and 1805, as well as with the course pursued by the Irish Bishops of that day in conformity with those instructions.We are met at the very outset by the question—what is to be done with the revenues of the Established Church? On the present occasion I have nothing whatever to do with that matter. Various plans of appropriation have from time to time been suggested; but this question is not ripe for discussion at the present moment. The only question for the House now is what is to be done with the Church Establishment itself? The Roman Catholic population of Ireland only ask for "dis-establishment and dis-endowment," and are content to leave the question of what is to be done with the funds to the wisdom of Parliament and the course of time. They say further, that they have no selfish object in view, and that they have no hostility to the Protestant Church or people. I solemnly believe that the Catholic people of Ireland are the most tolerant and liberal people in the world. [Laughter.] Well, I will 1307 give a fact in proof of what I say. If a Protestant and Catholic came forward as candidates for any county or borough in Ireland to-morrow, and their politics were the same as the politics of the majority, the people would as soon have the one as other; and that is not the case in England or in Scotland that I have ever heard of. Religion is too sacred a thing in the eyes of Catholics for human interference—it must be left to man, his conscience, and his God. What they say to the Protestants is this:—"We do not mean to insult or offend, or wrong you, we do not desire to touch your spiritual Church; but we say to you, who are the richest portion of the population—do as we have done through many years of persecution and penal laws, discouragement, wretchedness, and poverty. You see what wonders we have done; what schools we have erected; what convents we have established; what noble cathedrals we have built—all this has been accomplished by the fidelity and the liberality of the Catholic people of the country—do you go and imitate our example." The operation of disendowing the Protestant Church would be a perfectly easy one. When I was in Chicago I saw a large block of houses, in which was a hotel, with people dining in it, ladies playing the piano in it, and everything going on as usual, which had been raised bodily by means of screws, and a storey built under it, and in which no single thing was disturbed in the process. The revolution which is necessary in regard to the Established Church in Ireland might be carried out in an equally gentle and delicate manner; and I think I am right in insisting that such revolution—if it may be called by that name—should take place at once in the interest of the whole Irish nation. The Protestant clergy, I am glad to say, are endowed with robust health; but they will, in the course of some remote time, gradually drop into the grave, and go to receive their reward in another place. There is no justification for the existence of this montrous anomaly—the Church Establishment in Ireland. It offends the religious pride of the people—it offends the humblest as well as the highest in the land, and, although Earl Russell thinks it will be a sad thing to disendow the Church, because all the farmers will lose the custom of the Protestant rectors for their eggs and butter, still, for the sake of religious equality and the consolation to their pride they 1308 can afford to sacrifice the profit of the egg and butter custom of the incumbents, some of whom may not live very long. The Irish people demand a settlement of this question—a question which has not in any way been submitted to a Commission, because Earl Russell's proposal was not adopted. They do not want to know anything about the emoluments of the Church; they do not care whether they amount to £500,000 or to £700,000 a year; they do not want or care to know whether this or the other Dean is having more than he ought in justice to this or the other curate, or whether bishops are starving on the miserable pittance of £3,000 or £5,000 a year; about matters of this kind, which only affect the internal arrangement of the Established Church, the Catholics of Ireland care very little. All they do know is that the Church Establishment is a badge of conquest, a badge of degradation, and the whole Catholic population of the country demands the settlement of this question upon grounds of right and justice. Now, I shall only say a word about education. For a long time Parliament has done its best to blot out the intellect of the Catholic people of Ireland. It has shown no respect for their consciences or convictions. It is not a great many years since it was penal for a Catholic to teach. A monstrous anomaly exists in Trinity College. The Catholic University has been, since its establishment, supported by the offerings of the faithful, given once a year as they went to mass. The national system of education in Ireland is practically denominational, but is replete with restrictions and annoyances. The Irish people demand a settlement of the question of education upon just and liberal principles. I will tell the House what they also want—and this is not merely sentimental—they want a fair share of public expenditure in Ireland. When the Irish people ask for that, they are told that they have it, and the police are always thrown in their teeth. [Laughter.] Yes, the £800,000 for the police is always thrown in their teeth; but that sum is spent to keep up an army to garrison the country. And Englishmen well know that, without the police, which is a mere military force, they could not hold the country for any length of time. Millions have been spent in dockyards and shipbuilding in this country since the time of the Union; but not a farthing, comparatively speaking, in Ireland. The people 1309 of Ireland, therefore, require a fair share of the expenditure of the country, and thus realizing the promises made at the time of the Union. There are all kinds of nostrums and panaceas for the cure of the grievances of Ireland. One panacea proposed for Ireland is to pay the priesthood. It is said, "Make stipendaries of the clergy, but do not touch one stone of the Established Church—do not meddle with the land question—leave the people helpless and miserable as they are—do not mind how disaffection grows; but be sure you pay the priests—that is all that is required for the settlement of the Irish question." Never did a more crackbrained policy enter into the mind of a crackbrained theorist than that fatal policy of paying the priests. The Irish people do not want a paid clergy. A paid priesthood would be fatal to religion and dangerous to the Empire. I well know how hard it is at the present moment for the Irish priests, who are the friends of law and order, to maintain their influence over an excited people. I know how their remonstrances are met by those who will not make allowance for the obligations of religion. They would have no paid priests. Now they obey their clergy; but once touch the latter with the gold of the State, and they will be converted at once, in the opinion of the people, from ministers of the Gospel into spies and stipendiaries. I warn the House against any such folly. Another panacea has been proposed, though the author of it has concealed his name, modestly shrinking from the admiration of England and the gratitude of Ireland. His plan is to settle the Irish difficulty by colonizing Ireland with the paupers and convicts of this country. And, whatever may be said of this person's wisdom, every one ought at least to respect his historical research; for really if we critically consider the former plantations, confiscations, and invasions of Ireland, we will understand how large a percentage of the pauper and ruffian element has thus been introduced into the country. That suggestion is not therefore without an historical parallel. There is a milder and gentler panacea, and that is the visits or residence of Royalty in Ireland. I am one of those who are in favour of a Royal residence in Ireland, and Royal visits; but as a panacea they are absurd. They may be useful, as some means of bringing about a better state of things; and, probably, if the Court set the fashion, absentees would be at- 1310 tracted to a Royal instead of a pinchbeck Court. There are many Irish landlords who know nothing of the country except through their rent-rolls, the communications of their agents, or the Irish correspondence published in the London newspapers. When the Queen had formerly visited Ireland she was invariably received with respect and loyalty; but her visits have been rare, and it is seldom that a member of the Royal Family has been seen in that country. There is, unfortunately, a belief in Ireland that in high quarters the Irish people are not considered in the same way as the English and Scotch; and although the Irish shed their blood on every battle-field for the maintenance of English honour, and though there are regiments of both English and Scotch Guards in England, not one regiment of Irish guards has been raised during the period of sixty-eight years which have elapsed since the Act of Union. Let a Royal residence be built in Ireland if it be thought necessary; but before this is done, let them lay the broad foundation of a better state of things—of a happier, because a more contented nation—and then, when the Royal Widow treads the shores of the Green Isle, a fervent prayer for her welfare will ascend to a higher tribunal than that of any earthly monarch—a prayer which will come from the hearts of a conciliated and grateful people. I have only to speak of two other panaceas—one the purchase of the Irish railways, the other emigration. With respect to the former, certain noble Lords in Ireland have been very busy in that movement, and I confess my concurrence with the project, for I believe that anything which will improve the internal communications of the country, and afford facilities for the transit of goods and produce, must be advantageous to all classes of society; but I will ask those noble Lords, many of whom are landlords of large Irish estates, and I will ask the Conservatives opposite, all of whom, I believe, are in favour of the project, and pressing it on the Government, whether, if there is an emigration drain going on year by year which diminishes the number who can travel by railway, and the condition of those who remain behind is not improved, where is to be the profit to the Government, or the realizations of the hopes of the promoters of the scheme? Again, if it is for the public good that £30,000,000 of Irish property in railways should be 1311 purchased by the Government, ought not Parliament from the same motive to deal with a larger and more important property—the property of the soil, of which the State is the head landlord, and which has been given by God for the benefit of all? With reference to the emigration question, it is said that the Irish difficulty will diminish every day as emigration progresses. It is a mere matter of figures. The annual loss is now at the rate of 70,000 a year, or 50,000 a year, making allowance for the births. At this rate, in fifty years, the population will be diminished to the standard of Scotland; but if the emigration were 100,000 a year, in a quarter of a century the Irish population will be reduced to 3,000,000. But what will be taking place in the meantime? Where are the emigrants going, and with what feelings? When people emigrated from England they went with love and affection for the old land, and wherever they went they sympathized with its glory and success, and mourned over its sorrow and adversity. But such is not the feeling of the Irish people with regard to this country. As they were driven from their homes, and compelled to cross the Atlantic with their families, they heard the inhuman, stupid, and ferocious shout, "The Celts are going with a vengeance!" With a vengeance they did go—and every league of the ocean they traversed only deepened and intensified their hate; and when they reached the free soil of America there was no more implacable enemy to England than the expatriated Irishman. The Irish nurse that hatred in their hearts, and wait for their opportunity; they teach it to their children; and that vengeful feeling born of misgovernment is thus transmitted from sire to son. There are multitudinous eyes in America fixed at the present moment upon the proceedings of this House. There is more than one kind of electricity. There are millions of electric currents which link together the heart and brain of a kindred people at both sides of the Atlantic. There is not an insult flung by some wanton tongue or ribald pen that does not fester in the minds of the Irish people in another land—not a wrong done that is not felt and resented there. Do not imagine that you get rid of the Irish difficulty by getting rid of the Irish people. The difficulty is not diminished because it is transferred to the other side of the Atlantic. I admit that the American Government are bound by international obli- 1312 gations; but the day may come—and I deplore its possibility in bitterness and sorrow, because I desire peace and tranquillity in my own country—when the Irish in America will endeavour to exasperate a quarrel with this country, in order that they may have the opportunity of wreaking a longstanding vengeance. But it is said that, inasmuch as emigration is diminishing, it is a proof the condition of Ireland is improving. A few days since the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland congratulated the country on a diminution of emigration. This apparent diminution is, however, only caused by the fact that there is greater depression at the present moment in America than there has been for many years, and the Irish people there warned their friends at home against emigration at such a time. I believe that emigration will go on from year to year, and there is only one way of making that emigration not dangerous—namely, by sending friends, not enemies, across the Atlantic. A noble Lord said the other night, we cannot touch the Irish in America. That is true; the Irish there have full liberty to speak and plot against this country; and you cannot suspend their constitutional freedom, or incarcerate them under a Lord Lieutenant's warrant, or seize them by the throat if they hesitate to give their names. They are beyond your reach and authority. I desire that they should be deprived of the power of doing injury; and I will tell the House how to do it. Let us throw to the winds all wretched prejudices, either sectarian or in reference to fancied rights of property. The interests of landlord and tenant should be identical, for unless the tenant has an interest in the soil it cannot be good for the landlord, and must be dangerous for the people. Let the Irish question be settled on broad principles of right and justice. The right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Disraeli) taunted Sir Robert Peel twenty-four years ago with not bringing in a large and comprehensive scheme with respect to Ireland. I shall not taunt the right hon. Gentleman, for whom I have the greatest respect, as one who has risen to the highest position attainable by a British subject, and thus gained the fitting reward of his great services and his genius. I do not taunt the right hon. Gentleman, or speak in a party spirit, when I say it is the duty of the Government to make the Irish people contented and happy at home. We can make the 1313 farmers of Ireland the truest Conservatives, by giving them leases and protecting the property they had themselves made—in fact, by raising up a barrier against fraud and tyranny on their behalf, they might be made the warmest friends and best allies of this country. It may be asked by Englishmen, "What do you promise? What hope do you hold out to us if we really do our best for Ireland? If we admit past wrong and present neglect; if we admit that we have blundered, and are anxious now to do our best to conciliate the people and remedy their grievances, do you promise us peace and tranquillity in future?" My answer is, First of all, let us do right. Hitherto you have done wrong, or done nothing to atone for that wrong; and you have reaped the consequences—discontent, disaffection, and periodical outbreak. But let us do right, and I believe that in time good consequences will result from our measures. There has been a demand for the repeal of the Union. I, for one, refused to sign the document presented to me with that object in view—not only because I dislike agitation, but because I still believe in the wisdom and the justice of the English people, and that the wrongs of the past can no longer be permitted to exist. I have faith in the exigencies of the moment, and in the statesmanship of those on this side of the House, if not in that of the occupants of the Treasury Bench. Let us do what is right, and I believe we will conciliate the farming class as well as the urban population. Let Parliament do its duty to Ireland if it wishes to bring about contentment and tranquillity; and towards this result you will have the assistance of the Catholic Bishops and clergy. I believe that an earnest appeal would be made to the Irish in America to stay their hands, to cease their agitation, and to refrain from attempting to promote the good of the people of Ireland by revolution. I know that masses of the Irish people are opposed to violence or bloodshed; and all I ask for in their name is common justice—that the English Parliament will act towards Ireland as they do towards this country; and that having assumed a responsibility by depriving the Irish of the power to legislate for themselves, they will legislate for them as they do for the honour and happiness of the other parts of the British Empire. Whoever is the Minister who does this great work that will pacify Ireland, on whatever Bench he may sit, his 1314 name will be glorious in the annals of his country. I hope in God that I may not leave this House until I see the broad and deep foundation of Irish prosperity and contentment laid by a Minister who will thus redeem a country and save an Empire.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That this House will immediately resolve itself into a Committee, with the view of taking into consideration the condition and circumstances of Ireland."—(Mr. Maguire.)
§ MR. NEATE
said, that if the terms of the Amendment, of which he had given notice, were deemed too aggressive, he would alter them, so as to give a more fitting expression to his meaning, which was that general debates, opening the floodgates of eloquence upon the whole subject of Irish history and wrongs, defeated rather than promoted practical amelioration. The proposal of chimerical schemes, by vainly raising the hopes of the tenantry of Ireland, prevented that co-operation of landlord and tenant by which alone the interests of both could be secured. He had heard nothing in the speech just delivered which led him to think he was wrong in the purport of his Motion, for the hon. Member had said nothing which would facilitate the settlement of any great question. He had uttered some things which were not to be expected from him, and which could be taken only as worse than useless provocations of the spirit and loyalty of the House and of the English people. The hon. Member did not dwell much on the present sufferings of Ireland; he had no cause to do so. He (Mr. Neate) believed that there was more misery to be found at the present moment, at the East End of London, within three miles of that House, thant here was in all Ireland. No one had felt and expressed more sympathy with the wrongs of Ireland than himself. He visited Ireland just after the famine of 1847–8, when the country looked as if had been laid waste by an invading army. He had thought what Irishmen must have felt when they were driven abroad in search of a sustenance which their own country did not afford them; but, after all, too much stress should not be laid on that, for other countries had contributed their millions to the population of America. At least we had by legislation made better provision for the safety and comfort of our Irish emi- 1315 grants than the Germans had done for their emigrants. He had sympathized not only with innocent, but also with guilty Irishmen—with those who were now beyond the reach of human sympathy. He sympathized with them, because these unhappy and misguided men thought they were avenging the cause of an injured country, and they believed, from what was said by the public press and sometimes in that House, that the wrongs of their country were such that Parliament would not recognize them, and would take no pains to remedy them. Until then he had considered the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Maguire) an exception from the use of such language; but just at the end of what might have been a bloody rebellion—the embers of which were scarcely extinguished—he had that night stated that, under present circumstances, those who were loyal would be no better than slaves. He (Mr. Neate) felt the greatest sympathy for the misery of Ireland, and he had sympathy also with the landlords of Ireland. He did not mean the sympathy inspired by pity, because they would reject pity; but the sympathy which one naturally felt for men who were objects of undeserved attack, who were condemned without trial, and who found themselves foiled and disappointed in all their attempts to bring themselves and their tenants into a better condition. As to the particular charges which had been brought to-night against certain Irish landlords, he would leave those to be dealt with by hon. Gentlemen on the Treasury Benches, some of whom were probably acquainted with the facts. But he could not see why Irish landlords should be especially singled out for animadversion more than those of Scotland and England. Irish landlords were far from having the absolute power that English and Scotch landlords possessed, and one of the great obstacles to a better state of things in Ireland was the want of such a power. He did not say that it might not be occasionally abused; but if Irish landlords had the same power in dealing with the occupation of their property, as was possessed in England and in Scotland, it would be on the whole beneficial to the country. It was true we did not know what Irish landlords would do if they had the power; but we did know what they had not done. They had not laid waste large tracts of country for the purpose of converting them into recreation grounds for wealthy Englishmen, as had 1316 been done by the landlords in Scotland. If the great landlords in Galway, Mayo, and Donegal had evicted their tenantry in order to form deer forests, would any terms of execration have been too strong for them? Again, there was no such failure of duty on the part of landlords in Ireland as that which was implied in the labour of women and children in gangs, like those in the Eastern Counties of England. There was therefore no reason for the special reprobation of Irish landlords; and, though it might be invidious to draw a comparison, he believed that they were more necessary than the landlords of any other part of the United Kingdom. If the English landlords were extinguished, they would leave behind them a substantial and educated tenantry; and there would be some means of carrying on the government of the country. He did not mean to say that the English landlords would not be greatly missed, and that the character and tone of English society would not by their extinguishment be greatly lowered; but if they were sent to pass the remainder of their days in Naples, Rome, or Paris, a substantial and educated middle class, used to the administration of local affairs, would supply their places, however inadequately. If, however, the Irish landlord went, there would be nothing behind him but an approach to anarchy and chaos. It might be thought a work of supererogation to defend landlords in this House; but they must look a little to what was thought and said, or was likely to be said, elsewhere. He was chiefly addressing himself to a remarkable work which most Gentlemen had read, lately published by the hon. Member for Westminster (Mr. Stuart Mill). Fortunately the hon. Member was now present to hear what was said, and as the last thing he would dream of would be to shrink from defending his opinions, the hon. Member was no doubt prepared to justify his recommendation of the "happy despatch" to Irish landlords. The proposal of the hon. Member partook of the simplicity of Japanese despotism, though Irish landlords were not likely to accept it with the resignation of Japanese daimios. At any rate, speaking as an Englishman, he was quite taken aback when he read the publication of the hon. Member. He thought that nothing like it in the way of Reform had been proposed since the scheme of that great English Reformer in the time of Henry VI., whose head was cut off by a loyal English gentleman of his 1317 own county, with the general approbation of society. He spoke of a man commonly known as Jack Cade, though really he did not know why we should speak of the gentleman in that familiar and disrespectful manner, or why he was less entitled than any other English Reformer to the use of his full Christian name of "John." It might appear startling to compare the two men; and a month ago he should have drawn a very unfavourable contrast between the violence and rapacity of Jack or John Cade and the mild philosophy of the hon. Member for Westminster. Now, however, he thought there was more practical common sense in the scheme of Jack Cade. That gentleman acted in the spirit of—The good old rule, the simple plan,That he should take who has the power,And he should keep who can.He meant to drive out or extirpate the landlords of England, and to put in their place followers of his own, who would be real landlords, and who would not start with a millstone round their necks, like the men whom the hon. Member would substitute for the present landlords in Ireland. The scheme of the hon. Member was, that everyone now in possession of land, with a holding for a year, should have that holding converted into a perpetuity. But why should the benefit of that revolution be confined to those who, by the chance selection of a landlord, or from a variety of more or less accidental circumstances, happened for a short time to have obtained possession of a piece of land? Most people had heard the story of the Cornish clergyman who, when news of a wreck ashore was brought to his congregation during Divine service, and when some of them were edging away for a purpose which he well understood, called on them to stop, in order that they might all start fair. Well, then, the labouring classes and others who did not chance just now to hold any land in Ireland, might ask why they should not "start fair," and why they should be shut out from a scheme which would place them in a worse position than they were in now? At present the Irish labourer might become a small tenant, and the small tenant a larger one; but the hon. Member would stereotype the position of these men, and instead of doing away with the difficulties which now caused a conflict between persons who had land and those who had no land, he would only move those difficulties down to a 1318 lower sphere, a sphere less amenable to control, and would thereby greatly intensify them. With the scrupulous honesty which characterized the hon. Member, he proposed to give to the landlord the full value at the present time of his land, with something more for the prospect of future increase when that increase was not owing to the industry and capital of the new owner. If the estate were likely to rise 10 per cent in value the landlord could not be so wholly useless as was pretended. If the landlord had so failed in the performance of his duties as some alleged, why give him anything at all for increase of value? The rent was to be put up at the full value, and 10 per cent was to be added for prospective increase. But the hon. Member had forgotten to take into account the residential value of the landlord's estate. It could not be supposed that the landlord would continue to reside after he had lost all the advantages which attracted a resident proprietary. Some one must pay for the residential value of the landlord's house and grounds, and was that to be added to the rent, or was the House to be called upon to pay it? Then, the hon. Member must allow for the great increase of rates which would follow. The landlords now did a great deal of work as magistrates, for which they received no pay, and if they were got rid of there must be a great increase of stipendiary magistrates. Then, the landlords, although they were not altogether free from the charge of fomenting religious differences did their best, as a rule to restrain the combative propensities of the people about them, and endeavoured to make them live in peace and amity with each other. If they removed the landlords there would certainly be a great deal more fighting among the inferior orders. Then, everyone knew how difficult it was to keep the tenants from quarrelling about boundaries and fences. The influence of the landlords went a good way to prevent these disputes, and if the landlords were got rid of there would be a qreat deal of quarrelling, and many more breaches of the peace. An increase of the police would be necessary, and this would lead to an increase of rates. What was to become of the country towns which would be without customers, and would not the imports and exports of the seaports be materially curtailed? Another result would be that the moral and religious tone of the country would suffer. The priesthood would decline into the likeness of those among 1319 whom they laboured, and would become more vulgar and illiterate, and they would have Anglican, Presbyterian, and Roman Catholic clergymen quarrelling, not so much for the souls as for the purses of the people. What would become of Dublin as the capital if there were no gentry in Ireland? What would become of the Universities, if they drove from Ireland all those who cared for a higher education for their children? Did the hon. Member suppose that he would add anything to the peace and prosperity of Ireland by thus curtailing every element of her well-being? Such a course would be as far removed from the conclusions of practical wisdom as the declaration of the caitiff reformer in Shakespeare's play, that there should be in England seven halfpenny loaves sold for a penny, and that the three-hooped pot should contain a quart of beer. What was the excuse of the hon. Member for dealing in this exceptional way with the landlords of Ireland? The hon. Member in one passage of his pamphlet referred to the foreign invasion of which Ireland had been the subject. He should like to ask the hon. Member to look round Europe and tell him whether he could find any property that had not been founded on spoliation and conquest; and whether he could find any country in which there had been so little spoliation and conquest as in Ireland? He (Mr. Neate) was lately reading a book by a French author, entitled The Four Conquests of England, in which the writer pointed out that the people of this country owed the great qualities they possessed to those conquests. Ireland had never been really conquered once in the same way that England had been conquered four times. Ireland never had the Romans; the first that the Irish heard of Rome was when a Roman Pope—to whose successor some Irishmen were so much attached—sold or gave them to England. Of the Danes it was not necessary to speak. The Saxons were the most exterminating conquerors under whom a country had ever suffered; and they never troubled Ireland at all. It became the turn of the Anglo-Saxons to be conquered, and they suffered more from the Normans than the Irish had ever suffered from us. But observe the difference in the way in which the English and the Irish met their adversities. The English did not sit down to weep by the banks of the Thames and the Severn:Some natural tears they shed, but wiped them soon.1320 They did not go about nursing a sentimental grievance, with a weed in their button-hole or a vegetable in their bonnets. They did not keep up a vain remembrance of a nationality of which the reality had passed away. But having stood up bravely and manfully in defence of the land, they bowed themselves down to work on the soil which they no longer held; and they re-conquered by their patient industry what they had failed to defend by their valour; and at length they stood up again the equals, the brothers, and associates, in language, arts, and feeling, of that race which had come amongst them as conquerors, and whose hand had been heavy upon them—far heavier, in fact, than ours had ever been upon Ireland. Thus England became a great nation, and why had not Ireland done the same? The only portion of Ireland that had been really conquered by us was the North, and that was the only part where things went on well. There was no country in Europe where the conflict of races had been the cause of so little disturbance as in Ireland, or where there had been so ready an assimilation between the different races. There was something so winning in the Irish manner—something so contagious in the Irish character—that Englishmen living amongst them were apt to become, according to the ancient proverb, Hibernicis ipsis Hiberniores. Hence, for a long time laws had been made, not to prevent feuds between the races, but to prevent the English settlers from being absorbed by the Irish race. Thus, it was forbidden to put an English child in charge of an Irish fostermother; but the limitations of the English Pale are really intended not so much to exclude the Irish from the benefit of English laws, as to restrain Englishmen from giving way to the temptation of entering upon Irish life. There seemed to be something about the climate which had a tendency to make men adopt easy, listless habits, or habits of but desultory industry. No doubt the Irish peasant farmer looked back to a time that never existed, when the country was divided into a large number of small holdings. It might be possible to divide it into a greater number than at present, and by certain advantages to make the lot of the Irish tenant one that the English labourer would look upon with envy. But if he were to be maintained in that condition, that could only be done by securing him against the temptation to the multiplication of his species, and guaran- 1321 teeing the certainty of the potato crop. Unless the population could be kept within Barrow limits—as was the case in certain Continental countries—which alone could make the minute subdivision of land endurable or possible, the Irish small holders would only be put into a state from which they would fall into the same condition that in 1846 culminated in famine and pestilence. Even if they could reduce Ireland to that state in which its whole soil should be divided among the small holders, whom they could either persuade or compel not to further subdivide it, he said it would not be desirable to do it. It could only be done by means of the resources, the power, and the skill of England, and by preventing Ireland from taking her part in the race which all nations were appointed to run. The only consequence would be that the prosperity of Ireland, artificially stimulated, would never become a healthy and vigorous native of the soil. There was one principle upon which sound economical progress must be based, and that was the production of the greatest results with the least possible labour. There could be no doubt that labour on a large scale, judiciously applied with the assistance of capital, yielded a greater return than labour on a small scale, and Ireland could not hope to escape from the ordinary conditions of material prosperity. There might be peculiar difficulties which beset her path, and among them was the want of that variety of industries to which the hon. Member for Cork referred. But whatever her difficulties were, they must be overcome, and the only man who could accomplish that was the Irish landlord, or at least the work could not be done without him. He believed the landlords of Ireland, as a body, were conscious of the duties which devolved upon them, and also desirous of fulfilling them. Any one who read the Report of the Committee of the House of Lords, which was published last year, and in which the evidence chiefly of agents of the great Irish proprietors was given, would find that there was no indisposition on the part of the landlords to consider any feasible and practical method of reform. He would rather leave it to them, under the pressure of public opinion, than obstruct their progress and render the improvements which they designed almost hopeless, by precluding the possibility of united action between them and their tenants. Before sitting down, he wished to express to the hon. Member for West- 1322 minster the great regret he felt in being obliged, as a brother political economist, though a humble one, to denounce what he conceived to be the rashness of his scheme. He had a high respect and admiration for the talents, for the honesty—and he would have added, a month ago—for the excellent wisdom of that distinguished Member. In saying that, he did not forget that the principles of which the crude and extraordinary proposal of the hon. Gentleman was the result, were in exact accordance with the principles which he had been teaching for many years—principles which were taught by the Universities, and at the public expense. He would remind the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir Stafford Northcote) that all those who went out to India to take part in the civil service of that country were, as he (Mr. Neate) could state—for he had himself examined them—imbued with the principles of which the proposal of the hon. Gentleman was the legitimate consequence—only in his (Mr. Neate's) opinion it was premature. When people were told at church that in the midst of life they were in death, the lesson made little impression on them, but they felt a great shock when the doctor told them that they were not likely to live a week longer. A similar effect was produced by the hon. Member's pamphlet. He knew that the state of things suggested by the hon. Gentleman would happen some day; but he had no idea that this was the last Session during which the Irish landlord would be allowed to exist. Just as warning men of their mortality might rouse them to a sense of their duties, and make them try to extend their days as much as possible by observing the conditions of health, so he hoped that the English and Irish landlords, when reminded of the brevity of their lives, would strive to prolong as far as they could—probably it would not be for ever—the term of a useful and honourable existence. The time might come when they would disappear, though he did not himself wish to see it, still less to have any share in bringing about "the beginning of that end." At present the House had nothing to do with such speculations. What it had now to do was to clear from its path the lumber—he had almost said the rubbish—that in cumbered it, and to express, as he ventured to think it should on that occasion express, the feeling with which it viewed all such schemes as those which he had denounced, or any schemes 1323 approaching to them. At any rate, the House ought to declare, in some form or another, that however desirous it might be to devise any practical remedy, if, indeed, there were any better remedy than that of leaving them alone; for the evils of Ireland, that practical remedy must be one consistent with the laws of property, and not at variance with those principles of political economy and political wisdom under which England had grown great and prosperous, and by means of which Ireland might do the same if she did not disdain to follow our example. In conclusion, he trusted that Ireland, turning her back upon the past, would look with brighter hope, with renewed energy, and above all with a more united spirit, to that better future which might yet be in store for her. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving his Amendment.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "the constant recurrence of impracticable resolutions and the proposal or suggestion of extravagant and impossible remedies are the great obstacles to the restoration of peace in Ireland, and to the prosperity of the Irish people,"—(Mr. Neate,)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ SIR FREDERICK HEYGATE
rose to move as an Amendment to the Motion of the hon. Member for Cork—That, before the consideration by this House of constitutional changes in the laws and institutions of Ireland, it is both just and expedient to inquire into the causes of alleged discontent, and the best mode of remedying the same.He thanked the hon. and learned Member for the city of Oxford (Mr. Neate) for the very valuable and instructive address he had just delivered, but he thought the Amendment which had just been withdrawn, although undoubtedly true to a certain extent, could scarcely have been adopted as it stood by a spirited Legislature. He had no desire to interpose his Amendment between that of the noble Lord (Lord Arthur Clinton) and the Motion which had been made, but he thought the Amendment of which notice had been given by the noble Lord was impracticable. Whatever weight was to be attached to the theories and writings of political economists, he believed often 1324 there was more wisdom in the views of those who had to deal with the practical difficulties and grievances complained of. The deplorable condition of Ireland was rather assumed than proved to exist, and he did not think they ought to proceed to legislate. The hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Maguire) began his interesting speech by stating that he should prove that Ireland had fallen off both in trade and agriculture; but he did not offer to the House anything which was really conclusive upon that proposition. It was therefore desirable, when they were examining the condition of Ireland, to take a short retrospective view of the progress of the country, and it was absolutely essential to do so before they proceeded by a novel course of legislation completely to upset all its ancient institutions. Even supposing the country reduced to such a deplorable state as was contended, it would become their duty in the first place to consider the causes, with a view to remedy the evil they had produced. But he altogether denied that there had been during the last few years such a state of stagnation in Ireland as was alleged. He quite admitted that the condition of a country was serious in which there was so much disaffection that it had been necessary for some time to suspend the Habeas Corpus Act. At the same time he believed that the causes of that disaffection would, on examination, be found not to be of domestic origin, but to have had an external source. They had, in fact, sprung from an external agency, over which this country had no control. He thought that a comparison of the statistics of the country, which had recently been collected by Mr. Donelly, who was an undoubted authority, would throw a great deal of light upon the question of the condition of Ireland; and the arguments of the hon. Member for Cork, when examined by that light, would, he thought, be found very fallacious. The Lord Lieutenant, on a late occasion, had made use of these statistics in reference to the material progress of Ireland; the same figures had been supplied to him (Sir Frederick Heygate), and they were very remarkable, as showing the great advance that country had made. In 1860 the value of the cattle, sheep, and pigs in Ireland, according to those statistics, was £43,579,626, and in 1866, £45,439,418. In the former year the value of corn and other crops was £27,447,556; and in 1866, although in the meantime the attention of agricul- 1325 turists had been turned more particularly to grazing, it was £27,045,480, or not £500,000 less. The value of the imports, which in 1856 were £4,537,426, had risen in 1866 to £7,878,629; and if they took the statistics of the port of Dublin, which was a very good index of the state of the whole country, they would find that the revenue of that port in 1837 was £14,334, in 1857 £26,702, and in 1867 £44,569, being an increase in the latter ten years of 66 per cent; while that of the port of Liverpool had only increased in the like period 25 per cent, it being in 1827 £134,472, in 1857 £374,295, and in 1867 £468,160. The total tonnage of Dublin last year was 1,434,022 tons, while in 1857 it was only 880,844, being also an increase of 66 per cent. The gentleman who furnished those statistics also stated that he had not the least doubt but that, for the cries raised by the grievance-mongers, the comparison between the ports of Dublin and Liverpool during the last eight months would have been equally satisfactory for Dublin. But the hon. Member for Cork, while on this subject, quite omitted to refer to the progress of Belfast, which to say the least of it was not a little remarkable. In 1862, the value of the export of linen yarns, &c., from Belfast, was £6,200,000; in 1863, £8,000,000; and in 1864, £10,000,000, and he had no doubt that if he could get the Returns of the last two years he should find a still greater increase. Then, again, in the short space of four years the number of spindles in Belfast had increased from 650,000 to nearly 1,250,000. The Customs duties paid in Belfast in 1864, were £382,000, and in 1866, no less than £702,000, while the imports in 1856 were £4,500,000, and in 1866, £7,878,000. But there was another kind of statistics which showed more conclusively than any the condition of the country, and that was the criminal statistics. How did they stand? In 1846, there were in Ireland, 18,492 criminal prosecutions, and 8,639 convictions; they increased in 1849 to 41,987 prosecutions, and 21,202 convictions; but that was to be accounted for by its being immediately after the famine, for in 1866, they declined to 4,326, as against 18,492 in 1846, and 2,418 convictions as against 8,639. He thought, then, notwithstanding the eloquent denunciations of the hon. Member for Cork, the country must rather have progressed than retrograded; and it was quite certain that in many parts agricul- 1326 tural wages had risen from 5s. to 9s. a week. Everyone who had travelled, as he had, throughout the country, must have remarked the improvement which had been made during the past fifteen or twenty years; and that improvement was the more remarkable because it was almost entirely an agricultural country, and had not the resources of minerals and gigantic trades and manufactures like England. The country had recovered from the blow inflicted by Free-trade. The farmers, acting upon the advice given them—for following which they were now soundly abused—had turned their attention to the breeding of cattle; and though much, no doubt, remained to be done, the face of the country was infinitely more cheerful and prosperous than it was twenty years ago. Well, then, what was the cause of the disaffection of the Irish? Three years ago, the civil war in America came to an end, and thousands of armed and lawless men, trained in that war, found themselves without employment. Many of them came over to this country, and made some little stir; but it was not till the newspapers in Ireland, day after day, and week after week, published statements, many of which were only intended to serve the purpose of the hour, and were utterly fallacious and absurd, that any great effect was produced, and the minds of the people were excited. Those statements were calculated, and probably only intended, to enrich the proprietors of the newspapers in which they appeared; and some of the most influential of such proprietors had seats in that House. In 1865, a considerable effect was produced. More men came from America, yet still England took little or no interest in the matter, and it was in fact only when there was a rumour of an attack on Chester Castle, when the Fenian attack on the police van at Manchester was made, and when the Clerkenwell explosion took place, that the minds of the people were thoroughly aroused, and everybody was asked to destroy the institutions of Ireland, to abolish the Irish Church, and to put an end to Irish landlords. In fact, it was then, and then only, that the attempt which was made to persuade the people of England that there was a vast amount of disaffection in Ireland was in any degree successful. His experience and knowledge of the Irish people led him to distrust many of the statements which had been made as to the vast extent of the Fenian conspiracy, 1327 and he did not hesitate to say that if an impartial inquiry could be made, the Fenians would not be found to be nearly so numerous as had been represented. But what was the remedy now proposed? It would drive away all the capital from the country, and make its condition ten times worse. He did not think, notwithstanding the complaints which had been made in that House of postponing the introduction of the Irish Reform Bill, that the two questions of the condition of Ireland and the Reform of the representation were at all mixed up together. As to Reform, he believed the people of Ireland were wholly indifferent to it, and in that indifference he fully shared. It would make little or no difference to Members whether they were elected by a constituency who paid a rent of £12, £10, or £8, but at the same time he would leave the House to imagine what class of the population it was which only paid the latter rental. As to re-distribution, it was unnecessary in Ireland, for he believed that there was not a single town in it which deserved representation that was not already represented. Personally he was wholly indifferent on the question. Then they were told that they must disendow the Church of Ireland; but he must confess that, even admitting that it was right to put all religious classes on the same footing and endow none of them, he doubted whether it was expedient to carry that principle into effect in such a poor country as Ireland. They were told that the Irish Church was a great anomaly, because it was not in accordance with the creed of the people. But the same persons who used this argument said that Ireland was not a separate country from England; and if that was the case certainly the Established Church was the Church of the majority. He did not intend to enter upon a defence of the Irish Church to-night, but he wished to correct a statement made by the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Jacob Bright) at a meeting in that city on the 10th of last month. A similar statement had been made on previous occasions, and had been frequently contradicted; but, unfortunately, many persons who heard a misstatement did not hear the contradiction, and he had therefore been requested to notice it in the House. The hon. Gentleman said there were 1,539 parishes in Ireland, each containing less than 100 inhabitants belonging to the Established Church, and that there were 199 parishes 1328 without a single member of that communion. Now that, if true, would be a serious fact, but what was really the case? There were a great number of parishes having only one benefice between them, there being in one instance 16 parishes grouped together, in another 13, and in another 11; but the hon. Member had fallen into the mistake of supposing that each of these parishes had a separate clergyman with a separate income. The fact was that the hon. Gentleman had confounded benefices with parishes. [Mr. MONSELL: You mean union parishes.] Yes, union parishes. There were only 469 benefices in which the number of Protestants was under 100, and of these 63 had been suspended; and of the 199 parishes in which there were no Protestants 145 were portions of benefices in which there were congregations, 35 were suspended and the income was diverted, 18 had no income, and one had a congregation and service, the people coming from another parish. When so much was said against the Irish Church it was right that the accusers should at least be accurate in their facts. He believed that if the population could be polled on the subject of the Church, as the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright) had once suggested, the result would be very different from that anticipated by agitators for its abolition. Before they agreed to abolish the Irish Church he wished them to remember that its members were among the most loyal subjects of the Crown; that there was not a Fenian among the whole of that community. He made no boast of that; but still it was very hard that after they had behaved so well as they had done their institutions should be the only ones singled out for attack. Were the Protestants of Ireland to be punished for a state of things which had not been caused by their fault? With respect to the land question, it had been so often discussed that he almost despaired of saying anything new on the subject. Speaking as an Irish landlord, and on behalf of others of his class, he would ask the House to bear in mind that they had the greatest interest in the prosperity of the country, and that they were not pursuing the suicidal policy which had been attributed to them by the hon. Member for Cork. There had been a good deal of comment on the emigration which had for some years been going on, but in hardly any case had this arisen from the action of the landlord. It 1329 had arisen from the spontaneous action of the tenantry, and when once set a-going it had gathered like a snow-ball under the double attraction of affection and interest. Emigration, however, was not peculiar to Ireland. Was not London, and was not every large town in England thronged with people who had removed from their native parishes? He believed it was the fact that in London every other man one met, if asked where he was born, would name some other part of the country. Wherever one looked people were induced, by the expectation of bettering their condition, to leave the district where they had been brought up, and this universal law was so powerful with Scotchmen, that, to their credit be it spoken, they filled almost every post in India. Had England, therefore, been left without any trade or commerce, she would have been a very different country from what she was at present, even though she might not have been reduced to so low an ebb as Ireland. The latter country was by no means so fertile as was commonly supposed, for there was a very large extent of high and poor land, the fertile portions being those in the neighbourhood of rivers. The hon. Member for Cork had made a violent attack upon the London companies, but he ought to have remembered the condition of their estates at the time they entered into possession of them. They were not anxious to buy them, far from it; but they were forced to do so by the Corporation of London, carrying out the orders of those then in power. The condition of Londonderry, much of which was at that time a morass or uncultivated, would now bear comparison with that of any part of the United Kingdom, The proprietors could not, of course, be resident, but they had excellent agents, whose interests were as much bound up with those of the tenantry as with those of the landlords, and instead of the companies drawing large sums from their estates, the fact was that they got but little net return. For years and years they had been spending large sums on their property, and, after all, they got but a very moderate return. Moreover, part of the companies, though still existing in name, had years ago disposed of their estates, which had been cut up in some instances into small holdings. The Mercers' Company had been stigmatized by the hon. Member for Cork as stupid and bigoted, but the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir Roundell Palmer) was a distin- 1330 guished member of it, and he could give other names at which the hon. Gentleman would probably be astonished. No doubt some of the companies might have misunderstood local questions; but they were anxious to do their duty, and were not afraid to face any investigation that might be set on foot. Parliament should endeavour to do justice to all the interests of the country, and he was sure there would be no objection in any quarter to a calm and deliberate inquiry into the condition of the land question, with the view of meeting the justice of the case and of giving tenants compensation where it was properly due. A great question of this kind ought not to be dealt with in a hurried manner. There ought first to be a serious inquiry into the whole state of Ireland, for although the Church, land, and education questions had been subjected to separate examination, there had been no inquiry into the collective bearing of all these matters on the condition of the country. Before committing themselves to precipitate action, Parliament should reflect how desirable it was that stability should be given to Ireland, and that nothing was worse than perpetual unsettlement. They asked for peace, but let them do justice and hope that would come. He spoke as the representative of a part of Ireland—Ulster—which had never given any anxiety or trouble to this country. He himself had always, for a good many years now, taken a most moderate part, so far as he could, in the affairs of the country, and he could only entreat the House not to deal with this question in a hurried manner, but to take time to consider it fairly, and, whatever they did, to do justice. The hon. Baronet concluded by moving the Amendment of which he had given notice.
Another Amendment proposed,
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "before the consideration by this House of constitutional changes in the laws and institutions of Ireland, it is both just and expedient to inquire into the causes of alleged discontent, and the best mode of remedying the same,"—(Sir Frederick Heygate,)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ LORD ARTHUR CLINTON
said, that he might perhaps say, in excuse for himself, that the name and the subject of 1331 Ireland were not unfamiliar to him. There were some there who knew that even in his early years he had been taught by one now no more, but whose memory he revered (the late Duke of Newcastle), to regard that country with interest and with affection, and he was only following out those feelings if he could ever so humbly do anything that might tend to the good of Ireland. He wished, however, distinctly and emphatically to say, that he had no party object whatever in view. The Resolutions he had put on the Paper had not been framed in concert with the Leaders or Members of any political party in that House. He really did not know what effect their discussion might have on the fortunes of any party. He was at that moment unaware how they would be received by any party. His only object was to bring fairly and temperately before the House a subject which was of far more consequence to all of us than the failure or success of any Ministry or any Opposition; and his only wish was that every Member of the House should judge of these Resolutions on their own merits alone. The Resolutions affirmed that discontent and disaffection existed in Ireland. He did not think it was necessary to accumulate the proofs of this. He had no wish to exaggerate the strength of the conspiracy called Fenianism. He was quite willing to believe that the great majority of the people of Ireland had kept aloof from projects of rebellion. But, if Irish discontent and disaffection did not exist outside the Fenian conspiracy, that conspiracy would never have given us one hour's uneasiness or alarm. It was enough for his purpose to say that the people of Ireland were not living happy and contented under their Government, as the people of England and Scotland were under theirs; and he believed there was no thinking man in this country who did not feel that if it were possible to make the Irish as contented and as loyal as the English and the Scotch, no sacrifice would be too great to attain that result. He looked upon the question from an English point of view. Ireland's discontent was our weakness. He was sure that if we could sum up the money which, since the Union, we had spent in quelling Irish discontent, it would startle the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He wished we had even a Return of what Fenianism had cost within the last three years, the cost of troops, and flying columns, and special Commissions, what had been 1332 spent upon lawyers and informers and soldiers and sailors. But, unhappily, the money expenditure was the least of the evil. Ireland was our weakness and our discredit all over the world; and when an Irish Minister had proposed the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act for the third successive year, it was time for us seriously to think whether we could go on for ever governing that country by force. He would not waste time in proving that both the honour and the interest of England were involved in the tranquillizing of Ireland. It was self-evident that we weakened the Empire when we kept a third of the United Kingdom in a state of discontent. This discontent proceeded from our own mistakes in government. He used no harsher term. He believed that many accusations that were made against the English Government and people in respect to Ireland were unjust. Even as to past times they were exaggerated. But at present he was sure there was a real and a sincere wish on the part of the great majority of the English people to deal justly and fairly by Ireland. We wished to do good to that country; but he must say that this disposition was greatly spoiled by the fact that we insisted on doing it in our own way, and not in theirs. We treated Ireland as we thought Ireland ought to be, and not as the Irish chose that it should be. Many of us thought that Ireland ought to be Protestant, and that therefore we did good to Ireland when we forced on it a Protestant Church. We thought that Irish parents ought to wish for an education for their children free from priestly control, so we forced on them what we call mixed education. Upon these and many other subjects it was very possible that our notions were right. But for application to Ireland they had one fatal defect—the Irish people differed with us. No matter how good our notions were, when we forced them on an unwilling people, we were really continuing that which we had been trying for 700 years. We treated Ireland as a conquered and subject country when we were making the will of another country the rule of their domestic institutions. He believed that the true theory of the union of the three Kingdoms, was that in all matters of local and domestic concern the people of each country should feel that their affairs were managed according to their own wishes. Upon all matters of Imperial interest the decision of the general body must prevail; 1333 but upon matters affecting the domestic and home concerns of each country the wishes and feelings of the people of that country should prevail. It was so in Scotland; it was so in England. Neither Englishmen nor Scotchmen would endure anything else. It was not so in Ireland. Could we wonder that Ireland was discontented? In the Resolutions he asked the House to confess this fact, and to give a pledge to the people of Ireland that this system of government should cease, and that, no matter what might be the amount of change which it might involve, in all that related to their domestic concerns—in such matters as the education of their children, the endowment of churches, and the laws relating to the tenure of land—we would be guided not by English wishes or English notions, but by the feelings and wishes of the Irish people themselves. He could not agree with some who had said that no practical good would be gained if the House affirmed such a principle as this. He knew it had been said that these Resolutions were not specific enough to be practical. He did not know how they could well be more specific, unless they assumed the form of Bills. They pointed out the grievances that existed; they distinctly laid down the principle upon which these grievances should be remedied; it was for the Executive Government to carry out the details. But if the House declared such principles in real and true sincerity, and Statesmen set themselves in true and real honesty to give effect to them, there would be little difficulty in carrying them out. He would take up the three questions he had selected, and he would take them up in the order in which they stood in the Resolutions. There, was not a man in this House who did not know that if the Irish nation were left to itself under any Constitution, the most Conservative that could be devised, neither the present educational institutions, the present Church Establishment, nor the present land tenure could continue unaltered. But this was equivalent to saying that they were all forced upon the people. In every one of them they felt the yoke of another country. All these questions were purely Irish ones. It did not affect the Presbyterian of Scotland or the Churchman of London whose Church was endowed in Cork. It would not affect the Protestantism of Liverpool if the Roman Catholic parent in Limerick was allowed to educate his child in a purely Roman 1334 Catholic college or a Roman Catholic school. It did not touch the Essex landlord if we established in Munster a system of land tenure suited to a wholly different state of things from that which prevailed in England. Yet upon these three great questions of domestic interest to Irishmen we were forcing the Irish people to conform to English opinion. In the matter of education, there was no doubt that the great majority of the people desired educational institutions upon a religious foundation, and that such institutions were the only ones suited to their feelings and their opinions. To a wise Statesman this was decisive of the whole question. If Ireland desired a Catholic university, let a Catholic university be chartered and endowed. He might himself prefer the system of the Queen's Colleges; but this was a question upon which he had no right to force his own opinion upon the Irish people. He might think their decision a wrong and unfortunate one, but he must bow to it; and he must bow to it because, among other reasons, he was quite sure that he should do more harm to the cause of Protestantism by coercing the feelings of the Irish people than he ever could do good by any system of education he could force on them. Upon the first question there would be no difficulty in applying the rule which these Resolutions supplied. When the people wished for united education, let them have it; when they wished for Roman Catholic schools, let them have them; when they wished for Protestant schools, let them have them; but let it be felt that England was not for her own purposes forcing on Ireland any system of education that was distasteful to the feelings and opposed to the convictions of the Irish people. Upon the second question: it surely did not require argument to prove that the present Church Establishment of Ireland was not in accordance with the wants or the wishes of the Irish people. The broad fact was that the revenues intended for the spiritual instruction of the whole people were monopolized by a small minority, and that minority the wealthiest portion of the community. He admitted at once that there were difficulties in dealing with this question; but we must not shrink from applying to it the very same principle. Whatever were our own feelings, the Irish Church question must be decided with reference to Irish interests and Irish feelings. He was far from saying that the feelings of Irish 1335 Protestants must not be taken into account. They constituted a great and important part of the Irish nation; but, in the present arrangement, the feelings and interests of those who constituted the great majority of the nation were wholly disregarded. For the purposes of these Resolutions, it was enough for him to say that it was impossible that such an arrangement of ecclesiastical revenue could be maintained. He believed the time was come when this House should pledge itself to this; and these Resolutions upon this subject pledged no person to anything more, except that in dealing with the question we would be guided solely by the wants, the wishes, and the interest of Ireland itself. Upon the first two subjects he would only trouble the House by shortly summing up the facts. The report of the Census Commissioners told us that in 1861 there were in Ireland—Protestants of the Established Church, 693,000; Presbyterians, 523,000; Roman Catholics, 4,500,000. The whole ecclesiastical revenues of Ireland are diverted to the Church of the 693,000, and that Church is placed in a position of ascendancy. The Dublin University, the old and national University, ranking with Oxford and Cambridge in this country, is entirely under the control of the Church of the 693,000. We have established Colleges of another class, and the system of education established in them is, rightly or wrongly, condemned by the clergy of the 4,500,000. The Model Schools we have established are condemned in the same way, and even the funds voted by this House for the purposes of the education of the poorer classes are administered under rules which are causing dissatisfaction and discontent. These facts were all patent. He thought that they proved so much of the Resolutions as declared that the educational and ecclesiastical arrangements of Ireland were not in accordance with the wishes and feelings of the Irish people; he must say, that the Irish people would have very extraordinary feelings and wishes if they were. He now came to the third question—by far the most important—that of land tenure. Upon this subject he asked the House to affirm—That the system of land tenure, which has grown up under the existing land laws, is not suited to the wants and circumstances of the people, and that it has failed in giving to the general mass of the agricultural occupiers security of their tenure, and the assurance that they would enjoy the fruits of their industry or the 1336 means of living in comfort and independence in their native land.Was this a true description of the practical effects of the present system of land tenure in Ireland? Did this correctly represent the present position of the Irish occupier of the soil? Had he security for his tenure? Had he an assurance that he would enjoy the fruits of his industry? Had he the means of living in comfort and independence in his native land? He believed that among Irish Gentlemen in the House, however they might differ as to the causes or the remedies, there would be no difference as to the matter of fact. As a matter of fact, the occupier had not that security of tenure which was essential to his independence and his industry. This was a subject upon which it would be easy to heap up telling and exciting topics. He might tell of evictions which had left tracts of land without inhabitants. He might point to the emigration, which is the proof of the pressure that is driving the people from their homes. He wished to avoid all debateable, and, above all, all angry topics, and would pass these things by, and content himself with bringing forward a few irrefragable proofs of the truth of the statements contained in what he ventured to call the very moderate language of the Resolution. He could not, however, pass from the subject of emigration without saying a very few words. He thought they had evidence that ought to satisfy them that the emigration from Ireland had been to a great extent caused by the want of security of tenure. Dr. Keane, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Cloyne, was examined before a Committee of the House in the Session of 1866. He gave very remarkable evidence, with one or two passages of which he (Lord Arthur Clinton) would trouble the House. He said, in answer to a question as to the causes of emigration—A man who has only ten or twelve acres, and who is only a tenant-at-will, finding that the land requires improvement, is afraid to execute it, and he goes away. I see many of these poor people in Queenstown every day. Many persons give up their farms because they are in such a position with regard to the law that they cannot establish a claim to compensation, which they would willingly establish if they were certain that the fruits of their industry would be their own.He is asked—Is it within your knowledge that many persons do give up their farms on that ground?The answer is— 1337Several. I have made inquiries over and over again, in Queenstown and elsewhere, and I never yet heard that a single farmer emigrated and left the country who had a lease. Those who go attribute their being compelled to go to the want of good legislation. Their disappointment is made more bitter in consequence of all that has been done, or rather in consequence of all that has been discussed within the last twenty years or more.With these remarkable extracts he left this part of the subject, and asked the House whether the land tenure of Ireland was in a satisfactory condition? After all that had been said and written on the subject, its general features might be shortly stated. As a general rule, the occupiers of the soil in Ireland were tenants-at will, entirely dependent upon the pleasure of their landlords. The proprietors had of late years refused to give leases, with the express object of keeping the people in a state of dependence upon them, and as there was unhappily no sympathy or confidence between the classes, the result was that the great mass of the people were living in a state of insecurity, entirely inconsistent with either the peace or prosperity of the country. Whatever might be thought of it, this was the actual state of facts. He believed no one would question the statement that the practice of refusing to grant leases had become almost universal. That this refusal proceeded from social, religious, and political antipathy he could show upon the evidence of a distinguished Nobleman, whose loss to science was deplored wherever intellectual attainments are valued. The late Earl of Rosse published some time ago a tract on the Irish land question. He admitted that the Irish landlords had the strongest objection to give leases. He accounted for it by their apprehensions of tenant-right and of political agitators, and he thus wrote these remarkable words—It cannot, however, be said that such apprehensions are unreasonable; and so long as they exist, many will be reluctant to make leases. They think if they have to contend for their rights, it will be better to do so with their hands untied. This apprehension, with some, goes even further, extending not merely to the leasing, but even to the letting of land. Some people ask the question—'Is it not much safer to farm the land ourselves?' And, in point of fact, a great many small proprietors, just as in England, have long farmed their own estates, and with, I understand, a favourable pecuniary result. It is very desirable that the farmers should calmly consider all this, and ask themselves whether it is just to blame the landed proprietors, who, under these circumstances, hesitate to let on lease; and whether, if they were in their place, they would not perhaps do the same.1338 Here they had a declaration, upon the highest authority, that leases were refused because the landed proprietors looked to a coming battle, and wished to keep their hands untied. What did this mean? Worse than this, they were told that many landed proprietors were thinking of getting rid of a tenantry altogether, and cultivating their land themselves. Surely, when the rights of property were used in this way, and from such motives, the House ought to interfere to protect the people. Now, what was the effect of this upon the condition of the occupiers? He would quote the testimony of another Irish Nobleman of high character. In a pamphlet, published at the same time as that of the Earl of Rosse, Viscount Lifford says—Want of employment places those who do not emigrate entirely in the power of the landlord and landowners, to make what terms the latter please as the conditions of a bare subsistence; and the occasional misuse of that power, and the knowledge of the tenant that it exists (coupled with false notions of Irish social history, and continual tamperings in Parliament with the rights of property) perpetuate civil war.He rested his case not upon the assertions of any tenant-right agitators, as they were called. He had given the opinion of two Irish landlords of high position, both Peers, of strong Conservative opinions. Was it possible for the agricultural population to be contented, where they live under such relations with the owners of the soil? He would ask the House to observe the language used by Lord Kimberley, the late Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland. Immediately on his return from Ireland that noble Lord thus spoke of the great question of the Irish land—It was impossible for England to perform its duties to Ireland so long as no attempt was made to deal with the important question of the tenure of land. He implored the Irish landed proprietors not to pass it by. The landed proprietors were supported by the force of the United Kingdom in maintaining themselves in a position which, he was convinced, if Ireland stood alone, they could not possibly maintain, and this country was strictly responsible for seeing that its military force was not applied in perpetuity to save the landowners from measures which they have neglected to provide, and which might otherwise be forced on them.I believe that the state of things in Ireland is not exaggerated in the following sentences, which I take from a work which has excited a great deal of attention, written by a Gentleman who was for many years a Member of this House:—The position of the occupiers of the soil of 1339 Ireland is at present generally that of serfs, without any security either for their tenure or the fruits of their industry. They are dependent for their very means of existence on the will of their landlord, while the amount of that which is called rent is regulated, not by any economic law, but by the disposition of the landlord to extort, and their own ability to pay.It would be easy to multiply proofs and testimonies and opinions from writers of every shade of political opinion. He was only anxious to cite sufficient to place clearly before the House the present state of things with which they had to deal. He asked the House, was there any hope of contentment in Ireland while 5,000,000 occupiers were kept in this relation to 10,000 landowners? Was there any hope of this state of things being changed unless Parliament intervened to make some alteration in the land laws which had permitted, if they had not produced, this disastrous result? The pamphlet of Lord Rosse, to which he had referred, contained the most striking proof of the effect of insecurity of tenure upon the tenant. He stated that the Irish tenant-farmers had in the banks £17,000,000. They were letting this sum lie there unproductive, while their lands were barely tilled. Now, if it were true that the great mass of the tenants of Ireland were designedly kept by the landlords as tenants-at-will—in order that they may have them in their power—is not this sufficient to account for a great deal of the discontent of Ireland? He had shown the effect upon the cultivation of the land. But what was the effect upon the tenant-farmer himself? Could he feel independent? Could he feel free? In the language of Lord Lifford, he is dependent on his landlord's pleasure for a bare subsistence. In the language of Lord Rosse, he knows that his landlord is keeping his hands untied, that he may strike him whenever the battle begins. This was the relation of landlord and tenant at present existing, and while it lasted the great mass of the people must be discontented and disaffected to the laws and Government which keep them in such a state. If he were asked how far we ought to go in interference, he said to the extent which was necessary to give security of tenure and compensation for improvements to the occupiers of the soil. If it could not be obtained for him by custom, by good feeling, or by opinion, they should give it to him by law. Here, again, they must not be guided by English precedent or by English prejudice. The law that left the great mass of the popu- 1340 lation in the condition described was not suited to the circumstances of the country; and he thought this House ought to say, boldly and clearly, that they were ready to support the Ministers of the Crown in any measure which will put an end to this disgraceful and ruinous state of things. No measure, it was plain, could effect this unless it gave to every occupier some security of tenure sufficient to encourage his industry by securing him its fruits, sufficient to give him, if industrious, the means of living in comfort and independence in his native land. There was a strong opinion growing up in Ireland in favour of such a regulation of the relation of landlord and tenant as would prevent the occupiers being held as tenants at will. It was not possible to look calmly and dispassionately at the actual state of things in Ireland, and not feel that such regulation was absolutely necessary. He would not carry that interference one particle beyond the proved necessity. But if it were admitted that contracts for uncertain and precarious interests in land were ruinous in their effects upon the national welfare—if they found that those contracts were general, and that the landowners adopted such contracts for the sake of keeping the occupiers entirely dependent—then a case had arisen in which the House ought to interpose, and prohibit by law those mischievous and unjust contracts, and compel all contracts for the letting of land to be for a tenure that would give the tenant a security for his holding sufficient to enable him to be independent and to improve. Thus far they could, he thought, see their way in the Irish land question. They must put an end to uncertain and capricious tenures, and must insist that all lettings of land must be made for certain interests. He did not undertake to say how this might best be carried out. That was a matter to be settled after inquiries which no private Member had the means of making. It was enough to say that the insecure tenures of the occupiers in Ireland were inconsistent with the well-being of the Empire, and therefore must be put an end to. He saw no objection to the suggestion which had been made by The Times to issue a Commission to hold local inquiries in different districts, and to ascertain by inquiries what was necessary to give security to the tenants. But the object of that Commission should be defined. It should be declared beforehand that they had made up their minds that they should have security, 1341 and that the Commission was sent not to palter with the question, not to make make vague and general inquiries; but with the distinct and specific object of ascertaining how security may best be given to the occupier. If Parliament once made the declaration that they were resolutely determined that it should be done, such a Commission would very soon effect an adjustment of the question which would give satisfaction to all reasonable landlords and all reasonable tenants. He felt how imperfectly he had been able to deal with the great questions upon which he had little more than touched; but he would be satisfied if he originated a discussion in which the views of those more competent to deal with them might be expressed. He had no object in bringing those Resolutions forward, except a desire to promote the interests of Ireland and England. The question was an English even more than an Irish one. It was impossible for a country, geographically situated as Ireland was, so inseparably intertwined with us, united with us under one Parliament, portion of our very existence, to be in the condition of Ireland without inflicting weakness upon ourselves. He ought, perhaps, before he sat down, to apologize for having taken on himself this task. He had glanced at the early recollections which had no little share in inducing him to do it; but the experiences of after life have given strength to these recollections. He had stood upon the deck beside Irishmen under England's flag, where Irish blood had been shed in England's cause, and had wished then, as he wished now, to see the day arrive when there should be no distinction made between their interests and ours, and when the whole of a race so brave and manly and generous should have no cause of quarrel with us, but should all be our allies and our friends. In the earnest hope and in the belief that this discussion might do something to accomplish it, he begged to move the Resolutions of which he had given notice.
To leave out from the words "view of" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words, "Affirming that, in the opinion of this House the continued existence of the disaffection and discontent which prevails in Ireland is not only an injury to Ireland but a source of embarrassment and uneasiness to the United Kingdom, and that it is essential to the interests of the whole Kingdom that the causes of such disaffection and discontent should be removed; that, in the opinion
of this House, this result cannot be attained unless the Government of Ireland is carried on and the Laws and Institutions of the Country are framed in accordance with the wants and wishes of the Irish People themselves; that the Educational and Ecclesiastical arrangements at present maintained in Ireland are not in accordance with the feelings and wishes of the People; that the system of Land Tenure, which has grown up under the existing Land Laws, is not suited to the wants and circumstances of the country, and that it has failed in giving to the general mass of the Agricultural Occupiers security of their Tenure, and assurance that they will enjoy the fruits of their industry or the means of living in comfort and independence in their native land; that while the grievances arising from this state of things continue the causes of Irish discontent and disaffection must remain; and that, while this House is sensible that the effectual redress of these grievances may involve extensive changes in the Laws, the Institutions, and the social system of Ireland, this House is of opinion that it is essential to the contentment of Ireland and the honour and welfare of the whole United Kingdom that these changes should be made.
§ MR. SPEAKER
said, that there being a Motion and an Amendment already before the House, it was not competent for the noble Lord to submit his Amendment.
§ MR. O'BEIRNE
said, he had been asked by the noble Lord who had so ably moved the Resolutions, to second them, a task he should most willingly have performed had the Resolutions not been pronounced out of order. He should ask the leave of the House to allow him to state why he should have wished to do so.
§ MR. SPEAKER
It is not that the Resolution is out of order, but as there are a Motion and an Amendment already before the House, it is impossible to put a second Amendment until the first is disposed of.
§ MR. O'BEIRNE
Then, Sir, in that case I hope the House will permit me to state the reason why, in reference to the subject under discussion, which is, the condition of Ireland, I think the Resolutions of the noble Lord might have been usefully considered. And in saying this I do not wish it to be thought that I have placed myself in antagonism to the hon. Member for Cork, than whom no Irish representative has done more to serve his country. What I had proposed to do was to endeavour to give a practical turn to the debate, and to place upon the records of the House a clear, comprehensive and true statement as to the present condition of Ireland, and as to the character of the 1343 remedies which ought to be applied to the evils under which that country now labours. Those Resolutions would have expressed on the part of the House a very clear opinion of the course which the Government ought to pursue in dealing with Ireland; and I regret that they are not before the House in order that they might elicit the opinions of hon. Members on both sides as to the statements they contain. It has been said that the grievances of Ireland are sentimental; but whether that be so or not, she is, without doubt, a country eminently national. And as the hon. Member for Cork has said, and said well and truly, she is thoroughly and familiarly acquainted with the sad records of her history, and I can scarcely add anything to his eloquent description of the deep seated feeling produced by the thorough and intimate knowledge which exists throughout that country of those dark, and I must also say, discreditable records. It is not my intention to quote the voluminous authorities, many of which I hold in my hand—authorities that would, perhaps, surprise hon. Gentlemen on the opposite side of the House as well as on this, and which furnish ample proof of the cruelty, the injustice, and the coercion that has characterized English rule in Ireland for very many years. It is fashionable, not only in this House but elsewhere, to say that we ought not to rake up these records of the past. May I be permitted to ask English Members do they never refer to the records of their past? The glorious moment when the independence of Ireland was acceded marked an epoch in Irish history. It followed from a series of prolonged struggles which were attended with extraordinary success. Is it not, then, natural, or rather is it unnatural that Irishmen of the present day should refer with feelings of pride to that happy period? Why, Sir, do not the Members of this House, do not the people of England as a people, refer with pride to the glorious achievements of Lord Nelson? Do not the citizens of the United States of America proudly look back upon the period when they were enabled to win their independence? And, Sir, taking an illustration nearer home, do not the French people refer repeatedly and with pride to the era of their revolution? May I ask this House why it is that the Irish people are taunted with raking up the records of the past—of, in fact, the only moment to which they can look back with 1344 anything like national pride—that during which the country was permitted to govern herself? That moment, Sir, as has already been stated in the course of this debate, was one of unexampled prosperity. It was described by men who are known to have been calm thinkers, to have been gifted with sound judgment, and who thoroughly understood the subject on which they spoke and wrote, as a period of unequalled prosperity—a prosperity which was, and still is, without a parallel in the history of civilization. But what followed? Far be it from me to drag before this House the disgraceful records of what did follow. Suffice it to say that the English nation took into union her weaker sister, and I wish to Heaven I could say that, in taking her into union, they had any intention to discharge their duty towards her. I say here, as a Member of this House—and I am prepared to prove it on English testimony—that in every possible way for twenty-five or thirty years, or perhaps longer, subsequent to the year 1800, the principles, conditions, and spirit of that Union were utterly disregarded, violated, and transgressed. Now, Sir, having made this broad statement, I challenge any hon. Gentleman on this or on the opposite side of the House who may contradict me to prove such contradiction. These facts are fresh and familiar in the mind of the Irish nation, and why, I ask, should it not be so? It is your fault, for you should have given them a different record—you should have dealt with the country in a different spirit. If, instead of destroying the trade of Ireland, ruining her prospects, applying perpetual coercion to her people, violating your most sacred and deliberate engagements, you had dealt differently towards them, I, for one, believe that the legislative union between the two Kingdoms would have been a great and lasting blessing to both. But, Sir, it has not been so, and what more eloquent proof can there be that it is not so, than is furnished by the very subject of the debate in which we are now engaged? I ask, could such a debate as this arise in the British House of Commons if the Act of Union had, in its integrity, been observed, aye, or even one tithe of its principles? It is perfectly plain that this debate is in itself a proof—proof most unanswerable—that the Act of Union has been disregarded from first to last. But, Sir, it is perfectly idle to talk of proofs; nor 1345 will I weary the House with numerous quotations which hon. Gentlemen may find in the books if they look for them; but I hope I may be permitted to quote an authority that will be received, I doubt not, with general respect. I desire permission to read from the speech of a right hon. Gentleman who long occupied a distinguished position in this House, and who presided over the debates now just twenty-four years since, when this subject was discussed in terms almost identical with those used by my hon. Friend the Member for Cork. I allude to Sir Robert Peel, who, speaking in 1829, thus expressed himself—I apprehend it is scarcely possible that we could change the country for the worse. What is the melancholy fact? We have scarcely one single year during the period which has elapsed since the Union in which Ireland has been governed by the ordinary course of law. In 1800 we find the Habeas Corpus Act suspended, and the Act for the Suppression of Rebellion in force. In 1801 this state of things was continued. In 1803 the insurrection in which Emmett suffered broke out. Both Acts of Parliament were renewed. They continued in 1804, and in 1806 the West and the South of Ireland were in a state of insubordination, which was with difficulty suppressed. In 1807 the Insurrection Act was passed, which gave to the then Lord Lieutenant power to place, by proclamation, any district outside the venue of ordinary law. It suspended trial by jury, and made it a transportable offence to be out of doors from sunset to sunrise. This Act, will it be believed, remained in force in 1808, 1809, and to the close of 1810. In 1814 this very Act was renewed, and it was continued in 1815, 1816, and 1817. In 1822 it was again renewed, and it was continued in 1823, in 1824, and in 1825. In the latter year the Act for the Suppression of Dangerous Associations was passed, and it continued until 1828, when it expired.Sir, that is language which I think ought to weigh upon the minds of hon. Members. It is not my language; as I have already said, it is the language—the temperate language of one of the ablest men who ever sat in this House. We are now in 1868, and I should like to know what great change for the better has taken place from the period when Sir Robert Peel uttered these remarkable words in 1829, to the present time? We have heard vague suggestions, no doubt, of a great improvement having taken place in Ireland. We have also heard of an immense agricultural advance. Civilization and trade are stated to have taken already a very large and prominent place in the country. Sir, I do not find it to be so. On the contrary, I find that emigration has increased; that the population has diminished; that the deposits in 1346 the savings banks have decreased; that the number of ejectments have enormously increased; and that, in point of fact, there is only one bright spot, and that is, that all crimes, except political crimes, have almost disappeared from the country. But, Sir, I doubt very much whether this negative evidence is any proof of the advancement of the material prosperity of Ireland. I confess that my own impression is against it. I believe that the people are reduced to a very low state; and I have this conviction:—that, so far from Ireland having progressed within the last twenty years, she has decidedly deteriorated. In that respect, I agree entirely with my hon. Friend the Member for Cork. I believe that the statistics which will be quoted possibly to prove her advance will be quoted upon a false principle. They will be taken from dates which are fallacious; but if the true state of the country were laid before this House, or if hon. Members would themselves inquire with unprejudiced minds into the realities of the case, they would find that the view I submit is unfortunately too true. No doubt, at the beginning of last Session we had from the noble Lord, who represents the Irish Government in this House, an assurance, which was but the echo of the passage in Her Majesty's most gracious Speech with reference to Ireland, that a great change for the better had taken place in that country, and that there existed a very general feeling of contentment and satisfaction. The Royal Speech held out promises of legislative relief which were mysteriously supposed to be on the eve of being fulfilled. But, Sir, the House will remember that, before many days had elapsed, the noble Lord came down here and, instead of confirming the statement which he had previously made, gave to us a very disheartening and melancholy description of the state of the country. But even then the noble Lord held out to us some encouragement. What did he tell us? He informed us that—One of the first and most satisfactory things shown by the history of the Fenian movement was that the occurrences which had taken place prove that the measures which had been adopted by the Government were sufficient for the suppression of all disturbances;And the noble Lord added—That the Government were in possession of the most ample information, and that they were always warned in sufficient time to enable them to take the fullest precautions for the preservation of the peace.1347 I pray the attention of the House to that statement of the noble Lord. Another statement made by the noble Lord on that occasion is to the effect that the loyal spirit of the population had so displayed itself as to prove that there had been no kind of sympathy whatever shown with the Fenian movement by the great mass of the agricultural population of the kingdom, and especially of Kerry. I should remind the House that that speech was made in justification of the renewal of the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act. I do not desire to take upon myself the right to contradict the noble Lord; but I will read from an authority almost contemporaneous. A few days after the statement to which I have referred was made by the noble Lord the Chief Secretary, a noble Lord in "another place," who, it will be admitted, has had some experience on the subject—I mean Lord Kimberley—remarked—As regards the farming classes, I have seen it asserted that they did not sympathize with this sedition. I regret I cannot repeat that statement to its fullest extent. In the South and West of Ireland, although the occupiers or farmers did not take a prominent part in the conspiracy, as a matter of fact, it was perfectly well known that they were ready to join in that rebellion, had the rebellion really broken out.And, Sir, upon this point, I will merely make one other observation. If there were, in reality, as is stated so earnestly, no sympathy shown by the people with this movement, what, I ask, became of the large numbers of armed men who appeared from time to time throughout the country, at night, and in the early morning? Where did they go to? One would suppose it was not so very easy to hide 300, 400, or 500 armed men. If within a few hours after they had made their appearance, the county of Kerry had been swept by cavalry without finding any of these men, it was childish to ask the House to believe that the agricultural classes had no sympathy with this movement. If there existed no such sympathy, the men who appeared in arras would have found neither home nor shelter; they would have been left to the mercy of the troops, and very short work would possibly have been made of them. It is, Sir, very unfortunate, both for this country and for Ireland, that the true state of circumstances had been so withheld by the noble Lord, when he had spoken upon so important a question from time to time. Let me ask this House whether the events which have taken place since the remarks 1348 I have just referred to in any degree bear out the noble Lord's statement? Had the Government the information which was requisite to enable them to put down this movement, and if they were in possession of that information have they put down the movement? Why, Sir, is it not plain that Fenianism, the existence of which in England was before little thought of, has broken out through the country, under the fostering care of the noble Lord, to an alarming extent? It has become under his government a familiar word in English homes where before it was almost unknown. Occurrences have taken place which have shaken and terrified this great Empire to its centre, which have led to thousands of special constables being called out, and which has produced upon the public mind a most profound sensation. Fenianism has become the question of the day: it has been discussed by Members of this House in their extra-Parliamentary utterances; it has attracted the notice of our periodical literature and of the press; it has attracted the attention of our Cabinet Ministers when addressing public assemblies. But still more and worse than this: it has been the subject of grave and serious consideration by neighbouring nations. It has been taken into consideration by those nations when the power, the authority, and the influence of England have been weighed in the scale; and, as I know from my personal experience within the last three months, it has very seriously prejudiced the position which this country ought to hold as one of the great Powers of Europe. This, Sir, I deeply regret; but it is, I say, absurd to tell us that the Government have already the means in their hands and are in possession of sufficient information to enable them to put down such a movement. I have no doubt the noble Lord spoke the earnest conviction of his mind when he made that statement, and I am not disposed to say or suggest that the noble Lord has been guilty of misrepresentation; but I am here to say that the system of legislation which has been pursued with reference to this organization is neither useful for the purpose to which it has been directed, nor creditable to the Imperial Parliament by whom it has been approved. Sir, we have been more than once told by hon. Members in this House, and especially by one hon. and learned Member, who I regret to see is not now in his place—I mean the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck)—that Ireland has no cause 1349 whatever for complaint; that the Irish Members, when they stand forward in this House to offer their remonstrances, however respectful, however sincere, and however earnest, are told that those appeals are made simply with a view of getting up "a whine upon Irish discontent." We are told by the hon. and learned Gentleman that there is as little personal restraint in Ireland as there is in England, and that, in fact, she enjoys all the advantages, all the privileges, and all the laws which are enjoyed by England. Moreover, I remember him to have used this remarkable sentence, which I shall not easily forget—"that Ireland was great because of her connection with England." I regret extremely that an hon. Gentleman of the acute mind of the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield, who has devoted so many years of his life to the study of the politics of his own country and of other countries, should by such a statement have placed himself in what I consider an extremely awkward dilemma. In the first place, with reference to the equality of laws, it is a fallacy to say that Ireland is in that respect on an equality with England. We have no equality of laws; the laws of England do not apply to Ireland. The principal Act which has been passed since the Union for the improvement of our country, always excepting the Act for the Emancipation of Roman Catholics, was the poor law. The poor law in Ireland is essentially different in many points from the English poor law. Again, the law of distress does not exist in this country as it does in Ireland; in fact, it is unknown here. But I think I have a still more pregnant example—the law respecting public processions. What will the House say when they reflect upon the terms of that law? Will they affirm the statement of the hon. and learned Gentleman that in this respect there is any equality between the two countries? Let me shortly state the facts of the example I propose to submit. We all remember that in the summer of 1866, a lamentable riot took place in Hyde Park, there was bloodshed and violence, and that that meeting took place in defiance of a solemn proclamation warning the people not to assemble, a warning which was disregarded. Well, last November or December a meeting was held in Dublin, it was called a funeral procession. The First Minister of the Crown declared in "another place" that similar processions which had previously taken place, were perfectly legal. Before the time 1350 fixed for the assemblage, the noble Lord opposite was made aware of what was in contemplation, but he did not give any notice whatever to the people that that procession would be illegal. The people met, the procession was formed and proceeded peaceably to its destination; there was no riot, no disturbance, no bloodshed. What happened? Mark the difference in the two countries. There was no prosecution in the London case; but there was a prompt and vigorous prosecution in the Irish case. Now I invite the noble Lord the Chief Secretary when he rises to speak in this debate, to account for this singular proceeding. How could he, as a Member of the Cabinet, as the representative of the Crown in Ireland, sanction the prosecution of men who believed they were innocently attending a public meeting, and who received no intimation that that meeting was illegal? I say, Sir, the people who attended that meeting were fully justified in believing that that meeting was not only not illegal, but that it was thoroughly within the laws of the country; this belief being founded upon no less an authority than the Prime Minister of England. Such, Sir, is the equality of laws described by the hon. Member for Sheffield. Such is his estimate of a just legislation. Sir, when the hon. and learned Gentleman presumes to taunt Irish Members with setting up a whine about the wrongs of their country, I tell him that before he utters such taunts, before he permits himself to deliver such sentiments, he should satisfy himself as to the justice of the one and the truth of the other. If he gives the weight of his name—respected as he is as an able and distinguished Member of this House—to such statements, I say that he puts himself in this discreditable dilemma—either he knows the facts to be the reverse of what he represents them, and is guilty of misrepresentation, or he has failed to inform himself before he expresses his opinions, and as a Member of this House he is guilty of inexcusable negligence, not to say injustice. It is not surprising that Irish Members should speak and feel somewhat warmly on this subject, as such assertions are ungenerous, unfair, and un-English; and I have again, Sir, to express my regret that the hon. and learned Gentleman is not now in his place, that he might hear a plain and, I hope, an intelligible expression of my sentiments upon his conduct. We are told by the same authority that Ireland is prosperous and great because of her connection with Eng- 1351 land. She may be great because of that connection, if her greatness consists in being subjected for years to injustice, to coercion, to confiscation, and to every possible system of repression, to absolute discouragement, and to the most contemptuous usage—in fact, to an unceasing effort on the part of England to force her to forget her nationality; nay more, to impress upon her the revolting belief that she is inferior in every respect to England. But, Sir, I say give the country a fair chance; accord to her only a just, a generous, and an honest treatment; let her try to regain the noble, sunny road upon which she was travelling when you seized upon and wrenched her but new-born independence from her. If you will not or cannot legislate for her, give her the power to legislate for herself; deal with her as you deal with other interests that are entrusted to your keeping; treat her as you treat your colonies; be only as just to her who lies within twelve hours of your shores as you are to those who are separated from you by as many days; then there may be some hope that this country will see an end to that which has been well called a European scandal. Sir, if to be great is to be coerced and governed by a number of highly respectable Gentlemen who sit on that bench, many of whom have never set foot on Irish soil, and who know as little of her people and their habits as they do of Abyssinia, then, indeed, I admit we are great. But when our greatness becomes real, I venture to say that this House will soon feel it, the Empire will understand and value it, for then, and then only, can there be a real Union between the two peoples—a Union which has never yet existed since their intercourse commenced. I long—most earnestly long—for that day, I wish to Heaven it were near, or that I could think it were near; but I see no prospect of its approach. I have no faith whatever in the result of this debate. That I may be deceived is my most fervent wish. I have no hope that the noble Lord will stand up and declare that his Cabinet have come to the determination to act at once in a broad, comprehensive, and conciliatory spirit towards Ireland, and to deal manfully, boldly, and without prejudice with the Irish question. It may, however, be so, and I hope it will. If such should be the case, the noble Lord may rely upon it that he will have the support of Irish Members on this side of the House; and that he will also have the 1352 support of Irishmen in their homes, and that whether he be called by the political name of Tory or Conservative, Whig or Radical, that name will fade like a shadow, and he will be regarded as the benefactor of a country which has suffered so much under English rule. But when is that to happen? When are we to have that regeneration? I appeal to this House, and I ask it to insist on a fair and generous policy towards Ireland. I tell hon. Members that the time has come when its policy must be fair. From this House, Sir, I appeal to that which is a much greater power—the just influence of the English people, and I tell that English people from my place here that they are answerable for the present state of things in Ireland. They are answerable because as conquerors they took the country into their hands—because they confiscated the lands—because they took the nation into a Union, every principle of which they have violated. They are answerable because their policy—and I say it deliberately—has rendered loyalty on the part of the Irish people almost superhuman. Their discontent is produced by years of coercion. Is that the way to foster a people? Suppose that they were the most debased, that they were the most ignorant, that they were inferior to the English nation in every possible respect, what was your duty? The duty of the English Parliament was to educate, support, and encourage them up to the standard which, in their belief, had been attained in this country. Has this been done? How many Acts of repression and coercion have been passed during the last sixty years? Any hon. Gentleman may find them on the statute book, where they appear as a standing disgrace to the British legislature. Is it to be said that we, the Imperial Parliament of Great Britain, cannot deal with a portion of the Kingdom, which but a few years ago formed one-fourth of the whole, in any other way than by suspending their rights and their liberties? Why, is it not true that such a fact is a European scandal which must at once be put an end to. Will the people of this country submit to the continuance of such a state of things; or will they at once and determinedly stay this fatal course? If they do not, ruin or much worse will follow. Give us fair and just treatment; let us not be told we are constantly clamouring for remedial measures. Submit your policy and let us judge: if it be fair and just, or even moderately so, we are prepared to ac- 1353 cept it; but do not go on from year to year in this careless, obstinate, pertinacious, and mischievous course. There is yet time. Accept the warning, the fearful warning, which recent events have so forcibly given you. Do not disregard it, do not turn away your eye from the "writing on the wall." If you do, rely upon it you will reach a state of things which it will be beyond your power to control. You expose the unsullied Crown of England to the hideous stains which the political gibbet but too surely scatters round it; you will shake the entire Empire to its centre, and possibly pull to pieces that which has cost centuries to build up. Remember that the power, the prosperity, the great position that England enjoys she owes entirely to the loyalty and the union of her people. Once permit that union to be endangered, and it may be more than your utmost power can accomplish to repair the extent of the mischief you have wrought. No longer hesitate, then, to act justly. The means are within your hands. If you use them, use them boldly, promptly, generously, while there is yet time. If you do so, the result will be a just and full recompense; if you pause, think of my words—you will be too late, and you will have hereafter deep cause to bitterly lament your vacillating, unjust, and most ruinous policy.
THE EARL OF MAYO
* Mr. Speaker—The hon. Gentleman who has just spoken, and the hon. Gentleman who introduced this most interesting and important debate, have given at great length, and with great clearness, their views as to the present state of Ireland. It now becomes my duty to state to the House, not, perhaps, in language so impassioned as that of the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Maguire), but as accurately as possible, my views with regard to the state of Ireland. I will not exaggerate or conceal, but will endeavour to make a plain, unvarnished statement, which I hope will commend itself to the attention of the House. I also propose to notice some of the points which are put forward as grievances by those who are supposed to represent the portion of the Irish people dissatisfied with the present state of things. I do not deny—in fact, I do not know that anybody has attempted to deny—that a great amount of dissatisfaction—I might almost say of disloyalty and dislike to England and to English rule, exists. But I think it important for the House to ascertain, as far as possible, what the precise nature of this 1354 feeling is, what the classes are which it affects, and how far it influences the general state of the country. I think it will not be denied at the outset that the active organization of that great Brotherhood, which has exercised for the last three years so marked an influence upon the feelings of a portion of the Irish people in this country and in America, has its source in another country; and when I am told that British legislation, British rule, and British laws are responsible in a great measure for the existence of that hostile feeling among the Irish citizens of America towards this country, we must recollect that there are to be found in other parts of the world large numbers of my fellow-countrymen who are not disloyal. In Australia, though their numbers are not reckoned by millions, but by thousands and hundreds of thousands, the Irish who have settled there do not exhibit towards Great Britain any of those hostile feelings which unhappily are found in America. Nay, more: there are many remarkable instances of men who, when at home, were unhappily distinguished by proceedings hostile in their character to the Crown and Government of England; and who, having settled in Australia, and taken an active part in public affairs there, declared on returning to this country that they no longer held the same opinions with regard to British rule which they did when they emigrated. The same thing may be said with regard to Canada. Though Canada is in the immediate neighbourhood of the great seat of the Fenian organization in the United States, and though we find that Fenianism has a certain limited influence over Irishmen settled in Canada, yet, as a body, we see the Irish in Canada loyal to the British Crown. Mr. D'Arcy Magee, a man who never speaks without attracting attention, and who influences large masses of his countrymen in Canada, was an active Nationalist in 1848, but is at this moment one of the most eloquent advocates of British institutions that can be found on the face of the globe.
Having said so much as to the feeling of Irishmen settled in our colonies, and lamenting, as I do, the existence of a very different feeling among the large portion of the Irish citizens of the United States, it becomes important to consider how far such a feeling is shared by those of our fellow-subjects who still remain in their own country. As far as Ireland is concerned, at present the feeling of disaffection and disloyalty is, I believe, con- 1355 fined to a lower class than it ever was before. If you take the history of 1798, you will find that many of the persons who were then engaged in fomenting rebellion and civil war were men of high character, of good family and of great honesty, whose standing and intelligence gave them a right to influence the views and conduct of their fellow-countrymen. The men of that day embarked in a wild, reckless, and unjustifiable attempt; but no one can refuse to give many of them credit for higher motives, or contend that they were not men of intelligence and integrity. Then, if you come to 1848—fifty years later—another attempt being made to stir up rebellion in the country; then, again, there were men of position and intellect engaged as chiefs of that movement. Though the leaders of 1848 were inferior—vastly inferior—to those who headed the rebellion fifty years before, you must recollect that in 1848 such men as Meagher, Mitchell, Duffy, Davis, and O'Brien were implicated in it, and their character or genius shed a sickly lustre over the most Quixotic enterprize of modern days. But in this Fenian conspiracy—which in America, I admit, has assumed gigantic proportions—you find that the feelings of the bulk of the persons engaged in it are swayed by the speeches and writings of leaders of a very different character from that of the men to whom I have been referring. The Fenian organization has been in existence for four or five years, and yet I doubt if any one can point out an intellectual leader who has distinguished himself by the gift of eloquence, or by any other display of intellect. The movement has not produced a single man of mark. It has been directed by men without position and without experience of any kind, except that gained in the subordinate ranks in the American army. That is the case with the members of the Brotherhood in America. If you look to Ireland, you find the same thing. The whole of the Protestant and the Roman Catholic gentry, though they may differ in religion and in politics, are to a man thoroughly well affected towards British rule. The large landholders are on the same side, and so are the men who are deeply engaged in trade. Not a merchant of any importance or influence has ever expressed the slightest sympathy with the Fenian movement. With a very few exceptions, the same may be said of the educated classes generally. Very few, indeed, of them have employed their talents in advancing Fenianism. I 1356 know there are certain conductors of a portion of the Irish press who may be said to represent the feelings of the Fenians; but they are very inferior to the writers who supported former movements of a rebellious nature. When you descend in the social scale and come to the small occupiers of land, you find a considerable number of that class who may be said to sympathize to a certain degree with the movement, though they have taken no active part in it. Descending still lower, to the uneducated agricultural labourers, to what in Ireland are called the "farmers' boys," to the mechanics and workmen, the shop assistants and small clerks in towns, you find this organization widely spread. I am sorry to say that in some of the cities in the South of Ireland you find the mass of the people of that class deeply tainted with Fenianism, and perfectly ready to sympathize and co-operate with it to any extent. But they are without leaders, money, or arms. That being the case, I think the House will agree with me, looking broadly at the matter, that there does not exist any material in Ireland itself for maintaining in active operation this Fenian movement. The real strength of the organization lies at the other side of the Atlantic. And, though contemplating an impossibility, I believe that, could the communication between this kingdom and America be cut off for a short time, Fenianism would rapidly disappear and become extinct for ever.
Sir, I think it my duty now to submit to the House two or three statements on which the excuse for or vindication of this movement is commonly based, and to endeavour to show how fallacious and utterly groundless those statements are. I know that the statements to which I allude are not often put forward in this House. Even those hon. Members who entertain the strongest views on Irish questions do not state the case as it is stated very frequently out of doors—in Ireland, in America, and also on the Continent of Europe. But one of those statements has been strongly put forward to-night. It is that the people of Ireland as a nation are oppressed, are down-trodden, are governed, as in other countries, nations are governed by a foreign Power; in short, that the Irish people are ruled for English objects, and without regard to Irish feelings or interests. There is a second statement which has been put forward in this House, and I cannot but regard it as one 1357 of the most dangerous that could be made use of as calculated to induce the Irish people to favour the Fenian movement. It is stated that in years gone by—in those times which may be described as the dark days of Ireland—the ancient possessors of the soil were dispossessed by frequent confiscations, and that it is the duty of this House, and of the other Branch of the Legislature, to take steps to restore to the Irish people that land of which, at different times, they were unjustly deprived, I cannot conceive anything more calculated to lead to discontent in Ireland than that statement. There is another assertion, the most important of all—one which, to the fullest extent, has been adopted by the hon. Member for Cork and the hon. Member for Gashel—that, owing to the Government and the laws of this country, the industry of Ireland has been checked, and its material progress retarded.
Those three statements I propose to deal with one after the other. First, then, it is alleged that Ireland is governed by English power and by English rule, for English interests, and with English objects; that she is ruled as if she was under the sway of a foreign Power. Some writers have gone so far as to call her the Poland of the West. Well, if Ireland is so treated, if she is subjected to so much tyranny, I must say it is most unfortunate that in this case the tyrants are the Irish themselves. To examine the matter it is necessary to see how the Government of Ireland is at present constituted. Who are the persons that form the Executive Government? They are five in number: his Excellency the Lord Lieutenant, the Chief Secretary, the Lord Chancellor, the Attorney General, and the Under Secretary. Who is the Lord Lieutenant? A nobleman of ancient descent, intimately connected with Ireland, who possesses a large property there, and who, for many years, has been actively engaged in discharging with success the duties of his station as an Irish landowner. Sir, I should be very sorry to take up the time of the House by speaking of the Chief Secretary. That individual has never aspired to any other character than that of an Irish country gentleman, who has devoted the best years of his life to what he believes to be the service of his country in Parliament. He belongs to a house which for many centuries has shared the fortunes of the Irish people; and, if I may allude to so completely unimportant a circumstance, he has in his veins considerably less 1358 Anglo-Saxon blood than many of the gentlemen who are flourishing about New York in green uniforms. The Lord Chancellor of Ireland is a man who, for forty years, held a high position in his profession, and who, at the time of his appointment, was admitted on all hands to be the first advocate at the Irish bar. He is an Irishman, intimately acquainted with the feelings of his countrymen, and closely connected by family ties and property with his native land. The same may be said of my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General. His entire life has been spent in Ireland. Of the Under Secretary, Sir Thomas Larcom, I may say that for many years he has exercised a great and, I believe, a most beneficial influence in Ireland. I know of no man possessing a more thorough knowledge of Ireland and her history, of Irish affairs, and the feelings of the Irish people. Since 1824, when as a young officer of Engineers, he laid the base of the first triangle of the great Ordnance Survey, he has been actively employed in that country. Look at the Judicial Bench. The Equity Judges are all Irishmen, and the same may be said of the Common Law Judges—twelve in number—nine of whom profess the religion of the majority of the people. The local magistrates are Irish to a man, and they are assisted by seventy-two paid magistrates, who are also, with three or four exceptions, natives of Ireland. So much, therefore, for the Executive Government and the judicial staff. By whom are the laws of the country and the orders of the Government enforced? By a constabulary wholly Irish, taken from the lower ranks of the people. In this force, too, is to be found almost the same proportion as regards religious belief as exists among the people of the country, and they have always done their duty with a loyalty and fidelity which have scarcely ever been equalled and never surpassed. Add to this the fact that the country enjoys a Parliamentary representation which, until now, has been based upon a franchise much lower than the English franchise. Again, in every town in Ireland you find a municipality elected on a very wide franchise; and these municipalities administer, without the smallest Government control, their local affairs under the provisions of various Acts of Parliament. The primary education of the poor is intrusted almost entirely to teachers nominated by the patrons of the schools; four out of every six of these patrons are the Roman Catholic 1359 Clergy, so that no one can say that there is an unnational element in the system of education prevailing in that kingdom. The Poor Law system is administered, to a great extent, by guardians, who are nominated through a very wide franchise by the ratepayer. I mention all these facts with a view of showing how fallacious, how absurd, and how baseless is the statement which is constantly put forward that Ireland is governed by English rule, in accordance with English system, and in a manner repugnant to the feelings of the Natives. Sir, I am almost ashamed to mention these things to the House, for there are very few hon. Members who are not perfectly well aware of all the facts of the case; but, as the statements to which I have referred are so constantly and broadly put forward by the people on the other side of the Atlantic, and as they are believed to a great extent, not only on the Continent, but also by a considerable portion of the people of this country, I have thought it right to give a summary of these facts.
But there is the second statement which is made the foundation of an immense amount of declamation and eloquence. It is that the land at one time belonged to the people of Ireland; that they were dispossessed of it; and that the recollection of that circumstance still rankles in the breasts of the occupiers of the soil, and of the classes who are immediately subservient to them. Now, there never was an assertion made more devoid of truth. It is very well known what became of the possessors of the land after the various confiscations. In the first invasion—that is, the Norman Conquest—there was no dispossession, partly because vast tracts of country were lying waste, and partly because that invasion was undertaken for the purpose of dominion and rule, and not for the acquisition of land. Confiscation, it is true, took place at subsequent periods; and if it would not occupy too much of the time of the House, I could trace the fate of almost every Irish family of importance who were dispossessed of their landed property. During the wars of the Roses in this country great dispossessions took place, many old houses went down, and the bearers of their ancient names remained for the most part in the country, the consequence being that their descendants are still to be found in a humbler rank of life than that which their ancestors occupied. But in our case the circumstances were totally different, for the proud and fiery 1360 Celt, unable to brook subjection in his own land, emigrated as soon as possible. They wandered away immediately after these various troubles, and placed their swords and their brains at the disposal of foreign powers. For years after each confiscation every European camp and Court was full of Irish emigrants. This is sufficient to show how absurd and baseless is the assertion that the Irish land at one time belonged to the Irish people, and that among the peasantry of Ireland are to be found the descendants and the rightful inheritors of the chieftains and nobles who were dispossessed by the various confiscations which so cruelly afflicted the country.
But the most important point for the House to consider is, whether there is any thing in the present state of Ireland which shows that there is a progressive falling off in wealth, in prosperity, and in improvement. Now it has been broadly put forward to-night that there is nothing to show that any real and sound progress is being made in Ireland. I think, however, that I can prove most conclusively to the House that very considerable progress has been made. And, Sir, I do not intend to go back to old times. I propose to go back merely to the beginning of what I may term the present generation—that is to say, about thirty-five years ago; and I have a right to do so, because since then the whole policy of this country towards Ireland has been altered. I shall endeavour to show the House how the new policy has been carried out, and what have been its effects. In the first place, I must beg the House to reflect for a moment what Ireland has gone through during the period to which I am referring. We have been subjected to three great political agitations, to a most terrible famine, and to an enormous emigration. If, then, I can show that, notwithstanding all these adverse circumstances, improvement has been steadily going on, it will be pretty evident that this House, and the institutions of the United Kingdom, cannot be very much to blame for the present state of Ireland.
First of all, I will take the state of our staple industries. In a country like Ireland, which is dependent so much upon agriculture, and where the seasons have a decided effect upon the national prosperity, there must necessarily be a great many "ups and downs," so that I will not take any small number of years to illustrate my argument, but will spread my facts over the period which has 1361 elapsed since 1830. In the first instance, I will take the number of arable acres, including in that term not merely land over which the plough goes, but all land which is usefully employed for the general purposes of agriculture. Well, in 1841 there were 13,461,301 cultivated acres in Ireland, while in 1861 the number had increased to 15,400,000. But it has been said that the effect of the changes which have taken place during the last few years in Ireland has been to convert almost all the land into pasture. No doubt many changes and vicissitudes have occurred, but still the main fact remains that in 1849, 5,543,748 acres of land were being cultivated under the plough, whereas in 1860 the number of acres so cultivated had increased to 5,970,139. Since then, owing to three or four bad seasons, there has been a decrease, and last year there were only 5,529,568 cultivated acres, being very little less than in 1849. But, if we turn to the value of stock, which is the real test of the wealth of a country like Ireland, which is so peculiarly adapted to the rearing and production of cattle, you will find a most remarkable improvement. I will take the years 1841 and 1866. I wish the House to understand that these numbers have been ascertained with the greatest possible care. I give them on the authority of Mr. Thom, the author of the valuable almanack that bears his name, and who himself verifies every statement made in his Work. In 1841 the value of the live stock was estimated at £21,000,000, and in 1866 at £50,500,000. I venture to say that in no agricultural country in Europe, considering the vicissitudes of that period, will you find so extraordinary an increase. Again, take the live stock per square mile; the same authority gives the value as £649 in 1841; £853 in 1851, and £1,028 in 1861—figures which show a steady increase. One of the principal products of the South of Ireland is butter, which represents the wealth of the agricultural population, and particularly of the small holders of land. I have had accurate inquiries made respecting the butter trade of Cork, and have arrived at results which have been confirmed by reports from other markets. In 1831, Cork Market received 244,000 firkins; in 1841, 219,000 firkins; in 1851, 306,000 firkins; and in 1867, 470,000 firkins. Quantity represents only half the story, but the rise in price indicates a remarkable increase in wealth. In 1851 the highest 1362 price of butter at Cork was 90s; in 1861, it was 118s.; in 1867, it was 127s. So much for agriculture. I know that Gentlemen who make eloquent speeches do not like facts. They do not trouble the House with statistics, because they say that the decrease of prosperity is patent to all, and figures can be made to prove anything. I believe that the more you inquire into the facts by which the state of Ireland during the last thirty years can be tested, the more you will be convinced of the truth of the position I have taken. A remarkable illustration of the increase of wealth among the agricultural classes is the steady rise in the value of land in almost all the counties of Ireland during the last fifty or sixty years. Take the county of Cork. In 1779 Arthur Young estimated the rental of this county at £256,010. According to the public valuation, with 15 per cent, the rental was in 1848, £1,284,140; and in 1867, it was £1,351,208. Rental in 1779, £256,010; in 1810, £808,698; in 1848, £1,284,140; in 1867, £1,351,208. I have ascertained from the very best authorities that pretty nearly the same increase of rent has taken place in all the other counties of Ireland; that increase has not been sudden, but steady and gradual, and I believe it is due both to the increased quantity of land which has been brought under cultivation, and to the general improvement of the system of agriculture.
It has often been said that the prosperity of an agricultural country depends upon its roads. Since 1826, the most extraordinary improvement has taken place in the roads of Ireland. Anyone who has travelled in that country must know that Ireland is as well provided with roads as any other country. Sir Richard Griffith has written me a letter stating some general facts on this head. In 1822, with the exception of some coast roads, the county roads were almost impassable. The county surveyors were first appointed in 1836, and a gradual improvement was then made. When he entered the profession the west portion of the county of Cork, the whole of Kerry, and the west of Limerick, were almost entirely devoid of good roads. He describes how, not altogether from local resources, but by the aid of Parliamentary Votes, good lines of communication were made; and this increase of accommodation had the most immediate effect in stimulating intercourse and trade.
With regard to railways, Ireland has 1363 participated in the general improvement which has taken place in our communications. In 1840, only thirteen miles of railway were constructed; at the end of 1866 there were 1,900 miles, which had cost £26,000,000. That the Irish people have begun to embark their capital in these undertakings is shown by a curious piece of information respecting the Great Southern and Western Railway. In 1847, of £1,743,000 of stock, £1,119,000 was held in Great Britain, and £600,000 in Ireland; but, in 1862, of £5,000,000 of stock, £1,100,000 was held in Great Britain, and £3,882,000 in Ireland. An enormous sum has been advanced to Ireland, year by year, by the Legislature for public works and improvements. Since 1834, the Exchequer has been charged for public works in Ireland with £18,000,000, of which £11,402,651 was to be re-paid, and £1,500,000 remain to be re-paid. The grants made in the famine are not included in this estimate, and the whole of this large sum has been spent in useful and reproductive works.
The general condition of the people is, however, the point on which most stress is laid. It is said that, though farmers, landowners, and traders may be improving their position, that of the poor is getting worse and worse. The following description of the Irish labouring classes was given by Bishop Doyle, in 1825:—The evidence already given to Parliament shows that the average wages of a labouring man in Ireland—and the great mass of the poor are labourers—is worth scarcely 3d. a day. 3d. a day for such as obtain employment; whilst, in a family where one or two persons are employed, there may be four, perhaps six, others, dependent on these two for their support.If the decline of the population is said to be a sign of decay, let us go back to the time when population was at its highest. In 1836, the Royal Commissioners for inquiring into the Condition of the Poor in Ireland reported—That they could not estimate the number of persons in Ireland out of work and in distress during thirty weeks of the year at less than 585,000, nor the persons dependent at less than 1,800,000—making 2,385,000.Mr. Murland states, in an address delivered last November, that it is remarkable that this number is just about equal to the reduction which has taken place in the population; so that, if only about 5,500,000 of the population could find employment in 1836, there was no reason to expect that we should now, with the same population, find the land going out 1364 of cultivation for want of hands to till the ground. The condition of the labouring classes immediately before the famine is noticed by Sir Robert Kane in his Industrial Resources of Ireland, 1844. He says—That human labour can be obtained in this country on lower terms than in any other in Europe, is too well known to require example. It is thus that 8d. or 10d. per day is found to be the usual rate of wages at a distance from large towns, and that, even on such terms, thousands of men remain unemployed during the greater portion of the year.What is the rate of wages now? Judge Longfield, in his Address on Social Economy, gives the following account of the rate of wages, as ascertained from the evidence before the Land Occupation Commissioners in 1844, and the improvement up to 1861. Referring to the year 1844, he states that—In Munster and Leinster, the rate of agricultural wages varied from 7d. to 10d. a day, and in Connaught, from 5d. to 8d., and that, even at these low rates, constant employment could not be obtained. It also appears to have been the general custom for the labourer to rent his cabin and plot of ground from the farmer; and that these bargains sometimes insured the labourer a supply of food, and were a source of profit to him, but that more frequently they were a source of litigation and oppression; and that, on the whole, it might be said, that in no part of the civilized world was the condition of any industrial class so wretched as that of the Irish labourer. There is still much room for improvement; but I shall refer to the best authentic documents that I could procure to show what change has taken place, and is still going on, in the condition of the labourer. In the year 1856, the Emigration Commissioners applied to the Poor Law Commissioners for information on the state of the labouring population, as bearing upon the continuance of emigration from Ireland. The Poor Law Inspectors in the different counties gave Returns of the rate of wages in their respective districts. I refer to the Report of the Poor Law Commissioners for the year 1856.As an illustration of the rise in wages, Judge Longfield then quotes Mr. Horsley's statement that in Cork, Kerry, and Limerick the average rate of wages for agricultural labourers was 7s. 6d. a week; and he quotes Mr. Horsley as stating that "continuous employment is now easily obtained by all skilled able-bodied agricultural labourers." Judge Longfield also adds that the rate of wages increased in twelve years (from 1844 to 1856) from 25 to 80 per cent—the greatest increase having taken place in those districts in which the greatest wretchedness had previously prevailed. From additional inquiries, he arrives at the conclusion that, from 1856 to the end of 1860, the wages of agricul- 1365 tural labor in most parts of Ireland had obtained a further advance of 10 per cent. I have ascertained, by special inquiry in a few districts what has been the increase of wages, comparing 1866 with previous years. I find that, in 1841, in the county of Kildare, the wages were from 4s. to 5s. a week; they are now 8s. In Armagh, the wages in 1841, were 6s.; they are now 9s. At Castlereagh, in the county of Roscommon, the wages were, in 1841, 4s. a week; they are now 8s. In Killarney, county of Kerry, they were 5s., and are now 7s. I do not mean to say that even the rate of wages for the agricultural laborer is by any means what it ought to be; but I believe a gradual increase is going on that has tended much to the improvement of the country, and anyone who now travels through Ireland after some years' absence must see this in the appearance of the people. Moreover, this increase of wages has taken place without any proportionate or material increase in the price of food; for wheat has not risen in value, and oats and potatoes, though somewhat enhanced, have never of late years stood at an exorbitant price. So much for the rate of wages Now take another, and perhaps a better test of the general improvement in the condition of the people—I mean the consumption of spirits and beer. I will take two facts—one giving the consumption of spirits and beer; the other the amount of deposits in joint-stock banks; the one showing expenditure, the other savings. It is impossible to ascertain the exact consumption of beer in Ireland; but the export is so nearly balanced by the import that the figures may be taken very much on that footing. It appears, then, that in 1863, 1,150,356 barrels of beer were consumed in Ireland and 1,500,000 barrels in 1867.
With regard to spirits, the consumption of which has always been considered a fair test of the prosperity of Ireland, there has been a remarkable increase of consumption, notwithstanding the very high duty which spirits now pay. Looking back to the Returns, we find that wherever there has been a bad harvest the consumption decreases while after a good harvest there has been a proportionate increase; so that, to a great extent, the production of spirits is a true indication of the consuming power of the people. The amount can be very accurately ascertained; for the high rate of duty prohibits its removal from bond till required for consumption. The permit system also enables officers to trace 1366 the removal of spirits to other parts of the Kingdom. The consumption of spirits in Ireland was in 1863, 3,891,579 gallons; in 1866, 4,518,254 gallons; in 1867, 5,102,756 gallons; being 1,210,997 gallons increase over 1863. The increase in 1867 over 1866 is far greater than in England. It was—England, 2.96 per cent; Scotland, 4.72 per cent; Ireland, 12.93 per cent.
If the consuming power is shown in the matter of spirits and beer, the saving power of the people is shown by a remarkable Return, which I now hold in my hand, of the deposits in the joint-stock banks. These two Returns taken together are the most valuable barometers of the condition of the people, for they invariably rise and fall according to the state of trade, the amount of employment, and the quality of the harvests. In the year 1860, the deposits in the joint-stock banks amounted to £15,609,000. Then came three years of bad harvests, 1861, 1862, and 1863, when there was a decline; in 1863, these deposits were only £12,900,000; but since then they have gradually increased. In 1865, they amounted to £17,000,000; in 1866, to £18,900,000, and in 1867, to £19,200,000. Here, then, is a marvelous increase in the savings of the people as shown by this un mistake able test.
I will now call the attention of the House for a few moments to the state of crime in Ireland; and I think the House will be greatly struck by its extraordinary diminution. The criminals tried at assizes and quarter sessions were—in 1849, 40,989; in 1855, 9,012; in 1866, 4,326. The summary convictions before justice for petty offences other than drunkenness were—in 1849, 63,586 persons; in 1855, 29,274 persons; in 1866, 19,672 persons. I know that in 1845 the number of criminals was exceptionally large, but in 1855, it was by no means exceptional, and during the ten years between 1855 and 1866, the crime of Ireland, as tested by trials at assizes and quarter sessions, had decreased by 100 per cent.
Turning to another subject, let us see what has been done in the life-time of the present generation for the education of the people. In 1824, when the Commissioners of Public Education made their Report, I find that, with a population of 7,000,000, the largest number of children at school was 522,000, and the Grants made by Parliament for educational purposes only amounted to £50,000 a year. The Roman Catholic prelates in 1823 state their case thus— 1367The petitioners therefore deem it a duty to inform the House that the Roman Catholic poor of Ireland continue unprovided with school-houses, school masters, or with any such aids as are necessary for promoting amongst them a well-ordered system of education.What is the fact now? In 1866 the number of schools enrolled under the National Board was 6,600, of which 4,000 are under the direct patronage of the Roman Catholic clergy. In these schools 900,000 children are being educated, and in other schools about 80,000; so that, instead of having only 500,000 at school, nearly 1,000,000 are now receiving an instruction far superior in every respect to that which was given in 1824; and last year this House voted to the National Board £310,000, as against the paltry sum of £50,000 voted at the beginning of this generation. That is an additional proof of the enormous improvement which has taken place in Ireland. Then, at the beginning of this generation, there was no system in existence for the relief of the poor. Since then a poor law has been established, which, though some of its provisions may be objected to, has for many years given effective relief to the destitute. Its expenditure for that purpose averages £600,000 a year, and since its establishment so large a sum as £19,000,000 has been spent from local resources upon general relief. An extensive system of medical charities has also been established, which is of the greatest possible benefit to the people; and there is now accommodation in the lunatic asylums of Ireland for 7,000 patients, who are maintained at an annual expenditure of £119,000. I merely mention these facts to show that almost every test which you can apply to the condition of the people exhibits the truth—namely, that extraordinary changes for the better have taken place in Ireland within the last thirty years.
I will only trouble the House with one other fact, and that relates to the trade of Ireland. It has been said that Ireland is purely an agricultural country, and you would therefore think that no great improvement could be expected in its commerce. But, as tested by the increase in the tonnage of vessels, the increase of trade has been enormous. A Return of the tonnage of vessels entering and clearing out from the port of Dublin shows that in 1847 the total tonnage entered inwards and outwards was 722,000 tons, and in 1867,1,400,000 tons. At Belfast during the same period the increase has 1368 been greater, the total tonnage in the former year being 500,000, and in 1867 1,300,000. In Waterford the increase in ten years was from 213,000 to 450,000 tons; and this increase has not been confined to the large ports, for while in Cork the increase of tonnage during ten years was 34 per cent, in Waterford the increase was 130 per cent; in Dundalk, 18 per cent; in Newry, 70 per cent; in Wexford, 33 per cent; in Sligo, 45 per cent; and in Coleraine, 100 per cent. There is one fact still more remarkable; for the Returns show that the increase of tonnage in Ireland has been proportionately greater than in England. The increase of tonnage in the whole of Great Britain during twenty years, from 1847 to 1867 was 58 per cent, while in Ireland it was 67 per cent. I find that while the increase of tonnage in Dublin was 98 per cent, and in Belfast 143 per cent, in Liverpool, which is just opposite, the increase was only 58 per cent; far less than Dublin and Belfast. I will not try to persuade the House that Ireland is a rich country, or that it is in a condition similar to England or to Scotland. But, comparing small things with great, and contrasting the condition of the country with what it was, I maintain there is nothing to show decline or a decrease of prosperity. The hon. Member for Cork laid great stress upon the decay of the country towns. I have no precise facts to lay before the House on that part of the subject, but I have a personal acquaintance with a good number of the country towns of Ireland, especially near Dublin and adjacent to the main lines of the railway, which might be supposed to be affected by any absence of prosperity among the agricultural classes, and my experience is that, so far from showing symptoms of decline, there has been during the last eight or ten years a gradual improvement which has extended to the country towns. In a small town near my residence houses have been built, business has increased, and its state is far better than it was ten years ago; and, although some may not have improved in the same way, there is, I be-believe, nothing in the state of the country towns to show that they do not participate in the general advance which is taking place all over Ireland.
And now let the House consider what has taken place since the commencement of the new policy which this country has pursued towards Ireland since 1824–5, the date of the first educational inquiry. In 1369 1829 the Roman Catholic Relief Bill was passed. A short time afterwards a system of national education was adopted. A system of police, which has been found excellent and useful, was created. The constitution of juries was altered and greatly improved. The fiscal powers of grand juries were regulated. Municipalities were reformed, and placed upon a different footing. The Poor Law was established. The Landed Estates Court was created for the sale of incumbered properties. In fine, it is beyond a doubt, that a greater number of beneficial measures were never carried in any country within so short a period of time. Professor Ingram has truly remarked that changes so great, and made within so short a period, constitute the largest peaceful revolution in the history of the world.
Now, Sir, I think I have shown that there is nothing in the present state of Ireland to evidence a state of decay or decline. It now becomes my duty to refer, as briefly as I can, to some of the proposals that have been made with respect to the land of Ireland since the House met last year. Certainly there is no lack of physicians. There have been no end of prescriptions; but I think that if some of them were adopted they would make matters much worse than they are. I will advert to three or four of the notable proposals which have been made lately for dealing with the land of Ireland. There has been a proposition made by the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright), another by the hon. Member for Westminster (Mr. Stuart Mill), and a third by the hon. Member for Kilkenny (Sir John Gray), all of which have obtained a considerable amount of public attention. All these tend to one thing—namely, in different ways to establish fixity of tenure; or, in other words, a peasant proprietorship in Ireland. The hon. Member for Birmingham proposes that the money of the State shall be lent for the purchase of land in Ireland, to be repaid by the tenant, as are the land improvement loans; and that a certain amount of money shall be added to the rent until the value of the farm is re-paid. The hon. Member for Westminster goes much further, for he would deal with the whole land of Ireland. He would issue a Commission to ascertain its value he would buy it all up, and re-let it by the State to tenants for ever for a yearly rent. The hon. Member for Kilkenny proposes that a law should be passed which would give fixity of tenure to every farmer in Ireland; that 1370 the landlord's interest should be a mere rent-charge on the estate, and that the landlord should have nothing to do except to receive the rents.
In considering these proposals, it appears to me that the House ought to inquire for a moment as to what has been the tendency of similar measures in other countries, and what the state of things would be if they were adopted in Ireland, and if we found ourselves in the act of creating or of having created a large peasant proprietary in that country. One of the great arguments put forward in support of peasant proprietary is its supposed Conservative tendency. It is said that its effect is to get rid of discontent and disaffection, and that you always find in countries having a peasant proprietary political contentment and safety from revolution. That is a very attractive theory if it were true. But is it the case that, in countries where a peasant proprietary exists, a greater respect prevails for the rights of property and for the institutions of the State than in other countries? We must all admit that a respect for the rights of property is, next to the safety of life, the first object of all law, and the most important test of civilization. If I compare France and England in these respects, I find that, as regards England, although no system of peasant proprietary exists, and it is a country of large landed proprietors and tenant farmers, yet there is no country in the world where the rights of property are so much respected. If I take France, where a peasant proprietary exists in a great part of the country, it will be found that, from time to time, the wildest views and the most subversive theories as to those rights have been promulgated and actually accepted by a great portion of the population. I think it will be found that at no remote period doctrines on these subjects were popular, which have never been adopted by any large portion of the people of this country. The experience of foreign countries, then, does not show that the existence of a peasant proprietary secures you from dangerous theories and discontent. Switzerland, which of all the countries of Europe has been quoted as a favorable precedent of the system of small holdings, was so lately as 1847 the scene of much civil disturbance in almost every canton. In 1848, in Austria, in Germany, and in Sardinia, the same results took place. Unfortunately for the argument, those countries which had the least to apprehend from a movement 1371 like that of 1848, which upset thrones and destroyed established Governments, were those very countries where small proprietors and the subdivision of land did not exist. But, Sir, these schemes are put forward as adapted for Ireland because it is broadly stated that those residing in the agricultural parts of the country, and engaged in the occupation of land, are thoroughly discontented and disaffected. If the fact be as is stated, and if the whole agricultural population of Ireland is thoroughly disloyal, some very stringent remedy might be necessary. But what are the tests of disloyalty? I am not prepared to say that among those engaged in agricultural pursuits, and particularly in the South of Ireland, there is not a certain amount of sympathy with disaffection. But the tests of active disloyalty and discontent are, firstly, emigration; secondly, the engaging in treasonable practices; and, thirdly, the existence of agrarian crime. Now, I believe that, as far as you can judge from these three symptoms, disaffection and disloyalty do not prevail to any considerable extent among the occupiers of land. With regard to emigration, it is found that the occupiers and holders of the soil are not leaving the country. There has been an enormous exodus, but it is gradually ceasing. It has been stated by Lord Dufferin in his book, and it has never been denied, that of the whole number of Irish emigrants in the years 1865 and 1866—and I believe the same thing holds good in regard to the year 1867—only 2½ per cent consisted of men who were engaged in the occupation of land. So that, if emigration be a sign of disaffection and discontent, it certainly does not exist to any considerable extent among the tillers of the soil Then, with respect to treasonable practices, it must be admitted that their non-existence among the agricultural population of Ireland is a sign of the absence of active disloyalty and discontent. The hon. Member for Cork seems to despise facts; but I shall give him another in addition to those I mentioned the other night relating to this point. I have taken the trouble to ascertain the proportion of farmers and men holding land in Ireland who have been arrested on suspicion of being participators in treasonable practices since the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, and I find that, out of the whole number of persons who have been so arrested during the last three years—namely, 1,100—only fifty-six of them were men in the occupation of land. As 1372 this statement has been very much criticized, I have made a very careful analysis of those fifty-six men, and I find, from the nominal Return which I have in my hand, of the fifty-six persons described as farmers, that only twenty-four of them were men who actually lived by the land; that the remainder were either farmers' sons, or persons indirectly connected with land; and that, in reality, out of the 1,100 men arrested under the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, only twenty-four, instead of fifty-six were engaged in the occupation of the soil. Then turning to agrarian crime, certainly there was a time when that species of outrage was very common in Ireland; and if there was now so much dissatisfaction and discontent, so much undue competition for land—if the land question was a source of so much heartburning and disaffection as it is said to be, surely we might expect that there would be no diminution in that great mass of agrarian crime which so long disfigured our annals. Well, what are the facts on this point? The number of agrarian outrages, specially reported by the constabulary for the last twenty-two years are as follows:—1844, 1,001; 1851, 1013; 1861, 229; 1865, 178; 1866, 87. Sir, this is a most remarkable illustration of the untruth of the assertion that the entire tenancy of Ireland, as a class, is thoroughly dissatisfied; because, when we know how deeply they resent anything which they regard as interfering with their fancied rights in the land, and how that resentment led in past times to the commission of such fearful crimes, surely it is most satisfactory to find that, although in the year 1851 there were 1,000 cases of agrarian outrage reported, yet in 1866 only 87 were reported in the whole of Ireland.
Sir, in examining the proposals which have been made for the regeneration of Ireland, the House ought to consider what would be the immediate effect of such a proposal as that which has been propounded by the hon. Member for Westminster. The first effect of it, I believe would be that, if you were to create in the way he suggests a large number of peasant proprietors in Ireland, you would destroy almost all, or at least a great many, of the influences which bind that country to this. A Return was laid on the table of this House last year which shows the number of holdings that at present exist in Ireland; but I have ascertained the number of holdings which are valued at 1373 £4 and under, and those which are valued at £8 and under. [The noble Lord then quoted a recent Return of the number of agricultural holdings in Ireland valued at £4 and under, and also of those valued at over £4 and under £8. From this document it appeared that of the holdings valued under £4, the general average acreage was 4½ acres, and the total number of such separate holdings was 174,939; while of the next class of holdings immediately above that sum in value—namely, those over £4 and under £8, the average size was 13 acres, the total number was 142,468.] He then continued:—Thus if the plan of the hon. Member for Westminster were carried into effect the State would be immediately called upon to exercise landlords' rights as to rent over the owners of 316,957 separate holdings, of the average size in the smallest class of 4½ acres, and in the next class of 13 acres, or more than half the entire number of holdings in Ireland. That is an undertaking in which I think this House would never attempt to embark. The social effect of it would be most disastrous. I believe you would find that you would remove at once from the people of that country a large portion of the influences which now bind them to the United Kingdom. But there is one feature which I think must occur to the mind of anybody who considers these proposals, and that is the certainty of heavy indebtedness which is sure to weigh upon these small holders. In every country in the world where these small proprietors exist the greatest tendency to mortgage their holdings operates. In the Canton of Zurich, it is stated that the load of debt pressing on the peasant proprietary is almost incredible, so that with the greatest industry and frugality, and under complete freedom of commerce, they are hardly able to stand their ground. In France the registered mortgages of land twenty years ago are said to have amounted to £400,000,000 sterling; and some remarkable facts have been brought to my knowledge lately with regard to Prussia, and the state of things which now exists there. It has been said that in Prussia the system of peasant proprietorship has been of the greatest possible benefit to that country; but I would remind the House that at this moment in East Prussia there rages a famine which has hardly ever been equaled; and the accounts of it which have been received are very similar to those which came from Ireland during the period of the 1374 great famine there. In a Report lately furnished by the Consul at Königsberg, it is stated that in those parts of Prussia where there is a great subdivision of land, with a peasant proprietorship, the people are now suffering from all the horrors of famine. The principal evil which, I believe, this plan or any like plan would effect in Ireland would be subdivision. What did subdivision mean in past years? Misery, nakedness, and hunger—death! The bare recollection makes one shudder at the possibility of its recurrence. Under such a system there is no possible means of recovery when bad times come upon the country. I do not believe that the lesson of 1847 and 1848 can ever be forgotten; and I am perfectly certain that if a proposal such as I have alluded to were adopted, the peasantry would evince the same tendency as they have always shown to subdivide their farms. It is, perhaps, difficult to bring back to recollection what really took place in former years. Is there anything, then, in the plan of the hon. Gentleman which would lead us to believe that those misfortunes which are still fresh in our recollection could be guarded against, or that there is any security taken by him that the evils which had been so often lamented would not inevitably recur? I will now attempt to address to the House some remarks as to the course which we have followed in Ireland and the policy which we intend to pursue. Since we have been intrusted with the Government of the country we have endeavored to adhere as nearly as possible to the principles laid down by Lord Derby when he took office two years ago. Lord Derby then said—I believe that a Government in Ireland which shows itself determined to do its duty by all ranks and classes may hope to receive the support of a large majority of the Irish people, than whom there are no greater lovers of impartial justice. We do not propose in our government of Ireland to act on any exclusive principle. We desire to obtain the co-operation of all who have at heart the peace and tranquility of the country, the maintenance of the rights of property, and the putting down of unlawful associations."—[3 Hansard, clxxxiv, 742.]To that policy we have strictly adhered. In the treatment of Irish questions it requires much more courage to take a moderate and impartial course than to attach oneself violently to one party or the other. Men engaged in conducting the affairs of Ireland may gain popularity by attaching themselves to this side or that; but if you wish to govern Ireland properly, 1375 you must despise popularity gained by such means, and must go fairly and boldly forward in a straightforward and impartial course. It must be admitted that, intrusted with the Government of Ireland at an eventful period we have been successful in our endeavors to preserve the peace, though we have had difficulties to contend with of no ordinary nature. Still we have been enabled, by impartiality and firmness, to obtain that result. Conspiracy in Ireland has been checked; from one end of the country to the other the authority of the law has been vindicated. Numbers of persons have been prosecuted for offences connected with Fenianism and Whiteboyism, and there has been nothing to complain of in the conduct of the juries or of anyone concerned in the administration of justice in Ireland. All have discharged their duty with fidelity and loyalty. The result of judicial proceedings is remarkable. Since July 1866, 344 men have been tried; eighty-three were convicted, 151 pleaded guilty, twelve were acquitted; in seven cases only the jury disagreed; eighty were discharged on bail. With the exception of seventeen cases, the trials were confined to the four counties of Dublin, Cork, Limerick, and Tipperary. In the case of the processions in Ireland which took place after the Manchester executions, we did not deem it our duty to stop them until they assumed a character which showed they were completely seditious and almost treasonable. However, when we felt that it was necessary to put a stop to those assemblies, and when we issued proclamations for that object, we were obeyed throughout the length and breadth of the land without an appearance of opposition. There are three great and important questions which now occupy the public mind, as regards Ireland. There is, first, what may be called the land question. Now I think anyone who approaches the consideration of this subject must do so with a feeling somewhat akin to despair. For the last twenty-five years almost every Ministry has not attempted to deal with it, nor has it been from any indisposition on the part of the House to legislate upon the matter that success has not been attained. The reason for this invariable failure is that the difficulties of the question are enormous, and that it is nearly impossible to provide by Act of Parliament for the endless variety of conditions under which land is held. Last year I introduced a Bill which would have gone a long way towards settling the question, which has been 1376 described by an able writer as one of the greatest boons ever offered to the tenancy of any country. It had this important feature, which I think was a new one that it offered a simple and easy means of registering improvements made by tenants. That was a difficulty which had always been experienced in legislating upon this subject; for any scheme has little or no prospect of success which does not devise an easy method of recording the nature of the improvement when it is made. Without such a provision there can be no security against fraud and dispute. The Bill did not profess to deal with the question of tenure; it was limited to one portion of the subject—that of providing an easy mode of securing for the tenant compensation for improvements made by himself—an object which all the Bills which had been introduced in this subject had had in view. If, therefore, in the opinion of the hon. Gentlemen opposite, it be necessary to go further into the matter and deal with tenure, a different course would have to be taken from that which I proposed last year. That Bill, I must say, was not received in a very encouraging manner by hon. Members opposite, nor did it even elicit very warm approval from some of my friends on this side of the House; I shall ever regret that it was not amply discussed; for if the business of the House had allowed it to be more fully considered, I believe many of the objections taken against it would have been refuted. The hon. Member for Galway (Mr. Gregory) affirmed that it would be of little or no use, and that compensation was all moonshine. I still believe, however, that the House would do well to deal with the question of compensation, the question of leasing powers for the purpose of improvements, and the question of contracts, leaving aside the subject of tenure. I propose, therefore, during the present Session, to introduce a Bill very similar to that of last year. I propose to include in it provision for increased powers of improvement by limited owners, for the encouragement of written contracts. I have a strong opinion that there is much truth in the objections preferred against the parole tenancy which is so general in Ireland. There is no such thing as a tenant-at-will; but the greater portion of the occupations is held by a parole agreement, which in law is held to be a tenancy from year to year. That system has great disadvantages, and I believe that both landlords and tenants feel 1377 that it would be very desirable that all lettings should be by written contract. The provisions for tenants' compensations will not be in all respects identical with those proposed last year; but I hope to be able to show that, without interfering with the rights of property, they will give to the holders of land an easy means of securing monies which he may lay out in improvements; and, under certain conditions, will offer loans to him for the same object. I believe the Bill will be found to be as comprehensive a one as the House is likely to accept. I hope that the result may be that we shall arrive at something like general agreement on two or three branches of the question, and thus pass a measure which will be productive of great and substantial advantages. Therefore, I would entreat hon. Gentlemen opposite to consider favorably the proposals that I shall make; and that if we cannot do all that they would wish, or that they think desirable, that, at all events, we might take some steps in the present Session to endeavor to secure to Irish tenants full and ample means for securing money laid out by them in the bonâ fide improvement of the land. The Bill will be introduced immediately, and the Government will endeavor to the utmost of their power to pass it into law during the present Session. But, Sir, in addition to this, seeing the magnitude to which this subject has attained; seeing also the excitement and uncertainty which prevails in the public mind with respect to it; believing that an enormous amount of misconception prevails on the matter; and believing, also, that it will be very much for the advantage of the country that the great and important questions that have been mooted should be for ever set at rest, and believing further that these demands and this question will never be set at rest until the public and this House are in possession of further information on the subject, we propose at the earliest possible moment to institute a solemn inquiry into the whole state of the relations between landlord and tenant. We have come to this determination because statements are made and put forward by the highest authorities, both in and out of the House, which have led a portion of the public to believe that there is a great and an immediate necessity for the passing of measures with regard to Ireland, which have been termed even by those who proposed them, of a revolutionary character. When we hear such language as that which was used by 1378 the hon. Member for Birmingham not long ago, when he wrote that if Ireland was 1,000 miles away all would be changed, or the landlords would be swept away by the vengeance of the people. [Mr. BRIGHT: No, no!] The hon. Gentleman will, no doubt, have an opportunity of contradicting that statement. [Mr. BRIGHT: I contradict it now.] I am very glad the hon. Gentleman denies that he used such expressions; but they have been given in the public Press, and have called forth a good deal of comment and animadversion, and I never heard till this moment that he repudiated them. But the hon. Gentleman, if he has not made such statements, has certainly propounded remedies which would lead people to think that he entertained sentiments of that description. And the hon. Member for Westminster has declared that, in his opinion, Ireland can never be regenerated, unless an entire class, and that the most influential, are obliterated or got rid of.
Sir, the Government are not insensible to the fact, that statements such as these, made by high authorities, have had a great effect upon the public mind. Indeed, we find in all parts of the country, and throughout Europe, very false ideas are prevalent as to the real condition and circumstances of Ireland. We believe that till an inquiry is held into the real facts of the case, and the real state of affairs in that country, Parliament and the public can never come to right conclusions on the subject; and I would remind the House of the danger to Ireland, as well as to the Empire, of keeping this question open. It is a question that ought to be set at rest, and for ever; and considering the great demands put forward on the one side, and looking at the manner in which they have been received by a great portion of the public, I do not believe the question ever can be settled until more information is placed at the disposal of the House. Persons are now asking, "Are these statements true? Is it possible that, in a country so close to England, laws relating to the land so closely similar to our own should have such a different effect?" There is an additional reason why this inquiry is necessary—I have shown that there are few countries in the world in which changes so rapid and extensive have taken place as have occurred in Ireland within the last few years. Since the Devon Commission sat we have had a great emigration, with an enormous change of property, through 1379 the operation of the Landed Estates' Court, and we have also had a great alteration in the numbers and character of the occupiers of land. We therefore propose an inquiry into the whole subject. Although there have been inquiries and investigations, they have generally been of a partial character; and I believe that the landlords on the one side, and those who represent the tenants on the other, never have had the opportunity of deliberately and patiently setting forth their respective cases. In the Committee moved by the hon. Member for Cork, the inquiry was very one-sided; and I believe that, with two exceptions, witnesses only who represented a particular class of opinion were examined. The inquiry need not be long, but it should be conducted on the spot; and we hope that we shall be able to secure men of sufficient position, character, and knowledge to conduct it with success. The Commission will have to investigate the operation of the laws that regulate the tenure of land in Ireland, the arrangements and customs that exist between landlord and tenant, the system which prevails for compensation for improvements, the operation of the Incumbered Estates' Court, and the effect emigration has had upon the condition of the agricultural class. I believe the result of this inquiry will be to show that the state of things really existing in Ireland is very different from what it is represented to be; that there has been much exaggeration and false statement; and that if all parties will state their views fairly and fully much truth will be elicited. I cannot but think that it is most undesirable the House should proceed to any legislation further than that proposed either by myself or the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Chichester Fortescue), without some inquiry whether such legislation is needed at all. I believe it will be proved before the Commission that a great deal which has been said about a certain class in Ireland is far from the truth; and, that, instead of being the enemies of the people, they have performed their duties to the best of their ability, and in a manner advantageous to the country. And I am sure it will be shown that there is no foundation for the statements made as to the extreme dissatisfaction of the tenancy of Ireland with their condition. We hope the Commission will go and examine tenants in their own locality, who will themselves state what they desire; and I believe it will be found that they are by no means so extravagant 1380 or preposterous in their demands as has been stated by those who have assumed to speak for them. Sir, I hope that the proposal we make will meet with the approval of the House, and that we shall at once proceed to consider a measure dealing with a portion of this subject, and leave to inquiries those larger questions and plans which have been put forward with so much boldness by Members of this House, and by many writers in the public Press.
We may anticipate that a considerable portion of the time of this Session will be devoted to Irish affairs. I propose on a very early day to introduce a Bill for the Amendment of the Representation of the People in Ireland. I hope on Monday or Thursday next week to be able to state the proposals of the Government on that subject. With regard to the very important question of railway communication, I need not say that a large amount of dissatisfaction exists respecting the management of the companies, and we have proposed—with the concurrence, I believe, of men of all parties—to inquire into that matter. We have intrusted that inquiry to five very able gentlemen, and I hope before Easter that their Report will be upon the table. Though this may cause some amusement to hon. Members below the Gangway, who think of nothing but grievances of sentiment, I believe that there is no question of more importance to Ireland—none by which a greater boon can be conferred upon the country than by taking some means to improve the management and increasing the efficiency of the railways in Ireland, and I am not without hope that we shall be able to make a proposal to the House on that subject during the present Session. We have submitted the whole question of primary education in Ireland to a Royal Commission. That Commission is already at work. I regret very much that, owing to a very unfortunate circumstance, the commencement of its labors have been delayed; but this was unavoidable, for it arose from the great loss the country has sustained in the death of one of its most distinguished sons, the Earl of Rosse, who had consented to preside over it, who entirely approved of its appointment, and whose assistance and guidance would have been of great value. We have endeavored to constitute that Commission fairly; to represent men thereon of all classes, creeds and opinions—men who have given much attention to the subject; and when I state that upon that Commission we 1381 have eight Roman Catholics and eight Protestants; that, of the two secretaries, one is a Protestant the other a Roman Catholic; that men representing every shade of opinion on educational matters are to be found among its members, and that they will pursue their labors with the greatest desire to come to a speedy and satisfactory conclusion, we may anticipate the most favorable results. With regard to the question of University education in Ireland, we are going to take a different course. There are two Universities now existing in Ireland. The one is the Dublin University, the other the Queen's University, which is an institution of later growth; for the Dublin University has been established for a great number of years. It was founded by Queen Elizabeth for the avowed purpose of encouraging and establishing the Protestant religion in Ireland. But, though it was established for that purpose, and though it has ever retained its Protestant character—the governing body being always Protestant—it has been conspicuous among all Universities for liberality. For a great number of years the prizes of this University, with the exception of the Fellowships, and a few foundation Scholarships, have been open to students of all denominations and creeds; although the governing body is composed exclusively of Protestants, the advantages of the institution are free to all; several Professorships may be, and, in fact, are at the present time held by Roman Catholics, while there is no interference whatever with the religious scruples of the students. In this respect an admirable example has been set by the University of Dublin, which ever since 1793 has led the way in all the questions of University reform The result of this system of education has been that not only has this University been frequented by the Protestant population of Ireland; but it has also conferred the advantages of a sound University education upon numbers of Roman Catholics and Dissenters who have subsequently attained high professional or literary distinction. Of all the institutions which have been established in Ireland, this University is the most prosperous and healthy. There are now in Ireland 5,000 graduates who have taken their degrees in it, and who regard it with affection and veneration; and I do not believe that there is to be found among any class in Ireland any considerable body of men who are opposed to this University, or to the system of education adopted 1382 there. If that be so, it would be an act of the greatest madness, and impolicy, to attempt to disturb an institution which stands so deservedly high in the estimation of a great portion of the Irish people. Then, again, the Queen's University has done its work admirably. The fundamental principle upon which it was founded was announced by Sir James Graham, in introducing the Bill by which it was established, to be the absence of all interference, positive or negative, with the conscientious scruples of the students in matters of religion, and that principle has been strictly adhered to. It is a principle which has been supported by a number of the ablest and best men of Ireland, and has attracted a great number of persons of all creeds who were in search of a University education. But under that principle religious teaching forms no part whatever of the system of education, and the governing body is elected without any reference to their religious creed. There can be no doubt that since its establishment the Queen's University has done good service in the education of the Irish people; and I feel bound to state my opinion upon this point the more distinctly, because I was accused last year by hon. and right hon. Members opposite of having said that the institution had been unsuccessful. What I said on the occasion to which reference has been made was that, while the Queen's University had done a great work in Ireland, it had failed to attract support from a certain portion of the people. I have now stated the exact position in which the two Irish Universities are placed. There exists, however, a large class in Ireland to whom the system adopted at neither University is acceptable, and who, therefore, decline to avail themselves of the advantages they offer. There is a large number of persons who object to send their sons to a University where the only religion taught is one that they do not profess, and there are also many who will not send their sons to a College where religious teaching does not form a portion of the system of education. Are these objections unreasonable? I ask this House to consider whether there are not many among us who would have the same objection to send their sons to Universities where the Roman Catholic religion alone was taught, or where all religious instruction was studiously omitted? That is the case here, and there have been various modes proposed for meeting these objections. The late Government attempted to remedy the 1383 grievance by the issue of a supplemental charter to the Queen's University, but that was resisted; and I believe that many of those who at first were in favor of the supplemental charter are now convinced that if that charter had been carried it would not have met any of the objections, taken to the existing systems. But we believe that a plan may be devised which, without interfering with, or restricting, or hindering the work of the two Universities, another institution may be erected, which will not be a dangerous rival to them. I have no doubt, that if we could now begin at the beginning, the best course for us to take would be to establish one University for the whole country. I am aware of the strong—I may almost say, the unanswerable arguments in favor of such a course. But such a state of things no longer exists. We have already two institutions which are deeply rooted in the affections of their adherents. We know what a strong and eventually successful opposition was raised to the supplemental charter for the Queen's University. No attempt has been made to interfere with Trinity College; but I am persuaded that if it were, the opposition raised would be more formidable, and still more successful. I believe that in dealing with this question, it is better to supplement and to add than to pull down, destroy, or alter. We have at present three different systems of education at work in Ireland—namely, the purely denominational, the semi-denominational or mixed, and the united or secular system. Under the denominational system religious teaching is given to every student, everyone of whom must submit to be taught by persons professing one particular creed. Under the second system, which is that adopted at Trinity College, religious instruction is given by teachers to all those who profess the religion of the Institution, but no religious teaching is pressed upon those who profess a different faith. Under the third system, which is the one adopted at the Queen's Colleges, religious teaching does not form any part of the course of instruction given. Of these three systems, the second is that which has, in my opinion, been most successful in Ireland. The denominational system has failed to attract the complete confidence even of those who profess the religion of the schools where it is taught; and the secular system has been most fiercely assailed by persons of all classes and of all creeds. In Trinity College we find a system of teach- 1384 ing pursued which is acceptable to all who share in it, and which is looked upon without aversion by those who do not partake of it. You will find the same system in the non-vested schools of the National Board—certainly the most successful portion of the primary teaching administered in Ireland. It has been said that the multiplication of Universities is a very great evil. A good deal may be said on that subject; but, at the same time, I have no doubt that several Universities may be established in a country with the greatest possible advantage. For instance, in Germany Universities are very numerous; and no one will say that learning is not as far advanced there as in any other country in the world. Then, take Belgium, with its 4,000,000 of inhabitants; there are four Universities in that little kingdom. [An hon. MEMBER: Colleges.] Well, there are four Colleges in Belgium; but they resemble Universities; but you must recollect that the University of Brussels is an institution wholly different from anything in this country. The University of Brussels is nothing more or less than a licensing examining body, which has nothing to do with the teaching, discipline, or religion of the Colleges. It is quite possible that different Universities may be established in the country, so as to provide amply for all the requirements of education, without interfering with each other's efficiency. I am not aware that the establishment of the London University did in any way interfere with the education given in the older institutions. Certainly the foundation of the Queen's University had no injurious effect upon Trinity College; the number of students there is as large as before, and the only result has been to create a most wholesome rivalry between the sister establishments. It appears to me, then, that a third University may be founded in Ireland without injuring the existing institutions. I believe that what is desirable is that a University should be established in that country, which would, as far as possible, stand in the same relation to the Roman Catholic population as Trinity College does to the Protestant. We do not propose to found an exact or servile imitation; but we do consider that we should be taking a step which would be of the greatest public advantage, and which would tend very much to the furtherance of University education, if we were to establish an institution which should bear that character to a considerable extent. I hold that one 1385 feature of the new University should be that it should, after the first establishment, be as free as possible from Government control. I believe its constitution should be most carefully considered in the beginning; that the strict precise rules should be laid down in its charter; but that once these points were settled it should be left to walk alone, and should be relieved as far as possible from State interference. In my opinion, the success of the University must depend very much upon its independence, its self-reliance, and its autonomy; and I believe that all the great ends we have in view can be thoroughly secured by a judicious constitution of its original charter. We therefore propose to advise Her Majesty to grant a charter to a Roman Catholic University, to be constructed in the following manner. The institution which it is proposed to create will not resemble the existing Roman Catholic University in Dublin. It is proposed that, in the first instance, a charter should be granted, in the same way as the charter was granted to the Queen's University; that the governing body, under the original constitution, should consist of a Chancellor, Vice Chancellor, four prelates, the President of Maynooth, six laymen, the heads of the Colleges to be at first affiliated, and five members to be elected, so as to represent the five educational faculties—all being Roman Catholics. Future vacancies should be filled up in the following manner. The Chancellor should be elected by Convocation, and the Vice Chancellors should be appointed by the Chancellor. Four prelates should be nominated by the Roman Catholic hierarchy, the President of Maynooth should form one of the governing body, the six laymen should be elected by Convocation, and the heads of the affiliated Colleges should be ex officio members of the Board; and, besides, five members should be elected according to the five faculties, so as to represent in the governing body the teaching power of the institution. I believe that in that way we should provide all the elements of an independent and healthy establishment, that ample security would be taken for the faith and morals of the pupils; that there would be a preponderating and influential lay element in the constitution; that the elective principle would be completely recognized, and that those engaged in the teaching of the Colleges, and the general body of the graduates, would have a potent voice in the selection of the governing body. To the University thus con- 1386 stituted we would give the power of holding University examinations, of granting degrees, of determining what Colleges should be affiliated, and the course of studies to be pursued.
Such is the proposal we intend to make. And here I wish to state to the House that in this matter we have entered into no negotiations or communications with anybody whatever. We have felt that, if given at all, the charter should be the gift, not of the Government, but of Parliament; and that we should be only doing our duty and redeeming the pledge given last year, in making our first announcement on this subject to the House of Commons. But though we have taken this course, it will be our duty, having announced our plan, to enter into communication as soon as possible with those most interested in the matter, with a view of carrying out our plans effectually, and in the way most acceptable to them. Keeping in view, therefore, the principles we think necessary—namely, that there should be in the institution a powerful lay element, and that the elective principle should be fully recognized—we shall be prepared to listen respectfully and carefully to all suggestions and communications that may be made to us, and to endeavor to suit the new University to the requirements of those for whose benefit it is intended. I think in the mode in which we have dealt with this question we have best complied with the wishes of the House. I believe that the failure of the supplemental charter last year and the year before was attributable very much to the fact that this House was not sufficiently consulted, and that it came upon Parliament and the country as well as on the Queen's University by surprise. We have adopted the opposite course, we have made our first confidence to the House of Commons, our first declaration here; and, seeing that this University question has long been a matter of dispute in Ireland, we offer a plan by which we believe it may be finally set at rest—a plan which will not interfere with the vitality or strength of existing institutions, but will supply everything which has been demanded by those whose religious scruples prevented them from taking advantage of the present systems. With regard to endowment it will be essential, of course, if Parliament agrees to the proposal, in the first instance to provide for the necessary expenses of the University—that is to say, 1387 the expenses of officers of the University, of the University Professors, and also to make some provision for a building. It is possible that if Parliament approves the scheme it may not be indisposed to endow certain University scholarships. But with regard to the endowment of Colleges, it is impossible to make any proposal of that nature at present; and to that extent the question will be left open to future consideration. It is not, therefore, contemplated to submit any scheme for the endowment of the Colleges in connection with the University.
Sir, there is one other question which has greatly occupied the public mind. The Irish Church, after a slumber of nearly thirty years, has again become a subject of first-rate political importance. It has been urged by many that this question should be at once settled, and though the state of the Irish Church has of late years considerably improved, the principle on which it is founded remaining the same, it is contended that some sudden and immediate action should be taken in the matter. I beg to remind the House of what took place last year with reference to this subject. The noble Lord the Leader of the party opposite proposed in the other House of Parliament an Address to the Queen. As the noble Lord first gave notice of his Motion it stood in these words—That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that Her Majesty will be graciously pleased to give Directions that, by the Operation of a Commission or otherwise, full and accurate Information be procured as to the Amount and Nature of the Property and Revenues of the Established Church in Ireland, and as to the Means of rendering that Property more productive."—[3 Hansard, clxxxviii. 367.]In that shape it remained on the Notice-book from the 31st of May, 1867, for some time; but on the 7th of June, a few days before the Motion was proposed, the following addition was made:—And to their more equitable application for the Benefit of the Irish People."—[Ibid.]The addition of these words gave rise to a debate, and, after considerable discussion and a division, a Resolution was ultimately adopted in the terms originally proposed by the noble Lord. That Resolution having been arrived at the Government at once determined to carry out the intention of the other House of Parliament and appointed a Commission. It has often been stated that this Commission was of an unimportant character, That in my opinion, is a very great mistake. I have ascertained 1388 from one of the Members of the Commission the precise mode in which the inquiry is being conducted, and the subjects investigated, and it has been stated by him that in the Report will be found, when it is presented to Parliament, an account of—1st, the whole property; 2nd, the mode of its distribution; 3rd, the services of those who receive the proceeds of this property, and the number of Church people under their care; 4th, the management of the property—and under this head would come the inquiry whether the management should be left as it is, or the property should be sold and capitalized, and whether it would be best that it should be managed by the Bishops and clergy, or by a Central Board under Commissioners? It will be possible, under the terms of the Commission, to examine into and compare the system of religious endowments in other countries, and how far they are applicable to Ireland. The Report, in fact, will set forth at a view the whole state of the Church revenues, and will show at a glance whether they are sufficient, or more than sufficient, for their objects. Even though the Commission has only been at work for three months, I am informed that they have already collected, with great labor, a mass of information at once novel and compendious. Contradictory statements have been made on all those points, and even in the last debate the most opposite assertions were made on all the matters referred to. I understand that the Commissioners are about to take oral evidence, and there is every reason to believe that the inquiry will not be protracted beyond the next two or three months, and it is quite possible that even during the present Session the Report of the Commission may be presented. Seeing, therefore, that the inquiry suggested by the Leader of the Liberal party has been instituted, and that the heaviest part of its labors are nearly concluded, the question arises, whether it is desirable or even possible that, during the present Session, and in the face of such an inquiry, any immediate action should be taken with regard to the Irish Church? Is there anything in the present state of the Irish Church, or of the country itself, to call for such hasty measures? The Irish Church is frequently put forward as one of the main causes of Irish discontent, and one hon. Gentleman went so far as to say that her abolition would be a cure for Fenianism. But surely, on this point, the evidence of the Fenians themselves is of some value. Now, in a remarkable article which ap- 1389 peared some time since in one of the magazines, and which, from its intimate acquaintance with the affairs of the Brotherhood, was evidently written by some one connected with the secret operations of that body, this was expressly denied. The writer of that article said—Englishmen complain that the Irish are never satisfied with what is done for them. Exactly so. A hungry man is not satisfied when you give him a toy. The Royal visits to Ireland, which were once considered as the sovereign panacea for Irish disloyalty, the land distribution, advocated by John Bright and others, the abolition of the Irish Church Establishment, now mooted as a sure cure for Fenianism, are toys given to hungry men. What the Fenians desire is Ireland for the Irish, and they look upon all the promised reforms as bribes to seduce true patriots from a righteous purpose.Such statements therefore were uncorroborated. If the Irish Church were abolished to-morrow, I do not believe that we should have a single Fenian the less in the country. But those who demand the overthrow of the Irish Church and its immediate abolition fail to propose any plan which is not immediately and strongly objected to. The noble Lord who moved the Resolution last year made a most elaborate proposition; but that proposition has been received with a general chorus of disapproval from the most distinguished Members of the party to which he belongs. The abolition of the Church is described as a measure which will restore peace and heal the wounds of Ireland. That statement I believe to be incapable of proof, because whatever dissatisfaction may arise from the existence of the Irish Church—and I would not for a moment deny that dissatisfaction and dislike to the Establishment does exist among certain classes—the present contest is nothing to what would be raised over its dead body. The highest authorities have expressed their opinion and none more strongly than Earl Russell himself on this point. When a proposition was made some time ago, by a series of Resolutions in "another place," to distribute the property of the Irish Church among the different religious denominations in the country, the noble Lord said—I can very well believe that the majority of the people of Ireland, seeing that the Church Establishment remains for the benefit of a minority, may feel that an evil and a grievance. But when the question is as to what should be done by the Government and by Parliament in regard to the subject, I must say that any such violent measure as my noble Friend proposes would, in my opinion, instead of remedying the evil, increase it to a very great extent. I am afraid that if my noble Friend were permitted to carry his proposed Act of Parliament into effect, and divide the Church pro- 1390 perty of Ireland between the Established Church, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Presbyterian Church, it would create more religious discord, more heart burning, and more division than we have ever yet seen in Ireland."—[3 Hansard, clxxxii. 414, 415.]That was the opinion of the noble Lord two years ago. The situation is unchanged. The Irish Church may be for many years a subject of ecclesiastical jealousy; it may be a constant theme for political declamation, possibly, too, it may in a short time become the subject of a party struggle; but nobody will ever persuade me that the Irish Roman Catholic farmer or laborer who, in passing the house of a minister of the Established Church, toward whose maintenance he does not contribute 1s., but whom he has long known as a good neighbor and as a kind friend—I never will believe that he regards the existence of that man as an intolerable grievance or a badge of oppression. For my own part, I believe that if the Irish Church is overthrown, that overthrow can only be effected after a long and painful struggle—a struggle which must inevitably tend to the increase and aggravation of those discords and religious hatreds which have produced such evils in the community. The voluntary system is proposed in the interests of peace; there are parts of the country where the voluntary system is carried on in connection with the Established Church, and I am not aware that those regions are especially characterized by concord among the people. The question must be dealt with in a very different spirit from that which the advocates of entire abolition profess. The Presbyterians now receive a Grant from this House which is miserable in amount, and wholly inadequate to their requirements. The Protestants of Ireland are content with the system which prevails; but are not averse to improvements, and to such alterations of ecclesiastical arrangements as would make their Church better fitted to meet the wants of modern times. But we must not prescribe hastily. Of all the schemes which have been proposed I object pre-eminently to that known as the process of "leveling down." It is said that if you cannot elevate and raise the institutions so as to make them equal, the only thing to do is to abolish them altogether. I object to that policy. I think that proposals for universal leveling down are the worst of all propositions. It appears to be such an argument as a poor man would make to a rich one, when he had given up all hopes of be- 1391 coming wealthy himself. "Equality is necessary for the welfare of the State. Get rid of your property, and let us sit down and starve together." I believe that in these matters, as in everything else, confiscation is the worst proposal that can be made, either as regards the Church or the land. The grievance of the Irish Church is admitted on all hands to be a grievance of sentiment. It is well known that the Roman Catholic landholders pay nothing, and the Roman Catholic proprietors pay little, towards the maintenance of the Established Church; I do not wish to say that because it is a sentimental grievance it is not one which may not deeply affect the feelings and the actions of a portion of the population of the country; but it is not one which affects her material prosperity. The Irish Church will never be abolished except after a long and desperate struggle. Those who cling to and support it are men of influence and power, of strong religious feelings and inflexible principles. Justice and policy may demand a greater equalization of ecclesiastical arrangements than now exists. But it was wisely said by the right hon. Member for Morpeth (Sir George Grey), that the Irish Church can never be overthrown except by a revolutionary process—a process which will involve all the evils of revolutionary change. If it is desired to make our Churches more equal in position than they are, this result should be secured by elevation and restoration, and not by confiscation and degradation. The despoiled will always feel much more aggrieved than those who have lost nothing; and I am certain that if so evil a day should come that a British Statesman should stand victorious on the ruins of the Irish Church, he would have achieved a triumph which would create few friends to British rule in Ireland, and would not fail to alienate the feelings and wound the susceptibilities of the large and influential section of the community to whom we are bound by every tie of sympathy and interest. It is now said, "Something must be done;" but I wish to warn the House against embarking in a rash and violent course, because a heavy cloud which will soon clear away now hangs over the land. We seek for no religious ascendancy for party domination; but we do ask the House to (support those who in Ireland have endeavored, through storm and sunshine, to sustain British laws and British institutions, and have maintained good Government and freedom in the land. There 1392 has existed among us for some time a desperate conspiracy, which has for its object the overthrow of British rule and the dismemberment of the British Empire; but you cannot extinguish it by rash and inconsiderate legislation. Do not imagine for a moment, however, that we think nothing can be done. We believe that, as long as there is so much poverty, so little industry, so great an amount of party strife and religious rancor, so long will there be evils to be remedied and grievances to be redressed. Listen, therefore, to all complaints which are fairly made and moderately expressed: examine them carefully, and endeavor to discover whether they are well-founded or groundless; pass them by if they are baseless—remedy them if they are substantial; and, above all, let us endeavor to do something more than we have hitherto done in the way of fostering a truly national spirit; for I believe there is no mode in which we can appeal more forcibly and effectively to the feelings of the Irish people than by supporting measures and promoting objects which bear a national character and tone. But, though we should do all this, let us refuse—absolutely refuse—to change our laws or alter our institutions at the bidding of those who come among us from a foreign land to foment rebellion and civil strife. And if you look for support in Ireland herself, she will not fail you. There is a class in Ireland—a daily increasing class—which comprises within its limits men of all creeds and of all shades of political and religious belief. It includes within its ranks all those who possess the land, who direct the industry, and who, by their intelligence, character, and education, can pretend to guide anything that is sound in the public opinion of the country. The spirit of patriotism and love of country, as pure and as ardent as is to be found among any people in the world, animates their breasts. Their faces are not turned towards the West; for in their consciences they believe that every hope for their country or her advancement, for her welfare, her prosperity, and her liberty is indissolubly bound up in British connection. They desire, and, what is more, they intend, that their sons should be, as they themselves and their fathers have been, sharers in your greatness and your glory, your freedom and your power; and, though they will, with unswerving fidelity, cling to the principles to which they have long adhered, their best and dearest hope for 1393 their country is, that the day may not be far distant when, not by penal laws or legislative restrictions, but by the irresistible logic of oft-repeated and continued facts, the whole mass of their countrymen may be brought to acknowledge, and, in acknowledging, to appreciate, the countless blessings that a free Constitution pours on the heads of a loyal and united people.
§ On Motion of Mr. HORSMAN,
§ Debate adjourned till Thursday.