§ Viscount Melbourne
rose to move the third reading of the Suppression of Disturbances (Ireland) Bill. He observed, that the general grounds on which this Bill rested, the provisions which it contained, and the state of the part of the country to which it extended, and also its effect on those who had been subjected to its operation, had been so recently, so clearly, and so distinctly laid before their Lordships, that he did not conceive it to be necessary for him again to go over the ground at present. It would almost be sufficient for him merely to move, that it be read a third time. It had been a great misfortune, not to say a great calamity, which, as it was produced by the nature of the free Government under which they lived, they ought not, on the whole to deplore, although its effects had in many instances been most injurious, that the affairs of the Government were never, with respect to one part of the country, treated with common fairness in discussion. That part of the country had always been made the arena on which opposing political parties had fought their pattles—the ground on which Administrations had been attacked, and that on which the opponents of the Administration had al- 656 ways found their strongest points of attack. This, was, in fact, a great misfortune, for whether considered with reference to the importance of the country, or with respect to the particular circumstances in which it was placed, no matter required to be considered with more calmness, seriousness, and moderation. He knew that in discussions upon this Bill, comparisons had been drawn between disturbances which at various times had taken place in this country, and those which for many years past had disturbed and disgraced the population of Ireland; and it had been stated, that the Government had not at any time taken measures in any respect of a similar degree of severity towards those who disturbed the peace in England. His answer was, that there was no analogy whatever between the two cases. The difference between them was, on the contrary, very great. It had been stated, that England would not endure, with regard to herself, the introduction of measures such as this which was now proposed for their Lordships' consideration as affecting Ireland. He did not know what the English people would not endure, if they were subjected to similar circumstances. He trusted that the case would never arise—a case to call on a British Minister or a British Parliament to consider or propose a measure with respect to England, similar to that which now lay on the Table of that House. But he would tell their Lordships one thing, that England would not endure—England would not endure for one month, or one fortnight, that state of things which would render a measure like this necessary. England would not endure those outrages by night, that terror by day, that system of intimidation so widely spread in many districts in Ireland in which disturbances prevailed—England would not endure it for the shortest possible time, without taking those measures that should be effectual for the remedy of such an evil. He called on their Lordships only to consider the difference with respect to the circumstances of England, and the nature of the crimes that prevailed in this country, and contrast them with those committed in Ireland, and it would be manifest to everybody, that no pretence existed for the comparison that had been made. He had a Return with respect to both countries, which would enable him to show the difference between them. In 1833, in England, the number of crimes 657 committed amounted to 20,072. Of these, above 15,000 were offences of larceny—offences of robbery, committed without violence, and with secrecy. The whole number of offences committed without violence, was 17,131, leaving for those which had more or less of violence connected with the commission of them, the number of 2,941. This statement, undoubtedly, considering the great population of the country, though larger in amount than could be wished, was not one to fill the mind with any extraordinary degree of horror and alarm. Now, what was the state of Ireland during the same period? According to the Reports of the Inspectors of Police there, the number of outrages amounted to 9,943. In these Returns, no distinction had been made as to robberies committed with or without violence, but their whole amount was stated at 1,800 or 1,900. The list of outrages contained in it cases of riot, of rescue, of attacks upon houses, of illegal meetings, of appearing in arms, of burning and levelling dwellings, of maiming or destroying cattle. He asked their Lordships whether, pointing out this difference between the two countries was not sufficient to show that there was a necessity for a measure of this kind, in one of the two countries, while to the other it would be wholly inapplicable. He was sorry, however, to say, that the mere list of offences thus furnished would give but an inadequate account of the state of the country, but an inadequate idea of its condition could be formed from the details of murders and of horrors at which the blood ran cold. Those who had the task of reading the accounts of the smaller offences, would see in them a pervading character which was most fatal to the peace of society. No man could do any one act—could take a servant, could make the commonest disposition of his property, could settle a rate of wages, could give out a piece of work, without subjecting himself to annoyance, perhaps to injury, during the day, or to the nightly visit of ruffians, for the purpose of committing some violent outrage; and if any man resorted to the laws for protection, or if he assisted another in resorting to them, he was probably pronouncing the sentence of his own death, and in all probability would be murdered, perhaps in mid-day; and, as it too often happened, if not with the active assistance, at least, through the 658 effect of intimidation, with the silent permission of all the surrounding populace. He said, therefore, that it was absolutely necessary that the Government of Ireland should be invested with the power which this Act was to give them. But he apprehended that the most difficult part of his task was to reconcile their Lordships to the repeal, or rather the omission, of clauses which, in their opinion, would give additional force to the Government. He had before stated, and he would distinctly state it again, that this omission was against his opinion, that his opinion was in favour of the clauses, in favour of those three first clauses which gave the Lord-lieutenant power to disperse meetings. The grounds on which he was of that opinion were these: the Constitution of this country was formed of the prerogatives of the Crown, the privileges of the Parliament, and the rights and liberties of the people. It was in the harmony, agreement, and consent of these various principles, and in keeping each of them within bounds, that the frame of the Government was formed, and the advantage of the country in general was secured. When either of these powers exceeded their clue bounds, and abuses were committed, it became absolutely necessary to place limits to the force of that part of the Constitution. It was the experience of our history that such was the case, and many such limitations had taken place in consequence of the abuses thus created. In his opinion the right of petitioning had been abused and perverted in Ireland, where it was used for the purpose of overthrowing the Constitution of the country. He knew that it might be said, that it had been abused in England; that it had been sometimes carried to too great an extent here, he was willing to admit. Violent language had been sometimes used at public meetings here, and menacing conduct had even occasionally been exhibited. But here these things were transient—they were the spontaneous ebullitions of the moment—they soon passed away, and all again relapsed into peace. In Ireland, on the contrary, they were of certain regular recurrence, as regular as the monsoons and the rains of a tropical climate; and they bore the impression of being actuated by one mind, set on foot by one impulse—they were guided by one power and one spirit. On these grounds he had been prepared to 659 submit that these clauses were called for by the necessity of the case, and that they ought to have been adopted by Parliament. At the same time he must say, that their importance ought not to be overrated, nor be imagined to possess a power or an efficiency which did not in fact belong to them. They were effectual for one purpose; but, in the first place, they never had been used to prevent public meetings for the fair discussion of great public topics; and in the second place other means had been found to check the abuses of speech at these meetings. These clauses could not prevent a body of men from acting in a settled manner, and with a definite purpose, as the Roman Catholic Association had done; and attempts had been made since, though not with the same success, to establish a society like that Association. He was aware of the effect which speeches produced upon a body of persons assembled together for the discussion of political matters in Ireland. He knew that the language of a letter which had been before quoted described speeches and agitation as cause and effect. He might admit that representation to be true, and yet deny that they were the primary cause of the outrages. He knew not exactly what that cause was. Whether it arose from a supposed adherence to ancient rights, whether the people believed that they really did suffer under unparalleled oppression and misgovernment, and that this produced that character of violence among them, he did not know; but he knew that a spirit of violence did exist, ever ready to burst forth into action. There were persons, too, who were ever ready to unite against the well-being of the community, and he believed that whatever might be the future fate of Ireland, whatever might hereafter happen to it, that spirit of combination would oppose the most serious obstacles and the strongest impediments to its growing wealth and prosperity. That these speeches, however clamorous, and whatever topics they might urge (and he admitted, that many of them were most unjustifiable), that they did very great mischief, and that they were totally unwarranted by the facts, he could not possibly deny. They represented Ireland as domineered over by a foreign party (a topic the most irritating that could be addressed to any people), that the whole country was suffering from the misconduct of the whole body 660 of landlords, and that nothing remained for the people but utter ruin, abasement, and degradation. He knew how false these topics were; he could not deny that such topics so addressed and so received, must produce considerable effect; but that they were the primary cause of the outrage he had described, he must say he did not believe. Their Lordships would recollect, too, that the insertion of these clauses had not prevented speeches of this dangerous nature, from being addressed to the Irish people. Therefore, although he was ready to admit, that it would be better that the Government should be armed with the power which these clauses gave them, yet if it was said that such powers were absolutely necessary for the safety and peace of Ireland, and that that safety could not be preserved without, he could not believe the fact to be so. He was, therefore, ready, without these powers, to be responsible for the peace of Ireland. It had been found necessary to omit these three clauses which had formed a part of the Bill of last year. Their Lordships were aware of the reasons which had been urged for this omission, and none could refuse to acknowledge that if they could be dispensed with, the omission was demanded by justice. He was aware that Ministers had been much censured for agreeing to give up those parts of last year's Bill, and it had been said, that they had better have resigned than have abandoned them. In this opinion he did not concur. He thought it was the duty of the Government to adhere to his Majesty, and he concurred in the sentiment expressed by a noble Lord, that if ever bound not to desert the Monarch, the obligation was at that time more imperative than at any other period. For himself he did not say, that in accepting office he had made any sacrifices, for perhaps he would not gain any credit for such an assertion. Neither would he pretend any indisposition on his part to the acceptance of office, or affect to be insensible to the excitement it created, and the distinction which it conferred, but when acknowledging that, he felt that he might add, that he had also a full and perfect sense of the responsibility which it involved. Still, fully as he was impressed both will the distinction and the responsibility, he would adhere to the service of his Sovereign as long as that service was deemed useful, and when he 661 found it could be dispensed with, he would resign the trust as willingly as he had accepted it. He was not aware that he had anything more to add. If the noble Duke was of opinion that the safety of the empire rendered necessary the retention of the clauses proposed to be abandoned in the Bill before them, he hoped he was prepared to justify that opinion by reasons; but if the noble Duke had any doubt upon the subject, he also hoped that Government would receive the benefit of that doubt.
The Lord Chancellor,
before putting the question, said, that as the Amendment to be proposed by the noble Duke was a substantive measure, it should come before the House as a distinct Motion. The Bill should be now proposed for the third reading, and the noble Duke could afterwards make his Motion on the question that the Bill do pass.
§ The Earl of Ripon
said, that what he wished to state to their Lordships would come better in, and be more applicable, at this stage of the proceeding, than if he reserved it for the Amendment intended to be proposed by the noble Duke. It was with great reluctance that he felt himself called upon to address their Lordships on this occasion, because he found himself compelled to accede to a measure, at the same time that he held in the utmost abhorrence the principle upon which it was founded. None amongst their Lordships were less disposed than he to trench upon liberty, or bind down the people with unnecessary restrictions. He concurred with his noble friend who presided over his Majesty's Government, in acknowledging that nothing but extreme necessity would sanction the measure. In acquiescing in the proposition before their Lordships, he was reluctantly obliged to confess that he felt very much pained at some circumstances connected with it. When his noble friend, who was lately at the head of the Government, had on a recent occasion called upon their Lordships to pass this Bill, he had stated in a full, clear, convincing, and satisfactory manner, the reasons by which he was compelled to resort to the necessity of adopting this measure, and there was no part of the Bill on the necessity of which he more forcibly dwelt than on the clauses now proposed to be omitted by the measure at present before their Lordships. Under these circumstances, he thought it 662 imperative on their Lordships to consider why it was that—he would not say the same Government, but—a great portion of the same Government now called upon that House to consent to so material a change as to omit those clauses then deemed so indispensable. The only reason now given for this change was, that they were compelled to make it. There were many persons in the present Government for whom he entertained the most unfeigned esteem and respect, and he hoped that, whilst he had acted with them he had demeaned himself as a man of honour, and one not unworthy of their friendship; but however high might be the estimation in which he held them, he thought more satisfactory reasons should be assigned for this change than those which had been given. The noble Lord who had lately been at the head of his Majesty's Government had told them, that the clauses now proposed to be omitted were indispensable, and that without them the measure would not be effective. The noble Earl did not, on that occasion, say a single word which could lead their Lordships to suppose that there was any difference amongst the members of the Government upon this point. There could not, at that time, have been any such difference; for, if there had, the noble Earl would not have been justified in not having, at that time, stated it to their Lordships. The opinion which the noble Earl did state, he stated as that of the Government, and he confirmed this opinion by no less authority than that of the Lord-lieutenant of Ireland; a nobleman of whom he could not speak in terms sufficiently expressive of his regard. Despatches written by him were read to the House for the purpose of showing how necessary it was that these clauses should be retained; and how did it now happen that a noble Lord came down to that House with a proposition for doing them away? That part of the Bill which affected agitation was proposed to be omitted, notwithstanding the strong testimony borne by the despatches transmitted from the Lord-lieutenant of Ireland, and in which, with a most philosophic spirit of inquiry, after a close analysis of all the circumstances, and in a mode of reasoning close, conclusive, and convincing, the connexion of predial outrage with political agitation was clearly demonstrated. As he said before, if the Government was of opinion that it could go on without the power 663 which these clauses conferred, he should be satisfied—leaving, to them all the responsibility—to take the Bill in the shape in which they brought it before their Lordships; but it was very difficult to adopt the conclusion, that the Bill would answer the proposed purpose, without knowing what induced the Lord-lieutenant of Ireland to write the letter out of which the difference of opinion in the Cabinet arose. Under these circumstances, he thought it somewhat hard upon their Lordships to be called upon to consent to the change. The difference in the Cabinet, it appeared, had arisen because of a communication which had taken place without the sanction of one who, above all others, should have been consulted. And to whom had this unauthorized communication taken place? He would not name individuals; but the communication had been made to one who was ever found resisting the measures of the Government, and upon whom no reliance could be placed by the Government, and from whom every proceeding flowed which disturbed the tranquillity of Ireland; one whose hostility adopted every form of vituperation and abuse, and who had of late exhausted the whole vocabulary of even his vituperative language in his attacks on the Lord-lieutenant of Ireland. No Government could by possibility stand, which proceeded in such a manner as this; and he would venture to predict, that if the present Government acted on such a system, it would not last long. But knowing, as he did, the spirit, the resolution, and the judgment of the noble Lord now at the head of the Government, he had some hope, that such practices would not be followed. Their Lordships should remember, that when, on a former occasion, this Bill, including the clauses now proposed to be thrown out, was brought before them for a second reading, those clauses were attacked in their Lordships' House, and were most elaborately defended by the Ministers. The communication which had been called an "indiscretion," but which, in other words, was a great blunder, took place, and the change in the Bill was the consequence. In a day or two after the circumstances became known, it was stated, that the right hon. Gentleman concerned in making the communication had resolved to resign; but it eventually turned out that, at the request of the Government, he consented to retain office. After some delay and 664 some doubts, by the efforts of his noble friend, now First Lord of the Treasury, things were in some measure restored. That noble Lord accepted office; at his magic touch most of the severed members of the divided Cabinet again united, and affairs assumed their present position. But still it was not a thorough reunion. He who was the life and soul of the former Ministry was not now amongst them. This description of the noble Earl no one could gainsay. None would deny his exalted qualifications for the office which he held, or how eminently fitted he was to contend with the difficulties which he had to surmount; nor would even those who disapproved of his measures, hesitate to admit, that a life spent in the furtherance of reform furnished ample reason why he should have been the last person to be removed from the Ministry. But under the circumstances of the case, the noble Earl was justified in retiring; but it appeared to him that the noble Earl had fallen a sacrifice to the conduct of others. If, instead of the change which had taken place, the noble Earl had carried on the business of the Government to the close of the Session, he might then have retired from office under circumstances calculated to give not the slightest pain either to himself or his successor. These observations were connected with the Bill, for if the change had not taken place, the Bill would have passed in the shape in which it had been introduced. The Lord-lieutenant of Ireland was placed, by these proceedings, in a situation which, for difficulty, could not be surpassed, for, from the documents before their Lordships, it was to be assumed, as his deliberate opinion, that the clauses were necessary. The clauses were to be omitted, and who was the cause that those portions of the Bill, which had been pronounced so necessary, did not pass? Who but he, who was himself the embodied personification of the spirit of agitation—he who would not stop here——tamen ultra pergere tendit. Actum, inquit, nihil est, ni pœno milite portas Frangimus, et mediâ voxillum pono SuburrâTo meet him those changes had been made: he had thundered at the gates—they lay prostrate at his feet, and he now reared his ill-omened standard over the citadel. To meet the views of this individual, the noble Lord at the head of the Irish Government had been placed in a most unpleasant position. After this view of the 665 transactions which then took place, it was to be hoped, that the noble Lord now at the head of the Ministry would be allowed to exercise his own judgment, and act on his own discretion. As circumstances stood, and as the Government appeared to think these clauses unnecessary, he was bound to acquiesce in their opinion. No one would be more gratified than he if it were found that Ireland could be kept tranquil without them; but if stronger measures were found necessary, he hoped the noble Viscount would not hesitate to apply for them. If they were not applied for, the noble Viscount himself would be the next victim, and the last would be the Constitution of this country.
§ The Duke of Wellington
said, that as the House seemed disposed to take the debate on the question for the third reading of this Bill, he should take that opportunity of addressing to their Lordships the observations which he felt it his duty to make, postponing the Motion which it was his intention to submit to their Lordships, until the proposition now before them was disposed of. The noble Viscount had told them, that he did not think the clauses omitted in the present Bill, but which were contained in the measure of last year, were absolutely necessary for the peace of Ireland, although he admitted, that he had voted for them, and that he had been desirous of seeing them pass. The noble Viscount, as well as the noble Earl (Earl Grey) had both said, that they would vote for nothing which they did not believe to be absolutely necessary.
§ Viscount Melbourne
I did not say, I would vote for nothing that I did not think absolutely necessary; though I might have said, that I would vote for nothing that I did not consider expedient.
§ The Duke of Wellington
Well, then, the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack and the noble Earl had declared that they would vote for nothing which they did not consider absolutely necessary. But he would go farther than the opinions of the noble Viscount: he would go to the opinions expressed in two Acts of Parliament, the one passed in 1828, and the other passed during the last year. Upon both those occasions it was stated, in the most positive manner in the preambles of those Acts, that political agitation was the particular object which was intended to be put down by them; that it was alike dangerous to the public tranquillity, and 666 inconsistent with the safety and existence of all regular Governments. Those clauses had been fully justified by the Ministers of the Crown, and passed both Houses of Parliament with large majorities; and if they were not absolutely necessary for the peace and security of person and property in Ireland, would that have been the case? But see what the Lord-lieutenant said, see how he described the state of disturbance which existed in Ireland, and to what cause he traced the evils complained of in that country! He treated agitation and outrage as cause and effect, and so, in short, did every Magistrate in communication with the Irish Government. But this was not all. The noble Earl and the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack had both descanted, on a former occasion, on the necessity of passing those clauses, saying that, if the lower orders were restrained by the Bill, it was only an act of common justice that some restriction should be placed on the conduct of other parties. Moreover the noble and learned Lord said, that it would be unfair to press the loins of those who disturbed the peace of the country, without, at the same time, pressing the fingers of those by whom the peace of the city was disturbed, and that it would be inconsistent or unjust to frame clauses for preventing the lower orders from being out at night—for passing, as he called it, "the sunset" part of the Bill—without also framing clauses for the restraint of those who agitated the city. Under these circumstances it was, that the noble Viscount now told them that those clauses were not necessary; but with such evidence before them was it possible that their Lordships could place any reliance in such a statement? The noble Viscount had contrasted the state of this country with that of Ireland, and he had said, most truly, that the people of England would not tamely submit to a measure like this. The fact was, that the people of this country would not submit to such a state of things as now existed in Ireland, and he would defy any one to point out a place in any country in the world in which a state of insurrection, similar to that which was exhibited in that country at the present moment, was to be witnessed, not excepting even the wilds of Asia, Africa, or America. They talked of the liberty of the people, but, for his part, he could not understand that to be liberty which afforded security for neither life nor property. The 667 security of life and property was the first consideration in every civilized state, but for the last three years he would defy any one to say, that either life or property was secure in Ireland. The noble and learned Lord had frequently told them that the duties of allegiance consisted of obedience to the laws on the one hand, and protection for the subject on the other. This was no doubt the fact; but then came the question, why was the Crown to be prevented from giving protection to the loyal portion of the people of Ireland? The Act of last year proved most effectual in the suppression of disturbances, and why that Act was not now to be continued in its integrity he was at a loss to understand. But the noble Viscount told them that the part of the Bill relating to proclamations for putting down unlawful assemblies was not necessary for the preservation of the peace, notwithstanding the Lord-lieutenant declared that it was. The noble Viscount said, that the Proclamation clauses were ineffectual; but was that the case, or how was the assertion borne out by the fact? They had it from the Lord-lieutenant, that these clauses had effectually prevented the permanence of such assemblies—had even put down adjourned meetings; nay more, the Proclamation clauses contained in the Acts of the years 1828 and 1829, it was well known, had not only been effectual, but had successfully frustrated the attempts which were made to get up unlawful meetings. He would go further and say, that it would be utterly impossible to prevent unlawful assemblies by the Bill now on their Lordships' Table, unless those clauses were embodied in it. Without them the Lord-lieutenant could not proclaim a meeting appointed to take place in the city of Dublin as unlawful; and as the three first clauses of the Act of last year applied altogether to meetings in the city of Dublin, they ought, he submitted, to be inserted in the present Bill. The only reason that ought to have led to the omission of the clauses was, that they could not pass the Act through another place if they retained them. He would say, that there never was a Government which possessed the confidence of the other House in the same degree as the Government of the noble Earl lately at the head of his Majesty's Councils; and, notwithstanding the resignation of the noble Earl, and notwithstanding the re- 668 signations of some of his colleagues about a fortnight previously, he would venture to say, that the Government which existed at the present moment, possessed the confidence of the other House of Parliament in the same degree that the noble Earl formerly possessed it when he had the assistance of the noble Earl (Earl Ripon) on the cross bench, and his other colleagues. It had been the misfortune of the Government of Ireland to submit to the dictation of the person to whom the noble Earl on the cross-bench had alluded; and it was to that influence that the Government had given way on this occasion, and had left out these important enactments. He would ask, whether the noble Viscount(Viscount Melbourne) really supposed that he could not carry this measure unaltered through the House of Commons without the assistance of this person? If the noble Viscount entertained this opinion, he was perfectly right in bringing forward the measure in its present shape. His own opinion, with respect to the duty of the noble Viscount and his colleagues had been alluded to; and he therefore must again say, that it was his own opinion, that the noble Viscount and his colleagues were bound to continue to serve his Majesty, and make any sacrifice consistent with their own honour and characters, and consistent with the interests of the country, as long as his Majesty should require their services. It appeared to him, that if the noble Viscount had stated in his place the opinions he had formerly expressed, he could have carried that Bill through the other House. If the noble Viscount had declared, that he believed the measure necessary for the public service, and the provisions of which the noble Viscount even now admitted to be desirable, he thought that the noble Viscount, by so doing, would have afforded a greater security for the maintenance of the peace of Ireland, than he could by any half measures. He had heard it stated, and he confessed with some pain, that a noble relative of his, the Lord-lieutenant of Ireland, had changed his mind on the subject of those clauses; but he had seen no evidence whatever of any change of purpose on the part of his noble relative, or any change of opinion on this question; and that which made him positively certain in saying, that there could be no change of opinion, and that the alleged change of 669 opinion was mere pretence, was the circumstance that the noble Earl, late at the head of the Government, spoke of the opinion of the Lord-lieutenant as favourble to the clauses in the first week in July, he believed on the 4th; and when the supposed change of opinion on the part of the Lord-lieutenant was stated to have taken place so far back as the 18th of June. When the noble Earl introduced the subject in the first days of July, he must have been aware had any change of opinion taken place in the mind of the Lord-lieutenant, and it must have been strange if he had not mentioned this to their Lordships. The noble Earl also, in reply to some observations on this subject, said, that the only authority for the assertion was mere matter of correspondence in private letters, and that the public had nothing to do with the letters; and he also quoted the opinion of the Lord-lieutenant as authorising the measure that had been introduced by the Government. He was satisfied, therefore, that there was no ground to authorise the assertion of a change of opinion on the part of the Lord-lieutenant. He should vote for the third reading of the Bill as it at present stood, and he should propose an Amendment which would prevent the exclusion of the three clauses of the Bill of last year; but he should not trouble their Lordships to divide, as he only wished that his opinion should be entered on the Journals of the House. He had no intention to press the adoption of his opinion on the Government, or to force upon them powers which they did not think necessary. Under these circumstances all he should have to do would be to move his Amendment, and allow it to be negatived.
The Earl of Glengall
expressed his regret that the clauses relative to public meetings had been left out of this Bill. The Government had for some time been making concessions with a view of promoting the peace of Ireland, but they had hitherto been unsuccessful in their expectations. The reason why concession had hitherto failed was, that the Government had not consulted the Magistrates or Gentry in their proceedings, and appeared to have no confidence in them. They, therefore, very naturally did not trust the Government. This mutual want of confidence between the Magistracy and the Government had been productive of the greatest evils. When they passed the 670 Coercion Bill last year it was hoped by the gentry of Ireland that steps would be taken to put down agitation, that the Government would not continue to yield to the demands of the agitators, but that steps would be taken to secure the peace of Ireland. The Government had tried to procure security to property, and tranquillity to Ireland by concession, but had altogether failed. When they passed the Coercion Bill he had hoped that they intended to tell the agitators in that country that they would yield no more to them—that they would not make further concessions to them until they had shown by their conduct that they deserved them. By excluding the clauses preventing political agitation, they threw power into the hands of those who would make the worst possible use of it, and who would pursue a course most detrimental to the interests of this country. If they passed the Bill in its present shape, and allowed public meetings to be held, a month would not pass over without having agitation against tithes throughout the greater part of Ireland. The state of Ireland was most alarming, and he feared that it would become even worse. As an illustration of the present feeling the noble Lord mentioned that lists were given about of those whose ancestors' properties had been forfeited by Cromwell and after the battle of the Boyne, and the names of the present holders of the estates were given as usurpers.
§ The Earl of Harewood
was satisfied that the peace of Ireland never could be secured so long as such practices obtained as had lately taken place in relation to the Government of that country, and to which so much allusion had that night been made. When such scenes took place, could the people look with any confidence to the Government? The circumstance he had alluded to excited much speculation, but it appeared to him that the whole thing hinged on the private communications that had been made to the Lord-lieutenant of Ireland, with a view to extort from him an opinion which had been most improperly acted on. If the production of the communications in question in that House were not altogether regular, still there were other means of making the matter public which could have been acted upon, if the opinions were honestly expressed, and which would have afforded satisfaction. The country 671 then would have been able to form a just opinion on the subject. The noble Earl, lately at the head of the Government, had retired solely to allow, apparently, the adoption of measures which appeared satisfactory to the great agitator of Ireland. In the first place the Government had called upon their Lordships to give an opinion on this subject, and to declare that a certain measure was necessary; and, instead of following it up, they had abandoned that measure. It appeared that an individual—and he meant nothing disrespectful by that term—had made a communication in a certain quarter, and which had been called a great indiscretion. This had been so designated because the person had made a communication which should not have been made, and which had not been hastily or thoughtlessly made, but that it was made with the sanction of a person, which made it of much greater importance. The strongest circumstance of all, however, connected with this proceeding was, that it had been kept back from the knowledge of the head of the Government that any such communication had been made. Apart from the Bill he felt the greatest anxiety that such conduct should not be repeated. He said this not only for the sake of the people of Ireland or the people of this country, but for their Lordships' sake; for he could not help recollecting that their proceedings were looked upon with anxiety by all Europe, and such conduct as he had alluded to only tended to lower the character of this country in the estimation of every civilized people. It ought not to be forgotten that the communication in question had been made to a person who had been twice denounced in the King's Speech—to a person whose conduct it had been stated was the main cause that rendered it necessary to keep such a large army in Ireland. Under these circumstances need he express his surprise that the Government should condescend to enter into secret negotiations with him? There was also another reason which should have operated upon them. The person in question had repeatedly declared that nothing would satisfy him but the Repeal of the Union. Now the Government had declared, and had called upon both Houses to sanction their declaration, that they would stand by the Union even to the shedding of blood. He had no wish to speak harshly of the Go- 672 vernment; but he would ask what might it be supposed was the opinion of the Government on the subject after what had been reported to have taken place? He had differed almost constantly on political subjects with the noble Earl lately at the head of the Government; but he would at once declare that every feeling of political hostility towards that noble Earl was at an end when he saw the unbecoming manner in which he had been sacrificed, and on such an occasion. He should support the third reading of the Bill, and he trusted the Government would not have reason to regret having left out the clauses to which allusion had been made.
The Marquess of Clanricarde
begged their Lordships to recollect that, on a former occasion, the noble Earl, then at the head of the Government, had stated that the Lord-lieutenant of Ireland had communicated to the noble Earl that the Marquess Wellesley could carry on the Government of Ireland without the power of putting down political agitation, although, at the same time, he thought such power desirable, and the noble Viscount had come forward to make a similar declaration to that made by the noble Earl. He was glad, for his part, to hear the noble Duke say, that the present Ministers had the confidence of Parliament, because he thought that they deserved such confidence; but he did not think that they would continue to possess that confidence if they called for powers which were now declared by the Lord-lieutenant of Ireland not to be absolutely necessary for the Government of Ireland. It must be obvious to any man, that the feelings of a people would be excited if they were constantly told that they were ill-governed and oppressed; and in a country like Ireland, where the people were in such distress, and so long had just grounds of complaint, such language was peculiarly calculated to rouse the feelings of the people. When, however, he admitted this, and regretted the evils of political agitation, he denied that that was the main cause of the outrages that were committed in Ireland. Agitation might have much power in rousing the feelings; but he thought that it could not be contended that it was the main cause of the disturbances. Indeed he thought that the noble Duke must admit this. Were agrarian outrages new in Ireland? Need he refer 673 to what passed twenty years before the rebellion; and again, twenty-eight years ago, when the noble Duke was Secretary for Ireland, and when it was deemed necessary to pass such a law as that on the Table to put down outrages? He repeated then, that although political agitation at the present moment might have a powerful effect on the mind of the people, he distinctly denied that it was the cause of the predial agitation which prevailed. The noble Duke said, that security was the chief object of Government, and that that was to be consulted before liberty. Undoubtedly security both of person and property was of the highest importance, but were not the people also entitled to have a Government which they could place confidence in? He concurred entirely in the provisions of the Bill. There was sufficient ground for passing a measure to put down outrages, but it was unnecessary to adopt the clauses relating to political agitation. He had objected to that part of the former Bill, and his noble friend, then at the head of the Government, knew the opinion he entertained on the subject. He gave his sanction to the present Bill with greater willingness because he had perfect confidence in the noble Marquess to whom the carrying it into operation would be intrusted. The whole of that illustrious individual's conduct and life afforded a guarantee that the powers given in the Bill would not be abused, but that they would be exercised with impartiality and moderation. He trusted, however, that next year they would be able to restore the Administration of the ordinary law in Ireland, and that it would be no longer necessary to infringe on the liberties of the people. He was satisfied that they would never gain security to life or property in Ireland by Coercion Bills alone, but that it was only by sanctioning such reasonable and just measures as he trusted shortly to see before the House that the permanent peace of that country could be secured.
The Earl of Haddington
did not think of contending for the proposition, that to coercive measures alone they ought to look for security. He was well aware that there was much to occupy the Parliament and the Government of this country, perhaps for years to come, in devising measures in defiance of all the clamour that might be raised, for the improvement 674 of Ireland, for her peace and for her tranquillity; but if their Lordships determined on introducing a coercive measure, if they were persuaded that it was necessary in the present state of the country, the question was, whether that coercive measure should be efficient, whether it should go to the cause, or deal only with the effect, which was the subject more immediately under the consideration of their Lordships. It would be presumptions in him to doubt whether the noble Marquess was better acquainted with the condition of his own country, than he was; but he thought he had pretty good authority on his side, when he said that agitation and predial disturbances were intimately connected as cause and effect. He had the opinion of the Lord-lieutenant of Ireland to that effect; he had the decided and strong opinion of the late first Lord of the Treasury to that effect; he had the opinion of his noble and learned friend on the Woolsack to that effect; and he believed that he should have had the united opinion of the whole Government to that effect, but for the disclosure of that private correspondence and juggling which had taken place, from which it appeared that confidence had been betrayed, and which, for the sake of those concerned, he wished had never been made known. The very reason of the thing would show that it must be so. They had the predial outrages in the one case; in the other they had the agitators touching on the string which they knew would be responded to by the feelings of the people of Ireland, and creating a question, which, but for them, would never have been created. Yet, what did this Bill do? If they passed it, they would press with the weight of their whole loins upon the unfortunate, ignorant, deluded peasant out of the House an hour after sunset, inflamed by the declarations of interested agitators, who went abroad in the night to scatter discord and ruin around them. Upon the poor misguided peasantry they pressed more than was necessary; but in the case of the agitator they pressed not at all; or if they did, they pressed upon him with their little finger only. Thus they were content to deal with the effect, but the cause they left unchecked. Suppose he had no authority for what he was urging, he would ask their Lordships, was there not a probability in the nature of things that he was right? He had listened with 675 great satisfaction to the speech of the noble Earl who lately held the office of Privy Seal. In detailing what had taken place on a recent occasion, it appeared to him that his noble friend had stopped rather short. He would not repeat what his noble friend had stated, because he would not weaken the effect of his noble friend's remarks; but he would come at once to the point. His noble friend, to the best of his recollection, finished his statement by making some remarks on the indiscretion or blunders of his right hon. friend, the Chief Secretary for Ireland. Now, he was certainly one of those who thought that the right hon. Gentleman had been very hardly used. It might be that his right hon. friend had been guilty—who was there that might not be?—of some common indiscretion. His right hon. friend himself admitted, that he had acted with indiscretion; and he could not deny that statement of his right hon. friend; but at the same time it was worthy of remark, that for some days his right hon. friend bore the whole blame of that indiscretion. The subject was brought under discussion, but there was not one word said by any human being to show that any other person had been guilty of rashness, indiscretion, insubordination, or whatever they were pleased to call it, but his right hon. friend, the Secretary for Ireland. At last it came out, that there was another person—a Cabinet Minister—a noble Lord of unimpeached, and unimpeachable character, who had so far participated in the indiscretion, that he had authorized the communication without ever consulting the First Lord of the Treasury on the subject; which communication that noble Earl, standing in his place in this House, said was made to a man with whom he authorized no communications, because in that man he did not think that confidence could be placed. There was some one, therefore, to share with his right hon. friend, the Secretary for Ireland, the blame of what had taken place. If he might be allowed to refer to the ordinary channels of communication, he would say, that he had once seen a statement which he had never heard contradicted. That statement was made by a noble Lord, in another place, who was nearly connected with the noble Earl, late at the head of his Majesty's Government, and who, having the honour and the interest of his noble rela- 676 tive near to his heart, put a question to his right hon. friend, the Secretary for Ireland, and asked him, whether any other persons had communicated, or had followed him in communicating, not with the Arch Agitator of Ireland, but with the Lord-lieutenant of Ireland; for he had not forgotten, that his right hon. friend was dealing not only with the hon. and learned member for Dublin, but with the Lord-lieutenant of Ireland also. His right hon. friend replied (very properly, no doubt: probably if he had been in the same situation, he should have given a similar answer), in such a manner, that his answer amounted simply to a refusal to answer. Why, if his right hon. friend had known that no other individuals had communicated with the Lord-lieutenant of Ireland, would he not at once have given a reply to that effect? Would he not have said, "I, and I only, communicated with the head of the Irish Government." He had not the slightest suspicion that the noble Lord, who was Home Secretary, was a party to such a communication. His right hon. friend, however, simply replied, "That he saw no reason why, having been guilty of one indiscretion, he should be led into the commission of another." Then, till that statement was contradicted, he (the Earl of Haddington) concluded he had a right to say, that there were other communicators. Who they were, he knew not; probably he never should know; and now that the mischief was done, he did not much care to know. But he would say, that his right hon. friend had been very ill-treated indeed; and that he was sure there must be more in this transaction than met the eye. Suppose his right hon. friend bad gone unauthorized to make that communication—suppose he, holding a subordinate office, by going first to the Lord-lieutenant of Ireland, and then to the Arch Agitator, had caused all those disturbances which had ended in driving out of the Government the noble Earl who was its Chief—in the high manliness and integrity of whose character it was impossible not to have confidence, and who, as a clog to the wheel of the Movement, was more especially entitled to that confidence—suppose, he repeated, such had been the interference by a subordinate Officer of the Crown, could it be argued for an instant, that he would be at this moment Secretary for Ireland? He would say, rather, that there had been much that they 677 did not know of, and the effect of which, as had been so ably described by his noble friend, was likely to produce an unfavourable impression in the country as to the character of public men, and not looking like a very auspicious beginning of this new Administration. He called it a new Administration; he was aware, however, that his noble friend at the head of the Government stated the other night, that it was not a new Administration, and that it was meant to conduct the Government on the same principles as were acted on while the noble Earl was in office. He had been a good deal struck with the positive declaration of the noble Earl, that this was not a new Ministry. That it was so, was surely shown by this fact, that the Prime Minister had retired, and he was somebody. He was a great man in this country; and he was still more in his situation at the head of the Government. When the noble Earl resigned, they were told, that the whole Government was dissolved—that it was at an end. But whether it were in the hands of the noble Lord now at the head of the Government, or whether it were in other hands, he did not know; but he must admit that they had been informed, that though the Government was dissolved, it was not dissolved. However, it soon revived again; here it was, and not a new Government, but an old Government. The very first measure introduced by this new-old Government was different from the measure that had been introduced by the former Government. They were unanimous, as far as he knew, on that measure, and they now unanimously recommended a different measure. There was this extraordinary fact, however, that they did not approve of the measure they recommended; they all expressed their regret, that they had to bring it forward. His noble friend had told their Lordships, that it would have been impossible for them to carry the first Bill through the House of Commons. He had had great respect for the House of Commons ever since it had been Reformed, though he preferred it as it was before, and nothing should induce him to speak of that House but with respect. Still he would say, that he could not believe the Representatives of the people, coming fresh from the people, would think so little of the poor peasant, as to consign him to the curfew, while he who kept the country in a state of continued disturbance, while 678 the Agitator, who was the cause of all the mischief, was allowed to escape. He would say, that it was unjust; he would say, that it was cruel. He regretted that they should be called on to pass so one-sided a measure, bearing as it did on the ignorant, unfortunate, and perhaps the oppressed, but undoubtedly the poor; and letting go scot free those who agitated the community, while they served their own purposes. He did not believe the difficulty existed in the House of Commons; it was to be found somewhere else—in the Government itself. Here, however, they got into a labyrinth. He confessed he did not understand one half that had passed on this occasion. That the Government was composed of individuals who entertained discordant opinions on this measure, was true. That those who were most attached, in these days of popularity-hunting, to what were commonly called popular principles, had prevailed, there could be no doubt. He felt sure that one at least of the noble Lords opposite would rather have had the Bill with the clauses which had been omitted, than without them. But the Bill was to pass, malgre the opinions of those who thought it imperfect. His noble friend said, that difficulties would have been experienced in the House of Commons, had this not new, but old Government, attempted to carry the first Bill through that House; but how could that be, if this were the new-old Government, which had sufficient influence to cause its opinions to prevail in the House of Commons? If his noble friend should pursue a course really calculated to give peace to Ireland; and if he would, at the same time withstand those efforts to accomplish vague and indefinite changes, which now unfortunately prevailed in this country, he would promise—though he knew it was of little use—his decided support; but he was afraid, considering the manner in which his noble friend's Government had commenced its operations, that it was not likely to lead to any results so happy as those to which he had adverted. A new Government had been formed, and nothing had yet occurred in that House to prevent its having fair play. Should he prove a false prophet, no man would rejoice more sincerely at it than he should.
The Earl of Wicklow
said, that he for one felt that he was placed in a curious 679 position on this occasion. He was called upon to vote for a measure of great severity, without having any documents laid before the House to show that such a measure was necessary, and without any explanation from any Member of the Cabinet to justify their Lordships in passing this particular measure. It was true that the noble Viscount, at the head of his Majesty's Government, had made some observations, but they were in favour of a Bill which had been read a second time in that House, and which now lay on their Lordships' Table for a third reading. The noble Viscount's speech was, in fact, in favour of Lord Grey's Bill, and not in favour of the present Bill; their Lordships were, therefore, now called upon to pass this Bill, without having any evidence before them that such a particular Bill was necessary. He was glad that the sense of the House was not to be taken upon this measure on this occasion. He was glad that by passing the Bill, without question, the whole responsibility of the case would be thrown upon the Government. No consideration on earth would ever induce him to vote for such a Bill as this. If it were to go to a vote, which he was glad to find would not be the case, he should certainly retire without voting at all. He regarded this measure as the most unjust and tyrannical that had ever been passed by the Legislature of a free people. The Bill of last Session was a Bill of justice and mercy compared with this measure. He could not help here referring to the language which at different periods had been used in regard to this measure by the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack. That noble and learned Lord, when he had been taunted a few nights ago with having made use of arguments so contrary to his present opinion on the subject—the noble Lord's answer was, that that was an improper time to discuss the point, and that they should wait until this measure came before them, when he would give a full explanation of his sentiments upon it. They were now arrived at the third reading of the Bill, and there the noble and learned Lord sat reposing on the Woolsack, and the other noble Lords on the other side of the House sat in silence, waiting to hear what would be said, without saying any thing themselves on the subject. He would just refer to the language of the noble and learned Lord when the former 680 Bill was under the consideration of the House. The following were extracts from the speech of the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack in that House, on the 4th of July, in reply to the noble Earl's (Earl of Durham's) objections to the clauses that related to political meetings:—"Under the circumstances of the case, he could not, however, help feeling that it was not fit, or fair, or consistent, to draw that line of distinction which his noble friend had drawn between the infraction of public rights connected with public meetings assembled to discuss public matters, and what his noble friend seemed to think of less importance—namely, the domestic rights of subjects, which were affected by the other part of the Bill, though not touched upon by that against which his noble friend had expressed his opposition. These were the grounds, the noble and learned Lord afterwards said, which prevented him from drawing that line of distinction which his noble friend had pointed out. If he suspended one species of right (and he hoped and believed that he consented to that suspension for the last time), he felt that it was equally necessary to suspend the other. Yes, he deemed it necessary to apply a legislative enactment to the exciting cause as well as to the mischief which that excitement produced."* He should like to hear from the noble and learned Lord in what way this Bill applied a remedy to the exciting cause. The noble and learned Lord formerly considered the clauses relating to public meetings of such importance that he would not allow them to be withdrawn. How could the noble and learned Lord now justify his change of opinion? The noble and learned Lord, no doubt, possessed a great deal of ingenuity, but he thought that it would puzzle even his ingenuity to find out an excuse for such a sudden, and such an extraordinary change of opinion. Two reasons had been assigned for the alterations that had been made in this Bill. The one was a public one—the other was of a private and mysterious nature. With regard to the public reason, it had been stated by the noble and learned Lord on a former night, that the House of Commons would never pass this Bill with those clauses, having ascertained thatHansard (third series) Vol. xxiv. p. 1122–1123681 the noble Marquess, at the head of the Government of Ireland, had expressed his opinion that he could dispense with them. But he would positively deny, that it was a fact, that the House of Commons would not pass the Bill with those clauses. He might deny it on the ground that the present House of Commons would support the Government, no matter how it was changed. In fact, it did so, and there was, somehow or other, some one slipping into the Government every day. It was but to-day he saw that a noble friend of his opposite had become one of the Ministry, and he was happy to see his noble friend's accession to office. It was on the 3rd of July that the extraordinary, he would say the disgraceful, proceeding took place in the House of Commons, when one hon. Gentleman said, "Upon my honour it is so," and another hon. Gentleman replied, "I declare solemnly, and upon my honour, that it is not so." It was upon that occasion, that it was disclosed that the Lord-lieutenant of Ireland had admitted, that he could dispense with those clauses; yet a few days after, in the House of Commons, the Ministers had a majority of 174 to ninety-two in reference to those very clauses. That was a proof that the measure, with those clauses, would be carried through the House of Commons. It was, therefore, nothing but trifling with that House, and with the country, to tell them that the House of Commons would not pass the Bill with those clauses. He next came to the private reason alleged for making those alterations in the Bill. That reason was said to be contained in a private letter from the Marquess Wellesley, and it was said, that it justified the Government in making the alterations that had been made in the Bill. That letter should have been produced in justice to the noble Marquess himself, and the correspondence also which had produced that letter from the noble Marquess should have been produced. What could be the reason that the letter of the noble Marquess was concealed? It was the impression on the minds of many that the Government were afraid to let that correspondence be seen; that they were not only afraid of the treachery which would be exposed on the part of some members of the Government, but that they were afraid to let the more honourable and virtuous members of the Cabinet know the real reason of such a 682 course of proceeding. The noble Marquess opposite had said, on a former evening, that if any member of the Cabinet had written such a letter, he would not remain a colleague in the Cabinet with him.
The Marquess of Lansdown
said, that his words were, that if any member of the Cabinet had betrayed his noble friend (Earl Grey), he would not remain a colleague with him.
The Earl of Wicklow
would not, of course, say, that the noble Earl, late at the head of the Government, had said, that he had been betrayed by any member of the Cabinet, but he would maintain that the effect of the letter in question had been to betray the noble Earl. The noble Earl, indeed, had himself afterwards said, that he had not been betrayed. At all events he had been ill used. If he did not feel so, why did he not remain a member of the Cabinet? Why did the right hon. Secretary for Ireland, when he was questioned in the House of Commons by the noble Earl's relative on the subject, decline to answer the question? Why did he say, that he would not commit another indiscretion in replying to it? Was it not plain that the right hon. Secretary was not the sole party to the correspondence that had taken place with the Lord-lieutenant of Ireland? Was it not plain that though the hand might be the hand of Esau, the voice was still the voice of Jacob? The conclusion at which the country and the Press had arrived—a conclusion in which he (the Earl of Wicklow)concurred—was, that that correspondence had been carried on by a member of the Cabinet. If the letter in question had not been written by a member of the Cabinet, there was no doubt that it had been suggested by one. He was sure, therefore, that the noble Marquess opposite would not stand upon mere words, but that if he found that a member of the Cabinet had been a party to such a correspondence, he would not continue a colleague with him. So anxious was he to hear what the noble and learned lord and other noble Lords had to say in their vindication, that he would not trouble their Lordships further on this occasion.
The Bishop of Derry
said: My Lords, it is with extreme reluctance that I offer any observations to your Lordships' consideration; but as the subject under discussion is one materially affecting my 683 own country, I trust I shall receive your Lordships' indulgence, and be permitted to make a very few observations upon it. My Lords, I do certainly regret the withdrawing of the clauses which have been alluded to, because it may possibly have the effect of casting odium upon the noble Earl, late at the head of his Majesty's Government, of being desirous of adopting measures of great severity; but, my Lords, to any insinuation of that description, the noble Lord's whole political life furnishes the most unequivocal contradiction. I do, in my conscience, believe that no statesman ever held in greater veneration the principles of the Constitution, and that no man ever felt greater pain from being compelled to sanction a departure from those principles. My Lords, the noble Earl does not require any eulogium from so humble an individual as I am. His public services cannot be forgotten; they will live in the memory of a grateful country, long after his consignment to the tomb. My Lords, I do confess that, upon principles of humanity also, I regret the withdrawal of those clauses from the Bill, because that appears to me calculated to promote the mischief caused by public meetings, where the passions of an easily-excited population are constantly influenced, and where the unfortunate peasantry are encouraged to the perpetration of acts which expose them to the vengeance of the law. I must, however, my Lords, acknowledge that I derive much consolation from reflecting upon the assurance recently given to your Lordships, by a noble Marquess connected with his Majesty's Government, namely, that if the experiment (this I believe was the term used by the noble Marquess), should fail to ensure the tranquillity of Ireland, he should consider it his duty to advise his Majesty immediately to assemble Parliament, with a view of arming his Ministers with such powers as might in that case be required; and, my Lords, as far as my recollection serves me, the noble Viscount at the head of the Government, in whom I have always reposed the utmost confidence, coincided in opinion upon this subject with the noble Marquess. My Lords, you can scarcely conceive the deplorable state of Ireland. One of the Irish newspapers which reached me this very morning contains an account of two atrocious murders—in one case, the unfortunate person had the temerity to pay 684 his rent—in the other, the crime was, having the audacity to seek for a payment due to him by legal proceedings. My Lords, I do not feel it to be any part of my duty to enter into a discussion upon the subject of the private correspondence to which your Lordships' attention has been frequently directed, nor have I any disposition to do so. I shall not, therefore, trespass further upon your Lordships' time than to express my gratitude for the attention by which I have been honoured.
The Marquess of Lansdown
would only trouble their Lordships with a few observations on this occasion. The noble Earl opposite had grossly mistaken what he had said on a former evening. The right reverend Prelate, however, was perfectly correct in what he had attributed to him. He had said on a former night, that if this experiment should fail, he entirely concurred with his noble friend at the head of the Government, that it would be their duty at once to call Parliament together for the purpose of repairing the error which they had committed, and of arming the Government with additional powers. With regard to what the noble Earl had attributed to him, he would repeat what he had said on that occasion. He was speaking at the time of the false assumption, that his noble friend late at the head of the Government had said, that he had been betrayed by a member of the Cabinet, and he said, that if such had really been the case, which was not the fact, he would not continue in the Cabinet with such a colleague. His noble friend (Earl Grey) on a subsequent evening had distinctly disclaimed, that he had made any such statement as that he had been betrayed by a member of the Cabinet. He lamented—as who did not lament?—that a certain correspondence had taken place with the Lord-lieutenant of Ireland; but his noble friend also added, that he was sure that nothing had been done which had not been well intended, both towards him and the public service. He would add nothing to what had been said, and so truly said, by his noble friend (the Earl of Ripon) as to the merits and services of his noble friend lately at the head of the Government. He would only say this—that his noble friend would be the last man, finding himself compelled by circumstances, for which he was not to blame, to retire from the Government, to spare any effort of his towards promoting 685 the public service, and towards promoting the maintenance of such a Government, as might be best calculated to meet the exigencies of the times. It was because his noble friend (Earl Grey) had given the sanction of his great name to the formation of the present Government, that so humble an individual as he (the Marquess of Lansdown) formed a part of it, and should continue to belong to it. He felt authorized to say, that whatever opinion his noble friend might have formed as to the expediency or necessity of those clauses, he would, if he had seen the impossibility of carrying them through the other House of Parliament (which, at the time he first proposed the measure, he could have no means of ascertaining), be the first to say that it would not be desirable to carry them by a bare majority in the House of Commons. The present was an experimental measure. It was easy for noble Lords on the other side of the House to say, that those clauses could have been carried in the House of Commons without difficulty. Would they try to carry them? Let them only look to the progress of the present Bill through the House of Commons. How did it happen, if it were so easy to replace those clauses, that no member there had made a motion similar to that made to-night by the noble Duke? Was it not obvious, that, under the circumstances of the case, it would be impossible to carry such a motion in the House of Commons? He trusted that they would not see agitation again prevail in Ireland; but if it did, the Government was pledged to call upon Parliament at once for additional powers to put it down.
§ The Earl of Aberdeen
should not have addressed the House upon the present occasion, had it not been for some observations which had fallen from the noble Marquess. The noble Marquess had told them, that the only proper object for the consideration of their Lordships at present was this—whether this Bill was suitable or not? He agreed with the noble Marquess, that it would have been so, had the Bill before the House been the same Bill which was introduced by the noble Earl late at the head of his Majesty's Government. In that case, whatever might have been said respecting the private communications received from the noble Marquess, the Lord-lieutenant of Ireland, no one would have adverted to his change 686 of opinion, if the measure as proposed by his Majesty's Government had remained the same. But, the only reason given for the change which had been made in the Bill, was the change which had taken place in the opinions of the noble Marquess, which change was only known by a private letter. He protested against the practice of justifying public measures by the private letters of high functionaries, as it must be prejudicial to the public service, and detrimental to the Constitution itself. If it were a private letter on which this change was effected, he would be one of the last parties to violate its secrecy; but then he insisted, that a Minister ought not to rely on an opinion so expressed to justify a measure of such high importance as the present. The noble Viscount, by relying on such a source of information, deprived their Lordships of every security they could have in the declarations of Government. The noble Viscount had said, that he would preserve by every means in his power the general peace of Europe. But the noble Earl, late at the head of the Government, when he attempted to account for the change in the noble Marquess's opinion, said, that that change was not founded on any change in the position of Ireland, but on a consideration of the position of Government in the House of Commons. Now, there were occasions on which the House of Commons might be inclined to pursue a policy towards certain foreign Powers of which the noble Earl might not be altogether inclined to approve. Some one might suggest to our Minister at any particular Court, that it would be acceptable to the House to have the situation of the country with regard to that power a little changed—that a little more insult to that power would be popular in the House of Commons, and that it would make the Government popular if such insult were inflicted. He might be told, that such a suggestion was improbable: but it was not more improbable than the suggestion which had absolutely been made in these transactions. The practice of high functionaries acting upon private letters, was most unfair to his Majesty. Was his Majesty not to know the reasons which induced his Ministers to bring in measures which they stated to be for the good of the people? If this practice prevailed in one department, why was it not to prevail in every other? He thought, 687 that as Ministers had founded their change of this measure on the contents of a private letter, they were now bound to make that private letter a public document for the information of their Lordships.
§ Viscount Melbourne
He was not much surprised at the observations which had been made by his noble friend on the cross-bench, and by other noble Lords on the proceedings which had recently taken place. Undoubtedly those proceedings had been extremely unfortunate. There had been much of error in them, much of haste, and much that was inconsistent with the ordinary mode of carrying on the Government—much which he trusted would not occur again, and much which was injurious to the character of the country, and to the stability of the Administration. He did in his conscience believe that in those transactions there had been nothing of ill-intention, nothing base, nothing of a low or an interested character—that all had been done under mistake, and that all had been meant in the purest principles of sincerity. With respect to the observations of the noble Earl who had spoken last, he had only to say, that he entirely agreed in them; but then the justification of the change which had been made in the Bill was not founded entirely on the contents of the Marquess Wellesley's private letter, but on the unfortunate consequences which had resulted from its disclosure. It had been said by another noble Earl, that the change in the Bill was a concession to the agitators. If that change should encourage them to proceed in their old course, if it should give them additional weight and authority, that would be a result that nobody would regret more than he should; but the fact was, that the change was not a concession to the agitators, but to the public opinion of this country, and more particularly to that of the other branch of the Legislature. The noble Earl on the other side of the House had seriously pressed upon the attention of their Lordships the injustice of insisting on one part of the Bill, and of abandoning the other. But in pressing upon that part of the Bill which the Government had retained, they had applied to it epithets of "unjust, violent, tyrannical, severe in the extreme," epithets which, if well founded, ought to induce them to vote against the Bill under any circumstances. The noble Duke had asked him, how he could venture to be- 688 come responsible for the peace of Ireland, now that he had abandoned the clauses which he had formerly deemed necessary to its preservation? The absence of those clauses might, he admitted, render it a matter of greater difficulty to govern Ireland; but if that difficulty should be greater than he anticipated, he should have no hesitation in resorting to the measures which had been mentioned by his noble friend (the Marquess of Lansdown). The Government had abandoned these clauses on necessity; and it ought not, therefore, to be said, that it had abandoned the principles of the Administration which preceded it. The noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Wicklow) who had addressed their Lordships in a manner, and had used language, which if he were not desirous of avoiding harsh words, he might call offensive, solemnly put a question to him, to which he should have had no objection to have given an answer, had it not been put in so repulsive a form. The Government, he would only say, was prepared to act upon the determination formed by Earl Grey's Cabinet, and sanctioned by Parliament, and would resist to the utmost of its power everything that was likely to lead to the Repeal of the Union.
§ The Bill was read a third time.
§ The Duke of Wellington moved to add the Clauses to the Bill of which he had given notice in his speech.
The Lord Chancellor
did not rise for the purpose of giving any opposition to this Amendment, though he must say, that he could not concur in it. He rose, however, to state, for the satisfaction of the noble Earl behind him (the Earl of Wicklow), that the noble Earl should again hear him state for the second time the reasons which had induced him originally to give his support to these clauses. He thought, however, that the noble Earl might have spared him the trouble of this repetition, as the noble Earl, after infixing those reasons well in his mind, had refreshed his memory by reading what appeared to be a very correct note of what he had said when he first delivered his opinions upon this subject.
The Earl of Wicklow,
interrupting the noble and learned Lord said, that he neither wanted nor stood in need of any such repetition as that with which the noble and learned Lord was threatening him. He wanted the noble and learned Lord to reconcile, as he had promised, 689 the inconsistency of his conduct in supporting these clauses on one day, and in condemning them almost on the next.
The Lord Chancellor
The noble Earl had completely misunderstood him. He seemed to think that he (the Lord Chancellor) had changed his opinions respecting these clauses—that he had abandoned them entirely—and that he was not inclined to repeat them. Now, what his two noble friends (the noble Marquess and the noble Viscount) had already said to-night was that which he too was now about to say. It was not an option on the part of Government whether it would omit these clauses or would not. The noble Earl had dwelt upon the Ministers' abandonment of their principle, and had called upon them to explain their inconsistency, as if it were not possible to explain it, when the simple fact was, that they, having formerly held certain opinions in favour of these clauses, had been induced by a total change of circumstances to abandon them. It had been said, that the present Government, professing to be a mere continuance of Earl Grey's Ministry, had begun its career by introducing a measure totally repugnant to that which that noble Earl had approved. Now, that was not the fact. What better authority could they have upon the point than his noble friend himself? And what had his noble friend said? With that manliness which formed a distinguishing part of his character, and which at once adorned and exalted him above all his contemporaries, his noble friend had said, "Whatever might have been his opinion formerly, still, if he had remained at the head of the Government, under all the circumstances in which the present Administration was placed, he would have adopted the same course with them." ["No, no,"] No! why he had heard it with his own cars, and could trust implicitly to his own recollection. [The Marquess of Lansdown: Earl Grey said, that "he would have advised it."] Well, it was all the same; whatever his noble friend would have advised, that he would have done. His noble friend then had said, that he would advise the non-insertion of these clauses in the circumstances of unparalleled difficulty in which the Government was placed. As mention had been made of his noble friend lately at the head of the Government, he must say that he agreed entirely in all that had 690 been said by his noble friend on the cross bench, and the noble Marquess opposite, respecting that distinguished and honourable man. But of this he was sure, that a man less capable of the special pleading which had that night been put into his mouth by the noble Earl behind him—a man to whose character such special pleading was less germane—a man less capable of that disingenuousness which the noble Earl behind him had attributed to his noble friend, was not to be found upon the face of this earth. The noble Earl had told their Lordships, that his noble friend had come down to the House and said, "I have never said that I was ill used. I have never said, that I had much to complain of. I have never said, that there was treachery around me." From all which the noble Earl, with a prodigious ignorance of his noble friend, had concluded that his noble friend all the time meant that it was true that he had been ill used—that it was true that he had much to complain of—that it was true that there had been treachery around him. Now, this was not only not what his noble friend had complained of, it was also directly the reverse; for the noble Marquess who had just spoken had distinctly said, that he knew that there had been no such thing as treachery or bad intention. The noble Marquess also had added that his noble friend had said that, though that had been done of which he disapproved, he had still the firmest reliance on the pure motives and the honourable intentions of those who had done it. He owed it to his right hon. friend the Secretary for Ireland to state thus much, for it would have been most extraordinary. If his noble friend had had the slightest doubt, or the slightest vestige of a shadow of doubt, remaining upon his mind respecting the good intentions of his right hon. friend, knowing as his noble friend did all the circumstances of the transaction. If there was any motive more than another which operated on those, who had acted in the manner which their Lordships had heard described more than once that day, it was the desire to smooth the way of his noble friend, to make the task of government easier to him, and to prevent that event from happening which all persons, both in the Cabinet and out of the Cabinet, equally deprecated—he meant the retirement of his noble friend from the head of 691 the Administration. He appealed to his noble colleagues—he appealed to his noble friend himself—whether more assiduous efforts—nay, whether more repeated efforts—had ever been made by one set of men connected with another in the same Cabinet to retain that man amongst them and to prevent him from resigning, than had been made by the members of the present Administration within the last twelve months to prevent the resignation of the late Premier? No less than six times had his noble friend expressed a wish in the last year to resign. On this point he could speak with some certainty, for, in five out of six of the cases in which attempts had been made—and they had all succeeded but the last—to dissuade his noble friend from his intention, he (the Lord Chancellor) had taken a foremost part. He knew that a rumour, a very absurd rumour, had gone abroad, that his noble friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and himself had long wanted to destroy the late Government, and that they had directed all their efforts to remove the noble Earl who had lately retired from its head. Now, why was his noble friend so anxious to retire upon this late occasion? Because he had made up his mind that he would retire at the close of the Session, in the course of a couple of months, or it might be of a fortnight. "But then," said his noble friend on the cross bench, "the noble earl resigned, and his Government was dissolved, when presto, by the touch of the magic wand of the noble Viscount, or of somebody else, all the members of the Cabinet were restored to their places, and each of them was found to be as he was before." Now, his noble friend had given a somewhat different account of this transaction. His noble friend had said, "the moment my noble friend, Lord Althorp, thought proper to withdraw, I determined to do so too; but, having once resigned, I could not think of returning again to office. I rejoiced, however, in prevailing upon Lord Althorp to continue in office, although I would not continue in it myself, because I had made up my mind for months previously to retire from the Government." All this their Lordships had heard long ago; but there was an important feature connected with it which, by some accident, had been forgotten by the noble Viscount, who seldom, however, forgot anything. It was said, that his noble friend (Lord 692 Althorp) had authorized the communication made by Mr. Littleton to Mr. O'Connell. Now, his noble friend never did any such thing. He was asked, whether it would be inconvenient to the Government to make a communication to that personage? To that he had answered, "No;" but when he was further asked, "Ought there to be such a communication made to Mr. O'Connell of the intentions of Government as would induce him to suspend his motions?" his noble friend had said, "Yes," but had added, "Take care that you don't commit yourself." Was this permitting every species of communication? Quite the reverse. His noble friend (Earl Grey) had said, that he would refuse all communication with that eloquent and distinguished personage. Now, on that point he differed entirely from his noble friend. He did not know how Government could be carried on if certain leading men were to be considered as tabooed and interdicted from all communication with the Government. To say that, with a leader of opposition distinguished for his talents and eloquence—with a man who was held in reverence by a large portion of his countrymen, and who exercised great influence over them, no communication should be held, appeared to him to be one of the worst and most ill-grounded maxims on which the business of Parliament could be conducted. In point of fact, he did not see how business could be carried on if such communications were stopped. He had never hesitated to make a statement of his opinions when they differed from those of the distinguished person to whom allusion had been made so often that night; and if any of their Lordships should charge him with dreading that individual, or those who acted with him, he would only say this, that he did not know any man who had expressed himself more strongly against that individual and his supporters than he had, when he had felt it to be his duty, and a painful duty he could assure their Lordships he had always found it to be. He trusted, that their Lordships knew sufficient of him to be aware that he could not truckle to any individual, but he would not call it truckling to individuals or abandoning his duty, to hold forth to them such concessions as were just, and to adopt such courses as were conciliatory, provided that such concessions and such conciliatory courses were for the safety of 693 Ireland and the tranquillity of the empire. He held such concessions to be wise and statesmanlike; and it would be no argument to deter him from making them, to say that, by granting them, he should favour and exalt any one given man. His duty was, to consider men only as they were connected with the subject; his duty was to view the subject in all its bearings, and to fling all personalities, whether of odium or of favour, to the winds. He had very sanguine hopes, notwithstanding the omission of these clauses, that the Bill would be found sufficient for its purpose; and, if he did not entertain these hopes, it never should have had his sanction. But if, after having made this concession to feelings which prevailed elsewhere, the Government should find that agitation was renewed in the centre of Ireland, and that the flame there rekindled should be spreading to the more remote parts of the country, their Lordships might be assured that the Ministers would advise the reassembling of Parliament, for the purpose of applying a remedy to the then ascertained necessity of the case. That that necessity might never arise was his most fervent prayer, and he might add, that he felt almost a confident expectation that it would not. He trusted, that the prospect which had been held out in both Houses, that the Parliament would be convened, if the state of things in Ireland rendered its meeting necessary, together with the good feeling which he hoped to see prevail among all classes of men, would have the effect of preserving the peace of Ireland. Nothing could be more incorrect than to say that he, even at the beginning, was one of those who thought these clauses to be as necessary as the other parts of the measure; for he had already stated, that he was originally opposed to the re-enactment of the public meeting clauses, and anxious for their omission, as well as for the omission of the Court-martial clauses. This he had before mentioned in explanation to a noble Earl not at present in his place; but he had added, that on further consideration of the subject, and after he was convinced by the additional communications and discussions of the injustice of pressing upon the peasant in the country, while the agitator in the city was permitted to go untouched, his repugnance to the re-enactment of the meeting clauses was overcome, and he agreed with his 694 colleagues, for they came to a unanimous opinion on the subject, as to the necessity of retaining the clauses. The correspondence which had taken place between the Secretary for Ireland and the Lord-lieutenant had been a good deal dwelt on, but the intimate confidential habits of those two persons, and their near family connexion, made a constant correspondence on their part a matter of course. And what did his right hon. friend (Mr. Littleton) write about? The Lord-lieutenant having at one time stated the Court-martial clauses were necessary, and having at another expressed an opinion that they might be dispensed with, all that his right hon. friend requested the Lord-lieutenant to do was to reconsider his opinion with respect to the necessity of the public meeting clauses. He was also in the frequent habit of corresponding with the Lord-lieutenant of Ireland. He had communicated with him on every subject interesting on this or the other side of the water, and distinctly remembered having asked his noble friend in a private letter whether, as the Court-martial clauses had been flung over, he could not do with still less of the Bill? He never received an answer to that inquiry from his noble friend; but his noble friend wrote a letter to the noble Earl, lately at the head of the Government, in which an answer was given by anticipation to that inquiry; for he believed that the Lord-lieutenant distinctly said, that the question he (the Lord Chancellor) had put had not given rise to his letter. A great misunderstanding prevailed with respect to the cause of the omission of the meeting clauses. It had been said to be the letter sent by the Lord-lieutenant to Earl Grey. This statement had been repeatedly made, and as often denied. The letter sent to Earl Grey was not the cause of the omission of those clauses, for after its receipt a Cabinet Council was held, the subject was discussed, and the Ministers came to the unanimous conclusion not to give up those clauses. But he would tell their Lordships what was the cause of the omission of those clauses. It was the communication to Parliament and to the people of that letter, which showed that at one time, at least, a doubt existed in the minds of those best capable of judging on the subject as to the necessity of the public meeting clauses, that convinced every member of the Cabinet of the perfect 695 hopelessness of carrying them. The noble Earl (the Earl of Wicklow) had passed sentence on the Government for not retaining those clauses, but this the noble Earl ought to have been the last person to do. The Government had omitted those clauses because they knew they could not carry them; and what prevented the noble Earl from voting for the Amendment of the noble Duke (the Duke of Wellington) to re-introduce the clauses, but the conviction that they could not be carried? The noble Duke had also attacked the Government for leaving out the clauses, but, influenced by the same prudential reasons which guided the conduct of the noble Earl, he did not intend to press his Amendment to a division, because he knew he could not carry it. He (the Lord Chancellor) had felt much gratification at hearing the speech of the right reverend Prelate (the Bishop of Derry). It was worthy of a good Irishman and a good Englishman. Swayed by no bad party spirit, but, on the contrary, entertaining the kindest feelings for his country, he had, like a firm and wise legislator, stated his opinions, in the great bulk of which he (the Lord Chancellor) concurred; and he hoped that the right reverend Prelate would join him in praying, (for sure he was, the right reverend Prelate's prayers would be more effectual than his) that no necessity might arise for the extraordinary reassembling of Parliament, but that the present summer might be signalized by increased tranquillity in that part of the United Kingdom to which the right reverend Prelate belonged.
The Earl of Wicklow
denied, that he had ever charged the noble Earl, lately at the head of the Government, with resorting to special pleading. The noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack stated, that he had frequently communicated with the noble Marquess at the head of the Irish Government. Now, he could not help thinking that the noble and learned Lord had made them acquainted with a fact of very great importance, for, considering the noble and learned Lord's high station, his correspondence must necessarily have had great weight with the noble Marquess. The object of these communications was said to be to keep Earl Grey at the head of the Government. No doubt the Ministers were very anxious to keep Earl Grey among them; and if report spoke true, they had made that distinguished indivi- 696 dual an offer of the Privy Seal. [The Lord Chancellor: No, no.] He could only say, that the statement was widely circulated, and as widely believed. [The Lord Chancellor: It was not correct.] He hoped the Ministers would all deny the statement for the offer was not an honour to them. The noble Earl, in conclusion, condemned the course pursued by his Majesty's Ministers, and observed, that if greater agitation than ever did not shortly prevail in Ireland, it would not be owing to the present Bill, but to the bargain which, to the disgrace of the Government, appeared to have been made with the base part of the country.
The Lord Chancellor
could assure the noble Earl that the bargain which he supposed the Government to have made with what he called the base part of the country was the creature of his imagination; for no understanding had been come to, no negotiations had taken place between any human being and the Government, or friend of the Government, authorized or unauthorized, as far as they (the Ministers) knew, which could, even by the greatest perversion of language, be characterized as a bargain. But the noble Earl was only preparing future grounds for an attack on Ministers; for if agitation prevailed, he would attribute it to the omission of the meeting clauses; and if agitation ceased, he would see in that fact only a proof that a secret treaty had been made with the base part of the people in Ireland. As he had mentioned the correspondence which had taken place between him and the Lord-lieutenant, he trusted, that in justice to the noble Marquess, the production of that correspondence would not be called for. If the letter to Lord Grey was unfit for publication, the correspondence which had passed between him (the Lord Chancellor) and the noble Marquess was certainly not less so. It related to private and domestic subjects, and would be perfectly unintelligible to the public at large. Some of it was in prose, and some not in prose—some in Latin, and a small part in Greek; and he believed that a more motley correspondence had never before been produced. It was this literary intercourse, which he carried on with such a truly classical, accomplished, and great man as Lord Wellesley, that formed the chief amusement of his moments of relaxation from business. But, he repeated, 697 that the letter sent by Lord Wellesley to Earl Grey was not occasioned by anything written by him (the Lord Chancellor).
The Marquess of Westmeath
was glad to hear that negotiations had not taken place between the Government and a certain party in Ireland. He was convinced that any concession made to that party would only have the effect of rendering the situation of the loyal inhabitants of the country more uneasy.
§ The Duke of Wellington
felt convinced, that if his Majesty's present Ministers had so chosen, they might not only have carried the Bill with the public meeting clauses in it, but also have retained Earl Grey at the head of the Government. It, however, appeared from the statement of the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack, that not the contents of the letter written to Earl Grey, but the discovery of its contents, formed the reason for omitting the clauses relating to public meetings. Was it, then, to be supposed that a reformed House of Commons would have so far stultified itself as to reject the Bill as originally introduced, merely because a discovery was made of the letter written to Earl Grey? He did not intend to press the Amendment he had proposed to a division, for reasons which must be obvious to every one of their Lordships. He only moved it, that he might have an opportunity of recording his opinions, and protesting against the omission of the meeting clauses.
§ The Amendment was negatived without a division, and the Bill passed.
§ The following Protest against the Third Reading (after amendments had been negatived) of the renewal of parts of this Bill was entered by the Duke of Wellington.
§ Dissentient—1st. Because the three clauses of the Act of the 3rd William 4th, c. 4, which it was the object of the Motion to insert in the Bill, were calculated to prevent the evils existing in Ireland, which Parliament had upon former occasions declared to be "dangerous to the public tranquillity, inconsistent with the public peace and safety, and with the exercise of regular government."
§ 2nd. Because the Lord-lieutenant of Ireland has declared that in his opinion the "agitation" (which it is the object of these clauses to prevent) "of the combined projects for the abolition of Tithes and 698 the destruction of the Union with Great Britain, had in every instance excited and inflamed the disturbances existing in Ireland;" which his Excellency has described as being "of a discontented, disorderly, and turbulent character;" such as "secret combination, concealed organization, suppression of all evidence of crime, and the ambition of usurping the Government, of ruling society by the authority of the common people, and of superseding the law by the decrees of illegal associations." That this system of agitation had for "its inevitable consequence, combinations leading to violence and outrage;" that they were "inseparably cause and effect."
§ 3rd. Because his Majesty's servants have expressed, in strong terms, their concurrence in these opinions of the Lord-lieutenant, and their sense of the necessity for adopting measures to meet the system of agitation. They have stated, that it is impossible "that a perpetual system of agitation can be pursued without stirring up among the people a general spirit of resistance to the constituted authorities, which breaks out in excesses such as have been described." "That it is not safe to leave the Government unfurnished with the means to prevent an association calling itself the Central Association of Dublin, assuming a political character, carrying on its proceedings with all the forms of Parliament, directing other associations throughout all parts of Ireland, and desiring a general organization for the express and avowed purpose of carrying into effect measures which must be subversive of the security of the country, and destructive of all peace, order, and law." "That it is not consistent with justice to put down the liberties of the people in the country, but not in the city, and that Parliament should press hard with the weight of the loins upon the peasant, but not lay the weight of the little finger on those, who by their conduct nourish and increase excitement and generalize local agitation." "If the effect, disturbance and outrage, must be put down, the exciting cause must be attended to likewise." "It is an infraction of popular rights when power is given to prevent or put an end to public meetings; but it is not a greater infraction of the constitutional rights of the people, a more decided invasion of the indisputable rights of the King's subjects, than is to be found in the sunset part of the Bill?" "It is necessary to apply a 699 legislative enactment to the exciting cause, as well as to the mischief which that excitement produces."
§ 4th. Because the principle of the British Constitution and the object of all our laws, from Magna Charta down to a recent period, have been to give protection to life and property, as well as to secure the liberty of the subject; which last has hitherto been considered as the means to attain and secure the first mentioned objects.
§ 5th. Because the protection of the subject by the Sovereign, and the allegiance of the subject to the Sovereign, are reciprocal duties. It appears, therefore, to be the duty of the two Houses of Parliament, convinced by the evidence laid before them of the state of disturbance, outrage, plunder, and murder, existing in Ireland, of the insecurity of life and property, of the misery and sufferings of the industrious peasantry and other classes, and of the discontinuance of all habits and pursuits of industry, wherever these outrages prevail, to pass laws to enable his Majesty and those exercising his authority effectually to prevent them, if possible, and to punish those guilty of exciting them.
§ 6th. Because it appears, from the papers laid upon the Table of this House by his Majesty's Ministers, that the Act of the 3rd William 4th, cap.4, wherever it had been carried into execution, had been effectual in preventing agitation, and, in a great degree, disturbance and outrage, and in bringing to trial those guilty of such offences; that witnesses had come forward to give their testimony of injuries done to themselves or others; that Magistrates and Juries had performed their duties; and that the districts of the country in which the Act had been enforced were beginning to feel the effects of returning tranquillity, security, and happiness.
§ 7th. Because it is obvious that the Bill now under consideration cannot prevent agitation in associations in large towns. Yet it is to these associations that the Lord-lieutenant attributes the system of violence and outrage, as effect to cause; and he states, that he cannot separate the one from the other in the unbroken chain of indissoluble connection by any effort of his understanding.