§ The order of the day being read,
The Earl of Darnley
rose, and spoke as follows:
Nothing my lords, but a deliberate and heartfelt conviction that, in bringing this important and extensive subject under your consideration, I am discharging an indispensable duty, should have induced me to undertake a task, of the difficulty of which I am fully sensible, and which I wish had fallen into better hands. But having undertaken the task, I am determined not to shrink from it. The subject is so large, and branches into so many important topics, that I cannot venture to attempt more than a general outline; for which purpose, the documents already moved for, and others which might be desirable for the information of the House on points of detail, are not so necessary as they will be when your lordships consider separately those topics; many of which will be brought before you in the course of the parliamentary proceedings of the present session. On this account I did not accede to the recommendation of the noble president of the Council, to postpone the motion I am about to make till after the holidays.
I can only attempt, as I have stated, a general outline; but I wish, if possible, to leave none of the various branches of 237 this great subject untouched. For, unless you can be persuaded to take a view of the whole situation of Ireland, in all its bearings you never can arrive at just conclusions; or consider with advantage the best system of policy to be adopted, for the removal of those evils which all must acknowledge to exist.
In making this attempt, I feel that I shall have occasion for more than an ordinary portion of that indulgence which I have always experienced. For even an outline of the misfortunes and evils which afflict that unhappy country, cannot be comprised in few words. Let me then intreat your patience, my lords, while I endeavour (however inadequately I may perform the task) to bring before you a case in which all are deeply concerned; and let me beseech you to consider the importance of the cause, rather than the insufficiency of the advocate.
What a spectacle is now presented to the world by this great, this mighty empire! the greatest (taking into consideration the power and influence derived from commercial intercourse, beyond mere territorial possession) upon which the sun has ever shone! Its manufactures flourishing beyond example—its agriculture reviving—its credit unbounded—and its commerce embracing the whole globe in the numberless ramifications of its extended arms; its remotest colonies and dependencies sharing the prosperity of the parent state, and the condition of their inhabitants partaking of the benefits of its institutions, and the object of its anxious solicitude. In one place—one place alone, but that the nearest to its heart, and most connected with its very vitals, we see the mighty mass infected with a deep-seated gangrene, which, if the only effectual remedies be not speedily applied, will shake to its foundation, and perhaps, eventually, destroy, the great, the powerful, the magnificent structure of the British empire.
I trust it will not be supposed that in calling your attention to the present state of Ireland, I am desirous of imputing blame to, or casting censure on, the Person to whom the government of that country is more immediately entrusted. For that distinguished individual I have long been accustomed to entertain feelings of respect. From my very childhood I was first taught to look up to him as one of the brightest ornaments of the place where we both had the good fortune to be 238 educated. I have traced the progress of his fame, end listened to the display of his eloquence in this House, with the fondness of early predilection; and I roust confess, that I felt the more sensibly the degradation which I think his character and talents suffered, by the acceptance of the government of Ireland, under circumstances which incapacitated him from putting in practice those principles which he has so often, and so eloquently advocated; and on which I agree with him in thinking, the welfare of Ireland can alone permanently and satisfactorily rest. But setting aside this original sin (if I may be permitted so to call it), I am ready to do justice to the successful exertions of my noble friend to execute a most difficult and unpromising task, in the best manners and there can be, perhaps, no better proof of the fairness and impartiality of his government, than the fact, which I believe may be stated, that he is unpopular with both the violent parties that divide that ill-fated country.
As little do I wish it to be supposed, that in bringing the subject of the wrongs and miseries of Ireland before, parliament, I am actuated by a spirit of opposition to the king's present ministers; or that the motion with which I shall conclude, or the statements I shall feel it my duty to make, are intended to embarrass or annoy them. No, my lords; it is not of the government of the present day; it is not of any peculiar feature of mismanagement I can discover in their conduct towards Ireland, which in many respects has lately been improved: but it is of the system that I complain—a system on which not only the misgovernment of this or that administration rests, but the misgovernment of all administrations from the earliest period of the English connection. From Henry 2nd to George 4th, from Strongbow to Lord Wellesley, I see one unbroken series of English oppression and injustice, and of Irish sufferings and wrongs varying indeed in degree and in manner; sometimes clothed in all the horrors, and breaking out into all the atrocities, of murderous hate: at other times slumbering under the leaden influence of degrading laws. At one time exciting the furious impulses of blood-thirsty revenge, at another displaying all the debasement of slavish submission. Aggravated by the barbarism of the earlier, periods of this ill-fated connection, the system of misrule has yielded in some degree to the humanity and civiliza- 239 tion of modern times, and to the beneficent dispositions of the late and present king. But the principle still continues in full force: and what is the principle?—disunion. The very reverse of what it ought to be, and of what I most anxiously wish to substitute in its place. Look back for a moment to the history of the connection between the two countries, which has now subsisted for more than six centuries, and tell me whether any thing like it occurs in the history of the whole world. Was there ever seen such an accumulation of violence and injustice on the part of the invaders, so much misery and wrong suffered by the invaded country? It is true that the Pale no longer exists, that a mere Irishman is no longer a term of reproach—that to put him to death is now felony by law, and that the naked proof that the murdered man was merus Hibernicus would not now induce the jury, however prejudiced in his favour on other grounds, to acquit a prisoner. But is it not possible that the best laws, partially and imperfectly administered, may operate more sensibly on the feelings of a high-spirited and generous nation, than barefaced tyranny and injustice; and may not a mark of distinction and degradation, affixed to the great majority of any community, raise and perpetuate in the minds of the proscribed class, the most hostile feelings against the minority, who persevere in holding them in this state of degradation? I have referred to the earlier part of the history of the connection between this country and Ireland, and am ready to admit, that the progress of civilization and society has produced considerable ameliorations. I am ready further to admit, that for the few last years more has been done to amend the condition of Ireland than at any former period. But when I am told of these boons to Ireland, as they have been called in this place, although I do not deny their value, I answer—the Insurrection Act is still in force, and I fear must be renewed; that Act, which enables an Irish magistrate, by the most summary process, to transport a man for the crime of being out of his house (if he has one) after sun-set; an Act, for which I have voted more than once (I feel some shame in making the confession), and for which I shall most probably vote again, from a conviction of its necessity. I answer, look at the records of the last assizes, where you will find so many trials for murders, commit- 240 ted for the most part by the conservators of the peace, lately appointed under the Constabulary Act, or in consequence of the mutual irritation of party.
It cannot be denied that much has been done or attempted of late, for the amelioration of Ireland; but the perverse fate that seems always to have attended that unfortunate country has prevailed, and prevented those beneficial effects which were anticipated by the authors of the different measures that have been adopted. Our great allegorical poet, Spenser, who was secretary to lord Grey, when deputy of Ireland, in the reign of queen Elizabeth, and afterwards resided in that country, begins his view of the state of Ireland, written in the form of dialogue, in this remarkable manner:
"But if that country of Ireland whence you lately came, be of so goodly and commodious a soil as you report, I wonder that no course is taken for the turning thereof to good uses, by reducing that nation to better government and civility.
"Marry, so there have bin divers good plottes devised, and wise councils cast already about reformation of this realme; but they say it is the fatal destiny of that land, that no purposes whatsoever, which are meant for her good will prosper or take good effect; which, whether it proceed from the very genius of the soyle, or influence of the starres, or that Almighty God hath not yet appointed the time of her reformation, or that hee reserveth her in this unquiet state still, for some secret scourge which shall by her come unto England, it is hard to be known, but yet much to be feared.
"Surely I suppose this but a vaine conceipt of simple men, which judge things by their effects, and not by their causes; for I would rather thinke the cause of this evill which hangeth over that countrey to proceed rather of the unsoundnes of the councils and plottes, which you say have been oftentimes laid for the reformation, or of faintness in following and effecting the same, than of any such fatal course appointed of God?"
How well this description, written near three hundred years since, applies to the present moment! The "good plottes and wise councils hitherto devised," have equally failed, and as it appears to me, for the same reason, the "unsoundnes of those councils and plottes." I call upon you, then, my lords, to adopt a different course, and to try at length the reverse of that 241 system which has prevailed for ages, and has uniformly failed.
It is not my intention to make use of this opportunity, to introduce incidentally a discussion of that question, which has so often been debated here; but in considering the general subject of Ireland, and the best mode of ameliorating its condition, and redressing its grievances, it would be impossible to leave out of my view, what is generally known by the name of the Catholic Question; but which I shall beg leave to call the question, whether an exception to the undoubted principle, that the privileges and immunities of every free state, belong of right to every subject of that state, shall in Ireland any longer be maintained? The rule I think cannot be doubted, and the onus of proving the necessity, policy or expediency, of attempting any longer to maintain the exception, rests with those who are advocates for its continuance. I say of attempting to maintain it, for I think it will not be difficult to shew, that the possibility of effecting it cannot much longer exist. I will not (perhaps I ought not) allude to the argument of physical force and numbers; though it is a consideration by no means to be disregarded, or kept altogether out of view; but the moral force of circumstances, of increasing intelligence, of the spirit of the age, of the diffusion of general knowledge and instruction, will make it impossible that so large a portion of any community can be much longer kept in a state of degradation and proscription. If this be really the case, and I think no reasonable man can doubt it, let us consider whether it may not be better to take the subject into consideration at such a time as the present, when no danger or difficulty presses upon us, than to wait till (as in every former instance it has happened) the danger of the moment, and the pressure of national embarrassments, has forced from us an ungracious, tardy, and ill-digested concession, which, as it has been made with an ill grace, has been received with little gratitude and satisfaction. I shall be told, perhaps, that the present moment is not favorable for the discussion, because, forsooth, we have adivided cabinet, who, on a point on which perhaps the very salvation and existence of the empire depends, cannot agree among themselves. For this difficulty there is one obvious and easy solution in the paternal disposition of his majesty, and his known and professed regard for this most interesting part of his 242 dominions; and I am fully persuaded that the most, perhaps the only advantageous way in which this great, this necessary measure can be effected, will be by a recommendation to parliament from the throne itself. On this account, principally, I should have preferred an address to the king, to any other mode of proceeding.
As to the pertinacious opposition which we have hitherto witnessed in a majority of this House to any proposition tending to remove the disgraceful fetters, in which so large a portion of our fellow subjects are held, I am as much convinced as I am of my existence that, if once recommended by authority to your adoption, all objections would vanish, like mists before the morning sun. We should see the greatest sticklers for all the essentially protestant prejudices, of which we have heard so much, discover that the time for such opinions was gone by. A new light, a sort of inspiration would fall upon that reverend Bench; and I am convinced, that with the same unanimity with which I have so often had the misfortune of seeing them all on the opposite side of the House, I should have the satisfaction of their perfect concurrence in opinion with me, that the establishment which they are bound to defend, would be best secured by such a concession. Even the noble lord on the woolsack would find sufficient arguments, with his usual ingenuity, to convince you that a conscientious change had taken place in his opinions; and that making all the king's subjects eligible to high office, might be safely entrusted to a protestant king, in a government essentially protestant, and with his conscience in the keeping of the noble lord, or his successors.
Another objection urged against the attempt to discuss, and to settle this question at the present time, is the violent heat and animosity between the two parties that prevail now in Ireland, and the intemperate language supposed to have been uttered by the Roman Catholics and their friends. That the animosity of party feeling and mutual irritation rages more in Ireland now than at any former period, is, I fear, too true: but are the Roman Catholics only to blame? Is the injured party only, goaded almost to desperation, not only by "hope deferred," but by every species of irritating language, contumely, and insult, that can be heaped on them by their bitter and irreconcileable enemies, the ultra-protestants, the orangemen of Ireland, or by the corporation of Dublin, 243 at the head of which is now an individual with whom I have not the honor of a personal acquaintance, though I had that of introducing him more than once to your lordships—are they alone to divest themselves of the common feelings of human nature, and remain patient, submissive, and forbearing, when goaded and insulted by publications, of which I have seen very few, but some which have accidentally fallen in my way almost remind me of the furious invectives of some of the demagogues of the French Revolution? I have seen a printed paper, with the signature of a clergyman of the established church, containing the most gross ribaldry, and illiberal abuse of the great majority of the population of Ireland. Do the Protestants of Ireland really suppose that the Roman Catholics are so much better Christians than themselves, that when cursed they will continue to bless, or that when they strike them on one cheek, they will literally turn the other also? I am almost tempted to quote the words of Shylock; for, substituting Roman Catholic for Jew, they would almost literally apply*. I am happy, however, in being able to add, that a far different spirit prevails among some of the members of the established church; and I have particular satisfaction in affording my humble tribute of applause to a right reverend prelate (the bishop of Limerick), whom I see in his place, and who has evinced the true Christian feeling, which ought to distinguish his office and sacred profession. To such as have not read it, I would recommend the perusal of his Visitation Charge to the clergy of his diocese: in which will be found those genuine principles of benevolence and charity, which, if universally felt and acted upon in Ireland, would produce a very different state of things from that which now actually exists in that country, where bigoted and angry zealots seem to think they can best support that ascendancy and monopoly of privileges they claim, by insulting those whom they have so long oppressed, in the most violent and inflammatory language.—Ought not at length the church, the true church, as we believe it to be, to set the first example of forbearance and true Christian charity, and preach those doctrines to its adherents? Let the reverend prelate—let his brethren on that bench, be the first to inculcate this doctrine. Let them say to their misguided sons in Ireland, forbear—* Merchant of Venice, Act III, Scene I.244Ne, pueri, ne tanta animis assuescite bella;Neu patriœ validas in viscera vertite vires:Tuque prior, to parce, genus qui ducis Olympo;Projice tela manu, sanguis meus:Shew that ours is the true religion, by practising the rules laid down by its divine Author, and point out to your erring brethren the way to conciliation and peace.
But it will be said, as it often has been said, the concession of the Roman Catholic claims will not cure the evils or redress the grievances of Ireland; and I shall be asked, whether I consider it a panacea for all the diseases under which that country labours? Certainly not: but I am persuaded, that this is the operation with which you must begin, if you really desire to go to the bottom of the mischief, and effect a perfect and permanent cure. I might as well be asked, whether I consider the corner-stone and foundation of the building as the superstructure, the edifice itself. The measures for the amelioration of Ireland hitherto adopted, which have not inaptly been called collateral, must of necessity fail for want of this solid foundation, on which alone they can rest. I contend that, on the principle and basis of equal civil rights, the structure of Ireland's permanent welfare and happiness must be placed; but it by no means follows, that this, and this alone, will complete the work. So far from it, that much as I wish that the just claims of the Roman Catholics should be granted, I doubt whether I would accept it for them as an unconnected and isolated measure. Sure I am, that it would not be worth their acceptance, unless accompanied by other measures of improvement in the condition of Ireland. I am anxious to consider the whole subject in all its branches and bearings, which depend so much on each other, that they cannot well be separated; and, in order to take an extended and statesmanlike view of the whole, you must consider them together. Many of them, besides the great question of emancipation, are far too extensive and complicated to be sufficiently discussed in the course of one debate. Each will require separate and much consideration, which I trust they will obtain from the wisdom and deliberation of parliament.
I must beg leave to call your, lordships' attention in the next place to a subject, of the difficulty and delicacy of discussing which I am fully aware; but I should think I very imperfectly performed the duty I have undertaken, if I did not 245 declare my conviction of the necessity of considering the present state and circumstances of the church establishment in Ireland, with a view to any great and permanent arrangement likely to allay the animosities, and satisfy the just expectations, of the people of that country.
I know well the sacred mist of prejudice which is on all occasions attempted to be thrown round the sanctuary of the establishment; and the horror with which some minds view the interference of the legislature with rights which are considered sacred, indefeasible, and almost intangible. The act, however, of last year to regulate tithes in Ireland, may serve as a proof that in cases of necessity, the property of the church may be submitted to parliamentary regulation. It is true, that the tithe act of last year, if generally acted upon, would increase rather than diminish the ecclesiastical revenues; but it establishes at least a precedent that they are and ought to be the subject of legislative interference. Another bill, which appears to have been introduced this year, to compel residence, seems to prove, at least, that the property of the church is not precisely of the same nature as that of any landed proprietor, for I do not think a proposition to compel residence on any one's estate would be entertained.
In discussing the nature of ecclesiastical property, I am ready to admit that for the life of the person in possession of a benefice, the right to it is as sacred as that of any fee-simple estate; but here the similarity ceases as well as the right, and I contend, that subject to the life-interest of the incumbent, and to the interest of the patron of the living, it is not only the undoubted right, but the bounden duty of the supreme power in the state, to make any regulations for the benefit of the community in the disposition or arrangement of the property set apart for the church establishment, even if a far less urgent case could be stated, than that of the church of Ireland as at present constituted. An act of parliament to obviate the almost intolerable grievance of the system of tithes in Ireland has actually passed, and with the material alterations which I trust await it, may in the end prove highly beneficial. Into this subject I will not enter further, as it must soon form a point of separate discussion. But let it not be supposed, that a regulation of tithes is the only measure required by the abuses of the church establishment in Ireland. No one will, I 246 hope, consider me an enemy to the established church; I think, at least, the most reverend metropolitan will not so consider me; but as a true friend, I will not flatter, but speak the truth. Of the church of England, although a decided enemy to the abuses of non-residency and pluralities, I am not disposed to complain. In England the splendor of the church accords well with the wealth, the prosperity, the aristocratical, and monarchical splendor of the country. And above all, with the numbers and affluence of the flock—the whole is of a piece; the picture, if I may so express myself, is in keeping. But in Ireland, poor miserable Roman Catholic Ireland, how different is the case? In Ireland where are the riches?—where is the splendor?—where is the flock? In a population of seven millions, the members of the established church are certainly not more than half a million. And yet the establishment of the Protestant hierarchy in that country is more richly endowed than in this—with four arch bishops and eighteen bishops. Some parishes are without a church, some without a single churchman of the establishment, and some without either the one or the other; not however without rich endowments of tithes, furnished almost exclusively from a Roman Catholic population. Of such cases there are proofs before the House; and are not these enough to justify the assertion, that, in a general consideration of the affairs of Ireland, the church establishment cannot be omitted; and that it calls imperiously for some more extensive scheme of regulation than a commutation, or composition for tithes. Let it not be supposed that I am desirous of pulling down this sacred edifice, however monstrous and out of proportion it may appear to the use for which it is intended; nor that I am desirous of appropriating any part of its wealth for any other purposes than those for which it was, in theory at least, originally intended—the religious instruction and consequent welfare of the people. In the rapid sketch I am taking, it would not be possible to enter into any details, on this or any other of the important topics on which I think it necessary to touch: but I will state generally my conviction, that the present estates of the Irish church, if properly and rationally distributed and administered, would furnish ample provision for a Protestant hierarchy, better proportioned to the circumstances of the country; an adequate provision for a resident clergy- 247 man in every parish; and a fund for Roman Catholic priests, and places of worship. I can see no ground of right, or reason, for continuing the same number of archbishops and bishops that at present exist, after the deaths of the present occupiers of the several sees. I can see no reason why the successors of the present incumbents of livings should not be subject to some regulations. At all events, I am sure the subject must soon force itself on the consideration of the government, and of the legislature: and any attempts to shut our eyes to the evil, or to avoid discussing it, can produce no other effect than to render those who suffer by the present system desperate, and confirmed in their hostility to such a state of things.
The next subject to which I wish to call the attention of the House, is that of Education; confessedly of the greatest importance, and without which, the other benefits I am anxious to confer upon Ireland, will lose much of their value. On this head of inquiry, however, I shall not have occasion to urge so much as I should have done, had not an address of the House of Commons to his majesty, for a commission to inquire into this important subject on the spot, been agreed to. This measure, if fairly and impartially conducted, must necessarily produce beneficial results, and enable parliament, ere long, to form a correct opinion on the best means of affording instruction to the population of Ireland: there is, however, too much reason to fear, that the measure may be rendered illusory by the manner of carrying it into effect; for if the members who may constitute the commission, are not actuated by a spirit of strict impartiality, and devoid of prejudice, no beneficial results can be expected from it. They should be Englishmen: because it would be extremely difficult to find Irishmen exempt from party-prejudice. It is a great mistake to suppose that the peasantry of Ireland are averse to instruction, or insensible of the advantages to be derived from that source; nor has the government been unmindful of the duty of attempting to provide the means, but unfortunately it has hitherto proceeded on a most mistaken principle; and by endeavouring to make education the means of conversion, has not only totally failed, but produced an effect diametrically opposite to that which it was the object to attain. To prove this, 248 let us look back only to the relative proportion of catholics and protestants that existed at the beginning of the last century, and at the present day, contrasted with the sums that have been lavished on the Protestant charter schools, by which it was vainly hoped, that Roman Catholics might be converted through the insidious means of providing gratuitous instruction for the children of the poor and ignorant. The Charter School Society has existed in Ireland for near a century, having been incorporated in the year 1733. It has been maintained at an enormous expense, inasmuch as the almost incredible sum of between 600,000l. and 700,000l. has been granted by the Imperial parliament, since the Union, for that favoured establishment, which, with its own annual income, (10,000l.) cannot have cost much less than a million since the Union; while the number of scholars in the whole establishment has been about two thousand; and I think it may safely be asserted, that it has never been productive of any thing but mischief.
Schools of other descriptions have been long established in Ireland, from which no important beneficial result has ever been derived. Of these the diocesan and parochial schools have by no means answered the purpose for which they were established, and, as will appear by the reports for which I have moved, have been subject to much neglect and abuse. By the act of Elizabeth, which established the diocesan schools, there ought to be one in each diocese. How far this has been the case will appear from the report of which I will read an extract. In fact, these diocesan schools have been almost useless, and little better than a job.
Extract from the Report of the Board of Education, made to the Irish government. April 21, 1809.—"It appears from the abstract of the returns made from the several dioceses, that out of the whole number thirty-four, composing twenty-two archbishopricks and bishopricks, only ten are provided with diocesan school-houses in tolerable repair: in three others, the houses are either out of repair, or otherwise insufficient; and the remainder are wholly unprovided, and the masters of such schools as are kept in them, either rent houses for the purpose, or are accommodated in other ways. But it appears 249 from the same returns, that in some of them, no diocesan schools are kept at all, and in others, no effective ones: that the whole number of effective schools in all the dioceses is only thirteen, and that the whole number of scholars in all the schools together does not exceed three-hundred-and-eighty. In the greater part of the dioceses in which no school is kept, there is no contribution from the clergy for the payment of a master, but in some instances the salary is actually paid by the clergy to a nominal master, who either keeps no school at all, or one on a different foundation, in which the diocesan school is wholly absorbed."
By a statute of Henry 8th, schools were established in each parish, and every incumbent on taking possession of his benefice, takes an oath to teach, or cause to be taught, an English school in his parish. By what means these reverend gentlemen contrive to dispense with this oath with a clear conscience, I leave to the reverend Bench to determine; but certain it is, that in many parishes in Ireland, no such schools have ever existed. Of late years, a better and more extended system of education has certainly been adopted. Societies have been instituted, and much good has been done in promoting education in Ireland; still however some of the old leaven remains, and the zeal of well-disposed persons has in many respects tended to check the progress of these useful institutions. The subject, in Ireland, is one of much delicacy and difficulty, from the natural and too well founded jealousies of the Roman Catholics. The spirit of proselytism still continues, and attempts are still made to effect it, through the medium of education. Such attempts must not only inevitably fail, but they tend to disunite, instead of promoting good-will and conciliation, between persons of different religious persuasions. If we wish really to do good, and to advance the cause of religion and morality, let us learn at last to begin at the right end, first to civilize and instruct; then truth will make its way; but by attempting in the first instance to convert, you only confirm error. The Roman Catholics are naturally jealous of any religious instruction being made a part of the education you offer them. Can we be surprised that the impression produced on their 250 minds, by the system of making education the engine of proselytism, should have made it very difficult indeed, when more enlightened ideas have at length prevailed, for those who endeavour to promote education on sound and liberal principles to persuade Roman Catholics to trust their children to Protestant beneficence? The jealousy which unfortunately prevails on this subject is perfectly natural; and in all projects for instructing the poor of Ireland, great allowance should be made for the prejudices necessarily arising from former abuses, and every effort made, by conciliating and even a little flattering the prejudices of the Roman Catholic, to induce them to go hand-in-hand with the establishment in the great work of national instruction, and its necessary consequence—civilization, and improvement.
I come now to another very important feature of this inquiry—I mean, the condition of the Irish peasantry; and and this is the most painful part of the task I have undertaken. Such of your lordships as are acquainted only with this rich and happy country, can form to your imaginations a very faint picture of the contrast that prevails between the comparative comfort of an English cottage, and the squalid misery of an Irish cabin. It would be too painful for me to attempt, and too difficult adequately to perform, the task of placing in contrast the two opposite pictures: suffice it to state, that a large proportion of the abundant population of Ireland, is in the lowest state of wretchedness, with only as much food, lodging, or clothing, as are necessary to support mere existence—and what is worse, in most instances without employment, or the means of obtaining it. I do not say that this is universally the case: God forbid. I know that in some parts of Ireland, more favourable local circumstances—resident gentry, humane and considerate landlords, resident, benevolent, and moderate clergy, and a greater demand for labour, exhibit a peasantry living in some degree of comfort, and in a state of existence in some respects better than what I have described: but I would ask those best acquainted with Ireland, whether there are not large districts, especially in the immediate vicinity of Turf Bog, where the same earth furnishes the materials with which the but is constructed—the turf to boil the pot—and the only food ever put into 251 it, the potatoe? Whether language can describe the wretchedness of an Irish cabin?—and whether, generally speaking, the condition of an Irish peasant is not very low indeed in the scale of human existence, arising in great measure, amongst other causes to which I shall have occasion to refer, to a total want of employment, so as to justify the description given in the report of the committee of the House of Commons, now on your table, from which I will read an extract:—
"The condition of the peasantry of those districts of Ireland to which the evidence refers, appears to your committee to be wretched and calamitous to the greatest degree. An intelligent Scotch agriculturist, who visited Ireland during the last year, alleges, 'that a large portion of the peasantry live in a state of misery of which he could have formed no conception, not imagining that any human beings could exist in such wretchedness; their cabins scarcely contain an article that can be called furniture; in some families there are no such things as bed clothes, the peasants showed some fern, and a quantity of straw thrown over it, upon which they slept in their working clothes, yet whenever they had a meal of potatoes, they were cheerful; the greater part he understood to drink nothing but water.' This statement appears confirm-ed by the testimony of many of the witnesses examined by your committee, who agree not only in this melancholy description of the condition of a considerable portion of the Irish peasantry, but agree also in attributing it to the total want of employment in which they are left. In some parts of the country one half of the entire population are stated to be without employment, in others, the proportion is said to be still greater; and all the witnesses examined agree in attributing to a considerable degree, the turbulent spirit of the peasantry and their excesses to this cause. At Clonakilty, in the county of Cork, where the linen manufacture has been introduced, tranquillity is stated to have prevailed; in the county of Mayo, where yarn and linens to a considerable extent are manufactured, the public peace has not been endangered; one barony in the county of Kerry has been uniformly the least disturbed, and in that barony alone has manufacturing industry been carried to any extent. In the neighbourhood of Water ford, 'no shade of disturb- 252 ance has existed, the peasantry having a steady market for their labour; whilst in parts of Cork, where the people are to a considerable degree unemployed, the most dangerous combinations against the laws, and the most violent attacks upon property, have lately taken place;' and yet in those very districts your committee have been informed, on the authority of a civil engineer of eminence, 'that he very soon pacified the country by an extended employment of the people in opening a new line of road;' the member who gave this information, adding from himself, 'that if employment could be made sufficiently extensive, he doubted not that the turbulent habits of the population would be abandoned.' When in addition to these expressions of opinion, the improved condition and tranquillity of the North of Ireland, where the linen manufacture prevails, is contrasted with the wretchedness of the South, your committee cannot refuse admitting the immediate connexion existing between employment and peace, as well as between want of useful occupation and turbulence."
That the peasantry of Ireland are generally in a miserable state, cannot, I fear, be doubted; and I forbear to dwell upon the painful description. Let us rather investigate the causes, and seek the remedies, if any can be found. It may perhaps excite some surprise when I state, that among the most prominent causes of the wretched state of the Irish peasant, I shall place the introduction of that vegetable which now constitutes almost the only food of the population of Ireland, the potatoe. The richness of the soil, and the mildness of the climate, have contributed in the first instance to promote the cultivation of this root more in Ireland than elsewhere; and the temptation afforded to the inherent indolence of human nature, to prefer a food more easily obtained and prepared for use than any other; a food, the nutritious (and I may add the prolific) qualities of which, together with the facility of its production, have tended materially to spread over the face of that island a superabundant population, satisfied to exist without comfort, and without employment, except that which arises from the wretched cultivation of the soil necessary to produce this their only food. From hence arises among the peasantry of Ireland an eager competition for land, which is necessary for their existence. For it is not in that country as in Eng- 253 land, where the labourer is almost certain of obtaining a day's work, and payment for it in money, with which he goes to market for his food. In Ireland the poorest roan is a sort of small farmer, renting a portion of land for his subsistence; and this evil, and the minute subdivision of tenements, has been increased by what is called the elective franchise. On this subject the report of the committee on your table says, "Many of the evils of Ireland, moral and political, as well as the depressed state of the peasantry, may, in the judgment of your committee, be traced to the mischievous, and frequently fraudulent multiplication of the elective franchise. This subject is highly deserving of the notice, if not of the interposition, of the legislature."
I shall be told that this is one of the greatest "boons," as they have been called, that has been conferred on the Roman Catholic population of Ireland; but I consider it, in its operation, one of the greatest evils, and by a fatality, that seems at all times to have attended this unhappy country, to have proved rather a curse than a blessing. It is, in fact, any thing but a franchise to those wretched freeholders, as they are called, manufactured for the purpose of extending the influence of the landed proprietors; and few things would tend more to the substantial advantage of the Roman Catholics, than a modification of this right; no part of which, however, they ought to be asked to give up without an ample equivalent: but in the comprehensive arrangement which I am anxious to recommend, I think the point might be arranged to the satisfaction and advantage of all parties.
Another cause of the wretched state of the Irish peasantry, much dwelt on (and to this some persons go as far as to ascribe it in great measure, or at least, more than to any other), is the non-residence of a large proportion of the landed proprietors, and the constant drain of money that is thereby occasioned from the country. That this is an evil, cannot be doubted; and that it is one of considerable extent, I am ready to admit; but that it goes as far as is supposed, I by no means think; and I am sure it is capable of an easier remedy than most of the other sources of the unfortunate condition of the Irish population. I am speaking in the presence of many great Irish proprietors, and I flatter myself that none of them will be disposed to dissent from the opi- 254 nions I am about to utter. They all feel, I am sure, that in calling upon government to redress the wrongs of that country, in which we are so much interested, it is our bounden duty to do our part, and fairly and in earnest to set our shoulders to the wheel. By a steady co-operation with a government ready to act on those which I consider the only sound principles, and which I am endeavouring to recommend, the condition of the Irish peasantry may be effectually and rapidly ameliorated; they may have good reason to submit themselves to the laws, and comfort and subordination may gradually succeed to squalid poverty and lawless outrage. What are the great wants of the Irish peasantry? Civilization and employment! The first is to be obtained by education, such as I have described it, in which, if the government will do their part, let it not be said, that the Irish landed proprietors are behind hand in the good work in which every one of their, whether constantly or occasionally resident, or even not resident at all, has it in his power most essentially and most usefully to co-operate. It must be admitted that the constant residence of a landed proprietor on his estate, affords the best and readiest means of carrying this cooperation into effect; and I perfectly agree in the opinion, that where the whole of his revenue is drawn from Ireland, the possessor of the estate is quite inexcusable if he spends the whole of it in another country: such as these have been justly called by the noble viscount who seconded the address, and whom I am sorry not to see in his place—illegitimate absentees;—there are others, however, whom he has called legitimate. To this description I claim to belong, having an equal landed property in this country, and places of residence, which I have not in that. There are others who hear me in the same situation, each of whom, particularly my noble friend near me (lord Lansdown), and the noble duke who brought forward a motion on this subject last year, will agree with me in considering it an indispensable duty occasionally to visit his estate in Ireland.
It has been justly stated, in the extract from the report of the committee of the House of Commons, which I have read, that want of employment is one of the principal evils of Ireland—this evil never can be effectually remedied without the change of System I have recommended, 255 by which the population of that country, by being made better satisfied with their condition, will become habitually submissive to the laws, against which they are now so often arrayed. A conciliatory plan of government can alone lead to this result; and whenever tranquillity and security shall appear, there can be no doubt that the redundant and immense capital of England, seeking new channels in all parts of the world, will not overlook the best means of employment, nearest the seat of empire, in a fertile and productive soil imperfectly cultivated; mines unexplored; harbours unimproved by art; roads, canals, manufactures; in short, in all the means of profitable employment of capital and industry, which the island presents, and which want nothing but security and good government to make them available. Under every disadvantage some progress is making, and it is in the mean time incumbent on government, as well as individuals, to use every exertion in removing one great source of Irish misery, in the disproportioned demand for labour to the population of the country. I consider the obligation of spending some part of their income in employing the poor resident on their estates, imperative on all Irish proprietors; and I may add, that, in performing a pleasing duty, they must in the end most essentially benefit themselves, both in the improvement of the land, and in the increased comfort, contentment, and peaceable disposition of those who reside on it. With regard to any assistance to be afforded by government, the question is one of more difficulty. I am aware of the objection as a general principle, to any bounty to be given by the state to encourage industry. The stimulus afforded by self-interest is wisely ordained by Providence, to be the best and most efficacious instrument to compel the rich to administer to the wants of the poor, in the best possible manner, by affording them the means of subsistence in payment for their profitable labour; but if there ever existed a legitimate exception to the general rule, it is in the present situation of Ireland, where, in consequence of the misgovernment of ages, a state of misery exists in the bulk of the population, for which no immediate relief is likely to be found, on the ordinary principles of political economy. Under these circumstances, I do not see how a portion of the public money can be better, or more humanely and advantageously 256 spent, than by stimulating industry, by affording assistance to public works, and by encouraging rising manufactures. At least, I must contend that the circumstances of Ireland require, that any artificial aid heretofore granted, even on principles recognized to be erroneous, should not be hastily withdrawn, I therefore say, that we should hesitate before we sanction on general good principles their application to Ireland. I heartily concur with those who think that all artificial stimulus, as well as all artificial restriction, should be denied to trade and manufactures; but I by no means admit that, circumstanced as Ireland is, this principle should be adopted in withdrawing from the sources of industry, the aid they have hitherto received. This is particularly the case with regard to the coarse linens of the Southern and Western parts of Ireland, where the rising manufacture has contributed more than any thing else, to diminish the evil of tumult and insurrection. At all events, it appears perfectly clear, that no more effectual present remedy can be found, for the depressed and miserable condition of the Irish peasantry, than employment: and government, therefore, ought to be exceedingly cautious of adopting any measures, which, directly or indirectly, may seem calculated to diminish the sources of this relief; the efficacy of which is amply established by the report on your table, to which I have referred.
There are other grievances under which Ireland labours, which ought not to be overlooked, although partial and collateral remedies have been attempted by the legislature: amongst these the habit and system of jobbing, which has been long so inveterate in that country, holds a distinguished place. Having adverted to the absent proprietor, I cannot omit mentioning the resident Irish gentry, who have also duties to perform, which I fear, in too many instances, they neglect. They also are at least as much bound to protect the interests of their poor tenants whom they have constantly under their eye, and with whose wants they must be best acquainted: they also are bound to resist that inveterate evil of Ireland, the love and practice of jobs: one of the most prominent of these is the system of grand-jury presentments, and the shameless abuses that sometimes take place in the making and repairing of roads, and other objects for which money is levied by 257 them. On this subject I cannot do better than read an extract from the report of Mr. Nimmo, an engineer of great eminence and high character, made by him to the Irish government, and printed by order of the House of Commons.
"Materials of the best description are, in general, in abundance; but the general construction of the roads having been exceedingly unskilful, both in direction and level, and the repairs carried on by a class of persons who make a trade of it, as a market for the labour of their poorer tenantry, there is no attempt at operating a permanent improvement; the less labour bestowed on the road, the cheaper the work can be undertaken by the perch, and the easier for the persons actually employed, who are not, properly speaking, paid for what work they do, but have the amount of the presentment allowed by their landlord, as a set-off against the rent of their holdings; as, in order to account for the presentment, it is necessary for the overseer to swear that he has expended the money; and as it cannot be expected that persons will take all this trouble of obtaining presentments, and overseeing workmen, gratuitously, the only way left for the gentleman overseer to indemnify himself, is to charge as high a rent as possible for his land, and get the tenants to make the road as cheaply as possible, that he may the more readily obtain presentments from the grand jury. Besides, if he be a person of tolerable credit, he may, by paying a discount of 10 per cent to the county treasurer, obtain the amount of his presentment in advance, as soon as passed; and then his only trouble is, to get the road made in some way or other, so as to be ready on the day of the assizes or accounting sessions. Or, indeed, what will answer just as well, he may get the working overseer, who is named with him in the presentment, to swear that the road is made, and the money expended. It is remarkable, that there never is any where less than 21 feet wide, as that breadth at least must also be sworn to: ingenious men, however, found a mode of getting over this, by leaving out in the presentment the portions where the road is too narrow; if there be much of it together the repair must stand over, until some one be found with a conscience sufficiently pliant to get through the difficulty.
"It is painful to think, that the precautions taken by the legislature to dis- 258 courage peculation in this matter should have only tended to promote a system of perjury, which has thrown the public works into the hands of persons of little or no principle, and deterred every honest man from undertaking them: some simple system of audit could surely be contrived, that would sufficiently secure the interest of the public, without all this swearing; and in that case respectably men would be encouraged to make or repair the public roads in a solid and economical way.
"The custom of jobbing roads is so inveterate, that we could seldom get the work properly done by day-labourers for the sum granted by presentment. The peasantry are not trained to those habits of industry which are always the result of regular payment."
While such practices as these prevail, a country cannot be happy or contented; and the strong arm of the legislature ought to interpose to put an end to them, and establish a better system.
There are other points, of minor importance, into which it would be the duty of a committee, if granted, to inquire; but I have occupied too much time already to go into them. I am fully aware of the imperfect manner in which I have executed the task I had imposed on myself, and that I have omitted many topics and arguments which it might have been material to have urged; but I have endeavoured to shew that what has been hitherto, done for Ireland, however beneficial as far as it goes, does neither go far enough, nor to the root of the evil; that collateral measures however good in themselves, are by no means sufficient; that by palliatives, "You do but skin and film the ulcerous place:" and that nothing short of a total change in the system can effect a real and permanent cure.
I therefore call upon your lordships to take into your most serious and immediate consideration the principal points I have urged: the necessity of removing political disabilities on account of religious opinions; the state of the established church; education; and employment On these great and leading topics, I entreat your deliberation at this most favourable moment, when I have contended that they may be discussed with the greatest possible advantage. I urge the danger of any, the impossibility of much delay; let us on this occasion, at least, shew that we are indeed the faithful as 259 well as the constitutional and hereditary counsellors of the Crown; let us stand between our sovereign and his ordinary advisers; who, divided among themselves on a great question, on which the welfare, perhaps the existence of the empire depends, are agreed only in preferring the possession of place and power to this or any other consideration; let us tell the king, who, in his speech from the throne, in his peaceful and gracious visit to Ireland, and in his truly paternal admonition at parting, has proved his solicitude for the welfare of that country; that it can be secured by nothing short of a consistent and total change in the system of government. Let us tell him that, having witnessed, during the administration of his father's, and the possession of his own royal authority, the triumphs of war, a more lasting, a more valuable triumph still awaits him; one which will be far more grateful to those feelings by which he is actuated, a paternal solicitude for the welfare of this most unfortunate part of his extensive dominions. I confess, I had flattered myself that much good would have resulted from his majesty's visit to Ireland; but how has this expectation been disappointed, when, instead of the oblivion of animosities recommended by the sovereign, the violence of party rages there more fiercely than ever. In that unhappy country it appears as if the course of nature was inverted, and the connection between cause and effect destroyed; for while the exuberant richness of the soil, and unequalled mildness of the climate, by promoting an overflowing population, increases the misery of its inhabitants, the injunctions of a benevolent monarch, by elevating too much the hopes of one party, and exciting the jealousy of the other, seems to have increased, rather than to have allayed, their mutual animosities.—In Ireland, Ireland, alone, conciliation produces discord, and fertility famine. It is time that such a state of things should cease; and it can only cease by going to the root of the evil.
It is to this that I am anxious to call your lordships' attention; it is to this you must go, if you desire to cure the disease, which, as I before stated, has existed for centuries, and may be described as the feverish irritation, arising from a sense of oppression and wrong. This feeling has often broken out in scenes of Insurrection and violence; to obviate which the only re- 260 medies ever applied have been coercion and the sword. Successive governments have never looked steadily and dispassionately to the source of the disease; but have contented themselves with checking paroxysms as they have arisen, by the long-accustomed remedies nearest at hand. These political Sangradoes have no notion of any thing but bleeding and hot water, military force, or grinding and oppressive penal statutes.
I entreat your lordships to consider at length, whether, instead of the violent remedies which you have been accustomed to administer on the spur of the occasion, it may not be practicable to adopt a far different and a better system.
The present system cannot be much longer persevered in. We are now at peace with all the world; and we are told by authority, that there is no prospect of war: but let it not be forgotten, that what it cost us so much blood and treasure formerly to prevent, has been lately effected; that France is now in possession of Spain; and is any one sanguine enough to expect, that peace will be preserved for many years, under these circumstances? and in the event of war, what will be the situation of Ireland, if the present grounds of disaffection continue to exist among its numerous population? I forbear to press this consideration. But the expense alone of an army of twenty-four thousand men, which is now barely sufficient, and which is double the number of what was thought more than sufficient, thirty years since, is no slight consideration. Moreover, I venture to predict, that if you do not alter the system, fifty thousand men will not be enough to secure that country; which, by a course of real kindness and conciliation, the very reverse of what has been pursued for centuries, instead of a source of weakness and alarm, you may render the most impregnable bulwark of the British Empire.
The experiment has never been fairly tried, and it is worth while at length to make it. The Irish are a warm-hearted and grateful people; they can bear injury and oppression better than contumely and insult; and if you treat them with kindness you may rely on their affection, which, by a perseverance in the present system you can never attain. I call upon you therefore, my lords, to seize this opportunity which presents itself, and which may never again occur, if you now neglect it, and to take the case of Ireland into your most earnest 261 deliberation. To lay aside if possible the mist of prejudice by which it has been always surrounded, to consider the subect in all its bearings, to sift it to the bottom, and when you have discovered the full extent and nature of the mischief, to apply other remedies than those which have hitherto so lamentably failed.
England owes much to that ill-fated land, we have a heavy debt of misrule and oppression to redeem. Let us, at length, begin at least, and let us endeavour to tread back those steps which have led to so much mischief, and which, if not soon retraced, must produce the most ruinous and lamentable effects. I speak not the language of party, but from a conscientious and deliberate conviction of its necessity, I earnestly recommend the adoption of the motion with which I shall now conclude;—
"That a select committee be appointed to inquire how far the provisions lately adopted by parliament, or recommended by his majesty's ministers for the internal regulation of Ireland have tended, or appear likely to tend, to remove the grievances, to allay the discontents, or 'to secure the welfare and happiness of that part of the united kingdom; and to ascertain whether any and what further measures of regulation, or of conciliation, may be required, to remedy the evils that have long existed in that country, 'which has for some time past been the subject of his majesty's particular solicitude.'"
The Earl of Liverpool
said, that under any other circumstances he would have refrained from giving his opinion on this important question until he had heard those of noble lords who, from their local acquaintance with Ireland, possessed much more information on the subject; but he was afraid that, in his present state of health, he should be exhausted before that hour could arrive. He therefore rose at that early period of the debate. He would set out by saying, that if he thought that any practical good was likely to raise to Ireland, or to the empire at large, from the appointment of the committee for which the noble lord had moved, he would not oppose it; but he felt firmly persuaded, that not only could no benefit arise, but that much inconvenience would ensue from agreeing to the motion. He would therefore oppose the motion, because, however much—and he had no doubt the noble earl felt satisfied that much good would result from his proposition—might be an- 262 ticipated from such an inquiry, it appeared to him that it would be productive of mischief, inasmuch as it might give rise to hopes which could not be realised. In setting out he would beg to say, that for the Irish people as a body he felt the kindest feeling. It was but doing justice to his knowledge of their character to say, that though he had not visited Ireland, and was therefore free from local prejudice, one way or other with respect to them, yet he had frequently in his public and private capacity come in contact with large bodies of the people of that country; and he would assert, that whether he referred to that very large portion of them which was engaged in the most laborious employments in this country, or to that extensive class of Irish artisans and mechanics which was employed in the capital, or to those other masses of that country who were engaged in various other pursuits, he would, he repeated, assert, that a more honest, a more industrious, set of people, or a people more alive to every feeling of gratitude for favours conferred (whatever might be said of them in their own country), did not exist. He said this that it might not be imagined that his objection to the motion arose from any indifference to the people of Ireland, or from any disposition to undervalue their importance: for he would say again that, whether we looked to the services of the people of that country in our armies or our navies or in any other department in which their services were required, a more useful set of people did not exist in the world.
In referring to the present state of Ireland, their lordships should consider that there was a great difference between one part of that country and another. The province of Ulster, for instance, was in a state of prosperity, not merely as compared with some other parts of Ireland, but as compared with Great Britain itself. Therefore, in reference to the evils which might be said to exist in other places, we should always exclude that part, which, happily, was exempt from all, or nearly all of them. He would now say a few words with reference to the acts of the English government, and to its policy towards Ireland in former times and at the present. He did not mean to underrate what the noble lord had described as the policy which had been formerly pursued by England towards the sister island—that policy which might truly be termed unjust and illiberal. He would admit that it was for a long time a 263 policy of tyranny and oppression, and that even in those cases where the epithets of tyranny and oppression were not applicable, it was a narrow and selfish policy, and that in both cases Ireland had greatly suffered by its adoption. But, admitting this, he could not shut his eyes to the fact that it was not altogether to such policy that Ireland owed those evils by which she was affected. Ireland owed much of the inconveniences which she had suffered to the having received at an unfit moment that which might under different circumstances be a benefit—he meant the extension of English laws and English institutions. He was sure that if this country had applied the same principle to Scotland immediately after the rebellion of 1745, Scotland would not be in the flourishing condition which she this day presented. He mentioned this in support of a principle which would not, be believed, be denied; namely, that in all countries the benefit of legislation should be applied to the particular circumstances of the country.
Before he proceeded to other parts of the noble earl's speech he would say a word as to the policy which had, in recent times been adopted by this country toward Ireland; and he would refer particularly to the acts which had been passed in the late reign for the benefit of that country. On this subject, he would take the evidence of a noble baron (lord Grenville) who he regretted did not of late attend in his place in the House. That noble lord, who often took a very different view from that which he (the earl of L.) held on the subject of Irish questions, had admitted, that at no period of our history had so many acts in favour of Ireland, and calculated to promote its interests passed, as in the reign of his late majesty. He believed that the noble mover was not aware of all the acts which had been of late years passed in favour of Ireland. However, from his knowledge of them, he would assert that there was no instance on record of any country doing more for a limb of its empire than England had done for Ireland within the last few years, and upon the establishment of the truth of this assertion he would rest his opposition to the present motion. It would not be denied that England was the highest taxed of any country in Europe: Her taxation was double that of France or the Netherlands: but, with this burthen, she had taken upon herself the debt of Ireland, and he would 264 assert that Ireland was at the present moment the least taxed country in Europe, in proportion to her population, except perhaps Switzerland. England was five times as much taxed. Ireland had now no direct taxation to the Crown—no direct taxation whatever, unless the tithes could be so considered. When he said that England was doubly taxed, compared with any other country in Europe, and that Ireland was the most free from taxation, in the same comparison, he stated only a small part of what he meant to prove. He would admit, that a small degree of taxation might be too much for a country with very limited resources; but, it was not in the mere freedom from direct taxation that Ireland had experienced the liberality of this country. From all the protecting duties against the competition of other countries with English produce, Ireland had been exempted. In the corn bill, which prohibited the importation of corn from the rest of Europe, the produce of Ireland was allowed to be brought into the English market. Thus while Ireland was not half as much taxed as France or the Netherlands, and only one fifth as much taxed as England, she had all the advantages of the English market for her produce, from which the other nations of Europe were excluded. These were facts which should be stated in the discussion of such a motion as the present, as they would prove the assertion which he had made, namely, that no country in the world had ever behaved with more liberality to a branch of its empire than England had recently (whatever might have been her policy in former periods) behaved towards Ireland.
Perhaps the subject of religion might be excepted by some noble lords from this principle. Upon that he would observe, that it was not connected with the commercial or fiscal policy of England towards the sister islands. But if the evils of Ireland were said to arise from that source (which he was not prepared to admit), he should on the proper occasion be able to show, that those evils were to be attributed to other and very different causes. With respect to the committee of general inquiry which was now sought, he would ask their lordships in what case had any practical evil been pointed out which the government had shown an indisposition to remedy? Where had they refused inquiry, where inquiry was likely to be attended with any beneficial results? 265 Their lordships were aware that a commission had been appointed to inquire into all the fiscal regulations of Ireland, and that it had already been attended with the most satisfactory results. He would not object to any inquiry where a particular evil could be pointed out; but he did strongly object to a general inquiry with no particular object, and which, from the nature of it, must give rise to hopes which it might not be possible to realize. From the proceedings in the other House of parliament it was clear that where legislative measures could be applied with any hope of effect, they had not been negleced; and he was glad to acknowledge that in some of those measures men of all parties had united in forwarding objects likely to be productive of general good. Amongst these he noticed, with much satisfaction, those measures which were intended to diffuse the benefits of education throughout Ireland. In the foremost of those who were anxious to promote that salutary undertaking, was a noble marquis opposite (the marquis of Down-shire), who never visited Ireland without conferring a benefit on its people. That institution from which the country might expect such lasting benefits was now in active progress. He would admit the benefit to be derived from charter schools and other Protestant establishments for education; but he must, at the same time, contend, that the benefits of education should be more widely diffused, and extended equally to Catholic as well as to Protestant. That object, he was glad to observe, was likely to be attained by the institution of general schools to which he had adverted. Since their establishment in 1817, they had increased every year in a manner which showed the importance which was attached to them by all ranks and classes. In 1817 the number was 30; in 1818, they amounted to 65; in 1819, to 133; in 1820, to241; and (without going into the details of the intermediate years) he would observe, that in the last year their number was increased to 1,122. To show the progress that these schools were making week after week and month after month he would state the increase which had taken place in the quarters of the last year. In the first quarter, 63; in the second, 73; in the third, 117; and in the fourth, 142; making in all 395 increase in the year. In these Catholics and Protestants were indiscriminately admitted, the former having the Scriptures according to their own, the 266 Douay, version, whenever they so desired it. It was also a satisfaction to remark, that the number of these schools continued to increase in the south of Ireland, as well as in the north and east, and that in the appointment of masters there had been no distinction made between Protestant and Catholic. It would not, of course, be expected, that the improvement to be derived from such schools could be apparent all at once—that the habits and manners of the people could be all at once reformed as if by the touch of a magic wand; but it was gratifying to learn, that in those districts where the system was most general, and where the schools had been longest established, the greatest improvement had been visible. The noble earl here read some extracts from the communications of private individuals, and also from the reports of the School Association, in proof of this assertion. He had thought it necessary he said to mention these facts, not as objections to the noble earl's motion, but to show how an institution, calculated to remove many of the evils complained of in Ireland was working. Their lordships were, perhaps, aware, that in the other House an address had been carried for appointing a commission to inquire into the state of education in Ireland. So far from objecting to that measure, he cordially approved of it. It would, he had no doubt, be productive of the best effects.
The next subject on which the noble earl had touched was the police of Ireland. Upon this, he would admit, that many of those who were appointed as instruments for the preservation of the peace had been guilty of gross abuses of their authority; but, in every case where such abuses had been discovered (and perhaps under the best system it would be impossible to prevent them altogether), they had been corrected, and their authors punished. But, in this respect, he did not see what benefit could be derived from a committee of inquiry, or what more could be done than had been already achieved. If it was asserted, that the appointments in the police had been exclusively confined to one party—to Protestants in preference to Catholics—he should say, that the charge was not founded; for, as far as he could learn, there had been no preference given to either party, but those persons apparently best calculated for the duties of the situation were appointed without distinction.
He would now come to another topic, 267 on which the noble lord had dwelt; but first a word upon the subject of tithes. Upon that important question he would not enter at present; for a measure was in progress in the other House, which, when it came before them, would afford an opportunity of entering fully into it. He would only say upon it for the present, that there were many parts of the system of tithes which required a remedy; but he would assert, that the fears of those who thought that no remedy could be found but in the abolition of the system of tithe altogether, were altogether unfounded. The noble earl then proceeded to show, that the evil of tithes in Ireland arose, not from their amount, but from the abuses in their collection; that, from the manner in which the property was subdivided in Ireland, the colection must be liable to great abuse, and that crying abuses did exist from the exactions of tithe-farmers and tithe-proctors in very many cases: but, that the abolition of tithe altogether would not afford relief to the occupiers of land; that it might afford a temporary relief to the present lessees of farms; but that, eventually, the advantage would entirely accrue to the proprietors of the soil, and that, after a few years, the tenant would have to pay more in additional rent than he now paid in tithe, even at the highest rate. The many subdivisions of land into small farms were, he continued, a source of great distress and misery to the poor farmer. Their lordships should also recollect, that Ireland had no poor-laws. The noble earl here proceeded to contrast the condition of the colonial slave with that of the unemployed peasant, or the broken-down small farmer of Ireland. The former, he observed, was sure of food and clothing, and derived even some advantages from the very caprices of his master; but the poor peasant in Ireland, where there was no system of parochial relief, when unemployed, was a vagrant without a home or any chance of relief, save that which he derived from casual charity. He was as great an enemy to slavery as any man not only from his sense of the moral degradation of the slaves, but also of that of the master, who must be degraded by the very habits he acquired in the unlimited control over so many of his fellow-men. He therefore would, as an abstract question, wish that it were abolished. The noble earl proceeded to say, that when the cerf was separated from the soil, 268 when he was looked upon as a free being dependent on his own exertions, it was a wise policy to make some provision for his wants, when those exertions were unable to supply them; and, in this view, he considered that the establishment of the poor-laws in this country were productive of more good than evil. From such a resource, however, the poor of Ireland derived no benefit, as she had no general poor-rates; and hence was derived another evil, to which the motion of the noble earl could afford no remedy.
The noble earl next proceeded to take a view of the evils arising from the number of absentees from Ireland. This system—if system it could be called—had, he observed, been productive of many evils, not merely to the absentees themselves in the deterioration of their property, but to the residents, in the want of that care and protection which an extensive landed proprietor would, even for the sake of his own interest if he had no higher motive, afford to his tenants. It also gave rise to a class of men called middle-men, not known in this country; and it was in the very nature of such a tenure of land to diminish the income of the owner on the one hand, and materially to detract from the profits of the occupying tenants on the other. This was an evil which he could not have anticipated at the Union, to any thing like the extent to which it had now arisen; but it was strange, that though Scotland was as far from the place where he then spoke as Ireland, and the Scottish landlord of course as far removed from his tenant as the Irish, yet the same effect was not produced by the Union of Scotland; for the Scottish farmers were without comparison id a much better situation than those of Ireland. Taking these circumstances into consideration, he could not see how far the result of a committee would be likely to remedy any of the evils to which he had adverted.—The noble mover had adverted to the question of Catholic emancipation. He did not see how that question bore upon the motion. The Catholics of Ireland were in a different situation from any country in Europe, where the great body of the people were of a religion different from that of the state. In other countries where the government was Catholic, or where it was Protestant—in those provinces of which the inhabitants differed from the established religion, the property went with the great mass of the people; but 269 in Ireland, the great mass of property, landed and commercial, was in the hands of Protestants. Taking this for granted, he could not see how the great mass of the people could be benefitted by emancipation; after which, the weight and influence in the country must still attach, in the same degree as before, to property. It might be said, that the measure would be salutary as one of conciliation. He did not see that, except it could make the Protestants become Catholics, or Catholics become Protestants; but be that as it might, this was a question which had been often discussed, and which would be again. It was one which rested on its own merits, and could not be decided by such a committee as the noble earl moved for. He had now gone through all the points of the noble earl's speech, as far as his strength would allow him; and he would say, that whenever any particular grievance was pointed out, it might be the subject of investigation; but he could see no good which was likely to result from such a general inquiry as the noble earl had proposed, and he would therefore oppose the motion.
The Marquis of Lansdown said, that agreeing as he did in many points, of the noble earl's speech, he could not concur in those points, in which the noble earl endeavoured to induce their lordships to refuse the present motion, on the grounds that Ireland was, in many respects, in a prosperous state, and that the evils which did affect it could not be remedied by the result of any inquiry. It was a singular anomaly, that with this asserted prosperity of Ireland, the legislature should, from session to session, be called upon to travel out of the ordinary policy of the country and of the constitution, to keep it in a state of even moderate tranquillity. In admitting the partial success of some of the measures which had been lately adopted with respect to Ireland, he begged he might not be understood as for a moment agreeing, that their lordships ought to suspend their attention from the consideration of those important topics which the situation of that country called forth. He could by no means concur in the statement of the noble earl, that such credit was due to England for what he was pleased to term her unbounded generosity to Ireland, and the great sacrifices she had made to improve her condition. It was strange that, with all that was said to have been done 270 for that country, with all the loyalty and attachment and devotion to the constitution for which she had got credit, it should still be found necessary to keep up an immense military force to ensure that tranquillity which it was at the same time asserted that there existed no disposition to disturb. Surely there must be some hidden cause—something radically bad, either in the people or in the mode of governing them, that of all the blessings and benefits conferred, none of them should be absorbed, as he might say, into the system; but that they should all slide off without producing any visible impression. He was disposed to admit the good that had been done to Ireland; but, when the noble earl talked of generosity and of sacrifices in allowing Ireland to bring her produce to our market, he could think of it only as an act of justice done to one part of the country, for the general benefit of the whole. In the same manner should he view the privilege of allowing Sussex to send its superabundant corn to the markets of Middlesex.—Then, as to the freedom of Ireland from taxation. She was, indeed, the most free from it of any other part of the empire; but the cause was obvious—she was the most impoverished; and there was no process of alchymy, by which any treasury could extract money where money did not exist. Severe measures had been tried in Ireland to raise taxation: they had been found ineffectual. The more the taxes had been increased, the less productive they were found, and they were in consequence abandoned. This was not generosity, but common justice. The noble marquis then proceeded to contend, that the policy of this country for centuries towards Ireland had been unjust and oppressive; that the population of Ireland still increased, and would increase; but it would depend on future measures, whether that increased population should be a source of apprehension and irritation, or a source of strength and security to England. He would admit that some of the measures recently adopted were calculated to improve the condition of Ireland. He particularly alluded to the tithe-composition act and the police act. They were well intended; and though they had not succeeded to the extent expected, yet they had been, in many cases, successful. With respect to the former measure, he had before expressed his approbation of it. He had hailed its introduction by the Irish 271 government, as a measure calculated to put an end to a system which, for so long a period, had been productive of the greatest evils to Ireland, and he trusted it would be successful. There were some parts of it to which he objected, but the principle being once established, he trusted that the day was not far distant when he should see a general commutation of tithe in Ireland.—There was another subject to which the noble earl had adverted, and which at all times required the most serious attention of their lordships—he meant the administration of justice in Ireland. Surely their lordships would not deny, that there roust be something bad in the system of government in that country, or in the administration of its laws, when they found so many persons—not merely the owners of large landed property, but persons of middling and small properties—leaving that country to seek (he was going to say an asylum, but he would say) a residence elsewhere. By the way, he would here say a word as to one of the effects which the noble earl had mentioned of absentee-ship—he meant the creation of an order of middlemen, not known in this country. The fact was that this, and the divisions and subdivisions of land into small farms, were caused by a want of capital among the farmers to manage large portions of land. But; to return to the administration of justice. How did it happen that, practically, this unequal administration of justice was felt? And, when he mentioned the unequal administration of justice, let him not be understood as casting any imputation on the learned judges of Ireland, by whom it was administered in the superior courts. No set of men could discharge their duty more impartially; and, if it were not invidious to mention individuals where all did their duty, he would name the learned judges of the court of King's Bench, and most particularly the learned and very excellent individual who presided in that court—who were particularly distinguished for the most strict and impartial administration of the laws, and for making the people sensible of their benefits. But, though great credit was due to government for their selection of persons to fill the higher offices in the administration of the laws, they were not equally successful (he did not impute it as blame to them) in the choice of those by whom the subordinate situations in the administration of 272 justice were filled. He particularly alluded to the management of the police. The noble earl had himself admittted, that great abuses had been committed by persons connected with that department. It was most true, and greater than was imagined. He had had a communication from a gentleman who stated, that in one county where the assize had just terminated, it would have been a maiden assize but for the outrages of some police-officers. This case was so flagrant as to attract the notice of government. The government sent four king's counsel to conduct this prosecution at the assizes; but so deeply were the family who were the prosecutors persuaded that they would not obtain justice, through the means of the counsel nominated by government—so convinced were they that it was not the bonâ fide intention of government to procure them an impartial trial, that they actually subscribed amongst themselves a sum which enabled them to obtain the assistance of an eminent counsel, Mr. Wallace, upon whose speech and showing it was that the verdict was procured. He did not state this circumstance for the purpose of implying anything like remissness on the part of government, or that justice would not have been obtained through the means of the counsel whom they appointed, but merely as showing, that there existed a rooted opinion among the poorer classes of the people of Ireland, that they were persons proscribed and excluded from the pale of the law, and that there was no sacrifice which they would not make, in order to procure a counsel to whom they could give their own instructions, and by whom those instructions would be carried into effect. He was sorry to say that the misconduct of constables, which had been the origin of the trial to which he had alluded, was the subject of very general and just complaint throughout Ireland. He had received a copy of the resolutions which had recently been passed by the grand jury of the county of Roscommon, and which were signed by a member of that House, whom he did not at present see in his place. In those resolutions it was declared, that the chief constable who had been appointed by government, and the persons employed under him, had been the means of exciting disturbances in that county, in order that they might turn them to their own advantage. The grand jury further stated, that the indivi- 273 dual who was placed at the head of the police was constantly employed in screening the inferior constables from the punishment to which they were obnoxious on account of their illegal conduct. He could, if he pleased, multiply instances to show that the people of Ireland were unable to procure an impartial administration of justice, even in cases where it was the wish of the government that it should be obtained; but he would not occupy the time of their lordships in attempting to prove a fact which was perfectly notorious. In the northern counties many trials for murder had taken place in which acquittals had been recorded; but it was nevertheless true, that the murders had been committed. It had been proved that, in many cases, Catholics had been murdered at night in the open streets, whilst the houses were lighted up; and yet, up to the present moment, it had been found impossible to procure a conviction in a single instance. The result was, that an impression was left on the minds of the Catholic population, that blood had been spilt for which no atonement had been made; and which impression must lead to fatal consequences, whenever an opportunity should arise for future outrage. The police act, which their lordships had passed last session as a means of tranquillizing Ireland, had, in consequence of the manner in which it had been executed, become a cause of fresh dissatisfaction. The remedy had been converted into poison by being administered by improper agents; and the measure not only excited present disturbance, but laid the foundation for those future resentments which, in that unhappy country, were transmitted from generation to generation. He would now say a few words with respect to one of the chief causes of the unfortunate situation of Ireland; namely, the Orange Societies, which it had been not inaptly said, rendered the country unsafe to live in. A learned judge in Ireland, baron Maclelland, had meritoriously exerted himself, to put down the processions which emanated from those societies, and which gave birth to counter-processions on the part of the Catholics. That learned judge, after observing, that the latter processions were as legal as the former, out of which they arose, concluded his address to the grand jury, by saying, "Put down both." He knew that such were the sentiments entertained by the noble earl opposite 274 and his colleagues; but, the only way effectually to put an end to such processions was, to let it be known, that no person who should take a part in them would be permitted to hold any office under the government. Until the government found courage to adopt that resolution, no good would be effected. Their lordships might make speeches, and flatter themselves that they would find their way into the cabin of the Irish peasant, and afford him satisfaction; but they would overrate the value of their speeches if they did so. If an Irish peasant saw that a Murphy or an O'Connor who had insulted himself, his family, and his religion, was appointed to an office under government, he must either bow down to the dust before his oppressor, or rise in rebellion and commit assassination and other crimes. He thought it was incumbent on the government to show that they would not allow persons who took any share in Orange processions to hold any thing like office in Ireland. It was also of great importance that juries should be selected from persons of all parties, instead of being, as was now generally the case, composed of Protestants exclusively. The noble earl had stated, that government had adopted the suggestion which had been thrown out by a right hon. friend of his (sir J. Newport), and intended to establish a commission of inquiry on the subject of education. He did not think that the establishment of such a commission would be the best means of attaining the object which they had in view. It would, in his opinion, be a better course to act upon the information which they already possessed. What had been the course which parliament had hitherto pursued on the subject of education in Ireland? He would not go back to a date previous to the Union, but would refer to a period so recent as the year 1806. At that time a commission was appointed for the object for which it was now proposed to establish a fresh one. He held in his hand the fourteenth report of that commission, which was the result of the investigations of men eminently qualified for the duty to which they had been appointed. Nothing, however, had been done by parliament, in consequence of the fourteen reports of this commission. When, therefore, he stated, that the reports to which he alluded contained many most valuable suggestions which had never, in any one instance, been attended to by government, 275 he thought he was justified in looking forward to the prospect of a new commission with little hope of a successful result. He would wish government at once to sanction the endowment of Catholic schools. It was repeatedly urged as an objection to such a measure, that Catholic clergymen had a fundamental objection to placing the Scriptures in the hands of the common people, unaccompanied by any note or comment. This subject had been adverted to in the fourteenth report of the commission of 1806, to which the names of four members of the established church in Ireland were attached, and a very valuable suggestion was then made with respect to it. The suggestion was, that selections should be made of the most important parts of sacred history, together with the precepts of morality contained in the Scriptures, and the examples by which they were illustrated, which should not be liable to the objections which the Catholic clergymen entertained against the indiscriminate perusal of the Scriptures. That valuable practical suggestion had been totally disregarded. If a selection of the nature suggested had been made, and submitted to the Catholic hierarchy for their approbation, and that approbation had been obtained, it would have been the means of establishing a system of instruction calculated to carry the light of knowledge into every part of Ireland. It had been said that the Catholic clergymen were inimical to education altogether. He was bound to declare from his own experience, that that was not the case. But, if there were any foundation for such a charge, what could be more useful for friends of the established church than to bring the question to the test? Those persons who wished ill to the Catholic clergy could not take a more effectual way to injure them in the opinion of the people of Ireland, than to show that they were the enemies of instruction. The predominant feeling of the Irish people was a desire to obtain information. He thought that the labour of the noble earl opposite would not be lost if he would read the reports which had been made by the commission of 1806, and which contained a great deal of very valuable information. Above all, he recommended the expediency of admitting both Catholics and Protestants to a common system of moral education, without reference to particular religious tenets, in which their pastors might in- 276 struct them. The noble earl had said, that the particular manners of the country had led to many of the evils which afflicted Ireland; but the noble earl was not to be told, that manners were created by laws. It was the duty of government, therefore, to mitigate, as far as possible, the evils which those laws had produced. He thought his noble friend had laid a sufficient ground for a committee to inquire into the operation of the existing laws, and to suggest such measures as might be best calculated to promote the happiness and tranquillity of Ireland.
The Earl of Limerick
agreed with much that had fallen from noble lords on both sides of the House; but he felt it his duty to declare his concurrence in the opinion which had fallen from the noble earl at the head of his majesty's government, that no benefit could result from the appointment of the committee. With respect to poor-rates, they would be very agreeable to the Irish peasants; for they would never work if they could obtain support without it. The establishment of a system of poor-rates in Ireland would only create six millions of beggars.
The Marquis of Downshire
strongly pressed upon their lordships the necessity of an inquiry into the state of Ireland. One of the great faults in Ireland was the absence of a middle class, and the too great distance between the proprietor and the tenant of the land. This intermediate disadvantage the progress of education was calculated to remove. Religious distinctions had also had their powerful weight. From the Catholic population education had been long withheld by the system of the government. The unfortunate operation of such a system was not calculated to last: its only effect was, to create ill blood and consequent tumult. He hoped that an ameliorated plan of government would speedily remove evils which all good men concurred in deploring. He pointed out the remarkable fact, that in the north of Ireland the police and coercive acts were not brought into action, although they were in the south. In the latter, more attention ought to be paid to the component parts of the public establishment, and also to the situation of the people over whom these bills were called into action. In conclusion, he should express a hope that the increased interest taken in the affairs of Ireland would cause to be transferred thither a portion of that capital which was to be found in such abund- 277 once in England, and which might call into activity those natural advantages which Ireland possessed in so eminent a degree.
said, that, living in a country unhappily subject to the Insurrection act, he could assert, in opposition to what had been said by the noble marquis, that the Insurrection act was felt to be the greatest benefit to the country by all the gentry and residents. Education was making rapid strides in Ireland, and though a few Protestants were zealous in making proselytes, the Protestant gentry in general were careful to avoid any attempt of the kind; and even in many places where there were Protestant children, Catholic school-masters were appointed. The Bible certainly was a sine quânon, and he hoped he should never see the time when a British parliament should exclude it from their schools. Let them look at Scotland, where the people had learned to read the Scriptures. A great part of the difficulties of Ireland arose from the excess of population beyond the means of employment. This evil was not to be remedied by one or two legislative measures; and as he saw no benefit likely to be derived from the committee, he should not support the motion.
The Earl of Roden
said, it was an imperative duty on the Irish gentry to reside in their country, and by their presence and example to rescue the people from degradation and ignorance. When a mo-lion respecting Ireland was brought forward in a calm and dispassionate manner, as it bad been that night by his noble friend, it would do much good by affording noble lords connected with Ireland an opportunity of stating their opinion of the causes of the evils under which it laboured. He could not concur, however, in the sentiments of the noble lord, that the delaying of Catholic emancipation was one of those causes. If emancipation were granted tomorrow it would not remove the evils; it could not, he was sure, root out the ignorance of the people. The ignorance that was to be deplored was not the ignorance of what passed in their lordships' or the other House of parliament; nor ignorance of the inflammatory speeches of the Catholic delegates in Dublin. It was ignorance of the sacred truths of God's word, which enjoined obedience to the law of the land—an ignorance which left them the tools of party—the easy dupes of the designs of demagogues, fomenting the pre- 278 judices which had been handed down from their forefathers, and which represented, that the object of the British government was to enslave and degrade them; while, in reality, there was no country where freedom was more enjoyed, or where a more complete spiritual thraldom was exercised. It was emancipation from their ignorance and superstition that was wanted by the people of Ireland. Where the Scriptures had made their way, as well among Catholics as Protestants, great good had been done. He spoke from a resident knowledge of Ireland; and on the subject of education he could truly say, that there never was a time when all classes of the people were so eager to receive the elements of education, and when the middling classes were so ready to afford them. In proof of this general disposition, he quoted the report of the Sunday School Society in Ireland, which had established 1,640 schools, educated 12,000 children, and was supported, not by public money, but by voluntary subscription, unaided by the Catholic clergy, who were in general (there were some few exceptions) hostile to the education of their flocks. In the Sunday schools, the Scriptures formed the basis of the education conferred. The noble lord then enumerated the different Sunday schools in Ireland, the rapid progress of education which resulted from them, and the number of Catholic children who were ready to partake of their system of education: the sum total was 349,306 children, 164,745 of whom were Roman Catholics. In his view of the state of Ireland, he was ready to admit, that proselytism ought to be avoided in the education of the people, although it was a matter of great importance, that, in the spirit of the reformation, they should by all fair argument oppose the errors of popery. He then contrasted the difference between the people of Scotland and Ireland, and pointed out the advantages which education had conferred upon the former. After adverting to the tithe commutation and police bills which parliament enacted in a former session, and of the principle of which he approved, he regretted that the state of the country required the application of coercive measures; for, whether it was the triumph of the Orangemen or that of the Ribbandmen, they were alike outrages which must be put down, before the tranquillity of Ireland could be restored, or the English capitalist be induced to commit his property into such hands. On 279 a late occasion, he knew that a contest had arisen out of these party triumphs which ended in bloodshed, and the magistracy required strong measures for their Suppression. As to the recent trial at Cavan, he believed the mind of the judge was impressed with the conviction, that the prisoner alluded to, was not the individual who had been engaged in the act which led to that trial. He should oppose this motion, because he thought it more calculated to exasperate than to mitigate the evils which afflicted Ireland.
The Marquis of Lansdown
explained, that he had never impugned the verdict of the jury at Cavan. He only stated that a murder had been committed, and no punishment ensued. With respect to the Catholic clergy, he had stated, that they were, as far as his experience went, friendly to education, where they were confident there was no view of converting their flock.
§ Lord Clifden
thought the system of proselytism which the noble lord had recommended, was contrary to the great principle of the Christian religion, to do to others as you would that others should do unto you. The Catholic priests were afraid of the attempts at conversion; and well they might be. The essence of the penal code was forced conversion. It was not a principle of the Catholic religion to allow their flock to read the Scriptures; and he did not see that it was justifiable to force them, under such circumstances, into their hands. He was happy to see that Mr. Peel, Mr. Goulburn, and other members of the government had stated that the object was, to instruct, and declare, that all plans inconsistent with this object should be discountenanced. In opposition to the noble earl who had last spoken, he thought the pacification of Ireland could never be hoped for, until Catholics and Protestants were placed upon a footing of perfect equality, and until they ceased to treat six millions of people as idolators not to be believed on their oaths.
The Earl of Carnarvon
said, that every speech they had heard had shewn the necessity there was for the committee. Who would say, judging from those speeches, what were the evils of Ireland, or what remedy could be applied to them. Every one agreed that evils existed. They were told by one noble lord, that the cause of those evils was, that the farms were small, and not laid out according to the plan of 280 Arthur Young. Another said it was the ignorance of the peasantry; and one noble lord, no mean authority, recommended as an universal panacea the introduction of a poor-rate. Upon this, another noble lord had said, "A poor-rate! not only will it do no good, it will complete the ruin of Ireland." Lastly, a noble earl had found the remedy in proselytism. These were the remedies which had been proposed. But then again, their lordships were told, that the measures in progress were of such a nature as to prevent any necessity for inquiry. The conclusion he drew from all these extraordinary statements was, that there were no measures either adopted or in progress, or even in contemplation, calculated to heal the wounds of Ireland. The only consolation he drew from all he had heard that night was, that ministers had gone too far to recede. Their present measures would not do any good; but they had placed them in a situation to compel them to follow those measures up by others better calculated to relieve the miseries of Ireland, and restore her to that tranquillity, without which there could neither be security nor permanent prosperity for England. There was one point which had been pressed by his noble friend near him, and evaded by the speakers on the other side, as if it were of no moment, but which he was convinced would shortly force itself on the attention of their lordships. He was convinced that the government must, with a fixed and steady attention, determine to ameliorate the condition of a country, which presented the astonishing spectacle of a large population being compelled to support the church establishment of a small minority. A Protestant establishment had, without any previous means of conversion, been forced upon the people by a violation of the treaty of Limerick. He admitted that the church establishment in Ireland ought to be supported; but he denied the necessity of maintaining it upon the present unequal scale. The real difficulty was, how to attach the people of Ireland. From what he had seen of them, he would say, that a more generous, active, and noble-minded people never existed. If well-treated, they would be a bulwark to this country; but if ill-treated, a source of constant weakness. Now was the time to make Ireland really our friend. The noble earl had talked of boons granted to her; but, what were they? She had for centuries been ill-treated and 281 plundered, and now a little of what was her own was given back to her. If their lordships looked to the state of Europe, they would see that there was danger all around. With Ireland at our side, we might defy all the powers of Europe: and with Ireland for our enemy, the weakest power would be a formidable opponent. He should vote for the motion of his noble friend.
§ The House divided: For the motion, 17; against it 57: Majority 40.