Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed to Question [10th March],
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:)
And which Amendment was,
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 ihe same,"—(Sir Frederick Heygate,)
§ Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ Debate resumed.
§ MR. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE
expressed a hope that the House would be of opinion that the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Maguire) was fully justified in bringing the condition of Ireland under consideration. The House also, he thought, was only doing its duty in making the question the subject of an important debate. As for himself, he felt that a time had come which called upon Parliament to make up the arrears which had accumulated in the matter of Irish legislation, and be thought that the task-would be rendered more easy by the very circumstances of the time; for great difficulties, while they imposed obligations, sometimes constituted opportunities. He believed that a large number of people in this country felt the present condition of Ireland to be intolerable. They regarded Fenianism, accompanied as it was with outrage and alarm, 1596 the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, and the military occupation of Ireland, as something which could no longer be suffered. It would be a remarkable instance of good coming out of evil if Fenianism should induce the House and the country to deal with the Irish problem and, above all, with the State Church in Ireland. He saw no reason to despair with respect to the task he had referred to, but, on the contrary, he was convinced that if they boldly persevered in that course of remedial legislation which had been entered on in former times, but which latterly had been much interrupted, they would obtain greater success than those who had preceded them. The Chief Secretary for Ireland had presented a picture, perhaps too highly coloured; but he admitted that it afforded ground for hope, though he could not agree with the noble Lord or the right hon. Member for Calne in thinking Fenianism so insignificant a matter. They might easily devote too much of their attention to the Fenians in America, whom they could not touch, whilst they neglected Fenianism at home which they could influence at once. Although it was true that Fenianism did not command the sympathy of men of rank and education that former Irish insurrections possessed, he was not at all sure that it was less formidable on that account. Its leaders, though perhaps of a lower class, were certainly more numerous than in former times, and numbered amongst them strangers, or semi-strangers, trained in the dangerous school of civil war in another country. Besides this, the rank and file of Fenianism was not composed, as that of the Rebellion of 1798, of ignorant peasantry; but consisted to a great extent of an educated and thoughtful class of revolutionists existing amongst the artizan class in Ireland. It was, in fact, a more thoughtful and civilized revolution than that of 1798; but it was not, therefore, less formidable. The true difference in the present instance as compared with former occasions of a similar kind in Ireland was this—that while the revolutionary movement was more formidable, the forces on the side of law and order were much greater. Those forces now consisted not merely of the Protestant body, but of a very large and influential class among the Catholics in Ireland, who had grown enormously in wealth, influence, and good feeling towards this country under the more just and salutary system of legislation pursued in recent years. That observation extended to the clergy, 1597 those connected with the land, the mercantile, professional, and almost the whole middle class. He appealed, as an illustration of this, to the admirable conduct of the Irish juries during the late political trials. They had performed their duty towards their country with true patriotism and an independance worthy of all praise. He could not help contrasting the spirit thus exhibited with the state of things in 1844, when charges were made against the Government in relation to the improper and unequal composition of juries. No such charges were made now-a-days, and this was creditable to the Government and encouraging to the friends of Ireland. Yet, in spite of all this, they found, alongside of comparative prosperity and improvement, danger and disaffection. How had they attained to this improvement? Not by coercion or suspension of the Habeas Corpus, not by the maintenance of what was called the Protestant interest, or the Protestant garrison of Ireland. No; but by what his noble Friend called the "new policy" which had been inaugurated in that country, and in which the Liberal party might take just pride—by the complete reversal of the former policy. The Act of 1829 had been followed by the Reform Act of 1832. That great Act produced a long list of admirable measures for Ireland—municipal reform, tithe reform, popular extension of the franchise, Poor Laws, the Encumbered Estates Act, a large and popular system of education, besides very great and inestimable changes in what was most important—the administration of Ireland. That produced Catholic judges, Catholic magistrates, the impartial composition of juries. To these, under the blessing of Providence, they owed the real improvement which had been effected in Ireland. This progress had continued for some time, but of late years it had been considerably checked; for in his opinion, with respect to Irish affairs, politicians in this country, not excluding the Liberal party, had sunk into stagnation and indifference. With such results to guide them, he believed that the Reformed Parliament would emulate, if it did not surpass, the exploits of the Parliament of 1832, and that even the present Parliament might begin the good work. And now he had to ask the House what assistance did they receive from Her Majesty's Government in the pursuit of this policy? He would say nothing on those subjects which were under the consideration of Royal Com- 1598 missions, such as the questions of railways, and national primary education; nor would he say anything with regard to the Reform Bill, because at present they did not know what it was. But they had been informed within the last two nights what were the intentions of the Government with regard to the subjects of University education, the land, and the Church in Ireland. With respect to education, he must say that he had listened last night to the speech of the Home Secretary with considerable pleasure and satisfaction. He did not refer to any particular measure indicated by the right hon. Gentleman, but to the general tone of his address, which, in a prominent politician representing any considerable portion of the House, and particularly in a Minister of the Crown, was not a matter of indifference to the people of Ireland. He had always considered himself a temperate advocate of united education, as became an old advocate of the National system in Ireland and a reformer at Oxford. As a University reformer his personal views were of a very lay character indeed; and he would throw open Oxford as wide as the nation itself. He was not one of the class often described as clerically-minded men. But he was not able to rise to that height of devotion to united education which considered it as a sort of universal religion, to be propagated vi et armis, at all times and seasons, regardless of the wishes and feelings of those who were to be subjected to it, although it appeared to be looked upon in that light by many eminent Members of that House. He was the more suspicious of this doctrine when carried to an extreme, because experience had taught him that the doctrine of united education, although prevailing honestly in the minds of a small number of philosophical and enlightened men, assumed in the minds of the many the familiar and vulgar form of "No Popery." These were the feelings with which he approached the consideration of the proposal of Her Majesty's Government with regard to University education in Ireland. He felt so strongly the claims of the Catholic population of Ireland to absolute equality at the hands of Government in the matter of University education, and the excessive privations in this respect under which they had laboured so long and were now labouring, that it was impossible for him to meet any proposal which professed to meet the claims and wants of the people of Ireland with any hasty hostility. He felt that the establishment of Protestantism in 1599 Ireland had perverted, and in a way denationalized, the whole system of University education. At the same time, he could not help feeling that the proposal of Her Majesty's Government was calculated to startle a great many hon. Gentlemen who sat in that House. It undoubtedly carried the denominational principle further than any responsible Minister had ever attempted to carry it. In dealing with educational matters it was necessary to draw certain distinctions, depending upon the institutions with which they were dealing, and the class of persons which would be affected by the proposed changes. Thus, distinctions must be drawn between the day schools, which were the ordinary National schools of Ireland, and boarding schools, such as training Colleges, where the children were removed from their parents' supervision. He also drew a distinction between a University and a College—a distinction which they were all aware had been drawn by many eminent members and representatives of the Catholic body in Ireland in the course of last year. As far as he knew, those Members and representatives of the Irish Catholic body were willing, and even anxious, to accept a united University, representing both religions, maintaining a certain standard of degrees, open to students of all religions, while, at the same time, they strenuously maintained the position that the members of their Church should be brought up in their own Colleges, without any admixture of other religions. That was a distinction of the most legitimate and natural kind; but it was ignored by the present scheme, which proposed not only to maintain denominational Colleges but to establish denominational Universities. He was most anxious to make the great University of Dublin a truly national University. The noble Lord the Chief Secretary for Ireland said the other night that it was a Protestant institution, established for the benefit of the Protestant people of Ireland. No doubt that University was instituted by Queen Elizabeth as a Protestant institution; but she did so in the belief that the people of Ireland would before long embrace the Protestant faith. Neither Queen Elizabeth nor her advisers had any notion that in the middle of the 19th century the vast majority of the Irish people would still be Catholics. Among a number of schemes for the pacification of Ireland which had been sent to him he had received a proposal from a person who signed himself "A Descendant of one of 1600 the Boys who shut the Gates of Derry," whose simple remedy was that the Irish people should all turn Protestants. As, however, the Irish people had not thought fit to follow that advice, the only just thing to be done was to make the Dublin University an Irish University in the fullest and most national sense. He believed that that ancient and famous University possessed advantages which no modern institution could obtain. It had a prestige which a new creation could not hope to possess. It would always command the most eminent professors, and its degrees were of such value as to be a passport everywhere to the young Irishmen who obtained them. There was this difficulty in the way of the Catholic people—if they accepted the proposal of the Government to give them an exclusive Catholic University for themselves, they would find it extremely difficult to call upon the Protestants of the University of Dublin, to cease to be exclusive. This was, however, a question mainly for the decision of the Irish Catholic people, and if they thought fit to accept the proposition of the Government, he should be the last to offer any opposition to the scheme. But, even assuming that the House would agree to adopt this proposal, he denied that it would have the effect of finally solving the University question in Ireland. There were other bodies and classes in Ireland beside the Roman Catholics. He held in his hand a memorial from the Magee College, a Presbyterian establishment at Derry, to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, in which they complained that they were not admitted to the privilege of taking degrees at the Queen's University, and called upon the Lord Lieutenant and Parliament to satisfy their claims in that respect. The next question upon which the Government had given them some information was that of the land tenure. He would read an extract from a speech of a great Irish authority upon this question, Mr. O'Connell, who said—It is a subject replete with the utmost difficulty. Its solution is filled with dangers. It would require the aid of the honest and feeling portion of Irish landlords to enable the honest and conscientious friends of Ireland to place the relations between landlord and tenant on a satisfactory footing to both.That was the kind of feeling with which he (Mr. C. Fortescue) approached this question. It would be most unfortunate for Ireland if Parliament were to be deprived 1601 of the assistance of her landlords in endeavouring to effect some change in the land laws which might prove beneficial to her. This, however, it was a part of the plan of the hon. Member for Westminster to do. Notwithstanding the great respect he felt for that hon. Member, he was bound to say that, upon this point, he totally differed from him. He did not deny that such tremendous changes would be justifiable and righteous if they were absolutely necessary for the salvation of the people of Ireland; but it was because he did not regard them as being necessary to this result, that he was not favourable to the proposal of the hon. Gentleman. It appeared to him to be a plan which might be described as a policy of despair under the panic of Fenianism, and he earnestly hoped that other means might be found to improve the condition and promote the contentment of the people of Ireland, which would lead to the revival of hope in the breasts not only of the people of that country, but in the breast, also, of the hon. Member for Westminster. He could not leave this portion of the subject without expressing a hope that the hon. Member for Westminster, his hon. Friend the Member for Cork, the hon. Gentleman the Member for Kilkenny, and others who shared their opinions, whatever their own views might be, and however inadequate they might deem the remedies proposed by politicians in that House, would not treat every proposal based upon the existing rights of ownership of land with contempt or hostility. He thought that any improvement suggested by the Government of the day ought not to be treated lightly; and, with this feeling, he had listened to the speech of his noble Friend the Chief Secretary, and he would at once say that he should be prepared to approach the consideration of his Bill without any hostile feeling, and to co-operate, if possible, in any attempt at improvement. He was one of those who were not prepared to deny that there were some good and useful provisions in the Bill of last year, and he was much mistaken if the noble Lord would not, had he proceeded with that measure, have encountered more opposition from among his own Friends than from that side of the House. He sincerely wished that he could induce his noble Friend to introduce into the Government measure the principle which lay at the foundation of the Bill proposed by the late Government—the principle which reversed the rule of English law that the improve- 1602 ments effected by the tenant became at once the property of his landlord. He was convinced that such a change in the law would be just in itself, and would have effects beyond what were generally expected by those who had not thoroughly studied its operation. He was far from saying that more might not be added to such a measure, consistent as all such additions ought to be with the rights of owners of property, in the way of giving the tenants the advantages resulting from their improvements; but he should regard it as a great step gained if the House could be induced to accept the principle he had referred to. With regard to the Commission upon which the noble Lord had dwelt, he could not see how such an inquiry would be attended with advantage; indeed, he believed that the announcement of the appointment of such a Commission would prove the most formidable obstacle in the way of legislation. In the face of such a Commission the noble Lord would, he thought, find it a very difficult task to persuade the House, and especially the Members of his own party, to take any step in the way of Irish land legislation, when they knew that a Commission was prosecuting its labours on the subject. He confessed, too, that the description of that Commission and its objects, as given by his noble Friend, were not such as to increase his liking for it. Its main object appeared to be to afford the Irish landlords an opportunity of clearing themselves from the charges which had been brought against them by the hon. Member for Westminster and the hon. Member for Birmingham. [Mr. BRIGHT was understood to say that he had made no charges.] He had heard many unfair and unjust things said against them; but he did not think there was any class in the civilized world more improved than the landlords of Ireland, and he looked to them, in spite of their shortcomings and occasional abuses of power, to aid the Legislature in the work of improving and regenerating Ireland. But he thought there was no danger of the House being led away by any extreme tenant-farmer view. He did not believe that any class in the country was so badly and inadequately represented in that House as the tenant-farmer class. The danger lay in the opposite direction—that of the prejudices of the landlords, and if he thought that any Commission would aid in getting them out of that danger, it would have his hearty support. But he believed that they had quite enough 1603 information on the subject. From experience he knew the timidity and suspicion which influenced the tenant-farmers of Ireland, and he could not believe that the appointment of this Commission would induce them to make any confession, or make public their causes of complaint. He had never accused the Irish landlords of any flagrant abuses of their power; but certainly acts were committed in Ireland which, though not always regarded as harsh or extraordinary in that country, would be so described in this. What the Irish tenant most dreaded was not eviction—though evictions were not uncommon; his chief fear arose from the fact that the landlord's rent, was too apt to follow hard upon the tenant's improvement. For instance, he happened to know of an estate on which the rental had been raised upon seven different occasions during ten years, until the landlord had raised it to what he thought a proper standard. Of course, the enterprizing tenants in such a case suffered most, because the return made for improving the land became an increase in the rent. On the other hand, one of the very best and most intelligent land managers in Ireland, who, by the way, was a Conservative, had publicly stated that, in his view, rents should not be raised on an Irish estate at shorter intervals than twenty-one years. [Mr. CONOLLY: Hear, hear!] He was glad to hear his hon. Friend approve that. Concluding his consideration of the land question, he did not attach much importance to the Commission; he was afraid it would interfere with legislation, but would gladly give his noble Friend's proposal his best consideration. Proceeding to discuss the Church question, which he styled the question of all Irish questions, he regretted that it occupied a very subordinate and equivocal position in the speech of his noble Friend. A Motion was made more than twenty years ago in that House of the same nature as that which they were then discussing, and in the course of it Sir James Graham said—I admit that the subject of the Protestant Church by law established is regarded by the people of Ireland as the most important of all the subjects to be considered, and I am afraid it lies at the bottom of all our difficulties."—[3 Hansard, lxxii. 784.]Those words were as true in 1868 as they were in 1844, and much as had been said and written on the subject of the Irish Church, he was convinced that the importance of the question and the results which would flow from its equitable settle- 1604 ment had been immensely under-rated. The beneficent change of a system of inequality and injustice on a great scale into a system of justice and equity would be so great that, though we might foresee some of its consequences, our imagination must fail to comprehend them all. Let them consider the present position, of things. The establishment of a small minority, forming not much more than one-half even of the Protestant population, of Ireland, in the position of a State Church, was one which could not possibly have come to pass or be maintained in any independent country. It was therefore, not by a figure of rhetoric but as a matter of fact, a great institution maintained in one country by the external force of another. This was a great social and political question; that it was of an ecclesiastical, and, in some sense, of a religious character was a mere accident. Any great institution maintained against the feelings of a country would produce much the same effect as the Anglican Church in Ireland had produced, and would produce. That it was an ecclesiastical question was an additional difficulty. No doubt it did, and would, excite those religious passions which were much to be deprecated. It had no doubt produced feelings in Ireland on both sides incompatible with the Christian religion. While in former days it made the Establishment the most worldly Christian body in existence, in these days—when the clergy of the Established Church had, he freely and gratefully admitted, greatly changed and immensely improved—it put that body and its clergy in a totally false position; deprived them of their due influence beyond the borders of the Church, and narrowed the spirit and religion of the Established Church in Ireland to the small limits of a no - Popery theology. The Church question was connected with and adversely affected everything in Ireland; the land question was an example of this; it could not be considered apart from the Church, the two questions were so intimately connected. Arthur Young, the prince of travellers and observers, saw this ninety years ago in what he called the abominable distinction between the landlord and tenant in the matter of religion, which he said converted the Protestant landlord of an estate inhabited by Roman Catholic tenants into a despot who knew no law but that of his own will. He saw it when he said that the first cause of Irish distress was the oppression of the 1605 Catholic people by means of a system of unequal laws, which converted the minority, including the landlords, into masters, and the majority, including the tenants, into something not very different from serfs. He believed that, as religious inequality had ruined the relations between landlord and tenant, so religious equality, absolutely carried out, would do much to restore and improve those relations. That view of the case, so evident to observers in former days—to Swift, to Young, to Burke—had been very well brought before the public by an hon. Friend of his, the Member for Cork, who had lately written a pamphlet in the name of "An Irish Catholic Member." With great practical experience he had pointed out the effects which follow such relations between landlord and tenant in respect of political electioneering and many other matters. What could be more exasperating than a state of things in which the Protestant landlords of Ireland, quite as a matter of course—because very strange things happened as matters of course in Ireland—expected to maintain, and did maintain, the system of Protestant ascendancy by means of the votes of Roman Catholic tenants? Speaking literally and without exaggeration, he believed this to be an every-day matter in Ireland; and he ventured to say it was without parallel. The institution of genuine religious equality, however, would put an end to such things, and improve the relations of landlord and tenant in a hundred ways, and among other things lead to the granting of a better security of tenure to the tenant by lease or otherwise. He believed it would break down the wall of separation in point of feeling and interest between the landlord and tenant, bind in fellowship the loyal Protestant and the loyal Catholic, raise the self-respect of the Catholic body from the highest to the lowest, increase their claims upon the respect of other classes, and, converting Ireland's two nations into one, create a healthy public opinion throughout the country. And now with reference to this great question of the Church, what information had the Government afforded? Practically, none at all. What policy had it proposed? None, except it be the maintenance of things as they are. There were, indeed, expressions used by the noble Lord the Chief Secretary of a very vague kind, which seemed to mean that if the Catholics of Ireland would accept the payment of their priests from the Parliament, he would 1606 be very glad to give it to them. He would be a bold man, however, who undertook to speak for the House of Commons on that subject. The Home Secretary gave the House to understand last night, as the result of the Commission of Inquiry into the revenues of the Irish Church, that there might be found some small surplus over and above all the necessities of the Church, and that then the question might arise what should be done with that surplus? The meaning of that was that at this time of day, in the year 1868, Her Majesty's Government were painfully working up to the level of the Appropriation Clause of the year 1834. But it seemed that not even that point had been attained. There being, then, no door of hope in any of these proposals, and nothing but dark hints and insinuations by the Government, the situation of the House was this—that upon the great question of the Irish Church the Government would do nothing and propose nothing. The Secretary for Ireland came to the House and made a statement of Irish policy, the only counterpart to which would have been if Sir Robert Peel had in 1828 or 1829 come down with a charter for a Catholic University in one pocket, and a Commission in the other, without a Bill for Catholic Emancipation. The question of the Irish Establishment held, and must hold, the same place in the view of the House and the country as Catholic Emancipation did in 1829. Well, what were the reasons and excuses presented by the Government for not doing anything and not announcing any policy? First, they said there was a Commission of Inquiry now sitting, which was proposed by Earl Russell. He could answer for the noble Earl that he had no idea whatever, in proposing that Commission, of producing delay in the settlement of the Irish Church question. He intended, on the contrary, to promote the settlement of the question by that means, and he had every reason to expect that the Commission which was appointed last summer would have reported by this time, and would have supplied the Government with the materials of legislation. But the fact was that this inquiry, however useful in its way, had nothing to do with the problem before the House. That question was, whether there should or should not be maintained a State Church in Ireland for the benefit of a small minority of the population? Whether the property of the Established Church turned out to be £100,000 or £200,000, 1607 more or less, had nothing whatever to do with the duty of that House in the matter. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary told the House last night that they must not ask the Government one word on this subject at the present moment, because his right hon. Friend (Mr. Gladstone) would not undertake to deal with it three years ago. A more futile excuse he had never heard. He did not mean to say that the House or that the Liberal party were free from blame in the matter. They were open to the charge of supineness and indifference; but no human being would assert that his right hon. Friend was bound in 1865 to undertake to settle the great question of the Irish Church. It would have been absolutely Quixotic on his part in the then temper of the times and in the situation of Parliament, and the work to be done by Parliament, to have given such a pledge. The great question of Reform was unsettled, and was waiting for settlement. These things depended upon times and seasons. [Cheers.] He meant that remark not in a partizan sense, but in the sense of public duty and mere possibility. In these matters, duty and obligation went along with possibility, and neither went beyond it nor fell short of it. After a lapse of several years, when a settlement of these questions became possible, and therefore obligatory, Catholic Emancipation, Parliamentary Reform, and Corn Law Repeal were carried, and the same thing would happen in the case of this, perhaps a greater question than all, the question of the Irish Church. Parliament had settled the subject of Reform, and both countries now waited to see what was to be done about the Irish Church. The public mind had ripened for it, and, as it was possible to deal with it, it became the bounden duty of the Government to undertake it. The reason for not attempting to deal with it which was given by the Irish Secretary had, he owned, surprised him. He said that Parliament must take care not to alter its laws and institutions at the bidding of the Fenians, and that they must not alienate the affections of the supporters of the British connection in Ireland. He could not understand this argument, because the noble Lord said in the same breath, and very truly said, that the Fenians really cared nothing about the Irish Church, and that if this wrong were redressed to-morrow there would not be a Fenian the less in Ireland. But, supposing the objection was a good one, it would apply with equal force 1608 to every Act of Legislation which had been passed with reference to Ireland. His noble Friend appeared at one time to ignore the existence in Ireland of any class other than Fenians and supporters of the Established Church, although he said afterwards—There is a very numerous class in Ireland comprising men of all religions and of all shades of politics.…. Their faces are not turned to the West; they believe that the best hopes of Ireland are mixed up with the British Constitution, and I believe it is by encouraging that class that you will best promote the interests of their country.He entirely agreed with every word of this; but how it could help the argument of the noble Lord against the settlement of the question of the Irish Church he could not understand. It was true that there was a numerous class, including persons of all religions, and among them all the best portion of the Catholic body, whose faces were not turned to the West, but to that House. An illustration of this had occurred during the last few weeks. He did not know whether the House had yet fully recognized the importance of the Declaration made by the whole Catholic body of any rank, station, wealth, or position in Ireland. It was a Declaration such as had been seldom seen in that country, and it was only in moments of crisis like the present that such a document could have been produced. The Catholic body, after declaring that the feelings with which they regarded the State Church of Ireland were precisely the same as would be the feelings of Protestants under similar circumstances, stated that—The dignity of the religion and of the people of Ireland demands religious equality. We are convinced that without religious equality there cannot be generated that security, that respect for law, and that mutual good will, which constitute the true foundation of national prosperity.The persons who signed this Declaration were the very bone and sinew of the Catholic people of Ireland. They were the men who looked to that House, and whose faces were not turned to the West, and it was the business of that House to satisfy them when they asked for measures of justice. His belief was that it would be an act of insanity, amounting to something like judicial blindness, to turn a deaf ear, or suffer any Government to turn a deaf ear, to so just and righteous an appeal.
§ SIR JOSEPH M'KENNA
said, he wished to look at this question from a different point of view from that in which the Irish question had been hitherto regarded 1609 in that debate. There was no Catholic in that House who would be prepared to rise in his place and deny that religious equality must be maintained by law in Ireland before they could expect the complete contentment and self-respect of the people to be restored. But there were various causes of recent origin affecting the condition of the people of Ireland which had not been touched upon in that debate. Any intelligent foreigner would hear with surprise the conflicting statements made bearing on the condition of that country. The popular Leader, on the one hand, described the state of Ireland in a manner from which it might reasonably be inferred that it was a country suffering under the grinding yoke of a foreign tyranny; while the eulogists of English policy and statesmanship pointed to the legislation of the last forty years, and said that Ireland had received equal laws and was in a rapid state of improvement. Another class of theorists attributed the difference between the condition of England and Ireland to difference of race. All these theories seemed to him but fanciful devices invented to save the trouble of thinking. Having lived long among the Irish people, he knew that under anything like equal conditions with the people of England they would have a very fair chance of equalling them in the battle of life. But the great mistake made by legislators in that House was confounding the idea of equality with that of similarity. The law might be the same for both countries; but, owing to a peculiarity of circumstances, laws that were fair, just, and equal for England were not fair, just, and equal for Ireland. He acquitted hon, Gentlemen on the Opposition side of the House of any intentional injustice to that country, but their fiscal policy had inflicted upon it great practical injustice. The taxation of Ireland, which had the appearance of being levied under an equal law, in its operation showed great injustice. He would refer particularly to the tax on alcohol. In all European countries alcohol in one shape or another was consumed as one of the necessaries of life. It was consumed in the vehicle of wine by the rich, as well as in spirits and beer. The working classes of England principally took their alcohol in the vehicle of beer, and in Ireland the working classes consumed it in the vehicle of whisky. What were the duties imposed on those three beverages? French and German wines were imported into this country on conditions which were equal to a tax of 4s. per gallon of proof 1610 spirit contained in them, and the wines of Spain and Portugal at a duty equivalent to 6s. per gallon of proof spirit. The duty on beer was levied only on the ingredients of which it was composed, and was equivalent to a tax of only 2s. per gallon of the proof spirit it contained; whereas the working population of Ireland, who ordinarily consumed whisky, had to pay 10s. per gallon of proof spirit. That was the result of the legislation of 1853 introduced by the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Gladstone); and although, at the time those higher duties were imposed, a certain amount of taxation was struck off for Ireland, yet the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Maguire) then designated the proposals of the Minister an "Exchequer juggle." Taxation had a great deal to do with the contentment or discontent of the Irish people. It was the rent the people paid for the use of the British Constitution. That Constitution was a most valuable article, but the rent the Irish people paid for the use of it was raised from £4,400,000 in 1853 to £6,700,000 in 1865, owing to the legislation of a Liberal Government, bent on applying to Ireland what they called equal and similar laws, the crotchet in their heads at the time. The additional burden of £2,300,000, or at least more than £2,000,000, then imposed upon Ireland amounted to far more than the revenue of the Protestant Church twice over; and that circumstance—the increased pressure of taxation—had, he believed, much more to do with Irish discontent than right hon. Gentlemen opposite imagined. When the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) brought in his Bill assimilating the Irish spirit duties to the English, he said he could not for the life of him understand why an Irishman should be privileged to intoxicate himself on whisky at a duty of 2s. 8d. per gallon, when it cost an English working man 7s. a gallon to indulge himself in a like manner. He admitted the cogency of that argument as far as it went; but he must say that if the Englishman preferred to intoxicate himself on beer and the Irishman to intoxicate himself on whisky, he, for his part, could not for the life of him understand how it was equal justice to tax the one 2s. and the other 10s. per gallon on the amount of proof spirit consumed in the process. It had been said, indeed, that as moralists they ought to restrict the consumption of whisky and spirits by raising the duty upon them up to the level which would just suffice to keep out the illicit distiller. But 1611 then that was not merely a question of diet or regimen. The Englishman would, in spite of them, continue to drink beer and the Irishman whisky; and the question was how much each of them should in fairness be taxed for the indulgence. He would now say a few words upon the land question. He should regret very much if anything occurred to prevent its settlement that Session. He concurred in the observation made by the right hon. Member for Louth (Mr. C. Fortescue), quoting from Mr. O'Connell, that if that question was to be settled at all it would be settled by the goodwill and the good example of the landlords of Ireland taking a lead in such legislation. Out of the Bill of the right hon. Member for Louth, and that of the noble Lord the Chief Secretary, he believed a very good measure might he made as a starting point for legislation that Session. Whether there be a Commission or no Commission, he thought it was the duty of Irish Members on both sides of the House to unite for the purpose of helping out some measure of legislation on that subject that Session. With regard to education, he certainly was not prepared to hear from a Gentleman ordinarily so well informed as the right hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Horsman) that the National schools in Ireland were supported by the Catholic laity against the wishes of their priests and prelates. The right hon. Member referred to the increase of scholars which had taken place from 1832 to 1866; but the fact was the number had increased precisely in the ratio that the schools had ceased to be under the principle of mixed education, and in proportion as they became practically denominational. He referred to Returns presented to this House which were admirably condensed, in a document from which he would read some extracts, to prove that this vaunted scheme of mixed education—which afforded the right hon. Gentleman such grounds for congratulation—owed its success to the surrender of the principle on which he prided himself. There are 2,454 schools under the National system in Ireland, containing 373,756 Catholic children, and not one Protestant; and there are 2,483 schools with 321,000 Catholic children, and only 24,000 Protestant. But take the city of Dublin itself. In it there are sixty-three National schools taught by Catholic teachers, containing 24,355 children on the roll; of these no more than six are Protestants and four are Jews, and this is what the right 1612 hon. Gentleman in blind complacency flatters himself is the triumph of the mixed system over the policy of the Catholic prelates. Setting these facts aside, or utterly ignorant of them, he denounces the proposition of a Catholic University as a retrograde movement, claiming that the Queen's Colleges are as great a success as the mixed system in schools has proved. But what are the facts? With regard to the Queen's Colleges, the total number of matriculated and non-matriculated students in them was 805. Of these, 208 were Catholics, and 552 Protestants. Would it be contended, then, that these Colleges were successful? If these numbers were reversed, he would still contend that the Colleges were far from successful. He thought it of more importance to settle the question of the Catholic University and of denominational education than the land question. He wanted something to be done in the way of amelioration, and did not desire to see three or four matters forced at once upon the attention of the Ministry, so that in the end nothing would be done. With regard to the Church Establishment, he believed that question would be settled when the Reformed Parliament met, and not before.
said, he was anxious to be allowed to take part in this discussion, which had been so long expected. With regard to the speech of the hon. Member who had just sat down, he should only say it astonished him to find that, knowing Ireland as the hon. Gentleman did, he should consider the question of the Catholic University was one first to be dealt with. With regard to the speech of the noble Lord the Chief Secretary for Ireland, that speech was an attempt to prove that the political institutions of Ireland were just what they ought to be; and the noble Lord sought to establish this proposition by reading statistical Returns, showing that, within a certain period, as compared with others, there had been on the whole an increase in the number of live stock, an increase of the number of acres of land under cultivation, a moderate rise in the rate of wages, and an increase in the consumption of whisky. To the man who objected to tenancy-at-will, the noble Lord said, "Cattle, horses, sheep, and pigs are breeding rapidly." Goats, it was true, were not up to the mark; but it was only natural to assume, judging by experience, that they would at least try to make up for lost time. To those who ob- 1613 jected to ecclesiastical settlement, the noble Lord triumphantly declared that, whilst in 1864–5 there were only 2,750,000 gallons of whisky drank, in 1866–7 the consumption nearly reached 6,000,000 gallons—a fact the significance of which was not to be lost upon a keen politician, who, in shaping his course, had often to pause and reflect how much his friends and acquaintances could swallow. 6,000,000 gallons of whisky! Why, it might be reasonably inferred from these figures that the Irish people, in a state of happy oblivion, or in a fit of national despondency, had had recourse to a most illicit method of keeping up their spirits. He could picture the noble Lord, in a state of exhaustion at the close of the Session, travelling in Russia, and seeing on his journey the immense hordes of horses and the large provinces of land under cereals that were to be found in that country, and at once jotting down these facts as proofs of the excellence of Russian institutions and the groundlessness of Polish discontent. The noble Lord in his speech the other night made a statement which he (The O'Donoghue) did not wish to let go unchallenged. The noble Lord said, although he could not deny that the Irish in America sympathized with Fenianism, the Irish in Canada and Australia did not. Now, without impugning the veracity of the noble Lord, he (The O'Donoghue) asked the House not to credit that statement, but to realize the truth that the Irish in Canada and Australia did sympathize with Fenianism up to the point where its designs became impracticable. The Orangemen of Canada were, of course, to be excepted. Last Session he had the honour of presenting a petition to the House, numerously signed by the Irish in habitants of Toronto, and by the Catholic Bishop of that place. That petition, which he was confident might be taken as representing the views of the Irish in America, Canada, and Australia, prayed the House to give the Irish farmers security of tenure—to disendow the Established Church in Ireland—to restore Irish legislative independence—and to give to Ireland those institutions which had made Canada prosperous, loyal, and attached to British connection. The noble Lord informed the House that he and the Marquess of Abercorn were Irishmen—that there was an Irish Lord Chancellor and an Irish Attorney-General. All that he (The O'Donoghue) admitted); but it was scarcely necessary to add, by way of comment, that they were 1614 Irishmen who agreed in opinion with the minority of their fellow-countrymen, and such an Irish Government was positively the inversion of every constitutional principle. He believed it was impossible for any reasonable and truthful man to deny the truth of the assertion that the immense majority of the Irish were pre-eminently disaffected towards the Government under which they lived. Why was a large army kept constantly in Ireland? Because it was well known by the Government that its presence there was the only security for the maintenance of the authority of the Government. Why were not the Irish militia called out to go through their ordinary course of training? Because it was thought that once trained, armed, and equipped, they might disown all allegiance to the Government, and become the nucleus of an Irish national army. Why were not the Irish, like the English and Scotch, allowed to enrol themselves as Volunteers? Because it was feared that, if once enrolled and armed, they might endeavour to obtain by force of arms the concession of demands which had been refused to years of persevering and dutiful supplication. Why was Parliament again and again asked to renew the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act? Because the Government, being convinced of the almost universal disaffection which lies beneath the surface of society, think it necessary to have the power of seizing and imprisoning anyone against whom suspicion was directed. While they looked in vain for a solitary indication of confidence in, or attachment to, the institutions of the State on the part of the people, they saw in the aim and policy of the Government an over-ruling all-pervading feeling of distrust of the people. It was plain that between the governing and the governed there was no sympathy. The measures of the Government were incompatible with any other state of things; and their importance and significance were quadrupled by the fact that they were taken against an unarmed people, who had to look for any prospect of active sympathy and co-operation to a distance of 3,000 miles. The condition of Ireland could not be ascribed to a paroxysm of discontent, because what was occurring to day was but a repetition of scenes which had been perpetually recurring, even when there were no Irish-Americans to organize revolution, and to serve as scapegoats. This was not the first, or the second, or the third time the in competency of the State physician had 1615 been proved; and this was a practical admission that, so far as Ireland was concerned, there was no efficacy in the science of Government. If he had nothing else to rely upon he would take the recent conduct of Her Majesty's Government in order to establish these three propositions—First, the wide-spread disaffection; second, the knowledge of Her Majesty's Government of the main circumstances connected with it; and, lastly, the inability of Her Majesty's Government to cope with this disaffection, either for the purpose of removing it altogether, or of mitigating its virulence, He believed the great body of the agricultural population—occupiers as well as labourers—were pre-eminently disaffected; that a great body of the artizans were equally disaffected; and that the generality of the merchants and small traders, representing the middle classes, were so dissatisfied with the position of affairs that, in their case, it was extremely difficult to draw the line between dissatisfaction and disaffection. Well, Irish disaffection and discontent being recognized facts, it was not unreasonable to assume they were attributable to certain causes. No doubt there were some persons who maintained there did not exist anything that could be legitimately called a reason for disaffection or discontent. Among those were Her Majesty's Ministers, supported by a small section of gentlemen in England and Ireland. On the other side there were the vast mass of Irish people, and a large number of the English people—a vast number of those belonging to the governing classes, and all men outside those kingdoms who could be called impartial spectators of the matter in dispute. When it was seen that the minority, who protested against change and said there was no grievances, derived enormous advantages at the expense of the majority, from the very sources of complaint, he submitted that a primâ facie case was made out in favour of those who affirmed that there were causes for the disaffection which existed in Ireland. Passing ebullitions of popular passion were easily traced to the waywardness of human nature; but it was incredible that generation after generation of millions of men should continue to writhe under the pressure of imaginary ills, or that there was not something radically wrong in the system which could create such fearful delusions. There was the land question, and there was the Church question, about which they had been told a placard was hawked 1616 about the country for the purpose of disturbing the public peace. There was, however, another cause of Irish disaffection which perhaps could scarcely claim a Parliamentary title to rank as a grievance, but which must force itself upon the minds of many hon. Members. The Irish people told them that their nationality had been violated and ignored, inasmuch as they had virtually no control over the management of their own affairs. They told them that the deprivation of this right to manage their own affairs, which was the cause of all their grievances, was in itself their chief grievance—and that for this right they would never cease to struggle. Irish patriotism might be sneered at, but its struggles could never cease until Ireland had been restored to its individuality. They might rest assured that Ireland never could be transformed into an English county. This did not issue from a dislike to Englishmen, or from an incapacity to appreciate the greatness of this country; it simply meant that all true Irishmen—like all true Englishmen—were bound to their country by ties such as bound each one to his home and its associations. And was it not true that the Irish people had practically no control over the management of their own affairs? He had never been able to conceal from himself that there never was anything so unreal as the Irish Parliamentary representation. When had a majority, or anything like a majority, of Irishmen been represented? Certainly not from the period of the Revolution down to the passing of the Act of Union; and since the passing of the Act of Union, if the Irish Members had been in power, not one popular demand would have been conceded; the truth of which he said, was to be found in the records of the House. Irish Members had invariably refused the demands of the majority of their countrymen, and allied themselves with those Englishmen who supported them. Well, the real representatives had to rely upon the English Liberal party. In all the progressive measures of past years they were indebted to this party, and not to any inherent power in themselves. Now, one word as to the remedies for Irish discontent. First of all, there was the land question affecting thousands of holdings, representing an aggregate of 3,000,000 of human beings. What did the people desire most? To till the land undisturbed upon their holdings, cultivate them, and transmit them to posterity. What was the 1617 land grievance? That the greater part of these 3,000,000 had only a six months' tenure of the land. Was this a grievance? The millions thought it was, and had proclaimed against it until they had become tired of so doing. Was such insecurity the inevitable lot of the cultivator of the soil for all time? He believed not. It only existed because the landlords had been the exclusive makers of the land laws, and such insecurity of tenure could not be justified upon any clear interest or any general custom. The landlord had an undoubted title to his rent; but the tenant had an undoubted right to the land while he paid his rent. The only remedy which he could conceive would be to substitute for a six months' tenure a thirty-one years' tenure, and at the end of the thirty-one years the landlord to have the power of increasing the rent, and the tenant, if he thought the landlord demanded too much, to have the power of appeal to a tribunal constituted for this matter. [Laughter.] Hon. Gentlemen might laugh. It was not the first time that a great proposition had been laughed at. The only right of which the landlord would be deprived would be the right he now exercised of evicting whenever he pleased, and that further right of getting more than the value of this land upon some plausible pretext, such as the principle of competition. The principle of competition might be well and justly applied in the parcelling out of a country not already occupied; but when applied to the dispossessing of those already in possession it became an instrument of injustice and cruelty. It did not follow that because A might be disposed to give more than B, now occupying the land, that B was not already paying more than the value; the value being estimated by the productive worth of the farm, and not by what a richer man might give for it. He regretted the pictures which had been drawn as to what would follow if the power of eviction were taken away from the Irish landlord. He took the Irish landlord to be a sensible man, who would deal with his affairs in whatever way would be best for himself and his children. The House could not deal with the land question effectually, unless they gave security of tenure in some more tangible form than that of six months, and he believed that the Bill foreshadowed by the Chief Secretary would leave the question just in the same position as it had been in for years past. In almost every instance in Ireland the occupiers had 1618 ancient prescriptive titles to their farms, and although this might count for little in the arithmetic of the political economist, it should be considered by those who wished to approach the difficulty in a true spirit. The act of eviction could only be done by violence—by equal violence if they would, but not the less unjustifiable for that. The farmers of Ireland had ever been ready to pay a full price for the land; and all they demanded was the security of tenure, which would save them from the lust of gain and the dictates of an arbitrary power, which would give them a real interest in the prosperity of their country and in the permanence of its institutions. Now, as to the Established Church in Ireland, it was as clear as that two and two make four, that the Irish Protestant Church could not rest upon its own merits. The Irish Protestant Church was the Church of the minority, and therefore could have no claim to the revenues. It might be called the United Church of England and Ireland, or of Canada and Ireland; but it would always be the Irish Protestant Church. It appeared to him—of course he did not refer to its doctrines—to be in the position of an individual against whom a verdict had been found, and who had been permitted to stand out on the understanding that he would come up for judgment when called upon. He and his co-religionists asked for the disestablishment and disendowment of the Protestant Church. In doing this they solemnly declared that neither directly nor indirectly would they take endowment of their own Church, and they pointed to their own position—the Church of the poorest—both in Ireland and in America as a vindication of the voluntary system. If ever there was a question which had been argued usque ad nauseam it was this question; and he had not much confidence in the man's judgment who did not see that the time for argument was passed, and the time for action come; but amongst their enemies was prejudice, which might take some time to overcome. The English people had made great progress in liberality, and it would soon be seen whether the banner of "No Popery" was to be raised, and whether they would be true to their principles, and haul it down as the vile emblem which for generations had kept two nations asunder. The question was, were the Irish people to have religious equality or not, or were they to have in Ireland religious ascendancy? Was Protestantism to take its proper place, or was 1619 it still to be the sign and the indispensable qualification of a superior caste? The truth was, that the maintenance of this Church was irreconcilable with justice, and there was only one course for Parliament to pursue, and not to wait for Commissions of Inquiry, but to be true to the sacred principles which they stood pledged to vindicate. They (the Roman Catholics) sought only for religious equality, and they sought for it in the only way it is practicable. They sought no triumph over their Protestant countrymen. They left it to others to look back to Antrim and the Boyne. They left the past, and looked forward to a future of equality and peace. He did not wish to sit down without expressing his conviction that even if Parliament were to settle the land and the Irish Church questions in accordance with the wishes of the people, contentment would not even then be restored to Ireland, because the people would still feel that they did not enjoy their fair share of political power. He asserted, without fearing that that assertion could be disproved, that the Irish people had practically no constitutional means of giving expression to their opinions or effect to their wishes, and that they would never have the means of so doing until the franchise had been considerably extended and the independence of the voter secured by the ballot. It was true that their political privileges were not fewer than they were in England; but in England the choice of the electoral body had never been practically, to a great extent, limited to those who were anti-English by sympathy, tradition, and misconceived notions of self-interest. The Irish people had lost all confidence in the present Parliamentary system, and had in too many instances abandoned themselves to despair, or given themselves up sullenly to the hope that some chance would procure for them that which they were now unjustly denied. He had never counselled despair. On the contrary, he had frequently urged his countrymen to forget the past—to unite with the English people who were not responsible for the past—and to struggle for the possession of those constitutional rights by which the position of England and Ireland can alone be improved. The great majority of the Irish people no longer looked to this House. They had turned away from it; for they had seen year by year and Session after Session pass, and those who represented them were either the humble followers of 1620 English parties, or persons working for their own interests. Was it not time that Parliament, by united action, should do something to dispel those influences, and create that confidence the want of which was the source of difficulties?
LORD CLAUD HAMILTON
said, he believed that the antecedents of the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down were not such as to entitle him to the confidence of the well-wishers of Ireland. The hon. Gentleman would be more at home in organizing a mock funeral procession in honour of so-called martyrs than in rendering assistance to any plan which sought to elevate the morality or promote the well-being of his fellow-countrymen. ["Oh!"] They all knew that the hon. Gentleman was struck off the roll of the Irish magistracy by Lord Chancellor Brady. And what had induced the Lord Chancellor to take that unpleasant step? It was the conviction that the course pursued by the hon. Member was so disloyal that he was no longer fit to hold the Commission of the Peace. Those who had watched the more recent career of the hon. Member must be aware of the countenance he had given to Fenianism. In the very House itself he had heard him say that the way in which the insurgents had conducted themselves, though no doubt contrary to the law, was not inconsistent with morality. [The O'DONOGHUE: In this House? No.] He repeated that the hon. Member had so expressed himself in the House, and reminding the hon. Member that, at the time he said this, the valiant deeds of the Fenians whom he sought to extol were an attempt to murder a policeman by shooting him behind his back, and a cowardly assault on a respectable banker, who was left for dead because he refused to allow his house to be plundered. He asked him now whether those proceedings could be deemed "not inconsistent with morality?" Were the mock funeral processions in honour of executed assassins and so-called "martyrs," so strongly condemned by Bishop Moriarty, the hon. Member's own Bishop, "not inconsistent with morality?" The energetic condemnation of the Bishop proved that the hon. Member did not represent the feelings of the Roman Catholic body. Yet the hon. Member presumed to thrust himself before the House as the mouthpiece of Ireland. However unpleasant it was to act the detective, he felt it to be his duty to watch those who made it their business to sow discord 1621 in Ireland, and he was sorry to say the hon. Member was not the only one guilty of such a proceeding. The hon. Member had been pleased to assert that the Government was unable to cope with the Fenian insurrection, it was so universal; but what proof was there of this, and who could produce a single instance of such inability on the part of the Government? The hon. Gentleman had stated also that disaffection was kept down by an enormous army. Now, let the House take that statement for a moment into its consideration. The army in Ireland consisted of 20,000 men, among a population numbering 5,600,000. Let them observe the proportion which those figures bore to the armies and the population of other States. Belgium, a happy and prosperous nation, with a population of 4,800,000, had an army of 73,000 men, or in other words the army, although raised from a smaller population, was more than three times as great as that of Ireland; Holland, which was another flourishing country, with a population of 3,300,000, had an army of 59,000; and the army of Bavaria, with a population of 4,800,000, numbered over 100,000. The House and the country was therefore bound to scrutinize the statements of this honourable, self-constituted mouthpiece for Ireland. The hon. Member for Birmingham, in one of his speeches made when he was going about the country endeavouring to create an excitement, declared that Ireland was not "governed but occupied"—a statement that the figures just quoted fully disprove. Allusions disparaging to the Government had also been made respecting the non-existence of Volunteers in Ireland; but it was decided long before Fenianism showed its head that it would be unwise to institute a Volunteer force in Ireland. He remembered himself, in common with other Irish Members, recommending the Government, when the Volunteer force was first suggested, not to establish it in Ireland, and the Government decided in accordance with those suggestions, on the ground that, following their ordinary custom, the Irish, if organized in corps, would take to fighting among themselves more desperately than ever, and would assuredly make targets of one another. How utterly fallacious, then, was the assertion that there were no Volunteers in Ireland because the Government feared the disaffected. But he would pass from the address of the hon. Member for Tralee to the Motion of his hon. Friend the Member 1622 for Cork. He regretted to find his hon. Friend submitting to that House a vague Resolution which afforded every Member of that House an opportunity of discussing a bewildering variety of topics, and which could not possibly lead to any useful result. But he feared that his hon. Friend, for whom he entertained great respect, was sometimes led into impracticable designs by his overflowing zeal for his country and by the natural impulsiveness of his disposition. Three years ago his hon. Friend moved for a Select Committee upon Land Tenure; the Committee was appointed, and many worthy witnesses were examined; but they were all called by one side, and were so numerous that the end of the Session arrived before the opposite side could say a word. But it happened that the evidence of these witnesses was so contrary in many instances, to what his hon. Friend had anticipated, and so destructive to the theories he apparently wished to establish, that he actually ran away from his own Committee, and contrary to all usage, did not move for the re-appointment of that Committee, so that the whole of the valuable evidence collected remained unreported on. Instead of a Committee a secret conclave was established in the Smoking-room, at which, according to an announcement in the Freeman, all Members were pledged to secresy. He (Lord Claud Hamilton) was invited; but during the many years he had been a Member of Parliament he had never been a conspirator, or attended a secret conclave for the purpose of disposing of other people's property, and therefore he did not go. The secret of the conclave was not very well kept; for he heard that there was almost a "row," and that very strong language was used. Out of that secret conclave in the Smoking-room apparently came the Bill that was produced by the Government in 1866. He was invited to form part of a deputation to the then Chanceller of the Exchequer, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire, to discuss the Bill which had been settled in the Smoking-room; but the Bill had not at that time been printed, and, consequently, he declined to go. The whole thing was a hole-and-corner arrangement, and ill-disposed people said it had something to do with an important division that was going to take place. ["Hear, hear!"] The present debate seemed to him little better than a desultory and discursive conversation, in which 1623 each hon. Member mounted his hobby—that of one being the land, of another the Church, of another education, and so on. His hon. Friend the Member for Cork had alluded, in the language of complaint, to the employment of gunboats along the Irish coast. But when rumours appeared in the American papers that Fenian cruizers were on their way to Ireland it was natural that people in remote districts on the coast should feel alarmed, and it was the duty of the Government to re-assure them. It gave such persons confidence to see gunboats on the coast. Looking at the matter from another point of view, he would maintain that our fleets and vessels of war ought to be as much as possible in Irish harbours, so that Ireland should have her fair share of the expenditure of our armaments. His hon. Friend seemed to think it a grievance that there was no sufficient amount of crime in Ireland to justify the gunboats and armaments. He, on the contrary, rejoiced in that absence of crime. Another grievance apparently was, that there was a decrease in the cultivation of cereals. He (Lord Claud Hamilton) thought it his duty to vote for the repeal of the Corn Laws; but he had never doubted that this measure would create a difference in the cultivation of the soil. Nothing but a system of artificial prices sustained by Protection had led to an extent of cereal cultivation which the climate by its humidity did not otherwise justify. No one, however, would find fault with the farmers for adapting themselves to the new state of things, or would expect them to go on growing corn at prices that were not remunerative. To complain of Irish farmers for not doing so was a species of Irish grievance in which he could not participate. The result arrived at by his hon. Friend opposite was, that the Irish tradesmen and shopkeepers were losing heart. As long as the present system of agitation, irritation, and misrepresentation went on, so long must trade and commerce languish. He had not long since been in correspondence with a Scotch house, who proposed to set up a mill in his neighbourhood, but the moment the Fenian outbreak occurred they withdrew from the undertaking; and the noble Lord the Member for Kerry (Viscount Castlerosse) had told him of a still more remarkable case in his county, for there the parties who had resolved on engaging in a similar project had gone so far as to pay caution money as a guarantee of their sincerity, but had afterwards refused to 1624 have anything to do with a country in which agitators were able to influence as they pleased the minds of an unfortunate and excitable people. His hon. Friend took a certain period of Irish history, between 1782 and 1800, and told the House to notice how jealous England was of Ireland. But the rising of 1798 had something to do with the events of 1800, and naturally suggested the propriety of some new arrangements for the union of the two countries. His hon. Friend then said that the Government were not doing enough; and, in regard to the land question, asked whether they had not had the Devon Commission. That most elaborate inquiry was made in 1845, and it was worthy of all study and attention. But did hon. Gentlemen opposite forget that in the years 1846–7–8 Ireland was afflicted with a fearful famine and pestilence, which swept away 2,000,000 of those whose social habits and system of farming were described in the Report of that Commission? With those unhappy persons the whole system was swept away, and a new system of consolidation of farms and of agricultural improvement ensued. So that, although the evidence taken by the Devon Commission was most accurate, it did not apply to the present state of things, and no one could make himself acquainted with the present agricultural system of Ireland by studying the Report of the Devon Commission. Hence a new inquiry by a new Commission was not so very superfluous as had been alleged. His hon. Friend the Member for Cork, in his book on America, had described the prosperity of the Irish where there was abundance of land to be had at very low prices—but even there he states there is a great repugnance to the payment of rent—and he describes a combination to resist rents, although they only amounted to 1s. per acre. But when he came to describe the condition of the Irish in towns, they exactly resembled their countrymen at home. He states that the two great banes of the Irishman in the cities of that country were drink and politics, and he described how the working man was often beguiled into that "whirlpool of pothouse politics, in whose accursed mud and mire many a bright hope was wrecked." Unfortunately, the Irishman was not free from those two banes in his own country. He would recommend his hon. Friend, who was the editor of a leading newspaper in Ireland, to consider an observation made 1625 the other day by the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck), who said "Depend upon it, it is not the law that will make Ireland what she ought to be, it is the teaching of her people, and the manner in which that teaching is received." The right hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Horsman) blamed the Government for proposing a retrograde policy, but what did he suggest himself for the benefit of Ireland? One might have expected that he would end his eloquent speech by sketching out some great and comprehensive scheme of his own; but all he had to offer them in the way of advice was that they should, somehow or other, settle the Church question, the land question, and so forth. That mode of treating Irish questions showed a want of sound and practical judgment which was almost enough to make them despair of a better state of things. With regard to the Irish Church, remembering the declarations made by the Roman Catholic hierarchy and laity in 1829 on that subject, he could understand people saying that the maintenance of the Established Church was impolitic, but how an arrangement three centuries old, and also solemnly sanctioned so recently, could be called an injustice per se, he could not comprehend. That it was an injustice, if those who would not have a thing themselves could not prevent others also from having it, he could not admit. But probably the House would by-and-by have ample opportunities for discussing the Church question. The right hon. Member for Louth (Mr. C. Fortescue) had twitted the Government for their want of policy; but such a taunt came with a bad grace from a Member of the last Liberal Government. What had been the policy of that right hon. Gentleman and his friends, except to make use of these questions as a convenient weapon when in Opposition? Did hon. Gentleman on the other side of the House remember the history of the famous Appropriation Clause of 1835? Sir Robert Peel's Government was driven from office by that well-managed Resolution; and yet the Whig Ministry which superseded it sat for six years on the Treasury Benches without putting forth a finger to give it effect. For twenty-fire years, at least, of the period which had since elapsed, that party had held office, and yet they had done nothing with respect to this Church question. In fact, it was kept as a cry to fall back upon in Opposition, just as the question of Reform had been used. The opposite party got into 1626 power in 1859, by professing at Willis's Rooms, a great desire for Reform. But after having obtained office by these means, how did they treat that great question? They brought in a Bill in 1860 which went through a second reading without opposition, and then was stabbed in the back by its own professing friends, and disappeared. In 1861–2–3–4–5 the question was utterly neglected. It had served its purpose by securing office and was abandoned. They might depend upon it that the people of England would not any longer allow these great questions to be made party weapons merely for the purpose of getting into power. Since 1835, he had watched the Irish Church question, and he maintained that all the agitation relating to it had come from England, the Liberation Society, and those who sought to keep up irritation in this country with regard to church rates and similar subjects. Nearly all the Motions that had been brought forward about the Irish Church in that House emanated from Sir Henry Warde, Mr. Miall, and other English Members. The agitation had not originated in Ireland. It had come from those who had made a compact with the English Liberation Society, and had listened to those addresses of the hon. Member for Birmingham which were so well calculated to set class against class. The House knew the way in which the movement against church rates and other such proceedings were set on foot in the English parishes by direction of the central bodies in London. The same plan was being carried out in Ireland. He confessed it was a wonder to him how Irishmen could be so heartless as to bring upon their country the evils which must result from agitation, which he regarded as a curse to Ireland. One of the charges constantly brought against the Protestant Government of England was the infliction of the penal laws which had for so long a time been in operation in Ireland. He was not astonished the mass of the Irish people should believe that those enactments had been passed by Protestants to insult, rob, and oppress the Roman Catholics. But the fact was that penal laws had existed in Ireland for two centuries before the Reformation. They had emanated from Rome, and were first imposed by an assembly which met at Kilkenny. There is an eloquent and touching appeal in existence, dated 1318, addressed by leading Irishmen to Pope John XXII., complaining of their oppressive character. Three Roman 1627 Catholic Archbishops and other Roman Catholic ecclesiastics took part in the proceedings that established them. What was the object? Roman Catholic England wished to crush the Irish who were not well disposed towards English rule, and with that object the penal laws were passed. They were a political engine. When the Reformation came the rulers of the country found those laws ready to their hand, and as those in opposition to the Government were, as a rule, Roman Catholics, the term "Roman Catholic" was substituted for "Irish" in the penal laws. As a Protestant, he rejoiced that the infamous system of governing the Irish by penal statutes had not originated with a Protestant Government. At the present day what Ireland had to fear principally were political quacks and agitators. To such persons Englishmen and Scotchmen wishing well to Ireland ought to turn a deaf ear. He implored hon. Members who might not be personally acquainted with the country not to accept views which might be biassed upon one side or the other, but to bring their minds to the study of the question, free from prejudice and to form their own opinions.
§ MR. H. A. HERBERT
said, he thought it was the duty of every Irishman to come forward manfully in the present debate and state his views, whatever they might happen to be, both upon the land and the Church questions. As a landlord in the South of Ireland, he felt that any landlord wishing to see tenants properly treated ought not to object to secure them in their holdings. A great deal had been said about absentee landlords which he could not agree with. In his own county Lord Lansdowne and Lord Listowel, though absentee landlords, set an admirable example to others, and treated their tenants fairly and honourably. Of his Colleague in the representation of Kerry, he knew that he also acted towards his tenantry in the same spirit, and he could say tenants who had made genuine improvements were never evicted by their landlords. He could not endorse the statement made by the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Maguire) or the hon. Member for Tralee (The O'Donoghue), that the tenant-farmers in the South of Ireland, at least in that part of it with which be was best acquainted, were Fenians, or desired to belong to that organization. If it had been stated that younger sons of the tenant-farmers and those men who were not willing to seek any regular 1628 occupation desired to belong to that conspiracy it would have been nearer the truth. Then, again, it was said that the country was going back. But had rents ever been paid with such punctuality as this year? His own agent, who spoke from a twenty years' knowledge of the estate, said he never remembered the country or the farmers in such a state of prosperity. His own tenants were mainly tenants holding from year to year, who had declined to take leases. To-morrow morning, if they would take them, he was willing to give them all leases, believing that the security was better both for them and the landlord. Then, as to wages. In some instances, farmers upon his estate at Castle Island were giving men 14s. a week and their diet. Would anybody say that the country was going back with such wages as that? It was only fair to add that there were many things which ought, in his opinion, to be done for the good of Ireland. It was desirable to legislate not for the good landlords, but for the bad; and with that view he strongly desired to see a measure passed giving fair protection to the rights of the tenants. A man ought to be compensated for the improvements which he had made according to the time that he had held the land; and further, a man who wished to spend money upon the land ought to be given a lease at once. But this he could certainly say, if it formed any test of the real condition of the country, that there never had been a time within his recollection when, if a farm fell vacant, more men prepared to spend money upon it were competing for it, or were anxious to get it upon any terms. Now with reference to the Fenian movement, with which it was said that all the farmers in Kerry sympathized. Take one single instance from the rising last year. A large force was said to have left Cahirciveen—that force consisting, he believed, of 120 or 130 men. If the farmers were so eager to join, would not that force have grown into a small army by the time it reached Beaufort Bridge? From the moment the force left Cahirciveen the boys began to get frightened and to drop away; the sympathizers who were expected to join them did not do so, and by the time they reached Beaufort seventeen miserable men, half dead with cold and hunger, were the remains of that insurrection. Legislation now, he believed, would have the effect of preventing the farming class from joining the movement; while it would also have a tendency to pre- 1629 vent speculators from Dublin coming down to buy land and then raising the price upon the tenants. As regarded the Church question, he was a Protestant, and he hoped a good one; but he would vote to-morrow for doing away with the Establishment. It was not right to bring up local matters, but if he thought proper to do so he could mention facts showing that there were men who did not do their duty; and if Protestants relied less upon the mere official position of men such as these, the Protestant religion, instead of going down, might largely extend its influence. He did not think they ought to put themselves above their fellow-men when hundreds and thousands of them were better than they were; and he was glad to have had this opportunity of declaring his conviction in the matter.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
Sir, having during the last five-and-twenty years taken an active interest in many questions connected with the state of Ireland, I hope the House requires no apology for my wishing to express an opinion upon one or two points which have been suggested in the course of the debate that has occurred on the Motion of the hon. Member for Cork. Sir, I have listened with the greatest pleasure to the speech of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Kerry (Mr. H. A. Herbert) who has preceded me. He has assured us that the tenants on his estates are thriving and contented, and I can easily believe that to be the case, for he is the son of one, who, as a Member of this House, was always regarded as one of the most favourable examples of an Irish gentleman and an Irish landlord. I have also heard with great satisfaction the statistics which were adduced by the noble Lord the Chief Secretary for Ireland, showing as they do that the produce of that country is increasing, though the increase is rather in pastoral than cereal production. Coupling that statement with the extent to which emigration has been carried, I see in the present state of things the result, which I long ago anticipated must ensue from the determination of the Legislature to repeal the Corn Laws and abandon the system of Protection. I cannot say that the Legislature has always displayed much consideration for Ireland, and although the Roman Catholic Members of this House concurred in these measures, still I thought their doing so was a shortsighted policy for their country, and that the late Mr. O'Connell, who became its 1630 warm advocate, was greatly mistaken. Now I wish this to be remembered particularly, because the Protestant Members for Ireland at all times resisted that measure; and so far, then, as that measure has contributed to produce the extensive emigration which has followed, the Protestant Members for Ireland are acquitted. Sir, I rejoice to find that so good a disposition reigns among the farming class in Ireland; nevertheless, we must not forget that for three years past it has been our painful duty to suspend the Habeas Corpus Act in Ireland. To tell us, therefore, as some hon. Members tell us now, that there was no dangerous discontent in Ireland, that there was no danger of rebellion, is to tell us that we have tampered with the freedom of our fellow-countrymen without reason, and that we have moved troops about and incurred a great expenditure for that, which, after all, is a mere bugbear. Sir, I think the House is bound, in vindication of its own conduct in venturing to suspend the primary right of freedom in the sister country—the primary right of personal freedom—to inquire and to ascertain, if possible, not only, whether there was a dangerous sedition and conspiracy, but what were the causes which have contributed to that discontent—what its source and origin. I admit that its origin is in great measure foreign. I admit that it has its centre in the United States of America. I also know that it had correspondents in Paris. Just before the explosion at Clerkenwell prison I was warned by an American gentleman, whose name I am not at liberty to mention, that if matters proceeded as at that period they were then going on, this country would have no resource but to adopt some system of passports. It appears to be evident then that this is a conspiracy with foreign ramifications. I well remember when there were the first manifestations of Fenianism about four years ago that the newspapers of this country, or most of them, were disposed to treat it with contempt. Now I, for one, never entertained that feeling of contempt, because the primary phases of the insurrection were precisely similar to the primary phases of the Polish insurrection; and it is my firm belief that, if the Government and the Legislature of this country had not shown at once that they would not be trifled with, and would not allow the peace and order of society to be disturbed, that insurrection would have spread, and in the end become most 1631 serious and dangerous. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Calne, in the able speech which he has addressed to the House in the course of this debate, made the remark, that those who called themselves the "friends of Ireland" were for ever representing the discontent of Ireland to be greater than it is, and producing an agitation which drives capital from Ireland and prevents the investment in means of employment other than agriculture—an investment which is essential to the full development of the natural resources of that noble country. The right hon. Gentleman also said it is strange that the friends of Ireland should always be denouncing everybody in it. Now, Sir, it is perfectly true, that, even during this Fenian conspiracy, there has been a section of this House, which has been denouncing everybody in Ireland, save and except the Roman Catholic hierarchy in that country. Well, Sir, are the Roman Catholic hierarchy the masters of Ireland? And, if so, how far does their agency, through a certain section of this House, make them the masters of England? That is a question which the English people are just beginning to ask themselves; because, without intending the slightest disrespect towards the Roman Catholic Members for Ireland, by the constant agitation which they keep up in this House, supported by agitators in their own country, they seem to flatter themselves that they have reduced the rest of this House to a condition of terror, that the hon. Member for Cork can rise in his place and say—"Yield all we ask, or expect the disruption of the Empire." Now, Sir, I have always wished well to Ireland. I have concurred in the establishment of an Irish poor law. I concurred in the loans that were made during the famine. I voted with Lord George Bentinck when he first proposed the loans of public money, which were afterwards made for the establishment of railroads. And, in short, I cannot reproach myself with ever having to my knowledge voted against any measure that was for the real benefit of Ireland. But when the state of Ireland is such that those hon. Members themselves have concurred in the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, in that great limitation of the personal freedom of their fellow-countrymen, yet still keep up this threatening agitation, I think it is time for us to declare that such language as this we will not obey. And that, with a view to the future peace of Ireland, it is better, 1632 that it should be at once understood, that we are not to be terrified by agitation, by sedition, nay, by rebellion itself, into legislating for Ireland in a manner which we consider to be not only inconsistent with the permanent welfare of that country, but which—and it is a matter that really concerns our constituents—would be dangerous to the interests of the United Kingdom, and of the whole Empire. The hon. Member for Cork, in the course of his speech, adverted to some former legislation with respect to Ireland. Now, I own that I am rather tired of hearing these perpetual allusions to what are called the "Penal Laws," and I will tell the hon. Member why. From a feeling of generosity, from a feeling that I did not wish to give offence, I have hitherto abstained from reverting to the circumstance which rendered those penal laws necessary. What were the circumstances connected with the passing of the penal law to which the hon. Member for Cork referred, when he said—Only conceive the barbarism of no Papist being allowed to keep a horse, which might not be demanded of him on the tender of £5.Well, Sir, that statement produced rather an impression on the House, and it was thought that those who had preceded us, as Members of the English Legislature, must have been simply barbarians. But what were the circumstances which were connected with the passing of that Act? It is the 1st of William and Mary, c. 15, and it enacts—That no suspected Papist who shall neglect to take the oath appointed by law.This was an oath of allegiance—When tendered to him by two justices of the peace, or who shall not appear before them upon notice from one, authorized by warrant under their hands and seals, shall keep any arms, or ammunition, or horse above the value of £5 in his possession, or in that of any person to his use, other than such as shall be allowed him by the sessions for the defence of his house or person.Now the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act is a much more stringent measure than this, for it does more than take the rebel's horse on the payment of £5; it renders any suspected person liable to imprisonment. And I say that it is rather hard that the hon. Member should come down to the House and cast portions of these former Acts of the Legislature in our teeth without giving any explanation of their real character. What were the circumstances of Ireland at the time this Act was passed? After James II. had 1633 been expelled from the throne of England he returned to Ireland—he was received by the Irish Parliament with open arms. And how did he rule? He established, he adopted Ultramontane principles of government, guided, as it is well known, by the Jesuits who surrounded him. He banished the Protestant Members of the House of Commons. He attainted 3,000 Protestants. He established so barbarous a system that he drove the Protestants into rebellion. He debased the coinage, after having confiscated every estate the title to which could be claimed by any of the former ecclesiastical houses. Fortunately for the country he was expelled from Ireland; still he had so worked on the fanatical instincts of the Roman Catholics, that the Parliament of England, in order to save their Protestant co-religionists from the butchery they were undergoing, were obliged to pass this Act, the barbarous provisions of which, as they have been termed, I have read to the House. I trust that hon. Members will in future abstain from stating one portion of a fact with the view of bringing into odium former Governments of the country and raising the suspicion that England has exercised an unnecessary severity towards Ireland; for I have shown that this very Act was not so severe as the Act which we are now enforcing in Ireland, and to which the Irish Members have given their acquiescence. But there are characteristics of this Fenian conspiracy, which, I confess, fill me with apprehension. It is almost exclusively a Roman Catholic movement. I know that there are Roman Catholics, who are loyal and devoted subjects of Her Majesty; but I know also, that there is in their Church a sect, which is at present dominant at Rome. It is this sect which stirred up the Polish revolution. It is this sect which has sworn perpetual hostility to every Government that is not Catholic; and I more than suspect that this sect is at the bottom of the Fenian movement, not only in Ireland but in New York. There are those, and I speak from information, who are connected with that sect, and a particular order, of the Church of Rome, who have stimulated and are still stimulating this disposition to rebellion in Ireland, as they stimulated the rebellion in Poland, for the purpose of making war upon a Government, which does not acknowledge the head of their religious creed as supreme. What is the character of the facts which were adduced by the hon. Member for Cork in his work on America? 1634 He says that when he was in the United States—and this was quoted by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Calne—he met a man who was connected with the Fenian movement, and that the man said, "He did not mind the landlords, but the bloody English Government and the Peelers!" Now, what has the English Government done to deserve this? Simply, the Government of England and the Legislature of England have been guilty of this: that, although they are ready to make every just concession to the Roman Catholics of Ireland, we will not allow this sect, now dominant in Rome, to dominate either in Ireland or over England. That, Sir, is our offence—and it is an offence which we shall most certainly repeat. I have made these allusions, because it appears to me that, although Her Majesty's Government admit, that, after so grave a manifestation of seditious feeling in Ireland, it would be right to inquire, they are about to take their inquiry into a wrong direction. Her Majesty's Government are about to issue a Commission to inquire into the tenure of land in Ireland. At the same time they are prepared with a measure of their own, the object of which is to remove the difficulties which are connected with that question. I rejoice that they have determined upon the introduction of a measure, which I look upon as an eminently wise one. I believe that the requiring of a written contract—and the more specific the better—between landlord and tenant will be as successful in Ireland as I have found it to be upon my own estate, and that therein will be found a solution of the tenant-right difficulty; because after a contract is once drawn in terms sufficiently specific and duly stamped, it is a legal instrument which is binding on both parties to it; and the tenant, if he is ousted from his holding, has only to produce that document, and if it includes, as it should do, provisions for compensation for improvements, he can recover at once by a Simple process in any Court of Law. I think, then, that that is an eminently wise proposal on the part of the Government. But, in addition to this measure, they propose a further inquiry into the tenure of land in Ireland, and it appears to me, that if we pass their Bill, such an inquiry is not necessary. For it will be an ex post facto inquiry, the means of remedying the evil complained of having already been adopted. Then Her Majesty's Government propose to set on foot an in- 1635 quiry into the Established Church of Ireland; that inquiry, indeed, has already commenced, but it does not seem to give contentment to a great many hon. Members on the other side of the House. They complain that if this inquiry be operative and the Establishment of the Church be reformed by the different application of some of its surplus funds, that a grievance of which they are very fond would be spoilt. But there is a peculiarity about these two subjects of inquiry. The Government are about to issue a Commission to inquire into the conduct of the landlords who are Protestants; and another Commission has been issued to inquire into the Church Establishment in Ireland, which is also Protestant; while the real manifestation of seditious discontent, which has occasioned the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, is the effect of a Roman Catholic conspiracy. It appears to me that the inquiries to be instituted by the Government will be directed for the annoyance, and probably the alteration of the position, of the loyal landlords of Ireland and the loyal Protestant Establishment of Ireland. And why? Because there has been a Roman Catholic conspiracy in that country It really seems to me that, if ever inquiry was directed to a wrong quarter, these two branches of the inquiry are So, for their aim is utterly beside the object. But there is yet another proposal of the Government—a measure is contemplated, and that without inquiry, for the establishment of a Roman Catholic University in Ireland. Here, then, are Her Majesty's Ministers about, first, to inquire into the tenure of land, after having produced a scheme for correcting the evils arising out of the existing system, and then a Commission to inquire into the Church Establishment, which they declare that they desire to reform, but do not intend to disturb. And at the same time they propose to establish an exclusively Roman Catholic University—in other words to introduce an anomaly, a perfect anomaly, in the educational system of Ireland; and that without any inquiry whatever! What can be said of such a policy? There may be a policy in it, and there may be system; but it is not consistent with the alleged necessity. I believe that many of the most intelligent lay Roman Catholics are quite right when they approach the Legislature and beseech us not to establish an exclusively Roman Catholic University. I hold in my hand a pamphlet by a Mr. James 1636 Lowry Whittle, a barrister, and a person evidently of the highest intelligence; he is a Roman Catholic; he writes with undoubted ability, with an, eagerness and earnestness, which are unmistakable; and he declares that no greater tyranny could be inflicted upon the educated Roman Catholics of Ireland than by the establishment and endowment of an exclusively Roman Catholic University. Now, if the House could give me the requisite time and attention, I would read every word of Mr. Whittle's pamphlet, and I will tell the hon. Members from Ireland opposite why—I would do so because I can substantiate from other sources the statements which it contains. I refer to this pamphlet as a memorable protest from a Roman Catholic who must know what are the tendencies of the Church of Rome at the present time. He is a person—and this appears clearly from the facts which he has adduced—who must have studied the subject fully. And he prays that you will not inflict such an injury upon the Roman Catholics of Ireland as the establishment of an exclusively Roman Catholic University. What would be the inevitable consequence of your doing so? Why that those Roman Catholics who now send their sons to Trinity College, and to the Queen's Colleges will be urged by that Ultramontane Legate, Dr. Cullen, with all the authority and all the terrors of his Church, to send their sons to the only establishment that will be under his direct control. When the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department said, that he is willing to support such an establishment, on the ground that he is in favor of the denominational system of education, because he prefers the denominational to the mixed system, and because the national System of education in Ireland having been once a mixed system is now fast becoming a denominational system, it struck me that the right hon. Gentleman had been carried away by his consistency and his admiration for logical sequence, to an extent that could not be justified by the circumstances. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he is so steadfastly in favor of a denominational system that in India he would establish a University for teaching the religion of Juggernaut or the system of Thuggee? The facts of the case are plain before us. We should all prefer, at least very many of us would prefer, the denominational system if we were not warned by Roman Ca- 1637 tholics themselves, that at this moment such is the predominance of Ultramontane opinion at Rome—that phase of opinion of which the Jesuits have always been the exponents—that they are perfectly confident that the establishment of this Roman Catholic University would be converted into a means of tyranny over themselves and their families. Sir, it has been said that Rome is always the same. But will anybody pretend to tell me that the government of the Roman Catholic Church in the first year of the reign of the present Pope was conducted on the same principles that have since characterized the Pontificate? Mr. Whittle, the writer of the pamphlet to which I have alluded, says that it is only since the year 1849 that this growing preponderance of Ultramontane opinion in the government of the Church of Rome has been manifested. Upon that point, however, I am inclined in some degree to differ from Mr. Whittle, because the turning point was this. By a Brief dated the 2nd of October, 1836, the late Pope committed the Propaganda, the centre in Rome of all the missions of the regular orders of the Church, to the "Gesu"—that is, to the control and direction of the Jesuits. That is a fact which has passed out of sight. The great importance of this fact was very little known at the time; but it has been manifested since, because, although the present Pope was thought to be a Liberal Pope when he first ascended the throne, by some unhappy accident there arose a rebellion in Rome, and so terrified was his Holiness that he fled to Gaëta. He started a Liberal from Rome; he returned an Ultramontane from Gaëta. It is a very singular fact that the Padre Ventura, a celebrated Jesuit, who preached the late Mr. O'Connell's funeral oration, was one of the last of the ecclesiastics who lingered at Rome in 1848, and, as it seems, that he might convey intelligence to the Pope at Gaëta, of the appearance of the French troops before Rome. One thing is clear, that within the present century Rome has never been so Ultramontane as it is at this moment. We hear noble Lords and hon. Gentlemen advert to the facts that Mr. Pitt established Maynooth College, and in 1801 desired to carry Emancipation, and state these facts as if they ought now to govern every consideration connected with the Court of Rome. Let us see what were the circumstances of the Papacy at that time. Why, at the instance of the Courts 1638 of Europe, in the month of July, 1773, the Jesuits were suppressed by Pope Clement XIV., and Rome—Mr. Whittle alludes to the fact—was comparatively tolerant and liberal from that day until 1814, when the then Pope re-established the Order of Jesuits. In the year 1836, as I have already intimated, the Pope committed to their charge all the missions of the regular orders of the Church of Rome throughout the world, and made the Propaganda, in fact, subordinate to the Gesu. I advert to this fact, not without reference to Ireland; for, under the Brief of 1851, the former Canon law and customs of the Roman Church in England were broken up, and every cause from England was referred to the Propaganda, which is subject to the Gesu; and under the powers of another Brief, or instrument, owing to some supposed difference in the position of the Roman Catholic communion in Ireland from that of their co-religionists in England, the Pope assumed the following year the power to break up the ancient Canon law, customs, or constitution of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland, whereby the Roman Catholic Bishops in that country had been privileged to nominate three persons, when a vacancy took place in the Episcopate, one of whom the Pope was bound to choose. In defiance of this, the Pope, acting under the Brief or some instrument of 1852—I think it was—nominated Cardinal Cullen, contrary to the recommendation of the Roman Catholic Bishops in Ireland—a man who was notorious for his Ultramontane opinions whilst employed for thirty years at Rome, and who since he has been in Ireland, as Mr. Whittle plainly shows, has been the source and centre of Ultramontanism. Yet it is with such an ecclesiastic, such a Legate, who has power to bind the bishops when assembled in synod at any time, with such an Ultramontane firebrand at the head of affairs, that we are asked to establish for the first time an exclusively Roman Catholic University in Ireland, knowing that through it he can dominate over the Roman Catholic families in Ireland. I remember the circumstances that were connected with the passing of the Maynooth Act of 1845. Sir Robert Peel was unfortunately induced to propose that measure, and thereby really laid the foundation of the subsequent disruption of his party, for it was at the close of that year, that men began to distrust him as their political Leader. And why? Because they were convinced that the 1639 teaching of Maynooth would become what is called Ultramontane. And it has been proved to be so before a Commission of Inquiry since then, that the teaching of Maynooth is Ultramontane. Who, indeed, could doubt that now, with Dr. Cullen at the head of the Roman Catholic hierarchy in Ireland, the teaching could be anything else? Then we are told that, whilst an exclusively Roman Catholic University is to be established in Ireland, without inquiry, we ought to inquire into the conduct of the Protestant landlords of Ireland, and the Protestant Church of Ireland, and it is assumed, and without inquiry, that we who have always objected to the Maynooth Act from the first—that we, who know, that an Ultramontane authority is now predominantly established in Ireland, by the Pope, through Cardinal Cullen—that we are to vote for the establishment of an exclusively Roman Catholic University in Ireland, which will be a glaring anomaly in the whole system of education, that Parliament have hitherto maintained, and this in the teeth of the remonstrances of educated and intelligent Homan Catholics, who have always been the friends of England, and who, I believe, will continue to be so as long as we, Protestants, can keep them free from the domination of the sect which at present in Rome is supreme, and is pursuing the course that was taken by the Jesuits up to the year 1773, when, at the instance of the Powers of Europe, the whole order of Jesuits was condemned and suppressed by the Pope as flagrant and persistent disturbers of the peace of the world. I deeply regret that Her Majesty's Government should have contemplated the introduction of such a measure. Whether they intend to persevere with it a good many of us doubt. And why? There are several right hon. and hon. Gentlemen seated on the Treasury Bench, who have concurred with us, from first to last, in the endeavor to secure the freedom of our Roman Catholic fellow-countrymen by resisting the attempts of Ultramontanism, who have voted with us on these subjects for years, and who have no ground to change their opinions now; for there is nothing in the aspect of the times that can justify such a change, unless it be the fact that the Roman Catholic hierarchy in Ireland are said not to have lent themselves to the Fenian rebellion. Well, that is a very remarkable argument, and a very questionable compliment; for it seems to imply the suspicion 1640 that they have an inclination to rebel. Let us bear in mind what will be the inevitable result of a Protestant Government lending itself to the promotion of the supremacy of Ultramontanism—which is but another name for Jesuitism—in the education of the higher classes of the Irish Homan Catholics. M. Cretineau Joly, the historian of the Jesuits, and their great admirer, relates how the Jesuits after their expulsion and condemnation by the laws of this country, secretly crept back into England; and the first gaining possession of Stoneyhurst. Mr. Pitt, occupied by the struggle with the first Napoleon, overlooked or disregarded this circumstance; and we all know that, relying upon the liberal and peaceful disposition of the Papacy manifested by the suppression of the order of Jesuits from 1773, he afterwards established Maynooth, but upon a totally different footing from the present. M. Cretineau Joly relates also the means, by which, through the establishment of Clongowes, a Jesuit college near Maynooth, the Jesuits managed to obtain domination over Maynooth, as they subsequently have in 1836 obtained the command of the Propaganda. I am not disposed, then, to give my support to any proposal for the establishment of Ultramontanism in the important matter of education. It would weary the House, or I might read at length the opinion of many distinguished men upon Ultramontane education. Whom shall I select? M. Lamartine. He was educated among the Jesuits, and he has declared in his work, Les Confidences, his profound suspicion and dislike of the Jesuit system of education. I might read to you a description of the sort of education pursued by the Jesuits, which was on their part tendered to the Government of Russia in the year 1812 by the Count de Maistre, author of the Livre du Pape. He was an eminent Ultramontane. He condemns the study of natural history, because he says, that, like poetry, it tends to make some men presumptuous, and others ridiculous. And then let the House mark this. The Count de Maistre emphatically condemns the general study of history—he says that the instructor must very carefully select the books; "For that," speaking generally, "no species of literature is more corrupting," and he ends by condemning altogether the general study of history! You cannot say that this is not the Ultramontane system of education. I will give you a more recent instance. Remember that, 1641 after the coup d'état in France, the Ultramontanists, the Jesuits, in 1852, obtained the command of the University of Paris. They banished the study of history—they drove the Professors of History, Michelet and Quinet, from their chairs; and the study of history remained closed for several years. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Calne told us that he dislikes historical speeches; but I was glad to hear him objecting to the establishment of a Roman Catholic University, which, if it became Ultramontane, as it inevitably must, would exclude the general study of history, and limit its instruction, as was the case with the University of Paris after the coup d'état. Who, then, can believe that the proposed establishment of an exclusively Roman Catholic University in Ireland will tend to the promotion of liberal education? So far from that, I believe it will tend only to disseminate among the laity the opinions for which the Ultramontane faction are remarkable—a stern fanaticism, and a devotion to the ambition of the Holy See, which would be totally incompatible with their allegiance to a Protestant Government. What is the security we are to have that this University, if established, will not be Ultramontane? We are told to rely upon the proposed lay element in its government. It is to have a governing body consisting of five ecclesiastics and six laymen. Well, look at the College of Maynooth. There you have provided lay trustees; but have they been able to control the education which is given at Maynooth? It is notorious that they have not. Read the Encyclical Letter which was issued by the present Pope in 1864. Look at the syllabus of condemned errors, by which it was accompanied, and you cannot fail to understand, that the Pope condemns the idea of any lay influence predominating in education. Then ask yourselves, whether he will ever sanction effectual lay interference in the direction of the studies of a University, which is to be exclusively Roman Catholic. Remember that the Roman Catholic ecclesiastics have, through the terrors wielded by their Church, the power, in any matter, in which their superiority is declared by the Pope, of coercing and subduing any layman, whose conscience is susceptible of obedience to the dictates of the Holy See. Under existing circumstances, therefore, in the present state of Ireland, considering also the Ultramontane violence of the Court of Rome, I believe that no more unfortunate measure 1642 could be devised by a Government or accepted by this House than the establishment of an exclusively Roman Catholic University in Ireland.
When this debate began it was not my intention to take any part in it; for I had very lately, in another place, and to a larger audience, added my contribution to the great national deliberations upon Irish affairs which is now in progress. But the speech of the noble Lord the Chief Secretary for Ireland, and some misunderstanding which has arisen with respect to what I said elsewhere, has changed my intention, and therefore I have to ask for the indulgence of the House, in the hope that I may make on this question rather a more practical speech than that to which we have just listened. It is said by eminent censors of the Press that this debate will yield about thirty hours of talk, and will then end in no result. I have observed that all the great questions in this country require thirty hours of talk many times repeated before those great questions are settled. There is much shower and much sunshine between the sowing of the seed and the reaping of the harvest, but the harvest is generally reaped after all. I was very much struck with what happened on the first night of the debate. My hon. Friend the Member for Cork, in the opening portion of his address, described the state of Ireland from his point of view, and the facts he stated are not and could not be disputed. He said that the Habeas Corpus Act had been suspended for three years in his country—that within the island there was a large military force, amounting, as we have heard to-night—besides 12,000 or more of armed police—to an army of 20,000 men—that in the harbors of Ireland there were ships of war, and in her rivers there were gunboats; and that throughout that country—and also, as we know, throughout this—there has been, and is yet, considerable alarm with regard to the discontent prevalent in Ireland. All that is quite true; but when the noble Lord the Chief Secretary for Ireland opened his speech, the first portion of it was of a very different complexion. I am willing to admit that to a large extent it was equally true. He told us that the condition of the people of Ireland was considerably better now than it was at the time of the Devon Commission. At the time of the Devon Commission the condition of that country had no parallel in any civilized and Chris- 1643 tian nation. By the force of famine, pestilence, and emigration, the population was greatly diminished, and it would be a very extraordinary thing, indeed, if, with such a diminution of the population, there was no improvement in the condition of those who remained behind. The noble Lord showed us that wages were higher; he pointed to the fact that in the trade in and out of the Irish ports they had a considerable increase; and though I will not say that all of those comparisons were quite accurate or, perhaps, quite fair, I am, on the whole, ready to admit the truth of the statement the noble Lord made. But now it seems to me that, admitting the truth of what my hon. Friend the Member for Cork said, and admitting equally the truth of what the noble Lord said, there remains before us a question even graver than any we have had to discuss in past years with regard to the condition of Ireland. If—and this has been already referred to by more than one Speaker—if it be true that with a considerable improvement in the physical condition of the people—if it be true that with a universality of education much beyond that which exists in this island—if it be true that after the measures that have been passed, and have been useful, there still remains in Ireland, first of all what is called Fenianism, which is a reckless and daring exhibition of feeling—beyond that a very wide discontent and disloyalty—and beyond that, amongst the whole of the Roman Catholic population universal dissatisfaction—if that be so, surely my hon. Friend the Member for Cork—one of the most useful and eminent of the representatives of Ireland—is right in bringing this question before the House. And I venture to say that there is no question whatever at this moment that we could possibly discuss connected with the interest or honor of the Nation that approaches in gravity and magnitude to that now before us. And if this state of things be true—and remember I have said nothing but what the hon. Member for Cork has said—and I have given my approval to nothing he has said that was not confirmed by the speech of the noble Lord—if this be true, surely all this great effect must have some cause. And we are unworthy of our position as Members of this House, and representatives of our countrymen, if we do not endeavor at least to discover the cause, and if we can discover it, steadily to apply a remedy. The cause is perfectly well known 1644 to both sides of the House. The noble Lord (the Earl of Mayo) knows it—it is clear, even from the tenor of his own speech, that he knows it. He spoke of the questions of the land and of the Church. The noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn—whose observations in this debate, if he had offered them, we should have been glad to listen to—understands it, for he referred to the two questions in his speech at the Bristol banquet. The right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government understands it, not only as well as I do, but he understands it precisely in the same sense, and, what is more, more than twenty years ago, when I stated in this House the things, or nearly the things, I stated recently, and shall state to-night, he, from your own Benches, was making speeches exactly of the same import. And though there is many a thing he seems at times not to recollect, yet I am bound to say he recollects these words, and the impressions, of which these words were the expressions, to the House. The right hon. Gentleman put it in a very short phrase when he described the ills of Ireland as connected with "an absentee aristocracy and an alien Church." I would not say a syllable about the aristocracy in this matter; if I had to choose a phrase I would rather say "an absentee proprietary and an alien Church." Well, what are the obvious remedies? What are the remedies for this state of things that have been found sufficient in every other country? If I could do so by any means that did not violate the rights of property, I would be happy to give to a considerable portion of the farmers of Ireland some proprietary rights, and at the same time to remove from that country the sense of injustice, and the sense—the strongest of all—of the injustice caused by the existence of an alien Church. Just at this moment look at the proposition the noble Lord is about to submit to the House on the land question. It is very like the Bill of last year. I will not enter into the details of the Bill, except to say that he proposes, as he proposed then, that the Government should lend the tenant-farmers of Ireland sums of money, by which they would make improvements, which sums of money were to be re-paid by some gradual process to the Government authorities, and that the re-payment should be spread over a considerable number of years—I do not know the exact number, and it does not in the least matter, so far as my argument is con- 1645 cerned. These tenant-farmers are very numerous—perhaps too numerous it may be, for the good of the country—but there they are, and we must deal with them as we find them. The number of them holding under fifteen acres is 250,000; holding between fifteen acres and thirty acres, 136,000; holding over thirty acres, 158,000: altogether there are more than 540,000 holders of land. It is to these 540,000 tenant land-holders that the noble Lord proposes to offer to lend money, on the condition that they make certain improvements, and re-pay, after a certain number of years the sums advanced to them. I think I am right in saying that there is no limitation in the Bill as to the smallness of the holding to which the lending of money will be refused; and therefore the whole 540,000 tenants will be in a position to come to the Government, or to some Commission, or to the Board of Works, or to some authorities in Ireland, and ask for money to enable them to improve their farms. The House will see at once that if this plan is to produce any considerable result, it will be the source of an enormous transaction, or rather of a number of transactions, such as the Government have not had to deal with in any other matter; and I expect that the difficulties will be very great, and that the working out of the plan, with any really beneficial results will be almost, if not altogether, impossible. What I ask the House is this:—If it be right of the noble Lord, to enable him to carry out his plan, to ask the House to pass a measure like this—to lend all those tenants the money for improvements to be re-paid after a series of years, would it not be possible for us by a somewhat similar process, and by some steps farther in the same direction, to establish to some extent—I am not speaking of extending it all through Ireland—a farmer proprietary throughout the country? If it be right and proper to lend money to improve it surely may be proper, if it be on other grounds judicious, to lend money to buy. I do not know if the right hon. Member for Calne is here, perhaps he is not; but if he were, I hope he would spare me from the severe criticisms he expended upon my hon. Friend the Member for Westminster. Now, I am as careful as any man can be, I believe, of doing anything by law that shall infringe what you think and what I think are the rights of property. I do not pretend to believe or to admit that there is anything, if you examine the terms strictly, in what 1646 is called the "absolute property in land." You may toss a sixpence into the sea if you like; but there are things with respect to land which you cannot, and ought not, and dare not do. But I do not want to argue the question of legislation upon that ground. I am myself, of opinion that there is no class in the community more interested in a strict adherence to the principles of political economy, carried out in a benevolent and just manner, than the humblest and poorest class in the country. I think they have as much interest in it as the rich, and the House has never known me—and so long as I stand here will never know me—I believe, to propose or advocate anything which shall interfere with what I believe to be, and what if a landowner I would maintain to be, the just right of property in the land. But, then, I do not think, as some persons seem to think, that the land is really only intended to be in the hands of the rich. I think that is a great mistake. I am not speaking of the poor—for the poor man, in the ordinary meaning of the term, cannot be the possessor of land; but it cannot be a crime or an evil that any man of moderate means, any farmer, should, if he could, become the possessor of land or of his farm. About two centuries ago, two very celebrated men in this country endeavored to form a Constitution for Carolina, which was then one of the colonies of this country in North America. Lord Shaftesbury, the statesman, and Mr. Locke, the philosopher, attempted to frame a Constitution, and they did so, with the notion of having great proprietors over the country, and men to cultivate it as tenants holding from them. I recollect that Mr. Bancroft, the historian of the colonization of the United States, describing the nature of that attempt and its utter failure said—The instinct of aristocracy dreads the moral power of a proprietary yeomanry, and therefore the perpetual degradation of the cultivators of the soil was enacted.There is no country in the world, in which there are only landowners and tenants, with no great manufacturing interests to absorb the population, in which the degradation of the cultivating tenant is not absolutely assured. Now, I hope that hon. Members opposite, and hon. Gentlemen on this side who may be disposed in some degree to sympathize with them, will not for a moment imagine that I am discussing this question in any spirit of hostility, I will not say to the aristocracy of Ireland, but to the landowners of Ireland. I have 1647 always argued that the landowners of Ireland, in their treatment of this question, have grievously mistaken not only the interests of the population, but their own. I was told the other day by a Member of this House, who comes from Ireland and is eminently capable of giving a sound opinion upon the point, that he believed the whole of Ireland might be bought at about twenty years' purchase; but you know that the land of England is worth thirty years' purchase, and I believe a great deal of it much more. Well, it is owing to circumstances which legislation may, in a great degree, remove that the land of Ireland is worth at this moment so much less than the land of England. Coming back to the question of buying farms, I put it to the House, whether, if it be right to lend to landlords for improvements, and to tenants for improving the farms of their landlords, to those who propose to carry on public works, and the men who wish to repair the ravages of the cattle plague—if it be right for Parliament to lend money for all these things—I ask whether it is not also right for them to lend money in cases where it may be advantageous to landlords, and where they may be very willing to consent to establish a portion of the tenant-farmers of Ireland as proprietors of their farms. Now, bear in mind that I have never spoken about peasant proprietors. I do not care whether they are peasant proprietors or what name you give them; I am in favor of more proprietors, and some, of course, will be small and some will be large; but it will be quite possible for Parliament, if it thinks fit, to do nothing for this transfer from the landlord who is willing to sell to the tenant who is willing to buy in cases where there is less than a certain fixed number of acres. I believe that you can establish a steady class of moderate proprietors, who will form a class intermediate between the great owners of land and those who are absolutely landless, which will be of immense service in giving steadiness, loyalty, and peace to the whole population of the island. The noble Lord, as Chief Secretary, knows perfectly well at what price be could lend the necessary money, and I will just state to the House one fact which will show how the thing would work; the extent to which you would carry it would be left to the decision of Parliament. If you were to lend money at 3½ per cent, in thirty-five years the tenant, paying 5 per 1648 cent, would have paid the whole money back and all the interest due on it, and would become the owner of his farm; and if you were to take the rate at which you have lent to the Harbor Commissioners, and to repair the ravages of the cattle plague, which is 3¼ per cent, of course the tenant paying 5 per cent would repay the principal sum in a shorter period. Therefore, in a term which in former times was not unusual as the length of leases in Ireland—namely, thirty-one years, the tenant purchasing his farm, without probably his present rent being raised, would re-pay to the Government the principal and interest of the sum borrowed for that purpose, would become the owner of his farm, and during the whole of that time would have absolute fixity of tenure. Every year he would be paying off more and more; every year this field and that field would be added to his ownership; and he would know that at the end of this ordinary term of lease he would become the actual owner of the soil. Let not the House imagine that I am proposing to buy up the whole of the land. I am proposing only to buy it in cases where men are willing to sell, and to transfer it only in cases where men are able and willing to buy, and you must know as well as I that there will be many thousands of such cases in a few years. Every Irish proprietor opposite—the noble Lord the Member for Tyrone (Lord Claud Hamilton) himself, who made so animated a speech, and appeared so angry with me a short time ago—must know perfectly well that amongst the tenancy of Ireland at this moment there is a considerable sum of saved money not invested in farms. Well, that saved money would all come out to carry into effect transactions of this nature; and you would find the most extraordinary efforts made by thousands of tenants to become possessors of their farms by investing their savings in them, by obtaining it may be the assistance of their friends, and by an industrious and energetic cultivation of the soil such as has scarcely ever been seen in Ireland. I said there were landlords willing to sell, and there are cases in which, probably, Parliament might insist upon a sale—for instance, they might insist upon the sale of the land of the London companies. I never heard of much good that was done by all the money of the London companies. I was once invited to a dinner by one of those companies, and certainly it was of a very sumptuous and substantial character; but 1649 I believe that, if the tenants of these companies were proprietors of the lands they cultivate, it would be a great advantage to the counties in which they are situated. I come, then, to this: I would negotiate with landowners who were willing to sell, and tenants who were willing to buy, and I would make the land the great savings bank for the future of the tenancy of Ireland. If you like, I would limit the point to which we might go down in the transference of farms; but I would do nothing in the whole transaction which was not perfectly acquiesced in by both landlord and tenant, and I would pay the landlord every shilling he could fairly demand in the market for the estate he proposed to sell. Well, I hope every Gentleman present will acquit me of intending confiscation, and that we will have no further misunderstanding upon that point. I venture to say to the noble Lord the Chief Secretary, that this is a plan which would be within compass and management compared to that laid down in his Bill, if it worked at all, and I believe this would do a hundred times as much good, in putting the tenants upon the footing of owners of land in Ireland. What do hon. Gentlemen think would become of an American Fenian if he came over to Ireland, and happened to spend an evening with a number of men who had got possession of their farms? I remember my old friend Mr. Stafford, in the county of Wexford, whom I called upon in 1849, who had bought his farm and had built upon it the best farmhouse which I saw in the whole South of Ireland, and who told me that if all the tenancy of Ireland had security for their holdings—he was an old man of eighty years, and could scarcely rise from his chair, though he made an effort to do so—"If they had the security that I have, "said he, "we'd bate the hunger out of Ireland." If the Fenian spent his evening with such men as these, and proposed his reckless schemes to them, not a single farmer would listen to him for a moment. Their first impression would be that he was mad; their second, perhaps, that the whiskey had been too strong for him; and it would end, no doubt, if he persisted in his efforts to seduce them from their allegiance to the Imperial Government, by their turning him off the premises, though perhaps, knowing that he could do no harm, they might not hand him over to the police. The other day I passed through the county of Somerset, and through villages that must be well known 1650 to many Gentlemen here—Radley-Stoke, and Drayford I think they were called—and I noticed a great appearance of life and activity about the neighborhood. I asked the driver of the carriage which had brought me from Wells what was doing there. "Why," he said, "don't you know that is the place where the great sale took place?" "What sale?" I asked. "Oh the sale of the Duke's property." "What Duke?" "The Duke of Bucking, ham. Did you never hear of it? About fifteen years ago his property was sold in lots, and the people bought all the farms. You never saw such a stir in the world." He pointed out the houses which had been built to re-place old tumble-down tenements; the red soil appearing under the plough; and cultivation going on with general activity such as had not till within these last few years been witnessed. The appearance of these villages, in short, was such as to astonish every person who passed through them, being so wholly different to that which you would see in any other part of the country. Now, what had happened there? The great estate of an embarrassed Duke had been divided and sold. He had not been robbed. The land had been paid for, the tenants were in possession, the old, miserable hovels had been pulled down, new houses had been built and new life and activity given to the whole district. If you could have such a change as this in Ireland, you would have such a progress or prosperity that Gentlemen would hardly know the district from which they came. I think it is only fair to myself and to my hon. Friend the Member for Westminster (Mr. Stuart Mill), to say that I do not believe the time is come in Ireland, and I do not believe it will ever come when it will be necessary to have recourse to so vast and extraordinary a scheme as that which he has proposed to the House. I think it has been admitted by several Gentlemen that, conceiving such a thing possible, it might save time and money; but it appears to me that it is not necessary for Ireland. There is the land—there is the owner—there is the tenant. If the landowners had been a little wiser we might not have before us to-night the difficulty that perplexes us. Suppose, for example, they had not been tempted to coerce or to make use of the votes of their tenants; suppose they had not been tempted to withhold leases—undoubtedly the condition of Ireland would have been far superior to what it now is. My hon. Friend the 1651 Member for Westminster had some scruples, I believe, on the question of the Ballot; but I believe even he would not object to see that admirable machinery of election tried in that country. Do hon. Gentlemen think it not necessary? I was talking, only two days ago, to a Member of this House who sat on one of the Irish Election Committees—the Waterford or Tipperary Election Committee, I forget which—and he said, "We could not unseat the Members, though the evidence went to show a frightful state of things; it was one of the most orderly elections they have in that country—only three men killed and twenty-eight wounded." [Laughter.] After all, we may smile, and some of you may laugh at this; but it is not, in reality, a thing to be laughed at. It is a very serious matter, and it exists in no country in the world where the Ballot is in operation. If you were to try that mode of election in Ireland it would have two results: it would make your elections perfectly tranquil, and at the same time it would withdraw from the landowner—and a most blessed thing for the landowner himself this would be—it would withdraw from him the great temptation to make use of his tenant's vote for the support of his own political party; and if that temptation were withdrawn, you would have much more inducement to grant leases to many of your tenants, and you would take a step highly favorable, not to the prosperity of your tenants only, but to your own prosperity, and your own honor. Now, Sir, I shall say no more upon this question except this—that I feel myself at a disadvantage in making, to a House where landowners are so powerful and so numerous, a proposition of this nature; but I have disarmed them in so far that they can see I mean them no harm, and that what I propose is not contrary to the principles of political economy—and that if Government is at liberty to lend money for all the purposes to which I have referred, Government must be equally at liberty to lend money for this greater purpose—and, further, I venture to express my opinion, without the smallest hesitation or doubt, that if this were done to the extent of creating some few scores of thousands of farmer proprietors in Ireland, you would find that their influence would be altogether loyal; that it would extend around throughout the whole country; that whilst you were adding to the security of Government you would awaken industry 1652 in Ireland from its slumber, and you would have wealth that you had not had before, and, with wealth, contentment and tranquility in its train. Now, Sir, it may appear egotistical in me to make one remark more; but I think, if the House will not condemn me, I shall make it. Last year you did, under the Leadership of the right hon. Gentleman, accept a proposition which I had taken several years of trouble and labor to convince you was wise. Now, on Wednesday last—only two days ago—by an almost unanimous vote, you accepted a proposition with regard to another matter, exactly in the form in which six or seven years ago I had urged you to accept it. You in this House recollect when Mr. Speaker had to give the casting vote amidst vast excitement in the House on the miserable question of church rates; but now, on Wednesday last, you accepted that Bill almost without opposition; and I presume that, except for the formality of a third reading, we have done with the question for ever. Now, if you would kindly for a moment forget things that you read of me that are not favourable—and generally that are not true—and if you would imagine that though I have not an acre of land in Ireland, I can be as honestly a friend of Ireland as the man who owns half a county, it may be worth your while to consider for your own interest, the interests of your tenants, the security of the country from which you come, for the honor of the United Kingdom, whether there is not something in the proposition that I have made to you. Now, Sir, perhaps the House will allow me to turn to that other question which, on the authority of the noble Lord the Chief Secretary for Ireland, and the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn, and indeed on the authority of the Prime Minister himself, is considered the next greatest—perhaps I ought to have said the greatest—question we have to consider in connection with Irish affairs; I mean the Irish Church question. What is it that is offered upon this matter by the Government? The noble Lord himself said very little about it, but he is evidently not very easy on the subject; he knows perfectly well, and cannot conceal it, that the Irish Church question is at the root of every other question in Ireland. The noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn said also that it was, along with the land, the great and solemn question which we had to discuss, and he turned round—I could see it from 1653 the report in the paper, because I was not, as you may suppose at the Bristol banquet—he turned round with a look almost of despair, and implored somebody to come and tell us what ought to be done on this Irish question. And the Prime Minister himself, in speaking of it, called it an "alien Church." Bear that phrase in mind. It is a strong phrase—a phrase we can all understand—and we know that the right hon. Gentleman is a great master of phrases—he says a word upon something; it sticks; we all remember it, and this is sometimes a great advantage. "Alien Church" is the name he gives it; and now, what does the noble Lord, acting, no doubt, under the direction of his Colleagues and the Prime Minister, offer upon this question? Well, he rather offered a defence of it; he did not go into any argument, but still, at the same time, he rather defied anybody to make any assault upon it; he believed that it would not succeed, and that it was very wrong; but what does he really propose? Why this: to add another buttress to it in the shape of another bribe. He says that he will make an offer to the Roman Catholic hierarchy and people of Ireland—some say that the people do not want it, and that the hierarchy does want it; but I say nothing about that, because I hope the Catholic people of Ireland are at least able to defend themselves from the hierarchy, if the hierarchy wish too much to cripple them—he says he will endow a Roman Catholic University in Ireland. As the noble Lord went on with his speech he touched upon the question of the Presbyterian Regium Donum, and spoke of it, I think, as a miserable provision for the Presbyterians of the North of Ireland; and evidently, if he had had the courage—the desperate courage—to do it, he would have proposed, whilst he was offering to endow a new Roman Catholic University, to increase or double the Regium Donum. The noble Lord does not express any dissent from this, and I rather think he wishes that it was safely done. But the object of the proposal is this—What the noble Lord would like to have said to the hon. Gentlemen about him who came from Ireland to represent the Roman Catholic population, and to the Presbyterians of the North of Ireland, is this:—"If you will continue to support the Protestant Church in Ireland and the Protestant supremacy, we will endow you (the Roman Catholics) a University, really, if not professedly, 1654 under clerical rule; and as to you (the Presbyterians) we will double your stipends by doubling the amount of the Regium Donum." Now, why do you offer anything? Why is it we are discussing this question? Why did the noble Lord think it necessary to speak for three hours and twenty minutes on the subject? Because the state of Ireland is now very different from the state which we have sometimes seen, and very different, I hope, from that which many of us may live to see hereafter; because Ireland is in a certain portion of its population rebellious, in a larger portion loyal and contented, but in a still larger portion dissatisfied with something or other connected with the Imperial rule. Now, I must say—I hope the noble Lord will not think I am saying anything uncivil—but I must say that his proposition appears to be at once grotesque and imbecile—and I think at the same time—though I do not like to use unpleasant words—that to a certain extent it must be held to be—in fact, I think the hon. Gentleman the Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate) hinted as much—not only very wrong, but very dishonest. At this moment it seems to find no favour on either side of the House, although I can understand the Catholic Members of the House feeling themselves bound to say nothing against it, and, perhaps, if it came to a division to vote for it; but I believe there is not a Catholic Member on this side of the House who could in his conscience say that it was right in him to accept this proposition as a bribe that he should hereafter support Protestant supremacy. In fact, it appears to me exactly in the position now that the dual vote was in this time twelve months, and there are people who say that it has been brought forward with the same object—and by-and-by, as nobody is for it, the right hon. Gentleman will say that as nobody is in favour of it he will not urge it upon Parliament, Now, does anybody believe that a Catholic University in Ireland could have the smallest effect upon Fenianism, or upon the disloyalty, discontent, and dissatisfaction of which Fenianism is the latest and the most terrible expression? It is quite clear that, for the evil which we have to combat, the remedy which the right hon. Gentleman offers through the Chief Secretary for Ireland is no remedy at all. I recollect a paper written by Mr. Addison about the curious things that happened in his time, and he says, among other things, that there was a man 1655 down in some county—I do not know, whether it was Buckingham, or where it was—the man was not a Cabinet Minister, he was only a mountebank—but he set up a stall, and offered to the country people to sell them pills that were very good against earthquake. Well, that is about the state of things that we are in now. There is an earthquake in Ireland. Does anybody doubt it? I will not go into the evidence of it; but I will say that there has been a most extraordinary alarm—some of it extravagant, I will admit—throughout the whole of the three Kingdoms; and although Fenianism may be but a low, a reckless, and an ignorant conspiracy, the noble Lord has admitted that there is discontent and disaffection in the country; and when the Member for one of the great cities of Ireland comes forward and asks the assembled Imperial Parliament to discuss this great question—this social and political earthquake under which Ireland is heaving—the noble Lord comes forward and offers that there shall be a clerically-governed endowed University for the sons, I suppose, of the Catholic gentlemen of Ireland. I have never heard in this House a more unstatesmanlike or more unsatisfactory proposition; and I believe the entire disfavour with which it has been received is only the proper representation of the condemnation which it will receive throughout the great majority of the people of the three Kingdoms. Do not let anyone suppose that I join in the terms which I regretted greatly to hear from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stroud (Mr. Horsman), and still less that I join in the, in my opinion, worse and more offensive terms which fell from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe.) There can be no good in our attacking either the Catholic population or the Catholic hierarchy of Ireland. We have our duty straight before us, which is to do both the hierarchy and the people justice. We are not called upon to support, and I believe the people of Great Britain, and a very large portion of the people of Ireland, will rejoice when the House of Commons shall reject a proposition which is adverse to the course we have taken for many years past, and a proposition which would have no better effect in tranquillizing Ireland in the future than the increase of the Grant to Maynooth did in the past, now more than twenty years ago. Sir Robert Peel at that time, with the most honourable and kindly feeling to Ireland, proposed to 1656 increase the Grant to Maynooth, and it was passed, I think, by a large majority of the House, I being one of a very few persons on this side of the House who opposed the grant. I was as kindly disposed to the Catholics of Ireland as Sir Robert Peel; but I was satisfied that that was not the path of tranquillization, and that if he trod that path it would before any long time have to be retraced; and I think, if you now proceed upon the course recommended by the right hon. Gentleman, you will fail in the pacification of Ireland, and the time will come when you will have to retrace the steps he invites you to tread in now. Now, Sir, I think we have arrived at this point of the question—that we have absolutely arrived at it, and there is no escape from it—that it does not matter in the least whether the right hon. Gentleman sits on that Bench, or whether the right hon. Member for South Lancashire takes his place, or whether the two should unite—which is a very bold figure of speech—but I say that if the two should unite, it could not alter this fact, that the Protestant supremacy, as represented by a State Church in Ireland, is doomed, and is, in fact, at an end. Now, whatever are the details, and I admit that they will be very difficult details in some particulars, which may be introduced into the measure which shall enact the great change that the circumstances of Ireland and the opinion of the United Kingdom have declared to be necessary, this at least we have come to—that perfect religious equality henceforth, and not only religious equality, but equality on the voluntary principle, must be established in Ireland. Some hon. Gentlemen opposite have spoken about the pamphlet which has recently been written by Earl Russell. I would speak of Earl Russell, as the House knows, as I would always of a man older than myself, and whose services have been so long and so great to the country; I speak of him with great respect, and I say that the pamphlet is written with wonderful fire, that it contains in it very much that is interesting, and very much that is true, but its one fault is that it should have been published about forty years ago. Earl Russell's proposition is politically just in the division which he proposes of the property of the Church in Ireland, and if public opinion had not condemned the creation of new Established Churches it might have been possible to have adopted his scheme as it is. But I say the time has gone by for the establishment of new State Churches. 1657 They will never again be an institution of growth in this country, and I suspect there is no other country in the world which has not an Established Church that would wish to establish one. Now, if the House will allow me, I should like to advert to a little scheme on this matter which I was bold enough to state to my countrymen on the occasion to which I have referred. It is not a new scheme in my mind, for the whole principles of it, with an elaborate argument in its favour, was published very widely in the year 1852, in a letter which I wrote to my hon. Friend the Member for Kilkenny (Sir John Gray) who was one of certain persons—Members of Parliament, and others—who were met in conference in Dublin on the question of religious equality in Ireland. I only state this to show that it is no new idea, and that I have had plenty of time to consider it. There have been great objections to the plan, and amongst those who have objected to it, as might possibly have been expected, were gentlemen of the Liberation Society. Now, I know many of the leading members of that society, and they are very good men. Even those who may think they are mistaken, if they knew them they would join with me in that opinion. One of them, at least, who was once a Member of this House, and in all probability will be here again—Mr. Miall—is not only a good man, but he is a great man. I judge him by the nobleness of his principles, and by the grand devotion which he has manifested to the teaching of what he believes to be a great truth. Now I took criticisms from them kindly, as we ought to take them from our friends when they are honestly given. What is the condition of Ireland at this moment with which you have to deal? There is not only the Church which it is proposed to disestablish, but you have the Regium Donum, which, if the Church be disestablished, must necessarily be withdrawn; and you have, if these two things happen, the Grant to Maynooth, the Act conferring which must necessarily be repealed. Now, in doing these things, the House will observe that we shall disturb all the three principal sects, or Churches, in Ireland, and we can only do them, or attempt to do them, on the principle that we are about to accomplish some great public good. Well, my proposal, which some hon. Gentlemen, I dare say, will have some vague idea of, was made with the view of easing Parliament in the great transaction which I believe it cannot 1658 escape. It is a great thing in statesmanship, when you are about to make a change which is inevitable, and which shocks some, disturbs more, and makes hesitating people still more to hesitate—it is a great thing, I say, if you can make the past slide into the future without any great jar, and without any great shock to the feelings of the people. Well, now, in doing these things the Government can always afford to be generous and gracious to those whom it is obliged to disturb. We have found that this has been the case when needful changes have been proposed; for instance, hon. Gentlemen will recollect when the Tithe Commutation Act for Ireland was passed, that there was a certain concession made to the landowners of Ireland, to induce them to acquiesce in the proposition of Parliament. We know that when slavery was abolished a considerable sum of money was voted. Lord Derby proposed in this House that compensation should be given to the slave-owners. If it had not been for that, slavery would before long have been abolished by violence. But Parliament thought it was much better to take the step it did take; and I am not, at this period of time, about for a moment to dispute its wisdom. In all these things we endeavour, if we are forced to make a great change, to make it in such a manner as that we shall obtain the acquiescence and the support, if possible, of those who are most likely to be nearly affected by it. Suppose we were going to disestablish the Church of England or of Scotland, and I understand that there are a great number belonging to the Established Church of Scotland who are coming round to the opinion that it would be greatly to their benefit, and I think for the benefit of their Church, if it were disestablished—if we were going to disestablish the Church of Scotland or the Church of England, no person for a moment would suppose that, after having taken all the tithes and all the income from them, you would also take all the churches and all the parsonage houses from the Presbyterian people in Scotland, or from the Episcopal Church people in England. You would not do anything of that kind. You would do to them as we should wish, if we were in their position, that the Government and Parliament should do to us. Do what you have to do thoroughly for the good of the country, but do it in such a manner as shall do least harm, and as shall gain the largest amount of acquiescence from those 1659 whom you are about to affect. Well, I should say that that should be the course we should take about Ireland. I am very free in speaking on these matters. I am not a Catholic in the sense of Rome. I am not a Protestant in the sense in which that word is used in Ireland. I am not a Presbyterian as the term is understood in Ireland or Scotland. I am not connected with powerful sects in England. I think, from my training, and education, and association, and thought on these questions, I stand in a position which enables me to take as fair and unimpassioned a view of the matter as perhaps any man in the House. Now, if I were asked to give my advice—and if I am not asked I shall give it—I should propose that where there are congregations in Ireland—I am speaking now, of course, of the present Established Church—who would undertake to keep in repair the church in which they have been accustomed to worship, and the parsonage house in which their ministers live, Parliament should leave them in the possession of their churches and their parsonage houses. And I believe I speak the sentiment of every Catholic Member on this side of the House, and probably of every intelligent Catholic in Ireland, not only of the laity but of the hierarchy and the priesthood, when I say that they would regard such a course as that on the part of Parliament as just under the circumstances in which we are placed. Well then, of course there would be no more Protestant Bishops appointed by the Crown, and that institution in Ireland would come to an end, except it were continued upon the principle upon which Bishops of the Episcopal Church are appointed in Scotland. All State connection would be entirely abolished. You would then have all sects on an equality. The Protestants would have their churches and parsonage houses as they have now; but the repairs of them, and the support of their ministers, would be provided by their congregations, or by such an organization as they chose to form. The Catholics would provide, as they have hitherto done so meritoriously, and with such wonderful generosity, for themselves. No greater instance of generosity and fidelity to their Church can be seen in the world than that which has been manifested by the Catholic people of Ireland. They have their churches, their priests' houses, and in many places their glebes, all of which would be theirs still, and there would be no pretence for meddling with 1660 them. In the North of Ireland, where the Presbyterians are most numerous, they would also have their places of worship and their ministers' houses as they have now. All the Churches, therefore, in that respect would be on an equality. Well, now, the real point of this question, and which will create in all probability much feeling in Parliament and in the country, is—what should be done on the question of the Maynooth Grant, and on the question of the Regium Donum? They must be treated alike, I presume. If you preserve the life interests of the ministers and Bishops of the Established Church after it is disestablished, it may be right to preserve the life interests of the ministers of the Presbyterian Church, and it may be right also in some way or other to make some provision that shall not in the least degree bring them under the control of the State. And some provision might have to be made to the Catholic Church in lieu of the Maynooth Grant, which, of course, you would be obliged to withdraw. These are points which I will not discuss in detail. I merely indicate them for the sake of showing to the House, and to a great number of people who are regarding it with even more feeling than we do, what are some of the difficulties of this question—difficulties which must be met—difficulties which it will require all the moderation, all the Christian feeling, and all the patriotism which this House can muster on both sides of it, with the view of settling this question permanently, and to the general satisfaction of the three Kingdoms. Now, I will go no further, but to say that whatever is done—if a single sixpence is given by Parliament, in lieu of the Maynooth Grant, or in lieu of the Regium Donum, it must be given on these terms only—and on that matter I think Earl Russell has committed a great error—that it becomes the absolute property of the Catholics, or the Episcopalians, or of the Presbyterians—it must be as completely their property as the property of the great Wesleyan body in this country, or of the Independents, or of the Baptists, belongs to these bodies. It must be property which Parliament can never pretend to control, or regulate, or withdraw. And, having consented to that condition, the three Churches of Ireland would be started as voluntary Churches, and, instead of fighting—as I am sorry to say they have been fighting far longer than within the memory of man—I hope soon there would be a com- 1661 petition among them which should do most for the education, the morals, and the Christianity of the population who are within their instruction and guidance. Now, Protestants in this country—I think almost all Protestants—object very strongly to Rome. The Nonconformists object to State endowments. They sometimes, I think, confound establishments with endowments. I think it absolutely essential that establishments should cease, and that there should be nothing in the way of endowment unless it be some small provision such as I have indicated which it might be necessary to make when you are withdrawing certain things which the Churches in Ireland had supposed were theirs in perpetuity. Now, one word which I would say to the Nonconformist people of England and Scotland, if the House will allow me to speak, is this—they should bear in mind that the whole of this property which is now in the possession of the Established Church of Ireland is Irish property. It does not belong to Scotland or to England; and it would be a measure intolerable and not to be thought of that, it should be touched or dealt with in any manner that is not in accordance with the feelings, and the interests of the people of Ireland. Let any man who to-morrow criticizes this part of my speech ask himself, what an Irish Parliament freely elected would do with the ecclesiastical funds of Ireland? I think the Presbyterians of Scotland, the Churchmen and Nonconformists of England, have no right to suppose themselves to be judges with regard to religious matters in Ireland. They have a perfect right to say to Parliament through their representatives, "We will discontinue the State Church in Ireland, and we will create no other State Churches." But that seems to be about the extent of the interference which they are entitled to in this matter. I hope I have explained with tolerable clearness the views which I have felt it my duty to lay before the House on this great question. The House will see—and I think hon. Gentlemen op-opposite will admit—that at least I am disposed to treat it as a great question which, if it be dealt with, should be dealt with in the most generous, gracious, and, if you like, tender manner by Parliament, as respects the feelings and interests of all who are most directly concerned. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary in his speech last night said that this proposal to disestablish the Established Church of Ire- 1662 land was in point of fact in some sort a revolution. Well, there are big revolutions and little ones; this at any rate I am satisfied will be a revolution, when it is made, which will be not only bloodless, but full of blessings to the Irish people. I have not said a word—I never said a word in this House, and, I believe, never out of it, to depreciate the character of the clergymen of the Established Church in Ireland. I think no religious ministers are placed in a more unfortunate position; and I am satisfied that many of them feel it. I have not the least doubt when this transaction is once accomplished they will breathe more freely. I believe that they will be more potent in their ministrations, and I believe their influence, which must or ought to be considerable, will be far more extensive than it has been, and far more beneficial in the districts in which they live. But being so great a question, as the Home Secretary described it, it can only be settled by mutual and reasonable concession. The main principle being secured—that State Church supremacy is abolished in Ireland, and that the Irish Churches are henceforth to be free Churches upon the voluntary principle—then I would be willing, and I would recommend every person in the country whom my voice may reach, to make any reasonable concession that can be suggested in the case. I am afraid the right hon. Gentleman opposite is hardly in a position to undertake the settlement of this question; but so anxious am I that it should be done, that I should be delighted to co-operate with the right hon. Gentleman who sits opposite to me, and with hon. Members on the opposite side of the House, in support of any measure for settling this great question. But I say, if it ever does come to be dealt with by a great and powerful Minister, let it be dealt with in a great and generous spirit. I would counsel to all men moderation and justice. It is as necessary to Protestants as to Catholics and to Nonconformists that they should endeavour to get rid of passion in discussing this question, which, of all others, in all countries, is most calculated to create it. We are after all, I believe, of one religion. I imagine that there will come a time in the history of the world when men will be astonished that Catholics and Protestants, Churchmen and Nonconformists, have entertained such suspicion of and animosity against each other. I accept the belief in a very grand passage, which I once met with in the writings of 1663 the illustrious founder of the colony of Pennsylvania. He says that—The humble, meek, merciful, just, pious, and devout souls are everywhere of one religion, and when death has taken off the mask they will know one another, though the diverse liveries they wear here make them strangers.Now, may I ask the House to act in this spirit, and then our work will be easy. The noble Lord, towards the conclusion of his speech, spoke of the cloud which hangs at present over Ireland. It is a dark and heavy cloud; its darkness extends over the feelings of men in all parts of the British Empire; but there is a consolation which we may all take to ourselves. An inspired king and bard and prophet has left us words which are not only the expression of a fact, but which we may take as the utterance of a prophecy. He says—"To the upright there ariseth light in the darkness." Let us try in this matter to be upright; let us try to be just. That cloud will be dispelled. The dangers which we see will vanish, and we may have the happiness perhaps of leaving to our children the heritage of an honourable citizenship in a united and prosperous Empire.
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
I am sure we are all indebted to the hon. Member for Birmingham, not only for the eloquence with which he has charmed us, but for the earnestness of tone which pervaded the whole and especially the latter portion of his address. We should gain nothing in discussions of this kind, and we should be doing harm to the cause we all have at heart, if we did not recognize in each other, on whichever side we may sit and whatever differences there may be between us, the sincere desire, which I believe pervades the mind of every Member of Parliament, and of every one who has had occasion to study the great question of Ireland, to discover and adopt that course which will conduce to the welfare of the country. There have been moments since this debate began when I was inclined to ask whether the course that was being pursued was likely to be of any benefit. There have been moments when I have asked myself—"What will be the use of the House adopting the Resolution which has been proposed and going into Committee to consider the state of Ireland?" Supposing we were to go into Committee I do not understand what precise function we were to perform. Apparently it was not to be our duty to inquire into the circumstances of the case, for the hon. Gen- 1664 tleman who brought forward the Motion told us that no inquiry was necessary; and on the other hand, we have not had any suggestions of Resolutions by which we might be guided. Indeed, we were invited when we went into Committee to have a sort of free fight; but I greatly doubt whether such a course would be likely to produce any practical advantage. I confess, however, that I was wrong in thinking that the discussion on the Motion of the hon. Gentleman would be unproductive of any result. We have, at all events, had the advantage of free counsel, and we have heard from Gentlemen of different views and representing different interests, their opinions as to the state of Ireland and the remedies for the evils of which they complain. I think that as the debate proceeds we should take stock of the decisions at which we are gradually arriving, and of the points on which we are able to agree, so as to be able to see and consider calmly what really are the points which are likely in the end to remain in dispute. Even if the discussion had been limited to what has been said to-night it would be of great value. We have heard the extreme opinions on one side of the hon. Member for Tralee (The O'Donoghue), who has told us that there is no use in dealing with the land and the Church questions, for that nothing short of the dissolution of the Union will meet the desires of the people in Ireland. At the other end of the scale we have the semi-official opinion of the right hon. Gentleman the late Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. C. Fortescue), who has told us that nothing is wanted but what he termed religious equality or the abolition of the State Church. And the right hon. Gentleman said, almost in so many words, "If you will only abolish the State Church in Ireland the landlords and tenants will soon settle their differences, and the landlords will be ready to grant the leases and securities which the tenants desire." Now, when we have such extreme opinions presented to us, and also more moderate schemes from those to whom we are bound to listen with respect, and when, moreover, we have heard the criticisms to which some of those schemes have been subjected, I think it cannot be doubted that we have made progress, and that we shall come out of the debate better prepared than we were before to deal with the question before us. Prejudices and misconceptions must be, to a certain extent, dispelled from the minds of 1665 hon. Members, and still more from the minds of the readers of the reports of the debate, and, perhaps, of the people of Ireland themselves. Now, what are the points on which we are likely substantially to agree? We have learnt to appreciate more correctly than before the importance or rather non-importance of the Fenian movement. We have learnt that that movement is to a great extent apart from the great social and political questions respecting Ireland, and yet one which has closely connected itself with those questions. We have seen that the agitation, the discontent, and the sedition characteristic of Fenianism are confined in their extreme form to a comparatively small and humble portion of the people of Ireland. But we have seen, on the other hand, that that agitation, sedition, and discontent have found, unfortunately, too favourable a soil and too much encouragement among others who cannot be described as altogether an insignificant or a humble portion of the Irish people. There is much to console us and something to alarm us in statements of this kind. I am by no means prepared to say that the circumstance of the Fenian movement being chiefly confined to the lower classes is altogether a favourable symptom, or one which ought not to excite special alarm and uneasiness. For, in the first place, there is great difficulty in dealing with those classes. We are necessarily less cognizant of and less familiar with the feelings of the lower classes than with the feelings of those who occupy a higher station in society. Again, we see that a movement originating in the lower classes, sustaining itself, and spreading to a certain extent without leaders, is a more difficult kind of conspiracy to deal with than one which comes to a head, and which has leaders with whom you can measure your strength, and whom you can convince of your superiority. It is one of the worst features of this Fenian conspiracy that its members do not know when they are beaten. Then we have also discovered in the course of the present discussion that the existing discontent is not owing to material suffering on the part of the people of Ireland. On the contrary, we find that contemporaneously with the prevalence of discontent there has been a considerable amount of material progress in that country. This is a satisfactory feature; but it is also an unsatisfactory feature, because it shows that there is 1666 some other cause of discontent in the background. Neither does the discontent arise from inequality of laws. Ireland is governed just as England or any portion of this country, and we ought to dispel from our minds any statement to the contrary. [Mr. J. STUART MILL: No, no!] The hon. Member dissents from that, and I remember his saying last night that it was idle to suppose that 550 Members would not outvote 100 Members. But if he means to say that Ireland is governed by the combined force of England and Scotland, I would remind him that, according to that line of argument, Scotland is governed by the still greater combined force of England and Ireland. If 550 English and Scotch Members can outvote 100 Irish, surely 600 English and Irish can outvote 50 Scotch. Ireland has her share in the representation, and if the share is not a sufficient one, that is a subject which there will be soon an opportunity of bringing forward. Neither is Ireland subjected to any extraordinary burdens; on the contrary, I believe it is true that she is more lightly taxed than any other part of the United Kingdom. I think it right to refer to this; but it is a point upon which the people of England would never think of expressing any discontent. It must not be forgotten that England has certain advantages in the expenditure of the joint revenues of the United Kingdom, and we must remember the circumstances under which the Union was effected, which gives Ireland a moral claim to a certain indulgence in the matter of taxation. Still it is a fact that she is treated with that indulgence. What, then, are the causes of Irish discontent? We cannot but see that it is owing chiefly to moral causes, and moral causes are very difficult to deal with. They require careful study and careful treatment, if we would take care not in our ignorance to make those matters worse which we wish to improve. I am free to confess that, to a great extent, the moral causes which produce the discontent of Ireland are attributable to the fault of England. I have no doubt that the past legislation with regard to Ireland, which we have been asked to forget in the course of this debate, has produced such an impression on the feelings of the country as to cause much of the discontent that at present prevails in that country; and I am bound to admit that it is only a just retribution on England for the former political sins which she committed towards Ire- 1667 land, and for the unjust treatment to which she subjected the sister country at the time when she was at the mercy of England. If that be so, what conclusion is to be drawn from the existing state of things? The first conclusion is that we have before us a great political problem—a problem that is to be approached I may almost say, with fear and trembling. Certainly I may say that we are bound to approach it with earnestness and caution. We should lay aside all party spirit in order that we may deal rightly with the question before us. At the same time I venture to say that the problem demands all our coolness, all our sagacity, and all our self-restraint. On the one side it would be deeply criminal on our part to pass it by and regard it with cool indifference. On the other, it would be equally culpable to apply remedies, until we are pretty confident as to what the effect of those remedies will be. It is not that I shrink from anything new or anything bold. I agree with the hon. Member for Westminster, that there may be times when, not only in Ireland, but in England also, it is necessary to be new and necessary to be bold; but I say that above all things it is necessary to be cautious and necessary to be prudent. How should we treat a patient whose disease is on the nerves; and, politically, the disease of Ireland may be so described? There are two things which we must do. In the first place, we must try to give the patient confidence, and, in the second, we must be careful not to disturb the healing process, if a healing process be going on. We wish to inspire the people of Ireland with a feeling that we consider their cause as one of hope, and that we are prepared to deal with them tenderly and with confidence. I deprecate hasty proceedings. There are two great restoratives to which, in my opinion, we have to look in the case of Ireland. We have to look to the operation of time and we have to look to the operation of justice. When I look to the condition of Ireland I see that it has been brought about mainly by a long course of unjust treatment, and the remedy lies in the reversal of that system, and the working of a long course of justice. I believe it to be a very great fallacy to suppose that you can in a day undo the work of centuries. You must take time, you must be patient; you must not be disappointed if everything you wish is not accomplished at once. We are taunted 1668 with having no policy for Ireland. I say we have a policy for Ireland, and that the first and cardinal principle of that policy is justice, I may appeal to the Records of the Administration of Lord Abercorn, and in doing so, I do not claim for him any special merit beyond that to which some of his predecessors are fully entitled; but I name him because he has filled the office of Lord Lieutenant during a trying time, and because he has been armed with powers of an exceptional nature. I ask has not Lord Abercorn's Administration been characterized by this at least—a desire to do justice? It has not been our desire, it has not been the desire of the Government of Ireland, to sacrifice the rights of one party or class to please another—to sacrifice the rights of the Catholic to please the Protestant—to sacrifice the rights of the landlord to please the tenant—or the rights of the tenant to please the landlord. Lord Abercorn and the Irish Government have shown that, whether they have to deal with Roman Catholic or with Orangeman, a political friend or a political enemy, what every one has to expect from them is justice. I am convinced that when that spirit is recognized by the people—as it will be recognized, aye, and as it is being recognized by them—it will do more to heal the wounds of Ireland than any remedies which either statesman or sciolist can devise. We find that discontent prevails chiefly among the lower classes. In this there is matter of satisfaction, because it is among them the sense of justice on the part of the Government takes the longest time in penetrating; but I believe that confidence in that justice is extending and working its way through Irish society, and that at length it will reach the lowest class if we persevere in a course of justice. The first cardinal principle of English policy towards Ireland then should be justice. What should be the next? What agencies are we to employ in bringing home to the minds and hearts of the Irish people the conviction that we are determined to deal with them in the spirit I have described? I think that is only to be done by pressing into our service every influence of which we can avail ourselves, whether personal—or if I may so say—institutional, in order to regenerate and restore the country. It has often been said that there were some peculiarities in the character of the Irish. They have been described as warm, impulsive, and affectionate. I think that they have 1669 also the quality of veneration for their immediate superiors, and if that is the case, we must reach their affections and understandings through their superiors who have influence over them. We must, as my noble Friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland said, endeavour to level upwards—that is, by drawing up the lower, not by depressing the higher, classes. We must avail ourselves of those influences which some persons are disposed to look upon with such dissatisfaction—such as the landlord class, the ministers of religion, and the various institutions which by time have obtained a means of access to the people of Ireland, which directly the Government does not possess. How are we to get the assistance of those persons and classes and institutions? I say by inspiring them with confidence—:by showing that we are anxious to treat with them—not in the spirit of enemies—to treat with them as persons or bodies not inimical to the people at large. We never shall accomplish our object by treating the landlords as unjust men and oppressors of the tenantry, or by treating the Church as a body which we only wish to get rid of and put out of the way, regarding it as a mere means of evil. We should endeavour as far as possible to bring those various influences to bear upon the great system of society. We ought to show that we have no wish to confiscate or destroy property; but are anxious to bring its possessors to co-operate with us in the great work on which we are engaged. When we come to apply those principles to the difficult question of land we must feel that we have before us a problem of considerable delicacy. There is no man more cautious in this matter than I am disposed to be, or more alive to the danger of limiting or touching private rights, but there are cases where the maxim "Salus populi suprema lex" is applicable. To a certain extent the rights and private privileges of the possessors of land must cede to the wants and advantages of the people at large. This principle is not merely one applicable to Ireland, but one which has been recognized and acted upon in the legislation of this country. We know that in numerous cases the Legislature has stepped in and limited the rights of persons in respect of the ownership of land. I hold that we are justified in applying this principle in Ireland; but I would do it cautiously and prudently, I confess, and I would endeavour to obtain the co-opera- 1670 tion of those whose rights would be touched, in order that they might recognize the object which we had in view. I say that we must proceed delicately in this matter. I am confident that if we proceed in a spirit of conciliation and wisdom the landlords will not be found backward in bringing about a settlement which, though for the immediate benefit of the tenants, will in the long run be equally for the benefit of the landed proprietors also. That principle we have adopted, not merely in the abstract, because we are prepared to immediately act on it. My noble Friend (the Earl of Mayo) has given notice of a measure which he will bring forward on an early day, and which has for its object the limitation of the rights of the landlord in certain particulars. I venture to think it will gain the assent of every candid man. At all events, we have prepared it in a candid spirit, and I will assume that it will receive a fair consideration, and not be rejected in any spirit of selfishness. But my noble Friend does not stop there. He proposes to issue a Commission to inquire into this difficult and delicate question. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Louth (Mr. Chichester Fortescue) turns round upon us, and says this is intended merely as an excuse to put off legislation; that having recognized certain abstract principles, we then propose an inquiry which may last for two or three years, postponing action of any kind meanwhile. But what we do propose is precisely the reverse. My noble Friend proposes to deal at once with that part of the question which has been long under the consideration of the House, which has been handled in numerous measures that from time to time have been proposed, and which consequently has reached a stage at which we are enabled to deal with it by practical legislation. But we do not stop there. We do not say that this measure is the be-all and end-all of our policy; we only say when we are asked to go further, that it is but reasonable to urge, with a view to action that shall be for the public advantage, that full and searching inquiry should first be made into what lies beyond the limits of our Bill. I ask whether that is not a practical and statesmanlike way of dealing with this question. Then it is said that this Commission is brought forward for the purpose of clearing the landlords. This certainly was neither the expression nor the intention of my noble Friend, though he did say, undoubtedly, that the result of 1671 a strict and searching inquiry would, in his opinion, be to disclose facts creditable to the landlords which hitherto had been kept out of sight. But our main reason for the appointment of a Commission is that in the altered condition of Ireland we are persuaded that it will be both a reasonable and statesmanlike course. Since the Devon Commission, upon the Report of which so many arguments are based, how many changes have taken place!—changes consequent upon the famine, upon emigration, on the introduction of the In cumbered Estates Court, and also upon other legislative measures. Surely, it is desirable, in contemplating and framing new Parliamentary proposals, that we should ascertain what the results of changes like these have been already. We shall be told, of course, that most of these events were purely exceptional in their character, and were traceable, not to any interference of man, but to causes traceable directly to the hand of God. Nevertheless, we wish to know what effects those different causes have been instrumental in bringing about. Have they had the effect of altering the land tenure, of bringing farms together or dividing them, of rendering the enjoyment of property more secure or otherwise? You may call it procrastination to endeavour to obtain this information; but, if so, there are cases, I assert, in which procrastination is a duty, and this is one of them. Then, as to the question of the Church, we are told that we are sustaining an injustice, an admitted injustice, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Louth (Mr. C. Fortescue) calls it. But by whom admitted? By those merely who allege the injustice, or by those likewise who are opposed to them in argument? I say, without hesitation, that if I believed the maintenance of the Irish Protestant Church to be unjust, I would sweep it away to-morrow. But I am unable to see that it is so upon any principle that can be laid down, unless it be a principle that would condemn as unjust all Established Churches in any country where the people are not all of one religion. The hon. Member for Tralee and the hon. Member for Birmingham have given us pretty clear indications of their opinion on the point. The hon. Member for Tralee told us that, in his opinion, religious equality in England is only to be attained by sweeping away Establishments; and that is the meaning of those who say that the principle of religious equality must be adopted. I am perfectly 1672 satisfied that if you admit the principle that it is unjust to maintain a religious Establishment, and to allow it to enjoy the property which has been made over to it absolutely in a country in which its professors are in a minority, there will be no possibility of stopping until you have swept away all Establishments throughout the United Kingdom. The injustice, if it be injustice, which you say is committed upon the millions in Ireland would not be the less injustice if committed against the hundreds in a parish in England; and it is because the difference in the position of the Church of England and the Church of Ireland is only a question of degree that I say it is impossible for me to recognize the justice of the position of the Church of England and to deny the justice of the position of the Church of Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Calne put the argument on this ground—that the Church property was national property, and hence capable of being dealt with. I deny that such is the case. It may originally have been national property; but it has been given to the Church. I do not ask under what circumstances it was given—if, Sifter the lapse of centuries, you are going to inquire into its title, and to ask whether its original appropriation was a right one—I ask whether, acting on the same principle, you mean to push inquiry into the title of all holding property in this country, and how such property was originally derived. If you do, you have before you a serious and a difficult task. I admit that Parliament can, if it chooses, and if it considers that there is sufficient cause, take away the property of the Church, just as it could, for sufficient cause, take away my own; but if you talk of the abstract right of the State in that respect, let me ask, whether it would not be one of the gravest breaches of statesmanship to take away property, whether from the hands of a Corporation or an individual, save for the fullest cause shown, and after the most careful inquiry? I admit that you have a right to call upon the Irish Church to show what use she is making of her property, and we are proceeding to do so; but I am altogether at a loss to know how the retention of property in the hands in which it has been for centuries can be treated by right hon. Gentlemen as an admitted injustice crying for instant redress, when they admit that they had for years in their own hands the power of dealing with it, and altoge- 1673 ther neglected the opportunity of doing so. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Louth (Mr. Chichester Fortescue), in a spirit, I think, of superfluous candour, admitted that there had been upon this question a certain amount of negligence and inattention on the part of the Liberal Government. Supineness and negligence, I think, were his words. I give the right hon. Gentleman and his Colleagues credit for better reasons than that. I believe they had this question before them for many years; that they desired to deal earnestly and conscientiously with it; that they were neither supine nor negligent; but on looking into the question they found that the difficulties which they would have to encounter were, in their judgment, insuperable, and hence they felt justified in letting the question rest. Such, at least, was the language held by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire only three years ago. The right hon. Gentleman then stated that he was not only not required by duty, but that it would be a departure from duty on the part of the Government to assent to the Motion then made with regard to the Irish Church, unless they were prepared to deal with that great question, the difficulties of which he then went on to point out. But what does the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Louth say, for I took down his words at the time? He says, these things depend upon time and season; that duties and obligations go along with possibilities. There is no denying the truth of these words. But how is it that the difficulty which was so obvious and palpable in 1865 is got over in 1868; how is it that possibilities which did not then exist have since come into prominence? Speaking in 1865, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire said—"The whole question is, What is the remedy?" Except in the speech to-night of the hon. Member for Birmingham—who did not deal with the whole question, for he did not touch upon the point of what was to be done with the surplus—I do not think we have had any remedy put before us. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire, at the time of which I have spoken, put very clearly the difficulty of transferring the Church revenues to the Roman Catholic clergy, and also the difficulty of secularizing them; and he added that the mind of the country was against any such project, and that he was not prepared to undertake such a 1674 task. Have we heard one word to make us believe that these difficulties have been surmounted, or that what was then impossible has since become perfectly feasible? We have a right, I think, to complain of language like this being held by those who themselves were so recently in power, yet did not approach the solution of these problems. We have a right to complain that men who speak of a grievance as admitted, and of remedies as being demanded by justice, should have left the grievance over to a time when, being themselves without the responsibilities of office, they wish to force upon us the solution of a problem which they at the same time admit they found too difficult themselves. It is in the power of Parliament, no doubt, to take away the property of the Church in Ireland, just as it is in their power to lake away any property for good and sufficient reasons, and that it may be done, without violence, and in the form of law. But I say that our policy in regard to Ireland should be a healing policy; and if so, it ought not to be commenced by measures that will cause irritation. It ought to be a a policy to inspire confidence; but I do not think that a policy of confiscation is one that will achieve that object. It ought to be a measure of justice; but I do not think the taking away of property is consistent with justice. This is a matter upon which I feel strongly. I am aware that there are great differences of opinion upon this subject on both sides of the House; and did I feel that the maintenance of the Church Establishment was unjust, I would not say a word upon the subject. But I think the position of the Church is perfectly capable of justification, and cannot be opposed upon grounds of justice without at the same time striking a blow at the whole principle of religious Establishments. You will require a very large measure when you propose so to deal with the principle of Church Establishments. It is impossible not to see that there is a spirit pervading those who are arguing for religious equality which shows that they are going against all distinctive and denominational systems, and that they are verging upon a system of religious indifference. It is against that that we are obliged to raise our voices. I am not arguing for ascendancy; I abhor ascendancy; but I stand up for the Church to which I myself belong, and I say that her property ought not to be unnecessarily and unjustly taken away. I maintain that it 1675 is a most unwise measure to touch institutions like the Irish Church, and to take away from her property which has belonged to her for generations, unless you deal with it in a manner which will be consistent with the principles of statesmanship and policy. You must show us that what you propose to do is possible; and, until you can do that, you have no right to come before us and put the demand in the way you do, and we shall have no right to look upon your proposal as the nostrum for the pacification of Ireland.
§ MR. MONSELL moved the adjournment of the debate.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Debate further adjourned till Monday next.