§ Order [6th April] for presenting Address for Return relative to O'Farrell's crime read.
§ MR. MONSELL
, in moving, pursuant to notice that the Order [6th April] for presenting Address for Return relative to O'Farrell's crime be read, and discharged, said it was with great pain he was obliged to make this Motion. The fact of there being strong political differences between the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate) and himself would only make him desirous to avoid even the appearance of discourtesy towards him. The subject-matter of the Papers to which the Order referred might be described in a few words. They consisted of certain documents moved for by Mr. Parkes the Colonial Secretary of New South Wales, and in accordance with that Motion they were laid on the table of the Assembly, and printed and circulated throughout the colony. It was natural for the Government to supposs that these documents were not likely to contain anything un-desirable to be presented to the House of commons, and, therefore, When the hon. Member (Mr. Newdegate) asked him whether there was any objection to present them, he said "Certainly not." Accordingly the hon. Member moved for them and they were ordered to be presented to the House as an unopposed Return. But when these documents came to be looked into it was found that the matter in them, no less than the way in which they were obtained, made it undesirable that the House should identify itself with their production. This 1742 was no question of publicity being given to the documents, because that had been given already. The question was, whether it was right or wrong that the House of Commons should indentify itself with their production. The principal document contained an account of certain conversations which took place between the prisoner O'Farrell when lying under sentence of death in his condemned cell, and Mr. Parkes. Those conversations were taken down by a shorthand writer, of whose presence the prisoner, he believed, was not aware, If such a circumstance had occurred in this country, and if any Minister of the Crown had taken such a course, would the House of Commons give its sanction to such a proceeding, or to the publication of any information so obtained? The Papers which had been moved for contained matters which, in the opinion of Her Majesty's Government, it would be contrary to their duty as Ministers of the Crown to be parties to laying before the House. He made this statement, not merely in the name of the Colonial Office—not merely in the name of Earl Granville—but in the name of the whole Government, who had deliberately considered the matter; and he now distinctly stated, on their responsibility, that it would be improper for the House of Commons to identify itself with the publication of these documents. He thought it only fair to the Colonial Legislature—on whose proceedings his remarks might be supposed to cast some reflection—to explain the way in which these documents were presented to that Assembly. Her Majesty's Government had, of course, no control over that Assembly, which was perfectly free to take its own course, and which would, no doubt, resent any interference on their part with its proceedings. When Mr. Parkes went out of Office he left these Papers sealed up in a parcel. Through the intervention of some Member of the new Government he got back those Papers, and gave notice of his intention to present them to the Assembly, not as a Minister of the Crown, but as a private individual. When the time for the Motion had arrived he was absent from the House, though the Prime Minister of the day was present to oppose it; and when the Prime Minister had left Mr. Parkes returned and moved that the Papers be printed. They were 1743 printed, and the result was a series of serious political discussions. Under these circumstance he should, without any further remarks, move that the Order of 6th April, for presenting Address for Return relating to O'Farrell's crime be read and discharged.
Mr. Speaker, I think the House has a right to feel surprise that the right hon. Gentleman, who has just addressed us as the representative of Her Majesty's Government, should have consented to present these Papers on the 19th of March, when I asked whether he was willing to do so. I put the Question on the Order of going in Committee of Supply, and I was not careless as to the manner in which I invited the Government and this House to consider the matter. I have here a record of what I did. On the 18th of March I placed a Notice on the Paper that I should ask Her Majesty's Government, through their representative in this House connected with the Colonial Office, whether they would lay these Papers on the table of the House, and I privately communicated to the right hon. Gentleman afterwards the very day upon which these Papers were ordered to be printed by the Legislature of Australia. I told him that it was on the 13th of December; and I requested that the Minute of Mr. Parkes, which accompanied the Papers and explained them, should also be presented to this House. In fact, my Question completely covered the whole notice upon which the Legislature of Australia voted for the production of the Papers. I did not put my Question without a statement in this House of my reasons for asking that this information should be produced. I stated that these Papers contained a more accurate description of the Fenian organization in this country, and of the objects of that organization than is to be found anywhere else, together with an assertion of the fact that the "warrant," as it was called, of the "Fenian Government," as it is termed, was sent out of this country for the "execution," as it is described, of the Duke of Edinburgh. I had stated all this in my place in this House, that the House might know exactly what it was for which I was asking, and why I asked it. I said further that it was necessary and desirable that the magistracy throughout the country, liable as they had been 1744 to such surprises as that of the meditated attack upon the Castle of Chester, should understand the nature and character of the organization, to which they may find themselves opposed. I have studied these Papers very carefully, and I think it is desirable, in the interest of the public, that they too should know precisely what Fenianism is, and what it means; that they should know precisely the sort of organization to which they are exposed, and that they should know precisely the kind of agents with which they have to cope. Well, Sir, the right hon. Gentleman has stated that these Papers contain matter which Her Majesty's Government consider ought not to be laid before Parliament; while he admits the fact that they have already been published. Is it not mere affectation on the part of the House of Commons to pretend to ignore matter which has been circulated throughout the whole of the Australian colonies, and published in the newspapers here? Why, Sir, this proceeding on the part of Her Majesty's Minister appears to me to be no less discourteous to the House of Commons than futile for any purpose, if that purpose is concealment of any objectionable matter these Papers may contain, because, if such matter is contained in the Papers which ought to be suppressed, why did not the Government know of the existence of this matter before they answered my Question on the 19th of March, when the right hon. Gentleman, rising from his seat close to the Prime Minister, who had just spoken, replied that he should present these Papers "with the greatest pleasure?" What is the House to understand from that? And now, having heard the statement of the right hon. Gentleman, what, I ask, is the light which has fallen upon the Government which they ought not to have possessed before his first answer was given? Are we to understand that the Government answered the Question without really knowing what these Papers contained? I had no intention of taking the Government by surprise. The Government need only have requested me to defer my Notice until the Order for Supply in the following week, and I would have done so with the greatest pleasure. But no; there was not one word of warning. They gave their full and unqualified consent; and inquiries in private have convinced me that when they did that they 1745 were in full possession of the information, and knew exactly what I was asking for. When I put my Question the House was a full one. It is quite true that the Prime Minister was urging the House to pass to the Irish Church Bill; when is he not? Still, in a full House, I was heard, was met with an expression of assent, and the Government consented to produce the Papers with the full knowledge, I believe, of every statement they contain. Having been the humble organ of the House thus far, after nearly three weeks, on the 2nd of April I asked when we were to have the Papers presented, for I intended to call the attention of the House to some matters connected with them, and the right hon. Gentleman stated, as I find him reported here, that he would not present them, but that I might move for them, and the Government would consent to their production. Sir, I could scarcely believe my ears. I repeated theQuestion—"Does the Government, after the lapse of three weeks, and without reason assigned, mean to retract their promise to present these Papers?" In reply, I was told that that was the case. I intended to have asked a further Question on Supply, it being a Friday night, had not other matters detained the House until very late. So, taking the advice of the Government, I gave notice on the 5th of April for the production of the Papers on the following day, and on that day the Question was put by you, Sir, distinctly from the Chair, and agreed to—by the House. There had been an error in the form in which the Notice was printed. I corrected it; you read the Notice as corrected from the Chair, and with the full consent of the House and of the Government the Order was made. That was on the 6th of April. Time went on, but the Address produced no Return; no explanation was offered. Thinking, then, that the right hon. Gentleman might not perhaps have correctly represented the views of the Government, I asked the Prime Minister himself when these Papers would be placed in the hands of Members. Twice—distinctly twice—at an interval of more than a fortnight, had the Government consented to produce the Papers to the House, and then the right hon. Gentleman suddenly discovers the objections which have just been stated by the Under Secretary for the Colonies, though not 1746 so distinctly as the right hon. Gentleman has now stated them. And these objections are that the Papers contain matter which is objectionable, and which, owing to the manner of its acquisition by the Colonial Government, he was of opinion ought not to be in the hands of the House of Commons. Now, if there was any blame resting upon the Colonial Government for the manner in which that information was obtained, where is the sense of visiting upon the House of Commons, by keeping them in ignorance of the contents of these Papers, a fault committed by the Colonial Secretary in Australia? I think, Sir, that no satisfactory answer can be given to that question: and, having myself perused those Papers, I am confident of this, that whether O'Farrell knew or did not know that a reporter was taking down his words, he would not have altered a syllable had he known it; because it is evident to everyone who reads these Papers, as I have done, and they are Papers of a most interesting description, that that unhappy man, having been bound by oath and under fear of his life to commit this crime of attempting to assassinate the Duke of Edinburgh, after he found that the people of Australia would have saved the law the trouble of executing him, so enraged were they; after he found that there was no sympathy in the colony with the act he had perpetrated; after he found that all around him joined in condemning the act, to which he had been forced under fear for his life, the unhappy man endeavoured in every way to compensate for the crime he had committed. He rejoiced that the Duke of Edinburgh was likely to recover. He gave the authorities a useful warning when he was informed by the Colonial Secretary that the Duke of Edinburgh would go to New Zealand, that the Duke ought not to go thither. This man, induced and forced into the commission of his crime, repented, and endeavoured to make the only reparation in his power to the individual whom he had injured and to the society, which he had outraged; and yet he was faithful to his oath, and he must have been a man of considerable ability, for not by one single word did he betray the names or whereabouts of any of those whose names he had sworn to keep secret. These Papers contain O'Farrell's warning to England; for he 1747 must have known whom he was speaking to when he gave the Colonial Secretary all this information. Through the Colonial Secretary of Australia he warned England, and I wish that warning to reach England, but Her Majesty's Government interposes to withhold it. I had another reason for asking that these Papers should be produced. Information has been circulated with reference to what was supposed to be the last confession of this unhappy man. I find in the Australian papers, and principally in the Roman Catholic papers, which copied it from the Sydney Herald, a Paper written or supposed to have been written by O'Farrell the night before his execution, and which was to be delivered to Mr. Parkes but not opened until after his death. Now, of all the singular circumstances connected with this case, this, I think, is the most singular. The day after the execution of O'Farrell this Paper was asked for in the Australian Parliament, but Mr. Parkes refused to produce it. Next day it was asked for again, and was again refused, and then I find in the Weekly Register that some Member of the Australian Legislature, whose name is not given, produced a copy, and that copy was transmitted to this country, circulated through the newspapers, and has even found its way into works of reference. For in that very useful work, lately published, called The Annals of Our Time, I find the greater part of this document. Now, why do I advert to this? Because the most important particulars of the statements made by O'Farrell to the Colonial Secretary, to the principal warder of the gaol, and to the chief of the police, as well as alluded to in the leaves of his diary, which was found amongst his luggage, are contradicted by the Paper which has been circulated in this country as his last confession. With the permission of the House, I will read a few words from that Paper; for this is not a question as to whether information derived from O'Farrell shall be circulated for the first time, but the question is shall the erroneous publication, which has been thrust upon the English people, be corrected. The Weekly Register, in alluding to the trial, says that the evidence of O'Farrell's insanity perfectly failed, and that there was clear proof of most deliberate preparation for this crime—then 1748 comes this document, from which I will read some passages. O'Farrell says—From the very bottom of my heart do I grieve for what I have done. I have hitherto said that I was one of many who were proposed to do the deed had I not done it. I had not the slightest foundation for such a statement. I was never connected with any man or any body of men who had for their object the taking of the life of the Duke of Edinburgh. Neither was I in any other than an indirect manner connected with any organization in Ireland or elsewhere which is known by the name of the Fenian organization. I wish, moreover, distinctly to assert that there was not a single human being in existence who had the slightest idea of the object I had in view when I meditated upon and, through the merciful providence of God, failed in carrying into effect the death of the Duke of Edinburgh. I have written to the printers of two Irish periodicals an address to the people of Ireland. So certain was I of the death of the Duke of Edinburgh that I stated therein that which I believed to be the fact, and I think I had more than implied, that I was but one of an organization to carry the same into effect. I need but say that the truth of the latter portion rests upon a slighter foundation than the former; in fact, that unless from mere heresay, I had no foundation for stating that there was a Fenian organization in New South. Wales.Now, Sir, that is a most extraordinary document—it is evasive; because he had previously stated that the ten men who were the executive appointed to assassinate the Duke of Edinburgh were sent out to New South Wales, and all but one had left the colony before the crime was attempted—all but one; and that one man O'Farrell stated was left behind to see that he did his work, and he had not a doubt to murder him if he failed to do his work. Of that man O'Farrell said—"I bear him not the least ill-will—he was appointed to that work." I have these documents here, and although I trust the House will not be induced to assent to what I must call this disrespectful proposal to rescind the Order it has made, I will read some passages to the House to show how little the document circulated in England, and to which I have referred, bears the impress of the truth. And, first I will read a part of the Minute of Mr. Parkes; but here let me observe that during the General Election Mr. Parkes appeared to have suffered from his refusal to produce this Paper, written by, or purporting to be written, by O'Farrell the day previous to his execution, and which I believe to be evasive and incorrect. It was in self-vindication against the attacks of adversa- 1749 ries that Mr. Parkes appears to have come down to the House of Assembly, and to have moved for the production of the Papers for which I have moved. There was nothing underhand in this proceeding. Any man who reads the papers must see that as Colonial Secretary he did his duty. When a document was placed in his hands which was diametrically opposed to the evidence that he had been at the pains of collecting he would be no party to the dissemination of that which he considered an imposition; yet there were those in the colony who assailed him for that refusal. In justice to Mr. Parkes I will read to the House a few words from his statement; and I must say that, considering there was already in his hands direct evidence that one of the party of Fenians had been murdered by his accomplices; or, at least, there was presumptive evidence of such a murder, he was perfectly justified in seeking to ascertain whether this murderous band of nine remained in the colony, and whether any traces of the murder which he had reason to believe had been committed were to be found. In the diary or documents taken from O'Farrell's luggage there is this passage—There was a Judas in the twelve; in our band there was a No. 3 as bad; but his horrible death will, I trust, be a warning to traitors. Such another, I am confident, is not amongst the nine. Oh, that I were with them.It seems to me, therefore, that it was in the performance of his duty that Mr. Parkes, when he found O'Farrell willing and ready to give information, adopted means for having that information recorded; for O'Farrell had held a conversation with him, to which Mr. Parkes refers, before he called in the reporter. In his Minute Mr. Parkes says—The substance of the prisoner's principal statement in the unreported conversations was that a 'warrant' came out from England to 'execute' the Prince; and that he and nine or ten others met in Sydney to consider the expediency of carrying out this warrant; that before entering upon the discussion they took an oath binding each individually to abide by the decision of the majority; that he (O'Farrell) spoke and voted against it, and that a majority decided to carry it out. It was next agreed that the executioner should be appointed by lot; but before drawing lots a second oath was taken, binding each individually to do the deed if the lot fell to him; and a third oath, binding each individually to take the life of the man to whom the lot fell if he failed to do it. The conversations which were subsequently written down consist naturally of 1750 fragmentary allusions to the fuller statement already made; but it will be seen that they are quite consistent with the prisoner's first account, which, to a great extent they repeat. The most striking circumstance, however, is that these voluntary statements of the prisoner in gaol, made at different times, and to different persons, derive confirmation in a remarkable degree from the entries made by him in his private journal, when he was at large and unsuspected—probably several weeks before the murder was attempted. In the course of his conversations O'Farrell made various incidental statements where his truthfulness could be tested, and in all these cases it was ascertained that he spoke the truth. It is inconceivable that he could have had any object which would be served by statements of the character here described. His language and manner after his arrest were precisely what might be expected in a man relieved, as he described himself to be, from the horrible obligation to commit a crime against which all the better feelings of his nature rebelled. It may be said that the report of the inspector-general of police was not called for by the Government. It is, therefore, the voluntary expression of opinion on the part of the head of the police, who must be supposed to possess the best means of forming an opinion on the subject. If O'Farrell's account is true, it will be seen that it would be next to impossible to discover his accomplices unless some one of them was prepared to sacrifice his life in the interest of justice.O'Farrell distinctly stated that most of his accomplices had left the colony, and there is every reason to believe that they had returned to England, whence the order for the commission of this crime had issued. Under these circumstances, I, as a Member of this House, respectfully submitted to Her Majesty's Government that, as Fenianism was evidently alive, and as they were releasing Fenians, it would be well that a Fenian's description of this organization thus obtained, should be furnished to the Imperial Parliament, to the magistracy throughout the country, and for the information of the public generally. And is it not important, Sir, that those who are tempted to join the Fenians should understand that they join a band of men who are governed by a despotism which is enforced by the fear of death upon those who are once committed to its influence and control? I will now show the House the motive which lay at the root of the crime of O'Farrell. The principal warder of the gaol, at Sydney, said to him—I suppose it (the order for the assassination) came out signed, sealed, and delivered with a big pound of wax on it, and green tape, of course?—to which O'Farrell replied—It came to us all. It is the power of secresy, and the power of terror. There is never anything done but under the influence of fear.1751 Then follows an exact description of the objects. The Colonial Secretary asked whether the object of the Fenian organization was the establishment of a republic in Ireland alone, but O'Farrell replied—"No," and then he described how England was to be treated as part of a federal Republic, and how there were to be three States in Ireland, three in Scotland, and seven in England, all decided carefully; not merely on a basis of population but with some geographical considerations, and O'Farrell avowed that the object was to overthrow the monarchy, to destroy the dynasty, and to overturn the existing state of things in the United Kingdom. (A movement on the Liberal Benches.) Although hon. Members may think this to be a chimerical idea, still they must admit that it has a hold on these men's minds, or they would never submit to an organization which binds them under fear of death to the commision of murder. Sir, we have had experience enough at Manchester, Clerkenwell, and elsewhere, of the desperate enterprizes of which these men are capable. But I have heard it reported in the Lobby that the real reason why Her Majesty's Government decline to produce these Papers is that there are some passages in O'Farrell's statements as to Fenian opinions the publication of which would be disagreeable to the Royal Family. One report is that O'Farrell had quarrelled with the Duke of Edinburgh in an affair of gallantry. ["Oh, oh!"] Hon. Members cry, "Oh!" I am going to give O'Farrell's own contradiction of the statement. The principal warder said—It is most extraordinary the reports that have circulated about this affair. It is said you had animosity against the Prince in consequence of an affair with some woman.—["Oh, oh!"] Hon. Gentlemen say "Oh," but it is only fair to allow the man to give his contradiction. The prisoner said—Those are the penny-a-liners' stories; they must make up something.These stories of the "penny-a-liners" have been circulated in the Lobbies of the House to-day, with a view to inducing the House not to abide by its own Order. O'Farrell added—There is something genial about him. He is a good-natured soul altogether. I Toted against it, and argued against it.1752 Here, then, is a proof of the falsehood of the scandal against the Duke of Edinburgh, which has been circulated in O'Farrell's name. He says—"I voted against it and argued against it"—meaning the assassination; and I believe that he spoke the truth. But there is another portion of this document containing rumours which are said to be unfit for the attention of Parliament. I know that for months these "rumours" have been circulated throughout the country; to the effect that O'Farrell stated that the Fenians who planned the death of the Duke of Edinburgh had declared that they did not care about assassinating the Prince of Wales, because they thought he "would disgrace royalty." ["Oh, oh!"] Aye; but these things are circulated abroad, and I repeat that it is affectation—mere affectation on the part of this House to pretend to ignore them. Sir, these rumours may be very disagreeable to the Prince of Wales. But by whom are these rumours circulated? By men who are aiming openly at bringing the monarchy, his inheritance, to an end. They have attempted the life of his brother; who can doubt that they would willingly utter calumnies against the Prince of Wales himself? Why it is the most natural—I had almost said the more innocent—weapon of the two. It is one that for months and months, from other information, I have known that these men have used; and my anxious desire is that Parliament should call for those Papers, have them printed, and give every true and honest subject of Her Majesty the opportunity of reading these Fenian calumnies by the light of the attempt to murder the Duke of Edinburgh. That is my wish. Then, supposing you could enjoin secresy upon these Fenians and their advisers as to some act of the Prince of Wales which had better be concealed, would it, think you, be in safe keeping amongst these Fenians? I should not think it would be in very safe keeping with Dr. Manning, who fraternizes with them; but would it be in safe keeping with them? No, Sir; it were safer placarded all round the base of the statue of Charles I. at Charing Cross, than to leave it in their keeping. [Laughter.] Hon. Members may laugh; but you are asked to ignore facts which are already known throughout the country. And why? Because there are some passages in those 1753 Papers in which the Fenians reflect upon the Prince of Wales! Was ever anything so shallow put forward as an excuse? I can quite understand that an influence has been exercised for the suppression of these Papers. I have read to the House portions of them, which contradict the statement said to be O'Farrell's last and true confession, which has been widely circulated, circulated months ago, and which declares as upon O'Farrell's authority, that he had no accomplices, and that he was not a Fenian. Now, is it not strange that the same man who, day after day, willingly furnished the information which these Papers contain, and I have described to the House, should then sign a Paper contradicting the main points in his previous statements, including those which he appears to have made with the view of guarding others and society itself against the evil of which he had become the victim? Now, it happened that Archbishop Polding visited him for the first time on the Sunday prior to his execution; so did several Roman Catholic priests, and one a priest of his own name, O'Farrell. Up to that time he had refused to make any statement but those which he had made to the Colonial Secretary and the warder; and it was not until after the visit of the persons I have mentioned that the Paper was written which was not to be opened until after his death, and which Mr. Parkes refused to produce in the House of Assembly. I can easily conceive, therefore, that this unhappy man may, by spiritual influence, have been induced to sign a Paper in which, for the sake of shielding the Fenian organization, he qualified, up to the point of denying, everything which he had stated to Mr. Parkes, and all that the documents taken from him contained with respect to his connection with the Fenians and touching the Fenian organization. ["Hear, hear."] The hon. Members who cheer me have the Papers before them, and they are competent to form a judgment upon them. But I am reminded of an account which is given by Mr. Trench in that admirable work of his on the state of Ireland, entitled Realities of Irish Life. That work contains striking illustrations of the influence of the Roman Catholic priests over men condemned to death. Mr. Trench describes the facts connected with the imprisonment of a 1754 man who was lying under sentence of death for participation in a murder connected with the Ribbon system in Ireland. The name of this man was Hodgens. He had been known to Mr. Trench, who was persuaded that, if he could be induced to give information, the whole system of Ribbonism in his neighbourhood might be crushed. Accordingly, he succeeded in obtaining from the Lord Lieutenant a promise that if this man would give full information his life should be spared. The man entertained the proposal, and I will read what took place from Mr. Trench's book. His clerk was sent to the prisoner's cell to communicate this intelligence to him; that is, that his life would probably be spared, and, in answer to the request of the clerk, the prisoner said—'Well, may be, I might as well tell it all out. Come to me to-morrow morning, and you shall have all I know; but Mr. Trench must come himself, as I will, not trust anyone else. I must have it from his own lips, that my life will be surely spared!' 'You shall have it from himself,' replied the clerk; 'but why not to-night? he is waiting now to see you: let me call him now, and tell him all you have to say!' 'Not to-night,' said he—' not to night; I am to see the priest in the morning, and I will say nothing to anyone till I see him.' 'Tell Mr. Trench all about it now,' entreated the clerk; 'let me call him this minute, may be it will be your last chance.' … 'I can't and I won't,' said Hodgens doggedly; 'I must see my clergy first, and there's no use in pressing me more.' At ten o'clock next morning my clerk obtained access to the condemned cell of the criminal. The first glance at the prisoner showed that a great change had taken place since the interview of the preceding day… he saw at a glance that Hodgens had made up his mind, and was at peace within himself. 'Well,' said the clerk, disguising his fears as well as he could, 'may I send for Mr. Trench, and will you tell him all you know about, what we were talking of yesterday?' 'I will tell nothing,' returned Hodgens, calmly, and with a composed and resigned countenance. 'I will tell nothing either to Mr. Trench, or to anyone else. I have seen my priest, and I'm now prepared to die; and may be I would never be so well prepared again, so I am content to die, and there is no use in asking me any more. I will tell nothing except to them that has a right to know it; and who should that be but the priest? So now let me alone, for you will never get another word out of me. I am content to die for my country.' He calmly sat down, and remained in perfect silence, until the clerk, who had addressed him several times without effect, was compelled to leave the cell. What passed between the prisoner and the priest I know not, but Hodgens adhered to his determination, and his secret died with him.'Is there not a parallel between these two cases? Both these men had seen the priest; and whilst after having done so, 1755 one refused to give the information that would have saved his lifet—he other made a statement contradicting the evidence on which he was convicted, and the description he himself had furnished of the Fenian conspiracy and of the organization of this conspiracy against the dynasty and the Crown of England. This document, contradicted by such evidence as I have described to the House, has been widely circulated, and found its way even into books of reference. Ought not then such futile and squeamish objections, as have been stated on the part of Ministers, to give way to the great purpose of informing the people of England of the real nature of this Fenian organization, and of placing in the hands of the magistracy and of the Members of this House the means of judging of the machinations of these conspirators, and the means, as I also believe, in many cases of defeating them. These, Sir, are the considerations by which I have been actuated in suggesting to the House that it should require the publication of the documents, which have been already furnished to the Legislature of Australia; there being clear evidence that a centre of this conspiracy exists here in England, and that it is operative amongst us. For these reasons, I, for one, feel bound to assume that the consent of the Government and the Order of the House for the production of these Papers will not be trifled with.
§ MR. DILKE
desired to address a few words to the House, in the belief that hon. Members would like to hear a different version of facts which were, he thought, almost one and the same. It was the general belief of the people of Sydney at the time of the attempted assassination of the Duke of Edinburgh by O'Farrell that the prisoner was acting entirely alone, and that he was a man who had been led away by vanity to the commission of the crime. That opinion was not weakened when it was heard from day to day that the prisoner was making a confession, and that Mr. Parkes was seen daily to resort to his cell with a clerk and a shorthand writer. The feeling, indeed, became stronger every day, until at length it culminated in the loss of Office to Mr. Parkes. The hon. Member for North Warwickshire had not correctly stated what had taken place in the House of Assembly after 1756 O'Farrell's execution. Mr. Parkes, who was then the Colonial Secretary of New South Wales—a position that was somewhat analogous to our Home Secretary—said from his place in the Assembly, not that the prisoner had died without making a confession, but that he had made a second and most important confession. In reply to a Question addressed to him by a member of the Opposition, he said that that confession would in a few days be laid before the Assembly. Several days, however, elapsed, and as a confession was not produced, the Question was repeated. Mr. Parkes then stated that, on the whole, it was not thought advisable that the statement should be published. The hon. Member had quoted the chief of the Sydney police. [Mr. NEWDEGATE: I beg pardon; I quoted the words of Mr. Parkes' Minute.] At all events, the hon. Gentleman used the words ''chief of the police." It was the chief of the police who rose in his place and said he did not share in the delicacy of the Colonial Secretary; and that he did not feel that it was contrary to public policy that the second confession should be produced, and he then read the very confession of which a portion had been read that evening by the hon. Gentleman the Member for North Warwickshire. That confession was not written by O'Farrell himself, but it was vouched for by the priest who attended O'Farrell, in the presence of the Committee of the Assembly of New South Wales which was appointed to investigate the question. That Committee reported against the truth of the first confession. Anyone who read that first confession could see that the prisoner had a motive for making it. He had, first of all, the motive of vanity; and he had in the next place the motive of misleading Mr. Parkes, and thus avenging his supposed injury—an object in which he actually succeeded, because Mr. Parkes lost his Office in consequence of the discredit brought upon him by his credulity. The view taken of the matter in Sydney was that the prisoner had all along been making game of Mr. Parkes and of the Government. The fact was that not a tittle of evidence had ever been produced to show that Fenianism had found a resting place in New South Wales, although it was well known that it had extended to the West Coast of New Zealand. The statements in O'Farrell's 1757 first confession were considered utterly incredible in the colony, where they had been investigated on the spot, and he (Mr. Dilke) believed that a bad precedent would be established if such a document were circulated with the sanction of the House of Commons.
§ MR. WHALLEY
said, he thought it extremely desirable that they should obtain every possible information upon that subject. The speech to which they had just listened was in itself a justification for the Motion of the hon. Member for North Warwickshire. The hon. Gentleman had stated that the confession had led to the expulson of Mr. Parkes and the Government from Office. There was nothing in Mr. Parkes's conduct that deserved that punishment, and the only interpretation of that statement could be that so much importance was attached to the suppression of this document by the Roman Catholic party that they at once organized an opposition to the Government and turned them out of Office. The argument of the hon. Member for Chelsea (Mr. Dilke) was in itself a confirmation of the necessity for the production of these Papers. He (Mr. Whalley) first called the attention of the House to the Fenian movement in 1862, and from time to time he adverted to it, but he was scarcely ever permitted by the House to state anything at all. In the course of three or four years, quite unexpectedly to the House, but not to himself, he was relieved of the duty of noticing the proceedings of the Fenians by their actions and the investigations which followed them. Fenianism, however, had received exceptional treatment in this respect, that the Government had endeavoured in every way to suppress inquiry and information about it. If the House had granted him a Committee he would have elicited the history of the organization; he would have exposed the knowledge and complicity of the Roman Catholic priesthood in America, and he would have shown that in this country and in Ireland it was co-extensive with Catholicism. He even offered, if he failed, never to trouble the House on the subject again; but the House would not grant him a Committee. Much of what he had said had been confirmed. But the Fenians were as quiet as mice now, because they were amenable to discipline as strict as any that prevailed in 1758 the army. Speaking of the army, the Roman Catholic soldiers in it, who were more or less under the direction of the priests, were as five to one; they had been increasing of late years; and it was a remarkable circumstance—the result of deliberate design somewhere—that the Roman Catholics were to be found strongest in the higher services, the Artillery and the Engineers. [Mr. NEWDEGATE: Oh, oh!] From communications with the authorities of the towns in the neighbourhood of his residence, he knew that they doubted the trustworthiness of the Roman Catholic police. If there were any truth in his suggestion that Fenian organization was based on the same principles as were the risings of the Roman Catholics, in 1798 and 1641, it was scarcely possible to over-rate the gravity of the question, and the urgent necessity for obtaining all available information. It was extremely difficult, in the absence of any sort of explanation from the Government, to conceive any substantial reason why the information in question should not be afforded. In New Zealand we had had wars and rebellions, and a few hundred natives had defeated the regular troops and the colonists; and in vain had he moved for the Reports of the Governor, Sir George Grey, who, in a speech reported in the New Zealand papers, had said he found that the Roman Catholic priesthood were at the bottom of the war, that they were organizing it, and that they and they alone were the cause of our troubles there. It was admitted by the hon. Member for Chelsea that there were Fenians in New Zealand, and it was due to our fellow-subjects there and elsewhere that we should obtain the fullest information as to the origin, nature, and present position of Fenianism.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
, in explanation, said, he had not read from the Report of the Committee spoken of by the hon. Member for Chelsea (Mr. Dilke), but hereafter he should ask for its production.
§ Question put, "That the said Order be discharged."—(Mr. Monsell.)
§ The House divided:—Ayes 123; Noes 15: Majority 108.