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 Commissions s 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. K. Gladstone.)
§ Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ Debate resumed.
§ *(4.45.) MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)
[Who had not concluded his speech on Wednesday when the Debate stood adjourned at half past 5]: When my remarks were interrupted by the hour of closing yesterday, I was discussing the question whether there is any ground for horror, which seems to be felt by hon. Members opposite, at the Commissioners' finding that there are seven of the respondents who joined the Land League with the view of bringing about by its means the national independence of Ireland. Now, whatever the technical effect of such action may be, surely the morality of an attempt of the kind depends entirely upon the circumstances under which it is made and the methods which are resorted to. We all know that it is not easy to say when insurrection is justifiable or unjustifiable. At this time of day all 139 will admit that the Revolution of 1688 was justifiable, that the Civil War of the Parliament was justifiable. In fact, the revolutionists and rebels of one generation are the patriots of the next. Within the last few weeks a very remarkable illustration has been afforded of this principle. In 1848, one of the Nationalist leaders in Hungary was Count Andrassy, who was forced to fly after the conquest of Hungary in 1849, and sentenced to death by the Austrian tribunals as a rebel. But that same Count Andrassy afterwards became Chancellor of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and the most powerful statesman in the country. A career like his ought to guard us against the folly of measuring by legal and technical rules the amount of moral guilt which attaches to revolutionists. With regard to Ireland, I should like to ask the House whether the horror, which is no doubt genuine in the minds of hon. Gentlemen opposite, at the idea that Irishmen can desire national independence, does not arise from a total failure on our part to appreciate the feelings with which Ireland regards this country. Those feelings are very similar to those which the Poles entertain towards Russia. I mention that analogy, not because I adopt it, not because I think English policy towards Ireland resembles that of Russia to Poland, but because it is one which Irishmen have often used, and which has been generally adopted on the Continent, and has even been employed by a distinguished ex-Cabinet Minister, now a pillar of the anti-Home Rule Party, as all will remember, in a speech made in 1885. Those who read the Report of the Commission will find abundant evidence of the existence of this sentiment. There is a remarkable quotation on page 70 from an article in United Ireland, which begins with the words, "They hate us and we hate them." These words are thoroughly indicative of Irish feelings and movements, though the belief on which they are founded is, as regards Englishmen and Scotchmen, erroneous. But when we hear such a speech as that of the hon. Member for North Antrim (Sir C. Lewis), in which it is argued that everything not proved must be assumed against the Irish Members, that every charge must always have been well-founded; when an influential 140 journal welcomes without inquiry, and with a careful abstinence from inquiry, letters which have been proved to be forgeries; when we see that newspaper giving currency to hideous calumnies which have scarcely even the justification of rumour, but seem to have been evolved out of the wicked imagination of the writer, it is quite intelligible not only why Irishmen hate this country, but why they should believe that we hate them. Those who were in the House from 1880 to 1885 will remember the words of the late Mr. Forster in introducing the Compensation for Disturbance Bill, which he brought in expressly on the ground that evictions were producing outrages, and that the only way to deal with outrages was to stop evictions. Every one knows that the Bill would' never have been introduced but for that opinion. Every one knows that the failure of that Bill increased outrages, and that the reason for the introduction of a sweeping Land Bill was that a Coercion Bill had been brought in. I remember in January, 1881, when the Coercion Bill was going through the House, a large number of Liberal Members made a declaration to the Government Whips that they would not vote for the Coercion Bill unless they were assured that it would be followed by large remedial measures, measures larger and more drastic than the Ministry were then believed to contemplate Bearing all this in Blind, can we wonder that, not only in the minds of the peasantry, but in those of their leaders, the belief was entertained that by outrages alone could the attention of England be attracted to the state of Ireland? We cannot be surprised if, in 1879, many Irishmen, like Mr. Davitt, contemplated the absolute independence of Ireland; and the moral which ought to be drawn from this finding of the Commissioners lies in the contrast, the happy contrast, in this respect between 1879 and the present day. I do not for a moment wish to palliate or excuse the violent acts done in the years preceding 1886. Those acts appear terrible to us now because of the comparatively peaceful way in which, during the present reign, great movements of reform have been carried on in Great Britain. Let the House compare the Irish movement 141 with revolutionary movements in other countries. Let us compare this Jacquerie with the Jacqueries of previous times in other countries; or even with the revolutionary movement of the Parisian Commune in 1871. If we do this we shall have reason to rejoice that the revolutionary movement in Ireland has not resulted in more crimes and outrages. I confess, therefore, bearing all these considerations in mind, that I see no reason why the House should not express its pleasure at the acquittal of the hon. Member for Cork from the grave charges which have been brought against him. It is clear that the Irish leaders have endeavoured to restrain the Clan-na-Gael, and as for the money which came from America, that money was not Patrick Ford's nor contributed by the Dynamite Party; it was the money of the Irish population in America, and was largely devoted to the relief of distress in Ireland. The hon. Member for North Antrim (Sir C Lewis) spoke as if the Irish Members encouraged crime. Hut the finding of the Commissioners is directly the reverse; it is that many of the Irish leaders, especially Mr. Davitt, exerted themselves to prevent crime. No single citation has been made in which incitement to crime has proceeded from these men. Why, therefore, should not the House record its regret that these charges have been made? This ought to be done all the more, and not the less, because the Member for Cork is the chosen leader of the Irish people, because the Irish people have been wronged in the person of the Member for Cork. It ought to be done all the more and not the less because you profess your wish to keep the Irish Members here at Westminster, and give them a potent voice in British legislation. All the charges on which the Irish Members were condemned were known in 1883. They were certainly known when the leaders of the then Opposition entered into alliance with the Irish leaders in 1885. That alliance marked a very important epoch in our dealings with Ireland. Up to that time, questions of Irish judicial administration had, to a large extent, been placed in the category of questions which ought to be kept out of the partisan arena; and it is 142 to the alliance formed in 1885 between the Conservative Party and the Irish Members that the progress of the Home Rule movement is to a large extent attributable. The President of the Board of Trade (Sir M. Hicks Beach.) said that in 1885 the Members of Her Majesty's Government had not the means of knowing whether to believe the charges then circulated with regard to the Irish Members. If they did not believe them it was not from want of hearing them constantly made, or for want of opportunity to ascertain whether such charges were well founded or not. They were in office, with full command of secret official information. They knew enough to attack Lord Spencer in the Maamtrasna debate; they knew enough to decide before they came into power in June, 1885, that they would not renew the Coercion Act, and it is idle for them to now assert that the truth of these charges has only recently become known to them. There is something grossly insincere in the attitude now taken up by hon. Members We all know—they know, if they would speak frankly out—that their horror at what the Commissioners find that the Irish Members did is an. unreal and simulated horror. When the Crimes Bill was before the House, the old charges had become stale, and it was thought necessary to destroy the character of hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway by some new charges. I do not say that the new charges then brought forward were not believed by those who brought them forward, but I say they were believed out of rank prejudice and vindictiveness, and without adequate ground for such belief. It is said by the leader of the House that the object of this Motion was not to inflict punishment. What, then, is its object? Simply to make political capital out of the Report—to use the Report to destroy the Home Rule movement by attacking the characters of its leaders. I trust that with this debate we may get rid of all personal charges. Gentlemen opposite can still fall back upon the Constitutional arguments against Home Rule and discuss the question on its merits without reference to personal charges against the Irish leaders of the Home Rule movement. The conduct of those hon. Members will be 143 judged by a far higher tribunal than any party majority of this House, and if we may conjecture as to the future from the past the verdict of history will be far more lenient to those hon. Members than the majority of this House appear disposed to be. How many Irish patriots who in times past were persecuted and imprisoned and put to death by the English Government are now revered in their own country and honoured even in this? I suppose there is no one who does not now acknowledge the high patriotism of Wolfe Tone, who does not feel a compassionate sympathy for Robert Emmett, and who does not admire the unblemished private character and lofty patriotism of Daniel O'Connell. A regret is, indeed, now not infrequently expressed in some quarters that the leaders of the Irish Party in the present day are not like the leaders in the past. People wish when too late that O'Connell were back again, though in his day he was treated just as the Irish Members are treated by you now. But if we look at the action of these Irish Members apart from the passion of the moment I doubt whether we shall find much reason to complain of it. What is it that the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) and Mr. Davitt have done? The movement which they started is not a new movement. It followed on others which at intervals of about every 10 years have arisen and failed; and those movements failed because they were not completely national, but only appealed to one portion of the people—either to the peasautry alone or the extreme party in the middle classes. What the hon. Member for Cork and Mr. Davitt have done is to unite the different sections of the Irish people in demanding from England a permanent and complete settlement. That settlement has not yet been attained. It may be postponed; but judging by the present signs of the times, I believe that it cannot be far off. By forcing this question forward and bringing this Irish movement to a head, the hon. Member for Cork and his Friends and Mr. Davitt have rendered a service not alone to their country but to Great Britain. If the long strife between the two countries seems to be now drawing to a close; if the soil of Ireland is to be transferred even by the legislation of Her Majesty's present Government from the landlords 144 to the tenants; if there is less bitter feeling towards the people of this country in Ireland and among the Irish people in America; if there is now a kindlier feeling on the part of the English people towards Ireland—for these results we have in a great measure to thank the hon. Member for Cork and his friends. A Parliamentary majority may be hasty and passionate. But fortunately Parliamentary majorities come and go. The judgment of history is large and liberal: she looks at broad and permanent results. And history, even if it finds something to blame in the conduct of the Irish Members, will nevertheless deal tenderly with those who have been true, like the hon. Member for Cork and Mr. Davitt, with no selfish end to serve, through danger and suffering, through obloquy and calumny, to what they have held, and as I believe rightly have held, to be the sacred cause of their country.
§ *(5.8.) SIR C. RUSSELL (Hackney, S.)
My hon. Friend the Attorney General has conveyed to me a reasonable wish that he should follow me in this debate, and I hope therefore the House will excuse me for following the able speech on the same side just delivered by my hon. and learned Friend. I certainly should have desired that I might have followed my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Bury (Sir H. James), and I do not think that is an unreasonable wish. But my right hon. and learned Friend will, no doubt, take part in this debate later on, and will appear in the character which sits upon him so gracefully since he became leader of a more or less important section of this House as a kind of moderator, vir pietate gravis. There are two propositions before the House, the Motion and the Amendment. The Motion which Her Majesty's Government ask the House to accept has three objects in view—first, to express thanks to the Judges who acted on the Commission; secondly, the adoption; of the Report; and, thirdly, its insertion on the Journals of the House. As to the Judges, I should like to say a word. I owe it to my long private friendship, with these three distinguished men, and I think it a matter of public duty, to say that I believe each one of these Judges desired to the best of his ability honestly 145 and impartially to discharge his duty; but I hope I am not precluded from saying, without disrespect, that I cannot affirm that I regard them as having been free from prepossessions and prejudices, or as capable of dealing judicially with many of the questions that arose in the course of the inquiry. Indeed, I am justified in making that statement, for they themselves have stated in their Report that they have not found it within the mandate received by them from Parliament to deal with matters without considering which it is impossible to judge of the moral character of the acts imputed to certain hon. Members of this House. Now, in the first place, I desire to ask is there any precedent for this proposed vote of thanks to the Judges? I have listened with attention to the speeches delivered by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on that side of the House; but I have failed to hear any justification for this proposal by reference to any precedent. I think it is a bad precedent to select three Judges, whose duties no doubt were onerous, who had submitted to them a question with a political aspect in it, and to attribute to them, as if they were exceptional in that regard, that impartiality and that justice which I hope is the common attribute of all the Judges of the realm. With regard to the adoption of the Report, again, I ask is there any precedent which can be cited for the proceeding of the Government in the adoption of the Report, and in seeking its inscription on the Journals of the House, when it is at the same time declared that no further action is to be taken upon it? The nearest analogy I know is with regard to Election Petitions. There the Judges report the result (which is final) of the Election Petitions which are tried before them, and in accordance with the Statute their judgment is entered on the Journals of the House, in order that by the inscription of that judgment there shall be a confirmation of the election of the Member of Parliament or a rectification of the roll. In this case there is no precedent either as to one or the other—there is no precedent as to the Commission, and there is no precedent for entering the Report on the Journals of the House. We are invited to a discussion which I, for one, should willingly have 146 avoided taking part in if it had been possible, in which it is necessary to refer to the action of certain persons and to criticise some of the findings of the Judges—a bootless, purposeless discussion, which certainly does not tend to elevate the tone of the House, and from which no useful purpose can, in my judgment, be derived. As regards the findings of the Commission one great distinction is to be observed. In questions which admit of direct proof or disproof, I have the greatest respect for the decision of the Judges. Such questions were these—"Aye or no, were the letters forged?" "Aye or no, was any one or were more of the incriminated persons parties to or accomplices in crime?" "Aye or no, were Mr. Parnell or any of his associates parties to the Phœnix Park tragedy?" But I may be allowed, with the greatest deference, to say that when it comes to a question of drawing inferences from a number of facts—as, for instance, the effect of agitation upon the minds of the people of the country, or the effect of that agitation in increasing crime, or the effect of speeches delivered without complete knowledge of the circumstances in which those speeches are made, or as to the effect of remedial legislation—I deny that the opinion of the three Judges is entitled to greater weight than that of any three independent gentlemen who have had an opportunity of considering the question. Why, Sir, some of the findings strike me as most extraordinary. By the Act of 1882 a load of £2,000,000 of arrears was lifted from the shoulders of the Irish tenants; and yet, in the opinion of these three most excellent men, that had no pacifying or tranquillising effect. The Act of 1881 was passed, which I took the liberty of calling- upon a former occasion, and I repeat it now, the first great charter of emancipation and liberty to the Irish tenants, yet that also had not in the Judges' opinion any great tranquillising effect. We are asked to adopt this Report. I take it "adoption" means that each man is asked to make this Report his own, and he is asked to do that in the absence of the evidence on which it is founded. It reminds one of the Judge in Rabelais, who dispensed justice with the dice-box, which be alternately cast for the plaintiff and the defendant 147 giving his decision in accordance with the result of the throws. To ask the House to perform this judicial act without having read the evidence—I do not know that one-half of the House has even read or studied the Report—without access to or means of considering the evidence is nothing short of a farce. Does anyone on either side of the House imagine that a Party vote on this question can add anything to this Report beyond what its intrinsic merits warrant? It has been said we are inconsistent in saying that this Report is a "triumphant acquittal," and then in objecting to that acquittal being inscribed on the Journals of the House. I contend that there is no inconsistency in saying as we do say, and believe we are justified in saying, that on all the main, important, and grave issues which are the foundation of this Amendment it is a triumphant acquittal. But we are not thereby estopped from disputing the justice, wisdom, and accuracy of the findings upon some of the minor points; and I say there is no precedent, no ground of expediency, and no object in the Motion that I am aware of except to invite a discussion which, in some respects, is not either pleasant or satisfactory. I turn to the Amendment. The Home Secretary, in his speech the other night, told us he was not concerned to dispute the truth of the Amendment; but he added that it was not the whole truth. Ay, Sir, but it is the whole truth relevant to the substance of the Amendment, because it relates to the false charges supported by fraud and calumny—in other words, to the charges found to be disproved. It puts in the foreground what we believe to be the salient feature of the Report, namely, the acquittal of the hon. Member for Cork and his Colleagues from the grave issues raised before the Commission; and it expresses the generous sympathy of the House for the men so long and so foully wronged. It will be said those are not really the most serious and grave charges. I will apply a practical test which I will invite hon. Members opposite in candour to answer. Cut out from the charges and allegations which appeared in Parnellism and Crime all those which the Judges have found disproved, and is there anyone on that side of the House who will say that the 148 remnant of those charges would be a justification for the Commission? Now, I want to say a word or two about the Commission, and the inquiry upon which it was invited to embark. I know it was said by the right hon. Gentleman in moving the Resolution the other day that we have no right to complain of the character of this Commission, because we did not divide against the Second Reading. But why? Because we protested, and will protest again, against its unconstitutional character. We did not divide, because to do so would have been to shut out the hon. Member for Cork from any opportunity of inquiring into those charges at all. You refused to give the inquiry he asked, and he had only the alternative of the inquiry offered by your Bill, or none at all. And it is not to be forgotten that that inquiry was sent to the Commission exactly as you had introduced it into your Bill, that you listened to no suggestion, that you accepted no Amendment, and that you declined to give or yield even an earnest consideration to some proposals which were made with a view to protecting the interests of those who were to be brought before that Commission. The Commission embarks upon its inquiry, extending over 10 years and embracing a period in which there was going on in Ireland nothing short of a revolution, partly social and partly political—a revolution in which were engaged the great mass of the Irish people of all classes and conditions, the landlords, and the dependents of the landlords, alone excepted. What were the other difficulties? Of course, the charges had to be proved as on a criminal indictment. If the respondents had been charged before the ordinary tribunals they would have had a magisterial inquiry, an opportunity of knowing who the witnesses were, opportunities of learning the antecedents of those witnesses—nay, not only that, but they would have been entitled to be furnished, according to the humane and just rules of our criminal procedure, with a copy of the evidence which the witnesses were expected to give. What was the course of this case? The case before the Commission was conducted as a game of surprises. We had no notice of the names of witnesses, much less notice of the character of the evidence they were going to give; and we know now how the 149 gaols of this country ware scoured in order to see whether from the off scourings there might not be found persons who would come forward and give evidence that would incriminate one or other of the respondents. We know also that amongst the person who, I presume under the authority of the Home Secretary—I do not know whether with his authority or not—visited the convicts in their prison cells were police officers and the wretched man Pigott, who played so tragic a part in this inquiry. And we now know from the revelations which came from the hon. Member for the Harbour Division of Dublin, that down to October, 1889—I will ask the House to note the date—eight or nine months after the story of the forgeries had been blown to the winds and three or four months after the counsel representing the respondents had retired from Court—there were still communications going on with America. Large sums of money have been spoken of, or suggested, as to be paid provided the witness could produce evidence of other documents and of other letters to take the place of the discarded forgeries, for which the Attorney General was supposed to have made some kind of apology. How was the case conducted in Court? I am not going to say at this moment one word more than I said before the Judges and before the Attorney General. I say the case was conducted pertinaciously, rancorously, and in a way in which the Attorney General himself would have been the last person to conduct it, if the political character of this case had not swept away his judgment, and if he had not thought that it was an occasion on which political advantage for his Party was to be gained. I will content myself with saying here that it was conducted with no sense of generosity to the parties charged, the Colleagues of the hon. and learned Gentleman. I wish to point out, for it has not yet been done clearly, I think, what was the real hardship in the mode this case was conducted. It was this—the charge was launched as a charge of conspiracy, and lawyers will appreciate, though laymen perhaps cannot, that in consequence the Attorney General was enabled for days and weeks and months to tell the story of the sad and most condemnable crime that over a period of 10 years 150 had been committed in Ireland, and to rehearse a kind of judicial Newgate Calendar without any attempt, and without any necessity to attempt, to connect any one of the persons charged with any one of these crimes or outrages. Laymen do not know, but lawyers do, that in support of a charge of conspiracy it is permissible to give evidence of facts extending over a number of years, without any connection with one another, and not traceable at all to the persons charged, and then to ask the jury (but here it was the Court) to draw the inference, at the end of a long and protracted inquiry, that there is evidence of conspiracy to be gathered from the whole of the circumstances of the case. It is no exaggeration to say that the result of that form of charge was to make Mr. Parnell responsible for the speeches of Scrab Nally, just as if Mr. Parnell had spoken them himself— to make him responsible for the acts of men in the South of Ireland whom he had never seen, conversed with, written to, or had any communication with, simply on the ground that each of these persons was a member of the Land League. Not only that, but conversations were admitted, and I will give one striking illustration of what I mean. The man Le Caron or Beach was called, and my right hon. Friend the Member for Bury took him under his special protection and graced him, if I may use the expression of John Philpot Curran, with the patches and feathers of his rhetoric with all the taste of a Court milliner. He held up this Beach, whose life was a living lie, as if ho was a man who ought to be spoken of as a worthy man following a worthy vocation. Le Caron deposed that a man named Patrick Egan had told him (Le Caron) that a man named Brennan had told him (Egan) that Mr. Sexton had assisted his (Brennan's) flight from justice. So upon the doctrine of constructive responsibility we have actually got this placed before the public as a charge against Mr. Sexton. For my part, I do not hesitate to say —of course, it is an opinion, and must be discounted as that of a partisan—that, looking to the extent of time of this inquiry, and to the fact that it related to a popular movement which must necessarily have aroused the passions of the men engaged in it, looking to the fact that there was 151 an enormous sum of money unquestionably dealt with, not merely for the relief of distress, but for the assistance of evicted tenants and the defence of persons charged with crime—looking to the whole scope and character of the inquiry, I say it is a perfect marvel that so little has been found to be traceable even to any persons connected with the Land League Organisation. Before I grapple more closely with these charges, I must make some reference to the extraordinary appearance of the Attorney General at Oxford. He went there on February 16, when the ink on the Commissioners' Report was hardly dry. He rushed down to make a speech at the Strafford Club. In what character? Was it as counsel for the Times, to give the keynote which was to be struck and publicly sounded in relation to this Commission? Was it as a, politician? Was it as Attorney General? Or were all these characters for this purpose and in this connection one? I do not hesitate to say that if it was in the character of counsel it was indecent, and that if it was in the character of a politician it was grievously indiscreet. In the early part of his speech the hon. and learned Gentleman said one reason why he was anxious to appear there was because the Report of the Commission afforded so complete a justification of the policy of his right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant. In this connection there was some appropriateness in his appearing at the Strafford Club; for it will be in the recollection of the House that the Bill of Attainder against that unfortunate nobleman had as its principal charge "the introduction by him of an arbitrary and tyrannical Government into the said Kingdom of Ireland." But when I read the report of the Attorney General's speech, I confess I was a little surprised, and, for a moment, moved. I found in the early part of it what seemed to be something like a generous expression of sympathy with Mr. Parnell; and when I recollected that for many months the Attorney General had been with great ability and with great pertinacity endeavouring to fix criminal guilt on Mr. Parnell, I said to myself—"The Attorney General is, indeed, a magnanimous man, almost too good for this wicked world." I fancied the Attorney General in the privacy of his chamber reading the 152 Commissioners' Report with tears of joy coursing down his cheeks at the satisfaction which had sprung up in his breast to think that the man whom he had striven so anxiously to drive from public life had been acquitted of all those grievous charges. I fancied that the Attorney General in a "melting" mood hadDropped tears as fast as the Arabian treesTheir medicinal gum.I supposed the Attorney General going to Oxford with this sentiment; but what was his next proceeding? Human nature is a strange thing, full of strange inconsistencies, even in its most amiable examples. Having uttered this generous sentiment in reference to Mr. Parnell, the Attorney General straightway furnishes himself with a bucket of tar and a large brush and proceeds to do all that he can to daub the characters of hon. Members below the Gangway by what he called a correct description, but which I will show is an inaccurate description, of the results of the Report. I must now call attention to some points in the Attorney General's statement. He did me the honour of noticing my speech before the Commission, and attributed to me five statements. I will read them to the House shortly. First, that I said there was absolutely no connection between the Land League and Fenianism; that not a farthing of money had ever been received from America or Patrick Ford; that the Fenians had always opposed the Land League; and, most strange of all, that the Parnellite Party had had nothing whatever to do with boycotting; that boycotting was against their wishes. The Attorney General said at the time that he spoke with a sense of responsibility, and that he had not exaggerated by a single iota in what he had said. I must say the Attorney General is discovering a very dangerous genius for inaccuracy. There is not one of these statements attributed to me correctly attributed to me. I will, however, do the Attorney General the justice to say that a day or two afterwards he wrote to the Times correcting some of his statements, and saying that he had partly been misunderstood and partly been misreported.
* THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (Sir R, WEBSTER,) Isle of Wight
The next day but one.
§ * SIR C. RUSSELL
But the report is the same in all the newspapers I have seen, Provincial and Loudon. Let me take some of these statements in detail—There was was no connection between the Fenians and the Land League.What I did say, and what my Colleagues said, was that between the Fenian Organisation and the Land League as an Organisation there was no connection. From the first up to now we avowed, with no attempt at concealment whatever —on the contrary, we took pride in the avowal—that Mr. Parnell, in inviting co-operation in the movement which he intended to be—whatever it became—open and constitutional, invited all men to join in that Organisation provided only that they were willing to hill in with and help its objects, and he did not require a previous certificate of character before admitting them to membership in a time of great distress in Ireland. As to the second statement—that I said no money came from Patrick Ford—I pass that by, because the Attorney General says that he was misreported in regard to it. We avowed that a large sum of money came from Patrick Ford, but in the sense that he was merely the conduit-pipe between the people of America and the Land League—merely the link through which the money given by the Irish people in America and the large class of Americans who sympathised with Ireland was passed over to the League. Is it not too canting, is it not too pharisaical, to suggest that because Patrick Ford's paper—not at the time the money was coming in, but at another time—had manifested wild fits of advocacy of dynamite and other stuff of that kind, therefore Mr. Parnell should refuse at his hands the money subscribed by his countrymen in America in the honest belief that they could do something in their expatriation to aid the struggles of their brethren at home? With regard to the third statement made by the Attorney General, to the effect that I said that the Parnellite Party had nothing to do with boycotting, and that boycotting was against the wishes of the Land League, nothing, Mr. Speaker, could be further from the truth. Why, so far from denying it, it was avowed from the very beginning that boycotting 154 was advocated by the League, but, with the distinction that it was denied that violence and intimidation were to accompany it as part of the machinery of the League.
§ SIR C. RUSSELL
Well, it seems obvious. The other misstatement of the Attorney General with reference to me I will pass over, because it may perhaps be attributable to the fact that the Attorney-General had not had time to read the Report. He was in such a hurry to go to the Stafford Club and make these new revelations that he had not time to read the Report, and certainly had not had time to refresh his memory with the report of my speech when he did me the honour to quote from it. We must assume that the Attorney General meant to make a fair statement of the results of the Report, but will the House believe that throughout the whole of his speech there is not a, syllable of reference to that part of the Report in which, the Commissioners confess themselves unable to deal with those considerations without which the question of moral blame or moral censure could not be fitly or fairly decided? In that speech the Attorney General made no reference whatever to that statement of the Commissioners, in which they say that—They had no commission to consider whether the conduct of which they" (the respondents) "are accused can be palliated by the circumstances of the time or whether it should be condoned in consideration of benefits alleged to have resulted from their actions.But the Attorney General made an observation I am sure he will not repeat here. He attributed to the Judges what I think the Judges should be at once relieved of. He attributed to them—Judges of the land conversant with the principles on which judicial procedure and judgment should be based— that they designedly used the words "not proved" in order to convey the idea that although the accusations were not proved they had a strong suspicion that the respondents were guilty. In England, at least, it is a principle that a man is held to be innocent until ho is proved guilty, and I say that when a charge is 155 found to be not proved against a man it is equal to a verdict of not guilty. I am glad to see that one distinguished authority, Lord Selborne, has not fallen into the mistake of making this imputation against the Judges. Now, I want to grapple a little more closely with these charges, if the House will bear with me, but several of them have been dealt with so thoroughly, so clearly, and so ably by my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, and others, that I will not make any considerable demand on the patience of the House. I must, however, call attention to the pith and marrow of these points, in order to justify the contention which I am placing before the House in support of the Amendment, namely, that in their substance and essence these charges have been disproved. In the first place I refer to the charge in this Blue Book, alleging that the Land League chiefsBased their movement upon a scheme of assassination and outrage carefully calculated and coolly applied; that murderers provide their funds, murderers share their inmost councils, murderers have gone forth from the League offices to set their bloody work afoot, and have presently returned to consult the 'Constitutional leaders' on the advancement of the cause.Found to be not proven.There are plenty of authentic utterances fixing upon prominent Members of the Home Rule Party the guilt of direct incitement to outrage and murder.Found to be not proven. Then the Attorney General in the "O'Donnell v. Walter" case said:—That that is a true comment" (the passage to which I have referred) "and a true statement of what the work of the organisation was, I shall procesd to prove before you in the course of my case.Then conies one of the most serious passages,namely:—We have seen how Mr. Parnell's 'Consti-titutional organisation' is 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.Who are those three Members? The context justifies me in giving the names, Mr. Parnell, Mr. Dillon, and Mr. Sexton. And let the House realise it, for it is one of the most extraordinary things that 156 probably ever occurred in the face of such charges followed by such an inquiry, that, although a considerable number, if not all, of these incriminated men want into the witness box, and it was quite within the power of the Attorney General to have called others, yet it is hardly credible when I state the fact that not one of these men against whom these most odious, these most tremendous charges have been levelled, had a question addressed to him suggesting that he was concerned in any criminal act whatever. I am afraid I must trouble the House with a few more quotations. There is a passage in the speech of the Attorney General before the Commission in which he refers to the "leaders not doing the bloody work themselves," and giving as a reason for it "because they had not the time to do it." There is also a statement in which the Attorney General said he did not mean to allege that Mr. Parnell knew the name of the particular individual who was going to be assaulted, or the particular landlord against whom any outrage may have been contemplated, but that he knew that those outrages were necessary, and were parts of the system. The Attorney General had also stated that not on one single occasion was a word of denunciation of crime and outrage uttered by the respondents, but will he persist in that statement now? His words were—During the whole period of these years there is not, so far as I know, one solitary speech amongst the thousands delivered, in which any one of these men deprecated the outrages which were undoubtedly going on.Why, hundreds of speeches were proved, and hundreds of articles were proved, and the Commissioners find that Mr. Davitt and others of the respondents did bonâ fide discourage crime.
Then there was the charge thatMany of those whose names are included in these particulars knew, and must have known, that sums of money were being paid, not in an exceptional instance, but over a long period of time, to persons who were engaged in carrying out the acts of violence and crimes to which I have referred.Then there is the remarkable passage about the outrage-monger going to the Laud League office and getting £20 or £30 or £40 from Mr. Biggar or Mr. Brennan, or whoever happened to be 157 there, and then going down into the country to distribute it to the men who were to commit outrage. Then comes what I look upon as the gravest of all these libels, for it was to support it and to weave it into a kind of probable story that the forged letters were contrived! I mean that article referring to the time of Mr. Parnell's being on parole, in which it is suggested that he met Mr. Justin M'Carthy and others of his Colleagues at Willesden, and that they then concerted and discussed, and that Mr. Parnell then learned that the Phœnix Park tragedy was about to occur. Do not let there be any mistake about that. There has been a sliding scale in these charges. There was the naked atrocity of them as they appeared in the Times; there is a slight softening down in the speech of the Attorney General in "O'Donnell v. Walter," a still further softening down in the particulars, until we come to the speech of my astute Friend, the Member for Bury, who is much too astute a man not to know and to feel that the weight and gravity of these charges had broken down because of their extravagance. He traces the work of an organisation as the work of the Irish nation, and as to the Irish leaders, in that very graceful peroration before the Commission he appealed to the Irish nation to wake from the night-mare which had so long oppressed them, he appealed to them to discharge their unworthy leaders, and to seek for others. I now deal with these charges in what I call their naked atrocity. I refer first to the letters, and I am afraid that I must make some demand on the patience of the House, because the real story of the forgeries has never been told in this House. I believe it is shown that every one of the grave and weighty charges without which this Commission would never have been granted has broken down. I admit that there are adverse findings; I have never claimed, and do not claim, that there has been a complete acquittal. If the House will allow me I will run over the adverse findings. Compare their character with the character of those which I have read to the House. First there is a statement about members of the League, Mr. Davitt and others, joining it with the view of bringing about the independence 158 of Ireland as a separate nation. Well, with regard to this, I will only observe two things. In the first place, if they did so join it, it was in 1879. It has been repudiated hotly repudiated— by a man who is very slow to repudiate any opinion which is attributed to him—I mean Mr. William O'Brien, that this is true in his case. I do not know what Mr. Davitt's opinion may be at this moment, but I affirm it to be true, as far as we can form a judgment, that there never has been a time in which the majority of the Irish people would not have been contented —whatever some dreamers among them may have imagined—as a settlement and a final settlement of this international feud, with having conceded to them the potential right of self government in matters which concerned themselves. For my own part I have always said that as far as the great interests of England are concerned the separation of Ireland is a small concern for it, but for Ireland it would be a disastrous blow, in my judgment. But I pass from that charge. There is no one who reads it who thinks that it can properly be regarded as a charge which brings with it a moral taint. I may perhaps refer to the ancestor of my right hon. Friend opposite, the distinguished and very worthy successor in an illustrious line. Would he hang his head in shame if he were reminded of the Plunket who said that to his last gasp he would resist the invaders of his country, that when he felt dissolution approaching he would take his sons to the altar and swear them to undying hostility to the invaders of the liberties of his country. Does any one think less of Robert Emmett and Wolfe Tone in these days? The judgment of history is generally a just judgment. I pass from that charge with these concluding observations: that when one looks at the sad history of the neglect of this Imperial Parliament, which took upon itself the care and government of Ireland, it is not surprising that men of ardent, generous, and patriotic minds should have begun to despair of redress by Constitutional and Parliamentary methods, and should embark in wild and condemnable enterprises. My hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen well said that the very fact that years ago such feelings honestly existed in some 159 minds should make us rejoice that to-day so radical a change has come over the temper and tone and feeling of the Irish people. The next charge is that with regard to the reduction of rents and expelling the English garrison. What I have to observe about that is that the English garrison seem to be quite willing to capitulate. It seems to be merely a question of pounds, shillings and pence. The terms of capitulation are now being discussed between the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant and the representatives of the landlord class, than whom there has been no more unpatriotic body since the Act of Union was passed—men who have been taught to look over the heads of the Irish people, taught to conciliate, not the judgment and good will of those among whom and by whom they live, but to conciliate English opinion, and taught that it is right, as the noble Lord the Member for Rossendale entreated them to do, to exercise their rights, not so as to secure justice and p3ace among their own people, but so as not to offend the conscience of the English people. Now I pass from the English garrison, and come next to the question of inciting to crime and persevering in a system of boycotting which they say was a system of intimidation. The charge is that they persevered in this, well knowing the consequences were to increase crime. I am not going to argue this elaborately. In all these cases, taking the findings literally at their worst, they are cases of constructive responsibility—a responsibility mainly for the acts of others. We see that in large districts where crimes prevailed there was no boycotting, and in other districts where boycotting did prevail there was no crime. I would point out what is the real explanation with regard to this matter—namely, that crime sprang from the districts which were poorest, and where in the years of 1879 and 1880 the cry of distress was most piteous—in the west and south-west of Ireland. But, broadly, what I want to say is this: may there not be two honest opinions upon the result of boycotting? I am talking of boycotting as focussing the opinion of a given community in reprehension and condemnation of the action of any member of that community which is supposed to be against the general interest. I am not describing that 160 as the only thing done in Ireland under the name of boycotting, but I affirm that, apart from intimidation and violence or threat of violence, such boycotting is lawful. I am not contending that boycotting in Ireland did not far exceed those limits. There was unquestionably an amount of intimidation used, accompanied by violence. But in regard to that I have before used, and will again use on proper occasions, words of the strongest condemnation, but I desire to point out that, speaking generally, so far as Members of the Land League were concerned, judging from their speeches and writings, theirs was an advocacy not of violence, but of boycotting simply. There may well be different opinions as to the effect of such boycotting. You may say justly that boycotting carried on on a large scale causes a number of crimes, and is what may be an intolerable tyranny in itself. Granted. But is it not at least a case worth considering, and for which good reasons may be urged, that, just in proportion as boycotting is effective in the sense in which I have first described it, the need—if I may use the word with regard to crime—for the resort to crime and violence is dispensed with? Therefore, although there is a finding by this Commission that there was an increase of crime in consequence of boycotting, the Commissioners do not call attention to what the character of that increase was. Yet it is demonstrable that the worst crime—murder—occurred less frequently when the boycotting was at its worst than in the years when there was no boycotting. I ask this question, meeting the view of the Judges fairly in the face. Assume that the Irish Members were guilty of persevering in a system which did entail those evil consequences, are they to be without mercy condemned for that? What said Sir James Macintosh, in one of the best-reasoned essays ever written, in reply to Mr. Burke, when he was blaming the movers in the French Revolution for all the consequences their action had involved? "Is it to be laid down as a principle of morals that a man or a body of men are not to seek a great public good, but are rather to abstain from it, merely because incidental evils may follow in its train? "The greatest revolutions and reforms the world has ever seen never would have been carried 161 under such conditions. But the final point is this. Taking the finding at its worst, what is the amount of moral obliquity attaching to the offence? And here the Judges give no help, for they say that it is not within their mandate to inquire into the circumstances of palliation, if there are such, or as to whether there is any condonation to be found in view of the benefits achieved. I ask permission now to do what the Report does not do— to remind this House, which is called upon by its individual Members to perform a judicial act, of what the state of things then was. I have referred to the bad years which preceded the formation of the Land League in 1879. I am not going to trouble the House with many figures, but let me show what was the condition of things as compared with the year 1876, which was a high average of good years. Taking the potato crop of 1876, its value then was £12,464,000; in 1877 it was £5,271,000; in 1878, £7,579,000; and in 1879 only £3,341,000. Or, in other words, taking that one crop alone, of 1879 as compared with 1876, there was a loss or fall of £9,123,000, which is equal to nearly three-fourths of the entire agricultural rents of Ireland. But if we take in the general crops and compare the gradual losses, again with the year 1876 as the datum year, you will see that the loss was still greater and exceeded 20 millions sterling in those years. That is a state of things which, in this country, would have called for and would have insured wholesale remissions of rents. But the effect of those years, und especially of the worst of them, 1879, shows most in the year 1880; and we have the authority of Dr. Grimshaw, the Registrar General for Ireland, that in the year 1880 the death rate was the highest and the marriage rate was the lowest of all recorded years. I would like to make in this connection one reference as to the state of distress consequent upon this failure of the potato crop and the other crops. This is on the authority of a man respected in this House—the late General Gordon. In 1880 he wrote to the Times this passage—I have lately been over the South-West of Ireland in the hope of discovering how some settlement could be made of the Irish question, which, like a fretting canker, eats away our vitals as a nation. I have come to the con- 162 clusion that, first, a gulf of antipathy exists between the landlords and tenants in the North-West, West, and South-West.This is the district where there was the increase of crime.It is a gulf not caused alone by the question of rent. There is a complete lack of sympathy between the two classes. It is the historian's task to inquire how such a state of things came to pass. I call attention to the letters and speeches of the landlord class, as it proves how little sympathy exists among them for the tenantry. I am sure the tenantry feel in the same way towards the landlords.A little later on he says—I must say that, from all accounts and my own observation, the state of our fellow-countrymen in the parts I have named is worse than that of any people in the world, let alone Europe. I believe that these people are made as we are; that they are patient beyond belief; loyal, but at the Same time broken-spirited and desperate, and living on the verge of starvation in places where we would not keep our cattle.Now, in that condition of things what happens? Of ejectments and notices to quit, immediately a crop rises on the land. What happens further? The state of the country is so alarming that the Government of the day bring in the Compensation for Disturbance Bill, of which so much has been said. I will pass it over lightly. It is enough to say that in this House Mr. Forster, and in the House of Lords the Duke of Argyll, supported that Bill on the ground that the state of things was such that, in the interests of justice and the peace of the country, the Legislature were bound to interfere to protect the poor tenant classes in Ireland. The House of Lords threw out the Bill by an enormous majority. I have been told that on that occasion the halt and the blind were seen who had not been seen in the gilded Chamber for years before. Now, I ask the House, in the sense of justice, were the leaders of the Irish people to be expected to fold their arms? The Government of the day and the House of Commons had said—We recognise your position, and that you need protection; but the House of Lords has said that you shall not have it.I say that if there ever were a justification for a combination of resistance to the landlords' assertion under such circumstances of the extreme rights of property, it was in 1879, 1880, and 1881. The Duchess of Marlborough and other 163 charitable persons started relief funds, to which the landlords, as the evidence showed, were but rare contributors. Ireland had again to appear before the world in the character of a mendicant, and had to ask for and receive assistance wherever it could be obtained. It was at that time, and in a large measure for that purpose, that large sums were subscribed by the Irish people and collected through the instrumentality of Patrick Ford. The theory seems to be that all this crime sprang up as the work of agitators, just as we are told that everything distressful in Ireland giving the Government trouble is the work of agitators. That is absurd. It is not true. Is it your experience? Is it over possible, unless there are grave and deep-seated causes, to rouse the feelings of the people, unless there are parsons who are conscious of suffering and anxious to make some attempt to escape from it? It is not too much to say, as was said by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Dumfries the other night, that if the combination that was then set on foot, and for years carried on, was a criminal conspiracy, it was a Criminal conspiracy which embraced the great majority of the Irish people and the enormous majority of their bishops and priests. But the Attorney General's theory was that Ireland had been a terrestrial paradise before the appearance of the Land League, where landlord and tenant lived in amity, the landlord looking on the tenant with patriarchal regard, and the tenant looking up to the landlord with eyes of gratitude for the protection afforded. There never was such a travesty of the true historical picture. This land question has been at the root of Irish disturbance for many years, and to the gross neglect of Parliament to deal with the land question is largely to be attributed the troubles that followed. I will not go over the history of that question. It is a history of shameful neglect. Lord Clare 100 years ago said —I know the hapless condition of the Irish tenants, ground down by the remorseless tyranny of landlords.Forty seven years ago you had a Devon Commission, which told you that this question was urgent, and you did nothing. It was not till 1870 that anything was done. Yes, something was done the other way. You had the retrogressive 164 Act of 1860, which displays the grossest ignorance on the part of this House and this Parliament as to the true relation between landlord and tenant in Ireland. And what was done in 1870 in this House, imperfectly done, was marred and maimed in the House of Lords. But since then you have the Act of 1881, followed by the Arrears Act of 1882, followed by the Ashbourne Act of 1885, followed by the Act passed by the present Government in 1887; and I ask, Is there anyone in this House who will say that these measures in their fulness and plenitude would have been passed but for the agitation that was going on in Ireland? Some of the blame lies at the door of the Party opposite. I do not say all of it for I wish to be impartial, and I think that much of the blame lies at the door of the Liberal Party, but then they had an enormous force to overcome in the opposition of the House of Lords. I think the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham has himself said publicly—I refer to this for no invidious purpose—that the Land League, in its earlier operations, usefully assisted the Government to carry through their Land Legislation. [Mr. CHAMBERLAIN: Hear, hear!] Is not that a confession that yon needed the force of the agitation which the Judges, in some of its excrescences, have condemned, and I think rightly condemned—that you needed that force to overcome the vis inertiœ in this House and the more open opposition of the House of Lords? I say that some of the blame lies at the door of the Party opposite. I see the new Minister for Agriculture (Mr. Chaplin) in his place "with all his blushing honours thick upon him." If he were to get up now and tell us what he honestly feels, I have not the least doubt that he would make one of those speeches which he made in the Parliament of 1880 when the Land Bill was under discussion, and tell us that the Act was nothing but an Act of spoliation and robbery. Why, even the President of the Board of Trade (Sir M. Hicks Beach), who is not in the habit— although some of his Colleagues may be— of speaking very recklessly —even he only two years ago epitomised the policy of the Liberal Party with reference to Ireland as being spoliation and robbery of the landlords on the one hand, and of the 165 Church on the other. I should not be surprised if there should be found on those Benches some hon. Gentlemen who would even now describe that legislation in that way. Now, I must not dwell longer on that, although there are many topics to which I should like to draw the attention of the House; but I desire to come, if I am not taxing the patience of the House too much, to that story which has not yet been told in this House—the story of the forged letters. I very much doubt if such a story has ever been told before a Legislative Chamber. In 1885 Mr. Pigott communicates to Mr. Houston material for a pamphlet called Parnellism Unmasked, and is paid a sum of money for his services. In December of the same year this Mr. Houston, Secretary to the Loyal and Patriotic Union, applies to Mr. Pigott, whose name as a literary man, or as one connected with newspapers, would have stunk in the nostrils of any Dublin citizen—Mr. Houston, himself a Dublin man, in December, 1885, asked Mr. Pigott whether he would like to have a guinea a day and expenses for getting any documentary evidence which would incriminate the Parnellites. Mr. Pigott, poor, impecunious, gladly accepts the mission; and when I have to refer to that wretched man who met that tragic fate in Madrid, I must say that the distinction between the guilt of the tempter and the guilt of the tempted is not so very great. Mr. Houston goes to this man, who is in a condition of abject want, and puts this temptation before him, "Will you go forth, and can you produce something to incriminate the Parnellites? If you can you will be well paid." Mr. Pigott accepts the employment, and goes to Lausanne and other pleasant places, and he returns to inform Mr. Houston—who, by-the-way, has recently been thanked for his valuable services by the Loyal and Patriotic Union—that he has heard that there is a black bag somewhere in Paris, in a, street, the name of which he does not know, left by a man whose name he does not know, but which contains incriminating documents. But Mr. Pigott says that the bag cannot be opened until authority has been received from America, and he goes to America, and there receives the necessary authority from a man who, by an odd coincidence, happens to have died by the time 166 that Mr. Pigott is called upon to give evidence. It is in March, 1886, that he says he has got the first batch of letters, including the fac simile letter. It is a mistake to suppose, as some people have done, that the only important letter of this collection is the fac simile letter. Every one of these letters is serious, because they are all framed to fit in with the preconceived theory of complicity in the Phœnix Park murders. What is the meaning of the letter—"I have sent 'M' £200" (meaning Mullett); and another, "I will see 'B'" (meaning Brady). But to go on with the story. Finally those letters are offered to Mr. Buckle, who says, "No." Subsequently, however, Mr. Buckle is again seen by Mr. Houston, who is referred by him to the late Mr. MacDonald, who says that if the documents are forthcoming, and if they are—to use Mr. MacDonald's phrase —"of legal value," the Times will take them. Then we have a most extraordinary occurrence. A late Fellow of Trinity College, Dublin, Mr. Maguire, goes to Paris in company with Mr. Houston and sees Pigott. Mr. Pigott comes to his hotel and says, "Here are the letters," as if they were offered on sale or return, and then he says, "A man is below stairs waiting." The cost of the letters and his expenses amount to £1,780. But Mr. Houston and Professor Maguire apparently are cautious. They will not even look out of the window to see whether anyone really is waiting below. Mr. Pigott tells them that he has been taken to a restaurant in the Rue Castiglione, the name of which restaurant he does not know, and there swore, in the presence of men he did not know, that he would never reveal the fact that he had seen them, or that he had got the letters from them. As to two other batches of letters, the story is much the same. I want to call attention to this, for I am now answering the speeches of some right hon. Gentlemen opposite, including the new Minister for Agriculture, who had the boldness to say at Cambridge that whilst he attributed some amount of carelessness to the Times, that journal deserved well of its country. Who was behind Mr. Houston in this matter? A clerk with a salary of £200 or £300 a year does not risk so large a sum as £1.780 without security. Who were the 167 people behind him, and what were the statements on the faith of which they advanced the money which enabled him to send to America and offer bribes to the forger? That chapter of the story has not yet been fully written; the incidents have not yet been fully disclosed. I want to call attention to this—in June, 1887, the fact that Mr. Pigott was the man from whom the letters came was, according to Houston, disclosed to Mr. MacDonald. He fixed the time himself, I believe, as March, 1887, and I care not whether it was March or June. The disclosure was made to Mr. Mac Donald by Mr. Houston; but no inquiry is made as to who Pigott is. Mr. Houston, of course, knew all about him, and could have enlightened Mr. MacDonald; but Mr. MacDonald studiously abstained from putting any questions. Without asking for particulars, the Times paid £2,530 for the three batches of letters, everyone of which has been pronounced to be a forgery. This the Times did without making any inquiry as to the character of the man from whom in March or June, 1887, it was known that the letters had come. Now I approach a very extraordinary part of this case—the action of "O'Donnell v. Walter." At this time the solicitor for the Times, Mr. Soames, hears that the letters came from Pigott. I am not able to say whether the Attorney General also learned at that time the fact that the letters came from Pigott.
§ * SIR C. RUSSELL
At any rate, the fact was known to the solicitor at that time—July, 1888—and up to that time all that had been done by the Times was to take the opinion of an expert—Mr. Inglis—as to whether the curves of the "y's" and the loops of the "l's" and the dots of the "i's" in the fabricated letters corresponded with Mr. Parnell's handwriting. The fac simile letter had appeared on the 18th of April, 1887. Now, what comes next? Houston and Pigott had both been subpœnaed as witnesses on the part of the respondents. Pigott is not subpœnaed by the Times. Nay, when the Commission opens, the Attorney General, acting upon what was put before him, said —I have the authority of Mr. Houston for saying that his was the hand that conveyed the letters to the Times; but I am not yet able 168 to say whether I can put before the Commission the name of the person who brought them to Houston.I would remind the House of a further extraordinary circumstance—that in the "O'Donnell v. Walter" transaction the Attorney General made a speech which is a complete justification for those who have hitherto thought that Mr. Parnell was wrong and unwise in not earlier rushing into a Court of Law, because on that occasion the Attorney General, with great power addressing the jury, said—Let it cost the Times what it will, the Times will nut disclose from whom these letters came.The Attorney General said—The days of dynamite and assassination are not yet over, and those who are sitting behind my learned friendpointing with greet impressiveness,know that the days of dynamite and assassination are not yet over.I have not ended this ugly, this repulsive, this unparalleled story. What happens? Houston is subpœnaed, and the man to whom the Loyal and Patriotic Union are returning thanks for the valuable services he has rendered, when he is subpœnaed to give evidence in that Commission, destroys every scrap of paper or letter which had any bearing upon any point in connection with the forgeries, or his knowledge how those forgeries were contrived. I have felt it necessary to dwell upon this part of the story (I am not complaining of it as regards the Judges), but because the Report is absolutely silent about it and passes it over with a simple statement that the fac simile letter and the other letters in the appendix are forgeries well, these papers, were destroyed; but we finally got the forgeries before the Commission. As the Attorney General knows, I and my Colleagues urged with pertinacity that the Attorney General should come to the point—that he should stop the recital of that dreadful catalogue of crimes ranging over 10 years which had taken place in Ireland,, and come to the pith of the case. But, no; months pass, and it is not until February, 1889, that at last the letters are approached. On the 20th of October, 1888, Pigott writes to Houston, demanding £5,000 for his evidence. In the same month—on the 24th or 25th—he has an interview at which are present, 169 amongst others, Mr. Lewis and Mr. Parnell. He, in fact, makes a confession; and on November 6 the fact of this interview, and possibly the suspicion that Pigott had made a confession, came to the ears of Mr. Soames, Pigott makes a sworn statement as to the genuineness of the letters, and on November 11—I call the attention of the House to this, for it is of special interest to me—Pigott writes to Houston a letter, a copy of which is sent to Mr. Soames, that he (Pigott) is impressed with the absolute certainty that his evidence will be neutralised on cross-examination. I say this is of especial interest to me, because that is the letter which in a moment of hallucination, I mean no more—of strange hallucination, it seems to me—the Attorney General was under the impression he had handed to me. I had, from motives which seem to have been misunderstood, not only abstained from taking part in the debate upon this matter, but the Division consequent upon it. I was not even near the House. I was spending the evening in an entirely different and more pleasant place. In my absence the Attorney General made an extraordinary statement which he said he would prove with "chapter and verse," a form of expression very usual with the Attorney General, namely, that he, so far from putting Pigott into the box without telling us of the existence of the letter, had actually handed to me in Court that very letter. I was obliged to come down a day or two after— and if there are any gentlemen now here who were here then, they will remember that I demonstrated that I had not received the letter which I showed I had asked for day after day and did not get until a much later period. However, I do not want to revive ancient sores in this matter. I still pressed the Attorney General to come to the question of the letters. At last he makes up his mind to come to them, and what happens? I do not think we have yet had any adequate explanation. Before putting Pigott into the box, they proceeded to call a respectable man called an expert, Inglis by name, to prove that those letters were genuine in order to lay some à priori foundation upon which to support the evidence which at that time the Attorney General knew Pigott had himself declared to be evidence which would 170 not stand the test of cross-examination. And it was only after some strong remonstrances, backed up by the expression of opinion by the Judges, that at last we had Pigott in the box, with the result which the House knows. I do not intend to pursue this story further. I am urging all this in answer to the arguments which such politicians as the new Minister put forward, that the Times deserves well of the country.
§ MR. CHAPLIN (Lincolnshire, Sleaford)
That is not what I said. With the permission of the House I will state the effect of what I said. While I condemned with the utmost severity the conduct of the Times with regard to the letters, I said that for bringing home to the minds of the public and for proving what the right hon. Member for Derby called a "foul conspiracy," they deserved the thanks of the country.
§ * SIR C. RUSSELL
Well, I am urging these considerations in support of the Amendment, and showing how, in face of this grave wrong committed in these circumstances of the grossest negligence, persisted in after denial by the hon. Member for Cork, repeated by the dissemination of Parnellism and Crime and the fac simile letter at the bookstalls in the railway stations, broadcast in their tens of thousands, no apology, hardly the pretence of an apology, was offered. There was a request, forsooth, by the Attorney General that he might be allowed to withdraw the letters from the consideration of the Commission. But what makes this matter much worse to my mind as regards the conduct of the Times is— this withdrawal or quasi apology having taken place in the month of February—that we find as late as the month of October, 1889, there are telegrams going to and coming from America for the purpose of obtaining supplies of incriminating documents in place of the forgeries which they were obliged to withdraw. Now, Mr. Speaker, I have made a very serious demand upon the attention and patience of the House. I feel that I have imperfectly dealt with many parts of this great case—for great it is from a national point of view. You, the Conservative Party, the gentlemanly party as you think yourselves—[cries of "Oh! Oh!"]—the Constitutional Party, you entered upon this enterprise of appointing this 171 Commission—I know you are sorry for it now—upon the assurances of the Attorney General that ho would prove the case up to the hilt. You believed that you might make capital out of it. Yes; I think the bye-elections which: have since happened are changing your view in that direction. I think the message from St. Pancras is the latest commentary on this subject. The sense of justice in the English people is their great and abiding characteristic. They may be sometimes carried away by prejudice and by gusts of passion, but their judgment is ultimately sound and just. But your object in this debate is to discredit Mr. Parnell and his Colleagues in this Honse. This is to me one of the most painful incidents of this debate— that whenever from those Benches there has been a generous statement, or som-thing approaching to it, uttered with reference to Irish matters, there has been a dead silence. And when charges have been flung at their heads, and the worst and a wrong construction placed on the findings against them, you have thought it becoming to cheer to the echo. You are pursuing a very blind course. You are seeking to drive from public life and from the leadership of an important Party a man who can point to great achievements done, not for Ireland alone, but for the whole Empire, for the weakness of Ireland is the weakness of the Empire, and the improvement of Ireland is added strength to the Empire. He can point to great achievements accomplished in 10 years—to more than has been accomplished in the 80 years preceding. He has been helped in this by the growing spirit of intelligence and sympathy in the minds of the English people, inspired and fostered by a statesman of genius who leads this Party. But, if you were only wise enough to see it, he has done more than that. He has shifted the fulcrum of Irish politics to the floor of this House. He has drawn away from Secret Associations the great popular forces, and turned them into Constitutional action which may have had its attendant evils, which may have had its blots, but which, in spite of your policy, has made Fenianism and Secret Societies cease to be a political factor in Ireland to-day. Above all, he has taught the Irish people to have faith 172 in Parliament, in its sense of justice, to look to Parliament for methods of reform. You are not pursuing a statesmanlike course. Had Mr. Parnell stood by his class, actuated by the selfish interests of his class—had he forgotten that he was an Irishman—had he forgotten his duty as an Irish Representative— had he stood, as Grattan phrased it, "and offered himself in the market of St. Stephen's"—had he refused to listen to the cry of calamity in his country—a cry too often misinterpreted as a cry of sedition and, treason—had he done these things, he would, no doubt, to-day be regarded by you as a decorous Member of this House. But the man who has achieved what I have said you seek to dishonour. Are there no men amongst you magnanimous enough, statesmen enough, to try and lift this question above its personal character? Do you not see that behind Mr. Parnell stands a nation and a nation's hopes? Do you not see that if you wound him you wound and insult them? Do you not see that by that course you are not healing, but embittering an International quarrel which every good man who has the interest of the State at heart should wish to see ended for ever? Ah! you will, by your Party vote, carry this Motion. Bud if you gain this victory, it will be, at best, a Pyrrhic victory; and in achieving it, you will have displayed the qualities neither of statesmen nor patriots.
*(7.5.) SIR R. WEBSTER
I wish that I could hope that the House was about to hear from me a speech one-tenth as eloquent as that which has just stirred the feelings of the House. The House has listened to a speech delivered by one of whom I have said outside this House that he is, perhaps, the greatest Advocate that the Bar of England possesses at the present day—and I am sure that will not be taken as an empty tribute paid across the floor of the House. He is aware of what my opinion of his previous speeches has been. I fear that I must trespass on the attention of the House at considerable length, and though I am aware that many Members who listened to my hon. and learned Friend's magnificent speech have left the House since he sat down, still there are present a considerable number of Members who, I think, would wish that I 173 should deal fully with the charges that have been made against me. I think I have received but scant justice from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir W. Harcourt), but, whatever his view may be of my personal character, I think he would wish that I should be fairly heard in this matter.
* SIR R. WEBSTER
Four of the Advocates closely connected with this case have already spoken, namely, the hon. Member for South Hackney (Sir C. Russell); the hon. Member for York (Mr. Lockwood); the hon. Member for Dumfries (Mr. R. T. Reid); and the hon. Member for the Harbour Division of Dublin (Mr. T. Harrington); and I presume that at some time the hon. Member for Fife (Mr. Asquith) and the hon. Member for East Donegal (Mr. A. O'Connor) will address the House on this Motion. Still, I hope I may assume that the worst accusations that can be made against me have been made, and that I am not to be asked to meet other and worse charges when I have closed my speech. There has been added to my burden this evening the task of dealing with the attack made on me in respect of my Oxford speech, an attack which is a re-echo of the still fiercer one made by the right hon. Gentleman, who thinks it his especial province to direct the attention of the nation to my wickedness. I think it would be best that I should at once and for ever dispose of the arguments which have been addressed to the House as to the iniquities and enormities I was guilty of when I went to Oxford. I think the attack would have been more serious and graceful—if I may use the word—if it had not been accompanied by the somewhat sneering observations that more than once disfigured the remarks of the hon. and learned Gentleman. Why he should speak of canting and pharisaical observations—
§ SIR C. RUSSELL
I did not apply that remark to you. It was a different portion of my speech altogether.
* SIR R. WEBSTER
If the hon. and learned Gentleman says that he did not mean to apply it to me I at once accept his assurance; there are far more important matters to discuss; but I must say with reference to my Oxford speech that, un-fortunately, I cannot agree that I trans- 174 gressed in one single bit, either from a proper discharge of my duty or from a proper recognition of my position. The hon. and learned Gentleman suggested that I rushed down to Oxford, and made it an opportunity for delivering a speech that I should not otherwise have made. As a matter of fact, it is known to some Members of the House that I was announced to speak at Oxford something like six weeks before. The point of the observation is the suggestion that I had no right to speak about the Commission at all, and should have abstained altogether from any criticism or observation with regard to it. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby shakes his head, but he must have forgotten the language he used respecting me at Bath. The position was this: The Pall Mall Gazettee and the Daily News had, on Friday and Saturday, in the most distinct and positive manner, asserted that the Report was an absolute and complete acquittal of the Irish Members on every charge. There was no qualification; the Judges were lauded to the skies, and were said to have given a complete verdict of acquittal. The right hon. Member for Derby has gone the length of saying that Parnellism and Crime was of no importance until Her Majesty's Attorney General took up the matter in the case of "O'Donnell v. Walter," vouched for these forgeries, and pledged his reputation to prove them. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for South Hackney said that I had assured the Conservative Party that I would prove my case up to the hilt. I am in the hearing of those who have watched my utterances pretty closely during the past three years, and I assert that I never have at any time used the expression of pledging my reputation, or, in fact, have pledged my reputation as to the truth or falseness of the charges in Parnellism and Crime. I have, in fact, never expressed my own opinion directly or indirectly upon the point. The hon. Member for Fife has intimated that he intends to watch what I say with a view, if possible, of correcting mistakes, and I am glad that he should do so. I say emphatically that I am not conscious of having expressed my opinion, either in the House or outside it, as to the truth of the charges contained in Parnellism and Crime, and certainly not in connce- 175 tion with the forged letters. When I went down to Oxford I found my tongue for the first time unfettered on the subject, and having regard to the fact that the Daily News and the Pall Mall Gazette had in the most clear manner asserted that the Report was a complete acquittal, I appeal to hon. Members whether it was not right and fair that the person most responsible, according to the view of hon. Members opposite, should then at last speak out freely. And I say that had I been silent the Pall Mall Gazette and the other newspapers would have exulted in the fact that I was silent, and would have stated that I dare not refer to the Report of the Commission because it was a complete and absolute exoneration. Had I been silent my silence would have been attributed either to cowardice or to a belief on my part that the Report amounted to an acquittal. I will now proceed to deal with the four specific charges made by the hon. and learned Member for Hackney. I do not think he has brought to bear on my speech ordinary judicial fairness. Anybody who has read that speech from beginning to end will notice that I pointed out the difference between boycotting and exclusive dealing before I got to the passage to which my hon. and learned Friend refers in language of most severe censure. My hon. and learned Friend began by saying I was developing a dangerous genius for inaccuracy. I do not suppose he means intentional inaccuracy. If it be a question of verbal accuracy, I am quite willing to submit it to the judgment of the House whether his criticism is or is not well founded. The first point is that I stated that throughout my hon. and learned Friend's speech before the Commission he had said there was no connection between the Fenian organisation and the Land League. I hope the House has followed what my hon. and learned Friend said in regard to that matter. He said—It is an entire mistake that we have always said there was no connection between the Fenians and the Land League,and he attempted to justify that expression and to criticise my language by saying—We never disputed the fact that individual Members of the Fenian body had abandoned 176 their Fenian objects and were prepared to join in the Constitutional methods of the Land League.That was the point to which my observations at Oxford were directed, and I venture to repeat them now, for I say that so far from its being true that the object of the hon. Member for Cork was to win the Fenians from their illegal purposes and embark them in Constitutional methods, he intended to get the support of the Fenians as Fenians. If I make that good, I think my hon. and learned Friend in the quiet of his chamber, to which the right hon, Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian referred so touchingly the other night, will admit I have made good my point. Let me read one passage from the Report and contrast it with the observation made to-night by my hon. and learned Friend that the Fenians only desire to be enlisted as individuals—It is apparent that the object; was not to win over the Fenians from their illegal and insurrectionary courses to a constitutional policy, but to retain their assistance, by making it clear that the Land League leaders did not condemn their flagrantly illegal acts, and by the avowal made by Mr. Dillon that he sympathised with them.That is the language of the Report of the Commission. Of course hon. Members opposite may say it is not justified by the evidence. You may say as much as you like it is not well founded, but I am entitled, for the purpose of my argument, to take it as a finding which must be accepted, and no person bringing a candid judgment to bear on that finding can come to any other conclusion than that it was a finding that the Land League intended to obtain the assistance of the Fenian Organisation. It is a direct negative of the proposition so strenuously maintained by my hon. and learned Friend. The next point was that I stated that no money had ever come from America. That statement, if it were not so seriously made by such an authority, would be almost laughable, for it suggests that I denied that people in America had subscribed any money, even for perfectly legitimate objects in Ireland. When we remember that a very large portion of the relief fund came from America, it would be absurd to suggest such a meaning to my words. But is it fair for even a political antagonist to use 177 such arguments? I will be judged by the passage in my hon. and learned Friend's speech which I had under my eye when I made my speech at Oxford, and it is that since the year 1882 not a single penny, either directly or indirectly, was received through the Irish World. [Mr. T. HARRINGTON: By the National League.] No. This is the passage. I beg the hon. Gentleman's pardon. It is useless to attempt to put any gloss on the passage. There is no mistake about it. After referring to the denunciation of Patrick Ford, my hon. and learned Friend says this—After May of 1882 the Irish World was actively hostile to Mr. Parnell and to Mr. Parnell's movement. It is true that it had opened its columns for contributions to the relief fund, and that in its columns were acknowledged, and through its agency remitted to Ireland, very large sums for Irish purposes. But after May of 1882 not one penny, as I am instructed, directly or indirectly was received through the Irish World."Was not that statement intended to represent that the wicked Patrick Ford, the representative of the Irish World, had, after May, 1882, not transmitted one penny, directly or indirectly, to the Nationalist movement? If it was not then I honestly say I do not understand what the meaning was. It is sufficient for me to point out that, notwithstanding the violent attacks made on my. Oxford speech, the warrant for the statement I made was taken from the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Hackney. And what is the statement in the Report?—It has been further proved that, while the Clan-na-Gael controlled and directed the Irish National League of America, the two organisations concurrently collected sums, amounting to more than £60,000, for a fund called the Parliamentary Fund, out of which payments have been made to Irish Members of Parliament amounting in the year 1886 to £7,556, and in 1887 to £10,500.ֵ Though it has not been proved that Mr. Parnell and the other respondents knew that the Clan-na-Gael controlled the League or that the Clan-na-Gael was collecting money for the Parliamentary Fund, it has been proved that they invited and obtained the assistance and co-operation of the physical force party in America, including the Clan-na-Gael, and, in order to obtain that, assistance, abstained from repudiating or condemning the action of that party. It has also been proved that, the respondents invited the assistance and cooperation of, and accepted subscriptions from, Patrick Ford, a known advocate of crime and the use of dynamite.178 Is it fair, is it just, for anybody to say that I have been wilfully and almost intentionally misrepresenting the arguments of my hon. and learned Friend and the text of the Report? I will just remind the House of the next point. My hon. and learned Friend stated it had always been admitted that the leaders of the Land League did not object to boycotting. Does he suggest it was always admitted that the leaders of the Land League encouraged intimidation? Does he not admit that he argued for hours that they had discouraged intimidation, and contended that what they encouraged was what is now described as exclusive dealing? My hon. and learned Friend described it, in language which is almost burlesque, as "the focussing of public opinion." I have no wish to attack my hon. and learned Friend. He knows that perfectly well. It is only because I have been attacked for political motives on the floor of the House that I feel it my duty to make my position clear. I say that in passage after passage my hon. and learned Friend in the most distinct manner stated that they never did encourage intimidation, but only boycotting in the sense of "the focussing of public opinion in a given district." He says—I am not justifying intimidation; I am not justifying force; I am not justifying violence in connection with it; those are different things. I am talking of an act of moral reprehension called boycotting.Does the hon. and learned Member now suggest that I should have told my audience at Oxford that "boycotttng means the focussing of the opinion of the community in condemnation of the conduct of an individual of that community"? If I may be allowed, to make the observation good-humouredly, I think that expression worthy of the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian himself. It is one of those paraphrases which may mean anything or nothing, and which are so convenient in the utterances of great political men. The charge is that I said at Oxford this kind of boycotting had not been encouraged. Any one who candidly reads my speech will come to no such conclusion. Let me recommend those who heard my hon. and learned Friend to read the distinction between the boycotting found by the Commis- 179 sioners and that described in the speech of my hon. and learned Friend. On page 53 of their Report the Commissioners say—We are of opinion that the combination, of which boycotting was the instrument, was illegal both in its objects and the means which were adopted. The object of this elaborate and all-pervading tyranny was not only to injure the landlords, against whom it was directed, by rendering their laud useless unless they obeyed the edicts of the Land League, but to injure the landlords as a class and drive them out of the country.Will the House mark this? Then the Report goes on to say—It is further to be observed that, although boycotting led in many cases to actual outrage, yet it was persisted in for years against the same individuals, and was generally recommended, notwithstanding the evils which plainly resulted from it.And this is said to be the finding which I ought to have read as equivalent to the "focussing of public opinion," which had never been from beginning to end disputed by my hon. and learned Friend. At page 92 of the Report this is put in the strongest manner; the Judges say—We find on this allegation that while some of the respondents, and in particular Mr. Davitt, did express bonâ-fide disapproval of crime and outrage, the respondents did not denounce the system of intimidation which led to crime and outrage, but persisted in it with knowledge of its effects.I have shown that my hon. and learned Friend alleged that boycotting, in the sense of excessively cruel violence, was always contrary to the wishes of hon. Members below the Gangway, and I ask the House whether to charge me with misrepresenting the finding of the Commission is a proper criticism of what I said at Oxford. I should like to add that the statement of my hon. and learned Friend that they had always discouraged intimidation was amply supported by those who came to give evidence. Mr. William O'Brien came and said that what the League meant by boycotting was only Irish for blackballing, and that when he referred to boycotting as being considered constitutional moans, he distinctly meant boycotting short of intimidation. I am perfectly unrepentant in regard to my Oxford speech. I have shown that the passages in the magnificent oration of my hon. and learned Friend, which was delivered in the presence and with the approval of the Irish 180 Members, laid down certain propositions which are distinctly and absolutely one and all contradicted by the finding of the Commission. My hon. and learned Friend has repeatedly said—and I do not complain of it—that I stated that not a single speech had been made denouncing crime and outrage. I have never denied that that statement was too wide. I made it in ignorance; but I was referring to the speeches of leaders, and I was not aware that certain subordinate Members of the Party had made some speeches in denunciation of outrage. Let it be understood that the principal leader, Mr. Parnell himself, admitted before the Commission that he had not sufficiently denounced outrage, and almost expressed his regret that that was so. When he was cross-examined by me as to why he had not, when Davitt was in prison, made speeches similar to those of Davitt, he said he had not had time, and there had not been opportunity. Do not let the question be judged by a slip of counsel, the unintentional use of an expression which was too wide in its meaning. Let it be judged by the language of the authority to which appeal has been made in this House, the language of Michael Davitt. In the letter which Mr. Davitt wrote to the Standard in May, 1882, he said—You next call upon my friends and myself to employ our recovered liberty to give the world solid and unanswerable guarantees of the loathing with which we regard all forms of outrage by making a fresh pilgrimage through the country, and to never desist from denouncing assassination until these hideous crimes are exorcised from the land. I agree with you, Sir, that such a pilgrimage ought to be made even now. Had it been made before, it is my firm belief that the terrible tragedy of the Phœnix park and many another tragedy, which, though it has not attracted so much attention, has wrung heartstrings as bitterly, would never have occurred. Why have there not been such pilgrimages? Let the facts answer so far, at least, as I am concerned. From the first initiation of the Land League I warned Irish people against outrages as the greatest danger of the movement.How was it, when crime was so prevalent as the Commissioners found it to be, when Davitt thought the case was serious, that the best interests of the Land League were being injured by crime, that the hon. Member for Cork, the late hon. Member for Cavan, and others, one and all abstained from making a single speech in denunciation of crime, and with the 181 object of putting an end to it? I admit, in the frankest way, that, taking my words in their largest sense, they were too wide; but in spirit and substance they were true. It is not the fact that there were hundreds of speeches denouncing crime; I think proof was given of only 20 or 30. I admit that there was denunciation of crime; but if there had been emphatic protests from the leaders of the League their case would have been very different. How different was the language ordinarily usee1 from that which was used by Mr. Davitt, Mr. Dillon, and Mr. Parnell after the Phoenix Park murders! I pass with a clear conscience from the suggestion that I misrepresented facts in my Oxford speech. A grave attack has been made upon me respecting my conduct of he case. I was placed in a position of great responsibility as the leader of the six counsel conducting the case. Any person so placed must bear the brunt of responsibility. Let me at first deal with the matters for which I am personally responsible. I take the sole responsibility for making the opening speech, and I am asked to apologise for a statement I made. It would be very wrong of me to do so, for an advocate does not express his own views, but those of the persons whose case he states. If an advocate were always to be thinking of himself and of his reputation there would be an end of that allegiance, that honourable allegiance, to the cause of the client to which every advocate is bound. Let me give a parallel case. Soon after I had the honour of wearing a silk gown, there was a case against two leading stockbrokers, of whom I defended one and Sir John Holker the other. The hon, and learned Member for Hackney, in opening the case, alleged that the defendants were guilty of the most infamous frauds, and in the discharge of his duty he poured out the vials of his wrath in eloquent and forcible language. But the jury acquitted the defendants, with the full approbation of Mr. Justice Lush. Did the hon, and learned Gentleman then apologise? Take another case. Nothing can be stronger than the attack my hon, and learned Friend made upon the witness Le Caron, of course on instructions. Le But the Judges acquitted Le Caron and believed him against the oath of Mr. 182 Parnell. Has Le Caron a right to call upon the Member for South Hackney for an apology? The idea is absurd. Does my hon. and learned Friend say that if he had gone out of his way as counsel to say what was not in his instructions with respect to Le Caron, he would not apologise? I know he would—because he is a man of honour. I know the great power and position of my hon. Friend, but I yield to nobody in my determination that to the best of my lights I will carry on my profession honourably and straightforwardly. I say that if I had gone beyond my duty as counsel and had said anything which was not based upon strict instructions, I would apologise frankly and straightforwardly at once. But as I knew perfectly well the matters which I laid before the tribunal were based on positive instructions in writing, it would be ridiculous for me, and absurd for anybody to ask me, to give an apology in respect of these matters. Let me deal at once with the particular matter which three hon. Members have thought fit to pick out —I do not complain of it—and which the House has more than once had brought to its attention. If I mistake not, it was one of the matters which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby thought he was justified in going down to an audience at Bath, and saying "it was a gratuitous invention of the Attorney General."
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
I used the words—I think in the Report they said this did not appear in the Times, but was introduced by the-Attorney General in the case of 'O'Donnell v Waller.'
* SIR R. WEBSTER
I noted the words down at the time. Let me be accurate. The words were:—According to the statement of the Judges, it seemed to be a private invention of the Attorney General.Does the right hon. Gentleman say that there is anything in this Report which suggests that I ever invented anything? I really do not think the right hon. Gentleman will, in his calm moments, persist in the statement which he made on the platform at Bath. "A gratuitous little invention on his own account" were the right hon. Gentleman's word. Well, being anxious to see whether I went beyond my in- 183 structions or not, I have sent for the written proofs, and I find that although we were not able afterwards to call the evidence—and I am not now saying that the evidence put before; me was in all cases trustworthy—yet the proofs in writing of the witnesses were most carefully taken at the time, and they warranted, and more than warranted, the statements which I made. I can go no further. My word must be taken in the House upon this, but I may say I shall be perfectly willing to show the proofs in confidence to any of my hon. and learned Friends provided that they do not disclose the names. I am sorry that my hon. and learned Friend the Member for York is not here, as the House must have rather understood him to suggest that when I said I was speaking from my instructions the statement was not to be received. Again, speaking at Cambridge, the hon. and learned Member for South Hackney, I noticed with regret, repeated several times the phrase, "Of course, according to his instructions," amid the laughter of his audience. I do not think he did mean to suggest that I went beyond my instructions; but still, when such, words are repeated amid the laughter of an audience, what is meant to be understood by the reporter is that the counsel has not acted in accordance with his instructions, but has gone beyond them. I care not in the least to justify myself, and it is all very well to sneer, as is frequently done, across the floor of the House. I say, I do not in the least care to justify myself, but it would be absurd for me to pass by these attacks in silence, because in that case it would be understood that allegations and charges are made by me without warrant, and, as the right hon. Gentleman suggests, are the gratuitous inventions of the Attorney General. I pass from that, however, and I have now to deal with one or two other important matters. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for South Hackney has repeated the suggestion that the inquiry was a game of surprises. A more unjust statement can scarcely be imagined. With the agreement and advice of my five hon. and learned Friends who were associated with me, I came to the conclusion that it would be impossible for us to disclose the names of the witnesses; but my 184 hon. and learned Friend got a promise from the Commissioners that if any witness took him by surprise, that witness should be ordered to stand down at the time and his cross-examination should be deferred. The House will perhaps be surprised to hear that only in two cases did lie avail himself of that privilege. And why? Anybody can read the evidence to see whether I am right or not. I say it is perfectly ridiculous to suggest that he did not know all about the witnesses. We took the witnesses by counties. I admit that we were obliged sometimes to alter the order. My hon. and learned Friend had the most complete information as to the antecedents of the witnesses. This whining complaint is not worthy of my hon. and learned Friend. If there was any substance in it why did he not ask that particulars should be set forth? I say that, so far from its being a game of surprises, there was ample, sufficient, and distinct notice of the cases and the localities from which the witnesses came. My hon. and learned Friend says that I rancorously conducted this case. "Pertinaciously" I do not mind, because it was my duty to conduct it in that way; but rancorously! He says, also, that it was a criminal proceeding. It was nothing of the kind. It was an action for libel being tried in the ordinary way, and nobody has ever heard in any civil action for conspiracy or otherwise of the defendants being entitled to know the names of the witnesses; and for obvious reasons. Then, says my hon. and learned Friend, the charge was launched as a conspiracy, which enabled an act done by someone else in Kerry to be fixed upon Mr. Parnell in London. Has my hon. and learned Friend never had to do with conspiracy before? What was the criticism of the President, when a similar objection was taken on a particular question? He said, "is not a General responsible for the acts of his soldiers?" I say that when you get a finding, as in this Report, that the Land League conspiracy was for the purpose, by illegal means, of obtaining illegal results, then I say it is idle to make any complaint of the fact that the case was launched as a conspiracy, for it could be nothing else. Then the hon. and learned Member for South Hackney complained that the suggestion to fix the 185 Member for Cork with responsibility on account of what was said by Scrab Nally was unfair; but I say that Scrab Nally stood on the same platform as the Member for Cork, and made violent speeches which were never repudiated. But there was another Nally who was imprisoned, and who subsequently stood as a candidate. Will the House just note what the Report says on p. 93? It is a commentary, a striking commentary, on what we have heard in this matter. Mr. Parnell refers in the speech quoted in the Report that I now hold in my hand to the important services, the great and important services, rendered to the cause of the Land League by Mr. P. W. Nally. Then he goes on to say—I believe of Mr. Nally that he is one of the victims to the infamous system which assisted in this country during the three years of the Coercion Act. I believe of Patrick Nally that he is a victim of the conspiracy which was formed between Lord Spencer and the informers of their country for the purpose to obtain victims to what they called 'law and justice' by any and every means, whether they were innocent or not.And this, forsooth, is the gentleman who complained through the mouth of his advocate that it is a hardship that the organisation of which he is President is shown by the direct action of his subordinates to have been guilty of a system which brought about these outrages and crimes. Now, Mr. Speaker, there is one very serious charge which was made. It is not part of my duty to go into the long story of the forged letters. Put one very serious charge was made against me—a charge which I should like to deal with at once. It is suggested that I advisedly' and for some wicked motive kept Pigott out of the box until a late date. To suggest that I kept him out of the box for any improper motive is very unfair and unworthy attack to make upon me. I must bear the responsibility because I happened to be the leading counsel; but this I will say, that although there were, and must sometimes have been, differences between me and the other counsel acting with me as to the policy or prudence of a particular course, the action I took with regard to calling Houston and Pigott was the result of an unanimous opinion arrived at after consultation between us. I do appeal 186 to the sense of justice of hon. Members. Let me remind them that when this attack was attempted on the 9th February before the Commissioners, I at once jumped up, and said I desired to make it plain that it was always my intention to call bath Houston and Pigott; and the learned President said at once that they had certainly always understood so. It is so easy to be wise after the event. I was so easy to be wise instructed ns my hon. and learned Friend was. My hon. and learned Friend bad in his pocket the letter of Archbishop Walsh, of which I had no knowledge, of which I had no notice, and which I never saw. To make this, then, a ground of solemn attack against a professional antagonist appears to be unworthy of this debate. And I should like to refer here to certain observations which have been made by some hon. Members opposite, particularly below the Gangway, in which contrasts have been drawn between the conduct—or I should say, perhaps, the supposed conduct—of my right hon. Friend the Member for Bury and myself. I am aware that I have been described as the villain of the piece, and my right hon. Friend has been described as the man who forced me to do in the case what I otherwise should not have done, and I know that the attempt made to cover him with compliments at the expense of others is as nauseating to him as it is unfair to me. I think these strictures upon the conduct of the case should be addressed to the body of counsel. To suggest that the Attorney General or the Government designed the method as a means to attack political opponents is an argument which I am certain does not commend itself to fair-minded men, and having adverted to this I am content to leave it to the judgment of the House. There are one or two matters of importance in the speeches to which I must refer, and in doing so I wish to refer to an argument used by the hon. Member for Dumfries in connection with the disappearance of tin.; Land League books. I confess, Sir, that it seemed to me that the hon. Member for Roxburgh was not far wrong when he said the hon. Member for Dumfries had forgotten that he was in the House of Commons, and that he must have been under the impression that he had his wig and gown on, for he 187 proceeded to talk about the books for 10 years and about those for nine years having been produced, and contended that, after all, there was no ground for the complaint that the books of the League had not been produced. What are the facts? The important period of time was from October, 1879, up to October, 1882, as to the Land League books, I mean. I am making no suggestion as to the books of the National League. There was an interim League; it may be called, perhaps, the apostolic successor to the Land League—the Ladies' Land League. That League dispensed, or made away with, a large sum of money handed over from the Land League— from £50,000 to £70,000— as to which not a vestige or scrap of paper or book was produced—not the slightest bit of evidence of what became of that money. When it is said that the raid which it was expected would be made on the books by the Government —a raid which, however, never came off—was sufficient to account for the disapperance of the books, I do not think that many hon. Members will be disposed to accept the statement as a satisfactory explanation. Then, again, yesterday afternoon we had a most extraordinary incident in this House, when the hon. Member for South Fermanagh—whom, let the House bear in mind, the hon. and learned Member pledged his word to the Commission should be recalled—rose and made a statement, which may be shown, if gone into, to be difficult of acceptance, with reference to the books and which certainly ought to have been given in the witness-box.
§ * SIR C. RUSSELL
It is quite true that I undertook that all the incriminated Members should be called, and I also went on to say that others who were not incriminated should be called for cross-examination if the Attorney General desired it. From circumstances I need not mention counsel retired from the case in July. If, therefore, the Attorney General had expressed any wish for Mr. Campbell or any other Member to be called it might have been done.
* SIR R. WEBSTER
I am not referring to that, but to a specific statement, made by the hon. and learned Member when he was still counsel for Mr. Parnell, that 188 Mr. Campbell should be re-called. It arose on the day my hon. and learned Friend will not forget. The hon. Member for Fermanagh had given his evidence as to the forged letters, and was going out of the box, and not being asked the question, my hon. and learned Friend Said, as to the case generally, "Of course, Mr. Campbell will be re-called on the rest of the case." I make no complaint against my hon. and learned Friend, but I do say that over and over again the Court stated that they attached great importance to the disappearance of the books, and that they thought that every effort should be made to get them, and I repeat, and I ask the House to mark it, that if the explanation given so readily in this House yesterday afternoon was true, it ought to have been given in the proper place, the witness-box. The House, I think, will hesitate before they accept as of equal value, the recollection of the hon. Member, and the evidence he might have given under cross-examination in the witness-box, especially when it is remembered that the hon. Member for East Donegal, who was examined as a witness, never suggested there was a mistake or anything wrong in the matter. But this does not depend upon the presence or absence of any particular person. By the merest accident we happened to get hold of a batch of letters showing the system which had been adopted and followed in the Laud League office on two days—10 or 50 letters, of which 10 or 12 were put in evidence, and of which two or three were extremely material. I allude to the Horan and Butterfield letters. These establish the system that was followed, though all the books and documents have disappeared, all the letters of application, all the papers stating how those applications were dealt with, and what money was paid. The initials on these letters were those of Mr. John Ferguson, and in this connection it must not be forgotten that Ferguson admitted under cross-examination that there had had been many such cases of applications granted and money paid. [Cries of"No."] The late hon. Member for Cavan (Mr. Biggar) stated that in the ordinary course many such cases would come before the Committee to be considered. I contend, then, that the disappearance of all those papers, of which there must have been many hundreds and thousands, can only 189 be accounted for by intentional discretion. It cannot be otherwise explained.
§ MR. SEXTON
The witness Phillipps, who had the control of a great number of the documents for a long time, stated in Court that he had never in all that mass of documents seen one of the nature suggested by the Attorney General, and that no one belonging to the League had ever asked him to destroy a document.
* SIR R. WEBSTER
Does the hon. Gentleman suggest that a clerk would be able, under the circumstances, to remember the contents of every single letter of such a mass? The question is, what was in those letters? Were there any applications for money among them, or any evidence of payment of money? Unfortunately for the case of the Times, it was made impossible for us to get at the letters, for, as has been stated by an hon. Member behind me (Sir C. Lewis), if they could have been produced they would have proved a great deal of what the Judges have been compelled to say there is no proof. There is another point to which I wish to call the attention of the House the attacks that have been made on Major Le Caron and up n the informers evidence. Now, besides Le Caron, there were 13 informers, and I want the House to follow this, because it shows the strength of the case the Times proved and the utter collapse of the case set up by the respondents; 96 persons were mentioned as still living, their addresses and Christian and other names given, who were cognisant of the particular acts of which the informers spoke; while on behalf of the respondents only four persons were called to contradict the evidence of the informers, and of those four two hopelessly broke down, and it was clear that the story which the informers told was quite true. Do hon. Members think that the respondents did not ransack Ireland from end to end to try to find witnesses who could throw doubt on the informers evidence, that with all the resources at their command they did not rightly and properly do their utmost to refute that evidence; for we, recognising that an informer has to be corroborated, produced all the evidence we could get. I ask hon. Members to look through the Report and see whether in many of the cases given there are not overwhelming grounds for believing that the informers spoke the 190 truth. When it is seen that the respondents were unable to produce evidence in contradiction of the informers, and when by cross-examination of other witnesses—priests and others—it was shown that the story of the Times and the statements of the informers were true, one can understand why there was no unwillingness on the part of some of the respondents to bring the evidence to a close, and a desire to retire from further examination. Now, the American transactions formed one of the most important parts of the case, and I shall present y have to refer to the observations of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian in this connection. But I ask the House to consider whether or not the evidence of the hon. Member for North Fermanagh was not most vital and important to the case, and it is perfectly true, as an hon. Member said last night, that he was frequently in and oat of the Court during the Commission. There can be no excuse whatever for not calling Mr. W. H. Redmond, other than that in all probability if he had given evidence a great deal more actual knowledge of what was done respecting America would have been obtained. But there is another matter which the House does not yet know, namely, that except Mr. M. Harris and Mr. J. J. O'Kelly no Land League organisers were called.
* SIR R. WEBSTER
I did not refer to those who were in the high position of the two hon. Members opposite; I v as referring to those persons who were sent all over the country, and whose speeches were proved by the hundred, to men like Gordon, the actual organisers of the League, the men who did the work, and it is a fact that I am right in saying that beyond the two persons I have mentioned not one single organiser was called. But not only that, but no official of the League was called out of the many who might have been called; J. P. Quinn, who was in constant attendance, Doriss. Harrison, Burton, Pearce, Tighe; not one out of these various officials was called. I say that the cumulative nature of the case is quite irresistible. Hon. Members opposite may say that it was our duty to call this man or that man, 191 but if this had been the innocent association which the hon. and learned Member opposite has described—a cross between a soup kitchen and a relief society—there would have been no difficulty in proving the nature of the organisation. Why, we should have had the fullest disclosure; we should have had organisers and committee men pressing into the box to be examined. But the House of Commons is not a Court of Justice; the House of Commons must judge of these things as men of the world, and I say that the inference to be drawn from the suppression of books, no account being given of money, and the absence of officials, is that it was to the interest of the respondents that a full disclosure should not be made. I say that it is the mildest judgment that could possibly be passed when the Commissioners say—We have not received from Mr. Parnel and the officers of the Land League the assistance we were entitled to expect in the investigation of the Land League accounts, in order that it might be seen how its funds were expended.There is another matter to which I must in a very few words call the attention of the House, that is, the extraordinary disappearance from the United Kingdom of persons intimatedly connected with the Land League in February, 1882, in connection with the Phoenix Park murders, among whom I say there were men who were Invincibles and leading members of the Land League, though I am not entitled to say that they were members of the Land League as Invincibles. There was P. J. Sheridan and Patrick Egan.
§ * SIR C. RUSSELL
Can the hon. and learned Gentleman call attention to any evidence of Egan having anything to do with the Invincibles?
* SIR R. WEBSTER
I stated that Patrick Egan disappeared from the United Kingdom at a given date. I think that there is most plain evidence that he was in close connection with the Invincibles, but for the moment I will assume that I was mistaken in that. My point is that Egan, Sheridan, Brennan, Byrne, John Walsh of Middlesbrough, and others who were undoubtedly proved to be prominent Land Leaguers, disappeared from the United Kingdom when the evidence of the Phœnix Park 192 murders came out in Dublin. What have we a right to assume from the absence of these men, when no reason is given for their going away? Now I must say a word with reference to the observations made by the hon. Member for the Harbour Division with respect to the telegrams, some of which he read to the House. I will not ask him how he got them, but I have been able to make some inquiries about them. I speak now, not on my own behalf, but on behalf of Mr. Walter, and I have no objection to the whole being read. It is suggested that for the Times to attempt to get Sheridan as a witness after the forged letters were blown up was something wicked and improper. But I submit on behalf of Mr. Waiter that there was hanging over the head of the Times an action for £100,000, that it has been settled for reasons I have not to deal with for £5,000. But I say this, that even assuming that all that was read bore the most unfair construction put upon it by the hon. and learned Member—I say that there is nothing of which Mr. Soames or Mr. Walter need be ashamed. What are the facts? Sheridan having asked £20,000, negotiations were absolutely and unconditionally broken off in January, 1889, and they wore re-opened by a letter from. Sheridan of February 18, 1889, the original of which I have seen. Then comes the mare's nest in which the hon. and learned Member revelled. Ton will recollect that in one of the telegrams the name of Birch appears. The hon. and learned Member assumed that Mr. Birch was the expert in the British Museum.
§ MR. T. HARRINGTON
I did not say that; I said—I do not know who he is, but one Mr. Birch was mentioned by Mr. Soames as an expert in the British Museum, and possibly ho may be the gentleman who was sent out.I guarded myself most distinctly.
* SIR R. WEBSTER
I think I am doing the hon. and learned Member no injustice when I say he threw out the suggestion. But, as a matter of fact, Mr. Birch of the British Museum has never been out of England, and the Mr. Birch referred to in the telegram is a skilled solicitor from the offices of Messrs. Wontner, sent over to test and see whether Sheridan had anything to corroborate the story which he had told. 193 Without wearying the House, I may say that after having asked £20,000, it came down to this, that lie was willing to come for £1,000, and that was declined by Mr. Soames, because there was no corroboration of his story. This is a statement which I am entitled to make, and it is only a right thing that I should make it on behalf of those who cannot be represented in this House. I will refer to two telegrams. The first is dated July 9, 1889, and was read by the hon, and learned Member. It is the one which begins—Did not see letter, was shown K; ho saw it again last night, finds he made a mistake in Castlereagh, it dates Feb. '81," &c.Then on July 11 this telegram came to Mr. Birch from Mr. Soames—We cannot afford to put ourselves in his power. If his danger is so great and he means to go with us he cannot object to treat us with confidence; if he will not he means to sell us. If he will not give inspection of documents and make statements so that yon may test the value of his evidence, the only plan will be to break off negotiations with him and to return home.I am referring to information given to me which is in the handwriting of Mr. Birch, and in which all the telegrams are set out. I say that it is no unworthy or improper action that desiring to get the evidence of Sheridan if ho could, Mr. Soames sent out a most experienced solicitor to test that evidence, and if it was not corroborated by documents he was to come back. Suggestions were made by the hon, and learned Member of bribery and similar charges. I do not complain of the hon. Member at all; it was part of his game, and he did it very well, but the fact is this, that those who were being sued in an action for £100,000 desired to prove if they could certain things—not respecting the forged letters, but relating to other matters—with, which Sheridan had been intimately connected. I think I have, at all events, in this debate disposed of the matters which the hon. and learned Member for Hackney described as very important which had been disclosed by the hon. Member below the Gangway. I am extremely sorry to trespass either on your indulgence, Sir, or on that of the House; but, at the same time, it is important that I should mention one or two points in connection with matters which have been referred to in this debate. 194 The charges with regard to payments in connection with crime were described by the right hon. Gentleman opposite last night and by the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian as trumpery. I admit that together with one other letter it was the only direct evidence of payment for crime. But it must be remembered that the secretary by whom that cheque was paid never gave any information about it. O'Callaghan, who was proved to be living and to be a leading member of the League at Castleisland, was not produced as a witness; and I venture to think that those who brought forward this argument about "the trumpery £12" should have inquired into the circumstances which affected the minds of the Commissioners. I am afraid I must pass by that argument. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian told ns we were to reject the finding of the Commissioners with regard to secret societies and evictions because they were "non-judicial." He used that expression, or something like it. But what were the issues upon which my hon. and learned Friend invited the Commissioners to give judgment? We find them summarised in page 84 of the Report. It is there stated that it was suggested by the respondents that the causes of crime were distress, secret societies acting in antagonism to the League, and the throwing out of the Compensation for Disturbance Bill. If it were my duty, and it were necessary, I would undertake to read page after page of my hon. and learned Friend's speech, showing that when we suggested that the Land League had by intimidation caused crime, he suggested these causes. [Sir CHALES RUSSELL: Contributory causes.] And he invited the judgment of the Commissioners upon that point. He asked them to express their opinion that such were the causes, and yet we are to be told that the finding is to be a thing of naught, and that the House is to reject it altogether. Mr. Parnell and many other hon. Members were in the Court from day to day. They listened with glowing ears, and sometimes with tears in their eyes, to the magnificent appeals of my hon. and learned Friend. They adopted them, and they asked that the issue should be found in their favour on them. The issue is found against them, and now they turn round and say it 195 ought never to have been decided upon, and that it is a matter of which the learned Judges could not judge. There is another important matter, and here I must unquestionably read some passages from the speech of my hon. and learned Friend. "All that is proved was known 'before," say the advocates of the other side. "All that is new is not true; all that is true was perfectly well known before." Does the hon. and learned Gentleman wish the House to believe that the connection between the Clan-na-Gael in America and the Land League in America was known before? He is perfectly honest and candid; he was expressing his view of the facts, but can he point to a line in which that connection, found by the Commissioners, was admitted? I must read some passages from the speech, which are so striking and strong that they ought almost to be written at large in the Report. Our case was that the Clan-na-Gael had captured and controlled the Land League in America, and that from a certain date it was under the guidance of the Clan-na-Gael. The Commissioners make two specific findings. They find, on page 119 of the Report—That the Irish National League of America 9ias been, since the Philadelphia Convention, April 25, 1883, directed by the Clan-na-Gael, a Body actively engaged in promoting the use of dynamite for the destruction of life and property in England.And they also find, on page 121 —With regard to the further allegation that he (Mr. Davitt) was in close and intimate association with the party of violence in America, and mainly instrumental in bringing about the alliance between that party and the Parnellite and Home Rule Party in America, we find that he was in such close and intimate association for the purpose of bringing about, and that he was mainly instrumental in bringing about, the alliance referred to.Now, without a word of comment, I will read three passages from the speech of my hon. and learned Friend, and then the House will judge whether I have correctly dealt with the argument on this point—that everything that was true was known before. This speech was delivered in April, 1889, all the respondents being in Court. Having referred to the Clan-na-Gael, he says —But it also shows—and this is the most interesting part of the story of Le Caron— secret attempts persisted in on the part of 196 the representatives of that Clan-na-Gael to capture and control the open movement, and, as I conceive it, did also show that these attempts absolutely and entirely failed.That was the case put forward. Then my hon. and learned Friend said again—Is it conceivable, my Lords, is it not the sheerest absurdity to suggest, or ask the Court to believe, that at the time of this very policy of opposition to this wild, wicked scheme, suggested and adopted by the secret organisation in Amities, the party of which Mr. Parnell and Mr. Davitt wore leaders, was in alliance with that very party?Mr. Davitt, the House will note —the man whom the Court finds to have been instrumental in bringing about that alliance. And yet this is the argument Upon which the right hon. Gendeman the Member for Mid Lothian suggests that nothing has been disclosed except some trumpery matters. After my hon. and learned Friend had gone through the whole of Le Caron's story, he spoke as follows, which the House will please note—But the crushing and conclusive argument against his story is in the history, which I have now gone into (I believe thoroughly). From the beginning to the end of this story there is no suggestion of any such alliance with Mr. Parnell, though there is a constant and persistent effort—that is a part of our case— which proved to be unsuccessful, and which at the Chicago Convention is shown to have utterly collapsed, to capture, get hold of, and manipulate the whole Land League Organisation.Hon. and learned Members are entitled to their opinions, but for the purposes of my case I am entitled to rely on the finding of the Judges.
* SIR R. WEBSTER
The hon. Member is too acute. My hon. and learned Friend's point was that the Clan-na-Gael did not control the Land League, but that the latter Body worked on different lines. But as long as the finding of the Judges stands, and my hon. and learned Friend's speech remains in print, it will be evident that lie put forward a proposition and did his very utmost to obtain a finding in favour of that proposition, while there is a finding distinctly against it. The hon. Member for Cork admitted his sympathy with dynamite, and I use the word advisedly. And it is a remarkable fact that it was proved that 197 in 1881 there were five dynamite outrages; in 1883, seven; in 1884, eight; and in 1885, four. The right hon. Member for Mid Lothian spoke of the work of the Judges as having unearthed a miserable and obscure paper called the Irishman. The hon. Member for Cork would have the House believe that lie never knew of it. I will show the House what the Commissioners think of that suggestion. What was the utterance on this dynamite question in the Irishman, which was edited by Mr. William O' Brien?
* SIR R. WEBSTER
His name was on every issue of the paper. He stated that a man named O'Connor was kept on for the Irishman, and continued to do the work. I decline to accept the statement that a man who had allowed his name to appear day by day on a paper is not morally as well as legally responsible for such utterances as I shall call attention to. After the Irishman had been in existence for nearly three years there appeared the following: —Still the English papers howl at Mr. Parnell for not denouncing the dynamite people. Mr. Parnell's silence is a proof of his statesmanship, and one of the hest evidences he could give of his sagacity. It is none of his business to take Irishmen to task for their ways and means. Let the English look themselves and do their own work. We hope Mr. Parnell will never utter one word to gratify English screechers. To rail at the man upon whom they have heaped abuse for not helping them is the meanest kind of poltroonery. The English Press has for seven years never ceased to pour out its dirty vituperation upon the head of the Irish loader, and now it impudently calls upon him to condemn the dynamitards. Verily Mr. Parnell has his revenge.I had the misfortune to cross-examine Mr. Parnell on that point, and I asked him whether he had ever said one word against dynamite. He said that lie believed he had, and would look for the speech. I asked him the next day whether he could find any such speech, and he said that none could be found. And it came down to this—that, beyond an observation in a speech in this House in February, 1883, delivered in reply to Mr. Forster, and stating that he did not agree with Mr. Patrick Ford, there was not a single word in denunciation of 198 dynamite. I do venture to say that it is idle for hon. Members to ask us to come to the conclusion that the Irishman had no purpose or use, and was not directed with certain objects. How do the Commissioners deal with this matter? They find "that Mr. Parnell's object was to address his Fenian supporters through that medium," Therefore the finding is not that in ignorance the paper was allowed to exist, or that it was tolerated, but that it served a distinct and deliberate object. Then there is another very important matter. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian has suggested that the Land Act of 1881 was brought about by agitation, and my hon. and learned Friend the Member for South Hackney suggested to-night that the object of the responsible leaders was to obtain some Amendment or improvement of the law in the direction of that important charter of the people. But have the Irish Members called the Land Act the great charter of the Irish people? Let us clear away this cant, this absurdity. Why, the Irish Members have denounced the Land Act root and branch. I say that it is an absurdity for Irish Members to get up or lay claim to the credit of that legislation for the improvement of the condition of the Irish people. I must trouble the House with four extracts that are representative—they are each of them taken from different sources. They afford a mass of cumulative testimony that is of great importance to the question. The Land Act was passed in July. 1881, and it received the Royal assent in the following August. On the 15th of October, 1881, there appeared an article in United Ireland—the recognised organ of the Land League, a newspaper of which the hon. Member for Cork is one of the proprietors—with regard to this great charter of the Irish people, as though they had been working for it heart and soul. I say that it is a monstrous claim to put forward that by their agitation the Irish Members had led up to the passing of the Land Act. I am not dealing with the morality or the immorality of such a cam; to at will be dealt with by others. What I am doing is to point to the view that was taken of the measure at the time by this 199 organ of the Land League. The article to which I desire to point attention was in the following terms—The organisation which he (Mr. Gladstone) strove to crush has received a plenary national commission to see whether that Act can be used as an instrument to destroy landlordism and English rule; if it cannot, to put the Act contemptuously aside and destroy landlordism without it.Does that article suggest that the ends aimed at should be secured by constitutional means? [Ironical Home Rule cheers.] Hon. Members will not put me off my point. The suggestion is now made that the agitation was intended to bring about by Constitutional means that which has undoubtedly been a great boon to the Irish people. What said Mr. Dillon upon this point? Mr. Dillon, in a speech which appears on page 423 of the evidence, said—I say better no Land Bill—better for the tenants of Ulster to come into the Land League like men and defend their farms like men, as the men of Tipperary, Mayo, and Galway. Better trust that than go into the Court and submit their cases to the Comity Court Judge.What was the way in which farms were defended in Tipperary, Galway, and Mayo? Does that refer to the action of the secret societies, which are put forward as being hostile to the Land League? Is it not perfectly clear from that language that the Irish Members, so far from working in favour of the Land Act, from being anxious to get it passed, and from wanting to improve the condition of the people by Constitutional means, were in reality most anxious to keep the people to the old methods, which the Commissioners have declared to be not only unconstitutional but illegal, and the result of criminal conspiracy? But let us see what the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) says. Here is his testimony which he bore in 1882. Here is his answer to the absurd hypothesis that the agitation had for its object the improvement of the condition of the Irish people by Constitutional means—Gladstone's policy was to fix a relation between the landlord and the tenant—the policy of the League was to abolish the relation and trample landlordism beneath its heels. 200 Gladstone's Land Act and the Land League were precisely of opposite principles.This is the opinion of the hon. Member with regard to that legislation which it is now said, in the vain endeavour to patch up the broken-down case of the Irish Members, that the agitation was intended to bring about. Unfortunately at this time the hon. Member for Cork wrote to his friend Mr. Patrick Ford, and this is what he said in October, 1881—The tenants were instructed not to use the rent-fixing clauses of the Land Act, but to keep out of Court and follow the old lines and rely upon old methods. The Executive was empowered to select test cases in order that tenants in surrounding districts may understand the worthlessness of the Land Act.This, then, is the hon. Member's opinion of the great charter of the Irish people— of this magnificent piece of legislation that never would have been brought about but for the agitation that was carried on for so long. That letter is a singular commentary upon the suggestion of the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian, that he had to thank the hon. Member for Cork for his advice and assistance in carrying the Land Act. The right hon. Gentleman had to do nothing of the kind—ho put the hon. Member and his supporters into prison. I am not saying whether the right hon. Gentleman was right or wrong in taking that course; but, for my own part, I have never hesitated to say that to put those men into prison without trial was a monstrously unconstitutional act. But for the right hon. Gentleman and the hon. and learned Member for Hackney to come down and suggest that the credit of passing the Land Act should be given to the Irish Members is—well, I may say that it is an argument that will not commend itself to the judgment of reasonable men in this House. I think that that is strictly Parliamentary language; I am afraid that in my anxiety to do all I could to assist in this debate I have trespassed unduly upon the time of the House; but I desire to ask those who will follow me to note that I have not spoken in very exaggerated language, and have used no violent expressions. I have argued this case remembering, as I wished the 201 House to remember, the position I have previously filled. I mean that of an advocate; and therefore I have felt it right not to put forward any personal opinions of my own except such as are fully supported by the findings of the Commissioners, and when I could satisfy the House that they were in accordance with those findings. What is the sum and substance of this matter? It is not for me to say what I think of the conduct of the Times in connection with the forged letters, which formed the strong point in the hon. and learned Member's speech. In connection with those letters the hon. and learned Gentleman has stated that nothing was done for the purpose of ascertaining their genuineness except to send one expert to examine them. Unfortunately my mouth is closed; but I am entitled to say that it is not right, it is not correct, it is not fair for the hon. and learned Gentleman to say that that is all that was done. I do not think that it would be right—hon. Members may not credit me—for me to state what I know was done—that may or may not come out some day—but it is certainly not correct, and it is not quite just, for the hon. and learned Gentleman to tell us that nothing else was done in the matter, and I did not think that I ought to allow his statement to pass without comment. Passing that by, I come to the charge against the Irish Members that they condoned the action of those who took part in the Phoenix Park murders. I say now, as I said at Oxford, that that charge has wholly failed, and that I rejoice that it has failed. It would be no part of my duty, and wrong of me, to admit that any apology is due from me, having done my duty—imperfectly it may be. I assert that as a Member of this House I am extremely glad that that charge has failed. But the fact that particular Members have been exonerated from that particular charge, although most valuable to them, does not touch, or rather scarcely touches, the great issue between us. We are not dealing in this matter with the hon. Member for Cork alone. We are dealing with Mr. William O'Brien, Mr. Billon, Mr. Sexton, Mr. Healy, and a number of other gentlemen; and it has been our misfortune to be obliged to allege against them that they 202 have been engaged in a criminal conspiracy, criminal in its objects and criminal in its means; and deeply as I regret that any charge should have been made against them that ought not to have been made, yet I say that it is utterly impossible for the House to shut its eyes to the extreme gravity of the issue which has been found against them upon the evidence laid before the Commission. When the case reached a certain point the hon. Members walked out of Court, giving an excuse that can scarcely be regarded otherwise than as a pretence. I am not here to defend Mr. Houston; but I say that when in the box that much abused individual offered to bring before the Commissioners the whole of the books of the Loyal and Patriotic Union— nay, more, and to allow an independent accountant to look into those books and to pick out any item that could refer directly or indirectly to the letters; and it was because he demanded—a demand which the Commissioners decided was only fair—that the books should not be put at the disposal of a rival political Organisation that the hon. Member for Cork and his Colleagues thought fit to walk out of Court. It is remarkable that their counsel would not go until they had got a written mandate for him to do so from the hon. Member for Cork. And why did they walk out of. Court? I say because they found that the more witnesses they called, the more parish priests they called, and the more those witnesses were cross-examined, the clearer did it become that the case of the Times was being more and more proved. [Laughter, and cries of "Oh!"] Hon. Members may laugh: but I will give one instance which, is a striking one. We had just entered on the respondents' case for the County of Mayo. They were just proceeding to call their Mayo witnesses, and they called a priest, who went into the box with the bearing of a lame. This priest turned out to be the man who had suggested the hot water to be used against the emergency men, and who had marshalled the people to go from one house to another. I leave the House to draw what conclusions they like. Mr. Speaker, we listened to-night to a magnificent peroration from the hon. and learned Member for Hackney. It is no part 203 of my duty to compete with him in such eloquence, even if I were capable of it. I am here to make a a plain statement. I am here not to justify, but to answer; and I submit to the judgment of the House my reply to the accusations made against me—accusations which I now believe were intended to be made against me as the representative of the Times, and not against me personally. I say that unfeignedly, and I believe my hon. and learned Friends who preceded me desired that that should be the view in which their accusations should be regarded. Still, it was necessary for me to answer. And now I leave the matter before the House, pointing out, as I have already said, that matters which have been previously disputed are now established; that accusations not well founded have been blown to the winds; that the action of individual Members previously denied is now shown to be the fact. The net result of the Report ought to be of the greatest importance in determining once and for all what shall be the policy to be addressed to the government of Ireland.
§ *(9.35.) MR. E. HARRINGTON (Kerry, W.)
I claim to address the House as one of those Members who were charged with criminal conspiracy, and I am happy to say that I am included among those held guilty of that conspiracy in the eyes of the learned Judges. Living, as I did, in the midst of scenes of the most acute distress in 1879 and 1880 and in succeeding years, and having all my life witnessed the tyranny and oppression of the landlord class in Ireland, I should have felt it a dishonour had I been excluded from the list of those found guilty of endeavouring to put an end to the vilest phases of landlordism in Ireland. There is a good deal of gloss sought to be put on the findings of the Commission, but as was very happily pointed out from these Benches the other evening in regard to them, all the Judges say against us is that we practised what they call intimidation—which word is equivalent to boycotting—with a view to keeping the poor people of Ireland on the land of their birth. We have been asked in this debate whether we know the responsibility we are incurring in 204 sending people to Coventry, leaving them severely alone, treating them as moral lepers; but if hon. Gentlemen could put themselves in our position and witness, as we have witnessed, the harrowing spectacles of misery brought about by landlord oppression, they would think themselves moral cowards not to act as the Irish Members have done. We shall admit this charge. We feel that the preaching we have entered on is our gospel to the end so long as the Government supports tyranny and exaction in Ireland. Let there be no mistake about that. But what were really the charges on which we were placed on our trial before the Commission Judges? Were they charges of boycotting? It has been with a great deal of boldness founded on wrong information and a wrong estimate of our characters, suggested rather than stated, in this debate that we had sympathy with murder and were assassins, or rather worse than assassins, men who without the time or courage to commit murders themselves had found the time and money to employ other persons to commit them. What have the Commissioners found with regard to that? The Report is a memorial of the prejudice which exists in some quarters against us in the public mind, and I do not object to it being placed on the records of the House as a record for future years of the sentiments by which our opponents are actuated. I care no more for this record than for that on the Monument, which, in the words of one of our great poets, "Like a tall bully lifts its head and lies." This Report will be a standing memorial to future ages of the prejudices of the Party opposite, and we care nothing for it. We care nothing for the opinion of the three respectable gentlemen who were appointed to try us—I mean as to their opinion of our conduct in political matters. As to our general conduct in political matters, we are prepared to leave it to the judgment of our constituencies. If you Gentlemen opposite are content with the estimate formed of your characters by the people of your own country, you are to be envied, but it would seem to some that the certificates tendered you were tendered by very narrow majorities. If you would stand or fall by the verdict of 205 your countrymen, so will we, and it is their verdict, and theirs alone, that we desire. The first point to which I will, with the permission of the House, refer, is the imputation which seemed to be made on my own character. The accusation has frequently been made against myself and the hon. Member for the Harbour Division of Dublin that Ave were responsible for all the crime in County Kerry. Well, in my case, only one speech or phrase was alleged against me, and nothing is alleged against the hon. Member for the Harbour Division except that he was present when speeches wore deliverd which might be thought an incitement to intimidation. I can place before the Attorney General copies of my own and other papers, and show what I said from day to day, and he will guarantee that I never revised the reports. I can show that I never spoke where there had been disturbance or outrage without discouraging outrage. What do the Commissioners say? Why, they refer to words—it may be in Mr. T. D. Sullivan's paper, the Nation —words that may have appeared in two or three newspapers, and use them for the purpose of attacking one of the three newspapers. They bring forward copies of Central News and other telegrams, as if they could be regarded its direct incitements emanating from the editor or proprietor of the newspaper. With regard to myself, they were able to pick out hero and there a few resolutions extending over a course of nine years and pointing to individuals, but these resolutions happened to be published in my paper at a time when I had not any immediate cognisance of it. Notwithstanding this fact, the ordinary formula was adopted, and "Mr. E. Harrington" was charged with having said that such and such a man was a land-grabber. I submit that this is a very unfair way of dealing with a matter. A sentence which I thought offensively referred to myself related to the theory which, in cross-examination, I was compelled to adopt about an outrage on a man named Herbert, a process server in County Kerry. I was forced to say, when questioned about that outrage, that I did not believe it was a genuine outrage. I was asked how I could reconcile that statement with the fact that the man had been wounded in 206 the wrist. My explanation was, that the man, going home alone, was frightened by some shadows, and being somewhat under the influence of drink, fumbled with a revolver he had in his pocket—although he did not tell the Commission he had it—and accidently wounded himself. He produced his overcoat, and it was remarkable that although it was literally riddled with bullets all round the waist and in the tail, he himself was not injured anywhere except in the wrist. It was shown that a serious account of the outrage had appeared in my paper, and I was asked whether I ever cast doubt upon the statement before. The Commissioners backed this up with the statement that it was the first time I had said it was an accident. That, Sir, is not so. A year before the Commission was created, I referred in this House to my belief that it was a bogus outrage, and in consequence of the speech I then made payment for the hire of this man's car by the police was stopped altogether. Pretended outrages are very common in Ireland. This man used formerly to travel in a common car, but being placed under police protection he indulged in the luxury of a side car. He continued, however, still to use the common car to get into town and would let out his side cir to the police for so much a day. Therefore, the Government, by paying for the hire of the car, were actually encouraging the getting up of bogus outrages. In this connection I may remind the House that a sub-inspector whilst being cross-examined by the hon. and learned Member for South Hackney (Sir C. Russell) produced what was called his outrage-book. The hon. and learned Gentleman had never seen the book before, and yet, in the course of about 12 minutes, he was able to pick out of it 20 outrages, which the Inspector had to admit were bogus outrages. The right hon. Gentleman the leader of the House, in the benevolent platitude he addressed to us at the commencement of the debate, said the Resources of the Government were not more for one side than the other. I do not know whether the Government are tired of Special Commissions, but if not perhaps they will grant us another. There were 207 some 3,400 threatening letters scattered broadcast through Ireland in the course of two years. I do not think that in five cases the writers of those letters were brought to justice. Our allegation is that the letters were written in order to swell the list of outrages. They counted as well as the murders and other acts of violence, and when it was necessary for political exigencies the number of them ran up in a most astonishing manner, whilst, when it was necessary to show a diminution of crime in Ireland they ran down again in a manner equally astonishing. The hon, and learned Attorney General said he had been most unfairly attacked, and that he did not know why ho should be picked out from his colleagues as all the counsel in the case were linked together. Let me remind him of an incident which occurred during my cross-examination before the Commission. Mr. Murphy asked me whether we had made any effort to bring people to justice. I replied that we had made as much effort as it was safe for us to do. He asked for cases and I gave him some cases. I also mentioned a case of a woman in County Kerry being charged with cutting off the ear of a donkey. Two witnessess deposed to all the circumstances; but the land agent swore that during the three previous years of the agitation she had paid her rent very well, and he suggested that the offence should be treated on a less serious count so that she could be let off with a fine. I myself was in the Court. The Judge appealed to counsel. Counsel representing the Crown—representing law and order, and the instincts of British justice—assented to the infliction of a fine upon this woman. Having related this incident, I asked Mr. Murphy—"Do you want to know who was the counsel for the Crown? It was Mr. Ronan who sits beside you." Well, Sir, if the Attorney General does not want us to disassociate him from those with whom he acted before the Commission, is lie willing to share with Mr. Ronan the disgrace of that transaction? Within the last three weeks, Sir, there has been a case in which the notorious magistrates who committed me to six months' hard labour for having merely published an account of a branch meeting of the League, let off a man who 208 had three times stabbed another with the intention of taking his life. Now, Sir, what sort of a record have we in this Report? I do not want to say anything unseemly, and I believe the etiquette of the House requires that we shall not make personal attacks upon those who conducted the inquiry, but I say that these Judges were utterly unfit to try a case of the kind. Two or three hours before the Report of the Commission came out I heard it stated in the Lobby by a newspaper man that the Report contained the titbits of the speeches. Is not that lovely? Speeches 8, 10, and 11 years old. Some of them delivered by ignorant men in the height of passion? These are to go on the Journals of the House, and they include the utterances of a poor obscure shoemaker, named Gordon, in County Mayo, and the man known as Scrab Nally. Scrab Nally is only remembered now in Ireland for a bull he once perpetrated when trying to palliate the fact that he was the son of a grand juror. He said, "Many a good son reared a bad father." The Attorney General seemed to desire to cast ridicule upon the notion that this agitation forced the Land Acts through Parliament. Does anyone on that side of the House deny it? If they do, I would ask them to give us some other cause for the passing of the Land Acts. Was it they who gave us the Land Act of 1881, and did they willingly give us any one of the subsequent acts? Perhaps in the great speech delivered tonight by the hon. and learned Member for Hackney (Sir C. Russell), and which in itself would almost compensate us for the protracted annoyance we have suffered in this discussion, there was no more telling passage than that in which he described the so-called "landlord garrison" in Ireland capitulating for a pecuniary consideration. An alleged letter from Mr. Parnell to the Irish World has been referred to. Well our advice to the farmers was not to rush into court, but to select test cases to put before the Court; and, if the Court did them justice, to loyally accept the Land Act. I should not like to say the alleged letter from Mr. Parnell is genuine before I have seen the context, but if it be genuine it was fully justified by the facts. It is 209 quite consistent to say that the Act was worthless in many particulars, and at the same time to recognise that it was the first great charter of the rights of the tenantry of Ireland. Any hon. Member who looks dispassionately through this Report will observe that, whilst there are many of the tit-bits to which I have referred, there are no selections from the strong and earnest denunciations of crime and outrage that were uttered by us through. Ireland. There was not a speech read before that Commission in which in almost every line there was not a strong denunciation of outrage. I happen to be the editor and proprietor of an insignificant, but, I am glad to say, owing to the action of the Times, a by no means obscure paper known as the Kerry Sentinel. Well, I have seen policemen in uniform taking down the files of my paper and poring- over page after page to see what accusation they could bring against me. I produced from the paper a consecutive condemnation of crime and outrage for the use of the Government. I extracted it from the paper during the leisure of my stay in Tullamore Gaol. I brought it before the Commission and I am sure the hon. and learned Gentleman to whom I have referred will not be ashamed to say that one of the condemnations it contained was worded in such a way that it almost moved him to tears. Well, Sir, not a line of these denunciations is set forth in this Report. I do not wish to be egotistical, or to inflict myself too much upon the House, but of course every man can speak best on his own case, and my ease is merely an example of the others. There is one fact which vitiates the whole inquiry, and that is that upon the statement of the Judges themselves the inquiry was one sided. You selected tit-bits for inquiry, and did not represent to the public the strong and dominant fact in the history of those times, which was that men like those composing the bulk of the Nationalist Party, who saw hundreds, nay, thousands, of their countrymen and countrywomen and their children evicted from their homes under cruel and heartrending circumstances, nevertheless had the manliness and the prudence to condemn violence and to restrain the passions of their people where an outburst would be almost 210 like the wreaking of just vengeance on their persecutors. Let the Attorney General put himself for a moment in the position of one man whose case was cited by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Dumfries (Mr. R. T. Reid). Let him think of the poor struggling farmer, the father of the three or four little children down with scarletina. This man's scanty furniture was thrown out on the road side, together with his dying children—aye, and they did die. Let him put himself in the case of John McMahon, whose daughter was thrown out of the house and died within two hours of being removed from her father's dwelling. And the hon. and learned Gentleman says he re-echos the expression of the hon. and learned Member for South Hackney: "Let us clear our mind from cant." Let us do so, and I avow from my place in this House that I would feel more ashamed if I had not been included in the conspiracy of which we have been found guilty than I am occupying, as I do, the proud position of being numbered amongst my Colleagues.
§ (10.25) COLONEL SAUNDERSON (Armagh, Mid)
Sir, I do not think I require to make any excuse to the House for occupying its time for a little on a matter which I think especially interests Ireland. I am an Irishman —[ironical cheers]—and, what is more, I am proud of being an Irishman. [A VOICE: "Nobody suspects it."] My ancestors lived in Ireland for 300 years; I have always lived there, and intend to live there; but if I do succeed in living there it will be no thanks to hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway opposite. With regard to the speech of the hon. Member (Mr. E. Harrington), I shall say very little. Ho asked hon. Members to place themselves in the position of persons mentioned in the Report—such a person, for example, as Edward Herbert, referred to on page 19, who was held up to execration by the Kerry Sentinel, and who was attacked on his way home from the County Court Sessions at Tralee by three or four men, who fired at him, riddling his coat with bullets, causing him to be confined in 211 the infirmary for about six weeks. The hon. Member in his evidence before the Commission suggested that Herbert had probably shot himself.
§ * COLONEL SAUNDERSON
I know the hon. Member does not deny any of his statements. I have often heard it alleged that some Irish people have a habit of shooting other people; but I never heard it suggested before that Irishmen have the peculiarity of shooting themselves. Now, Sir, this debate commenced to-night with a great duel between two great lawyers. I listened with great pleasure and interest to the eloquent speech of my distinguished countryman, the Member for South Hackney, and I am glad to find that his residence on this side of St. George's Channel has not impaired the vigour of his Irish imagination. But I think the House will have noticed that my hon. and learned Friend dealt vary lightly with some parts of the Report of the Commissioners. No part of the hon, and learned Gentleman's speech attracted my admiration more than the way lie skated over thin ice. In fact, from the commencement of his speech, I could see that the hon. and learned Gentleman was dying to be after Pigott. If I were a Member of the Party below the Gangway opposite, I should start a subscription to erect a monument to Pigott. No one has been of such immense value to hon. Gentlemen opposite. I admit that frankly. I give them a present of Pigott. I am quite willing to admit that in all that concerns Pigott hon. Members opposite have an immensely strong case. There is nothing connected with this great inquiry that has struck me with more amazement and sorrow than the recklessness with which the evidence of that man was accepted by the Times. From the moment I heard that Pigott was the authority for the forged letters, I said that so far as the letters were concerned they might be burned, for nobody who knew anything about Pigott would hang a dog on his evidence. I think hon. Gentlemen will admit I am fair on that point. Well, the hon. and learned Gentle- 212 man defended the Party with which he is connected. He said that the House ought not to agree with the proposal of the First Lord of the Treasury, and ought not to accept the decisions of the Judges, because the Judges were limited in the scope of their inquiry and could not go far enough back in the records of Irish history to decide whether there might not have been some other cause which conduced to the production of the condition of affairs in Ireland besides the organisation of the Land League and the National League. The hon. and learned Gentleman forgot that his own trusted leader and the right hon. Member for Derby, when they were Ministers in 1880–1, were thoroughly cognizant of the condition of Ireland, that the ambit of their inquiries was not Limited, and that they had uttered words of condemnation with regard to the organisation to which hon. Members below the Gangway belong-stronger than anything contained in this Report. Therefore all I can say is this, that I regret extremely that the ambit of inquiry of this Commission was limited, for I firmly believe that if they had been allowed to go further back tin y would have made a, much stronger Report. Now, I wish to say a word about the Report. We have had the opinions of great lawyers in this House and have listened to them with great attention and admiration; but as an Irishman I have a better claim to speak on a subject which intimately concerns the welfare, prosperity, and future happiness of my country. This has been called a sham debate. It is no sham debate. Since that debate on the Home Rule Bill of the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian, I do not think this House has ever entered upon a debate concerning Ireland of such vast and wide-reaching importance. This is a debate which not only concerns the personal character of several hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway, but it is a debate upon which hangs the character of a Party into whose hands it is the policy of the Opposition to commit the destinies of my country. Now, I wish to point out what I believe to be the principal points, the principal facts concerning the situation now revealed to the House on unimpeachable evidence. What are the principal points which this Report reveals to us? We have over and over 213 again made these allegations. The right hon. Member for Mid Lothian Has made them. They have been made by nearly leagues. Bat isolated debates m this House could never have the effect which this Report has had in focussing the attention of the public, the country, and the Empire upon the true condition of this great question which affects the destinies of Ireland. But before I proceed further, I wish to be allowed to say that in dealing with this Report I divide it into two main portions; first of all, the personal allegations against the hon. Member for Cork, who is a Member of this House, and against Mr. Davitt, who is not. So far as the personal allegations Connected with the letters are Concerned, the horn Member for Cork is absolutely acquitted. I have heard it said during this debate that it has been the habit of hon. Members on this side to make use of those letters in their speeches. There are few Members of this House who have spoken more often on this subject than I have, and I have never mentioned those letters, and I never heard a gentleman of this side mention them. [Cries of "Oh, oh!"] Some may cry "Oh," but I can say that never have I personally heard or read in the papers of any Members on this side who have made use of the forged letters. So far as the forged letters are concerned, and all accusations founded upon them, not only the hon. Member for Cork, but all those Members who might have been implicated, had those letters been proved to be true, are absolutely cleared of guilt. That, as far as I can see, is the opinion of both sides of the House. The other division which I make is as to the allegations which have been put forward and which have, moreover, been sustained, against the Organisation to which a considerable number of Members below the Gangway are mentioned by name as belonging. It has been proved to demonstration that the policy of the Nationalist Party is a twofold, a dual policy. The policy of the Nationalist Party presented to this House is a Constitutional policy, carried on by Constitutional means—carried on as any other policy would be carried on. Hon. Members opposite are of opinion, and expressed the opinion in this House, that it would be a good thing for Ireland 214 to have a separate Parliament. That is the Constitutional line they have taken. But there is another policy which goes hand in hand with their Constitutional policy; it is not a Constitutional policy, it is a policy of treason; I may be allowed to explain what I mean by treason, I take as an instance the hon. Member for one of the Divisions of Tipperary (Mr. J. O'Connor) who spoke in the House the other night. I take that hon. Gentleman as a perfectly honest, square, and fair opponent. He is not ashamed at all of expressing in this House what his real opinion;, are; he has acknowledged that he is a Fenian, But a Fenian in the eye of the State is a traitor, and therefore in the eye of the law a criminal. But I ask to be allowed at once to differentiate between such a criminal as that and an ordinary criminal. A traitor is, no doubt, a criminal in the eye of the law of the land against which he conspires, but he may not be a moral criminal. If his; treason is a treason against a Government which ought to be destroyed, I look upon that man not as a traitor but a patriot. I am sure hon. Gentlemen opposite will not disagree with that doctrine. Is there anybody on either side of the House who will aeny that if to-morrow there is in Russia a rising-against that detestable Government, which, if reports are true, flogs women to death, and shoots down defenceless men, the man who rises against it, though he be a criminal in the eye of the Russian law, in the eye of the world at large would be a Russian patriot? A rebel, if successful against a bad Government, becomes a patriot, and possibly may become a President. If he fails he is hanged. It all depends upon success. I make this statement, because I do not wish hon. Gentlemen to think, if I use the word criminal as applied to traitors in the eye of the law, that for a moment I associate these criminals with ordinary criminals. Now having cleared the way so far, having appealed to the patriotic instincts of hon. Gentlemen which in this House take a Constitutional form, but do not take so Constitutional a form in other places, I wish to point out how in this Report that dual policy is clearly proved. How did this Organisation start? It was not 215 devised, nor was it originated by the hon. Member for Cork. The hon. Member for Cork is the leader of the Party opposite, and more or less represents the figurehead of the Party. He is not the executive of the Party. The executive of the Party below the Gangway is represented by Mr. Davitt, the hon. Member for Mayo, and the hon. Member for North-East Cork. They are the principal representatives of the executive of the National Party. The hon. Member for West Belfast took at one time a prominent part in it; but his civic honours have rather interfered with his activity in that way. Mr. Davitt went over to America, and he met there Mr. Devoy, and between them they devised a movement which would have the effect of uniting a Constitutional movement on one side with a revolutionary movement on the other—the revolutionary movement to supply the dollars, the Constitutional movement to supply the garb in which the revolutionary movement was to appear in the House of Commons and gain votes. I give the hon. Member for Cork, the credit that he has acted as a political tailor; he has cut out, fashioned, and sewn together the Parliamentary dress in which the revolutionary movement can appear without danger on this side of the Atlantic. When the hon. Member went out to America and met Davitt and Devoy, there was wanted what is always wanted in such cases, money. The money to start the Land League in Ireland was furnished by what is called the "Skirmishing Fund" that is collected for the amiable purpose of blowing up English towns and injuring England wherever she can be hit. The hon. Member for Cork when ho went over to America did not adopt that Constitutional method which he adopts here. His friends on the other side of the Atlantic differed altogether from the friends he employs on English platforms and in the House of Commons. The hon. Member for Cork when he was in America made a speech in which he said—They are a defenceless people in Ireland. The right to carry arms is denied, and that birthright of every freeman is punished in Ireland with imprisonment for two years. A large body of constabulary is employed with 30,000 soldiers, and the time may come when Ireland will have a chance. When she (Eng- 216 land) is at war and beaten to her knees, the idea of the Irish Nationalists may be realised.That is the prospective hope of the National Party. The Land League was an organisation with the ostensible object of assisting Irish tenants and resisting unfair rents; but what did the organisers of the Land League say in America? Devoy stated that the object of destroying the Irish landlords was to destroy the authority of England. The hon. Member for Cork said—I feel very confident that the day is very near at hand when we shall have struck the first vital blow at the land system as it now exists in Ireland, when we shall have taken the first step to obtain for Ireland that right to nationhood for which she has struggled so long and so well.Mr. Davitt, a still greater authority on the policy of the Land League, said that in order to oust the British authority from Ireland it was necessary to destroy the landlords. The hon. Member for North Longford said that the chief prop of British rule in. Ireland was the landlords. "We seek to take the prop away." Therefore, the hon. Member for Cork and his friends are able to show to the revolutionists and foreign enemies of Great Britain that their, land movement in Ireland is not, as it has been described, a movement to protect defenceless tenants against the rapacity of their landlords, but to destroy the Irish landlords and so to remove the chief obstacle to the destruction of British authority. Irish Members, when they go to English and Scotch elections, do not say one word about "the desire which burned in the hearts of the Irish people to destroy the alien rule." No, they talk about the union of hearts, and their desire to assist the downtrodden peasantry against rapacious landlords. Now, let us consider what is the meaning of the argument hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite use in defending the Land League movement. What was the character of the argument in that wonderfully eloquent speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, a speech which was admired on both sides? I refer also to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. H. H. Fowler). The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian 217 defended the Land League movement by saying that in interfering with it the Government had tried to strike at and destroy the only hope of the Irish tenants in resisting the rapacity of the landlords. But is that the ground on which the Land League movement was originated? The hon. Member for Cork cuts the ground from the ex-Premier's argument by a speech delivered at Brooklyn on January 24, 1880, in which he said, "Up to the present time there have been no evictions.' So evictions could not have caused the movement, and the year 1880 turned out to be an exceptionally good year. There was an abundant harvest. Therefore the Land Bill of 1881, brought in as a final and generous settlement of the Land Question, had a fair chance of success. It followed a year in which the hon. Member for Cork told his American friends there had been no evictions; it followed a year in which there had been the best harvest known for many years in Ireland. What ought to have been the result of the Land Act of 1881? It would have been imagined that, at any rate, when the right hon. Gentleman and his Colleagues brought in this Bill which conferred on the Irish tenants benefits which no other tenants in any other part of the world have received [Cries of "No!"]—I challenge contradiction on this point. I should like to hear any hon. Member, no matter what his ingenuity or range of historical search, point out any other country where tenants have received such immense concessions as were granted by the Land Act of 1881. I know hon. Members are ready enough, with statements on public platforms, but let them make them here where they can be answered. It might have been imagined I was saying that the result of the passing of the Act would have been an improved condition of things all over Ireland. If, as the Radical Party say, the object of the League was to defend the tenants, it might have been thought that the Land League would slacken their efforts after the acceptance of the Bill by Parliament. But there was an increase of crime. After a year of no evictions and after a very good harvest and this great legislative concession, there was an increase of crime; and, therefore, there must have been 218 some cause for it other than agricultural failure or the tyranny of the landlords. The most serious count in the indictment of the party of the National League— I will say "The League," for I regard the National League, the Land League, and the Ladies' League as practically one —is that, far from relaxing its efforts, it increased its efforts. Crime in Ireland was not, as hon. Members opposite were pleased to say, a manifestation of the wild justice of revenge." It was simply the means by which the League established its power and authority over a defenceless population. Prom 1885 to 1888 there were 95 agrarian murders in Ireland and 141 attempted murders. If these had been committed for revenge, the tyrannical landlords would have been the ones to suffer. But, as a matter of fact, the record of these bloodstains which besmirch the history of the League shows that the crimes were directed almost invariably against poor, weak, and miserable tenants and labourers in the West and South of Ireland—men who had the manliness and courage to defy the authority of this criminal organisation. I have never accused hon. Members opposite of directly inciting to crime. They are far too wise for that. In the speeches contained in the Report it will be found that after strong denunciations, which every Irishman thoroughly understands, there is always a qualifying phrase which would save them in a Court of Justice.
§ MR. SEXTON
Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman in order in accusing other hon. Members of deliberately putting into their speeches qualifications to save themselves from legal consequences?
§ * MR. SPEAKER
I think it is extremely desirable in this debate that a judicial tone should be preserved as far as possible; and I must say for the hon. Gentleman to say that other hon. Gentlemen are too wise to avoid putting into their speeches what would save them from legal consequence is a suggestion very provocative, and I do not think it is in any way conducive to the judicial character of the debate.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
If I have gone outside the bounds of Parliamen- 219 tary usage I regret it. But I justify I myself by the finding of the Judges.
On page 92 they say—We find that some of the respondents, and in particular Mr. Davitt, did express bonâ fide disapproval of crime and outrage, but that the respondents did not denounce the system of intimidation which led to crime and outrage, but persisted in it with the knowledge of its effect."Persisted in it with the knowledge of its effect!" Perhaps the House will allow me to give an illustration of what I mean. On page 41 of the Report will be found a speech by the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon), in which he made use of these words—The man who goes back on their organization, who goes behind backs and pays while he stands pledged to his neighbours to stand by them, you must treat him as what he is; that is to say, a traitor to his people and to his country. You must make an outlaw of him and let no honest man speak to him.In another speech he said these men were traitors, and "you must have no mercy on them." It may be said the hon. Member did not mean anything by these phrases; but I want to tell the House how they were understood and acted upon. Turn to page 79, and you will find that words like these, which went like wildfire round Ireland, had effect in all parts of the South and West. Pages 78 and 79 contain a record of blood. [laughter]. Hon. Members opposite may laugh, but no laughter in the House of Commons can wipe that blood away. We have here the record of how traitors—as the hon. Member for East Mayo called them— were treated. I do not wish to read many passages, but I say that the record is enough to make one's blood boil. James Connor, who in May, 1881, became tenant of some bog land, was warned as a land-grabber, and was shot dead when driving to his father's funeral. No mercy for traitors! Take the case of Dempsey. This unfortunate man had disobeyed the Land League, and was murdered when going to mass with his children. He was murdered at 11 o'clock in the morning, and yet no evidence could be obtained against his murderers, although many other parsons 220 were going to Church. No mercy! I say, Sir, we will have no mercy on these murderers! These things cannot be got rid of by saying that Pigott was a forger; all the forensic eloquence of the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite will not obliterate the record of crime which has been at last found by a judicial body against an organisation which has been the disgrace of our time, and which has, I believe, disgraced in the eyes of the world the good name and the good fame of Ireland. It is said that the hon. Member for Cork and his friends ought not to be blamed for the words and deeds of subordinates. But that I deny, for it must be remembered they were absolutely autocratic, and they could have closed any branch of the League. Why did not they take steps to condemn the action of the League in the North and West when they must have known it was leading to crime and dastardly outrage? Nothing gave me more pain in this long-continued agitation than the injuries which have been inflicted on dumb beasts. I do not say that any hon. Member ever advised that cattle should be killed or maimed, but there is what I would call, as distinct from direct excitement, the giving of a broad hint. The hon. Member for East Mayo went to Kildare to further the organisation of the League, and he said—We have many a farm lying idle, from which no rent can be drawn, and there they shall lie; and if the landlord shall put cattle on them, the cattle won't prosper very much.What does that mean but this—that in some way or other the cattle of men who dared to confront this organisation were to be maimed, mutilated, or destroyed? I do not suggest that the hon. Member said this: I cannot say what the Member for Mayo even thought, but I know what Irish people thought and how they acted. If hon. Members read the Report they will find that, acting on advice, at any rate, such as this, cattle were put to torture, and in one case destroyed by hay forks, which were thrust into them, the ends of the forks being broken off and left in their bodies. The poor things were found the next morning wandering about in a dying condition. The perpetrators of these deeds deserved all the reprobation they could receive, 221 and I contend that a thousand-fold more reprobation hangs upon the heads of the men who advised in that direction. I will now refer to the speech of the Member for Mid Lothian whom I believe to be perfectly conscientious in this matter. In the right hon. Gentleman's opinion all the disasters, woe, and misery in Ireland are the result not of this political organisation, but of the rack-renting and exterminating policy of the landlords. I heard with a sigh of regret the statement which he made. The right hon. Gentleman said—and the House will remember the tone in which he said it—I did state on a former occasion that I believed that the Irish landlords had come well out of the crucial examination to which they were subjected. I founded that statement on the Report of Lord Bessborough's Commission.'Then he looked lovingly on the hon. Members below the Gangway and added—Now I recant that opinion, I no longer believe it, and my opinion was changed after the passing of the Bill of 1881 and the great reductions made by the Commissions appointed under that Bill,and the right hon. Gentleman said that those reductions clearly showed that the landlord had been exacting impossible rents. I wonder when the right hon. Gentleman came to that conclusion. The right hon. Gentleman has had some experience of the working of his own Land Bill, which was supported by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby, who is foremost now in calling down all the hatred and loathing of mankind upon the Irish landlords for asking for the rents which he himself helped to fix. In the year 1885 the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian made a speech with regard to the condition of Ireland. After having had some experience of the result of the working of his own Land Bill lie said the Irish Question was now assuming a new position. He said it was not now, as in former times, a question of the cruel grievances which Ireland had laboured under, for, thanks to the patience and zeal and good sense of Parliament, those grievances had one by one been removed. I should very much like to know when the right hon. Gentleman became persuaded that the 222 Irish landlords were the chief causes of Irish trouble; and that they were extorting unjust rents. Did he ever look into the figures? They are very remarkable. He will find that in the year 1882, the average reductions of Irish rents were 20.5 per cent., whereas the fall in the prices of agricultural produce was between 25 and 30 per cent; in 1883, the reductions of rent were 19.5 per cent.; in 1884, 18.7 per cent.; in 1885, 18.1 per cent.; and in 1886, 24.1 per cent. If the Irish landlords are to be condemned, surely, the English landlords equally deserve condemnation, for I find that in the East of England they had to reduce rents 30, 40, and even 60 per cent., so that, apparently, they, too, had been demanding extortionate rents in good years. It is very hard indeed to gather what is the opinion of right hon. Gentlemen opposite. I am glad to see the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby in his place. The right hon. Gentleman made a speech at Bath the other day—a speech on the subject of this Commission. He devoted most of his time to the savoury question of Pigott. He went on to show to what distance he has already got. As far as I can make out, there is no distance to which the right hon. Gentleman will not be ready to go. It appears to me that the right hon. Gentleman's jealousy is excited by the progress made in this House by the Member for Mid. Derbyshire, who is the shepherd of the advanced section of his Party. They appear to be running a race in the direction of Radical measures, and the difficulty is to know which will become blown first. The right hon. Member for Derby said—and I mention this as an indication of the immense advance the right hon. Gentleman has made so far as the objects of the combination called criminal conspiracy are concerned—that he entirely agrees with them. What a change in four and a half short years! Four and a half years ago, the right hon. Gentleman was the man who, of all others, had a horror of those conspiracies. I took the trouble to ascertain from sources that are absolutely accurate, and that can be tested, that it cost the ratepayers of this country £10,000 a year to supply police protection for the right hon. Gentleman, so that if any hon. Member 223 of a mathematical turn of mind chooses to make a calculation he can ascertain how much per square inch of superficies the right hon Gentleman has cost the country. At present, the right hon. Gentleman requires no police protection at the cost of the taxpayers. His bodyguard is now furnished by the Nationalists and is paid for by Patrick ford. I now come to the last point on which I desire to address the House—it is the connection which is established in the Report between the Nationalists and the enemies of this country on the other side of the Atlantic. The hon. and learned Member for Hackney has spoken to-night of Patrick Ford, but when he got on that -topic he walked like Agag, very delicately. I forget the exact phrase used by the hon. and learned Member, but he implied that Patrick Ford was at one time a gentleman who had very wild views and expressed very strong opinions, but that since he had become the neck of the bottle, or the conduit pipe, I believe was the expression, through which the money filtered which supplied hon. Members below the Gangway with the means of carrying on the war, Mr. Patrick Ford has mended his ways. This opinion with regard to Patrick Ford has always been a sore point with hon. Members opposite. I remember that in a debate a few years ago I was proceeding to point this out to the House of Commons—that it was a very curious thing that there was in this House a body of hon Members who were subsidised by the enemies of England on the other side of the Atlantic. Great exception was taken to the point, and the hon. Member for North Longford made a speech immediately afterwards in which he said that so far from Patrick Ford being1 a friend of the National League he had for many years been one of their greatest enemies. I was astonished, I must confess, to hear this, but Mr. Davitt directly afterwards brought the hon. Member for North Longford to his bearings. Mr. Davitt wrote a letter to the Freeman's Journal in which he said—I cannot conceive how Mr. Healy can have made such a statement in the House of Commons, for to my certain knowledge three-feurths of the money that has come from America to the Land League has come through Patrick Ford.224 My hon. and learned Friend opposite will find, if he will refer to page 64 of the Report, that Patrick Ford has been, since he has supplied Nationalists with money, a gentleman of the most vigorous political intention; that his intentions contemplated making war on England with dynamite. I do not wish to trouble the House with another extract; every Member can read it for himself. But at the end of 1883, when Patrick Ford was the conduit pipe for the National League—
§ MR. T. HARRINGTON
I am sure the hon. and gallant Member does not wish to misstate anything in the Report. No evidence whatever was brought before the Commission, and there is nothing at all in the Report to justify the statement that the National League received a penny from Patrick Ford, and it never did.
§ MR. T. HARRINGTON
I am speaking of the National League Organisation of which I was in charge for eight years.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
I have the authority of Mr. Davitt for what I have said. Mr. Davitt is a political foe; he is very outspoken and very courageous, but if he made a distinct statement to me, as in this case, I should certainly believe him. Mr. Davitt said, in the letter I have quoted, that the Land League received three-fourths of its money through the instrumentality of Patrick Ford, and he has since stated that the National League and the Land League wore the same. I know the distinction drawn by hon. Members below the Gangway opposite between the National League and the Land League on this point, but is not this very much like quibbling? The National League was in truth simply an alias of the Land League. Perhaps I should have done better if I had said the League, for then I should, have included all three Leagues 225 —the Land League, the National League, and the Ladies' League. They were all practically the same organisation, having the same objects, the same purposes, and the same ends in view. I will therefore venture to point out to the House what Mr. Patrick Ford said at the end of 1883. It is to be found on page 64 of the Report, and the fund spoken of is the Emergency Fund which took the place of the Skirmishing Fund.The object of this fund will be to aid the active forces on the other side in carrying on the war against the enemy. It is unnecessary to enter into details. I can only say in a general way what I believe myself. I believe in making reprisals—'an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' I believe" that every informer ought to die the death of a dog. I believe that all the material damage possible ought to be inflicted on the enemy, and the war against the foeman ought to be persisted in without quarter to the end. I believe that England ought to be plagued with all the plagues of Egypt—that she ought to be scourged by day and terrorised by night. I believe that this species of warfare ought to be kept up until England, hurt as well as scared, falls paralysed upon her knees.That is the position of England in which the hon. Member for Cork said that they might ultimately hope to attain their end. There is one other point to which I wish to call the attention of the House before I sit down. We are told in those eloquent speeches which have been made that there is now a great change; that we have now a union of hearts; that Ireland has given up those extreme means which she has held in past days. How are we to know that? The hon. Member for Cork has said so. But the difficulty is to know when the hon. Member for Cork absolutely means what he says. I think that it must have struck the House in reading" the Report that over and over again—four times—the Judges disbelieved statements made by the hon. Member for Cork and accepted exactly the reverse, They disbelieved him in the matter of the interview with Le Caron; they disbelieved him in the statement with regard to the "last link" speech, and on two other occasions they disbelieved his statement and accepted exactly the opposite. Why was this? If the House will look at the official Report they will very easily see. In that Report we have the hon. Member for Cork making a most extraordinary statement. It was with regard to a state- 226 ment he had made to the House with regard to secret soeieties. He was asked:—Do you remember using these words F— Yes; I recollect it personally.Did you believe them to be true when you said them? I cannot exactly say without reading the context of the speech what my view was in urging that argument; but it is possible I was endeavouring to mislead the House on the occasion.Do you mean it is possible you were endeavouring to mislead the House on that occasion?—In order to cut the ground from under die argument of the Government in support of the Bill.That was to say, cut the ground from under the feet of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby and his friends. Then it went on:—Do you mean, Sir, by a statement false in fact and contrary to your own opinion which you have sworn to 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.Mr. Parnell, you have used the words 'mislead the House.' Have you ever, directly or indirectly, until this moment withdrawn that statement?—I should think that I have never thought of the statement from the time I used it until now, or ever had it brought under my notice.Did you or did you not intend to misstate the fact when you made that statement to the House?—It is very possible that I did.Deliberately?—Deliberately; quite possible.Now, if the House will take the trouble to read the Report they will see that the Judges accepted the statement that the hon. Member for Cork made in the House and disbelieved the statement he made on oath before the Commission. I will leave those two horns of the dilemma at the service of the hon. Member, on which to hang his veracity. What is the ground on which right hon. Gentlemen opposite believe that this great change has taken place, that the goal of Irish nationality, in which the extreme party across the Atlantic still believe, has been absolutely abandoned by the hon. Member for Cork, and that lie has adopted a new system? I think that the statement I have read out of this Report must, or at all events ought to, lead any hon. Member of this House to receive with a very considerable amount of reservation any statement which the hon. Member for Cork may 227 make in the future. For my own part, I say now, and have always said, that the important part of this Report is not that relating to the forgeries, which deal with personal allegations which no doubt are of deep importance to the hon. Member who is attacked and the Party of which he is the head. A personal allegation is transitory in character and effect. The hon. Member for Cork is mortal; he might, disappear, but his Party remain; and I venture to maintain that all the grounds of allegations against that Party, against their methods, their objects, their aims, and the goal they seek to attain have been absolutely proved in the Report now submitted to the House. I venture to ask the House whether the Report does not amply justify the attitude which the Irish minority has assumed with regard to this policy? The hon. and learned Member for Hackney has stated that behind the hon. Member for Cork is the nation; behind myself is the Irish minority, a minority which the hon. and learned Member's own friend and colleague, the right hon. Member for Bridgeton, has called "that other Ireland" which owes no allegiance, and never will, to the hon. Member for Cork. That Report justifies the determination which we have openly expressed, for no man with one particle of courage or self-respect, be he high or be he low, will consent, if he can avoid it, to submit himself to the authority of such an organisation as that which is branded with infamy in this Report. Hon. Members opposite have challenged the Government to impeach them or to prosecute them at law. I quite admit that it is outside the possibility of Her Majesty's Government. I admit that hon. Members opposite have managed to keep themselves outside the law. We cannot arraign them before a jury of their fellow countrymen, but they can be arraigned before the opinion of the British Empire. ["St. Pancras."] The hon. Member opposite refers to the result of the St. Pancras election. No one can regret the result of that election more than I do, but that election has taught us that the revulsion of feeling in public opinion which has been pointed to by the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian is, at all events, only a comparatively small one. The majority altogether 228 only comes to 79, which will not be likely to shake the foundations on which the Unionist Government stand. When this Report is known and studied, as it will be known and studied, and more than a mere partial view of the summary at its end is taken, it will be driven home, as it should be driven home, to the minds of all that the organisation and the policy represented by hon. Members opposite below the Gangway and their friends above the Gangway must be universally condemned by all right-thinking men.
§ *(11.40.) MR. JUSTIN MCCARTHY (Londonderry)
I have listened with a great deal of attention to the very long, very vehement, and rather discursive speech of the hon. and gallant Member who has just sat down, and I find that there are only two declarations in that speech with which I can agree. The first is the declaration of the hon. and gallant Member that he represents the minority in Ireland. It is a very small minority even in that Ulster which the hon. Gentleman has boasted he represents in this House. I agree with him when he says that he and his friends arraign us before the public opinion of the British Empire. No doubt they can do that, and they have done so already, but how have they succeeded? The answer has been given by the constituencies of the British Empire at the late bye elections to this arraignment. The late bye election at North St. Pancras practically turned upon the question whether the Irish Members and their Party were, or were not, deserving of condemnation. And what was the result? Why, the victory passed into the hands of the Liberal Party, who support the Irish Members. They talk of arraigning us before the British Empire, but I wonder what is it that hinders them from arraigning us before the House itself. If we are open to the charges made by hon. Members opposite what is it that prevents them from moving our expulsion? If these are the opinions of those hon. Gentlemen why have they not the courage of them? Why do they refrain from moving our expulsion, so that we may go back to our constituen- 229 cies and see what they have to say about it? I do not, however, propose to analyse to any great length the speech of the hon. and gallant Member. Time will not permit me to do so. I think, however, he has made an artistic mistake in deserting his familiar paths of humorous denunciation in order to appear severe and philosophic. One sentence of his was indeed generous, but we cannot accept his generosity. He offered to make us a valuable present, for he offered to bequeath to us all that is left of the late lamented Pigott. He (Colonel Saunderson) and his leaders made all the use they could of Pigott while he lived, and squeezed the sponge until it was very dry. We now decline to accept, at his hands even, in the form of a peace offering, any memorial of the dead Pigott. And now I want to call the attention of the House back to the question from which, as it seems to me, we have lately been somewhat wandering, namely, the Report of the Commission and how that Report is to be dealt with. I will pass, therefore, from the statements of the hon. and gallant Gentleman, delivered as they were with all that Captain Bobadil, or Bombastes Furioso, fire and energy which are so characteristic of the speeches he delivers in this House. We have discussed all these topics years and years ago in this House, and I think that hardly a single statement was made by the gallant Colonel that was not in the nature of what in American phraseology is termed "an old chestnut." I should like, with the permission of the House, in the short time left at my disposal, to make one or two statements relative to matters personal to myself. I trust the House will excuse my taking up their time even though for a few sentences only in dealing with personal matter. But I have read a speech which was made in this House yesterday, during my absence, a speech of which I had had no notice whatever, and I feel compelled to ask the attention of the House to a personal explanation which that speech has rendered necessary. I fancy there is on either side of the House only one Member who could have made so grave, so serious, and, I would say, so 230 monstrous a charge against a fellow Member without having given him the slightest notice that such a charge was to be brought forward. Had I known that the charge was to have been made I should have been in my place yesterday, and I should have answered in a speech of ten minutes the statement then made, and thus have saved the House the trouble of listening to me at this hour of the evening. The charge to which I allude was made by the hon. Baronet the Member for North Antrim (Sir C. Lewis), and it had reference to certain books which he said were not produced before the three Judges. The books referred to were the books of the National League of Great Britain, an organisation belonging to this country alone, and having nothing whatever to do with the operations carried on under the much more important and influential National League of Ireland. In the course of his remarks the hon. Baronet paid me a genteel compliment, and I trust that hon. Members on the other side of the House, whose opinions I value, will retain the good opinions thus expressed of me after I have made my statement. The hon. Baronet said I had been ordered by the Judges to state, and that I had made an affidavit stating, that the documents and books of the English. League were in my possession; then, the hon. Baronet remarked—Would it be believed that in that affidavit were scheduled several of the books;and he gives the names of some of them'Which were to have been produced before the Court, and the hon. Member swore that those books were in his possession and that they should be produced before the Commission, and they were not produced before the Commission.The hon. Baronet went on to imply a charge against me which I think hon. Members when they hear it will say amounted to nothing short of a charge of false-swearing. He said—It is stated that some mistake had been made. An affidavit on oath by a Member of the Legislature—is that a mistake?Now the hon. Baronet began those sentences by asking would it be believed that such a thing could have happened. Now let me ask this question, and I put it in the same form as that of the hon. Baronet. Would it be believed that the 231 hon. Gentleman was making a gross and flagrant misstatement of the facts of the case, and that, too, in my absence? He stated in the course of his speech, in reply to some interruption, that he had his spectacles on and could read. Why, I ask, did he not put his spectacles on and read the Report of the learned Judges, telling the House what those gentlemen had said about the matter of fact? The hon. Baronet had the Report in his hands, and quoted from it once and again; but instead of quoting from it he made a flagrant, an outrageous —I will not use a stronger phrase, but I must call it a calumnious statement about an absent Member. Here is the whole substance of the matter. Here is what the learned Judges say. I quote their actual words. The hon. Baronet said I had had the books in my actual possession, and that I swore I would produce them, and did not do so. Hear what the Judges say—Mr. Justin M'Carthy, M.P., in an affidavit he made on October 19, 1888, stated that he had obtained a list of books relating to the League, and which he was willing should be produced in our Court.That is a clear, exact, and accurate statement of the fact. I applied to the Secretary of the League, through my solicitor, Mr. Lewis, for a list of the books in his possession, and having got that list I swore that I had received it, and was perfectly willing that all the books in the list should be produced. I never swore that I had the books in my possession, and could not have sworn anything of the kind. Even the counsel for the Times—I do not mean the hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General, but Mr. Murphy —used the phrase, "Those books and documents which were technically in your possession as President of the League." But although they were thus in my possession technically, I had no possession of them otherwise. Counsel for the Times called on me to produce them. I had a list of them, and had made affidavit that I had that list, as the Judges have stated, and as far as I was concerned I was perfectly willing that the books should be produced in Court. Now, Mr. Speaker, I ask the House what does it think of the statement of the hon. Baronet, who, with the Commissioners' Report in his 232 hands and professing in every other sentence to quote from it, nevertheless deliberately stated that I swore I had the books, that I would produce them, and that I did not do so? I ask the House, can there be any mistake about the statement invade on oath by a Member of the Legislature? Is not the hon. Baronet's assertion the more outrageous and the more flagitious, because in this House only the other night the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade (Sir M. Hicks Beach) commented on the absence of certain books and their non-production, but being, as he is, a gentleman and a man of honour, he read from the Report of the Judges the passage I have just quoted, and made no comment whatever in disparagement of me or my personal integrity. Why, therefore, with this Report before him, did the hon. Baronet the Member for North Antrim persist in putting before the House so gross and so monstrous a misstatement? But, Sir, I confess I am not surprised. I have said there was only one Member of this House who could be guilty of making such a statement without having given notice to the man whose character he intended to attack. There are many Members of this House who know the history—the modern history—of the City of Derry, and they will perfectly understand the meaning of the hon. Baronet's attack. The hon. Baronet spoke of me as his successor in the representation of Deny, and he also said a good deal about the Report of the Judges. But I would remind the hon. Baronet that there is another Judges' Report to be found in the Library of this House which relates to the City of Derry and to a certain election there, and which shows how the hon. Baronet lost his seat—a Report which hon. Members might find very interesting in the perusal. The hon. Baronet is a lawyer of the school of Sampson Brass.
§ It being midnight, the Debate stood adjourned.
§ Debate to be resumed to-morrow.
§ House adjourned at five minutes after Twelve o'clock.