§ [ADJOURNED DEBATE.]
Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment [3rd March] to Question,
That, Parliament having constituted a Special Commission to inquire into the charges and allegations made against certain Members of Parliament, and other persons, and the Report of the Commissioners having been presented to Parliament, this House adopts the Report and thanks the Commissioners for their just and impartial conduct in the matters referred to them; and orders that the said Report be entered on the Journals of this House."—(Mr. William Henry Smith.)
And which Amendment was,
To leave out from the first word "House" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "deems it to be a duty to record its reprobation of the false charges of the gravest and most odious description, based on calumny and on forgery, which have been brought against Members of this House, and particularly against Mr. Parnell; and, while declaring its satisfaction at the exposure of these calumnies, this House expresses its regret for the
wrong inflicted and the suffering and loss endured through a protracted period, by reason of these acts of flagrant iniquity,"—(Mr. W. E. Gladstone,)
§ Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ Debate resumed.
§ (4.15.) MR. LOCKWOOD (York)
Like my hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries (Mr. R. T. Reid), I certainly feel a considerable amount of diffidence in taking any part in this debate, and my position has not been made more comfortable by the remarks which have been made by my hon. Friend the Member for North Islington (Mr. Bartley), as I suppose he included me among the persons who are about to inflict long speeches upon this House, and among those whom he accused of having already inflicted long speeches on the Commission. For myself, I may say that I inflicted no speech upon the Commission, and I do not intend to inflict a long speech upon this House. At the same time I feel bound to say that I shall record my Vote in favour of the Amendment, because to my mind it is absolutely and literally the truth. I should be surprised indeed to hear that contention denied by hon. Gentlemen who sit on the opposite side of the House. We have had from the Attorney General and the Minister of Agriculture admissions which distinctly assert the truth of the Amendment of the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. Gladstone). The Report had not been circulated for more than two days, when the Attorney General went down post-haste to Oxford to deliver himself with what he called an unfettered tongue. Having performed that somewhat delicate, and, I venture to think, somewhat dangerous, operation, my hon. and learned Friend proceeded to inform his audience that he personally was rejoiced that Mr. Parnell and those who were associated with him in this indictment had been able to clear themselves from the graver charges which for 12 months he had been trying to prove. There was also the speech of the Minister of Agriculture, which will be remembered from the fact that for two or three days after it was delivered it was impossible to take up a morning paper 1784 without finding that some portion of it had been withdrawn. When the expurgated edition of that speech comes to be published I apprehend that those who enthusiastically cheered it when they heard it delivered at Cambridge will hardly recognise it. He, too, expressed his personal satisfaction, and was able to tell his hearers that he rejoiced in the acquittal of Mr. Parnell and his Colleagues. But why all this personal satisfaction and all this rejoicing if there is nothing to rejoice about? I give the hon. and right hon. Gentlemen credit for all sincerity in their declaration. We heard the hon. Member for Roxburgh (Mr. A. Elliot) in the speech which he made last night accuse nay hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries of quibbling because he had drawn a contrast between the original charges and those which the Commission declared to have been proved. All the grave and material charges have not been proved, and it is only the venial ones upon which a verdict of guilty has been pronounced. I want to maintain, if I can, that this Amendment is absolutely and literally true. It is true that there have been false charges made, that they are of the gravest and most discreditable character, and that they have been based on calumny and forgery. Let us go back to a very interesting occasion. It was on the 17th of September, 1888, that the Times newspaper in the history of this inquiry was first brought face to face with the men it had maligned and traduced. I call attention to the incident for the purpose of pointing out that the Times, when for the first time it found itself face to face with the men it had traduced and maligned, began to endeavour to shirk the responsibility of the charges it had made and to put them upon the shoulders not of men, but of an organisation. That incident shows not only what was the attitude of the Times, but what was the view taken by the President of the Commission. On the 17th of September, 1888, counsel applied to the Court to have particulars supplied to them as to the individuals who were charged, and the charges which were made against them, and this interesting and instructive dialogue took place between the learned counsel representing the Times and Sir James Hannen, the President of the Commission. 1785The President: Do you propose to substantiate any charges?—Counsel: I don't know.Then later on—The President: Who are implicated in the charges and allegations?:— Counsel: We don't charge.The President: They have not made charges and allegations against you?—Counsel: Nor I. I have not made charges and allegations against them.The President: Who did make these charges and allegations which the Legislature has directed us to inquire into? Did nobody make them?—Counsel: Certain charges—and I beg the attention of the House to this—Certain charges and allegations have been made against the Irish organisation.The President: No, no. It is more than that; it is charges and allegations against particular persons.Later on the President said—Did the Attorney General make no charges against individuals?—Counsel: Not here. He made charges against an organisation.The President: But not against individuals?—Counsel: The individuals, of course, were members of the organisation.If the Attorney General accepts the view that he did not make charges against individuals, but against an organisation, then the House was induced to pass the Commission Bill on false pretences. If, on the other hand, the Attorney General accepts the view that he did make personal charges, then he has failed to establish a single case. The charges are not charges against personalities or against individuals, but, if established at all, they are charges against an organisation and against a policy. In his speech the Attorney General said—I am here to inquire into some very specific charges. Those charged shall have no reason to find fault with me for not making the allegations clear with regard to the details as to the part each person played. The word organisation is not used for the purpose of evading the responsibility cast on us of dealing with the charges and allegations against individuals.[Sir R. WEBSTER: Hear, hear]. My hon. and learned Friend cheers that statement. Has that undertaking been carried out? I have had some acquaintance with the course of procedure before the Commission, and I protest against its being suggested that that was the spirit in which the inquiry was con ducted. Hon. Members of this House came down to the Commission, and 1786 waited there day after day in the hope that names might be mentioned, in order that they might ascertain in some way what kind of personal accusation was being made against them. They waited in vain; that was not the line that was to be adopted. All that was done was to make general and sweeping charges against an organisation and against a policy with which the Government do not agree. Let me call attention to the kind of charges which were made, and which I take from three sources—Parnellism, and Crime, the speech of the Attorney General in the case of O'Donnell against Walter, and the speech of the Attorney General at the opening of the Commission. I will read some extracts from each of these three sources, so that the House may realise the class of charges that were made, and may compare them with the charges which have in some degree been proved. In the article on Parnellism and Crime, which appeared in the Times, there is this passage—But treason is not our main charge against Mr. Parnell. Murder still startles the casuist and the doctrinaire, and we charge that the Land League chiefs based their movement upon a scheme of assassination carefully calculated and coolly applied. Be the ultimate goal of these men what it will they are content to march towards it in company with murderers. Murderers provide their funds; murderers share their inmost councils. Murderers have gone forth from the League offices to set their bloody work afoot, and will have presently returned to consult the Constitutional leaders upon the progress of the cause.
§ MR. LOCKWOOD
I have been careful to verify the extract; not a tittle of evidence was offered in support of that charge, and the finding of the Commissioners is directly in favour of the gentlemen who were specified in the speech of the Attorney General in the case of "O'Donnell v. Walter" as having been guilty of it. Are we, on this side of the House, to be accused of quibbling because we protest against this charge not being recognised as a most disgraceful one, which ought to be apologised for, and the apology 1787 recorded on the Journal of the House? Here is another extract from a leading article that appeared in the Times on March 7, 1887—There are plenty of authentic utterances fixing upon prominent Members of the Home Rule Party the guilt of direct incitement to outrage and murder.That charge is absolutely negatived by the finding of the Commissioners. The same article, speaking of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, says—Merely to have his revenge upon his countrymen for rejecting his advice, and to prove his declaration that all other business shall be made impossible to be no idle threat, Mr. Gladstone and his party are deliberately allying themselves with the paid agents of an organisation whose ultimate aim is plunder and whose ultimate sanction is murder.I hope I do not weary the House by reading these extracts, but I feel that it is necessary that the House should appreciate what was the real nature of the accusations hurled at the hon. Members below the Gangway. In "O'Donnell v. Walter," the Attorney General said, on the question of a particular organisation being diverted to improper purposes—Do not let it be supposed that I am going to deal with the small fry of the organisation.Yet in the Commission case we were compelled to sit day after day whilst representatives of the Times put on record the utterances of the smallest of fry in the hope of implicating hon. Gentlemen by blackening the League, and, indirectly, of blackening those who belonged to it. On the second day of the Commission, a very grave accusation was made, on the authority of the Attorney General, of course on instruction, but not a tittle of evidence was brought forward to support it, and I hope the hon. and learned Gentleman will take the opportunity during this debate of expressing his regret that he was led to make the charge against prominent Members of this House. In his speech the hon. and learned Member said—Though the leaders did not themselves go and personally plan the outrages. They could not do it because they had not time, and of course would not be connected with it directly, but there were the men doing it for them, and of that system they took charge.Will the hon. and learned Member say now that he believes that it was simply 1788 because the leaders had not time to do this bloody work that they did not do it? That is the construction to put on these words. I appeal to hon. Gentlemen opposite, some of whom, I am sure, are prepared to deal fairly with these men, if I am not using a right construction. I shall watch with anxiety the course which the hon. and learned Member will take with reference to this terrible and groundless accusation. Then the hon. and learned Gentleman said —I think it will appear that an emissary of the Land League used to get the money from the treasurer—either Mr. Biggar, or Mr. Brennan, or Mr. Egan, or any one of the officials who might be in charge—used to take down the money, £20 or £30—having received the money, of course, from Mr. Biggar or from any of the other officials who handled it—used to take down the £20 or £30 into the district, and then distribute it locally to the men who were to carry out the outrages.Sir, Mr. Biggar has died since that accusation was made. He is not here to defend himself, but I entreat the hon. and learned Member, by a frank disavowal of that statement, to clear this man's memory from the gross aspersions which he was instructed to cast upon his character. Not wishing to weary the House, I will only refer very briefly to one other utterly groundless charge, namely, that the Invincibles were one with the Land League. The Attorney General having said that Mr. Parnell had declared that the Invincibles belonged to some other organisation, went on—I think you will have no doubt as to the organisation from which the Phœnix Park murders proceeded.Do I misinterpret the words of the hon. and learned Gentleman when I say he meant the Land League? What has the hon. and learned Member to say in reply? He does not answer.
§ SIR R. WEBSTER
It is impossible that I should interrupt to answer all the questions that are put to me. As far as I recollect, in the passage to which the hon. and learned Member refers, there certainly was no reference to the Land League. My recollection is that the passage refers to some organisation of Fenians, worse than the Fenians themselves.
§ MR. LOCKWOOD
Of course, I am anxious that I should in no way come in conflict with the hon. and learned Gentleman, but I must say I 1789 wish he could have assured me in more definite language as to what his meaning was. I understand him to say that, so far as his recollection goes, he said—
§ MR. LOCKWOOD
Yes, indeed—in the case of "O'Donnell v. Walter, page 101 of the Blue Book. In a sense these are not the hon. Gentleman's words, because they were the words he was instructed to speak. I have been very careful to point out all through that the hon. and learned Gentleman was speaking according to his instructions. So much, then, for these charges. I hope that by this time, I have proved that the Amendment in its terms is absolutely and entirely true from beginning to end. It has been admitted in speeches made by supporters of the Government. Then, has not the time arrived at last, when, upon the Journals of this House, there should be recorded an ample withdrawal of the terrible charges which have been made against Members of this House? It has been suggested in the course of the debate that, upon various occasions, statements have been made which ought to satisfy the House. From that suggestion I entirely dissent. There have been occasions, no doubt, when the Attorney General and others have made use of expressions, which by some might be considered sufficient and satisfactory. I, on the other hand, hold that there never has been adequate and ample recompense offered to these men for the terrible slur that has been cast upon them. I recollect what occurred in the Commission Court on February 27, 1889. We had met on the previous day, when the Court was crowded in every part. No; there was one vacant place, the witness-box. The Times' witness had gone, and the Attorney General, feeling, no doubt, that it would be very difficult to continue the play—I was about to say the play of Hamlet with the "Prince of Denmark" left out, but it would be more appropriate to say the play of Faust without "Mephistopheles"—the Attorney General asked for an adjournment. Next day he returned, instructed to withdraw a portion of the case and to express regret. Now, when a man has committed a wrong, and is anxious to set matters right, he does not find it 1790 difficult to make a straightforward apology, but the position is one of considerable difficulty when the person who has done wrong wants to give an indication of an apology without the substance of an apology. The Attorney General came into Court with his instructions written out this time. Can it be suggested that the words read by the hon. and learned Member contained that ample and adequate retraction which can alone be satisfactory to the maligned Members? What the Attorney General read was this—My Lords, under these circumstances it seems to us that the course which we ought to take is clearly defined, and, believing that we are merely doing our duty, I now, on behalf of these whom we represent, ask permission to withdraw from your consideration the question of the genuineness of the letters which have been submitted to you, the authenticity of which is denied, with the full acknowledgement that, after the evidence which has been given, we are not entitled to say that they are genuine. My Lords, although it is possible that any expression of regret used by me in making this statement may be misrepresented, those whom I represent request me to express their sincere regret that the letters were published. That feeling, which most truly exists, will, at the proper time, be more fully expressed by themselves.I have no doubt that is perfectly true; they do regret it. They regret exceedingly that the character of the Times as a respectable journal is shattered for ever. Then the Attorney General went on to say that, when the proper time came, a more full and ample expression of regret might be expected. Well, that time has not come yet, and so far as I can gather from that newspaper they sail as near the wind as they dare every day it is published. But they know now something about the law of libel—they have been taught by hon. Members below the Gangway, and they are careful not again to offend those laws. I appeal again to Gentlemen sitting opposite whether they can say that the Times has recognised that the occasion has come to do fuller and more ample justice to hon. Members below the Gangway. If they agree with me, do not hon. Members opposite think that the opportunity has arrived on the consideration of this Amendnent? My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Roxburgh (Mr. Elliott) has referred to the damages accorded to the hon. Member for Cork as an adequate reparation to 1791 that hon. Member on his own showing. But that is not on the Journals of the House. In the future when the Journals of the House come to be consulted, no record will be found on them of that action. I do not think the Attorney General represented the Times on this occasion. But it is the fact that although the Times dare not assert that the letters are genuine, yet they bind up with the record numbers of charges against the Member for Cork, and endeavour, if they can, to blacken his character with aspersions which are equally base and false, and equally disgraceful to that newspaper. I think it will be agreed that there was no reparation such as the hon. Member had a right to expect made on the occasion of the action to which I have referred. I ought, however, to acknowledge that, after the speech of the hon. Member for Cork in the Privilege debate, the leader of the House said a few words in answer to the appeal which was made to him which were, if I may respectfully say so, worthy of the right hon. Gentleman, and of a straightforward English Gentleman. Let my hon. and learned Friend's clients take pattern from the statement of the right hon. Gentleman. But that, again, was no formal record. There has been up to now nothing to which hon. Members below the Gangway can point as showing that these charges have been made and disproved. I now want to say a word or two in regard to another matter which, no doubt, is a proper matter for our consideration. It may be said that although the charges made against hon. Members below the Gangway have been disproved, and although no reparation has been offered to them, yet in some way they are estopped from the relief they seek on account of the other charges that have been held to be established against them in this Report. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Dumfries (Mr. Reid), with a skill which I admired, dealt yesterday with all these charges, and I do not propose to go again over the ground which he so ably covered. It has been suggested that the Irish Members are debarred from the relief which is claimed for them by the charges which have been established against them. But the learned Judges themselves said that with respect to the amount of guilt which attached to these gentlemen they could 1792 offer no opinion to this House. The Judges also felt constrained to leave out of consideration matters which will be admitted to be of the first importance. I contend, therefore, that the finding on that head, which loses sight of all considerations in favour of these gentlemen, is a finding which reflects no dishonour on them, and does not disentitle them to the relief claimed by the Amendment. No reparation has been made, and I would ask hon. Members opposite to take these matters into their serious consideration, and to consider whether the time has not come for justice to be done to gentlemen who are their colleagues in the House.
§ (4.55.) THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. MATTHEWS, Birmingham, East)
It is no doubt interesting to the House to hear the learned Gentlemen who were concerned in this inquiry renew in our presence the arguments which were fully ventilated before the Commission. The hon. and learned Member who has just sat down has thought fit to make a personal attack on my hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General (Sir R. Webster). My hon. and learned Friend is perfectly able to take care of himself, and I shall leave it to him, when he takes his turn in the Debate, to answer these personal observations with regard to his conduct. I would rather confine myself a little more strictly to the subject which is really before this House, namely, the Resolution and the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman opposite. The hon. and learned Gentleman has said that the Amendment is absolutely true. Well, I am not concerned to contest that proposition. But I will add this, that it is only part of the truth. It is part of the truth, tainted with passionate and inflammatory adjectives. The Motion of my right hon. Friend is that we should adopt and record the whole of the findings of the Commissioners and show no favour to either side; and we should record both those findings which tell for the hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway and those which tell against them. We desire to record the finding that the letters attributed to the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) are forged, the finding's which acquit that hon. Member and his colleagues from anything like 1793 complicity with the Phoenix Park murders—
§ MR. MATTHEWS
I have not searched these charges and allegations, as the hon. and learned Gentleman has; but I understood him to allege that that would be found in the record. Well, all the exonerating findings will be recorded by adopting my right hon. Friend's Motion. What we decline to do is to adopt a one-sided treatment of the Report of the Commission. We decline to adopt a course which gives the go-by to all the findings to which hon. Members opposite object, which gives them no record at all in our memory or upon the Journals of the House, in order simply to express the condemnation in which we hold the falsity and vile origin of certain other charges which were disproved. Now, what is there to justify this mode of treatment of the findings of a tribunal appointed by this House? Certainly no reason has been assigned for reflecting upon the character of the tribunal. I have listened with great interest to all the speeches which have been made, particularly to that of the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. Gladstone). It is admitted that the tribunal showed zeal, industry, honour, and good faith. There is, therefore, nothing in the character of the tribunal to induce this House to disregard their findings. Is there, then, anything in the nature of the findings which disentitles them to the notice of the House? I cannot forget, Mr. Speaker, the origin of this inquiry. I cannot forget—I have here before me the record of the debate in this House—I cannot forget that it was at the instance of Members below the Gangway that we were invited to try these questions by another tribunal, to inquire into every charge which could be extracted from Parnellism and Grime. That was the contention of the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon), and the right hon. Member for Derby (Sir W. Harcourt) desired that the whole matter from beginning to end should be inquired into. The right hon. Member for Newcastle desired that the whole body of charges made by the Times against the Irish Members should be inquired into. What was it which interested the bulk 1794 of hon. Members of this House? It was the question whether the allegations in these articles, that the purpose and modus operandi of this organisation, which have become so familiar to us all, were or were not criminal. What was alleged in these articles was that the purpose of the organisation, both of the Land League and of the National League, was of a treasonable character. What was alleged was that the means were illegal, aye, and even criminal; that the methods employed were not constitutional, legal, regular, or justifiable, but constituted a system in itself naturally leading to and producing outrage and crime. That was the question raised by these articles, and it was further desired to ascertain what complicity there was in each and all of the persons incriminated in bringing about that state of things. The Commissioners find that the Land League was established and founded with the intention and for the purpose of bringing about the absolute independence of Ireland. The Commissioners say—In our judgment the object aimed at by Mr. Davitt and the other founders of the Land League, with regard to the Revolutionary Party, was not to put an end to or restrain its action by merging it in the new movement, but to point out to those holding Fenian opinions that the two Parties did not clash, and that they might be of material aid to one another.And again—In our judgment the charge against the respondents collectively of having conspired to bring about total separation is not established. But we find that some of them, together with Mr. Davitt, established and joined in the Land League Organisation with the intention, by its means, to bring about the absolute independence of Ireland as a separate nation.These are almost the very words I used, and which have been challenged. ["No!"and laughter from the Opposition Benches.] I said that the Commissioners have found that the Land League was established with the intention of bringing about the absolute independence of Ireland.
§ MR. SEXTON
Would the right hon. Gentleman read the ultimate conclusion of the Commissioners, or will he allow me to read it?—We find that the respondent Members of Parliament, collectively, were not members of a conspiracy having for its object to establish the absolute independence of Ireland.
§ MR. MATTHEWS
Yes; but the Commissioners go on to say that Mr. Davitt, who was the founder of the Land League, had that intention and object, and I say that the findings of the Commissioners amount to this, that the organisation had for its object and purpose the absolute independence of Ireland. Further, I say that the National League is the Land League under another name, and that, therefore, when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. Gladstone) says that the idea of the absolute independence of Ireland is dead, he is in conflict on this point with the findings of the Commissioners. The right hon. Gentleman yesterday, in a passage of splendid rhetoric, inveighed against the means by which the Act of Union was brought about. It is only in recent times that the right hon. Gentleman has taken to giving us these lessons in history. I do not read history in the same way as the right hon. Gentleman, but this is a controversy wholly immaterial to this finding of the Commissioners. For the Commissioners find that the Land League had for its object, not the reform or alteration of the Act of Union and its replacement by some federal scheme or plan of delegation, but total separation between England and Ireland. The hon. and learned Member for Dumfries (Mr. Reid) and my learned Friend who has just addressed the House appear to be of opinion that when treason is 11 years old it becomes immaterial and unworthy of notice. That is not our view. Now, I should like to refer next to the means which were employed. According to the Commissioners there existed a criminal conspiracy to stop the rents and drive the landlords out of the country. How? By coercion, intimidation, and boycotting. The Commissioners find that the respondents did incite to intimidation, and that crime and outrage were committed by the persons incited, and that they persisted in this incitement with knowledge of its effect. The Commissioners find that by speeches and the dissemination of certain newspapers they caused an excitable peasantry to carry out the orders of the Land League, even by assassination. These findings amounted to this, that the Land League used criminal methods to further its ends. We are told that all this is to go for nothing. 1796 because the personal complicity of A B or C has not been established. That is a proposition upon which it seems to me to be hardly safe to challenge the judgment of the House of Commons. What was the nature of the speeches which were proved before the Commissioners? Speeches in which land-grabbers were denounced as "man-eating tigers," as "enemies of God and man," as "a thousand times worse than murderers," speeches in which young men were recommended to arm and drill. Do not speeches such as these involve the speakers in personal responsibility? Is there no personal responsibility for such words as these, uttered by the hon. Member for North-East Cork (Mr. O'Brien)—We have an organisition at our back which has proved sufficient to make land-grabbing in any shape a very disagreeable and risky profession.And the hon. Member for Mayo (Mr Dillon) with the candour which marks his utterances and which I cannot help admiring, said—There never was the slightest success unti, we hit upon the dodge of making it too hot for him who took his neighbour's land.Do you mean to say that speeches like that made to an excited peasantry do not involve some kind of personal responsibility on those who utter them? Then as to the dissemination of newspapers. What were the newspapers? The House has been made sufficiently acquainted with the character of those newspapers. Archbishop Walsh called them abominable. The answer made is that the dissemination of these newspapers only amounts to constructive conspiracy. Thousands of copies of the Irish World scattered throughout Ireland is a matter for which no one is responsible, and so with regard to another paper owned by one of the respondents, who, it is represented, never knew its contents. I do not find that this method of criticism is applied to the editor of the Times, who is to be responsible for everything that appears in his paper. In my opinion neither law nor common sense will admit of such a plea as this. The doctrine, both of law and common sense, is that where a number of men are acting together for a joint purpose, when daily operations are carried out by each in furtherance of that joint purpose, all are 1797 responsible for the acts of each, save for those acts which may be disowned. The theory of the hon. and learned Member for Dumfries (Mr. R. T. Reid) appears to be that the only person answerable for an outrage is the man who commits the deed, and that those who may have suggested the deed are free from all responsibility. That is a doctrine which the House will, I think, be slow to accept.
§ MR. SEXTON
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman to refer to any passage in the Report showing that the respondents suggested outrages?
§ MR. MATTHEWS
I have stated to the House what the Commissioners have found, namely, that the respondents incited to intimidation, that intimidation led to crime and outrage, and that the respondents persisted in their incitement to intimidation with knowledge of its effect. Will any one venture to assert that that does not amount to responsibility for the crime and outrage committed? If I invite a man to cross a bridge which I know to be rotten, or to partake of a dish which I know to be poisoned, am I not answerable for the consequences of his crossing the bridge or partaking of the dish? The Commissioners have found that the respondents were guilty of carrying on an Association whose object was treasonable by means that I must describe as criminal. Nothing seems to me to have been more clearly established than the truth of the words spoken by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian in 1882, that "crime with fatal precision dogs the footsteps of the Land League." Another plea that has been set up by the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian is that offences of which the Commissioners have found certain hon. Members guilty are 10 years old. It is free, of course, for the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian and hon. Members opposite to argue that after 1886 came that magic change over Ireland which has disconnected the leaders of the National League for crime; but the Commissioners thought that that was not so, and that the continuity between the Land League and the National League still exists. The remarkable case of Mitchell, in page 47 of the Report, shows that a man with whom all had gone well prior to 1881 was boycotted in that year for letting out on hire agricultural machines to boycotted 1798 persons, and that he was persistently persecuted from 1881 to 1887. In the latter year his son, a boy of 11 years of age, going home with bread for his father, who had been two days without food, was attacked by three men, who hit him in his side with a large stone, which, to use Mitchell's expression, "rendered him worthless for his life." That was a case of outrage which was persisted in throughout the existence of the Land League and of the National League with a similar purpose and a like design. It is open to hon. Members opposite to maintain that the findings of the Commissioners on this point only concern ancient and musty history; but it is open to us to contend that the crime that existed at that time was exactly similar to the crime that led this House to pass the Crimes Act of 1887. Then another plea that has been set up by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian is that the very grave crimes that the Commissioners found had been committed were due to some other causes than agitation—such as iniquitous rents and evictions. The finding of the Commissioners, who have dealt with that argument, is, we are told, to be set aside on the ground that their finding is non-judicial; but, in my opinion, the evidence before the Commissioners showed that the crime that prevailed was due not to distress, iniquitous rents, and evictions, but to agitation. The Commissioners have given 16 instances of outrages in one part of their Report. In five of these instances men were shot for having paid their rent. What had those outrages to do with iniquitous rents or evictions? In another case a man was shot for buying out a tenant, and in two other cases men were shot for being caretakers. Thus, out of 16 instances of outrage, eight examples had no connection with iniquitous rents, evictions, or other agrarian wrongs. Then, the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian asks the House not to record these adverse findings, because, according to him, the agitation which occurred during the years to which the Commissioners allude did more good than harm by preventing rather than causing crime, and because that agitation brought about the passing of the Land Act of 1881. The policy of the Lind Act of 1881 may be open to a great deal of criticism. It was an exceptional 1799 Act, which ran counter to many ancient principles and to economic science. It was justifiable only if it was a measure resorted to in a great public emergency; but it became odious and oppressive if it was a concession to turbulence and crime. The right hon. Member for Mid Lothian told us that an agitation which led to all these results in the judgment of the Commissioners deserved, not the censure of the House, but to be passed by in silence, because it had led to the passing of the Land Act. This is the second time that the right hon. Gentleman has enunciated the most dangerous and disastrous doctrine that those who are guilty of crime, who commit outrages and make law and order impossible, are to be rewarded by the passing of an exceptional Act such as is not granted to any other class of the community. The right hon. Gentleman told us yesterday that the Act for the disestablishment of the Irish Church and the Land Act of 1870 were free gifts to the Irish people, and he drew a distinction between those Acts and the Act of 1881. But his memory misled him; for, on a previous occasion, he told his audience in Mid Lothian that it was the blowing up of Clerkenwell Prison and the murder of a policeman at Manchester that made the disestablishment of the Irish Church a practical question of politics. I be-lieve that the House of Commons will not accept that reasoning as sufficient to set aside the condemnatory findings of the Commissioners. The House will not admit that outrages and crime were really beneficial to the country because they brought about the Land Act of 1881. Then there is another question with regard to the connection that exists between the constitutional and lawful organisation in this country and the other organisations in America. With regard to that, the Commissioners have taught me many new facts which I did not know before. The Commissioners have taught me that the Clan-na-Gael is certainly as desperate and infamous a society as was ever known in history. It is a society which deliberately recommends the use of dynamite, and is continually engaged in the promotion of its use, and it is a society which rejected a man of the name of Collins as its temporary President, because he had been guilty of 1800 the enormous crime of offering a reward for the discovery of the Phoenix Park murderers. It has lately been distinguished by the facts that have appeared in connection with the trial of Dr. Cronin's murderers. Connected with that society is Mr. Patrick Ford, the editor of the Irish World. That is a newspaper which preaches the use of dynamite as a political weapon, and which suggested the laying in ashes of English towns, and advised that England ought to be plagued with all the plagues of Egypt, and that she ought to be scourged by day and terrorised by night, and wished success to the National League and more power to dynamite. The Clan-na-Gael and Mr. Patrick Ford and the Irish World were taken under the special protection of the Land League. Why was it that the Irish World was disseminated? Was there any social science to be learnt from that newspaper? Did it contain items of news which Irish readers could not obtain from any other source? What reason can ingenuity suggest why this paper was circulated by the Land League if it was not to accustom its readers to the kind of doctrine it advocated? I am unable to suggest any other reason for the anxiety to disseminate this paper throughout Ireland. It was not only disseminated, but the editor received the thanks of the hon. Member for Cork on the part of the Land League. The Secretary of the Land League in July,. 1881, declared—That the success of the cause is to be measured by the acceptance of its principles. When the Irish World is read in every hamlet in every county, it will be beyond the power of earth and hell to perpetuate landlordism in Ireland.It is found that the respondents did invite the assistance and co-operation of Patrick Ford and the Irish World, that they accepted his money, and that the payments made by him were received by various persons, including the respon-dents. It is found that the respondents invited the assistance and co-operation of the Clan-na-Gael in order to get help from it, and that the hon. Member for Cork in particular abstained from any denunciation or condemnation of the Irish World for that purpose. Forsooth, the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian compared that with the case of the 1801 different bodies of Catholics in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, when there were Catholics who were loyal, and others who were inspired from abroad to assassinate the Queen. If Lord Montagu and his son had taken the money of the criminal conspirators, if they had circulated their correspondence and disseminated their views in the way that the Land League did in regard to the Irish World, I would not have given five minutes' purchase for their lives. Then the action of the Clan-na-Gael is also stated for us by the Commissioners. The Clan-na-Gael sent dynamitards to this country in 1883. One was named Lomasney, and the other, Dr. Gallagher, is still alive in this country. Then it is said that from 1883 to 1885 there was a lull in the outrages that occurred; because, as stated in one of the circulars of the Clan-na-Gael, a more active policy would be perilous to the leaders of the public movement in this country. This was the most disinterested friendship on the part of the Clan-na-Gael. Then, on December 16, 1885, there appeared in the Leeds Mercury, after a good many rumours, the first announcement of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian's famous scheme of Home Rule. Then began the first dawning of those sweet hopes which we are told will bring about a union of hearts and peace and prosperity to Ireland. No doubt the Clan-na-Gael was informed by telegraph what had happened, for two days after they issued a curious circular in which they announced their readiness to accept Home Rule, because they would have their friends in the Castle, and the plant of an armed revolution, and they recognised Home Rule as a step in the progress of their own designs. Then on December 23 there is another circular of an equally interesting character, in which it is said—We expect to resume active operations after the present exigencies of the Constitutional Party are passed.Here is a touching support given by the Clan-na-Gael to the Parliamentary Party. The Clan-na-Gael said they purposely abstained from doing anything which would embarrass the Constitutional Party during the crisis of the elections. As soon as the exigencies of the Constitutional Party demanded it the Clan-na-Gael ceased its outrages, and when the 1802 exigencies of the Constitutional Party no longer demanded it they declared their readiness to begin again.
§ MR. MATTHEWS
"We expect to resume active operations after the present exigencies of the Constitutional Party are passed." They declare their readiness to begin again. It is a finding that cannot be passed over in silence. All these findings show the connection between the organisation which claimed at home to be a Constitutional organisation and the Clan-na-Gael, with Patrick Ford and his newspaper, the Irish World, at their back. It appears that these persons in America held the "throttle valve of crime" in their hand, and were ready to turn on and turn off steam as it suited the exigencies of the party in this country and the leaders of the open movement. I do not in the least wish to withhold from the record of the Commission that the hon. Member for Cork was not aware that the Clan-na Gael had by a contrivance, explained in the Report, obtained control of the American organisations. That is perfectly true; but the observation does not controvert the fact that there is in America a body of persons perfectly lost to all the ordinary rules that govern men, perfectly regardless of what duty and morality require, and who are ready to interrupt or continue proceedings—which must be characterised as desperate and criminal—just as it suits the purposes and desires of the so-called Constitutional Party in this country. Is the House of Commons to pass by these facts without notice? The excuses that have been made for these things seem to me to make the matter worse. That facts so grave and so alarming as these found by the Commissioners are palliated and excused on such grounds as have been set forth by the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian seems to me to make it more than ever necessary that they should be recorded on the Journals of this House for the instruction of the country.
§ (5.40.) MR. H. H. FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)
I think the course of this debate, and especially the speech to which we have just listened, shows most conclusively both the unfairness and the unwisdom of using the weapon of the Criminal Law for the purpose of attacking our political 1803 opponents or for dealing with political issues. The whole of the Debate hitherto, so far as it has gone, on the other side has been a systematic attempt to insinuate to the House that the character of hon. Members from Ireland who sit below the Gangway is unworthy, unconstitutional, criminal, and of a censurable description, and quietly, without saying it openly, speeches are being made which are speeches against any change of Government in Ireland supported by those hon. Members. Now that seems to me an extraordinary position to take up, because if I entertained their view— the view of the so-called Unionist Party —and if the Commissioners had found that not one single line of censure ought to be distributed to these hon. Members, if they had eulogised them as patriots of the highest order and had commended every act and speech of the respondents, it would not affect by a hair's breadth my opposition to Home Rule. The character of the men is immaterial; in the issue you are dealing with a nation, and leaders come and leaders go; but the great Constitutional question remains. But dealing with a great Constitutional question, I think it is most unfortunate, most unfair, one of the most unfair things in this inquiry, thus imparting into a political question the weapon of the Criminal Law, endeavouring to fight those to whom we are politically opposed by charges of criminal offences which, if you believe them to be true, it is your bounden duty to follow up by a Motion to expel the accused Members from the House. Now, last night the President of the Board of Trade made the following remark—On our side we believe that the Report contains condemnation as well as acquittal, and we think it right and just to record both.Condemnation and acquittal! Yes, but for what are the respondents condemned and of what are they acquitted? The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. H. Smith) last night gave us a history—and he was quite right in giving us that history—of the circumstances under which this Commission was instituted, and he very properly said we could not appreciate the findings of the Commission unless we recalled to recollection the circumstances under which that Commission was issued. I propose to supply one or two points that the right hon. Gentleman 1804 did not refer to My hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Lockwood) has to-night called attention to one or two passages which form the basis of the original charge, but I think the House should have a rather more extended prospect put before it of what was the original charge in Parnellism and Crime, and what was the charge which the Attorney General made in "O'Donnell v. Walter." It was these two together that formed the basis or instruction for the inquiry ordered by Parliament. Let us see whether the main objects for which this inquiry was directed are not the objects upon which hon. Members have been acquitted. I am going to give the House four or five quotations. I will not repeat the quotations my hon. and learned Friend has given, although his contention is singularly illustrated by the speech just made, namely, that the Times in its first article said that treason was not the main charge against the hon. Member for Cork and his friends—Treason in these days of flabby tolerance is leniently regarded as personal indiscretion. We regard that as one proof of the decay of public opinion.And the article goes on to say they have to deal with something more serious, and they go on to connect their accusation against Irish Members with murder from first to last. They stated the Land League was a movement based on a scheme of assassination "carefully calculated and coolly applied." They stated—it cannot be repeated too often— that the League was provided with funds by the murderers who shared their councils, and that murderers had gone from the League offices to set out on their bloody work, and returned to consult the Constitutional leaders on the progress of the cause. The next quotation I will give is one we have not heard very much about. I do not recollect if any evidence was produced in regard to it, but it is absolutely rejected in the findings. A distinct charge was made in Parnellism and Crime that the hon. Member for Cork, when he was let out of prison in order to attend a funeral in Paris, at a meeting with Land League members at Willesden, was made cognisant of the intended Phoenix Park murders. That is clearly set out on page 24 of Parnellism and Crime, and though it is not 1805 stated in the words I have used, the innuendo is clear and conclusive. Then again, on page 29, it is stated that Carey's evidence did not directly confirm, the universal conviction that prevailed, that the League controlled the throttle valve of crime. The right hon. Gentleman said just now that that control was with the Clan-na-Gael. Here the charge is that Members of this House were actually accessories to the crime. In another passage the Times says —Not only was this murder club organised by one of Mr. Parnell's official chief organisers, but its victims were selected by Mr. Parnell's organisation.Then we have a charge distinctly bearing on Members of this House. The Times says —We have seen how Mr. Parnell's 'Constitutional organisation' was planned by Fenian brains, founded on a Fenian loan, and reared by Fenian hands; how the infernal fabric 'rose like an exhalation' to the sound of murderous oratory; how assassins guarded it about and enforced the high decrees of the secret conclave within by the bullet and the knife. Of that conclave to-day three members sit in the Imperial Parliament; four are fugitives from the law; against one a true bill for murder stands recorded: all the exiles consort with professed assassins since their flight. It remains to show that the 'distinguished representatives' at home have continuously maintained their relations with the murderers who fled and the murderers who harbour them.Then, on page 36, we find that the evidence put forward by the Times hasRevealed nearly all the chief Members of the first Home Rule Ministry—Mr. Parnell himself, Mr. Justin M'Carthy, Mr. T. P. O'Connor, Mr. Sexton, Mr. Arthur O'Connor, Mr. Healy, Mr. Biggar, the Messrs. Redmond, Mr. William O'Brien, and Davitt—in trade and traffic with avowed dynamiters, and known contrivers of murder.Those were the charges which Lord Salisbury said sent a thrill through the country, and which induced Parliament to interfere. When the Attorney General addressed the Court in the case of "O'Donnell v. Walter" he repeated those charges, and stated that they were the very worst libels which could be brought against a public man. The First Lord of the Treasury quoted some extracts from Lord Coleridge's judgment, but the most important extract was not given by him. Lord Coleridge says—The charges made against them were charges of complicity in murder, that they shut their eyes when crime was contemplated; 1806 in some cases they actually knew that murder was going to take place, and on other occasions they were present when murder was being talked about and did not disavow it.As the Lord Chief Justice summed up the charges he said the main issue was whether parnellism was sustained on murder, rapine, and robbery. Those were the facts which were brought before Parliament, and which caused Lord Salisbury to say that they sent a thrill through the country—not what the late Mr. Forster said in 1881 or 1882, not the ravings of the Irish World or the Irishman, or any other newspaper of the kind. They created no indignation; we have heard them over and over again. What did send a thrill through the country was the charge that men on these Benches were contrivers and accomplices in murder. The debate on the Commission Bill in the House of Lords was distinguished by a speech from Lord Herschell which I will venture to say if delivered in this House would have stopped the progress of the Bill. It was an admirable masterly statement of the objections to the Bill, and every one of the noble Lord's prophecies has been implicitly fulfilled. But after Lord Herschell, Lord Carnarvon rose to call attention to the subject matter of the Bill, and he said—Your Lordships will remember that about April or May last year there appeared in the Times a series of charges which were followed up by the publication of a letter in fac simile of Mr. Parnell's writing. 'Such a charge happily had never been made before, and such a charge had never been attempted to be substantiated in the same way.Then he went on to discuss the reasons for appointing a Commission. He alluded to the fact that it would not be appointed to discuss any ordinary case, but an extraordinary and exceptional case. He said—I can conceive nothing so ruinous to the fair fame of the House of Commons as to allow such a charge as this to remain unsettled. Consider what it really means. It means that you have a large section of the House of Commons so condoning and so conniving at the most hideous crimes that they become participators in those crimes. I can only recall two cases in any degree analagous to this state of things in the whole history of the House of Commons. In the beginning of the last century you had a large Jacobite Party in the House of Commons. There were many serious and grave charges levelled against them, and history has failed to clear up many points. They were pledged to upset, if they could, the 1807 present dynasty. They plotted with outside opponents of the existing state of things, and grave charges were brought against them. But I venture to think none of those charges were so grave as that with which we have to deal at the present moment.What does he mean but the charge of murder? I am sure the right hon. Gentleman who gave us an exaggerated statement of the doings of the Clan-na-Gael will admit that the charges are graver than those against the Jacobite Party. Lord Carnarvon went on:—At the close of the same century, there was a Party in the House of Commons who sympathised warmly with the French Revolution, and whose language carried them to the extreme verge of disloyalty to the Crown and the country. But no one ever brought such a charge against them as has been repeatelly and unequivocally levelled against the followers of Mr. Parnell.What did he mean by that? He was dealing with the charge of murder, and nothing else. Now my argument is this, that the real purpose for which the Commission was constituted—I think it was an un-Constitutional tribunal; I think it was an unfortunate tribunal— but the real object for which it was constituted was to find out whether there was any truth in the fact that the Irish Members were knowingly guilty of complicity with murder, and every one of the charges has been proved to be absolutely worthless and baseless. The Irish Members are acquitted of complicity with murder, of a knowledge of the Phœnix Park murder, and of associating with known murderers, of providing money to allow criminals to escape from justice; and if this is so then it justifies the position we take up, that the main object of the Commission being to find out whether they were guilty or not guilty, and those hon. Members having been pronounced to be not guilty, it is the duty of the House specially to record, in the language of the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian, what the House thinks of such charges, falsely and foully made against the Irish Members without a tittle of evidence to support them, and which ought not to have been made or listened to for a moment. The First Lord of the Treasury said that the House is precluded by the terms of the Act from inflicting any criminal penalties, or indeed any penalty whatever, on the incriminated persons. But I ask the right hon. Gentleman, as Guardian of 1808 the House of Commons, himself a mans of spotless honour and integrity, whether, if the Judges had found those men guilty of murder, if they had found that the hon. Member for Cork knew of the Phœnix Park murder, he would have abstained from moving his expulsion from the House. If the right hon. Gentleman omitted to perform this duty, then I can tell him that we on these Benches would have done it. And no technical objection ought to stand in the way of the House of Commons vindicating its own fair fame and character. What are the other charges? The Home Secretary has gone through them, but there is nothing new in them. Those who remember the memorable evening when Mr. Forster, standing where the noble Lord the Member for Paddington now sits, made his tremendous speech, will come to the conclusion that there is nothing in the Report of a graver character than was uttered by Mr. Forster at that time. The worst charges which Mr. Forster made, how have they been dealt with by the Judges? The Judges have found that the Irish Members are innocent of them. I remember that one of the first things I heard on coming into the House was a speech from a right hon. Gentleman now sitting opposite, the First Commissioner of Works (Mr. Plunket), and I am sorry that now we seldom hear that accomplished oratory we all admire so much. I remember the First Commissioner of Works denouncing with tremendous force, and with his almost inimitable rhetoric, the whole Plan and Campaign of the Irish League. He dwelt on the points which the Home Secretary has been dwelling upon to-night; but the House of Commons is familiar with all this; there is nothing new about it. The House of Commons knows this thing as it knows its multiplication table. We remember the "leper" speech, in which the hon. Member for Cork said that if a man committed any offence as a land-grabber he should be treated as a leper. There is, I think, hardly a debate in 1881 and 1883 in which that "leper" speech is not quoted over and over again. So far as these things are concerned, there is nothing new. But, before dealing with the main part of the charge, I want to refer to what the Home Secretary has said, first upon the law of conspiracy, 1809 and, secondly, upon the Clan-na-Gael. The Home Secretary said—It is true these hon. Gentlemen did not incite to murder, but they made speeches which caused murder, and knowing that murder would be the result, they are responsible;and he gave us these illustrations—If," he said, "I know a bridge is rotten and I send a person over the bridge, and he loses his life, or if I know a dish is poisoned and I invite a man to partake of it and he loses his life, I am responsible. And so in like manner hon. Members are responsible for the crime which followed their speeches.True, if they knew that crime would follow their speeches; but the Judges say they did not know it. They say that the charges have not been substantiated, that no proof has been given, and that they do not believe that there was any intention on the part of the respondents, or any of them, to procure murder; and, further, that those who used the most dangerous language did not intend to cause murder. Therefore, the charge of constructive murder and constructive knowledge of murder goes to the winds. Then, as to the Clan-na-Gael, I recognise the zeal and impartiality with which the Judges discharged their difficult duties, and the Report, as a whole, is a signal monument of the uprightness of English Judges. But the Attorney General and the right hon. Gentleman know that nothing is more usual than to move for a new trial on the ground of misdirection or mistake in point of law, or, where a Judge is sitting without a jury, on the ground that the decision is wrong. Now, the whole of the Clan-na-Gael case, as I understand it, depends on the evidence of Lo Caron, or rather the man Beach. The learned Judges believed Le Caron. With all respect for them, I do not believe him; and if I had been sitting on a jury and Le Caron had been brought forward as a witness, I would have rejected his evidence. I do not believe there is a single Judge on the Bench, including the three Commissioners, who would have directed a jury to find a man guilty of a capital offence on Le Caron's evidence. Le Caron was, by his own admission, a perjurer. He made one statement about the hon. Member for Cork so preposterous, absurd, and ridiculous that any person who has the slightest knowledge of the hon. Member for Cork would reject that statement. 1810 He said that in the Lobby of this House the hon. Member for Cork told him—a perfect stranger just arrived from America—that he did not see any reason why a successful insurrectionary movement could not be inaugurated in Ireland, as they would soon have, £100,000 in the Land League funds ! Well, I have heard many charges brought against the hon. Member for Cork, but I never heard any man call him a fool, and he would certainly have been worse than a fool or a lunatic outside Bedlam if he had made any such statement. No, I reject that as the invention of a liar; I reject it all the more as Le Caron admitted that he had committed perjury on various occasions. What is the real point of the case? It is that there was boycotting and that there was intimidation. The Judges have found that the hon. Member for Cork and his allies have been guilty of boycotting of a severe and drastic character. I do not question that finding at all. I believe, under the instrumentality of the Land League and the working of the scheme, there has been boycotting. I never heard hon. Members below the Gangway deny that there was boycotting or that there were other crimes besides boycotting. There was agrarian crime. If you go back into the history of Ireland for the last 30 or 40 years, yon will find that agrarian crime was prevalent; you will find instances by the hundred. There was agrarian crime during the famine and whenever there were evictions. But the Judges did not touch upon that point. They did not find whether there was any cause for boycotting or agrarian crime. It was very much as if, after a great railway accident, an inspector should be sent down to ascertain whether there was an accident and how many were killed, but he was not to inquire into the cause of the accident, into the working of the line, or the quality of the materials used. It was an essential part of an inquiry into agrarian crime, to inquire also what were the causes; and so it was an essential part of the inquiry into boycotting to inquire into its causes. The Home Secretary told us that the Judges had found that agrarian crime followed boycotting. But anyone who knows Ireland must know that the figures they gave are absolutely worthless. The Judges carried their inquiry down only to 1879. I do not know 1811 whether that was by arrangement of counsel on both sides; I understand that it was by arrangement that they terminated their inquiry at 1886. Here is a statement I will give to the House—In 1879, again, there is another famine. In that year the country was paying £1,001,888 in taxes for the support of its poor, against £523,000 20 years before. It was paying £117,275 in outdoor relief alone, against £3,239 in 1859. According to the Local Government Report, the number of poor actually in the Workhouses reached 59,870 in February, 1880, the highest number during the famine of 1846 having been 51,302. In the spring of 1880, there was the enormous number of 117,454 persons receiving relief at the expense of the taxpayers, many of the latter themselves being little removed above the necessities of relief.
§ MR. H. H. FOWLER
Prom Mr. J. A. Fox's book. Let us think of the half a million of people who, in two years, perished miserably in the Workhouses or on the wayside—more than have fallen by the sword in any of our wars; let us think of the crop of horrors which is now growing up in Ireland, the disastrous fruit of which may be gathered in years to come! One whose absence we all deplore, the noble Lord the Member for Rossendale, dealing in 1883 with the Conservative attacks upon him for this lawless agitation, which they said the Government ought to put down, said—Lawless agitation was brought prominently forward; but had there been nothing in Ireland in the past two or three years but lawless agitation? Were there no grievances, no confiscations of the tenants improvements, no evictions for impossible rents? Was there no general opinion, not only among the disaffected as well as the most respectable classes in Ireland, that judicial interference in some shape was required to settle the relations between the landlords and the tenants? The evidence of this opinion did not rest only on the Report of Lord Ressborough's Commission, but on the Report of the Agricultural Commission, the Duke of Richmond's Commission, and on the opinion of almost every person entitled to speak with authority on the affairs of Ireland.Lord Hartington says that in 1883 there were causes for agitation. The Judges say—It is not our business to inquire, it is not our duty.And they are right. Mr. Tuke, who is an impartial witness, writing in 1880, says—In South Mayo, from Westport eastward, the chief landlords are nearly all non-residents 1812 —five or more—whose total rentals taken out of the country cannot be less than £80,000 a year. … It is in South Mayo that the great seat of disturbance exists, and where, as I have noticed, the largest body of police is quartered, and where there are many men who dare not stir out of their houses without their escorts.I will not multiply illustrations. There was a great deal we ought to condemn, regret, and deplore. But behind these acts there was something far worse— there was the worst land system of Europe, under which the property of the tenants was confiscated and the tenants evicted. The people were put into a state of constant antagonism to the law; and can you wonder that they refused to become informers to assist the law? The landlords of Ireland neglected the rule that property has its duties as well as its rights. The Home Secretary referred to the observation of my right hon. Friend (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) that great reforming and political movements are accompanied by crime. He said the doctrine was odious, detestable, dangerous, and disastrous. Let us look a little into English History. I should like to ask my right hon. Friend, who I suppose is the only man in this House who remembers, whether there was not crime connected -with the agitation for the Reform Bill? Was not Bristol in flames, and Nottingham in flames? Was there not immense destruction of property? Did not the men of Birmingham threaten to march on London? Was there not a correspondence—perhaps some day it will come out—with Joe Parker, of Birmingham, afterwards rewarded by a post in Chancery, and who in after years wrote on the authorship of the Letters of Junius? Was there not correspondence between the responsible Ministers of the Crown and the organisers of the Birmingham Unions with reference to the carrying of the Reform Bill? We are told that a great many of the tenants will not pay the landlords' rents. I am sure the Home Secretary, with his high Constitutional opinions, will say that the Queen's taxes come before rent. What were the placards in London?—"No taxes paid here until the Bill is passed." I find in Roebuck's History of the Whig Ministry, that when the tax gatherer called, not on Radical agitators in Birmingham, not upon one of the despised Members of the Irish Party, but 1813 upon the heir to the great Earldom of Fitzwilliam, Lord Milton "requested the tax gatherer to call again because he was not certain that circumstances might not arise which would oblige him to resist their payment." And the Tory Members came down in those days, as now, and asked the noble Lord if he admitted the truth of the statement. "Certainly," said Lord Milton; and in the presence of the House of Commons he declared that he would not pay the tax. I am not defending any one of these things. I say they are part of the history of the country. It is all nonsense to attempt to separate this political movement from other political movements. It is wrong, I know—I agree with the Home Secretary that it is odious, it is dangerous, and sometimes disastrous—that Governments and Parliaments will not concede to reason what they do concede to revolution. But the men who are responsible for revolutions are not the men who rise; they are the men of the obstinate, stupid, hard-hearted, hard-headed Governments who say non possumus to everything, and resist, resist, resist until resistance is too late. You talk about taxes. I will give you an illustration. During the agitation for the great Reform Bill, the then Lord Chancellor had a young brother, subsequently Lord Brougham, who went to South-wark in London. He said—Something has been said about not paying taxes. A resolution to that effect would be highly illegal. People may individually refuse without rendering themselves amenable to the law.I am afraid the Home Secretary would call that constructive conspiracy. This is a great dignitary speaking. He says—If the tax gatherer calls upon me and asks you to settle his little bill for taxes, I may say to him in reply, 'I have got a little bill of my own which I should like to have settled by gentlemen down at Westminster, and who owe it me, and unless that little bill of mine be satisfactorily settled, you must never expect me to settle this.'Sir, there were men in those days, like the Home Secretary and the Attorney General, who were very angry with this tampering with the law. And in the last debate which took place in this House on the Reform Bill, one of the most distinguished Members of the Tory Party, Mr. Mackworth Praed, said— 1814When the means by which recent events have been accomplished are stated there will be no blacker page than that which records the passing of this Bill in our history.I commend that language to the Home-Secretary. Can there be anything stronger? "No blacker page" even than all these charges about the Clan-na-Gael and the Land League agitation. It was an agitation in which the whole of the leaders of the Whig Party, and nearly half the aristocracy of the country, were involved, and the country was within 24 hours of revolution. Another illustration occurs to me with reference to the Corn Laws. Hon. Members may, perhaps, not be aware that Sir James Graham, then Home Secretary, sent down a Commission to Manchester to see whether he could not prosecute Cobden and Bright. He saw the folly of attempting a prosecution. In the presence of my illustrious Colleague and his true and legitimate heir, I say that the most memorable thing Sir Robert Peel ever did was, not the abolition of the Corn Laws, in reference to which he said—Hereafter my name will be associated with the untaxed food of the people,was not the breaking up of a party—for no great movement has ever yet been gained without breaking up a party—but the greatest thing Sir Robert Peel ever did was, after hearing Cobden make his speech, and Sidney Herbert come up and asked him to answer it, to say—"That speech is unanswerable." It convinced his reason and his judgment, and he achieved the highest statesmanship and highest patriotism in carrying out that great measure, which, if it had not been passed, would have caused bloodshed and turmoil in the country. But how have we dealt with Ireland? The Home Secretary speaks of the odious, detestable, dangerous, and disastrous results of my right hon. Friend with reference to the Crimes Act. I was not a Member of the Cabinet of 1881. I do not know what induced them to bring in that measure; but, if my recollection serves me right, the Duke of Argyll left that Cabinet because that Irish Land legislation constituted no part of the programme of that Cabinet when it was formed. But I will take a cautious statesman from either House. I will 1815 take, first, the Chairman of Committees in this House. He said—Speaking broadly, nothing has been done in justice to Ireland, simply because she demanded it. Successive steps of justice have been taken. Why? Because we could no longer resist.Then, what did Lord Derby, not a man likely to give way to what the Home Secretary calls an odious and detestable doctrine, say?—Fixity of tenure in Irelend is the direct result of two causes—Irish outrage and Party obstruction.Lord Derby is not def ending outrage and Party obstruction; he is simply making a philosophic statement of fact. Any man who sat in this House in 1880 knows as well as I know that if it had not been for Irish agitation and Irish outrage, we should never have had the Irish Land Act. I say, in passing judgment upon Irish Members, the Government should bear in mind not only what they have done, but they should also recollect the circumstances in which they are placed. The Judges did not inquire whether the acts were palliated. If anyone will read the history of Ireland, the story of her agrarian life, I think they will find that if anything will palliate even the most serious crime, it is to be found in that history. Condemn the Irish Members if you like for being associated with the National League, condemn them for boycotting, for their foolish speeches, and all the nonsense which they have spoken and written, yet they can point to the Land Act of 1881, to Lord Ashbourne's Act, 1885, to the Arrears Act, 1882, and to your Land Act of 1887 as triumphs they have achieved. You may enter upon the Journals of this House, I have no doubt you will with your majority, the Report which you believe is condemnatory of them, but as long as those Journals retain, as they will retain, the fact of those great measures, Irish Members will have something to point to in those Journals calling for the gratitude of their country, and which will far outweigh any censure by a Party majority of this House.
§ (6.29.) MR. ELLIOTT LEES (Oldham)
Mr. Speaker, I should like to say a few words upon the Report and upon the propositions to which I am asked to give my consent. I find my 1816 consent is asked by the leader of this House to the adoption of this Report; and I am asked by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) to express my reprobation of these false charges brought against the hon. Member for Cork. By the hon. Baronet I am asked to deplore the guilt which has been brought home to several Members of this House in connection with conspiracy and criminal conspiracy. I should like, if I were able, to adopt every one of these propositions. I should like to adopt the Report, and I should also, by my vote, like to adopt the view of the right, hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, who expresses satisfaction that the charge against the hon. Member for Cork has been disproved. I should further like to assent to the proposition of the hon. Baronet opposite that we should thank the Commissioners for the zeal with which they have discharged their duty. But I am placed in a difficulty. The Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian is not merely a constructive Amendment. It is also a destructive Amendment. It asks us to leave out the pith of the Resolution moved by the First Lord of the Treasury, and not to adopt the Report of the Commissioners. I think the right hon. Gentleman must have had some inscrutable reason for taking this particular line. He has told us that he is an old Parliamentary hand. We all know that there is no more expert political tactician than the right hon. Gentleman. Well, for some reason or other, he has, by the terms of his Amendment, rendered it impossible for me, agreeing with him as I do, to express that agreement by my vote. I suppose he also had some reason for devoting the greater part of his speech not to the finding of the Commissioners as to the forged letters, but to the task of discrediting the finding of the Commissioners on the other charges submitted to them. Before I go on to those matters, I should like, most fully and most heartily, to express my satisfaction that the most important charge against the hon. Member for Cork has been conclusively disproved by the authority of these three Judges. The charge, I admit, was calumnious and ought never to have been brought. I admit, as fully as any hon. Member opposite could do, the criminal recklessness with which it was 1817 brought; and I say that before such a charge was made, every link in the chain of evidence upon which it was founded, ought to have been submitted to the closest scrutiny and to the most careful test. But that was not done. I rejoice that a Member of the greatest Legislative Assembly in the world—I rejoice that a Member of the British House of Commons—has been proved innocent of the charge of having, by proxy, struck knives into the hearts of Lord Frederick Cavendish and Mr. Burke. Years hence, when we look back to the events of the present day, free from private interests, free from prejudices and partialities, I am sure we shall all rejoice that a Member of our own Body has been acquitted of such a charge. I am able to say this, perhaps with the more justification, because from the very first I dissociated myself from the charges that were brought by the Times newspaper. At that time I declared in this House that we ought to consider hon. Members from Ireland innocent until they had been proved guilty. Two years ago, also, I invited hon. Members to assent to the granting of the Commission on the ground that if they could disprove this charge they would produce a great revulsion of feeling in the country. I think we must admit that they did produce a great revulsion of feeling when the charge was disproved, but how did they fritter it away? It is no part of my duty to advise hon. Members as to their political tactics, but never did an important party on an occasion of the very highest importance throw away such an opportunity. I should have thought that hon. Members above the Gangway would have contrived to prevent the opportunity being thrown away. What occurred? Hon. Members came down here naturally in a spirit of triumph and exultation over the dramatic incident which had taken place in the Commission Court when Pigott was proved to be the forger. They exhibited much triumph and exultation. That was of course all right and proper, although perhaps a little moderation might have been more dignified; but when they went on to take a mean revenge by attacking the personal honour of two Gentlemen— the Attorney General and the First Lord of the Treasury, whose personal honour stands as high or higher than that of 1818 any other two men in this House—then I think that even those who had sym-pathised most deeply with hon. Members opposite felt that, after all, they were not men of such delicacy of feeling as that even such attacks as they had been subjected to would have caused them very poignant anguish. I therefore say that hon. Members opposite threw away their chance upon that occasion. Before I pass on to discuss other points contained in the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, I should like to refer to the Amendment of the hon. Baronet opposite, thanking the Commissioners for the zeal which they have displayed. I think we do owe our sincere thanks to the Commissioners for the manner in which they have conducted the inquiry and written their Report. That they are men of ability and integrity goes without saying, because they are English Judges. The right hon. Gentleman opposite has accused them of unconscious partiality, but I submit he had no right whatever to bring such a charge against them. We owe them thanks for the language in which they have drawn up their Report. The document might have been made a triumph of literary skill, or a model of legal learning; but, instead of that, it is couched in language of almost Biblical simplicity, written so that he who runs may read, and every elector can, if he chooses, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest every word of the Report, and form his conclusion as to the finding of the Commission. I now come to the objections raised by the right hon. Gentleman to our adoption of the Report. He asks whether we shall adopt the Report without having read the evidence. But surely our very contention in granting the Commission was that the House of Commons itself was not a Body fitted to inquire into the value of the evidence in cases of this nature, but that it would be better to submit such evidence to three impartial Judges. Upon the verdict of those Judges we are content to rest. It would be impossible for us, without re-trying the whole case, to consider the evidence, because part of the evidence is the manner in which it is given, and the simple perusal of printed evidence might convey an imperfect and wrong idea as to what had passed in the Court. There was one part of the right 1819 hon. Gentleman's speech to which I listened with great astonishment. In dealing with that portion of the Report in which the Judges find that certain Members of the Irish Party were guilty of an attempt to separate Ireland from England, he talked about the evils of the Act of Union, which Act, he said, had been productive of great misery to Ireland.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
If the hon. Gentleman desires, I will refresh his memory. I spoke of the means by which the Act of Union had been procured, and after detailing those means, I said one could not wonder if Irishmen stated that the Act of Union was devoid of moral authority. On the effects of the Act of Union I did not say a single word.
§ MR. LEES
I entirely accept and welcome the right hon. Gentleman's statement. It seems to me to strengthen my argument, for we have said on our side that the effect of destroying the Act of Union would be to bring about a complete separation of Ireland from this country. We have before us a finding of the Judges that certain Members have worked to bring about that separation, and the right hon. Gentleman simply meets that charge by pointing to the means by which the Act of Union was brought about. Surely the Report shows there has been something more than a mere attempt to destroy the Act of Union—that there has been Treason to the Queen, and treason to the United Kingdom; and when I heard the right hon. Gentleman talk about the Act of Union in connection with the finding of the Judges, winding up as he did with one of the finest perorations, I was reminded of the speech which he delivered last summer in this House, and in which he said he hoped that, after a long career spent in the service of the people, he had not forgotten the duty he owed to the Crown. He illustrated his contention by alluding to the behaviour of the Roman Catholics in the time of Queen Elizabeth, and he reminded us that Roman Catholics then were loyal to the Crown, but did not think it necessary to expose conspiracies entered into by members of their body who were not loyal to the Crown. But is that to justify 1820 the conduct of hon. Members opposite in the present day? If so, the Government would be equally justified in dealing with hon. Members in a very curious way, and probably did the methods of the days of Queen Elizabeth still prevail, many of them would make a much closer acquaintance with Tower Green, and even the right hon. Gentleman himself might possibly see something of the small archway which leads from the Thames to the Tower. I refuse altogether to admit that the end can in any way justify the means, although that was really the line of argument which ran through the right hon. Gentleman's speech. According to the right hon. Gentleman, the hon. Member for the City of Cork would have been justified in writing the letter which has been proved to be a forgery; he would have been justified in doing what the right hon. Gentleman has himself described as a vile, cowardly, and hypocritical act —there is no extent of atrocity which you cannot justify by this argument, provided always that you can connect that atrocity with political agitation. The same argument ran through the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton—it was that because a movement was of a political nature therefore all crime committed by those who professed to follow the leaders of the movement was not to be repudiated or condemned by Members of this House. It is useless to put forward the argument that history has justified such crime and such methods of advancing political opinion. The question is not whether history has justified them; but whether this House is, by refusing to adopt the Report, to signify its approval of such methods? I listened with great interest, and with some emotion, as I suppose other Members did, to the peroration of the right hon. Gentleman last night. He appealed to our consciences; he appealed to us as men to commune with our hearts in the silence of our chambers. He asked us to be guided solely by conscience, and not by political feeling or prejudice. I must admit I have had a great temptation with regard to the vote I shall deliver on this question. I have been tempted to gain a brief notoriety by voting for the Amendment of the right hon. Gentlement; and I could have so voted with 1821 less inconsistency than many hon. Members on this side, because of the stress which, at the time the Commission was proposed, I laid on the immensity and gravity of that charge against the hon. Member for Cork which has been disproved. Had I yielded to the temptation, I should have been lauded by the ubiquitous Press of hon. Gentlemen opposite. I should have been treated as the one honest hero on the Conservative side of the House; but when I communed with my heart in my chamber, when I appealed to my conscience, I felt that in spite of the gravity of the charge against the hon. Member for Cork, which has been disproved, the crimes of which hon. Members opposite have been found guilty are not crimes which we, as the upright rulers of an honest country, ought to consider trivial or unfit to be condemned.
§ (6.55.) MR. PICTON (Leicester)
The hon. Member for Oldham seems to be in an uncertain state of mind; and although he has alluded to his conscience, I venture to suggest, with all respect, that he appears to have been striving against the dictates of that conscience. Undoubtedly he was, like the rest of us, much moved by the magnificent speech we heard last night; and what the hon. Member has just said reminds me of the experience of a certain character in Scripture, who trembled when he heard the Apostle speak on righteousness and the judgment to come, but who afterwards, when he communed with his own heart, thought better of it and refused to yield. I am afraid that that has been the experience of the hon. Member. His hesitating speech also reminded me of the saying of another listener to the words of righteousness, "almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian." The hon. Member was almost persuaded to go into the Lobby with us. I wish he had been quite persuaded, for he would thereby have gained not a little brief notoriety, but a just fame for having followed the dictates of conscience in a political controversy. I am afraid that hon. Members have not realised the solemnity of the appeal made to their consciences. But perhaps before this Debate is concluded hon. Members opposite will listen to the voice within, and vote, not as mere politicians, but as gentlemen and as men. The speeches 1822 we have heard from those Benches seem to have been intended to work up a feeling of moral indignation for which there are no materials, while the speakers have carefully shirked the elements that exist for explosive indignation against the real crime which has been perpetrated, and of which they dread to speak. What do the charges on which the Irish Members have not been pronounced absolutely innocent amount to? They amount to political indiscretion; to a want of a proper sense of proportion between means and end; to an insufficient apprehension of their responsibility for results which might accrue from the desperation of the Irish people after sufferings for which the National Members had no responsibility whatever, but which have come upon them through the indiscretion of their rulers. Speakers opposite have been challenged to express their indignation by passing some sort of censure or sentence upon the National Members. Through the lips of the leader of the House they make their excuse he talks of certificates of indemnity which the Royal Commission were authorised to grant, and on this ground he says it would be highly improper for them to pass any sentence upon any Member of the House. But who has asked for a certificate of indemnity? I believe the informers of the Times newspaper have; but I am not aware that any Nationalist Member has. There is no reason given which justifies the inaction of the Government. Then, the right hon. Gentleman the leader of the House in the course of his speech referred in feeling terms to one gentleman, not a Member of this House, whose history is in some respects a most tragic one—I allude to Mr. Davitt. The right hon. Gentleman distinguished him—as the Commissioners do—on account of the earnestness with which he personally had endeavoured to "discourage crime." "He is the one man," said the right hon. Gentleman, "who discouraged crime." Yes, Sir; and he is the one man amongst those accused who has suffered most from the savagery and cruelty of our unreasonable laws. This is the man who was condemned to a long period of penal servitude, as if he had committed some atrocious crime. This is the man who, if I remember rightly, 1823 was harnessed like a beast to a cart and used as a mere slave. This is the man who is now distinguished even from Members of Parliament as being superior to them on the ground that he discouraged crime; and yet for this man— I know that both parties are to blame— the law could find nothing better years ago than to send him to a felon's prison. What statesmanship is this, I should like to know? Surely this terrible history ought to be a lesson to us. In future, we ought to know better how to deal with the heroes of Irish emancipation. We are told that if Mr. Davitt's advice had been taken much suffering and misery would have been saved to Ireland. With those words I agree; but I make a very different application of them than seems to have been in the and of the right hon. Gentleman opposite. Mr. Davitt's advice was not given to the tenants only, but to landlords and rulers; and if that advice had been taken by the Government undoubtedly very much suffering and misery would have been saved. But, Sir, there is another branch of the subject in regard to which it seems to me the judgment of the Government is altogether at fault. They do not seem to have observed the testimony contained in the judgment of the Commissioners themselves—undesignedly, I think—to the influence exerted for years past by the hon. Member for Cork and the Land League in favour of constitutional as distinguished from unconstitutional action. The Commissioners insist on beginning the history of the affairs of Ireland from the year 1879, and what was the state of things then? Every one knows that the records of that unfortunate country for many years previous to that time were full of bloodshed, crime, and disorder; there was little, if any, constitutional movement. We have had references to the inseparability of violence from revolutionary movements; but there is one special kind of revolutionary movement which more than any other seems most difficult to keep from connection with crime and disorder, and that is a revolution which affects the land. A very few years ago —in 1886—there appeared a very interesting article in the Contemporary Review, by Mr. R. B. Prothero, on Tenant Right and Agrarian Outrage in France. I have often thought that this article did 1824 not obtain sufficient notice, nor has it been allowed to convey sufficient instruction to those who have dealt with agrarian outrages in Ireland. The writer pointed out that in a certain portion of France—in Picardy—there was precisely the same idea of tenant right that had existed in Ireland—there was precisely the same opposition between the law of the land and the notions entertained by tenants and farmers and tenant right, and there was the inevitable conflict between the tenant right on the one hand and the laws of the land on the other—just what we have lamented to see in Ireland, though I, for one, should distribute the blame very differently from Members on the other side of the House. I will quote a passage to illustrate what I mean. Mr. Prothero says—No greater insult can be offered to a native of Santerre than to call him by a name which implies that he is a false brother, a traitor to his class. From this moment war is declared. If threats fail, men in masks or with blackened faces sow tares by night with the seeds of the dépointeux, break his implements, destroy his growing crops, mutilate his horses and cattle, burn his ricks, set fire to his buildings, fire shots into his house. Finally, if these hints are disregarded, the dépointeux is found 'Gis-ant au evind'un bois, frappé d'une balle dis-créte.'"A number of instances are given of crimes committed of which the perpetrator could never be discovered. People have been shot in Church without the discovery of the assassin. Why do I allude to these things? Is it from the slightest sympathy with such abominable outrages and crimes? Very far from it. I merely mention these things to show that, human nature being what it is, wherever there is the choice between starvation and crime one can hardly expect that the people will accept starvation. But in Ireland now there is a new spirit. Until comparatively late in this century such disorderly agitation was too much the weapon of conflict in Ireland, and the crude and cruel method of boycotting and other forms of offences against the law have been almost the only method employed. But now how different it is! There are very few signs of such crime. To whom is the credit due? I know that we shall be told that it is due to the action of the Government and the Chief Secretary and to coercion. But does coercion 1825 generally ameliorate people's tampers, and conciliate them and persuade them to adopt Constitutional instead of un-Constitutional modes of action? I do not think experience shows that in the past, and I am sure the Report itself shows that a different influence has been at work. Down to 1879 the people of Ireland had very little confidence in political agitation or operation through Parliament. For instance, in the Report I find mentioned speeches of John Devoy and Davitt—for which, in the circumstances, I do not blame them— which show an utter despair of ever emancipating their country as long as it was bound by any link to England. I am not in the least surprised that these gentlemen should have entertained that conviction, looking at what the past history of Ireland has been. Mr. Davitt in one of his speeches in New York, in October, 1878, said—Heretofore the National Party hag held aloof from the Parliamentary Question, because of the treachery of the men who misrepresented Ireland. Those men have given a wrong impression of the Irish Question to the world. They have given the impression abroad that all that Ireland wanted was a fair Federal Union with the British Empire, a thing that the Irish people will never willingly consent to.["Hear, hear!"] An hon. Gentleman opposite says "hear, hear!" I am trying to show that at that period there was no notion whatever of the possibility of the conciliation of this country. Again, John Devoy said, about the same time—This kind of thing has been said to us before, and it will continue to be said so long as we send only two sets of men to Parliament— one to support the present state of things, and the other to proclaim to the world that Ireland would be satisfied with the bastard Federal connection proposed by Isaac Butt.We find the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) coming more and more to the front as the leader of his fellow-countrymen, and the Report contains many evidences of the gradual steps by which he at length succeeded in convincing them they had much to hope for from a constitutional agitation. In one of his speeches in America—in 1879— the hon. Member says—I am convinced that nothing would more effectually promote the cause of self-government for Ireland than the breaking down of those barriers between different classes. Nothing would be more effectual for that than 1826 the obtaining of a good Land Bill—the planting of the people in the soil. If we had the farmers of Ireland the owners of the soil to-morrow we would not be long without getting an Irish Parliament.These words indicate the methods by which he desired his fellow-countrymen to proceed. The Land League was formed in October, 1879, and again the hon. Gentleman went to America and delivered speeches. Of course, very much fault may be found with what lie said if you do not look forward to the ultimate fruit of the hon. Gentleman's work; but I say that already the germ of a constitutional agitation was suggested in his remarks. He declared that he did not counsel the Americans to send armed expeditions to Ireland; but to prevent the people in Ireland, who were exhibiting an attitude of devotion which had never been surpassed, from being starved to death. In affording-help, he said, they would not only engage in an ordinary work of charity, but would assist in breaking-down the system which had proved the ruin of Ireland. He added that in one way or another the Irish people would insist on having the land of Ireland for themselves. On the 21st of March, 1880, the hon. Member was presented with an address by the Nationalists of Cork, of Fenian proclivities and opinions. In the course of that address it was stated that the Nationalists of the country had determined that, as a political party, they would take no part in the coming elections, and consequently no part in the adoption, rejection, or support of the Parliamentary candidates. That is to say, they would have nothing to do with Constitutional agitation. Well, where are the people in Ireland who say that now? And what has caused their disappearance? Is it coercion? I do not think it is. I think it is the action of the hon. Member for Cork and his colleagues of the Land League and of the National League. I read in the Report that Mr. Parnell says he always objected to the resolution restraining the employment of Land League funds for Parliamentary purposes, and that it was afterwards rescinded. It was not very long before fruits began to result from the seed the hon. Member for Cork was sowing. We are told, for instance, in the Report that there was a great dis- 1827 turbance at a National League meeting in Dublin; the Physical Force Party drove the speakers from the platform and created a riot. After that, however, the Report says Mr. Parnell was no more opposed by the Physical Force Party. The truth is that he had disposed of that Party altogether by moral influence, and had persuaded his friends to restrict themselves entirely to Constitutional means. The Report says the majority had become convinced by this time that the new movement, so far from being an obstacle to the realisation of their aims, was really a stepping stone to their fulfilment. The Commissioners, of course, mean that the Physical Force Party expected by means of the agitation to bring about entire separation from England. I daresay they did; but they have learnt better by this time, and purely through the Constitutional action of the hon. Member for Cork. In August of that year a resolution was passed by the Cork branch of the League in reference to a raid for arms. I know that that resolution was afterwards rescinded, and that there was much difference of opinion amongst the members of the Land League as to the propriety of passing a resolution; but, at all events, the incident shows that the tendency in the direction of peaceful agitation was gradually growing up and ripening. The resolution expressed regret at a robbery of useless old firearms, and condemned lawlessness in any shape. It was rescinded not out of any sympathy with robbery, but because it was thought it was no part of the province of the League to condemn a thing which some members of the League reprobated, but which might appear right in the eyes of others. I note that it is stated in the Report that certain extracts called "Incidents of the Campaign," that appeared in one of the more notorious newspapers, were brought to an end expressly on the ground that they were not pleasing to Mr. Parnell, who did not like paragraphs that seemed to incite men to violence. After the year 1883 all forms of violence gradually disappeared, and little by little the movement was changed into the constitutional agitation we now see, and which is very rarely indeed polluted by any form of disorder. I think, Sir, we ought all to rejoice at this, and ought to 1828 do all we can to convince our Irish fellow-countrymen that membership of this United Kingdom is for their good, and that they are likely to get far more by going on with us than by separating from us. Is everything to be looked at from the landlord's point of view? Are we to go on insisting that, while public opinion rules in England and Scotland, Irish public opinion is not to be allowed to rule in Ireland; and are we to go on insisting that while in England the opinion of the Democracy is to be taken, in Ireland it is only the opinion of a privileged class which is to be considered worthy of consideration? I think that no worse contempt could be shown for the Irish people than to enter upon the Journals of the House a Report of this kind; for the Commissioners expressly disavow entering into any political considerations whatever, and refrain from saying any word of reprobation or condemnation of that most foul crime which was the beginning of the action of the House in regard to the Royal Commission. Not enough has been said, not enough can be said, of the iniquity of the libels and the slanders that were supported by forgery. I declare that, after looking at all the records of the history of this country, I do not know anything fouler than the criminal carelessness with which those wicked forgeries were accepted—accepted, as we find, without any kind of reasonable inquiry into their origin, and without any real endeavour to verify them at all. It was thought that even poisoned weapons were good enough against the champions of the Irish people; and, therefore, the forged letters were hastily accepted. I do hope that hon. Gentlemen opposite will still bethink themselves that the individual need not be wholly merged in Party; that the individual has a conscience of his own, to which he must answer sooner or later. It may be all very well now to save their Party from defeat; but when a few years have passed these things will have become matters of history, and hon. Gentlemen opposite will not look back with pleasure to having taken part in a vote to support this exceedingly lame and impotent conclusion to a most interesting inquiry; whereas if there are anyone on that side who prefers the voice of conscience to that of Party, in years to come he will look back with pride and exultation upon his vote, and to handing 1829 down to his children a name all the more honourable as being that of a politician who dared on one occasion, at least, to sacrifice the superficial claims of Party to the profounder claims of conscience and justice.
(7.35.) COLONEL HILL (Bristol)
If I rise, perhaps, at an unfortunate moment, as regards the number of my audience, to say a few words in this debate, I do not do so in the hope of eliciting any fresh facts from the Report for the consideration of the House, nor of adding anything to the powerful criticisms of the Amendment which have been made by my right hon. and hon. Friends, nor yet of making more complete their perfect demolition of the pretensions of the Party below or of their supporters above the Gangway. It is because I think it is not altogether undesirable that private Members, representing, as I have the honour to do, largre commercial centres, should briefly, plainly, and clearly state their views upon this much vexed matter. I cannot offer to the House the fervid eloquence of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, nor would I, if I could, support the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman the leader of the House, by what, in my humble judgment, seems such an unfortunate style of reasoning. But I could not help thinking whilst listening to that marvellous effort of oratory that, great as are the known powers of the hon. Member for Hackney, the respondents had found a still more powerful advocate and apologist in the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian; nor can I offer to the House those special pleadings which are the results of the trained intellects of the hon. and learned Members who have addressed the House, or will do so in the course of the debate. I can only offer such views as an ordinary intellectand an ordinary business mind can arrive at, and the views which guide me in my resolve to support the Motion and oppose the Amendment. We have heard a great deal about two conspiracies. One is the conspiracy alleged by the Times, against the integrity of the Empire and law and order, and asserted to be closely connected with crime; and the other, retorted by the Separatists (if I may for convenience use the term), a conspiracy between the Government and the Times 1830 against the political honour and the morality of the hon. Member for Cork and his Party. As to the latter, three points were relied upon for justification. These were that the Government was supported by the Times; that the Attorney General was counsel for the Times; and it was asserted that sundry special advantages were granted to the agents of the Times. The third assertion has been completely disproved, and I need not trouble the House with any remarks upon it. As to the second, I do not know what are the powers of Her Majesty's Government over the Law Officers of the Crown; but if they have a power of control, surely they must be very poor conspirators, for it is self-evident that the purposes of conspiracy would have been better advanced by the selection of a stranger as counsel. I am under the impression that the humblest member of the community has a right to demand and obtain the services of Her Majesty's Attorney General or Solicitor General, providing he has the money in his pocket to pay their fees; and I do not know why, if that be so, Mr. Walter should be made an exception. But does not the selection by the Times as its counsel of one than whom no one's honour is more unimpeachable, against whom the tongue of slander has never been heard, whose very official position is a guarantee for the exercise of that fairness for which he is distinguished— show a desire for fair and impartial investigation which can hardly be attributed to conspirators? I think, too, it Mill be admitted on all sides that the Times acted with great fairness in giving minute verbatim reports of the inquiry. We hear much about forged letters and foul conspiracy. It has been insinuated that the Government and the Times knew that these letters were forgeries. Hon. Members opposite are always ready, both in season and out of season, to shout "Pigott" and "forgeries." [IRISH MEMBERS: Hear, hear!] Yes; but they do not seem always to recollect that the wretched man who forged these letters was for years one of themselves. ["No, never."] Well, if not one of themselves—he was not a Member of this House it is true—I believe I am correct in stating that for many years he was 1831 connected with the Nationalist Press. [Colonel NOLAN: Not with the Home Rule movement.] No doubt the publication and subsequent withdrawal of the letters, together with the finding of the Judges, is a point in favour of the respondents, and it is a point on which I certainly congratulate them; but I cannot help thinking that under all the circumstances, perhaps the result had better have been received with more of calmness. To suppose that the Government had anything to do with the letters, or that the Times published them otherwise than in perfect good faith, is against the presumption of common-sense. Carelessness on the part of the Times there undoubtedly was—a carelessness which we all deplore, while at the same time we all regret the pain caused to the hon. Member for Cork by that carelessness. But the attributes of a foul conspiracy are certainly absent. I never heard of a conspiracy for which, there was not some motive. What could have been the motive of the Times in publishing the articles other than the patriotic one of laying bare certain sayings and doings, which, in their opinion, seemed to be detrimental to the interests of the State? As to the Government receiving the support of the Times, that is a point too puerile for serious argument. An unprejudiced mind can come to but one conclusion—that no such conspiracy, with or without Her Majesty's Government, ever existed. But what about the other conspiracy? Three of Her Majesty's most able Judges have, upon sworn evidence, declared that while on some points the respondents have been acquitted a conspiracy did exist, and that eight of the respondents, including seven who are Members of the House of Commons, were guilty of taking part in that conspiracy; that the whole 65 respondents were guilty of conspiracy to expel the landlords from Ireland, significantly styled the English garrison; guilty of inciting to intimidation, which led to crime; guilty of continuing that course after they knew that it led to crime; guilty of defending prisoners charged with crime, and of supporting the families of criminals; guilty of disseminating the abominable Irish World and other papers inciting to sedition and other crimes; guilty of receiving money from dynamitards and advocates of crime; guilty 1832 of inviting and obtaining the assistance and co-operation of the Physical Force Party, including the infamous—I do not think the adjective was too strong—Clan-na-Gael; guilty of abstaining from repudiating and condemning the action of that Party in order to obtain their assistance. But, Sir, there is something more. We have the admission of the hon. Member for Cork that upon one-occasion he stated to the House that which was inaccurate for the purpose of misleading it. I do not think it is right for a Member to make such a statement without giving the grounds on which lie makes it; and therefore I must read one or two extracts from the Report, and; from the evidence given before the Commission. In page 87 of their Report the Commissioners said—Mr. Parnell, in the House of Commons, on January 7,1881, stated that secret societies had then ceased to exist in Ireland. Mr. Parnell was then alluding to secret societies other than that of the Fenian conspiracy, and in our judgment Mr. Parnell was accurate-when he made that statement. It appears to us that this suggestion was first made during this inquiry.Now, it will be recollected that the late Mr. Forster and the right hon. Member for Derby (Sir W. Harcourt) were at that time supporting their Bill by asserting the existence of secret societies. The hon. Member for Cork was opposing the Bill and denied the allegation. But when the catalogue of crimes was brought forward before the Royal Commission the hon. Member's policy became reversed, and it became expedient to relieve the Land League by throwing the responsibility upon secret societies. A quotation was read from Hansard, ending with—Secret conspiracies do not now exist its Ireland,and the hon. Member was asked—Do you remember using these words?"— "Yes; I recollect it personally.I suppose it is meant for "perfectly." The examination continued—Did you believe them to be true when you used them?—I cannot exactly say, without reading the context of the speech, what my view was in urging the argument, but it was possible I was endeavouring to mislead the House on the occasion.Do you mean, Sir, it is possible you were endeavouring to mislead the House on that occasion?—In order to cut the ground from I under the Government in support of the Bill.1833Do you mean, Sir, by a statement false, in fact, and contrary to your own opinion which you have sworn to-day?—I mean that it was a boastful and an exaggerated statement, and probably designed to mislead the House upon the question of the greater or less existence of secret societies in Ireland.Did you or did you not intend to mis-state the fact when you made that statement to the House? —It is very possible that I did.Deliberately?—Deliberately; quite possible.How it can be "very possible" and "quite possible" for a man of honour to say that which he believes to be inaccurate for the purpose of deliberately endeavouring to mislead the House is a question which I leave to the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian to explain. It is a task far beyond my powers, and one which I think will overtax oven the great intellect of the right hon. Gentleman. This is a matter which should not be passed over in silence, for it goes to the root of all public life. Now, what were the charges made by the Timesas stated by the Commissioners in the first page of their Report? They say: —In times not yet remote they would assuredly have been impeached for one tithe of their avowed defiance of the law, and in ages yet m ire robustly conscious of the difference between evil and good their heads would have decorated the city gates.In particular. Mr. Parnell and his associates were accused of having established an organisation 'depending upon a system of intimidation carried out by the most brutal means and resting ultimately on the sanction of murder.'The more I study the lucid Report of the Commissioners the more am I confirmed hi my view that the main charges brought by the Times, as distinguished from the personal, have been proved up to the hilt. There can be no doubt that a most serious verdict has been returned —a verdict which is as damaging as the worst enemies of the respondents could possibly have desired. The country is but little concerned with the mere question of the forged letters; what it wants to know is this: was Parnellism connected with crime or was it not? Right hon. and hon. Gentlemen now on the opposite aide of the House, many of whom formerly held high office, and, therefore, had special sources of knowledge at their command, have assured the public in language which for strength and earnestness has never been exceeded or equalled on my own side of the House, that it was so connected, and 1834 now we have the official corroboration of the Judges. I shall, indeed, be more than surprised if my countrymen do not justly appreciate the verdict contained in the Report, and are not more than ever determined to set their faces against what is called Home Rule as the greatest disaster that could befall Ireland. I earnestly hope that Irishmen, whether in this House or out of it, who really love their country, will take to heart the Report of the Commission; that they will abandon the idea of separation in any form as a wild theory, the realisation of which will be as injurious to Ireland's best interests as it will be impossible for this country to permit it. I trust that, having learnt that lesson, they will endeavour to teach it to some of their less instructed brethren, and endeavour to convince them that the happiness and prosperity of their country can only be obtained by the progress of civilisation, the first condition of which is due regard for law and order; that happiness and prosperity for their country could only be obtained by its remaining a faithful and honoured portion of this Empire, the most magnificent the world has ever seen, and which so many eminent sons of Ireland have done so much to build up and to consolidate.
§ (8.32.) COLONEL NOLAN (Galway, N.)
I have not very great hopes that the few remarks I am about to address to the House will induce any large number of the Conservatives who at present occupy the Benches opposite (the Conservative Benches were absolutely empty) to do an act of justice to the Irish people. But I must not complain of the absence of hon. Members, for I noticed when a Conservative Member was addressing the House just now there were, beyond two or three Members of the Party who by reason of their official position are bound to be present, only two Conservatives seated on those Benches, and although when the Division comes we shall get about 320 Conservatives and Unionists voting against us, of those only two will have heard the excellent speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Bristol. The hon. Gentleman made a most effective Party speech, although he somewhat spoilt it by one of those appeals which have been too frequently made in this debate—an appeal to hon. Members to vote for principle and not 1835 for Party. I remember that Disraeli, when a Member of the Party opposed to him made a similar appeal, and declared the subject under discussion not to be a Party question, replied that he—Was too old a Parliamentary bird to be caught by the chaff; it was very much a Party question, and the Government were very much affected by it; and, therefore, it was necessary for the Conservatives to vote straight.This, too, I believe to be a Party question' and I am rather curious as to the votes which will be given by two Conservative Members, who did me the honour of congratulating me when the Report of the Parnell Commission first appeared. I am glad to see the Attorney General is now in his place, for I wish to say something as to his taking a brief and leading the prosecution against a large body of Irish Members. I know it is in accordance with professional usage that the Attorney General should take briefs in private cases, and that much is to be said in favour of it, seeing that it keeps him in touch with the general work of the Bar. But I viewed his action in taking a brief in this case with very great regret, for it reminded me of a story of William 1., the Duke of Normandy, who, when he was summoned to appear before the King of France (of whom he was a vassal) for some misconduct on the part of his subjects, replied that, unfortunately, the Duke of Normandy could not go to Paris unless the King of England went too, and the King of England would be obliged to bring so many retainers that it might prove unpleasant for the people of Prance. The misfortune of the action of the hon. and learned Member for the Isle of Wight was that he could not take part in the case for the Times without introducing the Attorney General as well. In fact, as the legal heads of the Conservative and Unionist Party have taken part in the case, they have implicated the whole Party in a manner which must induce a lot of ill-feeling between men of Irish blood and the Conservative majority in this House. I do not think the people of England approve the action of the Government; indeed, recent election returns show that they are opposed to the Government policy. The Conservative Members, I am afraid, will vote on this matter in accordance with the in 1836 structions of their Whips. Before the First Lord of the Treasury put his notice of Motion on the Paper I found Conservative Members were in a reasonable state of mind. On the night the Report was issued one hon. Member told me it amounted to a virtual acquittal, while another—and he was a learned man— said—"What the Judges have done has been to find that the Irish Members did what every single soul in the United Kingdom knew they had done; they have found out nothing fresh." I was always against the appointment of the Commission. I held that the only result would be the keeping up of bad blood between the two countries. When it was started I thought a certain amount of mud would be thrown, that it would be shown that certain speeches had been delivered, and a certain amount of crime committed; as to the letters, I was quite convinced that they were absolute forgeries, but I never hoped we should be able to prove it so clearly as we have done; I never expected we should have laid our hands on the forger, although, if I had known Pigott was associated with the matter, I should have expected something of the sort. But I did expect the Commission would have had to fall back on a general indictment that there was some connection between the speeches delivered and the crimes committed. The Judges have not gone into the question in a very statistical form. Let us take the crime of murder, for instance. In England there are fewer murders committed than in most countries in Europe; but in Ireland there are still fewer, in comparison with the population, and there have been a lesser number during the past 10 years than there were in the preceding decade. Unfortunately, murders are committed, and they group themselves about popular movements, and if the Attorney General went to the North of Ireland to get up an agitation in favour of the imprisonment of the Nationalist Members, and riots followed in which fatalities occurred, we should at once attribute the deaths to his action, although his speech might have been a perfectly constitutional one. In that sense, no doubt, there was some connection between our speeches and Irish crime. Now we have to deal with two important propositions. The First Lord of the Treasury 1837 asks the House to adopt the Report. But has this House a right to adopt the Report? The Irish Members charged before the Commission practically represent in this House the whole of the Irish people, and the indictment which was preferred against them, was against not merely Irishmen in Ireland, but against Irishmen throughout the world. The Irish people constitute an important element in Australia and Canada, and in the Republic of the United States, and they will ask why should this Report be entered on the Journals of the House? There are several reasons against the adoption of this course. The first is that the House of Commons was not elected for the purpose. Of course if Lord Salisbury went to the country and returned with a majority at his back, then the adoption of the Report would be the act of the English nation; but the Government have now only an accidental majority, the bye elections go against them and prove that their majority is only a fictitious one. If, then, you have this Report entered on the Journals of the House, the next Parliament may feel it its duty to order the entry to be expunged, and that, I think, would be neither a pleasant nor a dignified course for the House to have to adopt. We have also before us the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, which, unlike the Resolution of the Government, has in it a sense of proportion and looks at the real points of the case. Remember it was the forged letter question which procured the appointment of the Commission. The Irish Members would never have consented to the appointment of the Commission but for the appearance of the forged letters in the Times, which was a great power in the land, and had, for the preceding half century, had almost as much power as the House of Commons itself. Its power has now been considerably shaken. It pledged its reputation and everything it had to the authenticity of the letters, and that was the main point referred to the Commissioners. Englishmen and Irishmen differ considerably in their feeling on national matters. Englishmen are of course imbued with a strong national feeling; they are a somewhat proud race, and they are to an extent intolerant of outside interference of any kind what- 1838 soever. But the case is different in Ireland. We consider the Irish-Americans as part of ourselves. The great majority of Irishmen are anxious for peaceful and Constitutional methods to be adopted. We knew, when the Commission was appointed, that our opponents would make the most of the American connection. I am not one of those who repudiate that connection; I am proud of the success of our fellow countrymen in America. We knew that in the minds of Englishmen there would be great impatience at the idea of Americans interfering with Irish politics, but it is impossible to keep them out of it, and the Irish Americans cannot help feeling deep interest in the fortunes of their country. The hon. Member for Oldham says he is much concerned for the honour and probity of this House, and yet I am afraid he will cast his vote against us. He admitted we had cleared ourselves from the charge of complicity with murder, but he complained that we had shown a certain want of delicacy of feeling in attacking the public acts of the Attorney General and the First Lord of the Treasury, and he said that he must consequently vote against us. Yet those attacks were only made in self defence. My main objection to the Motion of the First Lord is that it gives no prominence to the question of the forged letters. Because we have completely disproved that charge we are now to be attacked on general grounds. The leader of the Opposition has, in his Amendment, supplied the omission of which I complain, and those who listened to his speech last night must have felt that he thoroughly justified his proposal. May I make a suggestion to the First Lord of the Treasury? Will he not, of his own accord, if the Amendment of the leader of the Opposition is defeated, introduce into his Resolution a reference to the forged letters, because the simple adoption of the Report would be most unfair without such a reference. Hon. Members desire further that the Judges should be thanked for their services. Of course we know that they took a good deal of trouble, but the way to reward them is not by drawing up an indictment against the Irish nation in the Resolution; it would be far better to make them baronets, or peers, or to promote them in their profession. But, certainly, the entering of the reference 1839 to the Report in an extremely unfair form in, the Order Book of the House is not the proper way of producing good feeling in the matter between the Conservative section of the English race and the Irish people who are now distributed over the four quarters of the globe.
§ SIR W. BARTTELOT (Sussex, N.W.)
I am anxious to say a few words on what I consider to be one of the most important questions that has been brought before this House and the country during the present century. No one will deny the gravity of the question we are now considering. The Report of the Commission brings charges against hon. Members below the Gangway opposite, and I venture to say that every fair minded man will seriously consider whether these charges have been proved, and if so, I do not think that even Members opposite will say the Report of the Judges ought not to be entered in the Journals of the House. I, for one, have condemned as strongly as any man, the letters which have been referred to by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, and I took the earliest opportunity of showing what was my feeling in regard to them. I care not who may have been the author of those letters, but it has been clearly proved that they were forgeries, and therefore, I would join with anyone in stating my gratification that the hon. Member who was charged with having written them has been fully exonerated from that accusation. I have never altered my opinion with regard to Ireland and the action of hon. Members below the Gangway. I have stated them fairly and freely, and when I have thought that my hon. Friends on the Front Bench have been doing what they ought not to do, I have never failed to declare my opinion both in this House and outside the House. The question before us is a very grave one. It implies that although the hon. Gentlemen have not been convicted of complicity with the more serious crimes of murder and outrage, yet it is to be inferred from this Report that they have been guilty of things which have led to the commission of crime. I was never more astounded than upon hearing the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian and also the right hon. Gentleman the 1840 Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. H. H. Fowler) contend that hon. Members were right in urging the Irish people to do certain things if they were in the interests of their country. This, as far as I know, is the first time in our history that we have heard right hon. Gentlemen in the exalted position of the Members for Mid Lothian and Wolverhampton saying they were prepared to regard crime as justifiable when it accomplishes the object for which it is committed. [Cries of"No!"] Hon. Gentlemen say no! I listened most attentively to the magnificent speech delivered by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, and eloquent as it was, especially in the peroration, I must say that I never heard a speech which more completely covered what I may term veiled treason than the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. No one can better judge of those things than the hon. Members below the Gangway. They knew exactly what was their position a short time ago. Let me look for a moment at the position occupied by the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell). As I have said, I am delighted to recognise his innocence in regard to the letters, but can it be said he was innocent in regard to other matters? Before, however, I would go to that I would ask any man in this House if he had such charges made against him as were made against the hon. Member lie would not spend his very last shilling in proving his innocence before a competent tribunal.
§ SIR W. BARTTELOT
It is all very well for the hon. Gentleman to say "not the tribunals of this country." Is there one of them in which justice would not be done? See what the three Judges have done in this particular case. Have they not found out and exposed the fraud that was practised with regard to these particular letters?
SIR W. BARTTBLOT
I say that the Judges discovered that forgery, and with the greatest care and calm consideration went into every case that was put before them, so that there is no one who can now g-et up and say he was not treated with perfect fairness and impartiality by 1841 those learned gentlemen. Why was it that the hon. Member for Cork did not accept the offer made him by the Government, when they were willing that all his expenses should be paid, and that he should have the best Law Officers that could be found to conduct his case. I would ask my hon. Friend opposite whether, had he been placed in the same position, he would not have gone before a Court and endeavoured to clear himself? Why did not the hon. Member for Cork take that course? Was it because there was a feeling that something more might come out than he desired to make public in regard to his connection with certain proceedings in Ireland which would not be to the advantage of the Nationalist cause? Hon. Members asked for a Committee of this House, If there was a man in this House who could have got up and suggested that that would be an unfair and partial tribunal, it would have been the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, who must recollect the debate which took place in which the question was raised in this House as to the trial of election petitions, which used to be decided by Committees of the House. The right hon. Gentleman, in a speech he then made, pointed out that such Committees did not constitute a fair tribunal, because of the Party feeling which was brought into play. I ask would not Party feeling have been brought into play in this question 10 times more than in the case of an election petition? Such being the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman, he was the very first man who ought to have said that a Committee of this House would have been a most unwise and improper tribunal for dealing with this question. I may here say, as I do honestly and openly, that I did not like the Commission which was appointed. I think the Government stood in a sufficiently firm position as they were before. However, the Commission was appointed, and hon. Members opposite did not oppose the Second Reading of the Bill, thereby showing they were perfectly satisfied with the impartiality of the tribunal before whom they were to be arraigned. And if we look at the matter fairly and impartially, I say that there are no three men who, whatever their political opinions may be—and in this country we do not allow politics to interfere with the 1842 administration of law and justice—who are more absolutely prepared to do their duty, however difficult that duty may be. Can any one below the Gangway get up and say hon. Members opposite have not been fairly and honestly treated by those three Judges? Never before have men been called upon to judge under such circumstances, and I fully believe that they have done justice to all. They have fairly stated the charges that have not been proved, but they have also recorded those cases in which they think the charges have been substantiated. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. H. H. Fowler) has said everything was legitimate so long as the ends were good. I do not quote his exact words, but that was their purport. I must repeat my regret that two men occupying the position of the right hon. Gentlemen the Members for Mid Lothian and Wolverhampton could have made such a statement as they have put forward in justification of crime where it accomplishes its intended object. I am not going into the history of the whole of this case. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian astonished me by his statement with reference to the Act of Union. He designated it by every epithet he could possibly think of. He went on to say that since the year 1882 he had never had occasion to say a single word against those Gentlemen below the Gangway. But in the year 1879, the right hon. Gentleman made a memorable speech in Mid Lothian, in which he called attention to the blowing up of Clerkenwell Prison and the murder of the policeman at Manchester, and held that the Disestablishment and Disendowment of the Church would never have been carried unless attention had been brought to it by means of that kind. The right hon. Gentleman came into power in 1880. He allowed the Peace Preservation Act to lapse. Were you thankful for it? Did you take it, as it was intended, in good faith? You immediately imported arms into Ireland, and as soon as the Act was taken off your heads, you were determined to do something which you knew was against the opinion and wishes of a large majority of your fellow countrymen in England and Scotland, as well as in Ireland, and to such an extent did you carry it out that 1843 in 1881–2 the right hon. Gentleman had to bring in the two strongest Coercion Acts that ever were inflicted.You have had an opportunity," said Mr. Parnell, at Wexford, in 1881, "many of you, no doubt, of studying the utterances of a very great man, a very great orator—the person who recently desired to impress the world with a great opinion of his philantrophy and hatred of oppression, but who stands to-day the greatest Coercionist, the greatest and most unrivalled slanderer of the Irish nation that ever undertook the task. I refer to William Ewart Gladstone.I mention these things because these are the people with whom you are now hand and glove. What happened after that? I find that up to the year 1885 the Protection of Life and Property Act existsd. Do you recollect the Division which took place in this House upon a trifling Motion with regard to the Budget, and upon which the Government went out? I believe I am correct in stating that the Government went out because there were dissensions and differences of opinion amongst them as to the maintenance of the Protection of Life and Property Act. A Conservative Government was returned in a minority, and I think it was a grave mistake that they did not endeavour to carry out that Act, even if they had been beaten, as they would have been beaten, for it would be shown that they thought it necessary that an Act of that kind should be still maintained in Ireland. What happened after that? Why, we had an election in the autumn. And what was the prayer of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone)? That he would be saved from temptation by having granted to him a majority without having to deal with the Irish Representatives. He did not get that majority, and then came the proposal of Home Rule, which the right hon. Gentleman had never considered before, so far as I am aware. And, mark you, if he had obtained a majority which would have enabled him to do without the Irish Representatives he would never have offered you Home Rule. It was a miraculous alteration. I would like to know what your opinion is with regard to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby. You know what he said about you.
§ MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! It would be better if the hon. Baronet 1844 would address the Chair, and not so pointedly address any section of the House.
§ (9.24.) SIR W. BARTTELOT
I beg your pardon, Mr. Speaker; one gets perhaps a little excited. I am very sorry if I have transgressed the least in the world. I will just read you one or two passages which show that the conversion is something more than miraculous.To-morrow," said Sir William Harcourt, on March 3rd, 1881, "every subject of the Queen will know that the doctrine of the Land League is the doctrine of treason and assassination. Sir, I think it is my duty, and I think the House will think it is my duty to tell them what I know, that the Land League is an organisation which depends upon the support of the Fenian Conspiracy.The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby was in office; he was then Home Secretary, and he states that the doctrine of hon. Gentlemen who were members of the Land League was the doctrine of treason and assassination. He afterwards became Chancellor of the Exchequer, and you will all recollect what he did on the 16th December, 1885, after the election had taken place. He was at a meeting at Lowestoft, and he then said what was going to happen:—The Party of 250 Tories in the House of Commons would claim to govern the country and the House of 670 members. That would be a new proceeding in the political history of the country. They proposed to do it by an intimate alliance with men who openly avowed their object was the dismemberment of Ireland from England. Was it possible that this country was going to tolerate such a transaction? Liberals must not be in a hurry to turn the Tories out—he would not say before they were paid out. He would let them have a few months to stew in their own Parnellite juice.Not a very elegant expression; at the same time that was the statement, I want you to mark it, because if I recollect aright a Division was taken in this House on the 26th January, in the year 1886, and the Conservative Government were turned out upon the question of the hon. Member for Birmingham, namely, "three acres and a cow," or the question of Allotments, which measure was never attempted to be granted by the Liberal Party. Home Rule was brought in, and you know what happened to Home Rule. My particular point is that the right 1845 hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby, having denounced the Conservative Party, and having denounced the Irish Party, in December, 1885, took office as Chancellor of the Exchequer under the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian in February 1886, that all I can say is that looking to his strong opinions and feelings, one would have supposed that he would not have been subservient to Party considerations. I would have said: "I cannot change my opinion, and I cannot take office in a Government which proposes Home Rule." Such was unfortunately not the case. ["Fortunately."] That depends upon what you think of the versatility of a Member. For my part, I stand by the man who adheres to what he believes is right. As hon. Gentlemen know, I had a good deal of experience in older days of these matters. It was my good fortune, or anything else you may be pleased to call it, to be in Limerick at the time when the Old Ireland Party—the O'Connell Party—attackedthe Young Ireland Party. There was a great disturbance, and I was ordered to turn out with a squadron of dragoons. I was sharp, and I happened to get down quicker than some others, and I was just in time to save three men, Mitchell, Martin, and Meagher. After that what is called the "Cabbage Garden Disturbance" occurred, and these three men, one of whom afterwards came into this House as a respected Member, were arrested and transported for 15 years. I declare boldly that there was nothing in the journal of which Mitchell was then editor to compare in scurrility with what now appears in United Ireland, although Mitchell was transported for 15 years for what he wrote, and other things. When you talk of toleration I venture to say that no Press in the world has been more tolerated than the Irish Press has been. If the English papers wrote about you [pointing to the Home Rule Members] as these papers write about Englishmen and the Government of England you would come down at once with a strong, earnest, and just complaint. You know—
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. and gallant Member has misapprehended my meaning. What I suggested was that instead of addressing hon. Members directly he should do so generally as hon. Members 1846 in this or that part of the House. In this way he would avoid irritation.
§ SIR W. BARTTELOT
I hope I have not said anything to irritate, and I shall endeavour not to do so. I was saying that when you came to write articles in United Ireland, the Government have not been one bit too firm in their action, for you have gone beyond all ordinary forbearance, and have done things which would not have been tolerated in any civilised country in the world. I should like to see such things done in America, Germany, or Italy. You know you have as much license as you could have, and the question before us—and it is a very Serious question—is whether you have done—
§ SIR W. BARTTELOT
I beg pardon; the question is whether hon Members have acted in the interest of our great Empire? Has everything been done to maintain the integrity of the Empire? Take the condition of the West of Ireland. Is it any better than it was in 1843, when I first went there? Certainly not. The population cannot be properly maintained on the soil, yet hon. Gentlemen opposite have done nothing to remove the population. The hon. Member for Cork talks about migration, but he proposes to migrate a pauper population to the best parts of Ireland; to the County of Meath, for instance, where he would turn the grazing farms into small holdings. I maintain that so far as the condition of the West of Ireland is concerned, nothing has been done for it; and yet it is only wonderful without agitation it remains contented. A relative of mine, who has an estate in the county of Mayo, says that this year he has received his rent, nothing having been forthcoming during the previous four years. He has had not only to loss his rent, but to pay the rates and taxes on all holdings below £4 a year, and on the estate of 264 holdings four only are over £4 a year. Things are better now; but on those estates where the Plan of Campaign is in operation, boycotting and the greatest cruelties have been practised on the people taking farms and on the people paying their rent. Such persecution every honourable man must condemn as against national civilisation and national humanity. And yet the persecution, 1847 it is said, has been practised by hon. Members opposite. They are solemnly accused of making speeches, knowing that the consequences of those speeches would be injury to persons and property. Well, I believe that history will show that the Chief Secretary has done his duty honestly, humanely, and well. Up to the time when the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian proposed his scheme for Home Rule, law and order had always been maintained by both sides of the House. But now every difficulty is placed in the way, and the speeches of many hon. Gentlemen on the Opposition Benches have tended more to create the existing state of things in Ireland than anything else. A great deal of responsibility lies at the door of those right hon. and hon. Gentlemen. The Government have now to govern Ireland in the best way they can. Law and order, however, must be upheld, because they are the indispensable factors in the civilisation, progress, and prosperity of every country; and if law and order are firmly, fairly, and honestly maintained, as the Chief Secretary is now upholding them, a lasting beneficial effect would in the end be produced. I heartily support the Motion.
§ MR. T. HARRINGTON
Mr. Speaker, while I admit that the hon. Baronet is an exception to hon. Members near him in the spirit of fair play which he exhibits toward the Irish Members, yet I must remind him that the occasions on which he displays that spirit are very rare. The hon. Baronet has said that in no other civilised country in the world would the same toleration have been extended, as has been extended by this country, to the Irish Press. Aye, but has the Irish Press been tolerated? What is the history of the Irish Press? Is there a man in this House who ever conducted an Irish newspaper who has not been once, and sometimes oftener, within the walls of a gaol? The hon. Baronet speaks of Mitchel, Martin, and Meagher. The three were Press men, and the three were imprisoned, and if the Governments of this country have been unable to suppress National opinion in Ireland, it is not because they have tolerated it, but because they have failed to put it down. Every Ministry and Party in this country has endeavoured to stifle the voice of the National Press of Ireland, 1848 and if that Press speaks out boldly to-day the national sentiments, we have not to thank this House, bat the sturdy independence and the fearlessness and firmness of the men whose speeches and writings are bringing to speedy fruition the cause for which they have laboured. The hon. Baronet tells the House that upon the Report being issued he was among the first to come down to congratulate the hon. Member for Cork upon his acquittal. But the argument of the hon. Baronet this evening is strangely inconsistent with the sincerity of a man who comes to congratulate the hon. Member for Cork on his acquittal, for he asks—"Why did not the hon. Member for Cork appeal to the tribunals of the country? Was it because he feared that something worse would come out?" And yet the hon. Baronet is forced to acknowledge that the Commission has acquitted the Irish Members of those graver charges which his Friends circulated by their speeches and supported by their money—calumnies on which many Members of their Party have lived, and been able to take a part in the government of Ireland for the past two or three years. These expressions of regret of the hon. Baronet came from him just as the verdict of acquittal has come from the Judges— the expressions were forced from him. We owe him nothing for his sense of fair play in this matter; we owe no one anything on that score. If the Party opposite are not able to asperse our characters it is because their malignity has failed in its worst efforts. Before I sit down I think I shall be able to show to the House that Members, at least of the Party to which the hon. Baronet belongs, have not been so clear and innocent of questionable transactions in connection with this Commission as some of their friends claim credit for. I shall be able to show the House that there was a conspiracy, apart from the conspiracy which the Judges had to consider, that that conspiracy progressed as the inquiry progressed, and that Members of the Government especially were involved in it for the purpose of bribing perjured witnesses—not so much to injure the Irish Members or to damage our characters as individuals, for that they did not care about, but to assail and damage our country and ruin its future. Upon every charge which this House regarded 1849 as a grave charge in the beginning the result of the Commission has been an acquittal. Looking back to the debate on which the Act was founded, and the arguments by which it was forced on by hon. Gentlemen opposite, and by those more active supporters of the Government on this side of the House, I find that of every charge they made we have been acquitted. With regard to the charge of conspiracy and the charge conveyed in vague and general terms of not being sufficiently active in denouncing and suppressing crime, nobody meant to constitute a tribunal of three Judges to try such a charge or to have the public time wasted in such an inquiry. The letters were the grave portion of the accusation against us, and also the charge of complicity with murder. Day after day and week after week were allowed to elapse, witness after witness was placed in the witness-stand, but the Attorney General, who conducted the case, kept carefully away from any of these graver charges. Time after time he was pressed to come to an issue. The Judges frequently expressed impatience at the way in which the inquiry was being conducted. The Attorney General smiles; but I attended the inquiry as regularly as the hon. and learned Gentleman himself, and I maintain that I am not speaking without authority. The President said, after the Commission had sat two or three months—If this inquiry proceeds in this manner, I cannot see that it will be ended in our lifetime.Upon that the hon. and learned Gentleman apologised, and stated that the evidence he was giving had been very carefully considered. The President said he had heard that statement before, and he wanted to know whether the inquiry was to be brought to an end within a lifetime. If the Attorney General was satisfied that he was speaking upon bonâ fide instructions and upon proofs of the truth of which he had satisfied himself, as he was bound to do, why was he hunting up America for evidence during the Commission to back up the letters, and why was his solicitor offering enormous bribes to Sheridan to come over—Sheridan, for alliance with whom the Irish Members had been denounced, but upon whom the Attorney 1850 General seems to have leant to save his reputation and his honour. We went into the Commission Court to meet the graver charges alleged against us, and we offered evidence to meet those graver charges wherever an attempt was made to establish them. But with regard to the charges of boycotting and intimidation we offered no evidence, as we wished to waste no time on the inquiry. I challenge the Attorney General to deny it, or deny that we put forward the respondents as witnesses for cross-examination, but who were never asked a question, upon those very charges of which, forsooth, we are now found guilty. Why did not the Government specifically state to this House, as they were asked to do, the charges upon which they wished to proceed before the Commission? If they did not want to obscure the issue, or to fall back on the expedient of throwing mud all round, why did they not set the charges forth in the Bill? Why did they except from the purview of the Commission the Plan of Campaign, if it was their intention to have an inquiry into a political conspiracy and agrarian crime? The Attorney General himself, with the consent of his Party, refused to go into the Plan of Campaign. I believe the hon. and learned Gentleman would readily have entered into that inquiry before the Commission; but he was precluded by the express pledge of his Party in this House. We have heard a great deal from the hon. Baronet (Sir W. Barttelot) as to the strict impartiality of the Judges. He thinks we ought to be extremely grateful to the three Judges for having vindicated our characters. I tell the hon. Baronet we are grateful only to ourselves. Does he mean to tell us that a great deal of credit attaches to three men in the position of these Judges, because they have not gone in the teeth of the evidence brought before them by holding us guilty of the charges made against us? The hon. Baronet must have formed a much lower opinion of the English Judiciary than we have, if he conceives it possible that three Judges could, without a shadow of evidence to support their findings hold us guilty of complicity with murder, especially after Pigott had made his confession, and sealed that confession with suicide. We do not wish to be understood as being extremely 1851 grateful to the Judges, or as carrying away with us from the Commission any very high sense of the great impartiality and fair-play with which they conducted the inquiry. For my part, as one who attended the Commission professionally, I wish to state in the most positive and distinct terms that I have brought away no such feeling, and I do not know that any of those I represent have any different opinion in the matter. I would ask the House to take a sensible view of this matter. Take the general charge of criminal conspiracy. There is one single instance in the whole record of the evidence where a payment seems to have been made by the Land League for medical assistance for a person who had been injured in the commission of crime. We do not know what the crime was; but it was quite evident that there had been some disobedience of the law. Not one of the 65 respondents in the case was brought into privity with that incident. I was in gaol at the time it occurred; and my hon. Friend the Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) was in gaol; my hon. Friend the Member for West Belfast (Mr. Sexton) was ill at home; my hon. Friend the Member for Roscommon (Mr. O'Kelly) was in gaol; and my hon. Friend the Member for Donegal (Mr. A. O'Connor) was in this country. And yet these three English Judges, of whose impartiality you want us to carry away so lively a recollection, gravely found our whole party guilty of the offence, and -upon that incident constructed a general indictment. I refuse to believe that we were treated in that matter as Englishmen or Scotchmen would have been treated. It is only in dealing with Irishmen that the Commissioners would have dared to commit the enormity of which they were guilty. Another matter on which the Judges have found hostilely to us, is for the want of that vigorous denunciation of crime which we should have exercised during the agitation. It is a singular fact that while they have carefully selected the passages which support the contention that some of the language used led to intimidation which might eventually result in crime, they have only made a casual and general reference to those speeches in denunciation of crime which were proved daily even by the witnesses who were called by the Times. That is not our idea of fair-play. We may, some of us 1852 perhaps, have been remiss in denouncing crime when it would have been wise to denounce it. For my part, I can accuse myself of nothing of the kind. I state don oath before the Commission that I never spoke in a district where crime was in existence without denouncing it. I challenge the Attorney General to say whether one letter or speech of mine was produced which was not a denunciation, not only of crime, but of boycotting. I do not want to separate myself from my colleagues. If I had been in the habit, like them, of speaking in the country, and the same instances of oppression had come under my eyes as came under theirs, I might have spoken as they did; but being in charge of the National League Organisation, it was my duty to be as conservative as possible in the administration of that Organisation. As one instance of the fair-play with which we have been treated, I may say that while the Land League existed for two years, and the National League for eight years, the Commissioners have dwelt entirely on the two years of the Land League, and have slurred over the much longer period of the existence of the National League. But do we stand alone in apathy in denouncing crime? How many of the hon. Members opposite have denounced the crime of forgery committed by the Times? You cannot set up one code of morals for yourselves and another for us. And when we are lectured by the Home Secretary (Mr. Matthews) about bloodcurdling paragraphs in Irish newspapers, we cannot but recollect the time when the right hon. Gentleman as a politician was run by Richard Pigott, when the Fenians of the South of Ireland were his constant companions, and when Patrick Ford was his energetic supporter. As to the dissemination of the Irishman and the Irish World, some of us can say we had nothing to do with it; and during the eight years I had charge of the office of the National League not a single number of the Irish World entered or left that office. But was the Irishman a more amiable organ in the hands of Richard Pigott than it has since become? When the Attorney General was exercising his ingenuity to find out what sort of a character Richard Pigott was, where was the Home Secretary? Our people are the judges of our characters, and they have confidence in us. 1853 Those who have confidence in you are those who do not know all your acts. The Attorney General month after month fought shy of the question of the forged letters before the Commission, and then tried to put in the expert evidence first, in order to blacken the character of the hon. Member for Cork. If the Attorney General's recent congratulation offered to my hon. Friend the Member for Cork was honest and sincere, we ought to suppose he was sincere when acting as counsel in the case, and that he would not wish to do a wicked or a dishonest thing. But if he wished to act honestly between man and man, why did he endeavour to evade the issue of the letters? When he knew what Pigott's character was, why did he try to put the letters in by a side issue, so as to blacken the character of my hon. Friend the Member for Cork? There is something more. During the whole course of this inquiry agents of the Times had been in America, and had been in communication with the solicitor of the Times, who had been advised by an eminent counsel, who was also the adviser of Her Majesty's Government. I propose to read to the House some statements which, I think, will startle hon. Members, and which, I think, will tell against the Government in the constituencies, and which will convince the people of England that if there was a foul conspiracy on foot it was against, and not among, the Irish Members. They will show that while we were accused of associating with dynamitards and murderers, our accusers were in constant association with dynamitards, and were trying to obtain the testimony, true or false, of alleged murderers and assassins. Some time ago there appeared in an American paper an affidavit sworn before an American solicitor by P. J. Sheridan. I am not going to rely, however, upon any statement made by Sheridan. I intend to call as a witness the confidential solicitor of the Times. On February 14, 1889, Mr. Soames, in his examination before the Commission, was asked a question as to the time when he learnt that Pigott was the person from whom the letters came. The reply was that he knew subsequently to the trial of "O'Donnell v. Walter" that the letters came from Pigott. The witness added that little things came to his ears from 1854 time to time, and although nobody told him, he practically knew in the Summer of 1888, that the letters came from Pigott. Surely there was sufficient warning to a Government which had the advantage of having within its ranks an old associate of Pigott's. Whether there were monetary relations between the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary (Mr. Matthews) and Pigott it will be for the right hon. Gentleman to state, but Pigott was not the man to do anything for nothing. During his examination Mr. Soames was asked as to certain agents whom he had employed. Mr. Kirby was an agent employed by him in America, and Mr. Soames described him as being' a man of independence. The witness stated that Kirby was paid by him to take journeys and to have interviews for the purpose of taking evidence. He added that he did not mean evidence relating to the letters, but general evidence relating' to the inquiry. Now, I will demonstrate by Mr. Soames's own hand and the telegrams in cypher between him and Kirby that that statement was absolutely false. Later on in the examination a very extraordinary fact was elicited as to Pigott. Not only did Mr. Soames know—and, of course, the Attorney General knew— that Pigott was the person out of whose possession the letters had come, but he stated that as early as October, before the inquiry commenced, he had seen a letter written by Mr. George Lewis to Pigott, accusing him of having confessed that he forged the letters. That was the time for inquiry. That was the time to hunt up the Home Secretary and ask him about his knowledge of Pigott. What was done? Can the Attorney General plead that he had not an opportunity of meeting the Home Secretary; or does he allege that he did not know that the right hon. Gentleman was pretty well acquainted with Mr. Richard Pigott? Now, I will read another remarkable portion of this evidence.Q. I am asking you did it occur to you to press Mr. Pigott as to where he got these letters?—A. No, it did not.Q. And you never have?—A. I never have.Q. Has any one, to your knowledge, interested in the Times? —A. No one.Q. And so far as you know no one has pressed him on that point?—A, He showed me a letter from Mr. Lewis accusing him of having admitted he forged them, and he also showed me his reply.1855 It was not only a letter from Mr. Lewis that was shown to him, but it was a letter charging Pigott with having confessed to Mr. Lewis that he had forged the letters, and yet there was no inquiry, but telegrams were going out to America to see if even a worse character than Pigott could be got who would perjure himself. Now, I will read a few telegrams. They are telegrams which were couched in the most intricate cipher. Sometimes there were obscurities, which I have no doubt the Attorney General will assist us in deciphering. I tell the hon. and learned Gentleman that I regard this as a grave matter, and I will speak plainly. I do not mind what is the etiquette of those who are associated with him in his profession in this country, but I know that the hon. and learned Gentleman made the best use of his position to blacken and assail the characters of the Irish Members, and we owe him nothing. On one occasion the hon. and learned Gentleman accused me by insinuation with having, during an adjournment of the Court, approached a witness with a view to get him to alter his evidence. That was as false and as calumnious an accusation as ever was made. The hon. and learned Gentleman had never had the courage to offer an apology, or the manliness to endeavour to sustain the charge. Up to this day not one word of regret has come from him for having brought such a charge against a professional colleague engaged with him in the conduct of the case. I suppose that in his own estimation he is a gentleman above reproach, but I am only an Irishman, and any material which came to the hon. and learned Gentleman's hand was always a good enough instrument to hit his opponents with if they were Irishmen. I think we shall be able to turn the tables on the hon. and learned Gentleman to some extent, and I invite him, for the honour of his profession, to separate himself, if he can, from the transactions which I am about to bring under the notice of the House. On December 13, 1888, while the Commission was sitting, an agent of the Times, named Thompson, thus telegraphed to Mr. Soames, addressed "Assert, London," which Mr. Soames swore was his telegraphic address— 1856The final decision of F.M. is that he is now ready to come over and give evidence on three days' notice, upon payment of £5,000 down and the remaining £5,000 to be paid to him after his evidence and cross-examination, and he is no longer required. I think him of the utmost importance. Cable reply in full.But when the House is informed who "F. M." was, I think they will be still more surprised. We have been accustomed in this House to violent denunciations of the Irish Americans, and during the course of these discussions one name has been prominently associated with the dynamite plots carried out in this country, and especially with the dynamite plot to blow up this House. That name was the name of General Millen, and that was the gentleman whose assistance the Attorney General was trying to obtain, in order to prove the charge against us. Who are the associates of the dynamitards? Who are the men to lean upon them for assistance in political emergencies, for this was a political trial? This was a political emergency, and the Government were on their trial as well as the Times and the Irish Members. No reply seems to have gone immediately to that telegram, and the gentleman in America was a little urgent. On the 17th of December the same correspondent wired, again in cipher:Reply cable twelfth urgently needed.Hon. Members will observe that the twelfth is given for the thirteenth. Whether the discrepancy is made up by the difference in time between the two countries or not, it is clear that the telegrams relate to one another—Reply cable twelfth urgently needed. Brown Bros have no advice yet of remittance —five hundred.That was for Mr. Thompson, who was described later on by Mr. Soames as an independent gentleman too. They were all independent gentlemen. This is a rather curious occupation for independent gentlemen. Well, Sir, did that telegram or that cipher come under the notice of the Attorney General?
§ MR. T. HARRINGTON
We will see. If that is so, the hon. and learned Gentleman has indeed been sadly betrayed by his Colleagues. They have 1857 broken faith with him, and if I were in his position I would, before this debate is closed, take care to set myself right with the country and denounce those who played me so false. On the 20th of December, 1888, Mr. Soames telegraphed in cipher to "Thompson, New York"—Am waiting final instructions of counsel. Will wire the moment I get them.—Assert.Who was the counsel? The public records of the day show that the Attorney General was then the counsel for the Times. He was the leading counsel in the case. He was appearing every day in Court, and is he going to say that Mr. Soames falsely brought his name and his high position into this telegram, or that other counsel engaged in the case dared to advise in this matter without consulting him?Am waiting final instructions from counsel. Will wire the moment I get them. —ASSERT.That is Mr. Soames. Then, on the 24th of December, 1888, came another telegram from New York in an altered cipher, which, however, we are able to translate—To Assert, London," saying, "With General daily, and thus learn that.Millen, the chief of the dynamitards, the man who is said to have been in charge of the party with design to blow up this House, was that General referred to, and he was advising the case of the Times in New York while the Attorney General was advising it in London. If, therefore, we had assistance in America advising us in the Irish movement, so had the Times assistance there. It is known, say the Judges, that dynamitards contributed to our movement, and so also the prime dynamiter was giving the Attorney General a helping hand. The telegram continued—Henry can prove 6th May case.This was the shadow you were pursuing, this was the shadow that landed you in this disgraceful position for a Government to occupy! Then come the concluding words of the telegram —Says he can prove more both before and after if you close with him at once. Will come over with me in Servia on Saturday. Reply immediately.Then comes in the word "refuse" and three or four words in cipher I have 1858 not been able to make out, but which, with the assistance of Mr. Soames and the Attorney General, perhaps the House may eventually have translated. Then comes the concluding part of the message—Or you risk losing your best witness.Evidently the sense of the message is— "If you refuse his terms you risk losing your best witness." Now, as to the gentleman here referred to, let me turn to the evidenced Mr. Soames before the Commission. Before the Commission Mr. Soames was asked whether the name of Henry had been mentioned to him as an intending witness from America, and he replied in the affirmative, saying that Henry was P. J. Sheridan. I will for a moment break the continuity of the telegrams from New York and go back to the agent who was in direct communication at this time with P. J. Sheridan, and I will read to the House the terms that the New York agent advised Mr. Soames to close with Sheridan for. The telegram I have just read is dated 24th December. On November 19th a telegram was sent from the "independent gentleman," Kirby, as follows —19th November, '88.—Pueblo, Colo., to Assert, London. -Message yesterday intended to mislead operator and others.Fortunately we were not among the others—Have been with Sheridan three days. He will give whole history of Land League that will convict if I buy his two ranches and 3,000 sheep, price £25,000. Will then give evidence here if you force P. to call him for a like amount. Reply Chicago, Monday.—MOHAWK.This is the telegram which the agent in New York was referring to when he spoke of General Millen, reviser of the proofs of the Times in New York and the collaborator of the Attorney General. This is the sum he advised should be given for Sheridan's evidence. There is no statement as to what that evidence is, and there is no means of ascertaining the worth of it, but of course the presumption must be strong that a man with a character such as Sheridan's has been described to be by the Attorney General would for £50,000 give the evidence that was required of him, whether it was true or false, right or wrong. When hon. Gentlemen on the other side get up and charge us with 1859 conspiracy, I say there is evidence here of a conspiracy more deep, more foul, more degrading than any we are accused of being engaged in. Now I go back again to the New York cipher telegrams, and the advice of counsel Mr. Soames was waiting for. I hope a grave injustice has not been done the right hon. Gentleman, and that he is not the counsel in question referred to in these transactions, while he stood before the world as the chief advising counsel for the Times before the Commission. On the 28th of December, 1888, Mr. Soames, who was taking a holiday at Eastbourne, telegraphed to Thompson at New York giving advice of counsel. Who was that counsel? The telegram said—Counsel to inks Henry the most important witness. He says we must know what he can prove.That was an astute counsel who first of all thought Henry a most important witness and then wished to know what he could prove. The telegram continued—And if he has papers, will he give you a written statement, nut to be used unless we agree.—ASSERT.The value of those papers was therefore to be tested, not by their genuineness, but solely by the fact as to whether they could or not establish even a fairly plausible case against us before the Commissioners. Here there is a lapse of some time, during which no messages were sent; or, at all events, we have not been fortunate enough to get hold of them. We have been sufficiently regardful of truth, however, not to forge telegrams when they were not forthcoming. If anybody challenges our authority for these things, then I advise him to ask for a Committee of the House of Commons, when we can prove them, as military Gentlemen opposite say, "up to the hilt." On the 7th January, 1889, the following telegram was despatched from London:—To Thompson, New York.Been absent from England. Cable only just received. Clients away for Christmas. Get him to extend time—fourteen days.There appears to have been considerable reluctance about giving the money. On the same date, January 7, another telegam was sent—To Thompson, New York.Kerby left Saturday. M. Thompson, of 24, University Place, New York, who wrote on 1860 23rd December, has something to sell. See him. Find out all particulars, and price.— ASSERT.Again going into the market months after Pigott had shown the prosecution the letter in which he confessed the forgeries, and months after knowledge of this had been brought home to the Attorney General. Is it not a strange thing that the Times was unable to get one un-purchased supporter of their policy in New York? Is it not a strange thing that the most tempting bribes could procure them no better testimony? On the 12th of March the following telegram was sent from New York:—To Assert, Loudon.Delaney not known at address sent, nor in directory. Expected cable to-day; reply to mine. Cannot see General again until hoar from you.This seems to indicate that the gentlemen concerned was reluctant to give further information if more money was not sent, and we shall see that it was sent. On the 1st of April—a very appropriate day—the following message was sent to New York, this time to Johnstone. Whether Johnstone is the same as Thompson I do not know; but it would appear from those telegrams that they are one and the same person, or, at any rate, that the one acted for the other. This is a message to which I invite the serious attention of the House, because here is clear and conclusive evidence that the Government have been engaged in these transactions. The telegram is as follows:—1st April, '89, London—To Johnstone, Gilsey House, New York.—Hoare, British Consul, has authority to give you names of some informants like Major Le Caron. See him; get all particulars, and induce one or two men to come over. Assistance will be sent you for Millen.This is the first instance in which the name of Millen is shown to be the "F. M."—Frank Millen—mentioned in the earlier telegram. Here we have a promise to send assistance to the dynamitard who had been advising proofs for the Times in America. I hope that before we pass away from this debate some right hon. Gentleman will stand up and explain what Member of the Government is responsible for giving authority to the British Consul to send over informers for the Times. Mr. Hoare was a little doubtful as to the genuineness of 1861 the authority he had received, and accordingly the answer came back—Hoare very civil. Cannot assist us in any way.The right hon. Gentleman opposite is amused; but remember the adage, "He laughs best who laughs last." Here is the message which went out in reply on April 2—All informers' reports, including those from Philadelphia, passed through his hands up to 1884, and were sent by me here. If he does not know names himself he can refer you to those who do.I want to know what colleague of the Attorney General was able to give Mr. Soames this information? I now pass to another chapter of this story, to the messages going on at the same time between Mr. Soames and the gentlemen at Sheridan's headquarters in Colorado. On November 16, 1888, came a message, not in cipher—Can purchase ranches and sheep. Particulars from Pueblo to-morrow.And then on the morrow came the telegram I have already read—Message yesterday intended to mislead operators and others. Have been with Sheridan three days. He will give whole history of Land League that will convict if I buy his two ranches and 3,000 sheep. Price £25,000. Will then give evidence here if you force P. to call him for a like amount.Then comes a short message from Chicago, November 21 —Reply Saturday. Cable from Pueblo, Col.'Then a break comes in during which, I presume, some messages did pass, but we have not been so fortunate as to get them; and on December 11, 1888, there was the following message sent from Chicago to "Assert," London:—Cable £200. Must return.That is a pretty fair amount for a voyage from Chicago to London. Now I turn to Mr. Soames's evidence before the Commission on March 13, when he was examined a second time. Mr. Soames was asked by my late lamented friend, Mr. Biggar, with reference to his sending Kirby to interview Sheridan. The witness was asked—What did Kirby telegraph?And he said—That Sheridan asked £20,000 to come over, and I immediately telegraphed to Kirby to come back.1862 I will test the truth of that statement. Mr. Soames would have it appear that he was virtuously indignant at this demand of Sheridan's; but what are the facts? The telegram recalling him was never sent till December 12, 1888, and it was not a telegram of disapproval—To Kirby, Mohawk, Chicago.—Court adjourns for five weeks. Come home at once I must discuss matters personally with you. Money sent to Brown Brothers, New York. Reply when sail.—ASSERT.A few days later Kirby appears to have been on one of his numerous sprees—for this "independent character" has been described as one of the lowest vagabonds that the American Republic ever turned out—a fit gentleman to sustain the calumnious accusations of the Times, and accordingly on December 24 the following telegram was sent to him:—To Kirby, Chicago. Never allow drafts to be drawn on me. Cannot accept yours. Have cabled 250 Bank of Montreal. When will you sail?—ASSERT.In the course of about 10 days two sums of £250 were sent to Kirby; but what became of Kirby's recall? Was Kirby detained at home by Mr. Soames? No; he was sent out again on his nefarious expedition, and on April 3, long after the Times' case about the forged letters had been blown to atoms, long after Pigott had blown himself out of this world, long after the Attorney General's so-called expression of regret, there came the following telegram from him to "Assert," London:—Sheridan has wired to meet him, Monte-vista, Tuesday morning. Leave to-night. Cable to-morrow night.—TAX.On April 4, came another message, not in cipher, to "Assert"—"Veni, vidi, vici. Will cable early to-morrow, Pueblo. Returning there.Then came a remarkable telegram in cipher so difficult that it was with considerable labour I made it out, and even Mr. Soames who had the key bad to wire to have it repeated—To Assert, London.—Shei'idan met me yesterday; train Montevista; drove to ranche; explained altered conditions mentioned in letter left your possession, that your evidence saying he offered to go to London and give evidence for £20,000 caused Clan-na-Gael to sentence him to death. Two parties of the Clan were ordered to carry out sentence of the executive. A member warned him, also two others. His life is sought; hence he threatens 1863 that he will now go to London and prove the Times justification. His life is in hourly je pardy here; two men have been on his track, and he has become desperate and determined to be revenged. He sticks to his terms and price, but demands immediate action, as his death has been ordered. He will go with me after 12th if he is not killed, and justify the Times, but demands proof of amount being at my command.I am not surprised that the House is amused at this sort of silly play going on. But the character of Members of the House is at stake. This is the fit instrument with which it was determined to assail the Irish Members; and it was because the man was determined to be revenged that the Times were ready to avail themselves of his services, and to ruin Ireland and her cause. A transaction more foul has surely never been brought to public knowledge.
Agrees upon £10,000, which is to go to his family if he is killed before his evidence is given. Papers for ranches and stock to be completed, the balance to be paid to order after Commission justifies the Times."You see he is willing to trust the Attorney General and Mr. Soames for the little balance of £40,000 until his evidence is completed. Then the telegram goes on—Beyond all which his evidence accomplishes he has all documents to implicate Parnell, Dillon, and others. He is desperate and determined, and I believe he will do as he says. He showed me documents connecting Parnell, Dillon, with himself as of the executive existing at the time of Parnell's arrest, 1881.What a monstrous find! What a terrible thing that Sheridan should be able to produce documents addressed to himself as a member of the Land League! Then the message continues—If you want me to take him over you must amend your evidence in Court after reading my report as to his refusing to accept any sum to go over to make his life more safe here. If I am to carry it through, place the net amount named to my credit, Montreal Bank, Chicago, and £500 more for contingencies, and I will have it transferred on notice. He is to meet me Colorado Springs. Saturday. If you do not accept he will leave at once, foreign clime, to save his life if he can. He will on the stand and otherwise prove the Parnell letter and his and other complicity.I invite the attention of the House to the date of this telegram. This was on April 5, and Pigott's flight and death had taken place in February. The whole month of March had elapsed 1864 after the withdrawal of the letters by the Attorney General, and after he had stated in spare and ungenerous terms that he was unable to sustain the letters. Here was an attempt to bribe this unfortunate man Sheridan to back up the case of the forged letters. Was the Attorney General's withdrawal of the Parnell letters sincere, or did he withdraw them at the instance of his client, and, if so, was he a party to this wicked endeavour still to back up the false accusation? I think that the result of the election which took place to-day shows what opinion the English people have formed on this subject. I have road a long cable message. The next one received the same day was a reply in cipher—5th April, 1889. London to Tax, Pueblo. Can't make out part of cable as to terms he wants. Repeat.Another letter was sent on April 23, not in cipher—Immediate reply most important.On the 27th this message was sent, not in cipher—Am sending to you.On May 2 another cablegram was sent to this effect—Am sending to you by Saturday's mail. Cable name you use and address.That has reference to the sending out of a third agent, Mr. Birch. I do not know who Mr. Birch is, as I have not had the advantage of having his biography from Mr. Soames in the same way as we got the biography of Kirby and Thompson. But a Mr. Birch is mentioned as an expert belonging to the British Museum who has been employed by Mr. Soames in testing the Pigott letters, and probably he was sent out by Mr. Soames to test the genuineness of the Sheridan letters. The next telegram was addressed to him in that country. It is dated June 19, and is in these terms—Has he satisfied you as to the value of his evidence and existence of confirmatory documents? Reply, and I will then cable definitely Are you satisfied he is acting straight and will go on board with you? Cable fully.The reply was as follows:—June 20, 1889. Colo. Springs. To Assert, London.—Satisfied he will go, as determined to revenge those who ordered his death. Believe he possesses full testimony and has documents here, but won't divulge same till on ship. Insists on payment for ranch, which is for the money 1865 to secure wife in case of his death; balance as cabled, after evidence, justifies Times. Must secure him now or leaves country. Should advise take ranch; no other chance.Rumour has it that Mr. Kirby, who had spent the greater part of his life in America, and was certainly not known as a man of independent means, was acting in collusion with Sheridan, and that they were agreed that if they could induce the Times to buy Sheridan's ranch they could not do better than put Kirby in as caretaker for the Times. Probably Kirby would then have started a No Rent Manifesto on his own account. On June 22 the following telegram was sent by Mr. Soames to Birch:—June 21, 1889, London. To Birch, Colo. Springs.—Do not believe in his threat to bolt; nor can we place ourselves entirely in his hands. If risk so great between leaving and ship it is all the more necessary he should not have documents on him. If he will show you documents, you are satisfied of their value, as evidence, and he will hand them over; when transfer made and money paid you may dispense with written statement till he is on ship. If he will not agree to this, it means he intends to sell us. Too late to cable money to-day. He gives no reason why he cannot do as asked.This was the reply—June 25, 1889. Colo. Springs, to Assert, London.—Foresaw as to documents. Daughter here; travels with them; nothing on him to identify; will give all on ship. Says if anything came out meantime he had disclosed, family would be sacrificed, as wife aware P. and others met at his house. Says ranch covers money and forfeits balance unless evidence satisfies. This final—he will go.But he did not go, and the Times has been without his valuable assistance. On July 5 the following message was sent by Mr. Soames to Birch:—July 5, 1889, London. To Birch, Cdo. Springs. He must satisfy you that he has a number of documents genuine and of value. For all we know those shown in bulk may be of no importance whatever. His danger is all the more reason why he should satisfy us if he means to go straight. Money deposited and ready to be cabled at moment's notice.If Sheridan did not go, and if he were the character such as he has been frequently described by right hon. Gentlemen opposite, it was not because the Times did not make every endeavour to buy his evidence. It was not because adequate offers were not made; and if the example of Pigott had not been before him, if exposure had not been before him, we do not know what he would have done. I do not say he would have 1866 been wicked enough to perjure himself. I know nothing of the man, whose character you have yourselves repeatedly blown upon; I never have had any communication with him; but after the description which has been given of him by the Government—for you have accused him of planning murder and plotting outrages in Ireland, and of being the director of the Phoenix Park murders—I say there could be no criminality higher than that involved in these efforts to obtain his evidence. On July 10 the following was cabled:—July 10, 1889. Colo. Springs. To Assert, London. Did not see letter. Was shown K. He saw it again last night. Finds he made mistake in Castlereagh. It dates Feb. 80. One with check to pay in Ulster for outrage eviction, and urge Leitrim tenants agitate; another more money to hurry crisis. Both on League paper, signed Dillon. Says genuine, and affirms me to-day has 'D' letter as to Castlereagh and others showing large payments. Have only his word that documents in bundle are from members and leaders implicating all with League and outrage. Won't show me documents till on ship as his name got in Press before. Think go straight to secure family, as home broken up; life in danger; and wants revenge leaders who he made and condemn him. But for that would not split.Evidently the £50,000 offered was not sufficient; it was also necessary as an additional inducement that the man should realise he was in danger. The next telegram was—July 12, 1889, London. To Birch, Cdo. Springs. Yes; leave K. and return.Towards the close of the proceedings before the Commission the country and the Press remarked how very flat the right hon. and learned Member for Bury was in the conclusion of his speech. It was not like the right hon. Gentleman at all. I do not wish to cast any aspersions on him. I recognised, and those whom I represented recognised, that in him we had to deal with a gentleman. However he might differ from us politically, he did not exhibit towards us malignity and bitterness; his language was courteous, and his tone conciliatory. He did his duty as counsel for the Times, and his clients had no reason to complain on that score. On October 29, while the right hon. and learned Gentleman was still addressing the Commission, a message was sent by Kirby to Mr. Soames. The telegram was as follows:— 1867Montevista, Col.To Assert, London.Long interview to-day with wife, to-day privately. She gives positive assurance he will go, if one thousand is paid to her at once; thousand to him in gold in steamer leaving port; all the rest as cabled. Am satisfied on these terms he will go and give history to shorthand type-writer on board for brief; and no other terms possible is my positive opinion.There was no abatement of the original demand, but a desperate endeavour at the last moment to get something out of the clients of the hon. and learned Gentleman. No doubt the hon. and learned Gentleman will rely on that telegram to show that he and his clients knew that Sheridan was deceiving them. If so, why did they continue in treaty with him? Have they entered into negotiations with that man for the purpose of producing evidence, true or false, which might again stir up the flames of prejudice against us? If these telegrams are genuine they have—and I challenge the hon. Member to cast any doubt on them, for I can produce the cipher in which they were written—I will tell the hon. and learned Gentleman furthermore that while his clients were offering these enormous bribes of £50,000 and £10,000 for men to perjure themselves against the Irish Party, neither that Party, nor any one connected with it, ever paid a penny to procure this evidence. I will not say how the information came into my hands. But let the Government give us a Commission to inquire into these matters. If they do I will prove these things, and even more. The hon. and learned Member pledged his honour and reputation to prove the genuineness of the letters. [The ATTORNEY GENERAL dissented]. Has the hon. and learned Member any defence or apology to make for the language he used during the prosecution of the case, and the still more doubtful, I will not say criminal, but regrettable and condemnable language, for one in his position, at the termination of the case for the letters, when he withdrew them? I again challenge the Government to give me a Committee of inquiry into the genuineness of these letters. I shall be able to prove from Mr. Soames himself that every one of these telegrams is genuine, and I shall have additional evidence on other matters to bring forward. The informa- 1868 tion I have laid before the House places the hon. and learned Gentleman in a serious position. The worst case we ever alleged against the hon. and learned Gentleman was that he has been associated with the former "pals" of the Home Secretary, when these persons helped to defeat the Government at Dungarvan. The honour of the profession, and the position he holds, now casts upon him the duty of separating himself in clear language from all responsibility for the conspiracy which I have unfolded, and furthermore of casting that conspiracy upon the persons who were guilty of entering into that conspiracy.
(11.28.) MR. MAC NEILL (Donegal, S.)
I beg to move the adjournment of the debate.
§ (11.30.) MR. R. A. YERBURGH (Chester)
I rise to support the Motion of the First Lord of the Treasury, and in doing so I cannot but express my regret that in view of the mere rejection of the Amendment proposed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian the Government have not thought it advisable to alter the terms of their Motion so as to have expressed their satisfaction at the acquittal of Mr. Parnell, adding their solemn reprobation of the conduct of right hon. Gentlemen opposite who have been guilty of a treasonable and criminal conspiracy. Before the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman was placed on the Paper, the Motion of the Government appeared to me to be the necessary sequel to the result of the Judges' investigations. The fact that this special charge made against Mr. Parnell in connection with the forged letters has been proved to be false was known to all the world. For months it has been household talk, and the leader of this House has expressed in terms in which we all on this side concur his detestation of that charge. With regard, however, to the other charges, graver by far, which have been proved against hon. Members opposite, the Report has only now placed them before the country. And how has the the Government proposed to treat them? Without one word of comment, treating 1869 them with absolute silence, the Government merely propose to adopt the Commission Report, leaving the public to gather from its pages the verdict which has been passed after the most mature judicial consideration. The course taken by the Government was, undoubtedly, the right course to pursue. It was a high-minded and generous course. The Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman has, however, entirely altered the situation. That Amendment is of so extraordinary a character, inasmuch as it fails to traverse or in any way affect the subject matter of the Motion before the House, that one is tempted to ask, in passing, what can have suggested it? One reason for it may be found in the fact that if we reject it the right hon. Gentleman may be able to brand us with having refused to apologise for the injury received by Mr. Parnell. Another in the further fact that the Opposition feel the charges which have been proved to be so grave that they must, at all hazards, divert public attention from them, and endeavour to produce the belief that the gravamen of those charges consists mainly in the forged letters. These, Sir, I believe to be the reasons which have dictated this Amendment. With regard to the Amendment itself, I take the strongest objection to it. I have no hesitation in saying that it amounts to a suppressio veri. It suggests that all the charges made in the Report have been disproved. In face of this I could have wished that the Government had proposed to have placed on record in their Motion the whole of the findings of the Court in language "understanded of the people," so that the country might have placed before them the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Turning to the arguments by which the Amendment has been supported, I think J shall carry the general body of the House with me when I say that able and eloquent as have been the speeches delivered by learned Gentlemen engaged in this case, they are after all but the speeches of counsel for the prosecution and defence respectively, and as it is upon those speeches that the Judges have issued their Report, they can carry no weight in this House. The arguments and speeches which we have, I think, to consider are those which have been addressed to this House by others than those 1870 to whom I have alluded. Chief among them is the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, and here I must confess that I could not resist the inducement to cheer that speech, so rich was it in eloquence, beyond anything I have before heard even from the right hon. Gentleman; but rich as it was in eloquence, that eloquence only served to bring into greater relief the poverty of its argument. Now, what are the arguments of the right hon. Gentleman? In the first place, we had reference to the Judges, on whom the right hon. Gentleman bestowed great praise for their ability, although I fail to discover that he said anything as to their impartiality. And he went on to say that he could not agree with their judgment. I read a speech a short time ago delivered by the right hon. Gentleman in 1881, in which he said that, in his opinion, the outrages in Ireland were not due to evictions or distress, but, on the contrary, were due to the operations of the Land League. It is an extraordinary thing that what the right hon. Gentleman stated in that speech now appears to be the unanimous opinion of the Judges who sat upon the Commission. He went on to say the Judges were debarred from going into certain matters, and that the scope of their inquiry was consequently limited, so that they were not able to look at all the aspects of the case. I would venture to say that such a judgment as is here indicated is one that would have been suited only to the historian, and not to Judges, whose duty it was to determine matters of fact. Then the right hon. Gentleman referred to various charges which had been proved against hon. Members opposite. He dealt with those charges in a very cursory manner—indeed in a manner that was almost calculated to mislead the House, and induce it to believe that the charges were much less serious and far less numerous than they really are. He dealt with the charges as to the dissemination of newspapers with a view to inciting to crime, and he also touched upon the £6 case and the question of the seven Members who were found guilty of treason. The general argument of the right hon. Gentleman with regard to those who were found guilty of conspiracy was that the offences were 1871 committed so long ago that it was now unnecessary to consider them. This portion of his argument goes to the question of whether there should be punishment or not, and not to the question whether this House should adopt the suggestion contained in the Commissioners' Report. He went on to the question of intimidation, and here again used the argument that the charges were so old that they were unworthy of consideration. He further dealt with what had taken place in the years 1881 and 1882, and asked whether the facts were unknown? In answer to this we reply that the facts were not unknown, inasmuch as they have been frequently insisted upon by the right hon. Gentleman himself, and laid before this House by him. But, Sir, these facts which the country in 1881 had only upon the ex parte statement of the right hon. Gentleman have now been investigated by a Commission composed of Judges of great experience and knowledge of the law, pronounced upon by them after a lengthy, minute, and exhaustive inquiry. Well, the right hon Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian went on to say he had found that the hon. Member for the City of Cork was a conservative force in Ireland, and that he had rather assisted in putting down outrages than in their promotion. If that be the right hon Gentleman's real opinion of the hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of Cork I shall anxiously wait to hear the apology the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian will offer the hon. Member for the language he has used at various times with regard to him. The right hon. Gentleman dealt with what he called the condonation of the offences that had been committed, alleging that the circumstances of the interview between Lord Carnarvon and the hon. Member for the City of Cork amounted to condonation. But that argument has been sufficiently dealt with by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bristol (Sir M. Hicks Beach). In point of fact, the right hon. Gentleman has completely disproved it; but that there has been condonation by lapse of time I do not deny; and, therefore, I am disposed to go with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian as far as this, that where there has been so great an interval no prosecution or punishment ought to follow. In defence 1872 of the Irish agitation, the right hon. Gentleman asked the House whether Ireland would ever have got the Land Act without that agitation? Surely never has a more dangerous, a more injurious, a more demoralising doctrine been heard within the walls of this House. We are told by the right hon. Gentleman that we are bound to look at all the facts connected with a great movement—that we must look around and take a complete view of the whole of the social and political condition of Ireland when these crimes and outrages were committed in Ireland before we can regard what may have been done as a tit subject for Parliamentary censure. But why, I ask, did not the right hon. Gentleman do this in 1881? Why did he not then see that it was his duty, not only to look at the crime committed, but at all the attendant circumstances by which that crime was surrounded? I now turn to the Bath speech of the right hon. Gentleman the member for Derby (Sir W. Harcourt) who is one of our most bitter opponents on this question, and in reference to what has fallen from him to account for the contempt with which we regard his attacks I shall content myself with quoting a passage from an early and unexpurgated edition of a work called Gladstone's House of Commons, written by a very able and eloquent Member of this House, one of the right hon. Gentleman's present leaders. The description given of the right hon. Gentleman in the work I have alluded to is as follows:—Sir Wm. Harcourt is a thorough Tory at heart. He is so notoriously, so ostentatiously, I had almost said, so avowedly destitute of all political principle that he may be trusted to take up any cry that pays.In conclusion, Sir, I would draw the attention of the House to the extraordinary doctrine that has prompted the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, and that is the foundation of his speech—namely, that an injury to an individual is superior to a crime against the whole body of individuals who constitute the State—that libel is worse than treason—that an attack upon a reputation is worse than outrages upon the lives and liberties of the free people of the United Kingdom. Sir, let me add a 1873 protest against confining this discussion to narrow and petty grounds. It is not a question of individuals that we have before us; it is a question which concerns the safety of the State. For the Irish Members that are concerned in it we have no feeling of vindictiveness or personal dislike; let them only avoid the paths of treason and of criminal conspiracy; let them abjure Patrick Ford, the Clan-na-Gael, and all their works; let them place their faith in Constitutional agitation, and we will be glad— nay, proud—to hold out the hand of fellowship to them. But however this may be, we are happy in knowing that by our votes and efforts in 1886 we saved our country from as grave a danger as has ever threatened her, and we feel confident that when this Report has been read, marked, and learnt, the great mass of our countrymen will look upon the Unionist Party as the saviours of their country.
MR. MAC NEILL
Mr. Speaker, the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down is very sanguine indeed if he believes that the Report will be of any benefit to his own Party. Still, I reciprocate the good wishes which the hon. Gentleman extended towards us — and, I believe, heartily extended. I think a perusal of the Report ought to convince the hon. Gentleman that the inquiry from first to last was an attempt to strike at the reputation of our country by striking at the Irish Members. The hon. Baronet (Sir W. Barttelot) seemed to be politically out of joint. We acknowledge the kindness which lurks behind all the asperity of his sentiments. We know that he has a great deal of kindness and goodness of heart, and I may say that his real disposition has been illustrated by the contrast which he afforded in his manner of speaking of the forged letters to the skilled apology of the Attorney General in open Court. I have often asked myself what the solution was, since early last March, of an utterance of the Prime Minister. I have never been able to discover it until to-night. It is the disclosure made by my hon. Friend (Mr. T. Harrington) of the close alliance which has existed between this Government and the Dynamite Party in America, and of the fact that even after the suicide of Pigott, through some in- 1874 fluence or other, they sought to vamp up again that letter. It explains to me the language of Lord Salisbury, who, three or four days after Pigott's suicide, threw doubt upon the forgery, and said he believed it was a genuine document. Perhaps he will do me the honour of making an explanation in the other House, but it would appear that at the time he made that statement he knew that Mr. Soames was intriguing and negotiating with the Dynamite Party. And this, perhaps, throws some light on the circumstance that the Attorney General was unable to advise in a criminal charge against obscure prisoners without consulting the Prime Minister and the Lord Chancellor. Lord Salisbury, as superior officer, knew about the negotiations by Soames, and, perhaps, in the same way the Attorney General was so marvellously conscientious as to feel impelled to consult his superior officers, the Prime Minister and the Lord Chancellor, in reference to a wretched two penny-halfpenny case. By the Motion of the First Lord of the Treasury you are merely reducing Parliament to a machine for the registration of the findings of the Judges. That is not a position which the House of Commons should occupy. It is not the position taken up by the Judges, who divested their investigations of all political considerations. But that is not the spirit of the Government. I think we can point to evidences of political feeling in the way in which this Report is being treated by the other side. All through the entertaining speech of the hon. Baronet the Member for Sussex there were references to past controversies. And in this connection I am reminded of an incident, a somewhat sorrowful one. A member of the Irish Party, some years ago, lost his mind, and, in 1875, when crossing from Holyhead to Ireland, we heard him talk of events of 1866 as if they were just then current. So did the hon. Baronet the Member for Sussex. He spoke of the events of 1884, and seemed to forget that we are in 1890. But he stopped short of the Carnarvon negotiations. The hon. Baronet was justified, so far as he is concerned, for he will have nothing to do with Home Rule. But he appeared to forget that his own Party were Home Rulers in 1885. Lord Carnarvon, when he was Lord Lieutenant, 1875 invited the hon. Member (Mr. Parnell) to a Conference, which was to take place in an empty house in Dublin. The whole ins and outs of this interview have not yet been told, but I remember when the statement was first made, Lord Salisbury immediately wrote to the newspapers, saying that it was shameful to bring such accusations against Lord Carnarvon in his absence. Lord Carnarvon was in South Africa, and I happened to be there, too. Lord Carnarvon gave little lectures on Social Science to the colonists, and wherever he went, I followed, and told the whole circumstances of the negotiations with the hon. Member (Mr. Parnell). And during all the time the noble Earl maintained a marvellous silence, peace, and patience. The Attorney General the other night stated that the fetters were at last taken off his tongue. There is an expression in Classical literature of a man having the lock on his tongue, which meant that he had fee and reward. I do not understand how the Attorney General had the fetters taken off his tongue, except that, as counsel, he had ceased to have fee and reward, In this foul conspiracy —for I cannot call it by any other name—it was the Times and the Government from beginning to end. Why was the secret of the Pigott letter so long kept? The Attorney General was determined not to know anything about Pigott, and he did not put Pigott into the box until the 63rd day of the inquiry. In fact, the absence of Pigott from the witness box, and the indignant remonstrances of the Judges with regard to him, all prove one thing, that the Government did not intend to produce him, because they knew that 1876 such results would quickly follow as have been in part fulfilled, by the St. Pancras election to-night.
§ It being midnight, the Debate stood adjourned.
§ Debate to be resumed To-morrow.