HC Deb 16 February 1875 vol 222 cc396-7

Mr. Speaker—I beg leave to make a few remarks in reference to the way in which the hon. Member for Louth (Mr. Sullivan) spoke of me yesterday. I do not wish to go into the question of good taste on his part—as to whether, after I had withdrawn the remarks that I had made at an agricultural show, and which I admit were pretty strong—I do not care to go into the question of whether it was good taste on the hon. Member's part to bring the matter up again. But I do feel that some of those remarks which he made may go forth to people who do not happen to know me perfectly, or that I have been in the Army and am a soldier; and they may think that I was frightened by an Irishman. I beg to say that I never have been frightened by any individual yet, and I certainly was not influenced by any such feeling in this matter. I have got the letters with me, and with the permission of the House I will read them, to show that what the hon. Member for Louth said was not quite correct. In the month of September, shortly after the agricultural show was held at which I made the remarks complained of, I received the following letter:—

"Cork Club, Sept. 11.

"Sir,—I beg to call your attention to a report which has appeared in the London papers, of a speech delivered by you at an agricultural show in North Lincolnshire. Will you have the goodness to say if the offensive expressions attributed to you were uttered on the occasion in question. If so, I must, in the name of Chevalier O'Clery, M.P. for Wexford, ask you to withdraw them.

"Your obedient servant,


"I send you the copy of the report, with the expressions referred to underlined."

I had not anybody to consult as to what notice I should take of that letter, but there and then, on the spur of the moment, I wrote as follows:—

"Elsham Hall, Sept. 14, 1871.

"Sir,—I beg to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 11th, and to state that I did make use of the expressions to which you refer; and, at the request of your friend the gallant Member for Wexford, I hereby withdraw them, and am, Sir,

"Your obedient servant,


That, Sir, is the whole correspondence on the subject. I felt that I was wrong, and I admitted it; and I certainly wish to impress upon hon. Gentlemen that it was done under no sort of threat, but spontaneously. My language on that occasion was not very classical; but I think sometimes classics are not much used, especially by hon. Gentlemen opposite, of the Irish division.