§ MR. GRAVES
said, he did not know that he had ever risen in that House under a greater sense of the responsibility which he incurred than he did in rising to deal with this question; and he felt that responsibility still more after the appeal to postpone the consideration of this question which had been made to him that night by the First Minister of the Crown. It required some confidence in his own motives and in his own judgment to resist such an appeal. If the grounds upon which he brought this matter under the consideration of the House were identical with those mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman, he should feel that there was some force in that appeal; but he did not intend to make more than a mere passing allusion to the Mayor of Cork, or to regard the act of that person as more than one of the incidents or events that had recently occurred in Ireland. His object in bringing forward this matter had a much larger and wider range—it was to call the attention of the House to the condition of Ireland at the present moment. He understood that, in "another place," a similar Notice had been given last night, and as a discussion upon the subject was likely to arise there, he saw no advantage that could be derived from postponing the consideration of this subject to a future day. Having taken the pains to consult many representatives of the various sections sitting on both sides of that House, for the purpose of ascertaining whether, in bringing forward this question, he was taking a step which, in their opinion, was injudicious, he felt bound to state that he had not heard a single dissentient voice with reference to the propriety, nay, the necessity, of the course he had thought 1983 it right to adopt. Under these circumstances he trusted that, if he found himself unable to accede to the request of the right hon. Gentleman, he should not be deemed to be showing any want of courtesy or of respect to either the right hon. Gentleman personally or to Her Majesty's Government. He was influenced in this matter by one feeling only, and that was by a sense of public duty; and, as far as he could, he would endeavour to deal with it in fairness and moderation He could not take up this question without expressing his regret that it had not fallen into the hands of a somewhat more experienced Member on either side of the House, because he did not consider that the question was one of an entirely party character, and because he felt that there must be men on both sides of the House who viewed the present state of things in Ireland with the deepest concern. There were, however, reasons of a personal character why, possibly, he felt more than any other English representative especially interested in the condition of Ireland—his associations were centred in that country—he was almost the only member of his family residing out of it, and the constituency in which he had the honour of sharing the representation (Liverpool) contained a much larger Irish population within it than any other constituency in England. It was bound to Ireland by trading relations of no ordinary magnitude—and he need scarcely say that peace and tranquillity were the essential conditions of prosperous trading; and that if in Ireland credit was receiving a shock, if confidence and security were both being more or less lessened, and trade consequently became paralyzed in that country, its reflex action upon the trade of Liverpool and England was felt to a considerable extent. It would be unnecessary for him to go into any large amount of detail to satisfy the House that the condition of things in Ireland was most unsatisfactory—nay, more, that it was absolutely dangerous to the national welfare. There was a lawlessness, an insecurity, and a sedition extending itself throughout the country, unchecked, apparently, or at least undetected, which if allowed to go on unrestrained might possibly lead to consequences of a very disastrous character. It was true that the crime of murder was confined at present to two of the Irish 1984 counties, but there was no security that that crime would not extend to other parts of the country. Each day the category of crime in that country swelled and became darker and darker. In the North there were indications of approaching sectarian strife, and in the South there were strong symptoms of disaffection—disaffection which had become more remarkable from the fact that the chief magistrate of Cork, to whom the right hon. Gentleman had alluded, had lent himself and his high office to language of the most seditious and treasonable character. He was not going to repeat from the public prints the words which the Mayor was alleged to have uttered on the occasion, for he had no desire to give greater prominence to his rebellious language than he could by possibility help; but the fact was striking and significant—that the gentleman in question, having been removed last year from the Commission of the Peace in censquence of his seditious practices, should, in a few months afterwards, be returned as the chief magistrate of the second city in Ireland, and that since he had attained office, he had never lost an opportunity of giving utterance to treasonable and seditious language without, as far as he knew, the slightest admonition, from Her Majesty's Government. One of the principal reasons why he had not felt himself at liberty to postpone bringing the subject forward was that the released Fenian prisoners, for whom the banquet had been given, had just left for America, and, looking at the desire shown by the Press of that country to magnify the power of Fenianism, he held it to be important that the law should be vindicated with promptitude, so that, concurrently with the arrival of those men in America, and the reception of the report of the proceedings in Cork, it should also be known on the other side of the Atlantic that the law had been vindicated, and that it was not sanctioned or allowed that the Mayor of Cork should continue in office, or, at least, continue unindicted for the offence he had committed. They could well imagine how the proceedings at Cork would be exaggerated in America; and, if there were no other side of the question was presented to the Irish there than that shown by the defiant language of the Mayor of so important a city as Cork, the dying embers 1985 of Fenianism in that country might be again kindled, and lead to results such as it would be painful for us to contemplate. Without going further into detail as to the number of murders which had occurred, the number of threatening notices which had been received and the number of agrarian offences of a greater or a minor character which had been committed must produce the most serious anxiety in the minds of all thoughtful men; and he must say that, to his mind, Ireland at this moment presented a darker and a sadder picture than he had known it to present at any former period within his experience. In all former outbursts of discontent and crime, there was a silver lining to the cloud in the loyalty and fidelity of the North; but now he grieved to say this was all shaken, for the Protestants of Ireland looked on with indifference, if not with disgust. They found that crime was unrepressed, and that the law was defied in the most open manner. In no one of the recent cases of assassination had the murderer been brought to justice. Whether this arose from sympathy, or from fear on the part of the people of Ireland, he was unable to say; but the fact remained that crime was undetected, life insecure, and the rights of property invaded. Under these circumstances, he thought, to remain longer silent might be regarded as timidity on the part of independent Members like himself, and their reticence might be regarded as indifference to the condition of Ireland. He regretted exceedingly his being obliged to delay for a moment the free course of the debate on the Irish Church; but, even at the risk of doing so, he felt it to be his duty to bring forward this subject. On the Opposition side of the House they had met and resisted, by free opinion and argument, the position taken by Her Majesty's Government and their supporters on the Irish Church question. He hoped, however, that, while endeavouring to carry out their own views, the Opposition had not made use of any unfair or illegitimate means. Indeed, he rather feared that the desire entertained by Gentlemen on his side of the House not to do anything that might have even an appearance of obstruction had led to greater forbearance on their part, in respect of comment on the present state of Ireland, than was warranted or justifiable under the sad cir- 1986 cumstances of the country. He did not remember any previous year in which there had not been an "Irish debate"—a debate on the general state of Ireland—at an earlier period of the Session, and certainly he did not remember any former Session in which there was greater reason for such a debate. Since last night he had received a large number of letters from friends—some of them Members of that House—on the condition of Ireland, and he could assure the House that those communications indicated even a more alarming state of affairs in Ireland than was represented by the statements in the public papers. He did not wish to aggravate the general feeling with regard to Ireland, but he might say, without troubling the House with the letters themselves—["Read."]—well, if it were the wish of the House he would read the letters; but probably the House would be of opinion that it was enough for him to say they all indicated that there was a most uneasy feeling in Ireland—that property was regarded as to some extent insecure, and life was believed to be still more insecure. In point of fact, there was a general feeling of alarm and consternation among the better classes, who did not very well see what was to be the result if the present lawlessness were not put an end to. One naturally asked oneself a question, which he had put to himself over and over again—"What was the cause of all this?" Was Fenianism cropping up again under another phase? He did not believe that it was. Any one who had watched the course of Fenianism could not have helped being struck by the singular fact that the life of an individual was never attempted to be taken in Ireland in order to promote the views of Fenians. Assassination was foreign to them in this country. Therefore, he could not see any reason to think that Fenianism was at the bottom of the crimes now being committed in Ireland. The Habeas Corpus Suspension Act had been allowed to expire, and they had had no explanation of why it, had been allowed to expire, but he presumed the Government felt warranted in not asking for a renewal of the suspension. Besides, the outrages to which he had been alluding had not been commenced since the expiration of the Habeas Corpus Suspension Act; they had been going on during the continuance of that Act. Could the 1987 debate on the Irish Church question have anything to do with the present state of things in Ireland? He had no wish to introduce into the discussion on those crimes the concurrent one of the Irish Church; but he could not help thinking that Her Majesty's Government, and those who took the same view as they did, must feel deeply and bitterly disappointed that, while they were doing what, according to their own honest convictions, they thought was calculated to redress that which they believed to be injustice towards Ireland, those crimes were being committed in that country. The Government were almost chivalrously, and certainly, from their point of view, philanthropically forcing their remedy on the House. He thought, therefore, it must be a source of bitter disappointment to them to find such a state of things, after a course which, no doubt, they had supposed would produce a contrary effect in Ireland, He did not himself admit that there was any very close connection in the way of cause and effect between the Irish Church debates and the disorganization of Ireland. There never has been any connection between the Irish Church and Irish discontent, and there is none now. Well, then, was there any defect in the administration of the law? He was now alluding more particularly to the administration of the law under the Lord Lieutenant. Had his Excellency been wanting in force and judgment during the few months he had been at the head of the Irish Government? Those who knew that nobleman would agree with him in thinking that no one could bring to his high office qualities more likely to be successful than those possessed by Earl Spencer. Were the police inefficient or wanting in zeal and fidelity, and were they unable to lay their finger on the criminals? They had proved the Irish police during the Fenian conspiracy. It was quite possible that the Irish constabulary might not be the very best description of machinery for discovering the persons who committed outrages. The military character of that force might be an obstacle in the way of the men fraternizing with the people in such a way as to get at the secret of the present disposition to lawlessness; but no one could say that the Irish police were wanting in zeal and fidelity. There was only one other thing to which the pre- 1988 sent state of Ireland could be ascribed. Having given the subject the best consideration he could, and knowing the country well, he was bound to say that he believed the land question lay at the root of the disorganized state of Ireland at the present moment. He had always contended that the land question was the primary one that ought to be dealt with, he had proved it by his vote in supporting the Bill of the Prime Minister in 1866; and if, instead of taking up the subject of the Irish Church—though he admitted great differences of opinion existed on this point—the Government and that House had found means of devising an equitable enactment, which, without violating on the one hand rights of property, or on the other hand the rights of labour, would have settled the land question, such a course of legislation would have been more advisable. There was a general feeling abroad in Ireland that some great changes were to be made in connection with the land as well as with reference to the Church in that country; and, in preparation for those changes, it might be that there was a desire to get possession or occupation, or to retain the occupation of the land in Ireland among a large number of persons. If that feeling existed, from what, he should like to know, had it sprung? Had expectations been held out that the changes to be introduced would be of an organic character? He feared that such was the case, and although he should have liked to have omitted all reference to what had fallen from leading Members of the Government in the remarks which he felt called upon to make that evening, still he felt it to be necessary to his argument to state that false hopes had been raised in the minds of the people of Ireland with respect to a most vital question—hopes which could never be realized—and that the fact that these expectations were unfulfilled was bringing about a most serious state of things in that country. He recollected being struck, at the time when it was published, by a speech which had been delivered by the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government in Lancashire, last year, in which, speaking with reference to Ireland, he said—It is clear the Church of Ireland offers to us indeed, a great question; but even that question is but one of a group of questions. There is the Church of Ireland, there is the land of Ireland, 1989 there is the education of Ireland; there are many subjects, all of which depend upon one greater than them all; they are all so many branches from one trunk, and that trunk is the tree of what is called Protestant ascendancy. Gentlemen, I look, for one, to this Protestant people to put down Protestant ascendancy, which pretends to seek its objects by doing homage to religious truth, and instead of consecrating politics desecrates religion. It is upon that system that we are banded together to make war. So long as that system subsists our covenant endures for the prosecution of that purpose for which we seek your assistance; and because, although, as I said early in these remarks, we have paid instalments to Ireland, the mass of the people would not be worthy to be free if they were satisfied with instalments, or if they could be contented with anything less than justice, we therefore aim at the destruction of that system of ascendancy which, though it has been crippled and curtailed by former measures, yet still must be allowed to exist. It is still there, like a tall tree of noxious growth lifting its head to heaven, and darkening and poisoning the land so far as its shadow can extend.Now he did not think he was putting the argument too high when he contended that those remarks were calculated to raise the greatest expectations, and to bring about, in. a considerable degree, the existing state of things, in Ireland. He now came to a speech which was delivered by another leading Member of the Cabinet, the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Bright), either at Edinburgh or Glasgow, which was published in The Times newspaper, and in the course of which the right hon. Gentleman said—In Ireland the land really is not in the possession of what I may call native proprietors, or natives of the country, to a large extent. It seems to be an essential thing for the peace of every country that its soil should, at least, be in the possession of its own people. I believe that in Ireland it will be necessary to adopt some plan—and I believe there is a plan which can be adopted without injustice or wrong to any man—by which gradually the land of Ireland may be, to a considerable extent, transferred from foreign, or alien, or absentee Protestant proprietors—transferred into the hands of the Catholic resident population of the country. I do not anticipate myself that until something of that kind is put in process and in operation we shall find tranquillity and content in Ireland such as we would wish to see it.There was one more expression of opinion on the part of a Member of the Government in relation to the question of the land in Ireland, to which he wished to refer. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Bruce) was reported in the Cambria Daily Leader to have used, 1990 in the course of last autumn, the following words:—Was it not a deplorable fact that only 7 per cent of the land belonged to the Roman Catholic population? How was such a state of things effected but by the enactment of the most cruel—yes, and he was not ashamed to state—the most infernal laws that had been made and enforced upon a people.Now, it had, he understood, been stated in "another place" that those words had not been used by the right hon. Gentleman, and he was glad to afford him an opportunity of making the denial in the House of Commons; the passage which he had quoted contained an expression such as the Members of that House were not in the habit of hearing from the right hon. Gentleman, and he, for one, doubted his having made them. In conclusion, he had simply to observe that he had carefully abstained from casting reflections on any one. He had endeavoured above all things to avoid throwing reflections on Her Majesty's Government, because he felt the difficulty of the position in which they were involved; and he was to the fullest extent alive to the disappointment which they must experience at the present state of Ireland after the sacrifices which they had urged that House to make—law and order were the first principles of good government, and they must be maintained at all hazards. He had had but one motive in bringing forward the question to which he had called the attention of the House, and he trusted that the result of the discussion which might possibly follow would be the taking some course of action by means of which the tide of lawlessness which was apparently setting in with so much force in Ireland might be stemmed. He begged, without further comment, to ask the Government whether, under the circumstances which he had detailed, they would feel warranted in giving some explanation as to their views with respect to the condition of Ireland, and such an indication of their policy towards that country as might give some assurance to those who reside in it, which would be satisfactory not only to them but to the public at large?
§ MR. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE
Sir, I should be the last man in this House to under-rate the importance of the subject to which the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Graves) has just invited our attention, or to endeavour to palliate 1991 the seriousness of that state of agrarian crime which prevails in certain districts in Ireland. I cannot, however agree with that portion of the opening description of the hon. Gentleman of the state of that country, in which he spoke of her as now presenting the darkest and saddest picture which she has ever presented to our view. The justice of that description I venture strongly to contest. It is, in the first place, a fact of great significance that those lamentable outrages, arising undoubtedly from an agrarian combination most dangerous to the peace and happiness of the country, and most perplexing and baffling to the Executive Government, are confined to certain limited districts. The last atrocious crime of all which has been committed in Ireland, and which appears to be one of the worst which have been perpetrated—I mean the murder of Captain Tarleton—did not occur in a part of the country hitherto untainted, but in that part of the county of Westmeath, which has for many years been deeply tainted by the proceedings of the Ribbon Society. I must also tell the hon. Gentleman, when he speaks of Ireland presenting so sad and dark a picture, that, if he will only look back to her history during the lifetime of many of us, he will find that within the last twenty, thirty, or forty years she has been occasionally disgraced by a far larger amount of those agrarian crimes—crimes greater in intensity and wider in extent than those which we now have unhappily to deplore. I have thought it right to qualify the statement of the hon. Gentleman by making those observations, while I do not in the least undervalue the seriousness of the question which he has raised as regards certain parts of Ireland. The hon. Gentleman went on to address himself to the cause of this state of things, which is a very difficult subject indeed, and one not to be dismissed or resolved so easily as he seems to imagine. We all have seen the popular explanations which have appeared in portions of the press on the subject, and I am glad to find that the hon. Gentleman has not altogether identified himself with all this rash and superficial expression of opinion, because, although he has insinuated that there might be some connection between the outrages in Ireland and the discussions on the question of the Irish Church in this House, 1992 he still, if I understand him rightly, does not maintain that our dealing with the Irish Church is the cause of the agrarian crime in that country. The hon. Gentleman does not extend that indulgence to certain expressions of opinion uttered by Gentlemen on this side of the House with respect to the land, and thinks they must have had something to do with this outburst of agrarian crime. I hold that to be an opinion absolutely devoid of foundation, totally incapable of proof, and contradicted by all who have any knowledge or experience of these matters in Ireland. "What are those expressions of opinion on the part of leading politicians on this side of the House, some of whom are leading Members of the present Government? What do they come to? They come to this—that the head of the Government and some of his most distinguished Colleagues felt it right to say publicly that the land question must be dealt with in its turn. They come to nothing more nor less than that—that upon the land question of Ireland there must be legislation. Is the other side of the House prepared to contradict that assertion? Are hon. Gentlemen sitting on the front Opposition Bench prepared to say that there should not be legislation on the land question of Ireland? Do they suppose that an announcement to the tenantry of Ireland that there shall be no legislation on the land question, upon the relations of landlord and tenant, would tend to produce peace and contentment? I commend that question to the serious consideration of hon. Gentlemen opposite. The fact is, that these lamentable agrarian outrages and mischievous secret societies from which they have sprung have nothing whatever to do with what we call politics, and have nothing whatever to do with political speeches. It is, no doubt, most difficult to assign specific causes for the outbreak of these agrarian outrages in any particular district of Ireland at a particular time. We know, as a fact, that they almost invariably linger in certain districts of Ireland, and, undoubtedly, they are not unconnected with the social and economical condition of those districts. There is also the fact of the inveterate tradition and habit by which this lamentable custom of secret combination is handed down from generation to generation in these particular districts. There is the 1993 further fact that now and then these outbreaks arise from some excessive and outrageous exercise of legal power, such as that attempted by Mr. Scully in Tipperary, last Septemper, which excites feelings of resistance and vengeance, and occasions lamentable breaches of the law and loss of life, and these feelings perpetuate and extend themselves, and lead to outrages but remotely connected with the original cause of dissatisfaction. When we are told that the causes of this renewed outburst of agrarian crime in Tipperary and Westmeath are to be sought for in the political events of the last few months, in the conduct of the present Government, and in expressions publicly used by Members of the present Government, let me remind the House of one fact which dispels all these dreams and calumnies, and that is the fact that when we came into Office last December we found this outbreak already begun and in full force. I am not furnished with all the facts relating to the agrarian crime of Ireland for many years past, which it would have been well to have had before us, because the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Graves) has given only a few hours' notice of his intention to bring the subject forward; but I happen to have some statistics of the crime Westmeath for the last twenty years. Since 1848, thirty-five lives have been lost by violence in Westmeath—certainly not all, though probably the greater number, from agrarian causes; and there have been forty-five cases in which persons have been fired at. The present system of agrarian terrorism which is disgracing portions of the county of Westmeath may be said to have begun in 1866, when a farmer named Jessop was shot, and Mr. Hornidge was fired at. That was the beginning of the series of crimes which have since occurred. The outbreak showed itself in a lamentable manner this time last year in the murder of Mr. Featherstonhaugh, which was as much connected with the visit of the Prince of Wales at that time as it was with the Irish Church, or with the speech of the First Minister of the Crown. The state of crime and combination again reveal itself in the murder of Mr. Anketell at the Mullingar station, and now it has shown itself in the murder of Captain Tarleton. This state of things begun in 1994 1866, was renewed in 1868, and was again renewed in 1869. The county of Tipperary, although no doubt bearing an evil name for these agrarian crimes, for some time had been comparatively quiet, when, last September, the unhappy affair occurred at Ballycohey, through Mr. Scully attempting to enforce on his tenants, by ejectment, agreements of the most arbitrary and objectionable character. The result of that attempt was an ambuscade, into which Mr. Scully and the policemen who accompanied him fell, and two lives were lost. That lamentable affair has since been followed by three other murders; but the Ballycohey outrage was, as is well known, the beginning of the renewed outbreak of crime in Tipperary. That occurred in September last, independently, I venture to think, of all those causes which are alleged or insinuated by the hon. Gentleman. It is obvious to the House, from the recurrence of these crimes in the same community. that they have a tendency to multiply themselves; and that is a grave and serious fact with which we have to deal. It is from that source, in the absence of detection and conviction, that I infer the crimes we are now deploring have come. I need hardly assure the House that the Government, and especially my noble Friend at the head of the Irish Government, my right hon. Friend the Attorney General for Ireland, and myself—ever since we acceded to Office, have been most anxiously and constantly engaged in using our best efforts to direct all the power of the law and of the police to the detection and suppression of these crimes. I attach very considerable value to the power which the Lord Lieutenant possesses under the Peace Preservation Act of increasing the police force of any particular district and charging upon that district, both by way of protection and by way of penalty, the cost of that force. That power is now being exercised in a greater degree than it was before we acceded to Office. I must add that, in that particular, we found that there had been neglect on the part of the Irish Executive before we came into Office. It is an unfortunate fact, and it is well known to have produced evil consequences. In Westmeath, the extra police tax imposed in 1866, for two years had never been collected; substantial farmers, well able 1995 to pay, had been allowed to defy the law; and the cess collectors, in whose hands the collection of the tax had been left, had allowed the matter to go on for month after month without making any attempt to enforce payment. Again, the extra police who had been sent down to Ballycohey had been unfortunately withdrawn, and the extra tax for the short time they were there I discovered, by accident, had not for a long time been collected. We have made up our mind to apply this power in every case of serious agrarian outrage in which combination and connivance on the part of the neighbourhood are evident. We have given positive orders that, in every case of such outrage, the resident magistrates and the police officers of the locality shall at once report upon the means of finding a suitable temporary barrack for a party of police, who should be sent down and the expense charged upon the locality in which the crime has been committed. We have also adopted a very necessary improvement which we found we had power to do; we have taken the collection of this extra police tax out of the hands of the ordinary cess collectors, and we have placed it in the hands of the police. The other powers possessed by the Lord Lieutenant under the Peace Preservation Act, such as the power of searching for arms, and the law by which the possession of arms in these districts, except under license, is prohibited, are also being applied far more more rigorously than they were before. Of course, other means are being used for the detection of crime which it is not my duty to detail to the House; but the House may rely upon it that the Government are using every means in their power and making use of their best officers among the resident magistracy and the police for the purpose of detecting and suppressing these dangerous agrarian crimes; and I do not believe that it is the fault of those gentlemen themselves if these crimes pass undetected. A great deal has been said—I am not sure it has been said to-night—about the efficiency of the Irish police for the detection of crime; and I admit, with all admiration for the high qualities which the Irish constabulary have shown, they have proved themselves more valuable as a semi-military force for the preserva- 1996 tion of peace than for the ordinary police duties for the detection of crime. It is extremely difficult to reconcile these two classes of duties, and, undoubtedly, it is the duty of the Government to consider in what respects the Irish constabulary can be improved, so as to combine all the admirable qualities they possess with greater efficiency in the detection of crime. But that is a matter that takes time; and all I can say is that the Government are applying themselves with zeal and energy to the question. I need not add anything to what was said by my right hon. Friend near me (the First Lord of the Treasury) at the beginning of the evening with respect to any further measures to be taken for the preservation of the peace in Ireland. The whole subject is under the most careful and anxious consideration of the Government; and while it is impossible for them to go into any detailed statement to the House, on the present occasion, of what ought to be done for the purpose of strengthening the Executive, or improving the means for the suppression and detection of crime, the House may rely that the whole subject has engaged., and will continue to engage, their most anxious consideration. What I have just said applies, not only to the general question of agrarian crimes, but also to the particular case of the Mayor of Cork, which was not alluded to by the hon. Member for Liverpool, but which has naturally excited a great deal of attention in the House. The conduct of the Mayor of Cork the other day, if the words reported to be used by him are correctly reported, is of so grave a character that, as soon as the Government is in possession of authentic information on the subject, it will be their duty to take it into their most serious consideration.
I am not inclined to blame—and I do not think that any reasonable man will blame—her Majesty's Government because they decline to express, except in the general terms used by the right hon. Gentleman (the Chief Secretary for Ireland) any opinion upon the language or conduct of the Mayor of Cork. Every man, whatever he may have said or done, has a right not to be condemned unheard; and I think it perfectly fair that the Executive should have full time and opportunity of knowing what this man has really said, 1997 what are the exact terms he has used, and what apology or explanation he may have to offer. There is only one thing I will say on this part of the question, because the fact to which it relates is notorious, and our opinion upon it cannot be modified by any explanation that may be subsequently given. I do think that a person who presides at a meeting publicly held in honour of Fenian insurgents—whatever the excuse or the occasion may be on which such meeting was held—especially in a country in the state in which Ireland is now, is one who ought not to be permitted to exercise any administrative office or to interfere in any manner with the execution of justice. The mere spectacle of such a man in such a place—I put it on that ground alone, I care not what he said—is a scandal, and gives more encouragement to the disaffected than could be given by ten thousand ordinary Fenian speeches. But this question of the Mayor of Cork is only a small portion of a very large difficulty. I fear that the state of Ireland at the present time is very grave, and that, if much care is not taken, and much energy is not used, it will tend to become worse rather than better. There has been nothing, so far as I know, for many years past—not even in the early time of the Fenian movement, when the hopes of its promoters were high, and when exaggerated rumours were flying about the country—there has been nothing, I believe, for many years past, like the state of insecurity and uneasiness that exists at the present moment through a large portion of the rural districts in Ireland. I have some connections and many friends in Ireland, and to whatever party they belong, and in whatever part of the country they reside, they all concur in this opinion. Indeed, the right hon. Gentleman has not attempted to deny the existence of this state of things. If I caught rightly his words he said—We must remember that all this was nothing new, and that things used to be quite as bad, or even much worse, forty years ago. That may be perfectly true, but it seems to me but a poor consolation. The question is not one for the Executive only, but for the House itself, for we all share in the responsibility of what is to be done. I do not care to go back upon the past, and it is only with regard to its bearing upon the present state of 1998 things that I refer to one thing which has been done and which I greatly regret, I mean the rather indiscriminate liberation of the Fenian prisoners. I think that has been generally considered in this country to have been a mistake; and I believe that those who advised and arts responsible for it will be apt to doubt whether they have not made a mistake when they see the manner in which their clemency has been received. It has been ascribed by some to a fear of Fenianism itself, or a fear of the friends and sympathizers whom the Fenians might be supposed to have in other countries. It has been ascribed by others, no doubt very mistakenly, to another feeling—a kind of sympathy or compassion for those unfortunate men, as if they were people for whom great excuse was to be made, and who had been acting under extraordinary provocation. I say it is most unfortunate that an idea of this kind should spread abroad, and the attitude which the Government has taken, or seems to have taken, is not one which ought to have been assumed by a Government whoso very existence is threatened. It is all very well to show mercy to a conquered enemy—no one can admit that more readily than I do—but we should be sure in the first place that our enemy is conquered. All that, however, is done and past. But I am bound to say, whatever effect this proceeding has had—and I believe it had an evil effect—it is not the chief cause of the state of excitement and disturbance which at present prevails. I am afraid that state of things has a very different origin. Questions which were raised at the late elections have been looked upon in a different manner in England and in Ireland. I am not now referring to the question of the Irish Church; I will not say one word about it. We must recollect that, if the Irish people take rather peculiar views of our motives and actions, they have some justification for doing so. They recollect the time of the armed Volunteers in 1782, when the country was on the verge of insurrection, and they recollect how that threatened insurrection ended in giving Ireland what she never had before—a free and independent Parliament. They remember the language held by the Duke of Wellington in 1829, when he frankly avowed that he accepted Roman Catholic emancipation as the alternative of civil 1999 war; and however unreasonable we may think it, still from their point of view it is not so absurd that they should imagine that what the Volunteers did in 1782, and what the danger of civil war did in 1829, the Fenian movement may do at the present day. They believe that it has already swept away the Church, and that it will yet sweep away the foreign proprietors of the land. I am afraid I am not going too far when I say that a large portion of the tenantry in Ireland look upon the land as already theirs by right, and as almost theirs in fact, and that the landowners, who are in their view usurpers, will very shortly be ejected. The right hon. Gentleman argues that nothing that has been said or done in this House since the elections can have much to do with the state of feeling which prevails in Ireland, because the Government found it existing at the time when they came into power. And again the right hon. Gentleman said he did not think that anyone could blame the prominent Members of the Government for only saying that the question of the land ought to be dealt with. Now, upon that point, I will remind the House that the revival of this agrarian agitation—certainly stronger now than it has been for many years past—very nearly coincided with the canvass which ended in the General Election of last year; and as for saying that the Members of the Government are not to blame for stating that the land question ought to be taken up, if they had said that, and had said nothing more, no complaint could be made against them. That question had already been taken up on this side of the House, and I believe with the general concurrence of the Conservative party. We attempted to deal with it, and we shall be ready to help you to deal with it. But the question is not whether the land laws ought to be dealt with, but how it ought to be dealt with, and on what basis. Let me distinctly state that I am not blaming the Government, as I know they have been blamed elsewhere, for not attempting to bring in a Land Bill in the course of the present Session. I know perfectly well that that would be practically impossible. They have quite enough to do as it is, and. there would be no time to consider such a measure. But what I think we have a right to expect of them is that they will give some such declaration of their general views 2000 and principles upon this controversy, as will, at one and the same time satisfy the reasonable expectations of those who only want to see it settled on a basis of justice, and dissipate those wild imaginations which are at present so rife in the popular mind of Ireland. Now, I do not think there ought to be any difficulty in that, because the question as it now stands is one quite as much of principle as of detail. In point of fact, in what is rather vaguely called the land question there are two questions involved, the one entirely distinct from the other. One is the right of the tenant to obtain compensation for unexhausted improvements when he quits possession; and the other is the imaginary right of the occupier to the permanent possession of the land. With regard to the first of these claims, I cannot think that, when we have leisure to deal with it, it ought to be one which will give us much serious difficulty, because the right of the tenant to compensation has been recognized by both sides of the House. It has been recognized both by the late and the present Government, the only difference between them being one of detail; and if we approach it with good-will I have no doubt that difference may be removed or compromised. But the serious question is as to the other and further claim which the Irish tenants imagine they possess to the soil itself. I for one do not profess any great anxiety or alarm as to the view which the present Government, or any Government, will take upon that subject. I believe they will be as ready as we are to repudiate theories which, if they could be put into practice, would be utterly fatal to agricultural improvement and to the progress of the country, and would be incompatible with the existence of landed property in any form. I say, then, that I do not infer from the silence of the Government that they have sympathy with or participation in the views which, unfortunately, are so prevalent among the Irish peasantry. But I say that that which we have every reason to believe they mean they ought to tell us openly they do mean. The Irish people do not know where they stand in this matter, and while the present state of doubt and uncertainty lasts there will be no security for either agents or landlords in Ireland. In saying that I do not mean to censure the poor people who are 2001 carried away by those illusions. They are really in a position for which large allowance must be made. They have no chance of hearing both sides of the question. They have only two kinds of instructors to guide them—the local press and the Roman Catholic clergy. Now, the local press is mainly written for circulation among them, and, as must always happen in such cases, it reflects to a great extent their feelings, their prejudices, and their passions. With regard to the Roman Catholic clergy, I wish to speak of them with all the respect that is due to a body of men of exemplary personal conduct. I do not believe they have the slightest partiality for revolutionary views as such. I have not the slightest doubt that, if the conditions of the case were reversed, and the bulk of the landlords were Roman Catholics, while the bulk of the occupiers were Protestant, you would find them quite as strong advocates of the indefeasible rights of proprietors as they are at present of the just claims of tenants. They look upon this question—and I do not much wonder at it—as a question of religion and race; and not having in general any very wide experience of secular matters, or any large sphere of knowledge beyond their own profession, they are upon this subject as often deluded as deluders. What we want—and it is for that purpose alone I now rise—is to obtain from the Government a declaration—it need not be in many words, but I hope they will be plain and distinct—that while on the one hand the claim of the tenants to compensation shall be admitted and respected, the proprietary rights of the landlords on the other hand will be firmly maintained. Let them only be firm upon that point—let them only act upon what I have no doubt is their own view of the subject—let them only maintain the law calmly and resolutely, and depend upon it you will get over this agitation as you have got over hundreds of similar agitations. But if everything is to remain in a state of obscurity until next year, if the Irish people are left in the dark, if they are left unchecked and uncontradicted to entertain any wild fancies upon this matter that may float through their minds, then I fear that the present excitement and disturbance will continue and will even increase; and in that case, but in that case only, I will say, that for what may 2002 occur in the next few months, the Executive authority must be held responsible.
§ MR. SHERLOCK
said, it was unfair to discuss these outrages in connection with the Irish Church question, and it was equally impossible to justify them, whatever might be the wants or passions of the perpetrators. Some of these outrages might have their root in the want of sympathy between landlords and tenants, yet he would be far from assorting that any of the recent victims in these outrages were wanting in their duties as landlords. On the other hand, to make this a political question was wholly unjust. Those who committed such outrages ought to know that they evoked prejudices against the cause of the Irish tenants, and deprived their advocates in that House of the power of pressing their case with as much energy as if Ireland were peaceful. He believed that no body of men could more strongly deprecate these outrages than those who advocated the cause of the Irish tenant-farmers. It had been suggested that the Irish peasants desired to become proprietors of the land by turning out the present owners. He had been much in communication with the tenantry of Ireland; but he never heard from any tenant that he considered himself entitled to turn out his landlord and become the owner of the land. He entreated the Government not to be entrapped into making at the present moment a declaration of their future policy on the subject of land tenure. He believed that security of tenure would be acquiesced in by many of the landlords, but hon. Members opposite were not justified in asking the Government now to make a declaration in that respect. Possibly no definite views had yet been formed by the Government on this subject.
§ MR. FOTHERGILL
said, that when he informed the House that the unfortunate young man, whose cruel murder had been alluded to, was his own near relation, he might, he was sure, claim its indulgence for a few moments. He claimed justice upon his cousin's murderers, and he thanked the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland for the intentions which he understood him to have shadowed forth in respect of the energetic action which the Government meant to put in force. It was a cruel and wicked murder, for a more inoffensive man could not be found; 2003 he was universally loved, he was of a most genial disposition, he lived a blameless life with his widowed mother and sisters, and the only cause of offence which could be conceived for his murder was that six months back he discharged a farm servant. The House would, he hoped, forgive the emotion which he could scarcely control, and he would only add that he relied confidently on the effective action of Her Majesty's Government, which he had the honour to support, to punish the murderers.
§ LORD CLAUD HAMILTON
said, he had to undertake the painful task to an Irishman of denouncing the remarks of the Chief Secretary as a most lame excuse on the part of the Government. The right hon. Gentleman had spoken lightly of the recent murders in Ireland, and deprecated discussion to-night because there had been many murders in times past, and had denied that the recent events in Ireland could have any connection whatever with speeches made by any leading statesman on the opposite side of the House. He could not agree with the right hon. Gentleman, and would prove the exact reverse. The Chief Secretary for Ireland had endeavoured to palliate the conduct of the present Government by blaming the conduct of the last, accusing them of not having exercised sufficient vigilance; but he distinctly pointed out that these crimes began to be most painfully forced upon public attention during the autumn of 1866; and what else happened at that period? A leading Member of the Government widely spread a document throughout the country containing a malignant misrepresentation of Irish landlords, and telling the people that, if they would have their grievances redressed, they must not look to this country or to this Parliament, but across the Atlantic to the West, if they would have sympathy and aid. That was the tone of some of the speeches of the President of the Board of Trade, and in one famous letter he said—If Ireland were a thousand miles away from us all would be at once changed, justice would be at once done, or the landlords would be exterminated by the vengeance of the people.The hint of exterminating the landlords had not been thrown away. The date of the letter containing that passage was November, 1866, the very period marked out by the Chief Secretary, and the re- 2004 sult had been what one would naturally expect as the consequence of such a declaration thrown among such an excitable people as the Irish. The authors of these frightful outrages feeling themselves aggrieved—from some fancied injury though it be—would at once point to this document and say—"Here is the authority of an influential man for the deed I have done; a man high in Office in the Government has suggested the crime I have committed." Was that the only act of the right hon. Gentleman at that period calculated to excite disloyalty in Ireland? The right hon. Gentleman accepted an invitation to Ireland at this period from a quarter which clearly indicated the character of the demonstration he was about to take part in. The chief promoter of this visit was Mr. Dillon, a man of great energy and ability, but so notoriously disloyal that he had to fly the country in 1848, and a reward was offered for his apprehension; the next leading man in this affair was the hon. Member for Kilkenny (Sir John Gray), who had been described as once "a distinguished inmate of Richmond gaol," having obtained that distinction by acts of disloyalty during the Government of the late Sir Robert Peel, of which the present First Minister was a member; and a third member of the committee of invitation, who was also an hon. Member of that House (The O'Donoghue), had been dismissed by Lord Chancellor Brady from the Commission of the Peace for disloyalty. Was it to be expected that a meeting promoted by such men. would have been used for the purpose of promoting the well-being of Ireland and obedience to law? As a matter of fact, the great meeting held at the Mechanics' Institute received the President of the Board of Trade with every demonstration of delight, and in the course of the evening there were shouts in honour of Stephens, who had then recently escaped, and there were shouts for the Irish Republic; but, although he had searched through the reports of this meeting in all the Dublin papers, he had been unable to find a single word of disapprobation of those cheers from the right hon. Gentleman. To all intents and purposes the meeting was a Fenian demonstration. The House had had an ample opportunity of hearing the right hon. Gentleman endeavour to palliate the guilt 2005 of the Fenian movement. ["Oh!"] Hon. Members were not in the House at the time to which he referred, and, therefore, when they said "Oh" it merely showed their ignorance. The first exhibition of the sympathy of the right hon. Gentleman and of his desire to palliate the guilt of the Fenian outrages in that House occurred on the occasion of the attempt to plunder the arms in the Castle of Chester. That attempt created considerable excitement in that House and throughout the country, and the noble Lord who then represented Chester (Earl Grosvenor), having received a telegram from the magistrates of that city, stated in that House what he believed to be the facts of the case, and went into details showing an intimate knowledge of all the circumstances that had occurred. Instantly the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham, influenced by that zeal which he had. shown in Dublin, got up in his place, and, without having any special information on the subject, proceeded to contradict the statement of the noble Lord, and to throw ridicule upon it. The right hon. Gentleman said—I confess I do not believe it. But if we are to believe in this insurrectionary movement at Chester as a real thing—that only one-half of those engaged in it are Irish, and the other half English—it would seem that discontent and treasonable intentions were spread among a portion of the English population. I suppose the right hon. Gentleman believes the whole Chester story. I do not believe it.He need hardly remind the House how completely subsequent evidence confirmed the statements of the noble Lord the Member for Chester, and proved the entire fallacy of the attempted contradiction of the right hon. Gentleman. That was the first public exhibition by the right hon. Gentleman of his Fenian sympathies in that House, but the next occasion was of a far more grave and serious character. The right hon. Gentleman, in order to throw insult upon the administration of the law—upon the most loyal of Her Majesty's subjects—presented a Petition, a most un-Parliamentary, vulgar, and insolent Petition, signed by only eleven persons, one of whom, a few days previously, had insulted public opinion by endeavouring to palliate the murders committed at Sheffield, and by ridiculing the honest expression of feeling on the part of the workmen at Sheffield against those mur- 2006 ders. That Petition proceeded to invite the House and the Government to secure the revision of the sentence already passed upon the Fenians, who, in the opinion of the petitioners, had received a sentence of most oppressive and irritating severity; and then, in order to insult a loyal body, because they were opposed to the Fenian movement, the petitioners went on to say that, being justly alarmed by their recollection of the conduct of the English Army and its officers in India, they begged that the House might—Provide that the utmost moderation and strict adherence to the laws of fair and humane warfare may be inculcated on the army now serving in Ireland."And," said the right hon. Gentleman, "in the general spirit of the Petition I, in the main, entirely concur." Thus the right hon. Gentleman went out of his way to assume that the noble and glorious and brave British Army wanted his advice lest they should depart from the strict law of humane warfare—he, who had never once raised his voice against the acts of Fenians when they shot men in the back in Ireland—a mode of attack which was invariably adopted by his protégés for reasons best known to themselves—was thus eager to attribute to the Army a desire to de-part from the laws of fair and humane warfare. But it was one class of morality to condemn the murderous acts already committed by the Fenians, and another, to insult the loyal British Army by imputing to it a desire to commit unworthy actions, for which there was not the slightest foundation. This insult had been offered to the army at the time that not a single life had been lost on the part of the Fenians, and, therefore, it was the more wanton and unnecessary. But his zeal on behalf of the Fenians did not stop there. Most Englishmen were horrified and shocked at that fearful outrage by which numbers of women and children were suddenly hurled into eternity, and others lacerated, deprived of their limbs and sight, many of whom still remained unhappy specimens of the result of that lamentable crime. But not even this outrage could abate the zeal of the right hon. Gentleman, who seized the earliest opportunity of coming forward to show his sympathy with the criminal. He adopted a course which was totally un- 2007 precedented. He, who knew nothing about the law, had the boldness to find fault with the decision of the jury, the opinion of the Judge, and the sentence of the law, and to attempt to induce the Home Secretary (Mr. Gathorne Hardy) to waive all precedent, and to allow the trial, which had resulted in the conviction of the prisoner, to be set aside as null and void on some trumpery plea of an alibi, which proved to be entirely fictitious. On that occasion the right hon. Gentleman used these words, which showed that he must have had some communication with the prisoner—I am empowered to say on behalf of those most interested, and on the part of the prisoner himself, that there will be no plea of a former acquittal if that second trial takes place.It was unnecessary to tell any person at all acquainted with the law that it was impossible that such a course could be adopted. He had merely cited the case to show how warm and active were the sympathies of the right hon. Gentleman in favour of the Fenians. He had given his opinion upon the conduct of the right hon. Gentleman as an Irish Member, and there were thousands of Irishmen who held a similar opinion. They believed that it, from the encouragement shown to the Fenians by the right hon. Gentleman in the way he had described, had induced the Fenians and agrarian assassins to conceive that they had a friend in the Government in the person of the right hon. Gentleman.
§ MR. W. M. TORRENS
rose to Order. He, with other Members, had listened with great patience to the speech of the noble Lord the Member for Tyrone (Lord Claud Hamilton); but he conceived that there were limits within which the language of hon. Members should be confined. The language of the noble Lord had imputed motives the foulest, the most cowardly, and the most treasonable to the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade. He did not rise for the purpose of defending the right hon. Gentleman, who was very well able to defend himself, but with regard to the character of the House, which, if such language were permitted, would be lowered in the eyes of the people of this country.
§ MR. DISRAELI
Sir, I rise to Order. I apprehend that when an hon. Member rises to Order he ought to have some specific point. I do not want to express 2008 any opinion as to any of the preliminary parts of my noble Friend's (Lord Claud Hamilton's) speech, but I wish to put it to you, Sir, whether, if the hon. Member objected to any statement in that speech, he ought not to have risen to Order on the specific point to which his objection applied. With regard to the particular words on which the hon. Member rose, I apprehend my noble Friend was not at all out of Order, because—without giving any opinion as to the accuracy of the allegation—the allegation was that assassins conceived they had a friend in Her Majesty's Government. Now, that was really not language as to which my noble Friend could be called to Order. I have no desire to interfere with the rights of Members, but I do submit that this power of rising to a point of Order ought to be used with the utmost discretion and precision, and I put it to you, Sir, whether the hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. W. M. Torrens) is in Order in calling attention to particular passages in the speech of my noble Friend to which he did not object at the time they were spoken?
§ MR. W. M. TORRENS
said, he had understood the noble Lord to distinctly impute to the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade that he was considered by assassins as their friend. If he had made a mistake he would apologize; but he asked for the decision of the Speaker.
§ MR. SPEAKER
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) is perfectly correct in saying that an hon. Member who rises to Order is not at liberty to review the general tenour of a speech, but must object to some definite expression at the moment when it is spoken. I watched with interest, and not without a feeling of pain and regret, the course of the speech of the noble Lord (Lord Claud Hamilton), and I was prepared myself to rise if I thought that my so doing was imperatively called for. Up to this moment nothing has occurred which seemed to make it absolutely necessary for me to interfere.
§ LORD CLAUD HAMILTON
said, that what he had stated was that the impression on the minds of the assassins was such as he had described. He had not said that that was the fault of the President of the Board of Trade. He had imputed nothing to the right hon. Gen- 2009 tleman. All that he had said was that certain acts of the right hon. Gentleman had had the effect of conveying a certain impression to the minds of the ignorant and excitable peasantry of Ireland. He wanted to illustrate the great danger there was when men in the position of the right hon. Gentleman allowed themselves to be carried away, as he had been, on Irish questions. By the way in which he was believed to have palliated the crimes of the Fenians, and thrown around them the shield of his eloquence, the right hon. Gentleman certainly did create the impression that he regarded them in a friendly light. The right hon. Gentleman in the Chair had said that he heard certain portions of his (Lord Claud Hamilton's) speech with regret. It had been most painful to him (Lord Claud Hamilton) as an Irish Member to be obliged to say what he had said; but he did not think that the subject had been treated in a sufficiently serious manner by the only Member of the Government who had spoken. He (Lord Claud Hamilton) did not come there to exchange compliments, and to make things look smooth—that he considered to be fraught with the greatest danger to his country. He should never shrink from expressing his opinion of what had been the irritating cause of the unhappy social condition of Ireland, and he believed, in his conscience, that the course which the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade had felt it his duty to take had been the source of the greatest mischief.
Sir, I regret, and I think I do so in common with other Members of the House, that the noble Lord who has just addressed the House has departed so widely from the tone and temper manifested by the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn (Lord Stanley). The noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn, in a speech that I can say with the most perfect frankness and sincerity I think was a speech fitting to the occasion, showed that he, at least, can view this great question without passion, and can look to Members of the House who sit on this side and have taken a warm interest in Irish affairs, and probably believe that they are as earnest and as well-intentioned as himself. The noble Lord the Member for the county of Tyrone has taken a very different line, 2010 and, I think, for his own case, a very unfortunate one; because if, during his speech, any one had entered this House, and heard for the first time about this great Irish question, that person would have supposed that I was the author of all the miseries of Ireland, and of the embarrassment in which the House and the Government find themselves at this moment. Surely, the noble Lord is old enough to know that this was a great question before I was in the House—before I had ever spoken on Irish affairs, and, in fact, before either he or I came into the world. In those times this Irish question was, at least, as grave as it is now; and men debated in the House of Commons and elsewhere, as they do now, what remedy ought to be applied; and I dare say there were hon. Gentlemen in those days who, like the noble Lord tonight, endeavoured to show that some particular individual was the cause of this great calamity. For myself, I call the House to witness, and I call the noble Lord to witness, that, from the first moment when I felt called upon to speak on the Irish question, either in or out of Parliament, I described the maladies of Ireland in the same language, and called on Parliament to apply the same remedies. I do not pretend to say that any particular landlord, or any particular number of landlords are responsible for the miseries of Ireland; but I said before, and I say now, that there can be no peace in that country, and no settlement in that country, till the population by some means or other—I am prepared to propose a means, and I believe it can be done without injustice to any man—are put in possession in greater numbers than they are now of the soil of their own country. I observe that, when the question which the hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. Graves) has brought before the House this evening comes to be discussed, Gentlemen opposite often discuss it as if they only were sensible of the mischief, and as if on this side we had no sympathy with the miseries of the country from which some of them come. Now. I am as anxious as they are—the present Government is as anxious as the late Government was, the present Chief Secretary for Ireland is as anxious as the previous Chief Secretary for Ireland could have been—that the realm over which he rules should be a credit to this Empire. But nothing can be more 2011 ignorant or more childish than to imagine that for this malady of Ireland there is an instantaneous specific. We all wish for the suppression of agrarian crime in Ireland, but what could the late Government do for its suppression? If you can make no discovery of the murderer—if you can obtain no evidence—if you can have no verdict—if you can pass no sentence—of course there can be no punishment. How can you make a discovery, how can you produce evidence, how can you secure a trial to bring these criminals to justice? That murder should be committed is bad enough; but a still more terrible thing, and a thing not a little significant, is this—that throughout considerable districts in Ireland there is a state of opinion so depraved, or so hostile to the law, or so regardless of human life, that all the powers of the Government are baffled in endeavouring to grapple with this sore evil which afflicts the country. The malady has been of longer standing than the lifetime of anyone in this House. There has been no writer on Ireland for the last 200 years who has been dispassionate and impartial—who has not pointed to that malady; and some of them have suggested remedies which have not been applied. Now, what is to be done? It is not a case for panic. I have known many more crimes committed in Ireland during the twenty-five years I have been in this House, during a given period, than even those which have been stated this evening; and in speeches delivered by statesmen at a more remote date I have found details of similar facts in regard to Ireland. I could show the House that outrages, murder, and violence of almost every kind were more frequent in those times than they are now. I am not saying anything to justify what is occurring now, nor am I asserting that the present condition of things is not serious, and calculated to cause us very deep regret, but what I do say is that this is not a case for panic. It is a case which ought to make thoughtful men think more, which ought to make us ask ourselves whether there is not something in the past policy of the Imperial Parliament towards Ireland which is wrong and which requires a patient and resolute remedy. There is no country in the world in the same condition as Ireland. You cannot find any other country of Europe in which a similar state of things 2012 exists. You must ask yourselves why there is in Ireland a state of things so different from any which exist elsewhere. We know that the people of Ireland have many virtues. We all acknowledge that. [An hon. MEMBER made some exclamation.] I believe we all admit it. I do not suppose the hon. Gentleman disputes it, though he makes an exclamation. They have many virtues; vast numbers of them are unconnected with crime of any kind; vast numbers of them are unconnected with disloyalty of any kind; and yet it is a fact that throughout the country there is a malady which pervades whole districts, in which the people are hostile to the Parliament of the United Kingdom and the social system under which they live. What is the duty of the Government in a case of this nature? In past times, since I have been in Parliament, I have spoken occasionally upon this Irish question. In 1866, when my right hon. Friend now at the head of the Government was Leader of this House—I speak of the time of the Government of Earl Russell—I was sitting there (pointing to the second Bench below the Gangway); and when my right hon. Friend the Member for Morpeth (Sir George Grey) brought in a Bill for the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, many hon. Members will recollect that I addressed the House on that occasion. What did I say? I pointed to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli), and I told his supporters how much he was a man of genius and political knowledge. I pointed to what he had said twenty years ago upon this question, and I argued with him—with his conscience, if you like—that he comprehended this question, and that it was his duty to subject all party prospects to the restoration of peace in Ireland. I then turned from the right hon. Gentleman to my right hon. Friend, and I addressed the same language to him. I told the two parties in this House that they had at their head men whom they might follow, not only without discredit, but, as far as genius and mental power went, with the most implicit confidence; but I said further—"If you sit on these Benches and profess to be statesmen, and if you see this condition of Ireland, and year after year you suspend the Constitution, and yet have nothing to propose, no remedy to offer, then" I said—"you 2013 are clerks, and not statesmen. You should come down from the high position which you occupy, and you should acknowledge that the great Irish question is one with which you are powerless to deal." Well, out of the House I have spoken in the same terms. The noble Lord (Lord Claud Hamilton) has spoken of the banquet which I attended in Dublin about three years ago. He said that I was invited over by Mr. Dillon, who had himself been charged with disloyalty, and by an hon. Member of this House, who had also been prosecuted for disloyalty, and by another hon. Gentleman, who had been removed from the Commission of the Peace. Sir, I was invited to that banquet by no less than twenty-two Irish Members of Parliament, and I venture to say of Mr. Dillon—of whom the noble Lord spoke with something like contempt—that he was one of the most honest and patriotic statesmen of this House. I know that he was one of those who were concerned with the present Attorney General for Ireland (Mr. Sullivan) in drawing up the Land Bill of 1866; and when that Bill—so moderate in its nature—was denounced and rejected by hon. Members opposite Mr. Dillon said that nothing which had ever happened in his life had caused him so much grief, as he believed that—looking to the mode in which that Bill had been treated—all hope of anything like justice to the tenantry of Ireland must be given up, so far as regarded the temper and legislation of the party opposite. Well, I went to the banquet of which the noble Lord spoke.
The noble Lord spoke of the meeting in the Rotundo, and the banquet was held in the Rotundo.
§ LORD CLAUD HAMILTON
I was referring to the meeting at the Mechanic's Institute, in Lower Abbey Street.
But the noble Lord also spoke of the gentlemen who invited me. Twenty-two Members of Parliament invited me to a banquet at the Rotundo, which I attended, and two days afterwards I attended a political meeting—the first of its kind, I believe, held in Dublin, since the days of O'Connell—and this was held in some room in the Mechanic's Institu- 2014 tion. It is true, as the noble Lord says, that one man—I am not sure that there may not have been two—did venture on some ejaculations of the kind he has mentioned. Well, but that meeting—as far, at least, as the period during which I staid there—was a very satisfactory meeting. I did not expect to convince everybody there that I was right, for I have repeatedly spoken to the noble Lord, and in his presence, without affecting his conclusions. The noble Lord said that I held out expectations to them that their regeneration was to come from the West. Nothing is more utterly untrue. What I said was this—that it is one of these deplorable things connected with Ireland—such is that great malady, and so entirely has it poisoned the minds of many of the people—that instead of looking for a remedy of their grievances to the natural source—namely, the Imperial Parliament, in which they are represented—they look to the country of the setting sun. I will not repeat the passage to which the noble Lord referred, for I could not do so accurately; but I am sure if the noble Lord refers to it again he will altogether acquit me of having even suggested that they ought to look to the West for assistance. The noble Lord read a letter which I wrote—a private letter to a gentleman in the South of England; and it was without my consent, and, as the noble Lord may suppose, very much to my regret, that the letter so written was published. But to the main argument of that letter I adhere. I say that the condition of things in Ireland which has existed for the last 200 years, for the last 100 years, or even for the last fifty years, would have been utterly impossible if Ireland had been removed from the shelter and the influence and the power of Great Britain. I repeat that, if Ireland were unmoored from her fastenings in the deep, and floated 2,000 miles to the westward, those things which we propose to do—which we offer to the House in this Session, and which, in all probability may be offered to the House in the next Session, would have been done by the people of Ireland themselves, and that if they had become a State of the American Republic under the constitution of that country those things would have been done. The noble Lord referred to—what shall I call it?—the Petition which I offered to 2015 the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gathorne Hardy) when he was Secretary of State for the Home Department, with regard to an unhappy man who was under sentence of death, and he said that this showed I had direct communication with the man who fired the barrel at Clerkenwell prison. Why, Sir, a countryman of the noble Lord's, who was counsel for the unfortunate man, was at the door of the House, in the Lobby that evening. He made representations to me on this case; he, at that time, I believe, was convinced that the wrong man was in prison, a convict, and he begged me to endeavour, at the last moment, at least to postpone the execution till a further inquiry could be made. The noble Lord says I asked for a thing unusual and unknown in asking for a second trial. But surely the House will remember that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department, in the due performance of his grievous duty, placed the whole of the documents connected with that matter in the hands of the Lord Chief Justice, and elicited from him a decided opinion that the trial was fair and the sentence just, and that there was no reason in the eye of the law for a commutation or postponement of the sentence. Sir, I have no objection to bear the blame of any man who tells me that I am unduly interfering when, by an appeal to the Secretary of State, I may possibly save the life of a man who may be innocent, or, at least, is not known to be guilty. I am against capital punishment, whether it be for Fenianism or for any other offence; and, therefore, I had a double reason for making the appeal which I addressed to the right hon. Gentleman—an appeal which the right hon. Gentleman himself did not impute to me blame for making, in the answer which he gave to the question. Now, Sir, with regard to the real question of this evening—from which, perhaps, I ought not to have departed—I say that there is no case for panic, but that there is a case for deep thought; and I think there is a case that should induce every man on both sides of the House to consider whether it be possible, in the course of the coming Session of Parliament, to apply a remedy to this great grievance of the land. No man is fit to make laws, no man can deliberate upon them with any advantage, if he is not capable of observing the breadth and greatness of 2016 the evil, and that it requires both patience and wisdom in the application of a remedy. You cannot, by instantaneous votes of Parliament, or the edicts of a monarch, remove the great evils that have grown up during centuries of error and of wrong. I make no pretence whatever, in sitting upon these Benches or as a Member of this Government, to be able by my uplifted finger to tell the Irishmen that their miseries shall cease. But I say that the time has come when acts of constant repression in Ireland are unjust and evil, and that no more Acts of repression should ever pass this House unless attended with Acts of a remedial and consoling nature. I would not for a moment sit on these Benches as a Member of this Government, and agree to any of those measures which are hinted at by Gentleman opposite, if I did not feel that, at the same time, we are honestly and energetically offering to Parliament propositions which we believe will, in time, effect a great and salutary change in Ireland. At this moment it may be said, and I doubt not it is true, that what we are doing with regard to the Church—and what the House is consenting to by so large a majority—may not affect this question of agrarian outrage. No man, I believe, ever thought it would. The men who are concerned in these outrages are men to whom, probably, any appeal made from me would be useless. But I do believe that what Parliament is now engaged in doing, and that to which Parliament looks forward, will affect the opinions of vast numbers of the Irish people, and will withdraw their sympathy from the few who approve and the still fewer who commit the crimes which we all lament. If my voice could reach to any man in any Ribbon lodge, in any secret committee, in any dread tribunal of this fearful and hidden vengeance, I would tell him that no man at this moment is a greater enemy to his country than he is. For once—for the only time in the history of the Union between Great Britain and Ireland—there is a Parliament which is willing to do justice to Ireland. Whether it be on the question of religious equality, or whether it be with regard to the security of the property of the tenantry, or whether it be with regard in some degree to the restoration of a native proprietary in Ireland—I believe at this moment a Par- 2017 liament is assembled which is anxious, as I believe it is able, to do greater justice than any previous Parliament has done. But the noble Lord (Lord Stanley) asked a question which I myself will not answer, because I think it was hardly a fair question to ask. I would not ask the right hon. Gentlemen on that Bench whether they were going to take away the land of the landowners—I do not suspect statesmen in this House of the intent to do things so wrong and so unjust as that—and therefore—and that is the only fault in the speech of the noble Lord—I think he need not have asked of my right hon. Friend whether that was a policy to which the Government was committed? I have stated before in this House, and elsewhere, that no proposal whatsoever with regard to the land of Ireland that I would not support if I were myself an Irish landowner shall have any sanction from me. I believe the policy of our law with regard to land in Ireland has been destructive and fatal to the true interests of the landlords. Your present condition shows it: it would have been better for you fifty years ago to have lost half your estates if by that means you could have given content to the people and security to the remaining half. I will trust to the absence of passion and of party feeling in hon. Gentlemen opposite, and hope they will judge us fairly; and I believe that they who live, twenty years to come, to look back to the policy of this Government with regard to this great question, will say we acted not only according to our light in this matter, and with the most honest intention, but with a wisdom which all that has succeeded has demonstrated to be political wisdom of a high order in connection with this question.
§ LORD JOHN MANNERS
Sir, the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade has declined to give an answer to the question which the noble Lord (Lord Stanley) put to the Government; but, in more than one part of his speech, he has indicated the tendency of what he calls the remedial measures which the Government, at some fitting season, will be prepared to apply to the tenure of land in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman, in a sentence which will go forth to-morrow from one end of Ireland to the other, told us that he already had in his possession, and that at a fitting season he would submit 2018 to the consideration of Parliament, a measure which should place, to a greater extent than at present, the population of Ireland in possession of the soil of that country. The right hon. Gentleman proceeded to say he would not indicate to the House the means by which that consummation should be arrived at. What will the Irish people think when they read this declaration on the part of the Government? Is this declaration calculated to allay suspicion and alarm—calculated to dispel illusion on the question of land tenure—calculated to give the ill-informed, ill-instructed, sanguine and easily-deluded people of that country sound, just, and moderate views as to the remedy which Parliament in its wisdom may hereafter be disposed to apply to the evils complained of? More than that, the right hon. Gentleman wound up his speech with a declaration that the Government are prepared to propose a measure which shall establish a peasant proprietary in Ireland. I say that my noble Friend (Lord Stanley) was justified in putting the question he did to the Government before the speech of the right hon. Gentleman; but, after that speech, it becomes of vital and essential importance to the peace and prosperity of Ireland that the Government should no longer shelter themselves behind these vague and delusive statements of the right hon. Gentleman, but should let the whole country know what is the principle on which they are prepared to legislate with respect to the land of Ireland. If any vindication was necessary, and none was, of the conduct of the hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. Graves), in bringing forward this question, we should find it in that most remarkable and, I do not hesitate to say, dangerous, speech of the President of the Board of Trade. He only followed in the wake of previous speakers in assuming that danger to life in Ireland is wholly connected with the land question. But I have received information from Ireland, which, I may assume, others are in possession of, that this terrible system of secret violence and assassination has passed out of the domain of pure agrarian violence and complaint. It is now a lamentable fact—as indisputable as it is lamentable—that it has entered into every relation between employer and employed. I believe that now, in certain districts of Ireland, there is no tenant farmer, however humble, 2019 who dare dismiss for any cause, however just, a ploughboy or a hind; there is no railway manager "who can venture to dismiss a porter; there is no tradesman in a small town who dare dismiss an assistant; there is no employer of labour in certain districts of Ireland who can dismiss any one of the people whom he employs without fear of terrible consequences to himself. I believe that that is no exaggerated description of certain districts of Ireland; and that being their condition, the hon. Member for Liverpool discharged a painful, but a most necessary and important duty, in bringing the condition of these districts under the notice of the House. What was the reply of the Chief Secretary for Ireland? Simply that a large force of constabulary would be sent to the districts in which outrages took place, and that the Lord Lieutenant would use all the powers at his command to repress crime. No one can doubt that the object of sending a special force of constabulary into disturbed districts is most excellent, but I question whether the results will be so satisfactory as the right hon. Gentleman expects. Is there any reason to believe that a single assassination has been prevented, or that a single assassin has been apprehended in consequence of the sending of constabulary into disturbed districts? No doubt it has caused inconvenience and annoyance to the inhabitants of these districts, innocent as well as guilty; and I would ask whether within the last few days there has not been received a memorial signed by many of the respectable inhabitants of Mullingar, requesting that the force stationed there may be withdrawn? In practice, this provision has produced very small results, and if the Government rely on it for the prevention of assassination, they will be grievously disappointed. If the Government, as I understood from the First Minister, are considering whether some further legislation ought not to be proposed, I would not offer any suggestion until we have their proposal before us; but I have heard with pain and regret from the right hon. President of the Board of Trade that, for his part, he thought that measures of the kind contemplated ought never to be proposed unless they were accompanied with compensating measures. Compensating measures to whom? [An hon. MEMBER: Consoling measures.] Consoling! To whom? To the assassinated or the as- 2020 sassin? What every man imbued with feelings of common sense and humanity wants is that crime shall be prevented and detected. The right hon. Gentleman tells us it will be years before we can undo the wrong and repair the mischief of past centuries. Doubtless, it is so; but are we to sit still and hold our hands, and see our innocent fellow-subjects assassinated because, as the right hon. Gentleman says, it is improper to take any measures for the repression and prevention of crime unless you can accompany them with what he calls compensating and consolatory measures? I have thought it right to make these comments, which have been suggested to my mind by the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, because I am convinced that, beneficial in many ways as this debate may be, statements such as those made by the right hon. Gentleman, going out as the deliberate opinion, not only of an important Member of the Government, but of the Government itself and the House of Commons, would be calculated to do infinite mischief, and to add still more to the anxiety and. uneasiness which at present prevail in Ireland.
Sir, I think the general feeling of the House must be that the discussion of an Irish question, and particularly that which relates to the security of life and property, ought to be conducted with great seriousness and earnestness of purpose; but, if possible, without heat, and with a careful avoidance of exaggeration. And even those who sit opposite, I think, must have been struck with the singular contrast in that respect between the two speeches which have proceeded from that (the Opposition) Bench. I do not think that the undoubted earnestness of the speech of the noble Lord who has just sat down would have suffered the slightest disparagement if he had been content with that moderation of tone and statement of which he had an admirable example before him in the speech of the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn (Lord Stanley.) The noble Lord (Lord John Manners), misled by his excited feelings, has really—as I am sure he will himself see on reflection—misapprehended much that has fallen from my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade. The noble Lord evidently believes that my right hon. Friend declared that he was not prepared as a 2021 Minister to be responsible for measures necessary for the security of life and property, unless measures remedial of the old political evils of Ireland were at that very moment applied. Now, Sir, in the first place, even if that had been said, the condition is fulfilled, because, so far as our power goes, we have undertaken, and we are engaged in the endeavour to apply remedies to the political evils of Ireland. But the plain meaning of the speech of my right hon. Friend was this—it had nothing whatever to do with measures for the defence of private life and property—the declaration was that he would be no party to measures of political repression which were not accompanied with, and—if you like—balanced by measures of political relief. Well, the noble Lord has taken the utmost alarm at the declaration of my right hon. Friend with respect to what the noble Lord called a peasant proprietary—although my right hon. Friend used no such expression—at the reiteration of my right hon. Friend tonight of an opinion which, in this House and elsewhere, he has been long known to entertain; and the view which he holds with more sanguine anticipations than many who sit on this side of the House, that the arm or resources of the State may be used for the purpose of breaking up, in part, the masses of property in Ireland, in order to try, as it were, the experiment of small proprietorships in that country. But when my right hon. Friend has given utterance to opinions of that kind—whether he be right or wrong in the wisdom of that measure as a measure of political economy, at least it must be admitted that he has done his best to divest the proposition of a revolutionary character by taking care to accompany it with a declaration that he never would be one to propose any measure of that description, unless it were of such a character as, if he were an Irish landlord himself, he could cordially support and approve. I do not say such measures are desirable—that would be prejudging the question; but this I may say—that such plans and anticipations have no need to excite the exaggerated alarms of the noble Lord, and to induce him, in tones almost of thunder, to declare that these sentences of my right hon. Friend, re-producing what he has been long known to think, and, therefore, almost, perhaps, open to the charge of commonplace, were to pro- 2022 duce some electric effect on the state of society. I myself, in a speech last year, which, I believe, shocked nobody, did refer to the Church question in Ireland, and to the fact that the Church question, if effectually dealt with, might very possibly have this result, among others, of placing in the hands of the State a considerable portion of land, and enabling the State, if it were thought fit and wise, to make a perfectly innocent experiment in regard to small proprietorships in Ireland. Although sufficient objections were undoubtedly taken to some parts of that speech, I do not recollect that the noble Lord or any other nervous politician expressed the slightest terror at the prospect thus opened up to Parliament. Now, with regard to the Motion of the hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. Graves), although I regretted at the moment that he did not feel himself able to yield to the appeal made to him, I must admit the studied moderation of tone with which he handled the subject. I must say of all questions I know this is one which it is our absolute duty to approach with the severest self-repression. There is much of emotion that may be naturally felt—nay, there is much that may be nobly and generously felt, which it would be wise and almost imperative to restrain when we come to consider measures connected with the social condition of the country, and with relations involving not only property but life in the case of a community whose state unhappily is so morbid, and so inveterately morbid, with respect to such questions as is the case in Ireland. The hon. Member for Liverpool referred in terms of implied censure, though of caution and moderation, to declarations made by Members of the Government, and among others, to a declaration made by myself, in which I gave utterance to the opinion that the land question in Ireland—that is to say, the circumstances and incidents appertaining to the system of land tenure were a branch of the great question of Protestant ascendancy in that country. That was not the first time in which I had given utterance to such an opinion. I had ventured to express the opinion that it is the question of Protestant ascendancy that has entered into, and pervaded, and aggravated and poisoned, if I may so say, at every point the relations that prevail between class and class in Ireland. Nor can I admit that, in dealing with the Church question, 2023 we are not, in a certain sense, dealing with the land; for it has been the maintenance of Protestant ascendancy, in the form of the religious Establishment, which has been one great and paramount cause of the mode in which the power of the landlord has been used, and his relations to his tenant have been habitually and vitally affected by that which, in its first aspect, seems only to be a religious or ecclesiastical question. I cannot, therefore, shrink from the words quoted by the hon. Gentleman. He will perceive that in these words, and in the expression of that opinion, I have said nothing that tends in the slightest degree to shake either the general principles of property or the actual state of possession and settlement in Ireland. With respect to the speech of the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn (Lord Stanley), the only criticism that I have to make upon it is this—that I think he anticipates a great deal too much from any declaration that can be made by the Government with respect to the treatment of the land question. The noble Lord said it would be perfectly easy to make a statement that would, on the one hand, satisfy moderate and reasonable expectations, and, on the other, dispel all wild and dangerous imaginations on the subject of the land. Now, in the first place, I would point out to the noble Lord, and I think he will agree with me, that there is considerable mistrust and misgiving attaching to the reception of representations on the part of the Government which are manufactured for the purpose, and I would much rather prefer, and with the leave of the House I will refer in preference to what I have presumed to say on a former occasion to this House than attempt to form a creed or lay down in new phraseology a line of action, as if suggested by the circumstances of the present moment. It is desirable in all cases, and especially in the case of Ireland, to avoid having our measures suggested either by panic fear, or by the momentary occasion. We should, on the contrary, rather seek to found them on principles agreed to in periods of calm, and capable of being vindicated by the great and general rules of justice. With regard to the noble Lord's views on the land question, I would turn to practical account the question of this evening by observing that I hope we may now register, as a matter which may in future be taken for granted, 2024 the declaration of the noble Lord, that the principle of compensation for tenant's improvements if real, and even though the previous consent of the landlord had not been obtained, has been admitted and recognized on both sides of the House. ["No!"] That, I understand, was the declaration of the noble Lord, and I wish to repeat it in his presence, in order that there may be no mistake in the matter; because it is desirable, in a political as well as any other journey, that we should note the stages. What we now receive as an admitted principle was three years ago a matter of fierce and obstinate contention; for, when the Chief Secretary for Ireland introduced his Land Bill in 1866—that most carefully studied and moderate measure, and I shall always think it did the highest credit to the popular party in Ireland to make themselves responsible for its general acceptance in that country—when that Bill was introduced, offering such an opportunity for the satisfactory settlement of that question on simple and easy terms, such as Parliament never had before and possibly may never have again, it was met by a noble Lord (the Earl of Mayo) who has now received a high office as the reward of that and other political labours, who moved a Resolution to precede and supersede the second reading of the Bill, binding the House to the opinion that no improvements made by the tenant could be recognized, except those which had received the previous consent of the landlord.
Allow me to say that I did not enter into this question as to whether the previous consent of the landlord was required. What I said was in general terms, that the principle of compensation to the tenant for unexhausted improvement was recognized. But on the point now raised I expressed no opinion, because I do not think it desirable to do so until we have the matter fairly under discussion.
It is with surprise, as well as regret, that I hear that explanation, because the noble Lord appears to me now not only not to be making good what I had hoped was the spirit and intention of his words, but to be shrinking from his own acts; because when he was in Office in 1867 he was a Member of the Government that proposed a Bill on this subject, and which recognized the principle of compensating for improvements made by the tenant 2025 without the consent of the landlord. The noble Lord, of all men living, I will not say would have been entitled to support the Motion of Lord Naas in 1866; but he would have been entitled to support the Bill of Lord Naas in 1867, if hereditary principles and ideas are good for anything, because the text-book of all the principles on which Liberal Governments have endeavoured to proceed in this House for tens of years past is to be found in the speech made by Lord Derby in 1845, shortly after the period of the Devon Commission, and in that speech were contained strong and clear declarations in favour of the principle of compensation for tenant's improvements apart from the landlord's consent.
All I meant by my disclaimer was, that on this particular occasion, and in this particular speech, I have not given that rather definite and binding pledge. Upon the question which the right hon. Gentleman has raised I reserved my opinion. It does not follow that I do not agree with him. I only object to be bound by that which I have not said.
I hope that when the noble Lord makes up his mind he will recollect the Bill of 1867; and that to-night the whole gist of his speech was that we had now at length got over the difficulties of the question with respect to compensation for unexhausted tenant's improvements, it being an unquestioned fact that the main difficulty with regard to them has always turned on the question whether the previous consent of the landlord should be required. With regard, Sir, to the condition of Ireland, I do not think it desirable to enter at length upon its consideration at the present moment. I agree with my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade that he must be a sanguine man who can think that great and palpable results, in the direction of good, can be realized in a moment, after the errors and perverse-ness of so many generations have accumulated such a mass of mischief and so inwrought it into the whole structure and composition of society in Ireland. We have no right to expect this. When there is one of these periodical outbursts of this ancient, inveterate, and profound disease, the subject appears to be too often noticed in this country—not in this House alone or in this House principally 2026 —in a tone of excitement which gives rise to the belief that people are under the strange delusion, that by some manifestation of indignation in this country at the crimes of misdoers, and of all those apprehensions and susceptibilities which so naturally and so strongly attach to the possession of great properties, we can really do something for the mitigation of these outrages. It is not by such manifestation, or by the sanguine anticipation of the immediate results, that we can hope to achieve anything of good. But when I say this do not let me be supposed to relax the imperative and unvarying obligation of the Executive Government at all times and under all circumstances—and wholly apart from the question of political remedies—to use every effort in their power, upon their own responsibility—whether by the employment of the means which the law affords, or if necessary, by coming to Parliament for the augmentation of those means—to give security to life and property in Ireland. With respect to the declaration from the Government of which the noble Lord spoke, and from which he anticipated, I think, too much, I have looked back to the debate of 1868. In that debate, opinions were declared which have been often—almost, nightly—quoted in the course of our discussions on the Irish Church; and which have been not unfairly treated as being the advised and deliberate declarations of the views taken by my right hon. Friends and by myself upon the great branches of the Irish question. I will, therefore, so far as I am concerned, answer the noble Lord in regard to the land question out of the speech which I made on the 16th of March, 1868. At that time much interest was felt with respect to a plan propounded by Mr. Mill, then, but unhappily not now, Member for Westminster. I then said I owned I was one of those who were not prepared to accompany the hon. Member for Westminster, notwithstanding the powerful and weighty statement with which he supported and introduced his proposal for what appeared to me to be the dismissal of the landlords of Ireland. It seemed to me that the great object was to give the tenant full security that the proceeds of his labour and capital should always be his, unless he covenanted to part with them. Legislation to that end, if simple and effective, would have 2027 a very powerful tendency, at any rate to secure stability of tenure, and make wanton disturbance by a landlord a difficult and, perhaps, a costly matter. I stated that I was still not ashamed to say that I shrank from attempting to procure direct legislation for fixity; at any rate, I added, I should much wish to see what consequences would flow from the frank recognition of the principle of perfect security to the tenant for the proceeds of his capital and industry expended on the soil; because I thought that a fixity of tenure, so far as it would be beneficial, might result from the operation of that principle. I argued on that occasion on the difficulty of attempting to introduce, by law and direct enactment, a system of leases in a country not accustomed to it, however different it might be in a country where it is a natural growth, or has obtained a solid footing. I think these passages may, in some degree, meet the view of the noble Lord. At the same time I am far from attaching to them the weight, or supposing they would have the influence, which the noble Lord was inclined to assign to a declaration made by the Government on this subject at the present moment. We desire, if possible to bring about a state of confidence and loyalty in Ireland in lieu of the state which now prevails, a state where confidence is almost absent, and where—I will not say loyalty is absent—for it would be a gross injustice to a very large portion of the population to say so; but where, among a part of that population—through misfortune possibly, rather than through fault—loyalty is undoubtedly wanting, and among another part it has cooled to a tone far different from what we regard as the natural and healthy frame of mind for a subject of the British Throne. I trust that confidence in the Throne is not impaired in Ireland, or, at least, has not disappeared even in the least well-affected portion of the community. Those bursts of affection with which every Royal appearance in Ireland is greeted are, I am satisfied, not feigned, but sincere and genuine. Moreover, I am certain they proceed from the very root of the Irish nature. But confidence in the law in Ireland has been greatly impaired and weakened; and confidence between class and class is likewise unfortunately far from what we wish it to be. I would recall a remarkable and most in- 2028 structive passage, delivered by Sir Robert Peel in 1846—I will not quote it in detail, because it is not wholly suited to this peculiar juncture—but I will say to hon. Gentlemen connected with Ireland, in the sense of that passage—"Do not too much rely either upon Executive authority or upon Parliamentary legislation, but trust, and trust largely, to what can be done by individual influence. Patiently exercise your influence for good and accompany the fulfilment of your local duty by a study to restore those bonds of affection between man and man which are now, unhappily, too feeble. Then you may leave it to Parliament and to the Executive to support, as they can, those social and, I hope, connected efforts." The occupiers of the soil in Ireland may naturally look forward—as I hope—to the most energetic and the most careful efforts of Parliament to apply to their condition remedies which I must say it is matter of scandal and discredit to us that we did not apply, at least, after we became acquainted with the facts a quarter-of a century ago. In conclusion, I thank the noble Lord for the frank admission he has made that, if we had undertaken to cap the great task, in which we are now engaged, in respect to the Irish Church with another equally great task, we should not have made real progress towards the end we have in view; but, in our attempt prematurely to secure the success of both our designs, we should, on the contrary, have procured the unhappy result of a joint and signal failure.
§ SIR THOMAS BATESON
said, he rejoiced that the First Minister of the Crown had not declared for fixity of tenure, though he had attempted to palliate the atrocities which now took place every day as the result of former misgovernment as he had chosen to term it. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade had stated that he saw no cause for panic; but if he lived in Tipperary or Westmeath he would probably take a different view of the matter. He wished to remind the House that the President of the Board of Trade had not disowned any of the quotations which had been made from his speeches and letters by the noble Lord the Member for Tyrone (Lord Claud Hamilton); and he thought the right hon. Gentleman should bear in mind that the speeches he made in this 2029 country were reprinted in the Irish newspapers, read by every peasant and every tenant-farmer in his home, and treasured as the programme of what the present Government were going to do. Only the other day a friend in Tipperary told him that the right hon. Gentleman's speech at Edinburgh, delivered just as the right hon. Gentleman was on the eve of becoming a Cabinet Minister, and in which he denounced the Irish landlords as aliens and foreigners, was re-produced in the Tipperary Free Press, and within one week from its appearance Mr. Baker was foully murdered within a stone's throw of his hall door. He did not mean to say the right hon. Gentleman made that speech with a view of inviting such an act as that; but he maintained that every speech of that kind was fraught with danger to Protestant landlords in Ireland. Nor had the Secretary of State for the Home Department denied the accuracy of the passage quoted by the hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. Graves) from his speech at Merthyr Tydfil. It was therefore clear that the right hon. Gentlemen on the Treasury Bench were responsible for the frightful state of things at present existing in Ireland. When they assumed the reins of Government the Fenian outbreak had succumbed to the firm but lenient action of the late Government, but their taking Office had been followed by the murder of Mr. Baker and a series of atrocities unprecedented in the annals of the country. To show the effect of the ill-judged speeches of prominent Members of the Government, he would mention an incident of the other day. A Roman Catholic proprietor was told by his Roman Catholic tenants that they felt themselves hardly dealt by; and on inquiring the reason they answered that it was notorious Mr. Bright was going to give the land of the Protestant proprietors to their Roman Catholic tenants, and they thought it hard, because they happened to have a Roman Catholic landlord, they should not be treated with the same generosity. Under these circumstances he counselled the House not to permit the Government to proceed with any measure until it had explicitly declared its intentions with regard to the land question. The statement of the Chief Secretary for Ireland had been most unsatisfactory. If the Government could not cope with the present state of things with the powers which they pos- 2030 sessed, it was their duty to ask for further powers. There could be no happiness without prosperity, no prosperity without confidence, and no confidence without law and order. The great want of Ireland was capital, and how could they expect to see capital introduced into the country while those frightful atrocities were being perpetrated? Since the Irish Church Bill had been brought forward he had heard several capitalists say that they did not believe property-could be more insecure under any Government than it was under the Government over which the right hon. Gentleman the present First Minister presided. The late Lord Palmerston had predicted that if the right hon. Gentleman should ever succeed to Office he would ruin the country in three years by plunging it into revolution; and he (Sir Thomas Bateson) very much feared that that prophecy would be fulfilled, and that the right hon. Gentleman would ruin Ireland in much less than that time.
§ MR. SERJEANT DOWSE
said, he thought a long discussion had been raised upon a very small point. No one, however, could find fault with the manner in which the hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. Graves) had brought the subject before the House. He would not by any lengthened observations prevent the Government from going on with the debate on the Irish Church, and thus giving hon. Gentlemen opposite the consummation they so devoutly wished for that evening. He thought it was no friend of Ireland who had that evening introduced the question of crime in Ireland, and no friend of the union which ought to exist between the two kingdoms. No friend of Ireland ought to have given a party complexion to a question which ought to be discussed by both sides in a spirit of fairness and with judicial calmness. As a Protestant Irish Member he would say, not without fear of contradiction—because there were hon. Gentlemen opposite who would be sure to contradict him, but without fear of successful contradiction—that the speeches of the First Minister of the Crown and the President of the Board of Trade had alleviated and not increased the evils of Ireland. They had been messages of peace, harmony, and conciliation. It had been said that the President of the Board of Trade had been invited by disreputable persons to 2031 the great banquet given to him in Dublin. He himself was present at that banquet, as were nine other Queen's counsel; and he could assert that the patriotism, the intelligence, the education, and the enlightenment of Ireland were largely represented on that occasion; to say that a speech delivered by the right hon. Gentleman at Edinburgh or Glasgow, and in which he is represented to have said that the landlords of Ireland were aliens and foreigners, was the cause of the murder of Mr. Baker, was about as well-founded an assertion as that Tenterden steeple was the cause of the Goodwin Sands. The hon. Member for Devizes (Sir Thomas Bateson) being himself an Irishman, ought to know that the Irish were a very intelligent race; and the House must know that they were a very excitable race, after some of the specimens they had seen on the Opposition side that evening. Did the hon. Member really believe that the Irish tenantry required to be told by the President of the Board of Trade who their landlords were? If he himself were asked to give a reason for the crime committed in Ireland, he would be very much puzzled to do so; but that would be no valid excuse for his giving a bad one, and certainly he should be ashamed of himself if he laid it to the charge of the party opposite, supposing them to be in Office. He thought that the crimes now being committed in Ireland were to be deplored by every honest and intelligent Irishmen, and by every honest and intelligent Englishman also; but he did not think the Executive Government could properly be called to account for it. To him it appeared very like some diseases which broke out from time to time; and he thought that, in dealing with it, statesmen, like good physicians, ought to endeavour to find out the seat of a malady in order to deal with the cause as well as with those symptoms which were only effects. He would say a few words on the remarks of the noble Lord the Member for North Leicestershire (Lord John Manners), who formerly held the responsible position of a Minister of the Crown. The noble Lord said a great deal in which everyone would concur, but he made a great mistake in describing the present state of Ireland. Many hon. Gentlemen talked very glibly about Ireland who had never been in that country, and who reminded him of the phy- 2032 sician who prescribed all the better for a patient because he had never seen him. Now, he had not only seen the patient, but was himself a part of the patient, and he asserted that the murder of Mr. Anketell, at Mullingar, was the only foundation for the noble Lord's statement that throughout the whole country no farmer could dismiss his hind or ploughboy, no tradesman his assistant, and no railway manager his porter. The noble Lord nastily generalized from a single instance. If such a picture were not overcharged, Irish Members should thank Government for prolonging the Session, because, clearly, the longer they remained out of Ireland the happier and the longer would be their lives.
§ SIR JAMES ELPHINSTONE
said, the remarks of the noble Lord, who was now absent from the House, applied only to Westmeath and Tipperary, and not to the whole of Ireland.
§ MR. SERJEANT DOWSE
said, he understood they had reference to the whole of Ireland, not even the North being excepted. Well, as an Irish Member and a citizen of Ireland, he claimed to know something about the country. All the property he possessed was situated there, and he had never resided long enough in this country to acquire the amenities of English civilization. He begged, therefore, to deny the accuracy of the noble Lord's statement. Unquestionably there was much crime in Ireland, crime of a deep dye. Ribbon and Fenian organizations flourished, while the head of a corporation of a large city had used language which was a disgrace to himself and his office. But the only punishment he would wish to inflict upon that official would be to shut him up for a week in the same room with the noble Lord the Member for Tyrone (Lord Claud Hamilton). He abhorred such language as had been uttered at Cork, and he believed that every Irish Member, whether a Catholic or a Protestant, would condemn it. The well-thinking and well-judging mind of Ireland condemned it; the honest hardworking Irish peasant, with his love for the aristocracy and his respect for the Queen, which he never failed to show when any member of the Royal family visited Ireland, abhorred it. What he stated he knew to be a fact. The people of England were always sure to hear the statistics of Irish disease, but never heard of Irish health. If the Mayor of Cork used the language 2033 attributed to him, and if he were, sane—a question which must occur to the mind of everybody—it must meet with universal condemnation. But the crime which existed in Ireland was, after all, but the result of seven centuries of tyranny, misgovernment, and wrong. That long period of misgovernment and wrong was now passing away. He believed that there never was a time when English statesmen were more inclined to do what was just and fair towards Ireland than at the present moment. Hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House were sincere in their desire to secure the peace, order, and well-being of Ireland. The only difference was as to the way and the means of attaining the great object which he was sure both parties equally desired to see accomplished. In his opinion they had now entered into the right way of serving Ireland, and he thought it would be advisable to leave the Executive Government to deal with the present state of affairs. In conclusion, he trusted that a measure to settle the land question would shortly be brought forward which would give satisfaction to both sides of the House. In the meantime he hoped the House would be allowed to proceed with the Church Bill, which was an instalment of justice to Ireland.
§ MR. CONOLLY
said, that nobody could find fault with the good temper which characterized the speech of the hon. and learned Member (Mr. Serjeant Dowse), but he thought that that speech was hardly suited to the gravity of the subject under discussion. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade told them that the Government were possessed of a panacea for the ills of Ireland. Many persons were sanguine enough to expect that when the Church, land, and education questions had been disposed of, there would be such a happy change in the state of Ireland as almost to realize that much desired condition of peace and repose when the lion would lie down with the lamb. But the Church had nothing whatever to do with the hopes and fears of the Fenians and Ribbonmen. The President of the Board of Trade would promise them no measures of what the right hon. Gentleman termed repression—but which he (Mr. Conolly) would call protection to life and property. He had himself seen something of the Ribbon conspiracy in Ireland; and it was most remarkable) that 2034 in the counties where conspiracy had been most rife they now found the horrible state of crime existing which the House was discussing. He had himself lived in a part of Tipperary when bodies of troops passed to and fro every day to suppress the rising that was about to occur; and within four miles of that place a most serious outrage was committed about six weeks ago. A gentleman with his family retired to rest, and hearing an unusual noise he opened his door, when a number of men, whose faces were covered with crape, rushed into his house, placed him on his knees, and held a blunderbuss at his head, and while in this position made him give up the arms and money which he had in his house. The same morning there had been a large auction of stock at his place, and it was supposed that he must have a considerable sum of money, the proceeds of the sale, in the house; but when questioned by the ruffians he told them that he had put the money in the bank. The ruffians then treated his daughter in the same manner, exacting from her, with firearms presented at her head, an assurance that there was nothing more for them to take. After locking the father and daughter in an upper storey the ruffians decamped. Now, he saw no difficulty in tracing that outrage to the lees, or, as the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade would call it, the residuum of that horrible faction of Fenians who over-ran the country some time before. The Chief Secretary for Ireland told them that these things were limited to the two counties of Tipperary and Westmeath; but very lately a vessel in Cork harbour was boarded and a quantity of arms taken from her by a band of, as he believed, American Fenians, who then decamped, and nothing more was heard of them. The history of the Fenian plots showed that these miscreants sought to inspire terror. That was the object of the explosion at Clerkenwell Prison, and also of O'Farrell's attempt on the life of the Duke of Edinburgh. The O'Farrell Papers, which had become so notorious, proved that the perpetrator of that attempt at assassination acted much more with a view to inspire general terror than from any ill-feeling towards his Royal Highness. The right hon. Gentleman who was primarily responsible to the House for the state of Ireland had taken a very inadequate view of the situation. If the 2035 Chief Secretary's view was as limited as he had described it, and if he really believed that these crimes were confined to two counties, he was no longer fit for the post he now filled. Instead of being traceable in Westmeath no further back than 1866, those agrarian crimes had been going on there for many years before that date. The disease was an ancient and inveterate one in Ireland, which had baffled many political doctors; and the nostrums about to be adopted by the present Government would only cover them with ignominy and shame. The President of the Board of Trade said that was no case for panic. That reminded him of the large absentee proprietor who wrote to his agent in Ireland in these terms—"Let these people know that if they assassinate you they will not frighten me. Proceed with your ejectments." That was the spirit of the right hon. Gentleman's speech. It might be no matter for panic with the right hon. Gentleman opposite, but it was matter of panic to those who lived in the county of Westmeath, who could not tell their friends from their foes, nor say whether the man they met in the marketplace was not their deadliest enemy. That was a frightful state of things for a civilized country, and almost amounted to a practical abeyance of Government. Those miscreants wished to drive out the present proprietors by means of terror; and sensible men charged with the responsibilities of Government ought to meet terror by terror, and put them down with the strong arm of the law instead of offering them Acts of Parliament. The first duty of the Government was to see that the lives of Her Majesty's subjects were secure, and that the highways were clear; and if they failed to perform that duty they were no longer worthy of the places they held.
said, he had not intended to take part in that discussion, but the circumstances which had occurred induced him to say a very few words. It was difficult for him to reply to a speech such as that delivered by the noble Lord the Member for Tyrone (Lord Claud Hamilton); but it was a great consolation to him to know that nothing which fell from that noble Lord would injure him much in the estimation either of the House or of the country. From the tone of the noble Lord and the hon. Member for Devizes (Sir 2036 Thomas Bateson) the House might imagine what the state of Ireland would be if those hon. Gentlemen had the direction of affairs, and what the feelings of the people of Ireland must have been when such men had the control of its government. But it was a consolation to him, as he watched the swaggering declamation and listened to the vapid utterances of the noble Lord, to feel that political power had for ever passed from him and those like him, never to return until they abandoned those views which were in antagonism with the welfare of their country. Hon. Gentlemen opposite said they were ashamed and abashed when they had to refer to those occurrences in Ireland. He disagreed with that statement. He left it to the House whether hon. Gentlemen opposite had not done everything in their power to blacken the character of their country. Two events had been alluded to with which he had been connected—one was a public meeting in Dublin, at the time of what was called "the Trent affair." It was true that he had been deprived of the Commission of the Peace, and he regretted it, because it seemed to warrant the imputation of disloyalty thrown upon him, while he felt, and was prepared, if necessary, to prove that he was a loyal subject of the Queen. The principal part of his speech on that occasion was a protest against being drawn into a war with the United States, and there were few public assemblies in England in which he would not have been prepared to make the same declaration. The other event with which he had been connected was the reception given in Dublin to his right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade. He looked back to that event as one of the most fortunate and proudest of his political life. He had taken part in that reception from many motives; partly from his great respect and regard for his right hon. Friend, but above all from an anxiety to show the people of England that the Irish people were ready to unite with them, and to show his countrymen that they need not look across the Atlantic, for there were multitudes of friends in England on whom they could rely. Since the date of that reception a change had come over the minds of his countrymen, and he was proud to feel that there was now in this country a Government and a great party to which an Irishman might attach himself without fearing to be accused of 2037 being a traitor to his country. He was far from imputing motives to his hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool (Mr. Graves) who had brought forward this Motion; but anything so exaggerated or unwarrantable as the picture he had drawn he never listened to. It reminded him of the feeling which usually came over him the morning after he reached London, when he took up the papers, and could scarcely believe in reading the column relating to Ireland that he was reading an account of the country he had just left. The fact was that, taken as a whole, Ireland was never more tranquil, property never more secure, rents never more punctually paid; and it would be just as logical to infer the condition of England from the Sheffield outrages, as the condition of Ireland from a few isolated crimes in portions of one or two counties. He held in his hand a paper which showed that Ireland need not fear comparison on the score of crime with England at all events. From the judicial statistics for 1867, which he found in the Library that evening, it appeared that of offences against property there was a much smaller number in Ireland than in a corresponding portion of the population in England; and with regard to cases of murder, shooting at with intent, and attempts to do grievous bodily harm, the Irish, statistics were more favourable than the English. He hoped Her Majesty's Government would disregard the appeal which had been made to them to legislate this Session upon the land question, as it was well known that they could not do so with effect. He hoped they would not be diverted from the great object they had taken in hand, and that the people of England would turn a deaf ear to the statements which, for a special purpose, had been made by hon. Gentlemen opposite.
§ MR. BRODRICK
said, from the speech of the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, one would be disposed to think that no legislation whatever was necessary for Ireland. He described everything as coleur de rose; the people were never so happy, the country never so prosperous, the peace of Her Majesty never better kept—in fact, everything that could be desired was present, and all bad and dangerous elements had vanished out of sight. Such was not the account they had heard from other speakers equally well acquainted with 2038 Ireland. He would not himself have risen to take part in the debate had any hon. Gentleman from that quarter of the country with which he was best acquainted risen to disclaim the sentiments which had been openly professed by the chief magistrate of the second city in Ireland. He had hoped that the hon. Member for Cork City (Mr. Maguire), who had filled the office of mayor with honour to himself and, he hoped, with benefit to his fellow-citizens, would have risen to scout with indignation the sentiments that had been imputed to the Mayor of Cork. But he had been disappointed; he found that the province of Munster, having at the last General Election been swept of almost all hon. Gentlemen who sat on that (the Opposition) side of the House, there was now no representative from it who had the courage to rise and disclaim any participation in sentiments so disgraceful in themselves, and so detrimental to the prosperity of the country. He wished to attach no factitious importance to the post-prandial utterances of the particular individual whose conduct was under discussion. It would be giving him a prominence altogether unsuited to him; but the painful part of the business was that such utterances should have been received as they were. That, after what was known of the character of that most eccentric individual, he should have been chosen by the town council of his own city to preside over them as chief magistrate was lamentable, and it was equally lamentable that his bombast should have been received with applause, and that no notice should have been taken, in the way of reprobation, by those whose duty it was to represent the great city and the great county of which the Mayor of Cork was, unfortunately, a native. There had been a tendency in the present debate to confound two things which were in reality very different—the one was Fenianism and the other Ribbonism. As he should have to cast blame on Her Majesty's Government in connection with this matter, he hoped it would be understood that no one would more loyally support them in any measures which they might recommend, and which might seem to him likely to promote the peace, the welfare, and the prosperity of the country in which he was himself as directly interested as any Member of that House. As far as the Fenians were concerned they were mainly confined to the South 2039 of Ireland. The origin of the society dated about ten years back, and it was sister to another organization known as the Phœnix Society,—whence they were called Phœnicians—which sprang into life in the south-west of the county of Cork, its original centre having been the town of Skibbereen. In 1859, that organization first saw the light. Active measures were taken against it by the Government of Lord Derby, which came into power early in that year. Several members of the society were arrested, and were awaiting their trial, when a change of Administration occurred, and Lord Derby's was succeeded by a Government composed of hon. Gentlemen who now sat opposite. They sent over Lord Carlisle to Ireland, and the first thing the Law Officers of the Crown did was to enter a nolle prosequi, and the men who were awaiting their trial were let free. What was the result? Why that several of those very men immediately took a leading part in the organization of the Fenian conspiracy, which rose from the ashes of the Phœnix conspiracy. And yet, with this warning staring him in the face, the right hon. Gentleman had this year proceeded to repeat the same mistake, to show the same weakness, and to open the prison doors, this time without conditions, to men who never ought to have been allowed to go out until they had completed their sentence, or, at all events, until the country was in a state of greater tranquillity. He could speak on this subject with some authority, because he was unfortunately connected with that portion of the country in which the rising occurred two years ago. He knew who were the two leaders—one of them, a carpenter, was shot through the head in front of the police barrack of Castle Martyr, and the other, who was employed in a distillery, disappeared after the outbreak and was never heard of since. Both of those men had been in custody under the Lord Lieutenant's warrant, and both had been released; but ten days afterwards they resumed their nefarious operations. The Fenians were drawn, as a rule, from the lowest possible class; there was hardly a farmer's son among them, and if one did join he was immediately promoted to be an A or a B, a sergeant or a captain; their ranks were filled exclusively with unmarried farm labourers and shop boys in the towns. They did not so much want the land of the great 2040 landowners as the farms of those who were in slightly better circumstances than themselves, and consequently the tenant-farmers held aloof from a speculation in which their gain might be very doubtful. He could not acquit the Government of blame for having, by their measures lately introduced into Parliament, given considerable encouragement to discontent in Ireland. Six weeks ago he ventured to prophesy that the Church measure would prove to be one not for the pacification of Ireland. It was doubtless conceived in that spirit, but the expectations with regard to that measure had not been fulfilled. The results of the experiment were written already in letters of blood in Tipperary, in Westmeath, and in the counties adjoining, and the reason was plain. By attacking an institution of the country which had existed for 300 years the Government were unsettling the foundations of property. The President of the Board of Trade declared that the state of Ireland was not worse than at previous periods within his recollection; but surely they ought to have made some advance, and begun, at least, to realize the fruits of the mild legislation of the past quarter or half-century. Hoping to enter on a new era of peace and prosperity it was disappointing and disastrous to find ourselves once more face to face with the old notions about "the wild justice of revenge," with the murder press still in full operation, and with Gentlemen in the important position of the Chief Secretary for Ireland giving them the cold consolation that things might have been even worse. With a view to the prosperity of Ireland, the first thing they should do was to give her fair play, whilst, at the same time, they ruled her with a strong hand. Now, unfortunately, this combination had been rarely achieved in her history. In former times we ruled her with a strong hand, but gave her very little fair play; and, in later times, whilst there had been fair play, there had at the same time, been no consistent or determined policy. It had been too much the fashion for one Administration to undo all that their predecessors had done, and begin de novo; but nothing did Ireland more harm than change. What was wanted were an uniform system of government and the peaceable operations of progress, but legislation for Ireland had been spasmodic and fitful, and had often contradicted itself. Much evil had arisen from 2041 too much importance being attached to the bluster which some times came across St. George's Channel. No one understood better than an Irishman how to intimidate, and he would often use much stronger language than he ever intended to make good, in order to attain his end. If, however, he was made to feel that the law was stronger than he was, and that there was a sincere desire to deal with him in a just and equal spirit, then he might be led like a child. He had been flattered and pampered, and had frequently attained his wish by the infantine process of crying for it, and the result was that he had repeated the process on every possible occasion. Eight hon. Gentlemen opposite had very little notion what effect was produced in Ireland on poor and ignorant people by words spoken in that House. He perfectly understood the meaning of the President of the Board of Trade this evening when he talked about restoration of proprietary rights to a portion of the people. But those words would be very differently understood in Ireland. Fixity of tenure, for instance, meant on this side of the Channel leases and compensation for unexhausted improvements. In the mind of the Irish tenant-farmer, on the contrary, fixity of tenure would mean a lease for ever at his present rent, and with no power on earth to interfere with him in the management, culture, or disposal of the land as long as that rent was paid. The result would be that within the limits of one or two generations farms in Ireland would be divided into infinitesimal portions; that there would be a pauper population and a poor rate increasing day by day in amount. They would have over again the state of things which existed before the famine in 1847. When, he might add, the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade said time was necessary to cure the woes of Ireland, he spoke the truth, but not the whole truth. Ireland wanted something else besides time. She wanted rest, and particularly rest from political agitation, for so long as she was to be made the battleground of parties and the instrument by which the fate of Ministries was to be changed, so long would she be unable to enjoy any real or abiding prosperity.
§ MR. MAGUIRE
Sir, it is not my fault if I am compelled to ask the attention of the House at this period of the debate, as I had not intended to have 2042 said one word in the present discussion, nor should I have done so but for the grave imputation upon my honour as a Member of this Assembly, which the appeal of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid-Surrey (Mr. Brodrick), who has just sat down, though couched in courteous language, seemed to convey. I stand in a somewhat peculiar position at this moment, representing the city of Cork—the city in which the words which had given rise to so much discussion this evening were said to have been uttered; but as to the words alleged to have been spoken by the Mayor of my city, I would myself adopt, and I would respectfully ask the House to adopt, the advice fairly and rightly expressed in the words of a telegram just received by 7ny hon. Friend the Member for Bandon (Mr. Shaw)—"Suspend your judgment until you hear further." I sincerely desire that the House should follow that wise advice; for to condemn a man before he is tried, and especially on the unsupported evidence of a mere newspaper report of words alleged to have been spoken, and which might be susceptible of explanation, is not in my opinion consistent with the most ordinary notions of English justice, and would not be creditable to the dignity of the House of Commons. To return, however, to the appeal addressed to me by the hon. Member for Mid-Surrey. Now, Sir, for the hon. Gentleman to call on me to repudiate any sympathy with the foul crime of assassination—to call on me who, as Mayor of my native city for years, have more than once, at the risk of my life, maintained its peace and order—who, not at the risk of life certainly, but at the sacrifice of popularity, and the certainty of misconception on the part of a considerable portion of my fellow citizens, earnestly and to the best of my ability opposed, by entreaty and remonstrance, the progress of the Fenian movement when it was at its height—to call on me to declare myself a loyal man, and to repudiate sympathy with assassi nation, is, I say, a vile, although I am sure in the present instance, an unintentional, outrage on my honour. It is, however, due to those whom I here represent to say what was the feeling that prevailed in Cork when the news reached that city of the wretched attempt that had been made on the life of the Duke of Edinburgh. I can truly say—and I had the best means of ascertaining the 2043 public feeling, for I was in daily communication with all classes of my fellow-citizens, the humblest as well as the highest—that it was a feeling of shame, indignation, and horror. It was felt, that so far as the wicked and desperate act of a miserable lunatic could do so, the national character had been disgraced and dishonoured; nor did I hear of a single man in my city, of any class or grade, expressing the slightest sympathy with so abominable an offence. Having said so much in reference to the special matter which induced me to rise on this occasion, I would now address myself briefly to the hon. Member for Liverpool. I fear, Sir, there is a desire on the part of some, if not many, hon. Gentlemen opposite to exaggerate the present state of things in Ireland, and to do so for party purposes. I, like my hon. Friend the Member for Tralee (The O'Donoghue), deny that crime is the normal condition of my country, or that it is so prevalent as it has been represented in this debate to be. So far from it being the case that the country is distracted by crime and outrage, the contrary is the fact. What do we find?—that Assizes after Assizes Judges congratulate grand juries and the country on the absence of serious crime—that is, of the ordinary crimes that prevail in other countries. It is true, painfully true, that the country has to deplore the commission of terrible outrages in certain limited districts. But it would not be correct to assert that all these outrages are agrarian in their character. Even some of the alleged outrages never took place at all. Thus, for instance, we saw an account in the morning papers of a man having been found brutally murdered, and whose body was lying in a ditch dreadfully mangled; but the man was, to use a vulgar phrase, only dead drunk, and when the spirit that overpowered him evaporated, this murdered man rose up and walked away. The last offence committed has not been attributed to agrarian causes. Neither has the latest murder in Tipperary been attributed to an agrarian conspiracy; and surely the murder of the station-master had nothing whatever of that character. The latter was clearly a case of private vengeance, and, if we can form an opinion as to the information which has reached us, so was the former. I would ask hon. Gentlemen—Are there no acts of private vengeance in Eng- 2044 land?—and who in Ireland venture, because of the commission of those deeds of blood in England, to charge the whole population of this country with complicity with them? But a double charge is urged by the Opposition—against the Government and the people of Ireland; the Government are held responsible for the perpetration of those outrages, and the people are accused of sympathy with those by whom they are perpetrated. First, as to the means of repression, I believe that under the statute law and the common law the Government have ample means and power to detect and punish the perpetrators of those outrages; and I, for one, should be delighted to know that the powers in the hands of the Executive were effectually exercised for the suppression of outrage and the punishment of those grievous crimes which every right-minded man in Ireland must deplore as a great calamity. But these powers, when vigorously exercised, are sufficient for the purpose. Now, Sir, to hold the present Government responsible for crimes committed in certain districts of Ireland is as unreasonable as to charge their predecessors with responsibility for the murder of Mr. Featherstonhaugh, committed some twelve months since. We remember the visit of the Prince of Wales to Dublin, and how the splendid festivities of the Vice Regal Court were quickly followed by a ghastly tragedy; and yet, what would be more monstrous than to hold the Duke of Abercorn, the Lord Lieutenant of that day, responsible for that murder? Could anything be more absurd than to charge to the policy of the present Government the perpetration of the late outrages—outrages which have been going on for many, many years—outrages enveloped in mystery—outrages which denote a rancorous sore existing in the body politic. It is now some forty years ago since Chief Justice Bushe presided at a special Commission at Maryborough; and that venerable Judge, while putting the law in force, admitted that the intervention of the Legislature was necessary to deal with the causes of those occasional outbursts of violence. But from an intimate knowledge of a large portion of the South of Ireland, I can say that, so far from the policy and attitude of the present Government having led to disturbance and violence, I believe it has produced an entirely opposite result. A 2045 new-born hope has been gradually but steadily awakening in the mind of the mass of the people, who are being brought round to repose in Parliament and in Parliamentary action—in the will and power of Parliament—a confidence which had been almost entirely extinguished in the breast of the Irish nation. That this should be so—that this despair should exist, and that it should give way gradually to the influence of hope—is easily explained. For more than a quarter of a century eminent statesmen admitted or declared the Irish Church and the state of the land question to be great and pressing grievances; but, up to the present moment, no English Minister really grappled with the Irish difficulty. It is difficult to dispel from the Irish mind its disbelief in English statesmen. A week before the present Session a constituent of mine—no Fenian, but a man of mark and position in Cork—asked me, doubtingly, but in all seriousness, whether the Government and the right hon. Gentleman at its head were really in earnest in their Church policy, or whether it had been taken up for the purpose of obtaining Office, and to be then abandoned. In reply, I expressed that which I felt—my conviction of the earnestness and sincerity of the Prime Minister; and I added, what I now deliberately repeat, that if I were deceived in the right hon. Gentleman I would never have hope again in statesman or in politician. I need not say that that confidence has been abundantly vindicated by the policy of the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government, and the resolute manner in which he is carrying it into practical effect. The origin of Fenianism is not so mysterious as some people would have us believe. To me its cause and origin are perfectly plain and manifest. The main cause of Fenianism was despair of Parliamentary action—despair of the English people—despair of English politicians. Was that despair unreasonable or unnatural? More than twenty years since Lord Derby, the father of the noble Lord opposite, endeavoured to legislate on the land question, the state of which was then grievous and indefensible; but up to this moment nothing practical has been done to remedy that state of things. Forty years ago Mr. O'Connell took up the question of the Church, and for more than a quarter of a century the 2046 people of Ireland have been making the same demand now embodied in the Bill of the present Government; but it is only now that something has been done towards redressing a long-standing and admitted wrong. Therefore we cannot blame the people of Ireland for not having faith, or for having lost faith in Parliamentary action to redress the grievances of their country, when so long a time has been allowed to pass without any serious attention having been paid to them. This want of faith, this rooted disbelief, this actual despair lies at the bottom of all the mischief in the country; and the moment you dispel that despair by practical legislation—legislation generous and large—from the heart of the people, and re-place it with the influence of a living hope, that moment you turn over a new leaf in the relation between England and Ireland. I know of my own personal knowledge that the feeling of animosity to England has been greatly softened down, and that this change of feeling is owing to a growing conviction that England is really anxious to deal with the wrongs of Ireland. There is a growing belief in the great Liberal party, in the honesty and sincerity of their sympathy with Ireland, and their determination to do justice to her people: and not only are the splendid majorities that nightly crowd the Lobbies on the Church question calculated to inspire hope and confidence in the mind of Ireland, but they are striking a deadlier blow to Fenianism, whose origin was despair of England and of Parliament, than could be struck against it by all the force and power at the command of the Executive. I do not stop for a moment to discuss the policy of the Church Bill of the Government; but I may take this opportunity of stating, that from motives of delicacy, I have avoided taking part in the debates which have arisen on its clauses; and for this reason—that being a Catholic Member I was under the impression that my advocacy of the measure might cause some irritation to hon. Gentlemen opposite, with whose momentary feelings I cannot refuse to sympathize, than the advocacy of Protestant Members. Besides, I was satisfied that the cause of the Church was in the hands of its accredited champions, while I was satisfied that the interests of the country were best left in the custody of those who had charge of the measure. Then as to the question 2047 of the land. Hon. Gentlemen opposite want to entrap the Government into a detailed exposition of their policy in respect to this important and fundamental question; but I would ask the right hon. Gentleman on the front Opposition Bench—Is such a course Parliamentary, or fair, or according to the rules of party? Suppose the position of parties reversed, would the right hon. Gentleman opposite gratify the curiosity of an Irish Member who ventured to inquire as to the details, or even the principles, of a measure not actually in existence, and which, owing to the pressure of business, it was impossible to Turing forward this Session? Why, Sir, the Irish Member who insisted on knowing what were the details of a measure not actually in existence would be scouted by the whole party opposite. The hon. Member for Mid-Surrey says that what Ireland requires is rest. No doubt rest is required, and would be most welcome; but rest is impossible under existing circumstances. Rest is incompatible with the existence of rankling grievance. So long as there is a sore there will be irritation, and so long as there is irritation there must be agitation to get rid of the sore. If a patient suffer from a grievous wound, or from a rankling thorn, the wound must be healed and the thorn eradicated before the patient can have rest. Remove the cause of irritation, and allay the fever which it causes, and then you will enjoy the rest which you desire for my country; and no one more heartily desires it for her and her people than I do. The state of the land question is this rankling sore, is this cause of fever and irritation; and until it is settled on principles of justice—justice alike to all interests—you cannot have enduring peace in Ireland. Now let me tell the House and especially hon. Gentlemen opposite, that the Irish farmers do not entertain such extravagant notions or make such revolutionary demands as it is the fashion to attribute to them. I am not without some knowledge as to their feelings and their hopes. There is, in my city, a farmers' club, and in that club, consisting of farmers of the rural districts adjoining it, there are many men of great industry, great independence of mind and character, and of whom any landlord in the world might be justly proud. I assert that a fair, honest, protective Bill that would enable them to improve 2048 their position and secure the interests of their family, while enabling them to improve the condition of the country, and to do this without hurting the landlord, would perfectly satisfy them. I would illustrate the demand of the Irish farmer in this way. It was said the Irish tenant did not require the protection of a lease. There cannot be a more serious delusion than this false notion. The value of a lease to the farmer, to the landlord, and to the country was thus made clear to me by a farmer in reply to my question whether tenants really wished for leases. He said—"I hold two farms, one with and the other without a lease; every farthing I have I put into the farm for which I have a lease, and I don't put a sixpence into the other but I will rack it out before I give it up to the landlord." That man wanted no more than a fair and protective lease, and full and honest compensation for every farthing he put into the land; and in wanting and requiring this, he did not want to hurt his landlord. If the House be wise, it will deal with this question of the land in a liberal and comprehensive and not in a party spirit. If statesmen at both sides be wise, and really desire to serve Ireland, and promote the peace of the country, they will combine to pass a satisfactory Bill, which would be of enormous advantage from every point of view. I do not say that the passing of the Church Bill will accomplish everything for Ireland. It is a step, and a great step in the right direction; it is a solemn redemption of the promise made by the Government of turning over a new leaf in the history of these countries. Of itself it will do good, by removing a cause of disunion and discord; and the time will come when those who are now so violent in their opposition to it will be grateful to those who conceived and carried out so great an act of justice and sound policy. Nevertheless the land question must be dealt with boldly and firmly, if you desire to make the people loyal and contented. Retain in any man's mind a sense of wrong and injustice, and let that man believe he is oppressed by the law and the policy of the State, and he cannot be loyal; or if he affect to be so, he is a hypocrite. You can make the people loyal by justice, and by giving them a stake in the country—something to protect and fight for; do this to the tenants of Ireland, and be certain they will know how to 2049 defend the country against every attempt at invasion, come from whatever quarter it may. When these reforms are honestly persevered in, and when you deal with the Irish people in a spirit of wisdom and justice, then they will be loyal and contented.
MR. GATHORNE HARDY
Sir, the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government invited those who discussed this question to exercise a self-repression, and, no doubt, in the manner in which the right hon. Gentleman commenced his speech there was nothing to complain of in the way of warmth, yet it is possible for one to address the House with a semblance of mildness while giving expression to the strongest sentiments. That was the case of the right hon. Gentleman, for when he came to explain a passage which had been quoted against him, those who marked his tone could not think that it was calculated to soothe irritation. Before I enter into the general question, I wish to get rid of one portion of the subject on which the House will be unanimous—I allude to the gentleman who has caused so much remark here to-night—the Mayor of Cork. I wish to dispose of him in a few words. He seems to be a very irrepressible person, and quite incapable of that self-repression which the right hon. Gentleman recommended. An hon. Gentleman has put into my hands a telegram explanatory of the speech of the Mayor of Cork; but I am quite content to wait for a fuller explanation, as the telegram does not tend to get rid of the words he used, or to show that he is fit for the office he holds. With regard to mayors, it seems that a change of the law is required in some respect. As you can dismiss an ordinary justice of the peace for misfeasance in office, or for anything else bringing down on him the correction of the Executive, you ought to be able to take the same step for similar causes in the case of mayors. It ought not to be necessary, as on the occasion of the Porteous riots at Edinburgh, to have an Act of Parliament passed in order to get rid of the chief magistrate. If the Mayor of Cork used those expressions—which it would be disgraceful for any subject of Her Majesty to utter—I trust that, as there are seven months of his term of office still to run, the Government will take steps, no matter at what cost, to prevent him from sitting upon the bench. With respect 2050 to the other and more important subject—the disturbed state of Ireland, which the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Maguire) says is much exaggerated—it is no part of my wish to make a greater case of the evils of Ireland than has been admitted by the Government themselves. No one could have heard the tone of the Government, when speaking on this question, without feeling that they are in possession of information which makes the state of Ireland a very serious question to them. No one could have observed the tone of the Chief Secretary for Ireland without perceiving how deeply he felt his position in reference to the present state of Ireland. It is all very well to say that these outrages are confined to particular districts; but is the shooting at Mr. and Mrs. Rotherham and at Mr. Pearse, in Meath, all forgotten? It is not, as the hon. Member for Tralee (The O'Donoghue) supposes, a question of the amount of crime. I am willing to admit that, as respects ordinary cases of crime, we have in this country a pre-eminence which I should be glad to get rid of; but the crime we are now speaking of is a special kind of crime as regards the perpetrators, and those who conceal and so sympathize with the perpetrators. When I ask myself why the perpetrators of these crimes are not brought to justice, I am forced to the conclusion, that the fact of such deeds being done in open daylight, known to many people, and often in the presence of many people, who, for not denouncing the murderers, are as guilty as the men who strike the blow, and the circumstance that the criminals remain undetected, constitute a very serious state of things. I have moved for a Return of the number of crimes of this nature, which I am anxious to obtain, because I have reason to believe that they are more numerous than they have ever been before. I have desired that the Return should not be encumbered with details of ordinary crime, but that it should be confined to special crimes, and that which I believe is often the commencement of crime—the sending of threatening notices. From private sources I learn that there never were so many threatening notices circulated as at the present time. But in this respect we are at a disadvantage as compared with the Government, because a Report of these threatening notices is at once sent to Dublin, and the Government ob- 2051 tain information of them. It may be true that these murders are confined to particular counties, but the threatening notices are not, and the crimes which are committed in those counties produce an effect on others. You cannot have a shock in the central counties of the country without its radiating to others, and spreading a feeling of terror. Nothing is so important for the welfare of Ireland as the residence of the gentry among the people, feeling secure in the presence of their tenants, and acting cordially with them; but, if they find the peasantry sullen and disaffected, it is evident they must feel deep disappointment, and fancy that all their efforts to benefit their tenants are thrown away. Was it, then, unreasonable that the hon. Member for Liverpool, representing a vast constituency intimately connected with Ireland, and having himself ties of relationship in that country, should have endeavoured to trace the causes of these crimes, and should have come to the conclusion that they are caused by doubt and uncertainty as to the course which the Government will take. The hon. Member did not ask the Government to enter into details; but, as vague hints have been thrown out on the hustings and in Parliament, he desired the Government to state plainly the principles on which they mean to act. Three Cabinet Ministers have spoken on the question tonight. The speech of the Chief Secretary for Ireland simply related to the subject of the repression and detection of crime, and did not contain one word as to the remedy which should be applied to the evils of Ireland. It was all police and no policy. The hon. and learned Member for Derry (Mr. Serjeant Dowse), who addressed the House with much vigour and humour, said he would assist those engaged in administering the law. I can assure the hon. and learned Member that he will find every Gentleman on this (the Opposition) side of the House prepared to do the same, and I have no doubt that those on the Ministerial Benches would have been ready to give a like assistance to the late Government. Though we may differ from them about means, we should be ready to give our assistance readily and frankly to them in repression of crime. My right hon. Friend (Colonel Wilson-Patten) is absent on Public Business, or he would have adverted to a point which the right hon. 2052 Gentleman (Mr. Chichester Fortescue) raised, relating to a time when my right hon. Friend was Chief Secretary for Ireland. [Mr. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE: For the most part before that time.] Well, I have no information on that subject, and therefore I must pass over it. My noble Friend (Lord Claud Hamilton) recited a history which was mainly accurate, though the President of the Board of Trade may say my noble Friend was not accurate in his inferences. That right hon. Gentleman has, for a long time, been pretty plain in the objects of his Irish policy. He is more for policy than police. I do not think we have yet arrived at the particular means he will adopt, and I am not going to ask him for the details of his measure; but so far as he is concerned his policy is clear. It is to give to the Catholic residents in Ireland, if possible, within the rules of political economy, an interest in the land and the possession of the land. It is, if possible, by fair means, to get rid of absentee Protestant proprietors. I find that the right hon. Gentleman, in that celebrated speech at Dublin to which my noble Friend adverted, said that a Royal Commission should be empowered to treat for the purchase of those large estates with a view to sell them to the tenantry of Ireland. These are some of the proprietors to whom he referred—The Earl of Derby, the Marquess of Lansdowne, Earl Fitzwilliam—and I must say the right hon. Gentleman was very fair in his selection; he took landed proprietors promiscuously from both sides—Lord Hertford, the Marquess of Bath, the Duke of Bedford, and the Duke of Devonshire. That is a very plain and straightforward policy. The right hon. Gentleman means not merely to give security of tenure in the sense of due compensation to the tenant and a fair hold upon his landlord in respect of improvements, but he goes much further. He says there must be a change of ownership. Now, that is a very grave question, and involves very large principles, and, therefore, when the next Cabinet Minister rose, he being at the head of the Government, we naturally looked to see whether his answer would be in accordance with that of the President of the Board of Trade. Remember that the question asked was not—"What is the policy of the President of the Board of Trade, or of the Chief Secretary 2053 for Ireland?" but—"What is the policy of the Government?" Well, we have heard the right hon. Gentleman speak, and it is our conclusion that his policy is that of the President of the Board of Trade? The right hon. Gentleman was prepared for the further measure of police. He agreed with the Chief Secretary for Ireland on that point. So, indeed, did the President of the Board of Trade, with some consoling measure. But I am bound to say that the measure affecting the Irish Church seems to have no consoling influence upon the people of Ireland either in the North, in the South, or in the centre. In Cork, not only one person speaks treason but a thousand applaud it. In the North, sectarian animosities break out more violently than ever. In the centre, outrage prevails to a greater extent than it has prevailed for years. A consoling measure, therefore, appears to be wanting; and I doubt whether the President of the Board of Trade is prepared to give his support to the further measures of preventive police and those detectives which were rather hinted at by the Chief Secretary—detectives better fitted than the armed police to pry into the secrets of men, and who are declared to be necessary if you are to come to a knowledge of these crimes. As to the policy of the First Minister of the Crown, he took rather a peculiar course. "I cannot quite say," he remarked, "that everybody on this side of the House is prepared to adopt the measures of the President of the Board of Trade." But when the President of the Board of Trade was speaking that right hon. Gentleman said—"I shall be prepared next year to put before the House the plan which I have." Now, is the President of the Board of Trade the Prime Minister, or is the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich? Is the President of the Board of Trade the dictator of the Cabinet—is he so far master of the situation that he has a right to announce to the House that the policy which in these speeches he put forward is the policy to be adopted by the Government? [Mr. GLADSTONE: No!] The First Minister of the Crown says—"No!" but the President of the Board of Trade certainly put the matter strongly in his speech. The First Minister read something he said last year with respect to fixity of tenure. What he said was that you 2054 should give to the tenant full security for the produce of his labour and compensation for unexhausted improvements; and he thought that would tend towards the object which the President of the Board of Trade had in view—namely, fixity of tenure, which grows, however, under the manipulation of the President of the Board of Trade, and from fixity of tenure becomes ownership of land. Well, then, is the language of the right hon. Gentleman on that occasion the answer of the Government, or is it not? The answer of the Chief Secretary for Ireland was nil. The answer of the President of the Board of Trade was a very grave and a very extensive answer, one which went far beyond what the head of the Government has said. The answer of the head of the Government was not—"I will say now what the Government will do," but "I will tell you what our opinions were last year." Now, what these opinions were last year conveys no information to my mind at all. It is clear that in Ireland a morbid feeling exists, and has for centuries existed, with respect to the land. Do not let anybody suppose that this question has not been connected with the Ribbon conspiracy and agrarian crime; because, after all that we have read and heard, such a theory is an outrage on common sense. It is clear that there exists a combination upon some common principle in order to conceal these crimes; and we have ascertained upon trials of persons accused of these crimes—though, unhappily, such persons are rarely brought to trial—(hat the land question is at the bottom of it all. You say this is the outbreak of disease. Well, what is your remedy? Repression? Yes, but you want something more. You want an answer given in this House which shall reach the minds of the people affected by this morbid feeling. What has been hitherto said in this House, and what has been said in public speeches in Endinburgh, in Dublin, and elsewhere, has had an effect which, if it were not meant, is only in accordance with the effect of such speeches generally. When right hon. Gentlemen who occupy such positions as the President of the Board of Trade and the First Minister of the Crown, whether in or out of Office—when such men speak they must know that every word they say is taken down, that it is published all over the country, that it has its effect upon the public mind, and 2055 that their meaning and intention are judged, not by the qualifications and reservations which exist in their own minds, but by that which is on the surface of the speech, and which commends itself at once to the eye and mind of an ignorant reader. It is not that such speeches are read by every one of these Ribbonmen; but they are read by some, are passed on by them to others, and in their lodges they communicate to one another that great movements are going on and that great men are ready to back them in their designs on the land. It is, therefore, important that those who make speeches should be careful in the words they utter, for when the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury declares that the Church, the land, and the education of Ireland—that education which, for the last thirty years, has been conducted on almost secular principles—are part of a great system of Protestant ascendancy, these people are led to suppose that he will not stop short with the Church, but that by-and-by he will, in some similar method take away the land from proprietors and give it to them. The right hon. Gentleman said twice over, in answer to a question which was put to him by my hon. Friend behind me—"So far as I am personally concerned these are my opinions;" and we have had, therefore, no definite statement to-night from any Member of the Government as to the views on the question which, as a Government, they entertain. The confusion which existed before is still allowed to prevail, and vague longings and wild uncertainties are still allowed to operate without qualification. Now, I cannot help remarking that, in the arguments on this great question which, for the last thirty years, have taken place in this House, statements have been made as to the miseries which were said to exist in Ireland of which not one particle of proof has been given. We have had proofs of the existence of a morbid feeling in that country, and as to the effects produced by agitation on the minds of its people, but no evidence has been adduced to show that greater misery has resulted during the period of which I am speaking, from the operation of our laws in Ireland than has prevailed either in Scotland or England. What are the miseries of which complaint is made? Do not the laws in Ireland afford the same security for property, whether per- 2056 sonal or real, and for the liberty of the subject as they do in this country? Is there anything in the laws which affect the relations between landlord and tenant in Ireland which practically places those relations on a different footing from that on which they stand in England? I think not. The right hon. Gentleman the First Minister said that no objection had been made to that scheme of purchase by the small tenants which he had proposed in the Irish Church Bill. But the question is whether these small holders will be in a position to avail themselves of that provision if the Bill should become law, and whether, if they can make the purchases, they will not hereafter suffer from the evils which, when Ireland had a large freehold population, were created by the great division and sub-division of land. Believing that the morbid feeling which exists in Ireland, and of which we have heard so much, has been irritated by a misunderstanding of the intentions of the Government as expressed by several of its Members, it seems to me to be most desirable that the Government as a Government, should state, not in detail but in its main outline, what it is which they are prepared to do in connection with this question. The character of my hon. Friend who brought the subject forward (Mr. Graves) is, I am sure, a sufficient guarantee that it has been submitted to the House in no factious spirit, and I trust that the manner in which I have spoken shows that I am anxious not to import anything of that kind into the discussion. I feel, however, that we are justified in asking the Government for an explanation of their policy. Let them tell us that they mean to compensate the tenants in Ireland in full, and that they intend they should not be treated unjustly in respect of their tenure. But let us have from them a distinct assurance that they are not going to use Imperial funds to purchase estates for anybody, or to allow it for one moment to be supposed that the land possessed by the landlords shall pass from them without their full consent or by means of the money of the country, and that the whole of the transactions connected with it shall be conducted purely on the principles of political economy. I thank the House for having allowed me to make these few remarks on a question of the deepest importance; for let the state of discontent, outrage, and crime of this special kind 2057 in Ireland be confined as it may within certain limits, it affects the whole country and the peace and prosperity of families. It is repelling capital and, in short, doing everything to render a country miserable which has every opportunity of being happy and contented. I do sincerely trust under these circumstances that we shall hear from some Member of the Government, before this discussion closes, what is the policy which they propose to adopt in order to secure an object which we must all have at heart.
§ MR. DOWNING
said, that as references had been made to him, he desired to say that no man more regretted than he did the language of the Mayor of Cork. In common, he believed, with all Irish Members, he deeply regretted the outrages that had taken place in his country, and looked upon the perpetrators as the greatest enemies of the Irish tenantry; because such events must interfere with the hope long entertained of obtaining from the British Parliament a satisfactory law upon the relations between landlord and tenant. The Land Laws of England and Ireland, though they had been stated to be identical, were very different, at all events in their operation. The recent debate in the House of Lords on the Bill of the Marquess of Clanricarde, showed that, in the opinion of more than one Member of that House, the land question in Ireland required to be dealt with by means of a legislative enactment to prevent oppressive behaviour on the part of some landlords, whose conduct was quite sufficient to create general insecurity of feeling on the part of the Irish tenantry. The noble Marquess said—His Bill was not intended to satisfy the absurd theories which were disseminated by the National Association, which was the entire abolition of property in fee in the soil. It was apparently believed by the National Association that the Government would actually listen to a scheme of leases in perpetuity, at a corn rent, under no restrictions other than the obligation of paying rent.He (Mr. Downing) denied that the Irish National Association ever promulgated any such theory; and he considered it most unfair, not only towards that body, but the tenantry of Ireland, that prejudices should be thus created. A suggestion had been made in a Report of the Irish National Association for a settlement of the question. It was proposed that the present tenement valuation should be taken, and leases made 2058 for sixty years, on the principle that in fixing the rent 20 per cent should be added to that valuation; also, that, at every future valuation, the landlord should be entitled to an increase of rent according to the increase of value. Was that, he asked, like a proposition to deprive landlords of their property? He admitted that crime existed in Ireland; but it was a libel on the character of the tenantry of Ireland to say that they wanted to deprive the landlord of his property, or even that they wanted perpetuity of tenure. All they desired was a law that would give them full remuneration for any improvements they might make, and, therefore, security of tenure. Many distinguished Conservative statesmen had considered legislation upon that important question necessary with regard to Ireland. [The hon. Member quoted passages from speeches delivered by Lord Derby, Sir Robert Peel (when Chief Secretary for Ireland), and Sir Joseph Napier, in order to show that the law of Ireland differed from that of England with regard to improvements effected by tenants.] He entirely repudiated the Bill recently introduced into the other House by the Marquess of Clanricarde as a settlement of the land question; it would place the tenantry of Ireland still more at the mercy of their landlords. All the Committees which had been appointed to inquire into this subject had reported that compensation ought to be given to tenants for improvements effected by them. He was himself a landlord, and speaking as the representative of the great county of Cork, and on behalf of the tenantry of Ireland, he repudiated such motives as those which had been attributed to them. He thought it ought to put a stop to such statements. The noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn (Lord Stanley) asked what would pacify the people of Ireland. He would answer—a just Land Bill? The Church Bill would not do it. He never considered the Church question the great question of Ireland; but the land question could not be dealt with until the Church question was removed. In conclusion, he would congratulate the House on the union of English, Scotch, and Irish Liberals on this matter.
§ MR. LIDDELL
said, that this was a great Imperial question, on the right decision of which the weal or woe of the Empire might very probably depend, 2059 and as he did not concur in either of the two sets of opinions which had been expressed during the debate he would venture briefly to address the House on the subject. Although serious crimes prevailed in Ireland which all must deplore, he did not believe that crime was innate in any class of our countrymen; but that if these agrarian outrages were committed there was a reason in the minds of the people for their commission, and not a love of the crime in itself. He was sorry to find a statesman on his own side, for whom he had the greatest respect, urging the Government to express a policy upon a question of a most difficult and most complicated, as well as a most important nature, in an abstract manner. Unless the Government had had time to mature a Bill on such a subject they ought not to be pressed to lay down, by anticipation, any abstract principles on which a future measure was to be based, because if they were to lay down such principles, and if they afterwards departed from them, they would disappoint the expectations of the people for whom they legislated. Therefore, as the Government believed they were engaged in a work that would pacify Ireland, although he did not agree with them in that belief, he must say he thought that was a sufficient excuse for their refusal to declare beforehand the basis of a measure which they had not yet prepared. What, however, he complained of was that the deplorable state of Ireland had been to some extent produced by the conduct and language of leading Members of the present Government. He would remind the President of the Board of Trade, with all respect, that, as a Member of the Cabinet, he could not speak as he did on platforms and on hustings—the responsibility of his public declarations must be shared by his Colleagues. The right hon. Gentleman said he was prepared to create a peasant proprietary in Ireland if he saw his way to it. Now that, if not absolutely impossible, would, at least, be attended with so much difficulty that the rights of property and the feelings both of the proprietors and occupiers of land in Ireland must be violated to carry out the right hon. Gentleman's principle. Such an expression of opinion on the part of a Minister, even before a Bill had been either framed or considered in the Cabinet, and before those very vague ideas had been embodied in any- 2060 thing like a fixed resolution, was most mischievous and dangerous, as it raised hopes that were doomed to disappointment. He believed the debate of that night would show the people of Ireland that the House of Commons was prepared, as far as it could, to do justice to all parties in that portion of the United Kingdom.
§ SIR JOHN GRAY
remarked, during the four years which he had had the honour of occupying a seat in that House, he never heard of an occasion on which a number of hon. Gentlemen rose in succession, and declared that but for the wanton personal attacks made by a previous speaker they would have taken no part in the discussion. He hoped such an occasion would never again arise, and he regretted that he had himself to add another to the list of those who felt coerced to make a few remarks, with the indulgence of the House, on the unwarrantable observations made by the noble Lord the Member for Tyrone. The noble Lord attempted to wound his right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade through him, and he (Sir John Gray) felt it due to his right hon. Friend, felt it due to his own constituents, and, above all, due to that House to deal specifically with the allegations of the noble Lord. The noble Lord had stated that he (Sir John Gray) was put in prison for disloyalty. That statement was the reverse of truth. He was never accused of disloyalty; never tried for it; never even suspected of it. The noble Lord stated that he (Sir John Gray) was imprisoned for treason. To that, too, he would reply that the assertion was totally devoid of truth. He was never accused of treason, and it was never even imputed to him that he had been guilty of it. It was true that he was imprisoned, but he was unjustly imprisoned. He, in common with an illustrious Irishman (Mr. O'Connell) was accused of misdemeanor, based on constructive sedition, but though he was never tried he was convicted. [Laughter.] He repeated he was never tried, though he was fraudulently convicted, and unjustly imprisoned, and the accuracy of that statement he would demonstrate before he sat down. His case was a remarkable illustration of what Tory rule meant in Ireland some years ago. He, in common with a distinguished Member of that House, was arraigned, fraudulently convicted, and illegally punished. But 2061 instead of appealing to the passions of the people, they appealed to British law and British justice. They appealed to the House of Lords, and the illustrious Judge (Lord Denman), father of the hon. Member who then sat near, being one of the Law Lords who heard that appeal, delivered judgment, in which he denounced the so-called trial as a mockery, the conviction as fraudulently obtained, and the judgment and sentence illegal. That fraudulent judgment the House of Lords reversed as an outrage upon justice, and a disgrace to the administration of the law. A packed jury was put into the box, not to try the accused, but to record a conviction, and the judgment based on that conviction was cancelled, Lord Denman, in delivering the judgment of the Upper House, having declared that the so-called trial was "a mockery, a delusion, and a snare." He regretted to have been compelled to trespass on the patient indulgence of the House with reference to a matter of a personal nature; yet it was not altogether personal, for he hoped the time would never come when a Member, honoured by a seat in that House, would submit in silence to an imputation of disloyalty and treason. No man disloyal to the Throne or a traitor to that noble Constitution was deserving of a seat in that House. His presence would dishonour it, and the sooner such a man, if he existed, was removed from amongst them the better. He did not propose to discuss the question brought before them by the hon. Member for Liverpool. That was not the time to debate the land question. He, however, could not omit to congratulate the House on the tone of the speeches delivered, with the sole exception of the one speech he had already referred to. He congratulated the House on the important expression of opinion in favour of the claims of the tenant-farmer elicited from leading Members on both sides of the House, and especially on the zeal manifested on the Opposition Benches just now on that all-important subject. He felt with the hon. Member who preceded him (Mr. Liddell) that it was unfair to attempt to force the hand of the Government on that question at that time; and while he was gratified to find that the Government resisted that unfair attempt, they did not hesitate to repeat, when in power, all they said in favour of the tenant class when they were in Opposition. The 2062 right hon. Gentleman the late Secretary of State for the Home Department did not seem to think any change in the tenant law was required, and he complained that the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government seemed to place his reliance for social order and subordination on the law or remedial legislation, and not on new measures of repression. He complained that the Government, relying upon the power of the ordinary laws of the country vigorously administered, did not promise Coercion Acts, or Arms Acts, or Curfew Acts, but sought to combine with the force of existing laws for the repression of crime, remedial legislation for the admitted grievances of the people, and relied on these remedies for the production of that content which is so necessary to social order and the public peace. It was a remarkable accusation to make against a Government—they had no Coercion Acts in preparation. It was the first time since the connection of the two countries that such an accusation had been made. And it was a good omen for the future that they had then for the first time, men on the front Benches who relied on justice, not on force, for the production of contentment and subordination to the laws in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman did not like the principle as to land legislation shadowed forth by any Member who took part in the debate, and he specially took exception to the words "fixity of tenure," as used in 1867 by the present Prime Minister. He (Sir John Gray) remembered well the circumstances under which that term was used, and the manner in which it was understood by those who heard it. The right hon. Gentleman did not assert the doctrine of fixity of tenure in the abstract. What he said was applied to a Bill which aimed at procuring moderate leases for the tenantry, and not fixed and irrevocable tenure. He did say—and he (Sir John Gray) remembered it well, for he carefully watched every word that fell from his lips on the occasion, inasmuch as the Bill the right hon. Gentleman was supporting was approved by nearly every Irish Liberal Member—he did say that that Bill was a leasing powers Bill in its essence, but that the compensation clauses inserted to provide for cases where no leases were granted would operate pro tanto as giving to a certain extent fixity of tenure, so far as it was desirable to have it. The 2063 right hon. Gentleman, he (Sir John Grey) understood, adhered to that principle, and was not to be driven from his purpose by even the phrase "fixity of tenure," or by any other phrase that was imported into this debate to defeat the just policy of rooting the people in the soil. A great deal had been said about the amount of crime that was found to exist in Ireland. Some four or five murders within the year were used as a pretext for fixing a brand of disgrace on the whole Irish people. Would hon. Members who thus maligned the Irish people look nearer home. His hon. Friend near him, the Member for Tralee (The O'Donoghue), moved some days since for a Return showing the extent of crime against person and property which existed in England. That Return was made that evening, and he had his hon. Friend's permission to use it. From that it appeared that in the last year there were 129 murders committed in England, sixty-one attempts at murder, 275 cases of manslaughter, and 676 cases of wounding, shooting, and stabbing with intent to do grievous bodily harm. Compare that fearful catalogue with the criminal statistics of Ireland. Those who examined that list ought to pause and reflect on the condition of their own country before they ventured to affix the stigma of infamy on the population of the sister island. He admitted that the four or five agrarian crimes that occurred in Ireland differed in their nature from those to which he adverted. He was not there to palliate or to mitigate the horror and detestation in which all good men held those agrarian crimes. Every Irish Member denounced their perpetration, and would give his active aid and support to the Government in bringing to speedy justice every person legally found to be identified with them. No terms are too strong to describe their detestation of those cruel deeds—no punishment too severe to inflict on the criminals. But who are to blame, the men who seek to remove the stimulants to these crimes, or the men who have relied when in power on coercion, and transportation, and the gibbet, and oppose themselves even now to all remedial measures? He would not intrude on the House after the explicit statement of Ministers by discussing the details of the tenant question. There would be a time for that hereafter. But he felt confident that there would be no 2064 permanent peace in Ireland till the tenant was made by law to feel secure in the enjoyment of the fruits of his industry—secure that the landlord by evicting him could not appropriate to his own use the creation of the tenant's hands. Give the people the fixed tenure which the northern landlord gives to his Protestant tenantry, and let them feel that those born on the land may, like the planted tree, take root and flourish without the risk of being uprooted at the caprice of any man, and there will be an end to agrarian crime, and the tenants will be the best friends of order, because they will be secure, prosperous, and happy.
§ MR. MACFIE
rose, amid loud cries of "Divide." He had lived in Ireland more than thirty years, and in Liverpool he had been intimately connected with a large body of manufacturing Irish people, and he knew that they were amongst the most peaceable, the most industrious, and the most moral inhabitants of the country. During the recent elections the Liberal candidates were received with acclamation by the Irish portion of the constituencies, because they were pledged to support the Bill of the right ton. Gentleman. That right hon. Gentleman had given a pledge of what he would do when he came to the Land Tenure Bill, and he had framed a well-considered plan which would be satisfactory to both landlords and tenants.