HL Deb 02 September 1835 vol 30 cc1245-50
Lord Plunkett

was well aware that there was no Question before the House; but their Lordships could have no doubt that his feelings had been much affected by a statement said to have been made by an illustrious Duke whom he then saw opposite, and they would not wonder that he should be unwilling to remain for any time, however short, under the imputations cast upon him. He observed in the newspapers of this day, a report of what had taken place at an Orange Meeting, at which the illustrious Duke was said to have presided. He was fully aware of the difference of rank between himself and the illustrious Duke, and he knew that whatever was the rank of the person—be his rank ever so high, or his expressions ever so strong—it would not be his (Lord Plunkett's) duty to call their Lordships' attention to them in ordinary, but when what passed was in reference to what was supposed to have fallen from him in that House; and when the statement was in itself a gross misrepresentation—so far as the illustrious Duke was concerned, he had no doubt it was an entire misconception—he thought he was justified in treating it as not an ordinary case. He should now state what it was. He did not know whether noble Lords who now heard him, had been present on a former occasion, when the illustrious Duke presented a Petition from the members of Trinity College, Dublin. If so, he thought he might fairly ask them whether the expressions he had used on that occasion, had been truly represented on the occasion to which he was about to allude. The illustrious Duke was represented, at a late meeting of the Orange Lodges, to have said, "that he had also to inform the Lodge, that his official situation as Grand Master in the Empire, had exposed him to attacks of the most virulent and malignant character. A noble and learned Lord of the Upper House of Parliament, had taken the opportunity, on his presenting a Petition from the University of Dublin, to charge him, in his situation as Chancellor of the University, with tampering with the youths belonging to Trinity College, and sanctioning the formation and holding of a Lodge amongst them. Now he begged most distinctly to state that, until informed by the noble Lord himself, although Chancellor of the University, he was not aware that any such Lodge existed. Had such been the fact, it was not too much to expect that the Provost or the heads of the University, would have put him in possession of the fact; and then, as would have been his bounden duty, he would have cancelled the warrant. The Lodge would recollect the manner in which he had met this charge—he met it in the way he would meet every ungentlemanly charge—with contempt, and a firm determination not to submit to be bullied. He had received a letter, only that very morning, from a valued friend to the Institution, no other than the Rev. Charles Boyton. This gentleman was a Fellow of the University of Trinity College, Dublin, who, having heard of the attack made by the noble Lord on him, hastened to inform him (his Royal Highness) of the fact, that for the last twenty-six years, no Lodge of any kind whatever had existed in the University. It was true there was a Lodge held in Dublin, called the Trinity Lodge, but it had nothing to do with the members of the University. It was merely named after Trinity College, nothing more, and consisted principally of young members studying physic." This was the substance of what the illustrious Duke said. He could not pretend to say whether he (Lord Plunkett) had used the expressions which were imputed to him; but even if he had, though they might justify a warmth of feeling, and even some degree of resentment, he should have preferred that the reply of the illustrious Duke to them, should have been made in that House, in order that he might have an opportunity of setting himself right upon the subject. Whatever was the distance between the position in which he stood and that of the illustrious Duke, neither the illustrious Duke nor any man alive, was entitled to say that he had acted with virulent malignity, or that his conduct was ungentlemanly, and that he was treated with contempt. He should now state what had taken place on the presenting of the petition. In the first place, the illustrious Duke was mistaken in supposing that the Petition was a petition from the University.

The Duke of Cumberland

I never said so. If the noble and learned Lord will permit me to say a few words, I think I can set this matter right. [Lord Plunkett: With the greatest pleasure.] He knew no more of the publication which the noble Lord had said had taken place this morning, than he did of any publication that might take place to-morrow morning. He had not seen it, and he knew nothing of it, and was not aware of what it contained, further than what the noble and learned Lord had stated; for he had not been informed by the noble and learned Lord of his intention to bring the matter before the House. He did not mean to say, that this was a want of courtesy on the part of the noble and learned Lord; but all the intimation he had had of it was from a noble Friend, who, meeting him as he was coming into the House, had said that Lord Plunkett meant to put some questions to him. The statement was, that there had been a Meeting of the Orange Lodges, which he had thought it necessary to call from the existing state of things, and in order to rectify some mistakes which he thought it his duty to rectify. He could assure their Lordships that this Meeting was not intended hostilely but amicably. In the course of the Meeting, he had stated that he had received a letter from a gentleman in Dublin on the subject of the petition which he had presented to their Lordships, and of the noble and learned Lord's observations upon it. That petition was not, nor had he ever said it was, from the University of Dublin, but from sixteen senior and junior fellows, and forty-eight scholars of that University. As such he had received it, and as such he had presented it to their Lordships, and then the noble and learned Lord had got up and said that he (the Duke of Cumberland) was not aware of the means which had been used to get up the petition, and that he (Lord Plunkett) thought that the University of Dublin, and all other Universities, ought not to meddle in political questions,—that there was a great deal of this going on,—and that there was an Orange Lodge, called the Trinity University Lodge, [Lord Plunkett: "No!"]. Trinity College Lodge. He had then stated, that the petition was put into his hands by a right hon. Friend of his; and that respecting the Orange Lodges in the University, he knew nothing of them,—that they might or might not exist, but that he did not know of one; and he went further, and said that he deprecated Orange Lodges in the University, or even in regiments, and that if he could be positively informed of any, he should be the first to cancel the warrant for them. With respect to the phrase, "virulent malignity," he might have said that he was attacked with virulent malignity; but he had not spoken it of the noble and learned Lord. He had been so attacked; and the noble and learned Lord would not pretend to deny that he was scandalously attacked in a way that any man of feeling, of honour and character in the country, would resent. No man would like to be bandied about in such a way. He had been used cruelly; and for no reason but that he had stood forward boldly to declare his honest opinions. He said now, that no man should bully him to depart from those principles which he looked upon as the salvation of the country, and the support of the Protestant religion. He did not mean the noble and learned Lord; but all knew that there had been a run against him. Let him tell them, that the man who stood forward to advocate those principles, must be a man of nerve. He, however, was the last man who would shrink from his duty. He trusted that the noble and learned Lord believed, that if anything which that noble and learned Lord did, or any other man did, he thought to be wrong, he should oppose it boldly and manfully to his face. There was nothing that he would say behind the back of any man, which he would not say to his face. Great as were the noble and learned Lord's talents, and though the noble and learned Lord's eloquence was more sublime than his own, he feared not his tongue, nor that of any other man in that House; for when he felt himself to be in the right, he could stand up regardless of consequences. He meant to say that malignant attacks had been directed against him; would the noble and learned Lords say, that that was not the case against him as much as against any man that had ever lived? He must be allowed to state what the Lodge was in Dublin. He had received a letter from a gentleman who was a fellow of the University, declaring that there never had been a Lodge in the University for the last thirty years; that in the beginning of that period, there had been such Lodges, but that these were put down; and the men who had enrolled themselves were told that, unless they withdrew their names from the Lodge, they would be expelled the University. The noble and learned Lord had made the mistake. There was a Lodge called the Trinity College Lodge, but it did not belong to the University, nor was there a single member of the Lodge who was a member of the University; but it was the name given to the Lodge because it was a district Lodge, and Trinity College being the largest place in the district, it took the name of the College. The writer, though himself an Orangeman, was not a member of the Lodge. He trusted that he had now satisfied their Lordships; and being on his legs, he should now ask leave to present a petition which did come from the University, and bore its seal, which he trusted the noble and learned Lord would recognise. It was a petition against a certain part of the Irish Registry Bill, which affected the University.

Lord Plunkett

was glad that he had given the illustrious Duke the opportunity of making the statement; and he wished to say, in the first place, that the illustrious Duke having manfully disclaimed making the charge against him, he gave implicit credit to the illustrious Duke's statement, and the matter was discharged from his mind. He should take this opportunity of setting himself right as to its being supposed that he had made an attack on the illustrious Duke, as the newspapers represented him to have done. He did not believe that the illustrious Duke had introduced Orange Lodges into the University, and had not said so; but if he had entertained any such belief he should not have presumed towards any person, still less towards a person in the station of the illustrious Duke, so nearly connected with the Royal Family, upon mere suspicion or belief, to bring forward a charge of this kind. If he had felt it his duty to make the charge, he should not have made it without clear and positive proof and demonstration; but he had not charged the illustrious Duke, nor was there any ground for the charge. He had not called for any explanation of the conduct of the illustrious Duke, but the explanation given had been most satisfactory. He was convinced that the illustrious Duke would not say behind a man's back what he would not say to that man's face; and he assured the illustrious Duke, that he also should be as far from attempting to bully as the illustrious Duke would be from being likely to submit to it.

Petition laid on the Table.