Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment [3rd March] to Question—
That, Parliament having constituted a Special Commission to inquire into the charges and allegations made against certain Members of Parliament and other persons, and the Report of the Commissioners having been presented to Parliament, this House adopts the Report, and thanks the Commissioners for their just and impartial conduct in the matters referred to them; and orders that the said Report be entered on the Journals of this House."—(Mr. William Henry Smith.)
And which Amendment was—
To leave out from the first word "House," to the end of the Question, in order to add the words, "deems it to be a duty to record its reprobation of the false charges of the gravest and most odious description, based on calumny and on forgery, which have been brought against Members of this House, and particularly against Mr. Parnell; and, while declaring its satisfaction at the exposure of these calumnies, this House expresses its regret for the wrong inflicted and the suffering and loss endured, through a protracted period, by reason of those acts of flagrant iniquity,"—(Mr. W. E. Gladstone,)
—inste id thereof.
§ Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ Debate resumed.
§ *(4.53.) MR. BRADLAUGH
I rise to order, Mr. Speaker. I desire to ask you, now that the two Resolutions have been carried, if it will be competent to proceed beyond the adjourned debate on the Amendment? The House has ordered that it is the adjourned debate that shall take precedence of the other Orders of the Day
§ * MR. SPEAKER
I know of no reason why, if the debate is concluded within 362 the limits of the ordinary time, the rest of the Paper should not be proceeded with.
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
No doubt the Motion is very curiously worded. The debate was not adjourned, but the House, and therefore the Motion is wrongly worded in that respect. Then the Order of the Day is that we are to discuss the Amendment, and the Amendment only. There is no Order of the Day to discuss the Motion, and therefore, as I understand, upon this Order the Motion' could not be put.
§ * MR. SPEAKER
I think it is proper to read the original Motion and the Amendment together—they are technically both before the House.
§ (4.55.) MR. SEXTON
I have to thank my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Wallace), who was addressing the House when it was counted out on Friday night, for allowing me to intervene at this point of the debate. Sir, after what happened on Friday night, I think the Government will find it hard to persuade the country that they regard the matter of this Motion as being of real importance. Ministers themselves refused to come from the dining room in order to facilitate their great Act of State against traitors and conspirators; they allowed it to drop, as if it had been the paltriest Motion ever offered by a private Member. Many passages from the Report of very trivial importance have been quoted from the other side of the House, and many passages of significance have been entirely neglected. Amongst the latter I may note one. The Commissioners inform the House in their Report that their inquiry has been carried out under an unprecedented statute. Certainly never before has any Government of England striven to get rid of or to destroy the representatives of a whole nation by means of a criminal proceeding. The Government upon the result of an unprecedented statute found an unprecedented Motion. They ask the House to constitute itself a final Court of Appeal—a Court in which the respondents will be among the Judges, a Court composed of 670 Members, only eight of whom have any real knowledge of the evidence. Her Majesty's Government propose to ignore the warnings of the Commissioners that, as to their 363 findings respecting political conduct, their Commission debarred them from taking into consideration matters which ought to be considered by politicians and statesmen—namely, whether the acts charged were palliated or justified by the circumstances of Ireland, or condoned by the results which those acts brought about. This is an assembly of politicians, and yet it is asked to accept the findings of the Commissioners arrived at on a number of points without regard to those considerations which politicians ought to bear in mind in arriving at a conclusion on matters of this kind. The House is asked to accept the conclusions of the Judges dissevered from the evidence, for the evidence from the Parliamentary point of view has been destroyed—the evidence is not to remain within the reach of reference as a Parliamentary Paper. I complain that whilst this Report from beginning to end, this Report which is to be recorded for all time upon our Journals, gives no glimpse or hint of the foul conspiracy of which we were so long the victims, no hint even of the conduct of the valuable Mr. Houston, thanked for his services by the Loyal and Patriotic Party, and who, in contempt of the Commission, destroyed what we may assume to have been evidences of criminal conspiracy, else why should it have been destroyed I whilst I say the Report gives no hint of this conspiracy; whilst the findings in our favour are meagre to the point of curtness, the findings against us are supported by strings of extracts from old articles, old speeches, and speeches from the most obscure and least responsible persons who ever thrust themselves on public platforms in Ireland; speeches and articles that look as if they were designed for election leaders for the Party on the other side—whilst this is the general spirit of the Report, the Re port from beginning to end affords no hint of the evidence from District Inspector Irwin and other official witnesses that, upon hundreds of occasions, they heard denunciations of outrage from the League leaders. I say of this movement that from first to last lay and clerical leaders combined on every platform in denunciation of crime. The Report gives in its findings a distorted and perverted view of the relative weight of evidence on 364 either side, and is an act of gross injustice to Irish Members. If this record be made upon the Journals it will be the duty of Irish Members here, and, if we fail, of those who come after us, to persist until the Resolution is rescinded, until this record is expunged. Two objections have been made during the debate to the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, but neither of them are objections in substance. It has been objected that the right hon. Gentleman omits to offer thanks to the Judges, but the House has heard the argument of the right hon. Gentleman, the House has heard his view, that men, however eminent, are not to be thanked for merely doing their duty; but if the House, after hearing that argument, is still of opinion that the Judges ought to be thanked, it is open to the Government to insert in the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman either the words proposed by the hon. Member for Banbury, or other words which it may think in its judgment better for the purpose. The second objection to the right hon. Gentleman's Amendment is that he has omitted to refer to the findings adverse to the respondents. I submit that such wag not in any sense the duty of the right hon. Gentleman. The Government, in regard to the findings adverse to the respondents, are bound to consider the suggestions of the Judges, and in the exercise of their functions as politicians and statesmen, they are the persons responsible to this House and to the country for the consideration of whether these findings in respect to certain acts are palliated by the circumstances of the time in Ireland, or condoned by the results that have accrued. If they find that such acts are not palliated or condoned they are bound to take action upon them. I challenge them to take action. On the question of the condonence of particular action in Ireland, I say the Government know a good deal more about that than does the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, and, if I may venture to say so, I think the right hon. Gentleman acted with much discretion in leaving this matter in their hands. I have shown that neither of the two objections to the right hon. Gentleman's Amendment has in it the slightest substance, but let me add that 365 if the Government think it necessary, after adopting the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman, to proceed to refer to the findings adverse to the respondents it is open to them to do so. They may accept the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman, they may reprobate the forgeries, they may express satisfaction that our characters have been vindicated, they may express regret that the period of agony and suspense was so cruelly prolonged, and having done these things, as the right hon. Gentleman requests them, appeals to them to do, it will then be open to them to declare in respect to particular findings that these particular acts were palliated or condoned, or else that they deserve to be punished according to law. Now, I proceed to offer some reasons why the Amendment should be accepted. In the first place this Amendment asks the House to declare no more than Ministers have declared in their speeches. The right hon. Gentleman asks the House to declare nothing that has not already been declared by the First Lord of the Treasury in his place here, by the Chief Secretary for Ireland, and by other Ministers of the Crown, and if the Government, having in those speeches declared in substance that which is contained in the Amendment, decline to accept this Amendment, and place it upon record, then the inference must be that they are willing to use language in their speeches which may be forgotten and pass away, but they are unwilling in a frank and manly way to do us justice by a Resolution that will remain on record. The second reason I have in favour of the acceptance of the Amendment is that the Tory Party have profited by the conspiracy of which we have been the victims, and they are bound to make as moral restitution. For the past three years Parnellism and Crime has been the principal stock-in trade of the Tory Party, and the forged letters have been the chief credentials of their candidates from end to end of the country. A Member of the Party opposite was the Parliamentary pioneer of the forged letters. I refer to the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for North Armagh (Colonel Saunderson). He has spoken in this debate, and I have little to say about his speech. I will say of it that it argues great audacity in the 366 hon. and gallant Gentleman to denounce incitements to violence, when, as the House is well aware, he and his friends a few years ago incited to violence in the City of Belfast, and incited with such dire effect that more lives were lost by that violence in three months in Belfast—or, I will not say more, but as many, or nearly as many lives were lost in Belfast in three months as, from deeds of violence, were lost from one end of Ireland to the other from the first year of the Land League to the last. It argues great audacity on the the part of the hon. and gallant Gentleman to appear as censor of treasonable speeches, when we know that he has boasted that he has assurances that British officers will follow him in Ireland in a rebellion against the Crown, when the Crown and this Legislature shall concur in an Act to confer Home Rule on Ireland. He, spoiling a fine old couplet, tells us that treason when successful becomes patriotism. I do not think, if he should give his own treason action, he will find himself other than a victim, for he will find against him both the power of England and the will of the people—odds too great even for a military here who has such a record in the Crimea. But I recall the House to the memory of April 15, 1887. I think probably you, Sir, bear it in mind. The hon. Member for North Armagh spoke in the debate upon the Second Heading of the Crimes Act of that year. His speech was delivered late at night. Mr. Buckle, his confederate, the editor of the Times, was seated under the Gallery in this House. The hon. and gallant Gentleman in a carefully elaborated speech accused my hon. Friends and myself in precise terms of having associated with men whom we knew to be murderers. I expressed my feelings on that occasion without reserve and in un-Parliamentary language. You, Sir, from the Chair declared that I had suffered grievous provocation, and I have never since ceased to be grateful for that declaration you were pleased to make, and I shall always be grateful, and I am sorry that the spirit that prompted that declaration has not always prevailed in public life. But, Sir, I am sure you will feel that the provocation you then declared has now become intolerable. May I point out that the hon. and gallant Member for 367 North Armagh, who made that foul and deadly charge now proved to be false, has not since in debate offered one word of apology to me or my hon. Friends. For myself I can dispense with his apology. I care as little for his apology as I do for himself. So far as I am concerned, I say the question whether he can afford to omit to make such an apology is a question for his own consideration. Sir, that speech was a rehearsed effect. It was intended to publish the forged letter a few hours later on the morning of the Division on the Second Reading of the Crimes Act, but a pretext was required. Mr. Buckle having listened to the speech and heard our denial, quoted them in the Times of the following morning, and went on to say that the unblushing denials of my hon. Friend the Member for Longford (Mr. Healy) and myself that we associated with men we knew to be murderers rendered it necessary to publish the fac simile letter to prove the falsehood of our denials. The effect was carefully prepared, the speech was to pave the way, the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh was the Parliamentary pioneer of the forged letter. From that day to this the forged letter has been the principal article of proof of the Tory Party in appealing to electors in this country, and I say they are bound to accept the Amendment as an act of moral restitution. I pass on to say that justice has been denied to us by the Tory Party, and for this reason they ought to accept the Amendment. When my hon. Friend the Member for Cork first asked that his character should be vindicated he was jeered at by the Party opposite and told to go to law. Sir, if he had brought an action at that time what would have happened to him? I speak in the hearing of the Attorney General. An action was brought by Mr. O'Donnell, and the Attorney General was counsel for the Times. What did the Attorney General say? The Times, he said, though it cost them the verdict, would not declare the name of the man, be he a confederate of Mr. Parnell or be he not, from whom they had that letter. That remark to the jury, "be he a confederate of Mr. Parnell or be he not," was exquisitely cunning, but it was also an extremely shameful remark. It was exquisitely cunning 368 because it suggested a reason, and the principal reason, for withholding the name, but it was extremely shameful because it suggested to the jury without offering any evidence or reason why they might hold the letter to be genuine. At any rate you would not give the name, and what would have happened? I ask any rational man, if my hon. Friend had brought an action, and Pigott had not been examined, would not my hon. Friend, on going into the box, have had put into his hands not only the fac simile letter, but all the other forged letters, which he had never seen or heard of; he would have had forged letters and genuine mixed together, and would have been placed in a position of difficulty from which he could not have extricated himself, and the Attorney General would have brought up his battalion of paid expert evidence to swear that the letters were genuine, and he would have appealed to the jury by references to speeches and action of my hon. Friend on the favourite doctrine of inherent probability that we are engaged in the commission of crime. My hon. Friend would not have obtained a verdict, probably the verdict would have gone against him, the work of moral assassination would have been perfected and the cause of Ireland ruined. My hon. Friend was never wiser than when he refused to take action at law. I advised him not to take it. I did not see the full peril at that time, but I think it will be admitted now that if my hon. Friend had replied to your taunts by taking action at law in 1887, he would certainly have accomplished his own ruin. We asked for a Committee of the House, a Committee of English Members, we did not ask that one Irish Member should sit upon it, we asked for a Committee of English gentlemen of both parties to determine if we were guilty of crime. The Government were more tender for us than we were for ourselves, and they declared that the political bias of such a Committee would prevent it doing us justice. Then, having thought that a Committee of both Parties would be incompetent to consider this charge of crime they appointed three Judges, adherents of the Unionist Party, to consider not only the charges of crime, but charges as to our political conduct. Now, these Judges have reported the Govern- 369 ment ask the majority of one political Party to ratify the findings of the Judges on our political action as a Party to which the Unionist Party is opposed. I say in this manner justice is denied, and I add justice has been delayed. Justice required that when the Commission sat the man Richard Pigott should have been put immediately into the box. Why did the Attorney General delay this for so many months? Why did the Attorney General, when he had at his elbow the man who produced the letters, try first to prove the genuineness of the forged letters by evidence of convicts taken from English jails? The men who employed Pigott and drove him to his ruin, who tempted him to commit forgery and then forced him into perjury, were well aware that Pigott was a forger and a liar, before they put him into the box. They knew it as men of the world. They knew it by his letters; they knew it by his confessions; they knew it by his craven, terror-stricken fear of cross-examination. I have here the last letter Pigott ever wrote. It is written to his housekeeper in Ireland, and dated from Anderton's Hotel, Fleet Street, Feb. 8, 1889, a fortnight or three weeks before his perjury, flight, and suicide. He says—Here is a P.O.O. for £3. There is no chance now that I shall be examined until next week, meantime I have to wait on here doing nothing and wretchedly unhappy,this was before his perjury,Wretchedly unhappy about one thing and another, however—Here is a short phrase weighted with terrible meaning—I must go through 'it all.'He had to go through it all. The men who tempted his poverty into his first crime forced him to consummate his crime, and, sensible as I am of the unparalleled enormity of Pigott's guilt, I say there is nothing to choose between the guilt of this poor wretch, driven by poverty, and the guilt of wealthy men, driven by political venom, who tempted his wretched abject poverty, and forced him to endeavour to make good by his oath the crime he had committed. Justice, I say, has been denied and delayed. Now, I proceed to say the due operation has been thwarted by the Tory Party by means of their 370 Law Officer. The Bill for the appointment of the Special Commission was drawn—perhaps I need not go so far as to say for two purposes, but with two effects. It was drawn so as to prevent the Judges from exposing the conspiracy of which we were the victims. It was drawn as if those who drew it apprehended our acquittal on the charges of crime, because they drew the Bill so as to compel the Judges to proceed beyond the charges of crime, but which we alone for the country cared for to investigate charges of public conduct, charges that needed no inquiry, charges calling for no Commission, charges we were ready to admit at any time in the House, so far as the facts were concerned, though we might deny the inferences. The Bill was drawn so as to compel the Judges to wander for a year through a mass of mad folly in Parnellism and Crime, to obscure the issue to the popular mind, and prevent us from a clear and absolute acquittal. When the Bill was being drawn, the counsel for the Times found it very convenient for his clients and himself to be the Queen's Attorney General. He was responsible for the Bill. I do not say he was alone responsible for the Bill; I think he acted in this case as the instrument of the Cabinet, for I cannot think that an Attorney General who consults the Lord Chancellor three times on a common criminal case would fail to consult the Cabinet in the drawing up of an Act to impeach the representatives of the people. The Attorney General has denied that he drew the Act, he denies that he is responsible for the terms of it. He assents. I have some excellent information on this subject, and I submit this statement of a fact. When the Parliamentary draftsmen read in the report of the proceedings of the House of Commons Sir Richard Webster's statement that he had taken no part in the drawing up of the Bill they were perfectly amazed, inasmuch as they had submitted it to him more than once, and the draft was in existence with corrections and interlineations in Sir R. Webster's own handwriting. He also said on each occasion: "It is lost labour, for they (the Irish Members) will never accept it. "So astonished—
§ The ATTORNEY GENERAL (Sir R. Webster,) Isle of Wight
Mr. Speaker. I do not know whether the hon. Gentle- 371 man will give his authority, but as far as I know there is absolutely not a word of truth in the statement he has read.
§ Me. SEXTON
I will first complete the reading of the statement, and then say what I will do. So astonished were the draftsmen, and placed as they thought in an unfair position, that they first doubted what to do, and finally decided to make a private record of it, and of the circumstances under which they considered themselves bound to reticence. My information is quite clear that the drafts were submitted personally to him, and not by messenger. Sir, if the hon. and learned Gentleman, or the First Lord of the Treasury, will lay upon the Table the several drafts of the Bill and the memorandum made by the draftsmen, who in this way accounted for their reticence, I will give the name of my informant. I think the hon. and learned Gentleman must perceive that in a matter of this infinite gravity the case is not one to be closed by a mere denial, but is one to be tested by evidence. The hon. and learned Gentleman strains at a gnat. Surely he has swallowed the camel. Does the House forget that the hon. and learned Gentleman pledged himself in Court, before the Commissioners, and in this House, to prove for the Times, not merely the case but the whole case, including each and every other charge? By that pledge the Attorney General deceived this House and misled the country. Why, Sir, the findings against the respondents are only on charges in regard to public conduct, and when he promised to prove the charges made he must have referred to those of a personal character. How does he account for the fact that he promised to prove a number of deadly and infamous charges, in regard to not one of which he had a tittle of evidence? Sir, the learned Gentleman at this stage of the matter cannot hide himself behind a phrase. What does he mean by saying he acted "upon his instructions"? Did he read his brief? We understand that a brief is a thing containing a recital of the evidence. If he read his brief did it promise any proof of the charges as to which the Judges have found there is no evidence whatever—such a charge, for example, as that Mr. Parnell knew that Sheridan and Boyton had been organisers of outrage, was there any evidence to 372 support this charge in the brief?—[Sir R. Webster made an affirmative gesture]. Then, what was it—why did he not produce it? We know well that the hon. and learned Gentleman was only too determined to bring all the evidence he could obtain into Court. As to the hon. and learned Gentleman's great charge— of which lie is if not the natural at least the adopted father—that the Invincibles were a branch of the Land League, and that the Land League paid them, the Judges say the charge is founded not so much on any passage in Parnellism and Crime as on passages in the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman in "O'Donnell v. Walter"—this charge, as vile and infamous and deadly as any ever made against man since the world began. How does he account for the fact that the Judges not only scouted those charges, but scouted them with such contempt, and I think I may say with such disgust, that they said they thought it not worth their while to quote the passages in the learned Gentleman's speech. The hon. and learned Gentleman pledged his reputation recklessly and often, and I will tell the hon. and learned Gentleman, if one in my humble place may take such a tone to one in his great position, that the reputation which pledged he never will recover until satisfies this House and the why, not merely as counsel in but as Attorney General, he himself to prove against a hon. Members serious and infamous charges in regard to which it is now-abundantly clear he had not a word of evidence in his brief. But the hon. and learned Gentleman is impenitent. Does he accept the findings of the Judges? He insinuated guilt the other night in his speech in this debate. He suggested, upon the strength of an anonymous paragraph published some five years ago in an old newspaper, that the hon. Member for Cork sympathised with the use of dynamite and outrage. The vanity of the hon. and learned Gentleman cannot tolerate the loss of his verdict. It is very hard upon him that he has to vote for the Motion of the leader of the House, for if he had his way he would move such a Motion as this:—"That this House affirms the Report of the Judges so far as it convicts the Irish Members but convicts the Irish Members of the 373 charges of which they have been acquitted by the Judges." If the hon. and learned Gentleman will make such a Motion I have no doubt it will be supported by the hon. Member for North Antrim (Sir C. E. Lewis) and the hon. Member for the Loughborough Division (Mr. De Lisle). It has been said of this Report that what is in it is not true and that what is true in it is not new. The hon. and learned Gentleman, in the midst of his disasters, consoles himself by finding something in the Report which, he says, is both new and true, and that is the story of Le Caron concerning the Clan-na-Gael. True or false it is a fantastic story, and it excited in me the kind of feeling I have experienced in reading Rider Haggard's novels. True or false it does not concern the respondents. Why did the Government give up their most valuable spy? Why did they transfer him to the service of the Times? Was it not solely for the purpose of en-deavouring to connect the Irish Party with the action of the Clan-na-Gael? That purpose has wretchedly failed, and I certainly cannot but condemn the attempt of the right hon. Member for Bury (Sir H. James) to compare the Irish Members of this House, who having first taken the oath to a secret combination for a patriotic purpose in Ireland, and, having their hopes cheered by a man who has seen a wiser policy, have subsequently taken the oath of allegiance to him—to compare such men with a man like Le Caron, who has spent the greater part of his life in taking oaths for the purpose of violating such oaths when taken. I cannot believe that any oath whatever is sacred to such a man; and we are told that the Judges preferred the oath of Le Caron to the oath of Mr. Parnell. I venture to say, by way of comment, that the Judges were very easily satisfied if they believed for instance, as they appear to have done, that Mr. Parnell told Le Caron that he was saving up £100,000 for the purpose of a war against the British Empire. That might do very well for a war against the Isle of Wight, the Attorney General's seat; but it is not by any means sufficient for a war against the larger island. When the question of credibility arises as to the action of Le Caron lam greatly astonished that the Judges thought it consistent with their duty to omit from their 374 Report all reference whatever to Le Caron's evidence concerning himself. I suppose a man was never more astonished than I was, when one evening in Dublin, taking up an evening paper, I read that a sensation had been produced in the Court in London by the evidence of Le Caron, and a story told to him that Mr. Sexton, the Lord Mayor of Dublin, had aided the flight of Brennan from justice. The story was extremely circumstantial. It was that Brennan and I were walking in the Strand when our attention was attracted by a newspaper bill containing a reference to some evidence against Brennan that we at once darted down a side street and arranged a plan of flight for Brennan, in virtue of which Brennan went to his lodgings and packed his valise, whilst I went to Charing Cross Station, took a railway ticket for France, travelled with that ticket from Charing Cross to London Bridge, where I handed it over to Brennan, who had arrived there with his valise; and that Brennan then travelled with the ticket to France. Sir, I never in my life walked with Brennan, in the Strand or saw such a newspaper bill, and the whole paraphernalia and properties, including the valise and railway ticket, belong to the region of unadulterated fiction. I stated that before the Commissioners. The Attorney General did not recall Le Caron, and he did not put a question to me on the subject; therefore, I presume I do not go too far in inferring that the hon. and learned Gentleman accepted my disproval of the story. But Le Caron told that story, and it argues either that Le Caron was not the witness of truth, or else that his memory is so exceedingly infirm that it cannot be trusted. But I will pass away from this with one further brief glimpse of the character of this man. I will now tell the House a little more about Le Caron than the Judges knew. Some letters have been handed to me with the view of my communicating them to the House. One is a letter from Mr. T. V. Powderley, a gentleman holding an important office in the labour organisations of the United States, inclosing a letter to him from Le Caron. Writing on the 12th of February, 1889, Mr. Powderley said:—That you may know what manner of man Le Caron is, who is giving testimony in the London Times v. Parnell, I inclose a copy of 375 a document now in my possession which he favoured me with during the trouble on the South-Western Railroad in 1886. This letter is of a piece with all the work which he pretends to have had a hand in on this aide of the Atlantic. It is the production of a man who is certainly not lit to be at large, and no credence would be given to whatever testimony he would give in an American Court.I need not read any more of the letter sent by Mr. Powderley, who is a member either of Congress, or of the local Legislature. It inclosed a copy of a letter from Le Caron as follows:—The Hon. T. V. Powderley,St. Louis, Mo., April 3, 1886.Dear Sir,—At such a time as this a few words of advice and encouragement may be of service to you, and may possibly serve to solve the very difficult problem so suddenly thrust before you.A peaceful law-abiding strike will never conquer such a power as you now have to deal with. Moral suasion, so good in trivial cases, becomes of no use when applied to such a cold-hearted fiend as Jay Gould; entreaty, argument, and sympathy, appeal to him in vain, and though they plead with him in thunder tones the sound falls on leaden ears. You must touch his pocket, and meet force with force. You must not be expected to publicly countenance anything but peaceful measures. You will not even know that any other has been resorted to. All that you need do will be to give me the names of a few of your lieutenants along the Missouri-Pacific road, and I will attend to the rest. Name only those in whom you can place implicit confidence, and I will place in their hands the materials that will, if properly handled, destroy every bridge and culvert on the road. I have made a study of explosives, and can give you an unfailing remedy for the wrongs your members complain of.All that you need do will be to write the names I have asked for on the blank space on this sheet. Return it to me without name even—I will manage the rest. Whatever is to be done must be done quickly. I know you by reputation for years and can trust you. All I ask is your confidence and, in return I promise the most gratifying results.Faithfully yours,HENRI LE CARON.Sir, I condole with the Government. We have heard that 95 lives were taken by violence in Ireland during the agrarian movement. Here we have a man, who, if he could have found in the United States other scoundrels as black as himself, would have sacrificed thousands of lives. I condole with the Government in having transferred an official of his rare quality to the Times, and upon having obtained nothing in return except what might have been obtained from 376 the pigeon-holes of the Home Office before the Attorney General set his hand to the matter at all. I pass to the findings in the Report adverse to the respondents. The first is what is called the charge of treason. The Attorney General said that that means that one object of the Land League was to establish the ultimate independence of Ireland. That was not the finding of the Judges. Their finding was that 11 years ago eight gentlemen entertained the intention of furthering the cause of the absolute independence of Ireland. They do not say how long that intention was held or whether it ever developed into action. Being Judges, and not politicians or statesmen, they did not know, as hon. Members of this House well know, that in 1885 the gentlemen so charged had their votes accepted by the Tory Party to put it in power. How is that, Sir, for condonation? Nor did it come under the purview of the Judges that the gentlemen charged accepted in 1886 the Home Rule policy of the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. Gladstone) without qualification and without reserve, and have proved their acceptance of it in their public action ever since. With respect to the defence of prisoners, in every country the defence of the accused is a right. In Ireland it is a duty. Summary process in Ireland is intrusted to the hands of ignorant and servile magistrates, while the trials for agrarian cases in the Superior Courts are held before packed juries, every man of which is different in social position to the prisoner and hostile to him in politics. It is a duty in Ireland where charges are recklessly made by means of purchased evidence to defend the accused, and it has not been alleged that we have defended the guilty. We have defended those men whom we believed to be innocent. If the records of the Land League are examined it will be found that in the vast majority of cases where the League has defended the accused, the innocence of the parties has been established. The support of the families of the accused persons was a work of benevolence, and we were justified in undertaking it. When we are told that we did not aid in the administration of law and justice, I would ask in what country are public 377 leaders ever expected to aid in the administration of the law? In Ireland the administration of the law is not the administration of justice. The law itself, the spirit and foundation of the law, and the administration of the law are hostile to the people. Neither in Ireland nor anywhere else will you get the Representatives of the people to facilitate a system under which innocent men are convicted and the guilty allowed to go free, according to the convenience of the Administration. I come now to the charge of boycotting. Perhaps the author of Parnellism and Crime was of opinion, before he came over from Ireland, that boycotting was unknown in this country. He is not of that opinion now. That infamous libeller, Mr. Woulfe Flanagan, the son of an Irish Judge, presented himself the other day for admission to the Athenæum Club, but the number of black balls deposited against him was the largest ever known against any person seeking admission, although his patron, Mr. Buckle, pleaded piteously on his behalf that he had not written all the articles in the Times, but only three of them, and those not by any means the worst. The friends of the Party opposite are in the habit of boycotting in England. Not an election passes but we get letters from poor men, complaining bitterly of the boycotting to which they have been subjected at the hands of the Tory Party, and begging us not to reveal their names. Now, the question I have to put is this: If a powerful and wealthy Party like the Conservative Party, with all the forces of law on its side, may resort to boycotting out of pure wantonness of spirit, should the Irish people be condemned for resorting to it in their dire extremity and need for the purpose of saving the fruits of their labour and saying their homes? Sir, if the Irish people had the right, as the people have in every other part of the Empire, to make laws for the regulation of their own affairs, organised boycotting would not be justifiable, and they would not resort to it. But, Sir, the spirit of the law and the administration of the law are hostile to the Irish people. The laws in Ireland are made against the interests of the Irish people and against their will; and I maintain that, so long as the law remains in that condition, the people 378 of Ireland have a moral right of which nothing can deprive them—and the exercise, of which no legislation can prevent— to organise public opinion for the purpose of mitigating the hardships and moderating the evils under which they suffer. Whilst I describe boycotting as a necessary evil, because the organisation of ill-will is not to be desired; still when there is profound and grievous cause for it, it is better that ill-will should be organised, and, if possible, directed and restrained, than that we should have what happened in Ireland in former days, namely, that poor, untaught men, driven to a desperation by a sense of hopeless wrong, should be left to their wild counsels. On the question of boycotting, the Judges, if I may respectfully say so, have fallen into some confusion of thought. They find in one place that we recommended boycotting, and in another that we condemned it. They also find what, in all this "Much ado about nothing," we have never denied, and which could have been embodied in a Resolution long ago. The Judges find that boycoting led to crime, and that we persevered in it with a knowledge of this fact. We admit the fact that we persevered in boycotting, but we deny the inference. I say that boycotting has led to crime, but I also say that boycotting unquestionably throughout the whole course of its operation, while no doubt it was pushed to excess in some cases and beyond the design of its public leaders, formed a barrier between oppression and crime. The Judges find that in a minute proportion of cases boycotting was followed by crime. Did the Judges remember that boycotting was preceded by the wrongful act which ruined the individual, by an act of wrong to the public interest and of offence to the public conscience? The Chief Secretary has given us many Returns of boycotting in which there was outrage, but will he give us a Return of the many thousands of cases of boycotting in which there was never any outrage? You may call this restraint of freedom of action, but when the law is unjust to the people the people are bound and entitled to restrain such action as is adverse to the public interest. In previous agitations, and during the famine, there were hundreds of murders and thousands of 379 outrages—ten times more in a single county than we have had during the whole duration of the League, a period of 10 years. But for the Land League yon would have had in Ireland for the last 10 years unquestionably a social war, and you would have had such an epidemic of violence as has never been known even in the sad and bloody course of its history. These Judges, who are not statesmen and are not politicians, have ventured far beyond this question of crime, and they have embarked upon the stormy and, possibly, unfamiliar sea of Irish politics. They have said that the movement of the Land League was a principal cause of crime. Will the House allow me to lay before it in a few words the causes which stimulated crime? The distress which was experienced in 1879 began to re-appear in the accumulation of arrears, in evictions, and in notices to quit. The Compensation for Disturbance Bill was rejected by the House of Lords, and the Judges, who say they are not politicians, conclude that disorder was excited in Ireland, not by the rejection of that measure by the Lords, but by the denunciation of that rejection by the Representatives of the people, including, I suppose, Mr. Forster. Every peasant in Ireland, without any instruction from us, knew perfectly well what had been done by the House of Lords. Has it come to this, that when a branch of the Legislature acts grievously against the public interest, and when disorder arises, that disorder is to be attributed not to the action of the Legislature, but to the action of the Representatives of the people, who did their duty in exposing such misconduct? The final, cause of crime in Ireland was the exasperation caused by Mr. Forster's Habeas Corpus Suspension Act. Mr. Forster represented that that Act was to le directed against the village ruffians, but he imprisoned without trial and without charge hundreds of as respectable men as any in the country. Unprecedented distress, unprecedented poverty, unprecedented pressure of the landlords for impossible rents, the rejection of the Compensation for Disturbance Bill by the Lords, and the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Acts—these were the causes, and not the Land League, of crime in Ireland. But what flowed from the movement of the Land League? By 380 charity, it saved 10,000 families, the money, a good deal of it, coming from Patrick Ford. It distributed half a million of money, while the Poor Law was relaxed by the Government, and relief works were instituted. Another influence against crime was the abatement of rents secured all over Ireland by the Land League—secured by that united action which is now so much condemned, —abatements which have not been secured by any other means. The third influence against crime was this—boycotting substituted for the wild counsels of revenge, which was the practice in former days; a system which, call it illegal if you like, call it unmerciful if you like, was, at any rate, peaceful, and was intended and designed by the public leaders to be a vast and infinite improvement on the resorts to violence which were so frequent before. The fourth influence against crime has been the legislation of the last 10 years. The Attorney General may be a very eminent lawyer, but he is not in the least—not in the very least—a politician, and it was absolutely puerile for him to argue, as he did the other night, that, because the Statutes were found not to be perfect when passed, therefore our movement ought not to be carried on. The Member for West Birmingham said long ago, and the Member for Mid Lothian has lately said, that the Land Act of 1881 was due to the movement of the Land League. The Arrears Act was due to the action of my hon. Friend the Member for Cork. But will it be believed that the Judges, who are only Judges and not politicians, come to the fantastical and irrational conclusion that the Land Act of 1881 and the Arrears Act of 1882 had nothing to do with diminishing crime in Ireland? I say deliberately, as an Irishman, at that time opposed to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, that no more healing influence was ever applied to the sorrows and sores of Ireland than the Land Act of 1881 and the Arrears Act of 1881'. Under the Arrears Act of 1882 a million of public money was paid away and an almost intolerable load of rent was lifter! off the backs of the Irish tenants. That Act kept the fire on the hearth and a roof over the heads of tens of thousands of suffering Irishmen. That Act, therefore, may be said to have had great in- 381 fluence with the Irish people, and it was obtained entirely through the efforts of the Land League Organisation; but, Sir, not only did the Land League obtain that Act, but it also obtained the Purchase Act of 1885 and the Act of 1887, by which the tenants were allowed to have fair rents fixed. The Land League was, in point of fact, the parent of all the large improvements in the state of Irish affairs that have taken place within the last 10 years. With regard to the finding that we have desired to impoverish land and to expel the landlords, I would remark that the Judges are not politicians. If they had been, they would have known what, at any rate, was well-known to the Government and to the House. In 1879 the Land League offered to the landlords the purchase of their estates at 20 years of Griffith's valuation. Do not hon. Gentlemen opposite, does not the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for North Armagh (Colonel Saunderson) most devoutly wish that the landlords had such an offer now. Not even the hon. and gallant Gentleman's volcanic eloquence will ever win such an offer again. The proposal made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian was to purchase the interests of the landlords on the basis of 20 years' net rental, and the Irish Members in 1886 gave a general assent to that unprecedentedly generous proposal. The Tories would not allow the right hon. Gentleman to pass that Bill then, although they desire to pass a similar measure now, and the question remains, will the right hon. Gentleman allow them to do so? Our policy was the policy of purchase, that policy has been adopted by both Parties, and I say it is too late to allege now that the Land League desired to impoverish the landlords; neither is it correct to say that we desire to expel the landlords. What we desire to do is to prevent the expulsion of the people. Why, I ask, should we desire to impoverish any class of men in Ireland? Our desire has simply been to save for the people the fruits of their labour and the integrity of their homes. The only reason why the landlords are hostile to the Homo Rule movement is because they have looked to Parliament to maintain them in their unjust position. When they cease to be landlords they 382 will become an important section of Irish society; and, if one is to judge from what is said by the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for North Armagh, they will no doubt be a refreshing element in the Irish Legislature. I now come to the question of condonation, and I ask this House have the Government condoned our action I Was there a compact in 1885 between the Irish Members and the Tory Party? A compact! It is not much use now to talk of compacts. Did we not camp under the same banner? A letter has been read from the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell), who stated that there was no compact between Lord Salisbury and the noble Lord the Member for Paddington (Lord R. Churchill) on the one hand, and the hon. Member for Cork and the Irish Members on the other, in regard to the expulsion of the Liberal Government from office, and referring to three heads of an agreement, namely, the abandoning of the Crimes Act, the passing of the Labourers' Act, and the enactment of a Land Purchase measure. Still, it is very curious that all these three things came about; the Crimes Act was abandoned, the Labourers' Act was passed, and the Land Purchase measure was brought in. Things of this sort are not done in a formal manner. Compacts of this kind are not engrossed on parchment nor adorned with sealing wax. We had what we considered a sufficient assurance that if we put the Tory Government into power it would not renew the Crimes Act, and, Sir, when it came into power, that Government did not renew the Crimes Act. Why, then, do they talk to this House about compacts? If the House will only look for the Division Lists, and read the debates of that period, it will be seen that there was at that time a homogeneous opposition. Why should we have put the Tory Party into power? Of coarse, we naturally feel for the Tory Party that love which every man is bound to feel for his neighbour; but that is hardly sufficient to induce us to make our neighbour a Prime Minister, especially when we are Irish Members and our neighbour is a Tory. We must have had an additional reason, and that additional reason we certainly did have. In that same year Lord Salisbury rather spoke up for boycotting, and conveyed 383 the idea that it was not illegal and could not be dealt with by means of the law. Is it not apparent that if the fortunes of the Election of 1885 had been a little different, Lord Carnarvon would probably have been now in the Vice-Regal Lodge, while the hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of Cork might have been in Dublin Castle? It has been suggested that we do not act together. May I remind the House than when the Globe newspaper, during the Election of 1885, had a paragraph stating that the Tory Party did not want to be helped by the Irish, Captain Middleton, the Tory agent in London, was greatly incensed at this assertion, and caused the Central News to send round a formal contradiction throughout the country? There are several ways of denying a thing; one way is by not asserting it, another is when a person who does not know makes a statement, and the person who does know remains silent. At any rate, the denials up to this time have not come from a competent, well-informed quarter, and I venture to say that from that quarter the denials will never come. Now, Sir, boycotting prevailed in 1885, and the Crimes Act was then expiring. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, then at the head of the Liberal Government, intended to renew certain provisions of the Crimes Act, including the clause relating to intimidation. Why did the Tory Party allow that law to expire? Boycotting was as much a crime in 1885 as it now. The Tory Party were as well aware of it then as now. There was on the Statute Book an Act directed against it, and the Tory Party, by their compact, deliberately allowed that Act to expire, and why? Because they were willing to accept the rule of this Empire from the hands of men whom they now call traitors and conspirators. Why, Sir, the Tory Party in 1885 paid some of our expenses. The Tory candidates and the Irish organisers were as thick as thieves. We shared your political homes and you shared ours, and, at the same time, you paid our printing bills. When you talk of money received from Patrick Ford in 1885, I tell you that the money of the Tories and of Patrick Ford went into the same purse, the only difference being that Patrick Ford was what they call in Ireland a decenter man than the 384 average Tory, because Ford asked for no return from the Irish Members, while the Tories wanted to get value for their money. Again, I ask, how stands this question of condonation? Well, Sir, the Party that acted in this way in 1885 had a perfect knowledge of all the facts affecting the situation, and yet they persist in the proposal to record with all solemnity in the Journals of this House a finding in regard to which they will be laughed to scorn. We are told that we disseminated newspapers such as the Irish World, inciting to the commission of crime. I say that not a single Member of this House was ever responsible, and it cannot now be alleged that he was responsible, for sending out a, single copy of that newspaper. The Irish World was distributed by means of its own funds, and it was circulated by its own correspondents in Ireland. Not a single copy has been distributed in Ireland by any Member of this House. Indeed, I am not aware that it has even been suggested that the Irish Members did distribute the paper, and, therefore, it is unjust to allege that circulation as a charge against us. As to United Ireland and the Irishman, there may be two or three gentlemen among the Irish Members who are concerned with those papers as editors or shareholders; but it must in fairness be borne in mind that the objectionable writings to which exception has been taken were appearing at the very time when the Tory Party concluded a compact with Irish Members, and I hold, therefore, that by their own action, that Party is now debarred from a penal finding against the Irish Members in regard to those articles. I would conclude my argument on this part of the case by pointing out that in the Crimes Act of 1885 there was a clause expressly directed against the circulation of such objectionable articles and newspapers, and yet, with full knowledge of the publications, the Tory Party deliberately allowed the Act to expire. It is next stated against us that we have accepted subscriptions from America. Well, the operation of your English Laws has driven the Irish people out of Ireland. Whilst we have only five millions of people at home, there are 25 millions of Irish people scattered throughout the world; and are five-sixths of the Irish 385 race to be debarred from assisting by subscriptions of money the cause of liberty in their native land? Such a contention is monstrous—it is applying to the Irish Party a rule which has never yet been applied to any political party. Have the hon. Member for North Armagh and his friends made a category of people who shall or shall not subscribe to the Loyal and Patriotic Union? I have never heard that the hon. and gallant Member has made it a rule that one class of persons shall not subscribe. Rather, I think, his grievance is that no class of persons will subscribe. Perhaps he would like to have some of the money of the Clan-na-gael, and I say deliberately that the Clan-na-gael might do worse than send money to the hon. and gallant Gentleman, for in a way he does not know himself he is a real friend to Ireland. How is it possible for the leaders of the Irish movement to discriminate in such circumstances between those who are members of a Secret Society and those who are not? I do not believe that the English people will condemn the Irish Party because they receive the money referred to, especially when they remember that this money is subscribed with the hope that it will bring about the success of the Constitutional movement, though, it may be, some of the subscribers have greater faith in an appeal to force. Against one of the findings of the Judges I protest emphatically—that in which they find that the respondents made payments to persons injured in the commission of crime. I also protest against the manner in which several other findings—such, for instance, as that of circulating objectionable newspapers and receiving subscriptions from America—have been made general against the whole 65 Irish Members, by the operation of the law of conspiracy. Some of those men were never members of the Land League and never received a penny of the money; nay, further, some of them did not enter political life until years after the acts alleged; and is it common fairness, I would ask, to charge men who did not enter the movement till 1885 or 1886 with responsibility for acts done in 1880–1? As to the payment of money to persons injured in the commission of crime, that charge against the 65 Members rests on one solitary ease. There was a second case, but it was found 386 on inquiry that this one consisted of some assistance granted to the distressed families of two or three men who were imprisoned on a charge of which they were found to be innocent and were acquitted. That case, therefore, falls through; and the one solitary case on which the finding is based is the payment made upon Timothy Horan's letter. And what are the circumstances of that grant? On the 1st of October, 1881, at a time of hurry and confusion, on the day before the hon. Member for the City of Cork was arrested, and when the suppression of the League was momentarily expected, the grant was made. The letter appears to refer to the case of some men who had been shot and who required medical attendance, but there is a clause in it that the grant should be sent to the writer or to the local clergy. Now, I had been in the office of the League from the beginning of May to the end of September, when my health utterly broke down through overwork and anxiety, and I confess that if the letter had come to my notice I should have sent to the local clergy. If it had been made to appear that the application had any relation to crime it would never have been granted. It should be remembered, too, that the time was at the height of what was known in Ireland as the buckshot régime, when men were being continually bayonetted or shot at evictions, and the men who were shot on these occasions were unwilling to reveal their identity because, although they might have done no actual crime, they knew they were liable to prosecution by the police. I repeat that had I been able to attend the office at the time, the grant would never have been made unless it had been made clear that it had no relation to crime. That was the principle on which the League was carried on; the fact that only one solitary case can be found proves it, and I contend that it is unjust to base a charge against the whole of the 65 Irish Members—many of whom had no knowledge of the matter—on this letter. The finding would never have been passed but for this solitary charge. The Judges complain that Mr. Parnell refused to allow the agents of the Times to inspect his accounts at Paris. Had he been foolish enough to do so he would have told the Tory Party at 387 once how much money he had to fight the next General Election with. That is a little too much to expect. The Judges also complain of the paucity of books and records produced. The respondents brought before the Judges all the books in their procurement. The House has heard the hon. Member for Fermanagh challenged and his reply doubted about the transfer of certain books from Ireland. We have been told about a big box of books taken from Ireland and brought to England, and that the box and the books were never seen again. Will it be believed that this box with the books was in the Court all the time? There were 64 books, two for each county in Ireland. They were brought to England in the hope that the organisation might be carried on here, and such little interest had any one in destroying the records that the whole of them were produced in Court, and left there in the same box in which they were brought from Ireland. The witness Phillips, upon whom the Judges depended a great deal in this matter, was an Englishman, and had served in the British Army. He was a man who had no sympathy with the League and was engaged simply us a clerk. The officials of the League knew that he was an Englishman and that he had been in the Army, and yet he was allowed to take away the books and documents to his house and keep them there. The Attorney General did not call attention to that fact, nor to the fact that when cross-examined Phillips said that no one from first to last had even suggested to him to destroy a document, and that in all the documents he did not see one illegal entry or illegal payment. Be it observed that Phillips was something more than a clerk; he was in charge of the books and was bound to know what was in them. The entries were made by Phillips, and were not the act of any of us connected with the League. Why did the Judges, in basing this serious finding on a single case, omit to advert to the fact that the agents of the Times had every political letter written by Mr. Parnell and the reply over a course of 10 years? Is there a politician on the Treasury Bench who could produce before a Special Commission every letter he has written upon politics and every reply he has received in 10 years, and then come out of the 388 ordeal as safely as the hon. Member for Cork has done? Why have the Judges omitted to remark the fact that all the National League books were produced? The National League covered seven years out of the nine, and every letter received, every cheque-block, every book, every scrap of paper from beginning to end has been produced, and after these records have been examined as with a microscope they could not be made a matter of comment. There remains the English Land League. The right hon. Member for Bury has made a suggestion, in his speech which, for my own part, I will not characterise at all, because I feel that I could not do so within the bounds of Parliamentary language. The right hon. Gentleman has said that if a book had been produced—which is missing by no fault of the respondents—it might have shown that Frank Byrne had made payments of money to Invincibles. Does the Member for Bury accept the Report of the Judges? Does he still mean to insinuate guilt? Does he mean that Frank Byrne did mike payments of League money to Invincibles and made an entry of this and every case, and that these entries came to the knowledge of the respondents 'I The right hon. Gentleman has made that suggestion on the faith of a witness whom he has not named, and why? That witness is a man who has been three times convicted—in his youth for highway robbery, then for participation in the attempt to assassinate Judge Lawson, then for complicity in the Phoenix Park murders. That is the witness on whom the Member for Bury relies. I have only to add that the evidence of that infamous witness has been rejected by the Judges. I have now gone over the adverse findings, and have stated what I consider has been the justification for what has been done. If the Government say with reference to the charges which have been proved against the Irish Members that they have not been justified by the circumstances of Ireland and cordoned by the action of the Government itself, then I say that we have culpably broken the law, and it is the duty of the Government to vindicate it. I challenge them to vindicate it. They are the guardians of the honour of the House. If the Irish Members have violated, I will not merely say law, but 389 even honour, let the Government prosecute us. Why does not the Government prosecute us I is it because they know that no jury in Great Britain or Ireland would give its finding upon these matters of political conduct without having regard to the necessities of the ease which have driven us into these acts, to the condonation given to them, by the Government itself, and to the valuable legislative results which have accrued from our action? The Government are afraid, because they fancy that the country might raise the cry that Her Majesty's Ministers should also go into the dock as accessories in the first degree. But if the Government do not wish to prosecute us, why do they not expel us? The Government say that the Irish Party intimidates Ireland; they speak of us as lawless men who have banded ourselves together to put an end to freedom of action in that unfortunate country. But Ireland has now free voting; let the Government send us back to our constituents, and let them see whether the men whose lives are terrorized under our evil system will again return us to this House. The comicality of the whole situation Ins developed into this—there are 65 of the respondents, and not even against five of these have the Government dared to offer a candidate. If you expel us we shall either come back on re-election, or if we do not, and some of us may not care about it, we shall send back men as good as ourselves, though perhaps less agreeable to you, and we veterans can usefully occupy ourselves in preparing the people of Great Britain, showing the way in which they should give yon a warm reception when you dissolve. With regard to the findings which are in favour of the respondents, I hive a few words to say. These findings relate to charges of treason and murder. I think that the House hardly realises the truth about these charges. I myself have found it hard to realise that such charges could he brought by civilised men and by what has been once a great journal; a journal which has once before defamed Irish Representatives, and was then found to have made calumnious charges against them charges which I think it will not live to make a third time, or, at all events, if it does no one will be 390 foolish enough to believe them What are the charges with relation to murder? They are that the Irish Members were in concert with murderers, that they instigated murder, met murderers in secret conclave, suggested murders, and knew what murders these men were going to commit, and that they paid them to commit murders, being, as the Attorney General has put it, too busy to do it themselves. Was ever a series of viler or more damnable crimes imputed to the most infamous criminals without a particle of evidence? A mean and shabby attempt has been made to show that a finding being disproved merely means that it is not proved. But what does "disprove" mean? It means that at least primâ facie evidence of the charge had been brought; how were we to disprove that with regard to which there was no primâ facie case? But of these terrible charges, such, for instance, as that Mr. Parnell knew that Boyton and Sheridan had organised crime, the Judges found that there was no evidence. The omission on the part of the Judges to discuss the evidence is a proof that no evidence had been given on these charges, because in the other charges where they find evidence they discuss it. Now I come to the last and strongest argument why the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian should he accepted. I have shown that the Tory Party are now bound to make restitution; that they have played with loaded, dice. I have said that there is grave cause to suspect the Government of being concerned in a plot by means of subornation to perjury to make false charges appear true. We have a primâ facie case. We know that a sub-inspector of police in Ireland threatened to prosecute a boy for an offence unless he would consent to serve the Times, From their Secretary in Whitehall down to the police constable in a remote station in Ireland the Government have strained every nerve to establish false charges in this case against us. What more could they have done had this been a grave State prosecution, involving such a charge as the dethronement of the Sovereign? Now, I am about to bring before the House some further points of evidence. There has been a man in London named Maurice Collins, 391 who, according to the statement in Parnellism and Crime—though no evidence has ever been given with regard to him—has been stated to have been made the sheaths of the knives used in the Phoenix Park murders. This man has written to say that on March 5, 1887, two inspectors of police called on him, after going to various people to find out where he was; that they had gone to a Father Connor to find him, saying that they had some money to pay to Collins. After some conversation turning on the Land League, the inspectors told Collins? that they wanted him to find out about a man named Kearney, and they would pay him well; that his own party had done nothing for him, but that now was the time to make money if he would do what they wanted. On March 7 they gave Collins £1 and told him to make an appointment with them. They met again on the 12th, when the Times was mentioned, and he was asked to give information about the League; again, on the 18th, when Collins was asked by them what the relations were of Byrne to Quinn. and so on, until June 16, when finally the police pronounced him a rogue and a swindler, whose intention was to deceive Scotland Yard. I pass now to Ireland. I have here a letter from R. Mullen, an officer of the Irish police who has now been promoted to the post of inspector. It is addressed to Mr. Patrick Lavin, Cleveland, Ohio. The writer says—If you will let me have any letters you have from Mr. Parnell, or anything else you may have of the past, I guarantee your name will never be mentioned, and I further guarantee I will be the means of putting you on your feet, no person knowing anything of it but you and I.So much for the conduct of the Government towards people out of prison; I now come to their conduct towards prisoners. Here is a letter from the convict Patrick Nally, convicted in connection with what is known as the Mayo conspiracy case. I may say that in his part of the country a strong conviction of his innocence prevails. A visit to Nally in prison was made by Mr. Thompson, the agent of the Times. Nally says that when Thompson called he was not told who it was wanted to see him but was bidden by the prison warder to follow him to the room where Thompson was. Thompson produced a 392 letter from a relative of the prisoner's, and said that Davitt spoke very ill of the prisoner. Nally said he did not believe a word of it. Thompson's next move was against Mr. Parnell, and finally he came to his degrading offer. He said—I am in a position to offer you liberty and you shall be well rewarded if you consent to serve the Times.The Times might make an offer of fortune on its own behalf. It could not make an offer of liberty except by collusion with the Government. Do they admit that collusion? If they do, I say that they, and not we, are the traitors, because they have prostituted the noblest prerogative of the Crown, the prerogative of mercy, for the purpose of producing strife between the Parties in this House and strife between the races of this Empire. If they deny it, then I affirm it still, for I am ready to prove it. I call for an inquiry. We shall continue, until we obtain it, to insist upon an inquisition to prove this villainous conspiracy to the core. The writer of the letter goes on to say he felt like a savage ready to strangle or brain his interviewer, who finally said—Let us understand; will the promise of reward or the fear of punishment get, you to speak? To which I answered, "No, no, no." Mullett wrote a letter to the Home Secretary, whilst in Millbank, referring to our treatment and to Thompson.It would be well if that letter were produced. Obviously the object of these proceedings was to get evidence in relation to the worst of the false charges. James Mullett, who was one of the men convicted of the Phoenix Park murder, has written a letter in which he says:—I suppose you heard about Thompson who called on me. I told him to give their thousands and liberty to some scoundrel who would perjure himself. I challenged him to bring me to the Court, and I told him that I would exonerate the gentlemen they had the charges against.I have also here a letter from this man's wife, and I think it will touch the heart of every man who hears it. Mrs. Mullett says a man called on her early in February, saying he came from Mr. Soames, the solicitor for the Times, and asked her to use her influence with her husband. He said that if she would do, so it would be of great benefit to her and her husband, and that, in fact, his imprisonment would cease. He also said 393 he had mentioned some things to the prisoner which he was aware the prisoner knew. This is one way of getting evidence. They go to a prisoner and tell him first what they are aware he knows of and then they ask him to swear it. Mrs. Mullett goes on to say that the man said her husband was very indignant, and said it was a lie. Her answer to the request made to her was that, although she was very poor and struggling hard to keep a home for her husband, she would not raise her little finger to cause him to say what was wanted if it would give her a million of money. I come now to the case of Delaney, the convict, who was put into the box by the Attorney General to swear to the truth of some of the forge d letters and pave the way for Pigott. As I have said, Delaney was convicted three times. How was his evidence procured? A gentleman named Shannon, an Irish solicitor, not himself an Irish official, but the brother of a stipendiary magistrate in Ireland, went to the prison in which Delaney was confined. Delaney had told the prison officials that he would see no one but an official of the Crown, and the prison officials, acting in collusion with Shannon, introduced him as a Crown official. Shannon read a paper to Delaney to prove he was a Crown official. Mr. Shannon is the man who, after Pigott had confessed the forgery in the witness-box, extracted from him, of course by a promise of money, a false affidavit that certain of the letters were true, and then, when Pigott telegraphed from Madrid in a, name which had evidently been agreed upon for the purpose, for the fulfilment of the agreement, Mr. Shannon left the poor wretch, who was the victim of men as criminal as himself, to die a pauper in a foreign country, by his own hand. Mr. Shannon, besides representing himself as a Crown official, illegally administered an oath, and took a statement from Delaney, who gave his evidence a month before Pigott was called. He swore that eight of the forged letters were true, that Brennan was connected with the Invincibles, and that Frank Byrne made a payment to the Invincibles. It was upon this evidence, which was rejected by the Judges, that the hon. and learned Member for Bury (Sir H. James) suggested that if a certain book had been 394 produced it might have shown that that payment was made by Prank Byrne. How was this valuable evidence obtained? Here is a letter written by Delaney, on the 5th of September last year, eight months after he gave his evidence. It is addressed to Doctor Carte, of the Royal Hospital, Kilmain-ham. Delaney says:—I must humbly and respectfully request now, after my long years of imprisonment, that you will see the promises which was given to me fulfilled. All other men who has been produced as Crown witnesses was liberated. I am kept in prison now going on seven years. You know I have done all, that any man could do, both given important information and as a witness.Will the House observe the distinction bet ween information and evidence? Information has in the vocabulary of this man and his employers a more inclusive meaning than evidence.Still an exception is made with me. I am kept in prison and persecuted. I petitioned several times and got no reply. I never thought the Government would treat me in such a way, and that an honourable Gentleman like you would allow it after all the promises that you gave to me. I have done all which you asked me to do, and still I am persecuted, not only myself, but my wife and children. Honourable Doctor, all I ask is that you will fulfil the promises you made to me, not only for my sake, but for the sake of my poor wife and children.I am,Your humble and obedient servant,PAT. DELANEY.I have now to deal with Mr. P. J. Sheridan. My hon. Friend the Member for the Harbcur Division of Dublin read telegrams which have passed between Mr. Soames and his agents in America. Those telegrams disclosed three facts— namely, that Mr. Hoare, British Consul in New York, was authorised to act by the Foreign Office I presume, as purveyor and agent for the Times; that Mr. Soames was at one time arranging to give an enormous bribe to a man whom the Times had itself accused; and that long after Pigott's confession, and certainly one month after his death, Mr. Soames, acting under the advice of counsel, was conducting negotiations in America in the vain hope of proving the forged letters. The Attorney General says that was in relation to a civil action. Whether it was in relation to a civil action or not the telegrams referred 395 again and again to the Commission, and one said—Court has adjourned for six weeks; come back at once.The Times and the learned Gentleman argue that it was the duty of the Times, if possible, to bring Sheridan into Court. I do not question that, but we have to inquire what they wanted Sheridan to swear. I have in my hand an affidavit made by Sheridan on May 28, 1889. Sheridan was sought oat by the agent Kirby, and I have no reason to doubt his statement, because observe if his bribed evidence was good enough for the Commission, his unbribed evidence is certainly good enough for this House. Sheridan swears—During one of our interviews Mr. Kirby told me that he was recommended by Sir Charles Tupper, Agent General for Canda, and that when last in England he had met Lord Salisbury, who was anxious to know from him how he was progressing with his commission from the Times, in America.The inquiry was given to us to clear our reputation, but Lord Salisbury appeared to be so anxious on the incriminated Members' account, that he could not wait for the evidence to be given in Court, but must hold private conference with this spy. [Cries of "No."] Some hon. Member seems to doubt the probability of this. Lord Salisbury is an uncommon Prime Minister. His relations with some individuals are unprecedented. I certainly never heard of a Prime Minister who took into his personal management the conduct of a Newgate case. I have here a letter from Lord Salisbury to Pigott. It is written on the paper of the Foreign Office, and is dated from Hatfield House. It was apparently written long after the forgeries, long after the publication of Parnellism and Crime, and the most curious part of the matter is that the letter is marked by the word "private." [Cries of"Read."] Patience, give me an inquiry by a Select Committee, and I shall satiate with reading even the hon. Member for South Belfast (Mr. Johnston.) What, I ask, was the nature of the relations which necessitated private communications and intercourse between the Prime Minister and the forger? The country will ask the question, and will expect an answer. The Civil Lord of the Admiralty (Mr. Ashmead-Bartlett) 396 whom I see smiling, was certainly more sagacious than his chief—though that may not appear from his public speeches— in his dealings with Pigott, because when Richard Pigott sent to the Civil Lord some revelations for his paper called England, the Civil Lord sent to Pigott one sovereign, possibly two, and when Pigott waxed wroth at the meagreness of the remuneration, the Civil Lord urbanely replied that such stuff as that was usually given for nothing. But I have wandered from the affidavit of Sheridan. What did Kirby say to Sheridan?—Kirby informed me that the Times people did not think that I was a cheap man. 'Come over to London,' he said, 'and name your own price.' I told Kirby to go back and tell his friends that they had not gold enough to boy me, even if I had any secrets to sell, which I had not.Kirby went back, and sail he had carte blanche from the Times to close with him at any pries. Sheridan slid—I had thought a good deal on the anbject, of this first interview when I saw Kirby again, and I had determined to get as much information from him as I could, and to fool him and his employers. Therefore, I announced a change in my views, and was asked by him to name my price. I asked, 'Will the Times pay me §100,000?' and Kirby replied, 'Yes, provided your evidence gives satisfaction. You will be paid the amount within an hour after your examination closes.' 'What,' said I, 'would you consider satisfactory evidence?' He replied, 'The Times wane evidence to the effect that Parnell was a party to the Phœnix Park murders.' 'Your evidence will assure for you fortune, and name, and the full protection of the Government.' I said, 'Is the Government aiding the Times and paying its expenses?' 'Not as a Government,' he replied, 'but as individuals.' I suggested the advisability of my being posted up in the evidence to be given by other witnesses in order that mine should be corroborative, or at any rate not contradictory. In reply, he said 'that a series of questions and the answers to them would be prepared by Mr. Soames as soon as he got back to London, after which he was to return with them, and perfect his arrangements.'When Kirby was in London, it appears he asked Mr. Soames where he had got the information that Sheridan had offered to give evidence, as no such statement was contained in Sheridan's aiffidavit. Mr. Soames replied that he had purposely refrained from reading the report of his agent. Before giving evidence, Sheridan went on to say— 397After some hesitation, Kirby consented to my terms, and paid he could speak for both the Times and the Government in accepting them. On May 21. Kirby again called at my ranche, and arranged that he would pay£10,000 for my wife. 'Remember,' he said, 'It is for your wife, and you will be able to Plate on the stand—[that, is the American phrase for witness-box]—that yon have received no money for giving evidence.'Here we have the eminent solicitor for the Times, advised by counsel, arranging through his agent that a witness should commit perjury in Court by swearing that lie had received no money for his evidence, when his wife had received £10,000 on his behalf and, of course, substantially for him. The whole thing was an infamous and scandalous business from first to last. This is the visiting card which Kirby presented Mr. J. T. Birch, a gentleman who came from the office of Mr. St. John Wontuer, a solicitor of ten employed by the Treasury, presented his card to Sheridan and asked him to repeat the nature of the contract between him and Kirby, and to state how far his evidence could be corroborated by the documentary evidence in his possession. This he refused to do. Is not this an infamous story? The evidence that he was to give was suggested, and an enormous bribe was offered. And the Attorney General states that the negotiations were wound up because they had no corroboration of Sheridan's evidence. [The Attorney General signifies assent.] That means that in the middle of 1889 they had no evidence whatever on a, mortal and deadly charge against the hon. Member for Cork, which the Attorney General pledged himself to prove in 1887. The hon. and learned Gentleman's pledge will not in future be worth a farthing in any political pawn office in the country. I have a few words to say relative to the finding against my friend Mr. Davitt. It was charged that Mr. Davitthad been a Fenian, and had been convicted as such. Mr. Davitt has never denied it, and everyone in the country knew it. If anything could prove the salutary character of the movement inspired by the hon. Member for Cork, and lifted into the region of Imperial action and policy by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, it is I he fact that the movement has brought a man like Mr. Davitt—a man 398 of his rare gifts and justly great influence with the people for whom he has suffered—out of the dark ways of conspiracy into the open highway of Constitutionalism. Let the House listen to the last words of Mr. Davitt before the Commission—words which no man in Court heard without emotion. He said:—I can only say that I represent the working classes of my country here as I did in the Land League movement, and I know that they feel as I do—that no matter how bitter past memories have rankled in our hearts, no matter how much we have suffered in the past in our persons or in our country's cause, no matter how fiercely some of us have fought against and denounced the injustice of alien Government. I know that before a feeling of kindness and of good-will on the part of the people of England, Scotland, and Wales, and a belief in their awakening sense of justice towards Ireland, all distrust and opposition and bitter recollections will die out of the Irish heart, and the Anglo-Irish strife will terminate for ever when landlordism and Castle rule are destroyed by Great Britain's sense of reason and of right.Now, Sir, I want to draw a little moral, and I propose to contrast these words with the words of a Unionist partisan and pamphleteer, contained in a letter addressed to P. J. Sheridan by Mr. William Henry Hulbert, who has done yeoman service to his Party as a knight of the pen. Mr. Soames stated that Mr. Hulbert had said he had seen a letter like the fac simile letter in the possession of P. J. Sheridan. The letter was dated 12, Southwell Gardens, Cromwell Road, April G, 1889, and contained the following—I do not know how far or how accurately the proceedings taking place now before what is called the Parnell Commission may be reported in America.…. If your recollection of the interesting conversation I had with you in my office in New York in 1883 is as vivid as mine, you will quite understand the impulse which prompts me now to invite your serious attention to the elaborate efforts which tire now being made here to convert Parliamentary Parnellism from tin Irish and revolutionary into a British and Radical organisation.Mr. Davitt, the Fenian, is willing to testify that he would strain every nerve to put an end to the distrust and dissension between the English and Irish peoples, whilst this Unionist partisan and pamphleteer endeavours to consort and conspire with a man whom his Party denounced; s a murderer, in order to keep the Irish people still in the ways 399 of rebellion and conspiracy, and to prevent them from turning into the paths of Constitutionalism. The policy of the Unionist Party, I pronounce, is to create distrust in England and disaffection in Ireland in order that by dissension they may rule. But the people of England and Ireland are now determined to be friendly. They are resolved to be mutually helpful to each other. They have the will, and they see the way. And, in spite of conspiracy, wherever it may be, either on the Treasury Bench or in the Clan-na-Gael, they will effect their object. The Motion of the right hon. Gentleman opposite is a Motion calculated to perpetuate ill-feeling between Parties in the House, and what is still more serious, to perpetuate strife between the nations of the United Kingdom, and between the British and Irish races throughout the British Empire. What more could be said against it? Bat, on the other hand, the greatest Englishman of our age has appealed, by his Amendment, to his own countrymen, not to the Irish people, to do an act of manifest and simple and undeniable justice, even though tardy, to a body of men who have to sit among you here, who are the representatives in the House of another people, and who in this case have been calumniously and most foully accused. Will you take the opportunity which the greatest of living Englishmen offers? If you frankly take it, the act may be accepted. If you refuse the opportunity and allow it to pass away I think it will never return. For my part I shall be perplexed to think what may be the future life of Parties in the House between the men who, having as a Party profited by a foul wrong, refuse to render a simple vindication of the good repute of the men who have suffered by the wrong. If justice is offered it will be accepted; but if it is refused, thank Heaven the Irish Party is able to do without it as far as the present House of Commons is concerned, and as far as the present effete majority is concerned. We shall still persevere; our cause will prosper; and the Irish people will win their right. The people of England will know what to think of the men who, when the poisoned weapon was shattered in their hands, endeavoured still to stab their enemies with the broken blade. The generous people of England will not 400 suffer their minds to dwell upon the errors, or, if the House cares to call them so, the excesses, into which the National Party were driven or led at times by the terrible necessities of the case. The people of England will prefer to think that we have suffered and struggled; that we have achieved much; that we love our country as much as Englishmen love theirs; that we have served her and are faithful to her at every hazard in the hour of her bitterest need. I do not fear the verdict. My friends and my political comrades who sit round me are sustained in this and in every trial by the one sure prop of an approving conscience, which no conspiracy can suppress. For my own part I solemnly declare that when the dread hour comes to me, when I shall care no more for calumny and human judgment, I shall recall in that hour with joy, aye with hope in the justice of the eternal Judge, all the part, and it is but a humble part, I have been able to bear in these troubled and terrible years in saving my own people from as base and cruel a system, of rapacity, acting in the name and under the shield of the law, as ever cursed this earth.
§ (7.43.) Mr. H. H. HOWORTH (Salford, S.)
I welcome the intervention in this debate of the hon. Member for West Belfast, not merely because he is a distinguished orator who addresses this House often with pathos and always with effect, but also because the speech which he has made forms a very welcome break in the torrent of forensic oratory of which the House has had too much. Had it been necessary to prove that the Bar retained its cunning in argument and rhetoric the exhibition might have been justifiable, but it seems to me that no more indecent spectacle was ever witnessed in the House than that of hon. Gentlemen who have been taking part in a great State trial transferring their legal polemics and bitter recrimination to the floor of the House of Commons, and endeavouring to re-try an issue which cannot be tried with justice by the House of Commons. We have been told by one of these gladiators that we are re-trying the issue which was tried before the Commission. How can the House of Commons re-try such an issue? Many of us have not read the evidence, and those who have read it have I not seen the witnesses or their de- 401 meanour. It seems to me a singularly unfortunate circumstance that not only have we had sharp criticism on the evidence and on the conduct of the Judges, but that also some speakers have introduced fresh evidence, both written and oral, which has never been subjected to that test which alone makes it satisfactory—the test of cross-examination. It is for these reasons that I hold it to have been somewhat indecent and wholly useless that these speeches should be delivered by men who are not only expressing their opinions, but are speaking in consequence of having been retained by one side or the other in the Court, and are speaking, moreover, for briefs on which they received fees. All arguments advanced under these circumstances will naturally be discounted by the House and by public opinion. Have these speeches affected the judgment or opinion of a single individual in this House or in the country? It seems not. But they have left behind them in some of us very uncomfortable memories indeed, for it has been a painful thing to witness these virulent conflicts between members of a noble profession, and to hear young Members speak with disrespect of Judges who were distinguished lawyers when their critics were born. But apart from the uselessness of this display, the discussion has been diverted into very low grounds indeed. The right hon. Member for Mid Lothian in his magnificent speech placed the debate on a high level; but subsequent speakers have brought it down into the mire by the discussion of petty details which are more fitted for nisi prius than for this great Assembly. It is singularly unfortunate that this divergence should have taken place, because the real issues before the House are very serious indeed. In speaking in this debate, I stand on somewhat different ground from other Members. I was from the beginning opposed to the granting of this Commission, and for good reasons. The charges formulated by the Times are divisible into two great categories—moral and political. The House of Commons is not the place to decide upon moral issues. It makes no difference to this House whether the Irish Members are angels of light or the reverse. Our only concern is whether the aims and objects of those Members are compatible 402 with the safety of the Empire and the welfare of Ireland. It seems to me that in discussing as we have done the moral gravity which attaches to certain offences charged against the Irish Members, we have been discussing an utterly irrelevant issue. Had all the charges been proved to the hilt, it would have made very little difference, indeed, to us as politicians, and to our views in regard to the great question of Home Rule. Take, for instance, the Parnell letter which has been so much discussed here and elsewhere. I expressed the view 18 months ago in the pages of an old review, that if the letter were proved, it would merely show that Mr. Parnell at a difficult crisis when he was surrounded by ruffians who were prepared to assassinate him should he show that he was ceasing to be in sympathy with them, did write a letter which appeared more or less to palliate what they had done. But the morality of such a letter is a question to be tried in another Court. Therefore, these charges ought not to affect our views on the question of Home Rule. From this point of view, the very charges on which the hon. Member for Cork has been acquitted are really immaterial to the real issue. The real question for us, and it is that upon which the Judges have effectively decided, is that the policy and means employed by the respondents are dangerous to the Empire and to the future prosperity of Ireland; that these means and aims involve not only boycotting, but the attempt to drive out of the country the whole loyal class, the landlord class, and the educated class, and to bring the country under the rule of the priests. That is a political finding of enormous importance. Another is, that two distinguished Members of the House had in view from the beginning the absolute separation of Ireland from this country. The hon. Member for Cork is seldom seen in the House, and there are many signs which lead us to suspect that the hon. Member's power and influence with his countrymen are waning. Who are to succeed him but these two men whom the Judges have found to have had from the beginning but one object, and that was the total and final separation of this country from Ireland? These are the findings which ought to weigh a great deal more with us than mere refer- 403 ences to the moral aspect of the question. Anothing finding' of the Judges is also most important. It is that the Irish Members engaged in this movement invited the co-operation of the enemies of this country on the other side of the Atlantic to do what the Whiteboys and other Irish revolutionary bodies did at the end of the last century, and that they put their country at the mercy of a faction which has been proved to be capable of crimes of the utmost enormity. These political conclusions of the, judges are of far greater importance than any verdict with regard to the moral aspects of boycotting or the Plan of Campaign. Upon the really important issues the Judges have found that the conduct of hon. Members opposite have been both bad and dangerous. Other findings of the Judges have given us much gratification. It is necessarily and naturally a source of pleasure to those of us who, since we have been in the House, have been on friendly terms with many of the Irish Members, to find that of the grave moral charges, which ought never to have been mixed up with the political, those hon. Members have been proved to be as innocent as ourselves. But, at the same time, if we are to be just, if we are to show not merely judicial but political prudence, we must come to the conclusion that these men have been found guilty of political crime—of the crime of conspiracy against the Empire by menus and methods which cannot be justified by politicians any more than they can on the ground of morality. For this reason I shall vote for the admirable proposition of my right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Treasury, which commits the House to nothing but the recognition of the performance by the Judges of the difficult task which was placed before them. I take exception to one phrase in the Resolution, because I think it as incongruous to thank Judges for their fairness and impartiality; as it would be to congratulate hon. Members generally that they are free from the imputation of dishonesty. Otherwise the Resolution is a prudent and sensible one, as it thanks the Judges for the work they have done, while it leaves the House in a position of absolute neutrality without committing it to either praise or blame. If the House does justice as between two liti- 404 gants, it cannot congratulate hon. Members that they are innocent of certain offences that have been charged without at the same time recognising that they have been proved guilty of others. Those who believe that the offences of which hon. Members are proved to be innocent are trivial, compared with the political crimes of which they are found guilty, cannot vote for the Amendment which attaches blame to those who brought the charges because they have not succeeded in proving some of them. On the ground of prudence, as well as policy, it would, I think, be exceedingly wise for this House not to champion either one side or the other in a great State trial; it should rather take the prudent course of saying that it wishes neither to attach blame in regard to offences which have been proved nor express satisfaction in respect of the offences of which the fudges have acquitted the accused, but that it should simply accept the finding of the Judges and thank them for the admirable work they have done. I shall, therefore, vote against Amendments which more or less traverse this rule.
*(8.3.) Mr. E. T. GuURLEY (Sunderland)
If serious charges have beenproved against hon. Members for Ireland, why do the Government not prosecute the accused? Surely if they have been so guilty as is suggested, the)' ought to be prosecuted. The Attorney General, in dealing with this question the other night did what lie has done before—as in the case of "O'Donnell v. Walter"—he trotted out a. dark horse. He said he had in his possession depositions which, if he had produced them in Court—and he was prepared to produce them to any lawyer— would have not merely justified the finding of the Judges, but would have justified a much stronger finding. This, however, whilst food for lawyers, would not convince the country. I hold that all hon. and learned Gentlemen who were engaged in this case ought to have held their tongues in this debate, however eloquently and powerfully their Voices may have been used. They have spoken from the point of view of paid advocates, and, whatever they may have advanced, the country cannot believe that they are altogether free from bias. The opinions they have expressed in the House must be the opinion of the clients whom they represented before the 405 Court, and hence I hold that the hon. and learned Gentlemen who have been engaged in this case have acted unseemly, and bad no right to take part in the debate. Why was this Commission appointed? It was appointed entirely because of the publication of the fac simile letters in the Times. If it had not been for the publication of these letters, the Government would never have consented to the appointment of the Commission. When hon. Members for Ireland, and when the leaders of the Opposition, asked for a Special Committee to inquire into the charges made in Parnellism and Crime in the Times, the Government refused to grant it; but when the Parnell letters appeared, the Government agreed to grant it, and they granted the Commission because it was hoped that the genuineness of these letters would be proved. And, if so, it would have pulverised at once nut only the Opposition, but the position of the leader of the Liberal Party as well as the leader of the Irish Party. Fault has been found on the ground that the Land League books were not produced; but, on the other hand, the Judges have passed over altogether comment upon the non-production of the Anti-League books; they even refused to order their production. They passed over the refusal of the Anti-League Party, represented by Mr. Houston, to produce the Anti-League books. If it was right and necessary that the books of the Land League should be produced, I hold that it was necessary also that the books of the Anti-League Party should be produced. With regard to the funds in the hands of the Anti League Party, if their books had been produced, in all probability it would have been discovered that some of these funds had been provided by leaders or Members of the Tory Party. In my opinion, in refusing to order the production of the Anti-League books the Judges exhibited a partiality which is much to be regretted. Then, again, in reference to the comments of the Judges in regard to obscure Irish newspapers, I notice that they make no comment with regard to criticisms in leading articles of the Times which were written at the time the fac simile letters Were published, and were intended to make people believe that the Irish Party in the House were more or less implicated in the crime of murder. I have read the 406 speeches which were delivered on both sides, and I am bound to say that, in my opinion, had it not been for the Land League efforts to assist tenants who were evicted after bad seasons to which Ireland is so often subject, crime would have very much, increased and would have prevailed to a much greater extent than it did in the years 1880–81. With regard to crime in 1880, Mr. Forster, when he introduced his Compensation for Disturbance Bill, said that unless something was done for the tenants to prevent evictions, in all probability crime would increase; and then, in 1881, when crime did increase, he changed his front and said that it was not bad harvests and not evictions that had caused crime to increase, but it was the action of the Laud League. On the other hand, I hold that had it not been for the course taken by the Land League disorder and crime in Ireland would have been greater than it really was. The Irish Party made a mistake in not retiring from the case directly the letters were declared to be forgeries. (8.15.)
§ *(8.40.) MR. S. GEDGE (Stockport)
We have listened in this debate to several very long speeches, some of them of nearly or quite two hours' duration, and I am happy to inform the Home that I do not intend to trench at any such length upon its time. But having formed my own independent and conscientious opinion, I desire to state the reasons why I have come to the conclusion that I ought to give my vote in favour of the Motion of my right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Treasury and against each and all of the Amendments that have been placed on the Agenda of this House. I had not the opportunity of hearing the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian last Monday evening; but I read it very carefully twice over, and having, as the right hon. Gentleman appealed to us to do, considered the subject in the stillness of my chamber, I have come to the conclusion that I shall be right in voting for the Motion of my right hon. Friend. Looking at the facts of the case, I think that a very large portion of the speeches I have heard, eloquent and occasionally pathetic as they have been, had very little relation to the subject-matter before the House. We are asked by the First Lord of the Treasury to adopt the 407 Report, and to thank the Judges for their impartiality and for the labour and pains they have taken in the exceptional duty thrown upon them. My hon. Friend behind me objected to thank the Judges for their impartiality because all Judges have been just and impartial, and the House would not think of thanking them for the discharge of their ordinary duties; but this is an extraordinary duty, which involved an enormous amount of time and trouble; and the House may very well thank them for what they have done. What is the history of this matter? Certain charges had been brought against the hon. Member for Cork and those acting with him, not in the first instance, by the Times newspaper. The principal authors of the charges were the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian, the right hon. Member for Derby, the right hon. Gentleman who represents the Bridgeton Division of Glasgow, and my late lamented friend Mr. Forster. Year after year, month after month, week after week, and almost night after night, these charges have been hurled against hon. Gentlemen. The Times only took them up, put them in print, and formulated them, and by careful deductions brought evidence in their support. The hon. Member for Cork had his remedy, and he was challenged to take it. It was suggested in the House that he should bring a civil action against the Times, but he declined on the ground that he could not trust a British jury. He has thought better of it since, and has obtained his solatium. It was then suggested that he should bring a criminal indictment against the conductors of the Times, and the offer was made that it should be done at the public expense and in the name of the Attorney General. But everyone knew that it would be only in his name, for the hon. Member for Cork was to be at liberty to select his own solicitors and counsel. The Government offered to lend him the name of their Attorney General, and that offer was refused. The next year was one of prolonged suffering, about which the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian spoke. During that time the forged letters were in existence and had been published to the world, but no action was brought. The hon. Member for Sunderland would have us believe that it was the pro- 408 duction of the letters which led to the Commission, and that it was only when they appeared that a Commission was granted. But the forged letters were in existence a year before the Commission Act was passed, and it was only when the hon. Member for Cork failed to avail himself of the ordinary resources of the law that an extraordinary resource was created for him. They offered him a Commission of three Judges. The Government were perfectly neutral. The Government has never brought any charge. It was the late Government and the Times that brought the charges. They simply offered an impartial tribunal which would have full power to make a thorough and searching inquiry into the charges and proofs and to weigh the evidence, and which would return a verdict that must be accepted by all who have any confidence whatever in the ability and impartiality of English Judges of high rank and character. The Government had no other part than to see justice done between the parties. We all know the Commission sat. We all know what was the fate of the forged letters. We know how the evidence in favour of them broke down, and how the Times withdrew them as being entirely without proof, and made an apology for having printed them. The Judges took time to consider their Report. What happened then? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian went down to Chester and made a speech while these Judges were considering their Report. This is what he said last January—The proceedings, taken as a whole, towards Mr. Parnell, beginning with the forging of letters in the Times and then carried on by the Government and by the majority of the House of Commons, in defiance of all precedent and usage, and in utter violation of their own expressed declarations when they forced upon Parliament the appointment of the most cumbrous, possibly the most inefficient also—but upon that question I reserve my judgment—the most cumbrous and most costly method of procedure on a matter which a Committee of their own, in consonance with Parliamentary usage, would have disposed of in a few weeks, possibly even days, constitutes a case of oppression practised upon an individual by the Legislative Chamber and the Executive Government of the country which has no parallel in the conduct of the proceedings of Parliament since the evil reign of Charles II.It will be observed that the right hon. Gentleman cunningly takes the proceedings as a whole, and carefully re- 409 serves his opinion as to the efficiency of the tribunal until he sees which way it decides. If the Commission was what he described it, why did not the right hon. Gentleman oppose the Second Reading of the Special Commission Bill? The right hon. Gentleman talks about a majority of the House, but there was no Division on the Second Reading, and so, the whole House was responsible. Will the right hon. Gentleman now venture to repeat in this House the words I have quoted? Will he say that a Select Committee, consisting of 15 or 17 Members of this House, would have been a less cumbrous proceeding? How in the world could they have put an end to this case in a few days, or even, weeks? How could they have cut short the speeches of counsel? Why, the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for South Hackney occupied a few days. Could they have cut short the evidence, and say they declined to take any more? Let us see what he has said in this House since the Report has been published. Did he repeat these charges? Not one of them. We remember that when the Report came out how it was regarded as a fortunate Report. Every one spoke well of it. Hon. Members below the Gangway hailed it as a triumphant acquittal, while others considered that, in the main, the Judges found the important charges were proved. What did the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian say? In this House on Monday last he said—The Judges had zeal, ability, assiduity, learning, perfect and absolute good faith, and honour.That looks like a perfect tribunal. The right hon. Gentleman went on—The Judges have fulfilled the best and fullest expectations which we could possibly have entertained of them.That is pretty high testimony to the result of the Judges' labour. There is only one drawback. The right hon. Gentleman said "They are human." Well, so are we all. I believe that even a Select Committee of the House of Commons is human; "and," continued the right hon. Gentleman, "they had political"—not prepossessions—"sentiments." What would have been the condition of 17 Members of a Select Committee? They would have had something more than political sentiments. They would have had political prepossessions, political prejudices. They, no doubt, would have 410 had good faith, honour, and zeal—perhaps a little too much zeal. But how about their assiduity, their learning, and their ability? Can anyone pretend to say that the average amount of learning and ability of Members of a Select Committee could be anything like the average amount of learning and ability of these Judges? And with regard to assiduity, is it likely the 17 Members of the Select Committee would have sat day after day for months taking evidence and have known all about it? Can we believe for one moment they would have given the same quiet judicial attention to the matter that the three Judges gave; or that their verdict when given would have been received with anything like the approval which has attended the verdict or judgment given by these three Judges? And, again, is there any chance that the Report of the Committee would have been unanimous? There would have been a Report of the majority, and very possibly one or more other Reports. The right hon. Gentleman tells us it is physically impossible—and I quite agree with him, and it is morally impossible—a phrase I do not understand—for any one of us to have read all the evidence. What is the wise course for men who cannot read the evidence, who have not seen or heard the witnesses, to take? Surely it is to say we have delegated the matter to a competent tribunal, and we accept the judgment of that tribunal, as it is a million to one that that judgment is a righteous judgment. That is what we desire to do. We are not a Court of Appeal, and it is impossible that we can be. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. H. H. Fowler) who, like myself, is a solicitor in large practice, who must have had a good deal to do with all sorts of legal cases, cavilled at and doubted the evidence of Le Caron; but when asked if he had read Le Caron's evidence, he replied, "A part of it." I can conceive my right hon. Friend having won some case at the Assizes and meeting in his club a friend, who said to him, "I think that decision was wrong." "Did you hear the evidence?" the right hon. Gentleman would ask: "No." "Have you read the evidence?" "I have read "a little of it." "Did you see the demeanour of the witnesses in Court?" "No." "Then you are not 411 a competent judge" my right hon. Friend would say at once. And I say that the right hon. Gentleman, like myself, is not a competent judge in this matter. What does the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian ask us to do? He asks us to reject the proposal of the Government, firstly because it is contrary to Parliamentary usage, and, secondly, because it is contrary to common sense and propriety. I maintain the exact contrary. It would be contrary to Parliamentary usage not to adopt the Report. Take the case of the House of Lords, which is one branch of Parliament. Most important questions involving property and sometimes liberty come before that tribunal. That tribunal, consisting of 400 or 500 Members, is the highest Court of Appeal in the realm. It is answerable for the decisions given, but it delegates the work to a small number of its Members called Law Lords, who meet to take evidence, hear the arguments of counsel, and then come to a conclusion. What would be thought if any other Member of the House, not himself a trained lawyer, and who had not attended the trial of the appeal, were to attempt to outvote the Law Lords? Such, an attempt would be immediately scouted. What does this House do with regard to the trial of election petitions? It sends down two Judges to try the petition, and upon their Report it unseats or seats a Member of the House. What would be said of any Member who attempted to review the decision of the Election Judges. Such an attempt would not be tolerated for a moment. What does the House do with regard to ordinary private Bills such as the Manchester Ship Canal Bill? No doubt in a case in which some important principle is involved the House might reject the Bill on the Second or Third Reading, though such a case rarely happens; but in regard to a case which depends upon evidence, the House never ventures to upset the decision of the four gentlemen to whom the consideration of the Bill has been deputed. Therefore, for this House, having delegated an important matter of this kind, to review the decision is to do that which we are incompetent to do. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian proposes that we should say— 412This House deems it to be a duty to record its reprobation of the false charges of the greatest and most odious description based on calumny and forgery which have been brought against Members of this House, and particularly against Mr. Parnell.If the right hon. Gentleman was not, as he is, such a master of the English language, one might wonder at the wording of the Resolution—"false charges based on calumny"—calumny is a false charge. The right hon. Gentleman goes on to speak of the wrong indicted by "these acts of flagrant iniquity." How a word can become an act I fail to see. We are to take one portion only, and that the minor portion, of the findings of the Judges, and to record our reprobation of the false charges brought and express our regret at the wrong inflicted and the suffering entailed. As to the suffering and agony, the hon. Member for Cork has only himself to thank. He might have brought his action in 1887 instead of waiting1 until 1889, and he might then have obtained the vindication of his character which he so much desired. He has obtained his solatium, for he has £5,000 in his pocket for the years of suffering which he has so needlessly endured. It strikes me there is a great sense of disproportion in this matter. These forged letters have really been a God send to the hon. Member. No one ventured to say that with regard to the forged letters the antecedent probabilities were that the hon. Member had not written them. When the letter with regard to the Phœnix Park murders was published, the hon. Member gave it only a half-hearted denial. [Cries of "Oh!"] I am stating the fact as it appeared to me two years ago or so. The hon. Member said, "I do not think I could have ever written such a letter," and that "the signature is not the one I used at the time. I wrote a different signature." In January, 1880, the hon. Member said, in reference to an agrarian murder, "I think the people murdered yesterday will help us forward now;" and in the same month he said—We are obliged to make the situation a very hot one indeed. It is impossible to suppose that the great cause can be won without shedding a drop of blood.At New Ross, in 1880, he said—Shooting is a procedure entirely unnecessary where there is a suitable organisation among the tenants.413 In October, 1888, he spoke at Cork of the "wild justice of revenge," and said—If the lives of a few landlords have been taken, on the other side the lives of 25,000 of the people of the country have been taken.All this does not look like such tremendous reprobation of anything of the kind. The forged letters were, after all, but so many bits of evidence in support of the general charge of which the Judges has found most of the hon. Members opposite guilty of having pursued a system which they knew led to crime. I say there was no antecedent improbability of the hon. Member having written that letter except so far as it would have been an utterly stupid thing to do. It is suggested that the Times was a party to the forgery of the letters. We know the old adage, "In vain is a net spread in the sight of any bird," and we are asked to believe that not only was the net spread in the sight of the bird, but that the bird took an active part in weaving the net. I cannot express too strong an opinion of the stupid and almost criminal recklessness with which the Times allowed itself to be taken in. These forged letters have really been a God-send to the Party opposite. They took the imagination of the British public. They were like a red herring drawn across the scent of hounds in full cry. They were proved to be forged, and hon. Members opposite have since gone about crying out that the whole case against them has broken down. The British public, to a certain extent, believe that. But we cannot be misled in that way. We cannot treat as heroes, and as entitled to sympathy, men who have been found guilty of very grave acts of misconduct, merely because other charges against them have been disproved. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian quoted Mr. Disraeli as saying in 1844 that nothing was done for the benefit of Ireland except as the result of agitation; and he stated that for 25 years afterwards nothing was done. Well, for 19 years of that time the friends of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) was in power, and for 12 years he himself was in high office. The right hon. Gentleman says his Irish Church Bill of 1869 and the Land Act of 1870 were not brought about by the agitation. We know the Irish Church Act was passed to save the Liberal Party from 414 breaking up. But, was there no agitation? How about the "chapel bell?" The right hon. Gentleman succeeded to power in 1870, and found, as he said himself—An absence of crime and outrage, with a general sense of comfort and satisfaction, such as has been unknown in the previous history of Ireland.But soon there was a whole peal of "chapel bells" ringing again, and the result was the passing of the Act of 1881. I quite admit that when the right hon. Gentleman was in power he granted nothing to Ireland unless it was in response to an agitation. The hon. and learned Members for South Hackney (Sir Charles Russell), Dumfries (Mr. R. T. Reid), and York (Mr. Lockwood), tried to find fault with the conduct of the case by the counsel for the Times. What in the world has this House to do with the conduct of the case by the counsel for the Times? The counsel on each side did the best they could for their clients. I should like to know since when it has been the custom of the Bar of England to make attacks of this kind on opposing counsel. In my young days, when we really had great men at the head of the Bar of England, they would have been ashamed to adopt such a course. The proceedings of hon. and learned Gentlemen opposite remind me of nothing so much as children quarrelling over their games and then running home to tell their mother how unfairly somebody has played. It is perfectly well-known that so long as the present system continues the Law Officers of the Crown will take private business; but they do so not as Law Officers but as individual barristers, and the House has nothing to do with the way in which they conduct their cases. These three counsel, however, being men of experience, stopped short of actually attacking the Judges. They seemedWilling to wound, and yet afraid to strike, Just hint a fault, and hesitate dislike;but their learned junior, the hon. Member for East Fife (Mr. Asquith), who has just taken silk, went a step further than his learned leader, and did not hesitate to attack the Judges themselves. It reminded me that "fools rush in where angels fear to tread." When the hon. and learned Member is older and a little nearer the Bench, he will know better than to attack 415 any of Her Majesty's Judges unless he is prepared to follow his action up by a Resolution asking Her Majesty to dismiss them from the high office they hold. I hope the hon. and learned Member will go home and think over the indecency he has perpetrated, and do so no more. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian was anxious that we should not condemn Mr. Parnell for anything that appeared in the Irishman. What were the right hon. Gentleman's reasons? First, he said the circulation was very small, and then he said it only lived four years. I never heard such excuses for the atrocious articles which the Commissioners quote from that newspaper. They remind one of the excuse made by Jack Easy's nurse for the misfortune she had had, namely, that her baby was a very little one, and that it died very soon. The hon. and learned Member for South Hackney (Sir C. Russell) says the hon. Member for Cork has, during the last 10 years, done more for Ireland than was done by the whole of Great Britain during the preceding 80 years. It is a remarkable fact that during half the time referred to the hon. and learned Member was supporting the Government of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, and that the principal object of that Government was to stop Mr. Parnell and his friends from doing their great work. In the year 1885 the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian appealed to the constituencies to give him a majority which might free him from the temptation of doing what the hon. Member for Cork and his friends desired him to do. The fact is, that the merits of the hon. Member for Cork and his friends were not discovered by Gentlemen opposite until they wanted their votes to lift them into power. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. H. H. Fowler) asks us why we cheered any quotation from the Report showing that the charges had been brought homo to the Irish Members as if we were delighted. I say honestly that no one would have been more glad than I if they had been declared not guilty of all the charges brought against them. It is a sad thing that the Representatives of a majority of the Irish people should be found guilty of such grave and serious offences. The references to the Report were cheered on this side of the House, not from joy at 416 the charges being proved, but to show our acquiescence in the decision of the Judges. The Member for Wolverhampton said that whatever the character of the Irish Members might be, if he sat on this side of the House his opinion on Home Rule would be the same. To this extent I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that if the Irish leaders had been proved to be the immaculate persons they are represented to be, my opinion as to the merits of Home Rule would be the same. But à fortiori, their character having been shown to be what it is, the case against Home Rule and handing over Ireland to these Representatives of the disloyal population of Ireland is infinitely strengthened. I know that hon. Members from Ireland opposite do not represent the merchant classes, the landed classes, the professional classes, or the trading classes, and they represent only to a small extent the educated classes. When I look to the character of the Irish Representatives as shown by the Report, there is tenfold reason for objecting' to a change which will hand over the loyal two millions of Ireland to their dominion and rule. In my opinion, the Report must either be taken as suggested by the First Lord of the Treasury, as a whole, or it must be taken clause by clause. If we take any part or clause of the Report, then Ave are bound to go through the whole. Yet what the Amendment proposes is merely to reprobate the Times. The Times may have been stupid and credulous, but it erred in good faith, and the result has been to bring home to hon. Gentlemen opposite a large proportion of the charges made against them. With respect to the letters, so far as the evidence goes, the Times, I think, has erred with stupidity and credulity, although, perhaps, if they had had the opportunity, they might have shown that they had better evidence than appeared. Taking the inquiry as a whole, there is no doubt that the Times has done good service to the country, and I see no reason whatever why the House should express sympathy with hon. Members or use expressions of reprobation for what the Times has done.
§ (9.35.) MR. WALLACE (Edinburgh, E.)
I am not disposed to follow the encyclopædic attack which the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has made on the most distinguished speakers on this side of the House. I think it safe 417 enough to leave their reputation and performances to stand side by side with the hon. Gentleman's criticism before the public mind. The hon. Gentleman spoke in a tone of reverence for the Judges which, great as is my own reverence for those high officials, I thought a great deal exaggerated. I only wish the hon. Member had the same respect for the spirit as for the letter of the judgment of the Commissioners. If the hon. Member had paid equal attention to that portion of the Report in which they were acquitted of the graver crimes, such as murder, he would not, I think, have been so grudging in his references to the acquittal of the Irish Members. I have risen chiefly to say that it seems to me that the Resolution of Her Majesty's Government to stand by the Motion is practically a confession of defeat and failure, and their rejection of the Amendment is proof of their inability to accept defeat with equanimity. The only way for them to escape from their present false position is courageously and honestly to reverse their attitude towards the Motion and the Amendment. I can scarcely construe the Motion as having any practical meaning at all—it seems to me to be very like the gasp of inarticulate ineptitude translated into articulate form. When its different clauses are analysed, they seem to me to crumble away into nothing. The First Lord of the Treasury begins by flinging the Report at our heads, and telling us, in a somewhat peremptory manner, to adopt it. It seems to me that to send questions containing problems of a political, historical, social, and economic nature such as are involved in this inquiry to be tried at nisi prius is as absurd as it would have been to send the French Revolution for trial at the Middlesex Sessions, or to send Caæsar to be tried before an Official Referee. Without meaning to cast any disrespect on the institutions of public justice, I think we could hardly expect the Judges to span the planetary system with their school compasses, or to scan the surface of the sun with their sixpenny reading lamps. Notwithstanding that the Commissioners disclaim any inquiry into historical, political, or social questions, yet there is in the Report a good deal of disquisition of that character, and that is one reason why I cannot adopt the Report as a whole. It is im- 418 possible for us to have substantially studied the evidence or even to have compared with the evidence the references to which the Commissioners expressly call our attention. It is therefore only possible for us to adopt the Report in the physical sense of putting a piece of printed stationery on the Table. To adopt it in any judicial sense is utterly impossible. We are asked to adopt the unadoptable. The Motion only escapes from being an indefensible absurdity by being no proposition at all, and by conveying no idea whatever. When the First Lord of the Treasury asks us to adopt the Report he is not giving utterance to any coherent human conception—he is simply making a Parliamentary noise. The second part of the Motion thanks the Judges for their impartial conduct in the matter. This is only a piece of useless padding, in order to make it look big and more imposing to simple minds. I can put no other construction upon it when I look at the utterly uncalled-for and even objectionable character of such a clause. I suppose it is intended to be a compliment to the Judges. But it by no means seems to be complimentary. Were I a Judge I should not be grateful to anyone for thanking me for being just and impartial, just as d he were surprised at it, and just as if it were uncommonly good of me to be just and impartial. It is the business of the Judges to be just and impartial. The difficulty for a Judge, especially of any experience, would be to be anything else than just and impartial. To thank a Judge for being just and impartial is very much like thanking the Duke of Cambridge for not running away in battle, or thanking the Lord Mayor at one of his banquets for not picking his guests' pockets, or thanking the Archbishop of Canterbury for not telling lies or for not maintaining the Macedonian heresy. It is almost insulting—of course, unintentionally so—both to the House of Commons and to the Judges. I say it is taking a liberty with me to ask me to pronounce the Judges to be just and impartial when yon have not allowed me to examine the materials on which the decision as to this justice and impartiality alone can be reasonably based. What will the Judges think of your offering them this miserable compliment? Certainly it is putting them in an undignified and almost ridiculous posi- 419 tion. When I read this part of the First Lord's Motion, the first thing that occurred to my mind were those newspaper reports one so often sees of annual meetings of Agricultural and other Societies, in which, after an account of some trivial proceedings, one is told that the customary votes of thanks were awarded to the Secretary and Directors for their exertions during the year, and to the Chairman for his conduct in the chair. I am anxious always to surround the position of the Judges with an atmosphere of dignity; but the Government are far from doing this by linking them to Associations so commonplace and provincial. Then the First Lord of the Treasury in the third clause of his Motion orders that the Report shall be entered—I presume the right hon. Gentleman means interred—in the Journals of the House. And that is all! No action, it appears, is to be taken on this portentous machinery of investigation, erected in such a peculiar way, amid such heat, and carried on by such an expenditure of money, feeling, time, and labour. Indeed, to put it shortly, the Motion of the First Lord of the Treasury may be summarised in this way. The first clause is nothing, the second is good for nothing, and the third leads to nothing; and nothing plus nothing plus nothing equal to nothing is one of the simplest and one of the most indisputable propositions known to either mathematics or logic. And yet it is all put into perfectly grammatical English. The verbs agree with the nouns, and the adverbs qualify the verbs, as they have been accustomed to do since the foundation of the world. Would it not have been far better to have courageously and veraciously given expression to the proposition which undoubtedly this empty and meaningless formula conceals, and to have said: "This Report is good for nothing; it contains nothing that can be of any Party service to the Government, not even the smallest splinter of a stick wherewith to beat the tiniest political dog—let us huddle it away out of sight as quickly as possible; let us hide it for evermore." That would have shown a consciousness of defeat, and would have been an expression of failure. Then the First Lord of the Treasury rejects the Amendment, although he does not deny its substance. The right hon. Gentleman 420 thinks that there is some reparation due to the Irish Representatives for the grievous wrongs they have suffered; and he has expressed his own personal gratification that they have been acquitted of the more abominable charges brought against them. But it is contended that the Irish Members have been found guilty of as grave offences as those of which they have been absolved, and that if the House is to record the acquittal in the Amendment, they ought also to record the condemnation. If that argument is good against the Amendment, it is also good against the Motion, as proving that there is a fatal omission in it. If it is the opinion of the Government that the Irish Members have been guilty of crime, why have they not put into their Motion a clause affirming the necessity of prosecuting those Members? It is one of the first duties of the Government to prosecute crime, unless there is some legal obstacle in the way. The presumption is in favour of the prosecution and against condonation. Well, then, is there any such obstacle to prevent the Government from prosecuting in this instance? It is said that the Commission Act bestows an indemnity, and that the Government never intended to prosecute under the Act, or to make the Act an engine of prosecution. But the intention of the Government with respect to any piece of legislation, and the intention of the Legislature, have nothing whatever to do with the interpretation of the Statute. The Special Commission Act does not bestow an absolute but only a limited indemnity. It specially contemplates the prosecution of certain classes of witnesses in certain circumstances, even though those witnesses have been before it. It refuses protection to three classes of witnesses—to perjured witnesses, to witnesses who have not made a full disclosure, and to witnesses who have not possessed themselves of certificates of indemnity; and the Government might, under any one of these three heads, catch these great Parliamentary criminals at this moment. The Tory Press and many hon. Members in this House have maintained that the Commissioners in various particulars have refused to believe the Irish Members upon oath. Why, then, if the Government are so concerned to catch criminals, do they not try in the direction of perjury? In regard to the Land League 421 books, the Commissioners think they have not had the full disclosure they were entitled to, and I think the Attorney General emphasised very strongly what he called the suppression of evidence. Why on this ground do not the Government prosecute? Again, I believe the Irish Members have not availed themselves of certificates of indemnity, and I presume it is now impossible for them to obtain them, the office of the Judges in the Commission having ceased. The Irish Members are, in fact, entirely at the mercy of the Government at this moment. Why, then, if the Government believe that these Members committed the crimes imputed to them, do they not swoop down on the enemies of God and man and clear society of their baleful presence? I presume the Government are performing their duty; and it is because I see they are doing nothing of the kind, I suggest that I presume they have nothing to do—that there is no indictable or prosecutable crime with which they can deal. But if that be so, I ask them why do they not accept the Amendment? Even if the Irish Members were protected by an indemnity, why could not the Government, if they believe them guilty, expel them from the House? I infer that it can only be because they do not see or feel that they have done anything worthy of expulsion. In that case, I again ask why do they not accept the Amendment? It may be said that they never intended to punish under the Act; but in answer to that I would say by refusing this Amendment what are you doing but punishing the Irish Members? You can punish negatively as well as positively—by refusing rights as well as by inflicting penalties. Why are you punishing the Irish Members? Not for their guilt; it must be for some other reason. What is that reason—assign it if you can, we say if you dare. It may be said that you are going on the principle of amnesty and of letting bygones be bygones. Well, but if that is so that is a rule that should apply all round. If the past is not to stand between the Irish Members and their exemption from punishment neither ought it to stand between them and the reparation which the Amendment offers. View the matter as we may, I imagine it is impossible to reconcile the Government adoption of the Motion with their rejection of the 422 Amendment on any ground of fact, reason, or right feeling. Their arbitrary and perverse attitude signifies flint they are disappoint, d badly, and are taking their defeat badly. In these circumstances, I find myself in a somewhat peculiar and difficult position, a position in which, upon the whole, it seems to me that sorrow has a greater demand upon me than anger, even though that last feeling is not absent. The situation prompts me to do what I can to help the Government out of their difficulty. The position we on this side occupy at the moment is that of bystanders, of spectators at an impressive funeral ceremony. We see a great historical political Party seeking to bury their dead hopes out of sight, carrying their offspring, once the centre of high-formed anticipations, to an untimely and unhonoured grave. In this position is it not suggested to a philanthropic nature that we should not disturb the sad memories of afflicted relatives and friends? I know that hon. Gentlemen opposite may tell me my comparison is misapplied; that my conception of the situation is a mistaken one; that the vehicle I in my mind's eye, see slowly passing along is not a hearse with nodding plumes, but a triumphal car, festively adorned; and that the sounds I hear emitted from time to time from those Benches are fairly well executed imitations of shouts of victory. I respect concealment of grief, and even simulation of that feeling; but these pious frauds, these amiable impostures cannot deceive the keen eye of friendship. Beneath all this outward bravery, and beneath this triumphant chant, I think I can detect the languid step and tone of dejection and disappointment. The martial music, however admirably executed, is written in a minor key; the pæan is, in reality, a fantasia upon the Dead March—the Io Triumphe is a dirge in disguise. I ask, how can it possibly be otherwise, if hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite are faithful to the facts and history of the case? I think they will not deny that when they invited us to set in motion this Special Commission they expected very different results in the way of Party utility from the stale, flat, and unprofitable conclusion embodied in the proposal of the First Lord of the Treasury. I know it is stated that the Commission was appointed simply for the purpose of ascertaining the truth, and 423 that now the truth is ascertained they are perfectly satisfied. Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen claim they were moved simply by a scientific interest in Irish history; and now that the historical investigation has been successfully carried to a close, they are in a delightful condition of intellectual satisfaction and mental, repose, leaving nothing to be desired. But I happen to remember the circumstances under which the Special Commission was appointed. I remember the shouts of exultation—I might almost say the yells of triumph—that greeted the application of Closure in Committee, and the Third Reading victory; and those demonstrations, I must acknowledge, did not strike me as conspicuous manifestations of the scientific spirit. When the Royal Society appoints a Commission to investigate charges against the specific gravity of aluminium or carbon, or when the Geographical Society de-patches a mission to discover the truth about the North Pole; when the Trustees of the British Museum resolves to send an embassy to accomplish a speedier means of getting to the bottom of Argos or Babylon; I am not aware that they forthwith proceed to execute a war dance, wild enough to bring a rubier blush into the scarlet cheek of the most vermilion member of the highest coloured colony of the Red Indians of the West. No; the Special Commission was not the child of scientific curiosity, it derived its birth from a much less sublime ancestry. Right hon. Gentlemen opposite refused a Parliamentary Committee, and insisted upon this form of Commission, because they said we were much too abandoned to Party bias and prejudice ever to do justice to a political opponent. Sir, I accepted that statement, and felt sure they were right as regards themselves, and I have no doubt they attributed the same state of mind to us. But that was an entirely different matter. Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen have a perfect right to confess their own sins; but they have no right to confess my sins for me. We on this side of the House consistently and persistently denied that we were incapacitated from forming an impartial judgment on the matter by reason of the disqualification of Party bias and prejudice which they have a perfect and absolute right to claim for themselves. Now, where this obstacle of Party bias and prejudice exists it exists, 424 not only in regard to one part of the controversy, but throughout the whole; and the natural consequence of such a state of mind is that it blinds its victims to the character of facts having relation to their motives and impulses. We have the admission from the other side. In fact, hon. Gentlemen opposite, or the Party which they represent, while possibly persuading themselves that they wanted this Commission only for historical purposes, were really hoping and striving by its means to bring home to Irish Members and the Irish nation personal and criminal charges of such damning baseness as would ruin the Irish cause for ever in the minds of the people of this country, so that through that ruin they would ruin the great political Party which is on the Opposition side of the House, or at least such part of it as does not stand in the covered space occupied by the wooden horse and its lurking crew. But what have all these high hopes come to? To nothing more than the proposal of the First Lord of the Treasury, upon the futility and inutility of which I have tried appropriately to comment. Was there ever such a fiasco? I have read of inventions called infernal machines—combinations of true and honest steel, yet so malignantly arranged as to result in the most dishonest and wicked consequences; but I have also read that they have sometimes wrought destruction, not to their intended victims, but to their fabricators and employers. I can hardly help thinking that in this Special Commission we have seen the true and honest steel of English judiciary, twisted by maleficent ingenuity into a sort of political infernal machine, which has at length gone off, but unfortunately on the wrong side, and has damaged only its authors. The engineer has been hoist with his own petard, and whenever that catastrophe happens, I rather sympathise with the engineer. So long as he is meditating mischief I have no pity for him; but when his poor petard fires backward instead of forward, and he comes tumbling back like a second Vulcan from the crystal battlements above, then my feelings change, and I no longer desire to dance on his mangled form. I approach him with sympathy, "take him up tenderly, lift him with care," carry him to a hospital, and deposit him there, and leaving the oil and twopence with the authorities of the establishment, return 425 to the ordinary duties of life, with the self-rewarding gloss of benevolence in my bosom, and the fixed resolve to repeat the performance whenever similar circumstances occur. I think the circumstances are recurring, and, therefore, I am sincerely desirous to help the Government in their melancholy plight by trying to persuade them to accept the Amendment. To that end I appeal, not indeed to their sense of generosity, for I am not justified in an unprofitable waste of the time of the House; I appeal to their own self-interest, and their sense of their own advantage, by trying to show them what they stand to lose by adhering to their Motion, and what they are certain to gain by accepting the Amendment. I want to show them, how they will look in the eyes, not of quibbling lawyers, hut of the great ultimate tribunal, the people of this country, who will take a simple, broad, common-sense view, brushing aside all legal cobwebs and dialectical sophistications. In the first place, by adopting the Report you commit yourself to the important admission that Irish Members are not contemplating separation from the British Empire. With that you give away the strongest point you have been making against us before the people of this country. You incur another loss. You admit that Irish Members are cleared from the more flagrant and abominable charges against them, and with that admission you give away your allegation that the Irish people are incapacitated from self-rule. What are the gains to counterbalance these losses? No doubt you succeed in labelling the action of the Irish leaders with those terrific words "criminal conspiracy," and perhaps you think that will tell with effect among the people. Well, no doubt Mesopotamia is a very blessed word, and capable of much; but by steady contemplation of the word the human mind becomes less and less awe-stricken with the word, which finally ceases to have any effect. And so I venture to predict, will be the result of this criminal conspiracy phrase; and it will be found by the country before a fortnight is over that criminal conspiracy is merely a, legal ejaculation; and when they come to learn the facts they will be less impressed by the legal nomenclature. I will not go through all the illustrations I could give; but I ask you to estimate the gains and losses from the course you 426 propose. On the one hand, you will have the character of the Irish Members rehabilitated, their capacity for self-rule admitted, the theory of separation dissipated; and in the other scale you have a few mere specks or controversial smudges, lightly settled and easily removed. If I thought you would accept my advice and this Amendment, I should tremble for the side to which I belong, for I know the advantage it would give you; but, in truth, I know that Party spirit is too strong for you to rise to the height of this occasion, and you will continue your petty spite towards the men so deeply injured. Be it so, but remember a Nemesis awaits you. Your ship is now in mid-ocean, and you think you have clear skies and moderate seas, and a halcyon time that will endure for ever; but even now you may hear a warning stir in the air, a singing in your cordage, the small precursor of a great storm of national disapprobation that will sweep you to your doom, and no memorial wlli deplore your loss.
§ (10.20.) THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR,) Manchester, E.
Mr. Speaker, I understand that the speech we have just listened to was intended to be delivered on Friday night, and I think it will be regarded as at once the cause and the justification of the "count out" which so inopportunely interfered with the progress of our debate. So far as I was able to gather the purport of the remarks of the hon. Member who has just sat down, he himself was of opinion that his speech was of the character of a funeral oration. I would say, if he will forgive my doing so, that in point of style it was suitable to the occasion on which he thought he was delivering it, and in point of accuracy it was quite worthy of being an epitaph. Hon. Members, however, will pardon me if I at once pass from his somewhat empty rhetoric to the important and extended speech delivered earlier in the evening by the hon. Member for West Belfast. The hon. Member occupied a large part of his speech by dwelling upon the iniquities and hardships inflicted upon politicians by political calumny. I was amazed, therefore, that the hon. Gentleman himself should have finished his speech by an attack upon the Members of the Government, which appears to me to be one of the most unjustifiable examples of political calumny that eve r came under my notice. The hon. Gentle- 427 man shakes his head. I will explain to the House what I mean. He was dilating upon the supposed complicity of the Government with some conspiracy for destroying the character of the Party to which he belongs. In order to support that charge he stated in the House that a letter had been written by Lord Salisbury to the forger Pigott, leaving it to be understood that he meant—if he meant anything—that there was some privity between the Prime Minister of this country and the man who had been recently engaged in fabricating the vile weapons of calumny against the hon. Member for Cork. If there be any force in the insinuation of the hon. Member, that letter must have some relevance, I presume, to Pigott's action; it must be a letter which has some bearing on the charge the hon. Member brought against the Government of complicity with forgery. Why, then, did he not read it? I dare the hon. Gentleman to read that letter?
§ MR. SEXTON
I think the conspiracy is not one to be effectively or conclusively dealt with in debate. I am prepared to read that and every other letter if a Select Committee be granted.
§ * MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Now, Sir, we understand the tactics of the man who complains so loudly of calumny. He tells the House, and through the House he tells the country, that Lord Salisbury was in correspondence with Pigott, and he means by that— he can only mean by that—that he has a letter in his possession which affords proof that Lord Salisbury was in the conspiracy with Pigott to produce the forged letters.
§ MR. SEXTON
I never conveyed anything of the kind. I repeat that I never intended to convey anything of the kind. I am in the memory of the House. The question I put was this—What were the relations between the Prime Minister and Pigott which necessitated the marking of any letter to Pigott "Private"?
§ * MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Does not the interruption of the hon. Gentleman bear out my assertion? He implies that because there was a letter from the Prime Minister marked "Private," therefore that letter proves that the Prime Minister was implicated with the man Pigott in this foul conspiracy. If he did not mean that he meant nothing; and I say that a more calumnious insinuation 428 was never made in this House, and it comes ill from the man half of whose speech was devoted to denouncing political calumny by others. I have the authority of the Prime Minister to say that the hon. Gentleman may read that letter or publish that letter, be it private or not private, in any newspaper in the Kingdom. So much for the hon. Member's methods when he is attacking the Prime Minister. Now consider his methods when he is attacking Major Le Caron. He reads a letter from a man Powderley, enclosing a copy, as I understand, of a letter of a very criminal character from Le Caron to Powderley, dated at the beginning of last year.
§ * MR. A. J. BALFOUR
That letter was read to the House with the view of discrediting the testimony of the witness Le Caron. Why did the hon. Gentleman read that letter to the House when it could not be made the subject of investigation or cross-examination? Why did he not bring it before the Judges—it was written in ample time—in order that Le Caron's evidence if false might be blasted by this reference to Le Caron's previous action?
§ MR. SEXTON
I explained to the House that this letter and all others read were not addressed to me, but were given to me for the purpose of debate in the last few days.
§ * MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I do not know, and I have, of course, no right to ask, who gave the letter to the hon. Gentleman, but the letters were written in ample time for production. And, Mr. Speaker, to come down to this debate and for the first time to bring before us materials which may be true, which may be untrue, which may be worthy of credit or not worthy of credit—[An hon. MEMBER: Which may be forged]—yes, and which may be forged—and to bring that before us to-night and in circumstances in which we have no power of investigation or of cross-examination at all, when it might have been produced and verified before a judicial tribunal, is to give another example of the character of the methods which hon. Gentlemen employ when they are endeavouring to meet the grave charges preferred against them. After attacking Le Caron the hon. Member proceeds to attack the Govern- 429 ment, and he tells us that a man named Thompson, an agent of the Times, had gone to the convict Mullett and, I think, to Nally, and had promised them liberty if they would give evidence in favour of the Times. Now, Sir, I say distinctly that Thompson acted for the Times and the Times alone. If I am asked my private opinion I do not think it probable that he made the promise in question. But whether he made this promise or not, he had no more authority, direct or indirect, from any Member of the Government, to treat with these convicts than has the hon. Gentleman himself. Then the hon. Gentleman went on to another story which he had got hold of about Dr. Carte and the convict Delaney, and he read a letter which appeared in the Freeman's Journal in which Delaney implied that certain promises in regard to his liberty had been made to him by the Government in consequence of the services he had rendered as witness and informer. I believe that the hon. Gentleman read that letter in good faith; but the letter was a stolen letter, and the reference made by Delaney to the alleged promises —for they were only alleged—with regard to his release related to the time of Lord Spencer's Government, and had nothing whatever to do with the present Government. How did the hon. Gentleman get possession of that letter?
§ MR. SEXTON
The letter which I read was written by Delaney eight months after he had given evidence before the Commission.
§ * MR. A. J. BALFOUR
As soon as that letter appeared in the Freeman's Journal, official reference was made to Dr. Carte, and Dr. Carte informed the Prisons Board, first, that the letter had been stolen from among his private papers; and, secondly, that the reference to the liberation of Delaney related to the time when Lord Spencer was Viceroy, and had no reference whatever to the Times' case; and in this connection the House will recollect that Delaney had given important evidence with regard to the Phænix Park murders at the beginning of 1883. The hon. Gentleman went on to describe the interview between Mr. Shannon, who I understand was another of the Times' agents, and the same convict Delaney, and here I cannot admit that the hon. 430 Gentleman has taken pains to make himself acquainted with the facts. He gave a story to this House with regard to the allegation that Shannon represented himself as being an official of the Government, upon which Mr. Shannon was cross examined at the Molloy trial, and which was absolutely exploded under cross-examination, and that story, without the slightest reference to the trial of Molloy, the hon. Gentleman gave to us as an authentic example of the iniquities of the Times' agent, and, by some sort of imaginary connection, of the iniquities of the Government also. I am bound to say I differ altogether from the view which the hon. Gentleman has chosen to give us of the way in which witnesses were obtained in the Times' case. But accusers and accused were bound, in my opinion, to bring forward every available witness who could elucidate the case. But whereas the Times did so, the hon. Gentleman and his friends appear to have occupied themselves principally in withdrawing from the Commissioners every source of authentic information. Ninety-six persons were implicated by the evidence of informers before the Commission; they were implicated by name, and their addresses were given; they were then alive and in the country; and not a single one came forward to contradict in any particular whatever the evidence given against them. No, I believe I am wrong; four were called, and of these two broke down absolutely under cross-examination. Sir, we take the view that it was the duty of every citizen to aid to the best of his ability the inquiry before this Commission. I, for my own part, would have been ashamed of myself if I had not done everything to aid that inquiry. Witnesses who came forward for the Times, or who might have come forward for the Times, were intimidated or restrained by the fear that true testimony might have been followed by assassination. The 96 persons implicated by these witnesses had nothing to fear from coming forward, except that the truth should be known; and the fact that the truth might become known was, it appears, quite enough to deter them. The hon. Gentleman has told the House that we, the Government, owe an apology to the hon. Member for Corkand others for what has been done. I do not see what the Government have to do with the matter at all. We brought for- 431 ward no charge; we did nothing but provide the machinery by which false charges might be, and have been, refuted, and true charges might be, and have been, established. But, Sir, the hon. Member for Cork did not even ask an apology from his true calumniators, the Times. I am informed—I do not know anything about these matters myself—that it is almost unexampled in trials for libel for the plaintiff to accept damages, as the hon. Member for Cork has accepted damages, and not at the same time to require an apology and a retractation. The hon. Member for Cork was content to accept damages; he was content to do without an apology and retractation. Now, Sir, I have felt throughout these debates that the true issue before the House has been greatly disguised, partly by the fact that six learned gentlemen who were engaged in the case have entered upon a quarrel at great length on the manner in which the case has been conducted. We have nothing to do with that. It has also been disguised by the fact that we have been asked to make some pronouncement on the character of Mr. Houston. We have nothing to do with that. It was, perhaps, natural—though I think this again is disguising the true issue before the House—it was, perhaps, natural, and I am far from complaining of it, that hon. Gentlemen should make the most here as in the country of the fact that the hon. Member for Cork was attacked by the foul weapon of forged letters, and the infamy of the means used, which I should be the last to disguise or palliate, naturally has produced a reaction in favour of the hon. Member for Cork. I differ altogether from the hon. Member for West Belfast in the opinion that he expressed, that we have gained political advantage from these letters during the last three years. I do not think so. He stated most untruly, though, I believe, in good faith that Conservative Members of this House had made it the chief count in their indictment against the hon. Member for Cork that those letters were written by him. Find the speeches. Not one speech has been quoted in the whole course of this debate from any Member of Parliament, or from any Conservative or Liberal Unionist that I know of of position in the country, in which those letters were used as a means of injuring a political opponent. 432 The only reference I have made to it, so far as I know, was in a speech which I made at Ipswich.
§ * MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Well, you may quote my speeches. I have not, like the right hon. Gentleman, to go through the painful operation of reviewing my previous speeches before I address this House, nor do I tremble before quotations that may be extracted from any of them. But I go from that personal parenthesis. While I admit, Mr. Speaker, that hon. Gentlemen opposite have a perfect right to make full use, and more than full use, of any advantage they can gain—and the advantage is great—by the exposure of these infamous forgeries, I do not think that is sufficient to cover the whole case which the House has to consider, or anything like sufficient. Hon. Gentlemen have got into the habit of thinking that the whole blame of the gross calumnies passed with regard to the Phænix Park murders rests upon the Times and upon those who advised the Times. I say some share of that responsibility, and no small share, rests upon the hon. Member for Cork and the friends of the hon. Member. A lamentable error occurred, no doubt, but it is a mistake to suppose that that error depended entirely, or even principally, upon the forged letters. That would appear to be the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment which we are now discussing. It appears to be also the opinion of my hon. Friend behind me, who has to move the Amendment which we are to discuss to-morrow. I can find no justification for that opinion, either in the Report of the Commission or in the evidence on which that Report was based. I say these letters never could have been believed, even by the culpable credulity of the Times, if it had not been for the culpable carelessness, and worse than culpable carelessness, of the hon. Member for Cork and the friends of the hon. Member for Cork. Just consider the evidence. The House will recollect the protest issued by the hon. Member for Cork immediately after the Phœnix Park assassinations. One phrase I will quote to the House:—We appeal to you, the people of Ireland, to show by every manner of expression the almost universal feeling of horror which this assassination has excited.433 Was every means in their power used, oven by the friends of the hon. Member for Cork, to show the horror with which that assassination was regarded? ["Yes."] It was not. ["Yes."] It was not. The Irishman newspaper and United Ireland—you do not repudiate United Ireland—through inadvertence, or otherwise, inserted articles or letters which held up the Phænix Park murderers to the admiration of Irishmen as courageous and disinterested patriots. I recollect it was suggested that Byrne, the secretary of the English branch of the Land League, and who was supposed to be implicated in these assassinations, should be brought back from America, whither he had fled, either to disprove the accusations made against him, or at least to relieve the Land League of the suspicion which his action had brought upon them. This proposal United Ireland thought fit to ridicule. Again, I recollect reading Notes in Court, which appeared in United Ireland at the time these murderers were being tried. I will read one sentence, which is as follows. The date is April 21, 1882; the man being tried was Curley, the assassin:—It is not the life of a man, but the life of a nation which is concerned in the trial in Green Street.It does not signify a miserable tussle with an individual (that is, the assassin Curley). It means a wrestle between the Crown of Great Britain and the people of Ireland. An ordinary murderer is never cheered in the streets, nor is his escort hissed in this country.That was in the official journal of the hon. Member for Cork. Again, it was suggested, and I think the suggestion a good one, that a reward should be offered from the Land League funds to discover the murderers of Lord Frederick Cavendish and Mr. Burke. That offer was publicly repudiated by the treasurer of the Land League, to whose honour and patriotism the Member for Cork has recently paid a singular tribute. The Irish World started a fund called "The Martyrs Fund"—the Irish World from which hon. Gentlemen derive so much pecuniary assistance. The fund was to be used exclusively for the members of the families of those who were hanged for the Phænix Park murders, with the significant exception of the murderers who happened to plead guilty. I find among the subscribers to the fund Mr. Egan, ex-treasurer to the Land League, who subscribed 50 dollars. I 434 find also that the payments out of this fund to the families of the murderers was witnessed by a gentleman of the name of Quinn, who was at that time paid secretary to the League, and is at this time the paid secretary of the National League. It is asserted, and I believe not denied, that the knives with which the murders were committed lay for some not inconsiderable time at the office of the English Land League, not 200 yards from these doors. [No.] Yes. See the evidence, p. 306, vol. 4. [Mr. T. M. HEALY: Whose evidence?] It was the evidence chiefly of a clerk engaged in the office. I have given the hon. Gentleman the reference. Brennan fled as soon as the revelations came out about the Phœnix Park murders.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
I rise to order, Sir. Ought not the right hon. Gentleman, if he is reading from the evidence given before the Commission, to quote the page?
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
I rise to a point of order. I wish to ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether this debate is not founded upon the Report and evidence given by the Special Commission, and whether the right hon. Gentleman, therefore, must not confine himself in this debate to the evidence upon which that Report was founded, and to the conclusions in that Report which we are now discussing?
§ * MR. SPEAKER
Several statements have been made in this debate which have not been founded upon the Report; and if any hon. Member makes a statement, of course, he will be responsible for it.
§ * MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I say, Sir, that Brennan fled, and I do not believe that is seriously denied. I say that Egan fled under police suspicion. Byrne and Sheridan fled, and Walsh also fled, and against these three a true bill for complicity in the Phœnix Park murders was found by the Grand Jury. Who were these five persons? Brennan was secretary to the Irish Laud League; Egan was treasurer; Byrne was secretary to the English Land League; Sheridan and Walsh were paid organisers of the Irish Lind League. Every one of these five men was a high officer of the League. And, I say, if you take these things into consideration—if you take the articles in 435 the Irishman and United Ireland, if you take the Martyrs' Fund, if you take the action of Quinn in witnessing the distribution of the Irish Fund, and if you like the fact that all these five men fled from justice and have never returned to meet the accusations made against them, you have conclusive and overwhelming proof that if the Times was guilty of culpable credulity in accepting the forged letters of Pigott, the Member for Cork and the friends of the Member for Cork were not less guilty of culpable carelessness in engaging these men to carry on the work of the League in the first instance, and after they had fled, in allowing newspapers, which they managed and controlled, to give every man who studied their columns the impression that the leaders responsible for those newspapers were not so indignant about the Phænix Park murders as I fervently and fully believe hon. Gentlemen opposite have always been. Now, on the subject of calumny it is well to have a standard. It is an odious and vile offence to spread calumnies on the character of your political opponents for the purpose of reaping political advantage. I regret to say, Mr. Speaker, that it has been an habitual practice of the Party opposite. But in order that we may estimate, as we are asked to estimate by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, the exact injury inflicted by this particular calumny, let me take as a standard of comparison a specimen of calumny which will be found at page 92 of the Report. There it will be seen that the hon. Member for Cork City thought fit to go down in 1885 to Mayo and to make a speech, and he chose for the theme of his eulogies a man named Nally, who had been in prison and is still in prison for conspiracy to murder. The hon. Member for Cork said—I wish to say of Mr. Nally that he is a man who has performed great and important services to the cause of the Land League.This, recollect, is a man in prison for conspiracy to murder.I believe of Mr. Nally that he is one of the victims of the infamous system which existed in this country during the three years of the Coercion Act.the Act of the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian, be it observed—I believe of Patrick Nally that he is a victim of the conspiracy which was formed between Lord Spencer and the informers of 436 their country for the purpose of obtaining victims to what they call law and justice by any and by every means, whether innocent or not.Now, here we have two calumnies which we can compare. The author—no, not the author, but the publisher, of the first calumny was an irresponsible and anonymous journalist speaking for nobody but himself. The author of the second calumny was the leader of a Party, who spoke as a Party leader with the responsibility which cannot be divorced from the position of a Party leader. So much for the authors of the libels. Of the character of the libels I can only say that, in my opinion, to accuse a man of political assassination, or of anything in the nature of political assassination, grave as it is, is insignificant as compared with the charge of deliberately practising judicial murder. So much for the relative gravity of the charges. But there is another circumstance that has to be borne in mind. The Times, as is admitted, did not know that the libel it uttered was an untrue libel, but the Commissioners assert that when the hon. Member for Cork uttered his libel on Lord Spencer he did know it to be untrue. Now, what about the victims of these two libels? The victim of the libel of the hon. Member for Cork was Lord Spencer. It will not be denied, I think, even by those who differ most from Lord Spencer, and who are most astonished at the doctrine which he now proclaims upon the Irish Question—it will not be denied that he is a man of unstained honour, against whom no man would believe a disgraceful charge, be the evidence in support of that charge what it might. But the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian compels us to recollect, and compels us unwillingly to remind the House, that the hon. Member for Cork was present when a Colleague of his discussed the advantages that would accrue to Ireland from another political assassination like Hartmann's, and that the hon. Member remained silent. The right hon. Gentleman compels us to recollect and to remind the House of the "Bread and Lead" speech—a speech of which the hon. Member for Cork gave an explanation to the Commissioners which the Commissioners absolutely declined to believe, a speech by which they say he intended to signify that he had behind him the support of those who were prepared to use lead in order to 437 carry out their political objects; he compels us to recollect, and to remind the House, that the hon. Member for Cork employed to put down outrages the man Boyton, knowing the kind of speeches that Boyton had made. The chief specimen of Boyton's speeches given by the Commission being one in which Boyton recommended assassination. The right hon. Gentleman compels us to recollect and to remind the House that in all those years of crime and outrage, between 1879 and 1885, the only authentic and adequate denunciation of crime which can be credited to the hon. Member for Cork is the denunciation of the Phœnix Park murder, and that with regard to agrarian crime in Ireland, and dynamite crime in America no denunciation or no adequate denunciation could be discovered by the hon. Member himself during the whole course of the Commission. I am not one of those who think that amongst the political crimes that have stained the annals of Ireland in the last 12 years the crime of the Phænix Park stands out as specially horrible and atrocious. Our moral sense in this matter is the slave of our torpid imagination. It is easy to grasp the horror of the assassination of the stainless gentlemen whom we all knew.
§ * MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I say so. It is not so easy for us to follow the slow course of torture ending in a horrible death which has attended so many victims of the Land League conspiracy in Ireland. If I knew that I was to perish by assassination to-morrow I would not admit that such a crime would equal in atrocity and horror the crimes which have been perpetrated on these defenceless men and women in Clare and Kerry. What happens? Some "leader of the people," some leader of public opinion in Ireland goes down to a remote district in Clare and Kerry, and he appeals to the manhood of the district to "get rid of a land-grabber who is in their midst." And he goes away rejoicing. Perhaps he becomes a Member of Parliament and lives upon the subscriptions of dynamiters in America. The manhood of the district to whom he has appealed black their faces, arm themselves with guns, stolen from some defenceless farmer; they go, a dozen of them together, and they get hold of some unhappy old man, whom they put on his 438 knees, and whom they shoot in the presence of his wife or family. Crimes like that, which the Commission deliberately find are the result of a system which hon. Members opposite followed with full knowledge of its results, stir my indignation far more profoundly even than the ghastly and horrible crime of political assassination. I, of course, admit that incitement to crime may be accidental. It may happen to anybody in a revolutionary epoch, and we are told that this is a revolutionary epoch, though I may parenthetically remark that I do not find that the Government are allowed to use that defence for their methods of dealing with the revolution. I admit that a man may make a speech at such a time which would incite to crime through no fault of his own. But when he found that crime ensued, what would an honourable man do? He would do three things. He would refrain from making such speeches in the future; he would denounce crime to the utmost of his ability; and he would do his utmost to detect the crime which had already taken place. Each of these three things is dictated by the elementary principles of morality. Of these three things not a single one has ever been done by any Member opposite. There is no evidence that they have seriously denounced crime. There is no evidence that they refrained from proceedings which they knew produced crime; and there is no evidence that they have moved a single finger to detect crime. The only knowledge of their conduct in relation to particular crimes which we possess is that they defended criminals and that they compensated criminals; and out of this vast, unaccounted for money at their disposal they have not been able to show that one single sixpence was in all these 10 years devoted to the offering of a reward for the detection of crime or for the punishment of criminals. Hon. Gentlemen attempt to deal with these charges piecemeal; I think their attempt is not a success. The only way to consider them is to take them collectively and in mutual relation, to see how one part bears upon another, and how one confirms another. You have in the first place a total absence of denunciation of crime. In the second place, you have1 the wilful persistence in the course which produced crime; in the third 439 place, you have enormous funds never used to detect crime, but, as far as we know, rather to defend and to compensate criminals. You have, as a result of this system, a condition of agrarian crime, which has never been equalled in Ireland. On the top of that condition of things, and knowing that that condition of things existed, you have the same people issuing out of their funds, sometimes at a loss, papers which still further excited the popular imagination, and still further incited to crime. On the top of that, as if that were not enough, you have the same people continuing their agitation by the help of funds which they derived from the preachers of assassination in America. I am told by speaker after speaker that, after all, it does not matter where you get your money from so long as you spend it well, and that no personal dishonour is associated with accepting funds, come they from whatever source they may. I will not discuss that doctrine—a questionable, and dangerous doctrine. It is not necessary to discuss it, because that is not what the Commission find with regard to hon. Gentlemen opposite. What they find is not merely that they received funds from the preachers of assassination, but that their silence about assassination was bought by the receipt of the funds. Their silence was a purchased silence. They did not merely receive funds from the Clan-na-Gael, hut they were silent about its method in order that they might receive its funds. If you take all these circumstances together, and if you consider their cumulative effect, you may talk of charges which bring with them personal dishonour and charges which do not. But if contact with crime can ever bring personal dishonour, then I say that the conduct of the leaders of the Party which did the things found by the Commission to have been done, brings as great personal dishonour as political crime can ever bring. Sir, if the excuses which, unhappily, hon. Gentlemen opposite have found it necessary to give for the criminal conspiracy which we are considering do violence to morality, not less do their explanations of what has happened in Ireland during the last 10 years do violence to history. We have a variety of theories on this subject. There is the theory of the hon. and learned Gentle- 440 man opposite, who thinks that everything is accounted for by distress; that the distress in the winters of 1879–1882 is really responsible for crime. I will not discuss that at length, but I will remind the House of what I stated before, that even in Ireland the effect cannot precede its cause, and that the cause of all this agitation preceded the distress by at least six or eight months. Sir, we have before us even a more extraordinary theory, which I think we owe to the inventive ingenuity of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian. His view in 1890 is that all the hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway were during the years 1879–1880–1881 philanthropists in disguise. The right hon. Gentleman shakes his head. But at all events I think he will agree with me, and the House will agree with me, that the general impression he desired to give in his great speech on Monday last was that crime was put down by hon. Gentlemen opposite, and that if it had not been for their beneficent interference on behalf of the tenants crime would have been greater than it was. It is, however, unfortunate, that the right hon. Gentleman did his best to put these philanthropists into prison, first with trial, and when that failed without trial. During the whole of these years he not only never suggested that they had anything to do with the diminution of crime, but distinctly and categorically repudiated the theory that either distress or eviction had anything to do with the increase of crime. I see the right hon. Gentleman shakes his head. The right hon. Gentleman's opinion nine years ago was exactly that of the Commissioners. I do not wish to trouble the House with quotations. But what could more explicitly bear this out than the following. In 1881 the right hon. Gentleman said—Hon. Gentlemen would have us suppose sometimes that this crime was owing to distress in Ireland. Sometimes it is owing to evictions in Ireland. It is evident by the testimony afforded by facts that it is owing neither to the one nor to the other.Well, Sir, we then have the theory of the hon. and learned Member for Fife with regard to the Clan-na-Gael. The hon. Member made an able speech. I am a great admirer of the hon. Member's speeches. But he lacks discretion. I think there is a limit beyond which paradox is imprudent, even in the House of Commons. The hon. and learned 441 Member told us that the Clan-na-Gael was a Benefit Society. But on what did he found his view that the Clan-na-Gael was a Benefit Society? Why, on the fact that the circulars of the Clan-na-Gael were couched in extremely turgid language. Now, that appears to ma—I speak as a layman to a lawyer—extremely bad evidence. And the hon. Gentleman, of all Members in this House, has least to gain by the theory that excellence of intention is always in reverse proportion to excellence in style. The theories with which we have been favoured by hon. Gentlemen opposite on this subject, are beautifully inconsistent. The first theory was that of the hon. and Learned Member for Hackney, who went into the Commission with a view of proving that his clients were innocent. [Sir C. RUSSELL: Except of boycotting. That theory seems rather to break down.] The next theory was that although it is true these crimes were committed, yet they had, always been known, and we need not bother about them. The third was that though hon. Members were very wicked until 1882, they had been quite innocent afterwards. The fourth is that, though they were not quite innocent after 1882, they were quite innocent after 1885. Which of these theories are we to accept? They are inconsistent with every known fact of history. They are inconsistent with the quotation I have made from the right hon. Gentleman. They are inconsistent with the rhetoric with which we were favoured by the right hon. Member for Derby in 1881, and they are absolutely inconsistent with the accumulated mass of evidence brought before the Commission. They are inconsistent with the words, deeds, and writings of hon. Members below the Gangway; and, most of all, they are inconsistent with the silences of hon. Gentlemen. But, Sir, I think I must say one word more with regard to one of the theories to which I have just alluded—the theory that all the wicked things were done before 1885, and nothing but good has been done since then. Up to 1885 or 1886 the Commission examined the facts, and for some reason, which I do not quite understand, they wore stopped by the advocates for the respondents from carrying their investigation. Any theory whatever winch supposes that there has been any break in the Irish system from 1879 to the 442 present moment is condemned by the barest study of contemporary facts in Ireland. The hon. and learned Member for Fife appeared to be of opinion that Lord Spencer's Crimes Act was directed against what are called murder conspiracies. It was not directed against murder conspiracies. What Lord Spencer had in view was intimidation, was boycotting—was the intimidation which invariably existed when evicted farms were taken. If anybody doubts that—and if the hon. and learned Member for Fife doubts it—and will take the trouble to look at Hansard, vol. 302, p. 70, he will find a most instructive speech of Lord Spencer's delivered in January, 1886. Lord Spencer was then attacking the Conservative Government, as he had a perfect right to do, for not having renewed the Coercion Act, and what he said was this—What my Government attempted to do was this—we endeavoured to proclaim the law throughout Ireland, to bring to justice all those who committed offences, whether of intimidation or otherwise, against the law, whether they were members of the National League or not. My belief is that we did check to a great extent the influence of the National League, and that we did keep intimidation in check, though I admit its existence caused anxiety. For that reason I strongly advocated the re-enactment of powers to keep it in check. If the clauses against intimidation were allowed to drop, I feel that the powers of the National League and of intimidation would increase to an enormous extent, and that the liberty of Her Majesty's subjects in Ireland would be destroyed.That was Lord Spencer's opinion in 1886, just before the Home Rule Bill was brought in. Now, does the right hon. Gentleman really suppose that the introduction of the Home Rule Bill made any difference? I admit it did make this difference, that hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway opposite had to consider their English audiences rather more than they did before, and that when a more than usually atrocious speech was made in Ireland the Nationalist Press was wise enough to leave out the report of the incriminating passage; but in spite of the caution which undoubtedly became politically necessary alter the alliance between the two Parties opposite, nevertheless speeches were made and acts were done which conclusively proved that the system of 1879–80–81–82 were continued in 1886–87–88–89. Consider, for example, a speech 443 made on August 23rd, 1887, by the hon. Member for East Mayo, given in the Freeman's Journal of the followingday:—They say we have practised an insidious form of intimidation I want to say plainly tint as far as I can I intend to practise the same form of intimidation in spite of all proclamations or persecutions they can enforce. If the operation of the National League in the past can correctly be described by intimidation, then I say I intend to practise and preach it. And let me say that if there be a man in Ireland base enough to back down, to turn his back on the fight now that coercion is past, I pledge myself in the face of this meeting that I will denounce him from public platforms by name, and I will pledge myself to the Government that, let that man be whom he may, his life will not be a happy one either in Ireland or across the seas.I say that quotation conclusively proves, from the mouth of a man of authority in the Party opposite, that the system is continuous, that he was going still to pursue the same methods which had prevailed since 1879, and that he was going to denounce from the public platform by name anybody whom he regarded as a traitor, knowing full well the fate meted out to traitors by some at all events of the allies of the Party to which he belongs. So much for boycotting. How about treason? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian told us that separation was dead, and the whole of his speech was based on the theory that though possibly things we might all object to may have occurred between 1879 and 1882, yet that everything had been peace since the Kilmainham Treaty, and that now, among other things, the idea of separation was absolutely dead. Sir, it is not dead. In order that hon. Gentlemen may know exactly how the matter stands, let me refresh their memory by a speech made just before the Home Rule Bill by the hon. Member for Cork. It is the well-known speech made at Castle bar—'Speaking for myself,' said the hon. Member for Cork, 'and I believe for the Irish people, and for all my Colleagues, I have to declare that we will never accept, either expressly or implied, anything but the full and complete right to arrange our own affairs, and make our land a nation: to secure for her, Ire e from outside control, the right to direct her own course among the peoples of the world.The pledge, then, which the hon. Member for Cork made in the face of the Irish nation, and in the face of Heaven, was by the testimony of the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian broken in exactly six weeks. In exactly six weeks 444 from the date when that solemn pledge was given to the world, the Member for Cork announced that he would be content to accept an alteration of the Constitution which would not have given Ireland the full and complete right to arrange her own affairs, which would not have made her land a nation, would not have secured her free from outside control, the right to direct her own course among the nations of the world. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman is right about the views of the hon. Member for Cork. The Member for Cork, we have been told to-night by one of his own Colleagues, is perfectly capable of writing a letter of the most explicit kind, not one word of which can be accepted by the public, and that being so I cannot—
§ MR. SEXTON
I must altogether dissent from the right hon. Gentleman's representation of my reference to my hon. Friend. I referred to quite another matter.
§ * MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I do not pursue that at this moment; we shall probably have to discuss it later. I want now to say that that announcement of policy, which the hon. Member for Cork abandoned two months after he made it, has nevertheless been re-asserted by his followers since. There was a speech made by the hon. Member for the South Division of Dublin (reported in the Irish World) at Chicago in 1888, in which he said—Allegiance (to England) would continue only so long as it was impossible to throw it off.Similarly, in a speech made at Castleblayney in 1886, after the Home Rule Bill had been introduced, the hon. Member for North Fermanagh (Mr. W. Redmond) pointed out that they had not been working merely against landlordism, and added—if to-morrow every landlord was out of the country, we shall still have to work in order to realise the dream of Irish martyrs in the pass to make Ireland a nation with her own flag among the nations of the earth.The right hon. Gentleman says that the idea of separation is dead. I say it is not, and I say that the speeches of hon. Members opposite prove that it is not. Besides, it ought to be borne in mind that hon. Members get their money from the Clan-na-Gael, which is not only the advocate of crime but the advocate of separation. If the Clan send their money 445 to the Irish National League, they send it because they think the Irish National League are carrying out their work. Hon. Members are on the horns of this dilemma. As recipients of this money from the Clan-na-Gael they are bound to carry out the views of those who subscribe it. As followers of the Member for Mid Lothian they are bound not to carry them out. They must either be betraying their paymasters or betraying their allies. There is only one other point on which I desire to touch. The most plausible excuse, in my opinion, which has been given for the atrocities—I can use no less a word—revealed in this Report is the excuse that no revolutionary movement is altogether free from crime. The fact is undoubted. I do not deny it. The chequered History of Revolution in Europe during the last 300 years has doubtless been stained by many episodes of treachery and many episodes of blood. Yet who would say that the History of Revolution, however disastrous, has been in the main ignoble? Ireland herself has shown that she can engage in revolution, and can show heroic resolve to do heroic deeds in however mistaken a cause, still in a manner which may well win the admiration of those who study her history. But every revolution of which I know has appealed, whatever its methods, to the nobler instincts of men. Is that true of the revolution that is said to have recently taken place? I say that everything in that revolution which has not been sordid has been criminal, and everything not criminal has been sordid. I am not attacking the motives of hon. Gentlemen opposite. I am attacking the methods that have been employed, and their unforgivable offence has been their attempt—however disinterested the majority of them may have been—to found their power upon the corruption of society. The Irish people, with all their great qualities, have, through their unhappy history, inherited many weaknesses, and on these weaknesses hon. Members opposite have invariably fastened. It is, for instance, notorious how difficult it is to get an Irish tenant to give evidence in a case of agrarian outrage. No effort has been made by any single hon. Gentleman opposite to diminish this unhappy peculiarity, which, even if Home Rule were granted tomorrow, would continue to be one of the 446 great difficulties in Ireland. Hon. Members found the land system of Ireland imperfect—imperfect, not because of excessive rents, but imperfect because many of the landlords were absentees, and because many of the tenants lived on land which, by no possibility, could support them in comfort, and because there was an absence of a class intermediate between the occupying farmer and the landlord which might hold the balance between the two. Finding that state of things, they aggravated that state of things for their own political objects, and, in my opinion, generations must elapse before the spirit of immorality which they have sedulously inculcated can be eradicated. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian is never weary of denouncing the Union. He has succeeded in finding for that unhappy Act a catalogue of the severest adjectives in the English language.
§ * MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I do not pledge myself to your history. But what is the allegation? That the owners of Irish Parliamentary power in that day were corrupted. But what is the prostitution of a few borough-mongers to the prostitution of a whole nation? Hon. Gentlemen opposite, by the course they have pursued, have not corrupted a few individuals, but they have corrupted a nation. The motive to which they have appealed has been the motive of greed. The methods they have employed have been intimidation and fraud. Their soldiers have been boycotters and moonlighters, and their paymasters the preachers of dynamite and assassination. Ireland has many dark pages in her history, but in my judgment there is no darker page than that which tells how three-fourths of her population were led astray by Mr. Davitt and the hon. Member for Cork. And surely no darker page has ever opened in the history of England than that which shows us a great historic English Party in the keeping of gentlemen who compel them to swallow not merely their polities, but, what is far worse, their morals. Unless those bonds be loosened, unless a divorce is effected between this ill-matched pair, I see but a dark prospect for England, and a still darker prospect for the future of the country whose destiny has been so largely influenced by the respondents in this great investigation.
§ (11.50.) SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT (Derby)
There have been grave charges brought to-night by an hon. Member for Ireland, one of the leading representatives of the Irish people, against the Government of the Queen. We have heard the answer to that charge attempted to be given by the Chief Secretary for Ireland, and if the right hon. Gentleman thinks that that violent and vapouring speech will be regarded by the people of this country as a satisfactory answer he is greatly mistaken. You have taught the people of this country and the Members of this House that a denial made by a Member in his place of charges of the gravest kind is not to be accepted, and I see no reason why your denial should be considered as of any worth. The Members for Ireland have a perfect right to say to you, and they probably will say to you, "You deny these things in the House of Commons, but we do not accept your denial; we think your statements are worthless; go and defend yourselves before a Court of Justice, or before a Commission of Judges." The answer given by the right hon. Gentleman to these charges which have been made seems to me to be wholly unsatisfactory. The right hon. Gentleman complains that the letter from Le Caron that has been read to-night, which, if it be true, shows that Le Caron is a criminal of the deepest dye, was not subject to cross-examination. Was the forged letter published on the morning of the Second Reading of the Crimes Bill, subject to cross-examination on the day when it was published to influence the decision of this House? The right hon. Gentleman has referred to the case of Thompson, but how did Thompson get; into the gaol? I know tint he could not have got into it without the will and the wish of the Government. These are matters that will have to be inquired into. Then the right hon. Gentleman says that he never had anything to do with the allegations in the forged letters, that he never made use of them, and that they were not weapons for which he was responsible—in fact, that he had never alluded to them. Well, we are accustomed to the audacity of the statements of the right hon. Gentleman- an audacity which is only equalled by their persistent inaccuracy. The forged letter was published on the 18th of April, on the day of the Second Reading of the Bill. 448 It was stated in the leading article which was published to influence the decision, that the Chief Secretary for Ireland, rising at the close of the debate, took that letter and made it the main argument in his speech in favour of the Bill. What, then, is to be thought of the statement which the right hon. Gentleman makes in the presence of the House of Commons, and how does he suppose that we are to place any faith in the accuracy of his statements? How long was it before that that the right hon. Gentleman knew that this weapon was going to be forged ready for his hand. I do not know; but the moment he found it ready he used it with deadly effect against his political adversaries. The right hon. Gentleman said that he must, in reply to the hon. Member for West Belfast, tell him that the subject which had been touched by the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh—that was the forged letter—was entirely relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill; because it dealt with the leaders who had had the management of the Land League and of the National League, and the character of those leaders could not be a matter of indifference when they were discussing the character of this Organisation, which they believed to be in no small degree responsible for the then existing state of things in Ireland. Then the right hon. Gentleman has the audacity to state in the presence of the House that he never made use of the weapon. Did he not mean that the letter was deserving of credit? ["No."] Then why did he say that it was relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill? When the First Lord of the Treasury opened this debate he said that the Government were impartial parties in this matter—that the House was incompetent to discuss these contentious matters, that we had got the Report of the Judges upon those matters, and that we must adopt that Report. But the speech of the Chief Secretary for Ireland has been a mere repetition of those calumnies and those insults in an aggravated form. The right hon. Gentleman told hon. Members across the House that they had been guilty of crimes inconsistent with their personal honour; and he has repeated, not only the charges that have been found proved by the Judges, but has insinuated and even stated that they are guilty of the charges which have been found to have been disproved.
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
You quoted Boyton's speech, which you say instigated to murder, when it was found that Mr. Parnell did not know that Sheridan and Boyton had been organising outrage.
§ * MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Let me correct some errors into which the right hon. Gentleman has fallen. The Commission did not find that the hon. Member for Cork did not know. It is a not proven charge. ["Oh, oh!"] But that is not what I said, for I never alluded in my speech to the distinction between not proven and disproved. I quite admit that the hon. Member for Cork did not know that these men organised outrage.
§ * MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Of course the Commission found that he did know of the inflammatory speeches delivered by Boy-ton, and gave Boyton's speech as a specimen of a speech inciting to assassination.
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
What is the meaning of all this? What is the meaning of that part of the right hon. Gentleman's speech which, occupied three-quarters of an hour, unless it was intended as a palliation for the publication of the forged letters; unless it was intended to insinuate that though the letters were forged the charge was true? If that part of his speech meant any thing at all it meant that. All the calumnies put forward by the Times have been adopted and repeated by the Chief Secretary. It is said that the House is weary of this debate. I believe that is perfectly true; hut why are Members weary of this debate? They are weary because you have chosen to force upon the House a, discussion which has no practical issue. If there was anything in the speech which the right hon. Gentleman made just now, action ought to be taken. If these men are traitors why do you not expel them? If these men are conspirators why do you not prosecute them? I will tell you why. Because you dare not. What right have you, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Bury (Sir H. James) said the other night, to compound felony or to condone misdemeanours? Either these things are true, and then you are bound to take cognisance of them, or they are false, and you ought to be ashamed of yourselves for repeating them. I believe that the country is weary of this debate. 450 I believe that the constituencies are disgusted with the conduct of the Government. The Commissioners had power to make interim Reports. They did not make interim Reports; but we are getting from day to day from the country interim reports upon the Report from the Com t of Appeal to which that Report will have to go. The reason why the House is weary of this debate is very well stated in a Unionist journal. I will ask leave to read a passage—The North St. Pancras election has ended in a defeat for the Unionist Party, and is scarcely increases our gratitude to the Times and Sir Richard Webster and his Colleagues who were simple enough not only to link our ease with the calumnious forged libels against Mr. Parnell, and who, in the plenitude of their wisdom, keep on day after day abusing a group of politicians as criminals, whom the public now consider to be no worse than their neighbours, and who are so, far exonerated that further persecution of them is un-English and vindictive.That is from the Chronicle, and it is the opinion pronounced against you in your own journals day after day. Perhaps you would like to have some more of it. Here is what another Unionist journal says—We have from the first maintained that the sole point of interest in the proceedings of the Commission was the question whether Mr. Parnell was, or was not, a liar and an approver of, if not an accomplice in, murder, as a powerful organ of public opinion has, with such unparalleled recklessness, accused him of being. He has proved to be neither; on the contrary, he has been shown to be a distinctly and grievously ill-used man. Nobody really cares how much or how little moral blame to attach to certain Irish Members for what they have said or done during the last 10 years in the hurly-burly of political agitation. Revolutions, however mild, are not made with rose-water.That is the Daily Telegraph. Depend upon it these are the opinions of the great majority of your countrymen. You thought those forged letters were a great card. They have broken down, and your majority is breaking down with them. You had an opportunity on which you might have acted of dealing with this Report with fairness and generosity. You have thrown it away. Instead of that, you think it will serve your purpose to go about the country glorifying the Times newspaper. The more you do it I assure you the better we shall be pleased. You first of all sent your Attorney General to Oxford, where he glorified the Times, which, as its counsel, he was bound to do. You then sent the Minister for 451 Agriculture to Cambridge, and although he could not altogether approve of forgery, yet, on the whole, he thought the Times had acted a highly patriotic part. And then, not to be behind the Minister for Agriculture, the Undersecretary to the Local Government Board went to the Drill Hall at Wimbledon, and he commended the action of the Times for its courage and independence, and declared that that journal was deserving of the thanks of all men desiring the good of their country. These are the views of the organs of the Government upon this question. I do not know why; but there seems to be something in the particular performances of the Times which commends itself to the country gentlemen. I do not think that men of business and ordinary individuals think that that conduct has been supremely admirable; but it is squires from Lincolnshire and Somersetshire who think that there can be nothing more admirable than that conduct of the Times, and this is what they desire to recommend to the country. We have had some new revelations in this debate. We have had, first of all, the statement by the hon. Member for West Belfast, and we have those telegrams which passed between the Times newspaper and Sheridan. Who was Sheridan? In the opinion of the Times, who communicated with him, he was a villain of the deepest dye—he was a murderer; whether he was so or not I have no means of knowing; but the Times, believing him to be one, communicated with him. It sent over a man to traffic with Sheridan for his evidence. When I was at the Home Office it came to my knowledge that the practice of offering rewards was liable to the danger of producing false testimony; and I laid down a rule that no rewards should be offered in the case of great crimes. That rule has been followed by three successive Secretaries of State, and the present Secretary of State got up not long ago and stated in this House that it was a rule at the Home Office that no reward should be offered, and that this decision was taken because they said that if you offered large sums you got false testimony. Yet, with the knowledge of that. Her Majesty's Attorney General has got up in this House and defended the Times in offering this money for evidence: he has done in the character of Attorney General what subjects him to the 452 severest official censure. In my opinion, a transaction more scandalous than that which passed between the Times and Sheridan in that offer of enormous bribes to give evidence, upon one condition evidently, which was that Sheridan would be prepared to swear up to the mark—that transaction and those telegrams, on the terms of which counsel advised, were as infamous as the forged letters themselves. There is another matter in your public conduct which the country must condemn, and that is the meanness and shabbiness of your conduct in bringing these charges against the Irish Members. I refer to the matter as to which the President of the Board of Trade contradicted me, and said it was a calumnious charge. Calumnious is not an agreeable word; but as it has been sanctioned by authority, it is likely to become acclimatised, and to become the measure of the decorum and courtesy of our proceedings. I will not, Sir, how-over, use the word calumnious; but with the greatest respect for the President of the Board of Trade I will tell him that I accept neither his denial nor his explanation. The President of the Board of Trade admitted that the leaders of the Tory Party met together months before the dissolution and deliberately determined, without official knowledge, that they would not renew the Crimes Act. And not only was it admitted by the President of the Board of Trade, but the noble Lord the Member for Paddington stated it the other night most distinctly. Why did they come to that decision without official knowledge? It was perfectly unnecessary for them to do so. There is this other fact—that the first thing the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland did was to seek a meeting with the hon. Member for Cork. Why did he meet the hon. Member for Cork, who was subject to all the charges which have been made to-night by the Chief Secretary for Ireland? Why did he meet a man who, the Chief Secretary says, was a traitor and a criminal conspirator? I do not ask what passed at that meeting, but what was the meeting for? Why, it has been admitted it was to discuss the condition and the government of Ireland. Why did you discuss the condition and the government of Ireland with traitors and criminal conspirators? Are those the persons you chose to take into your councils? Then we are told it 453 was not sanctioned by the Cabinet. That is just the sort of speaking by the card which we find when people are trying to deny that which cannot be denied. I ask whether Lord Carnarvon did not meet Mr. Parnell on that occasion with the sanction of Lord Salisbury, the Prime Minister? and I defy any hon. Member on that side to deny that that was the case. Evasions of that kind are unworthy—pretending that it was done without the sanction of the Cabinet. A great many things are done without the knowledge of this Cabinet. I take it that it was done with the sanction and knowledge of Lord Salisbury, the Prime Minister; and if that is not true let the right hon. Gentleman get up and deny it.
§ * MR. A. J. BALFOUR
As the right hon. Gentleman has challenged me I will tell him what the facts are. Lord Carnarvon wrote to Lord Salisbury to say that the hon. Member for Cork desired to speak with him—Lord Carnarvon—on certain matters relating to Ireland; and Lord Salisbury said, in my presence, and, if I may express an opinion, said rightly, that if the hon. Member for Cork desired to see Lord Carnarvon, Lord Carnarvon must see him; but Lord Carnarvon on his part was to listen to what the hon. Member for Cork had to say, and to say nothing.
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
I have no doubt that in the course of this debate we shall hear from the hon. Member for Cork whether the Chief Secretary is more accurate in that statement than in the others he has made to-night, and whether it is true that Lord Carnarvon said anything on that occasion as to his instructions—that Lord Carnarvon was told not to say a word. The President of the Board of Trade asks me to retract what I have said and to make an apology. I am sorry to tell him that I can do neither, but I can refer him to Gentlemen upon whom, perhaps, he may try his hand and see whether he will succeed better. No man who sat in the House in 1885, and who was present at the Maamtrasna debate, will forget the chastisement inflicted on the President of the Board of Trade by the noble Lord the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington). The noble Lord went 454 down to his constituents in August and said—I have already expressed my opinion as to their action and as to their promises. I think that the conduct of the Government in regard to Ireland has dealt a blow both at political morality and the cause of order in Ireland.That is the opinion formed of you by the noble Lord; you had better go and ask him for an apology. There is another source to which the right hon. Gentleman may go for an apology. The right hon. and learned Member for Bury (Sir H. James) said to his constituents in 1885—Losses (that is losses of seats) certainly had occurred, and they could trace them directly to a cause that must bring discredit and disgrace in the end upon the great Tory Party in this country. It was not only with whom but under what conditions the Tory Party had entered into that alliance that made it disgraceful and humiliating. We now know that for some purpose the then Opposition met in the month of May and secretly agreed that they would oppose any re-enactment of the Crimes Act—the Act which the Tory Party had insisted should be passed, which they demanded should be made more stringent than the Liberals ever proposed. It was not denied that that resolution was communicated to the Irish Members, although, of course, we must accept the denial that there was any agreement between the parties. When he heard that throughout Lancashire the arrangement would cause loss of seats to the Liberal Party he asked himself whether it could be true that John Bull was dead.The right hon. Gentleman had better try whether he can get an apology and retractation from the right hon. Member for Bury. If he fails with the noble Lord and with the right hon. Gentleman, then he has sitting by his side a more promising subject still—the neophyte of the Conservative Party. We took great interest in the speeches of the Chancellor of the Exchequer at that time. He had not blossomed into a neophyte of the Conservative Party. He was a reclaimed although an erring sheep, who had returned to the Liberal fold just at that moment. He went about the country, and he had two main topics in his speeches, admirable and able as they always were. The first topic was a denunciation of the "unauthorised programme" and of its unauthorised author. But the second and the more eloquent topic was the wickedness of the alliance between the Tory Government and the Irish Party. He will remember the 455 speech at Edinburgh in which he used the admirable illustration of the wink which is given by an auctioneer to a willing bidder. Could not the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade extract an apology from the Chancellor of the Exchequer? Perhaps it has been made already. Perhaps the neophyte appeared at the door of the Cabinet in a white sheet—a statuesque apparition—and made his apology for the calumnious charges of an alliance between the Tory Party and the Irish Party. Now, what is it that you are demanding of this House? You are demanding that we should accept as final and conclusive the finding of the Judges in this matter. I decline to do anything of the kind. I always opposed this Commission upon the ground that the Judges, by the Constitution of the country, are no proper tribunal to find a verdict on crime. No Judge in this country can find a verdict upon any crime. It is only where you have suspended the Constitution, as you have often suspended it in Ireland, that Judges find verdicts in crime. It is the jury, and the jury alone, that finds a verdict of guilty or not guilty. The Judges may lay down the law, but the jury is not bound to accept it. The jury has found, happily for the liberties of this country, over and over again against the charges and against the directions of the Judges. And why? Because the jury have the power of looking at all the surrounding circumstances which the Judges are incapable of appreciating or dealing with. Why, Sir, where should we have been if we had allowed the Judges in this country to find verdicts in matters of treason? No man's life or liberty would have been safe. For generations the Judges have always found in former days against the liberties of the subject. I will not say always, because there have been one or two conspicuous exceptions. But the Judges pronounced for ship money, and the people refused fo accept the verdict of the Judges; the Judges found for the dispensing power in the time of James II., and a more recent and, perhaps, quite as famous an example was when, by the Common Law, the Judges had the power to deal with the question of political and seditious libel in that immortal contest which Erskine waged against Lord Mansfield and the great Judges of those times. It was then 456 declared that the Judges should not be allowed to determine on the question of whether a publication was or was not a libel. The Judges by the law of the land had authority to determine the libel, and the jury to determine the publication. By Fox's Act that power was taken away from the Judges, because it was held that the Judges were not a proper tribunal to determine questions of that kind. After that the Judges were allowed to direct juries upon questions of political libel, but the juries were allowed to find a general verdict, and over and over again the liberties of the country would have been in a very bad plight, if juries had not refused to follow the directions of the Judges. Again, there is that great case of Hone, in which the jury refused to follow the direction of Lord Ellenborough, who was as eminent a Judge as any who sat on this Commission. Lord Ellenborough went once, twice, and thrice to the London jury and instructed them to find the prisoner guilty of seditious and blasphemous libel. He said—I will deliver to you my solemn opinion, as I am required by Act of Parliament to do, under the authority of that Act, and still more in obedience to my conscience and my God I pronounce it to be a most impious and profane libel, and, hoping and believing that you are Christians, I doubt not that your opinion is the same.That might have been drawn up by the Attorney General himself. What did the jury do? Did they follow the direction of the Judge? Not at all. They immediately found the prisoner not guilty of the libel with which he was charged. Looking round to the political circumstances they absolutely refused to follow the Judge's ruling in that matter. Then we may come to still later times. You talk of criminal conspiracy. The Judges constructed a theory of criminal conspiracy about the Trades Unions—about the relations between employers and employed. What did we do in this House? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bury (Sir H. James) and I and others came down here and denounced the law of the Judges, who were no doubt most impartial, according to their own conceptions of what was right and just. But we re versed the opinion of the Judges and abolished their Judge-made law in this 457 matter. Why, then, are we to be asked to accept as conclusive in matters of criminal conspiracy the opinion of the Judges? In my belief it is not a sound opinion at all. At any rate it is most unjust that, as the Home Secretary told us the other day was the case, that which is allowed to Trades Unions is not permitted to agrarian combinations. It is most unjust to subject the Irish Members to a law which you have determined shall not be applied to workmen in England. I deny that we are to be bound in this matter by the opinion of the Judges. In the matter of treason—well, I think we need hardly talk about treason in this case. Solvuntur risu tabulœ they said in old times, and the panegyric upon treason as a respectable and gentlemanly vice pronounced by the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh (Colonel Saunderson) has brought the thing to a point we may afford to laugh at. With a prescient prudence he has made an apology for hypothetical treason, and when he has failed to die in the last ditch of Ulster, and is dragged on a hurdle through the streets of Armagh, I will sign a petition for his reprieve, for I should be sorry to see his brains more scattered than they are. Now, before I sit down, let me ask the Government what they propose to themselves by adopting this Report? You might, if you liked, have taken a different course. You might have said that you were glad that the foul charges against the Representatives of the Irish people were disproved by the findings of the Judges, and you might have disengaged yourselves from the libels of the Times; you might have put Home Rule upon a nobler and a higher basis and have argued the matter on Constitutional grounds. But, on the contrary, you have chosen to go on in the old path of personal detraction, and with the charges, repeated to-night by the Chief Secretary, of personal dishonour. It was so put distinctly in the conclusion of the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Bury. He said—We pursue these charges in order that no power may be given to such men.No power to such men! Do you mean in Ireland? Why, who has got the power in Ireland? The people who have the power—in any country, at least, that 458 pretends to be free—are the people who command the confidence and goodwill of the nation. Have you that confidence and goodwill? Are you able to take from hon. Members opposite the power they possess? No; by your shabby and spiteful persecution you have increased that power. Have they no power in England? Go and ask your own constituents. No greater change has ever taken place in this country than that which has occurred in the attitude of the constituencies towards Irish Members. Wherever they go, there they are welcomed, and you know it as well as we do. If they are not worthy to exercise power in Ireland, why are they worthy to exercise power here? Have 85 Members voting in this House no power in the affairs of this great Empire? If you say that they are not entitled to exercise that power in England or in Ireland, why do you not tell them to withdraw from those seats and go through that door? I will tell you why. Because you dare not. You know perfectly well that the people would not sustain you in such a course. Then you say, "No, you must stay here." What are they to stay here for? They are to stay here in order that you may vote them down and insult them to their faces and tell them night after night that they are men devoid of personal honour. That is your conception of the Union. That is your idea of the manner in which you are to unite two peoples. The Chief Secretary says he is going to introduce a remedial policy for Ireland this Session. What a preface is this to a remedial policy was the speech of the right hon. Gentleman to-night. The right hon. Gentleman is like a physician who says he is going to supply a soothing and anodyne treatment, and begins by covering his patient from head to foot with blisters. What a sagacious physician is the Chief Secretary for Ireland with remedial treatment! Why, these men are human; they have the spirit that we all have, and men whom you outrage and insult, as the Chief Secretary has outraged and insulted the Members for Ireland to-night, will fling back your proffered boon in your face. Well, Sir, long as this debate has been, it has at least had one useful object. It has brought before the public eye—it has been a faithful mirror of two opposing policies. You have heard one voice, 459 one policy, in the fine speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lothian, a speech, I think, unequalled in any period of Parliamentary eloquence. You have heard the same policy set forth in the eloquence, hardly inferior, of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for South Hackney (Sir C. Russell). The other voice, the other policy, you have heard well represented in the speeches of the hon. Baronet the Member for North Antrim and of the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh, and you have heard it out-Heroded to-night in the speech of the Secretary for Ireland. What is that policy? It is the insolent language of a dominant race towards a subject people; it is instinct with class hatred and with religious animosity. I never listen to speeches like those of the hon. Member for North Antrim and of the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh without being reminded of the spirit of the slave-owners of the Southern States of America. This is the way in which they regard, in which they treat, the population amongst whom they live. In the days which brought disaster and disgrace upon the English name, the days of the great struggle between England and her colonies, there also were two parties and two policies. There was a Government in those days which had a policy like yours, and I think the calibre of that Government was very much the calibre of yours. They, too, had an Attorney General whom they set to work to defend Franklin before the Privy Council; they repented of their Attorney General, and you will repent of yours. But there were men then, as there are now, who represent the Liberal Party, like my hon. Friend of whom I have spoken. There were men like Chatham and Burke, who preached conciliation aven to rebels in arms, and who showed a statesmanlike wisdom in their endeavour to seek reconciliation even with men allied to a foreign foe. I think it was Chatham who, speaking of the rebels in America, quoted the lines of Prior—Be to her virtues very kind,Be to her faults a little blind,And clap a padlock on the mind.Those were words of wisdom and statesmanship, and that is the statesmanship of which you seem totally incapable. Your policy has been to exasperate, to 460 irritate, and to insult the Irish nation and its Representatives. That is not the road to conciliation. We have a better, we believe a wiser and a nobler policy, and the first fruits of that policy we show in our demand that you shall offer to the Irish nation and the Irish leaders the reparation which is their due for an admitted wrong. You refuse. Well, the responsibility will lie with yon. Yours is a policy of exasperation, irritation, and insult, and to that we oppose a policy of charity, of generosity, of forgiveness, and of conciliation. [Laughter.] Oh! you may laugh at it. That is just the way men laughed at the contest in America. I repeat ours is a policy of generosity, of conciliation, and of peace; and on these two issues we demand, in the language of your criminal tribunals, that the Irish Members shall be tried by their country, upon which I believe they will have a good deliverance. We demand that they shall be tried not by three Judges, but by three nations of the United Kingdom.
§ Question put.
§ (12.55.) The House divided:—Ayes 339; Noes 268.—(Div. List, No. 23.)
§ Main Question again proposed.
§ Debate arising.
§ Debate adjourned till To-morrow.