The Marquess of Downshire
, in presenting a Petition adopted by the Protestants of Ireland, said, he appeared before their Lordships to present a petition which was of the utmost importance to them. The petitioners felt that they were but exercising a constitutional right in expressing to their Lordships the apprehensions under which they laboured, and in coming before their Lordships' House to state their grievances. The petition which he was charged to present to the House was agreed to at a meeting held in Dublin, on the 24th of last January, and convened by public notice. The meeting was attended by men of rank and property in Ireland, as well as by all portions of the Protestant community. He had the honour to preside over that meeting, and he was happy to have the opportunity of bearing his testimony to its respectability, and he would declare, that he never beheld so large a meeting conducted in so regular a manner—in a manner so honourable to all concerned, and so illustrative, as far as his (the Earl of Downshire's) experience had gone of the Protestant community—of their general desire always to preserve the good order of society and support in their different stations the laws of the realm. It perhaps would be necessary for him to state some grounds for the holding of that meeting. The paramount point was this, that the affairs of Ireland 300 had assumed an aspect which gave very serious cause of apprehension to the Protestants of that country, and he would only instance the proceedings of a society held in Dublin for a considerable period before the meeting in question, termed the Roman Catholic Association. [Viscount Melbourne: No, the General Association.] Well, he was ready to take the correction of the noble Viscount, and call it the General Association. That association, however, had condemned the Protestant body generally, and charged it collectively with motives which they (the Protestants) considered to be unjust. They felt, that if they had permitted themselves to remain long under the imputations cast upon them they would be undeserving of the rank which they held in society, and the property which they possessed in the country. For that reason it was thought, that the most fitting, becoming, and constitutional mode of proceeding would be to meet together in the capital of Ireland, and there to come to such resolutions as they might think proper, and concur in petitions to the Throne and the two Houses of Parliament. He had already stated to the House how the meeting had been conducted. He was happy to be in the situation to do so, and he would not detain the House by a long speech upon the present occasion, knowing his own inability; but perhaps their Lordships would not think it improper in him to remind the House of the votes which he had given. He had supported the Bill brought in by the noble Duke in the hope that it would be of essential, vital, and permanent advantage to Ireland; but, on the contrary, from what he had seen subsequent to the passing of that Act, he would readily own that he had been disappointed. He had experienced a great disappointment. He entertained the most sincere desire to see that country flourish, but satisfied he was, that it never would flourish without the establishment of peace and tranquillity. As far as was within the power of an individual, he would conscientiously say he had endeavoured to promote that object; but one of the arguments in favour of the Roman Catholic claims was, that under the old system, too much ascendancy was given to one party, and that thereby the other party suffered a hardship. He had voted for the Roman Catholic Relief Bill, in the 301 hope that that objection would be done away with, but when he saw the proceedings of the General Association in Dublin, he saw plainly, that the object of that association was to place themselves and the body of Roman Catholics in the same situation which they considered the Protestants to have filled previous to the Relief Bill. This had been the result of the vote he had given, but he was not disposed to indulge in regrets upon that head. He would rather indulge in hope, and he would throw what weight and influence he possessed into the cause of the Protestant religion and Church, in order to keep tip that balance between the parties which alone would give peace and tranquillity to the country, and without which it could not, with all its advantages from nature, receive improvement. Under these circumstances, he most heartily joined with the Protestants of Ireland in support of the Established Church, but not with the view of displacing the Roman Catholics—on the contrary, in the hope that they would see, by joining in supporting the laws and British connexion, and the improvement of Ireland, that country might be made to present a very different feature to that which it did at present. In presenting this petition he would not enter more fully into the subject. He would leave its advocacy to other noble Lords; but this he would say, that he most cordially agreed in the objects and proceedings of the meeting held in Dublin, and that he presented this petition to the House earnestly praying their Lordships to give it a fair and impartial consideration. He would only add, that the petition was most numerously and respectably signed. It was signed by nearly, if not fully, 200,000 signatures—the signatures of all persons, of all ranks and classes in Ireland. These signatures had been affixed to the petition in the most open manner, and it was only from the press of time, and from an anxiety to have it presented on as early a day as possible, that the number of signatures had not been much more numerous. He should, therefore, thinking it more respectful, both to their Lordships and to the petitioners, read the petition at length.
§ The noble Marquess read the petition at length.
§ Viscount Melbourne
On looking at this subject, which has created such a 302 stir, and which involves so many matters concerning the interest of the country, I should have expected that some other mode than petitioning would have been adopted for expressing the opinions, the feelings, the apprehensions, the fears, and terrors of those whose names were attached to the petition. Before calling the attention of your Lordships to the topics contained in the petition, I wish to express my opinion of the manner in which the noble Marquess has presented the petition, and I must say, that the language which he has used was exceedingly temperate, and that, on stating his reasons for concurring in it, the noble Marquess has observed that propriety which ought to be observed on such occasions. I cannot, however, say so much for the language of the petition, nor fail to observe the very different style and manner of those who spoke on the question on the other side of the water. But, considering the importance attached to the petition, and the great pomp with which it has been got up and brought forward, I consider it my duty to make a few observations on it; and, first of all, I will call your Lordships' attention to the time of the meeting, arid the manner in which it was got up. The meeting was called by requisition, and to that requisition I see the signatures of many noble Lords opposite. [The noble Viscount read the requisition, calling on the Protestant noblemen, gentlemen, and citizens of Ireland to assemble at the Mansion-house, in Dublin, on the 24th of January, in order to prepare a loyal address to his Majesty, and draw up petitions to both Houses of Parliament against the attempts made to undermine and destroy the Protestant religion.] Now, it was said to be a great Protestant meeting, and the requisition was signed by a great number of Protestants; but it ought to be remembered that there was a counterpart to this requisition, and that a protest was agreed to against holding the meeting. The protest I will read to your Lordships. It is as follows:We, the undersigned, feel ourselves called upon to express our deep regret that a notice should have been issued, calling for an exclusive meeting of the Protestants of Ireland in Dublin, on the 24th of January, and suggesting dangers which we do not believe there is any reason whatever to apprehend, and which we feel assured not one single fact can be adduced to prove.—We lament that a duty has been thus imposed on us of protesting 303 against a requisition which eight Members of the House of Lords have deemed it expedient to publish on the very eve of the meeting of Parliament.—We consider a meeting of such a character calculated to interrupt the tranquillity which at present happily prevails in Ireland, and intended only to bias the discussion of measures which we believe to be necessary for the promotion of the national interests, and which we hope will occupy the earliest and most dispassionate attention of the Legislature.This protest is signed by eight Members of this House, by forty-four Peers, and by sixteen Peers now generally resident in Ireland. I am not going to make any invidious comparison, but I may be permitted to say, that those who signed the requisition did not possess all the property and wealth of the country, and that those who protested against the meeting are possessed of at least equal wealth and property. The protest was signed also by fifty-seven Members of Parliament, the majority of whom are necessarily Protestants, and the great majority of the representatives of Ireland; and, without meaning anything like disrespect, I may say, that the meeting formed only a portion of the Protestants of Ireland. A great body of Protestants entirely differed and dissented from the objects of the meeting, and the language held at it. That meeting was evidently held for a particular purpose, and not for the discussion or consideration of any subject, or expressing a deliberate and unbiassed opinion. The terms of admission to the meeting show the nature of its object. The conditions are thus described on the tickets:—"That the bearer approved of the object, and agreed to the necessity of the meeting, and was prepared to be amenable to the authority of the chairman." Now, I do not say, that the requisitionists had not a right to call a meeting in that way if they thought proper; but I say, that was a meeting not for the purpose of discussing or considering a particular subject, but for assenting to resolutions on which those who attended had made up their minds. Resolutions were drawn up and agreed to, and directed to be presented to both Houses of Parliament. I cannot help expressing my great concern that these resolutions should have been adopted. There is great injustice and impropriety in more than one of them; but I am prepared to make every allowance for the feelings by which the Protestants of Ireland are actuated at 304 the present time. I always very well knew that it would be impossible to carry the Roman Catholic Relief Act into full operation, and to bring about the natural consequences of it, without causing strong feelings; and necessary those consequences must have been, for it could not be supposed that that Act was to remain a dead letter—it could not be supposed that Roman Catholics were only to be pronounced eligible to public offices, and that they should never be chosen to them. Seeing that this Act and its necessary consequences must tend to break in upon the monopoly and power which the Protestants of Ireland have hitherto enjoyed, I always knew and felt that it could not be carried into full operation, without causing for a time considerable mortification and discontent on the one hand, and a certain degree of, perhaps, undue triumph and exultation on the other. I am ready, therefore, to make every allowance for the feelings under which the Protestants of Ireland are likely to be labouring at the present moment. I do not think that those feelings of opposition originated altogether in interested motives, or from considerations of the immediate pecuniary loss to members of their own party in such offices and appointments. I believe what they most suffer is from the wounded feelings at the loss of superiority and influence which they formerly possessed; and therefore it is that I say again, I am ready to make just allowance for any expressions of exasperation and bitterness which are natural to human feelings, and which we have a right to expect on such occasions. With all this disposition to make all fair allowances, however, I must say, that I consider the manner in which these resolutions have been brought forward at the meeting in question has been such as to far exceed all the latitude, all the freedom of observation, which the circumstances entitled the framers of them to claim. The parties who have subscribed to these resolutions have touched upon matters of the highest importance to the State and to the country with a roughness of handling, a violence of manner, and a latitude of expression, which I consider quite unwarrantable. These resolutions, my Lords, draw a picture from which it would appear that the country was in a state almost bordering on anarchy—that there was no security in it for life or property; that the Protestants were in a worse condition than 305 ever the Catholics were in the worst days of the penal code; that in fact, there was no parallel to be found for the present state of things in the days of Charles 1st and the Irish Massacre, or of the Revolution, when James 2nd was master of Ireland. With respect to any fancied analogies of this kind it will be impossible for me to enter upon any such discussion, but if I were inclined to draw a picture of the state of Ireland, I think I might draw a very different one from that comprised in these resolutions, and perhaps one quite as near the truth. All I can at present pretend to do is to go into those points in these resolutions which really state anything like a charge against the general government of the empire, or of particular matters in its administration. The first point of this character is that condemning the existence in Dublin of a body called the General Association. With respect to that Association and the prudence of establishing it, I have already on a former occasion expressed my opinion, and from that opinion I now see no reason to depart. I beg leave to say, however, that, under existing circumstances, I do not think it would be altogether prudent, admitting the inexpediency of that Association, to exert any active means for its suppression; and the noble Duke opposite has himself if I recollect rightly, expressed himself to the same effect. However this may be, I know very well that the Association is not in itself illegal, although there are some persons in the country who have declared it was so. I must say I have heard with surprise that a very distinguished member of the Irish bar has stated as his opinion that this Association is contrary to the common law of the land. If that be indeed the case, it appears to me that the Legislature has been doing what was very unnecessary in passing acts, which it did on former occasions, against the Catholic Association. It was very unnecessary, in my opinion, to pass laws for the abolition of the Catholic Association, if this Association is contrary to the law of the land. So far from this, however, I have always understood it to be the general notion that neither the Catholic Association nor any Association of this kind, could be met by the common law of this empire. There have been various measures passed from time to time for the repression of seditious 306 meetings. I have never hesitated to vote for such measures when I thought them necessary. Whether it is expedient or not in general to resort to such measures I will not pretend to argue; but I do not believe that any Minister would ever lend himself to break in upon the natural liberties of the constitution with ambitious or designing views. It certainly has always been a matter of doubt with me whether such measures ever add power to a Government for the maintenance of the law; whether, on the other hand, the clamour and discontents which they give rise to, do not rather tend to weaken than to strengthen the administration of the Government. With respect to the course pursued towards the Association now in question, I agree and concur in it, and I think that the meeting at which these resolutions were adopted had no reason to complain of the government of Ireland on that account. There are one or two of the resolutions which so nearly concern the administration of justice in that country, the well-being of society, and the credit of the Government, that I cannot refrain from making a few observations upon them. One of these resolutions states, "That in the administration of justice the bias of an unfriendly Government is evident, by the setting aside of the fit and competent Gentlemen nominated for the office of High Sheriffs in the constitutional and legal mode by the Lord Chancellor and Judges of the land, and the arbitrary substitution of others in their stead, supposed to be more favourable to the objects of the democratic party, and more pliant to the will of the Irish executive." I beg to say, that as to the imputation contained in the latter part of this resolution, I utterly and entirely deny it. I deny that the sheriffs have been enlisted on account of their supposed democratic predispositions, or because they were supposed to be pliantly inclined towards the views of Government. With respect to passing over names in the lists presented by the Judges, I believe it is no unusual thing to pass over a whole list in Ireland, where much more latitude of discretion is required in this matter than in England. I will not go through all the cases which have been referred to, but will merely state, that I have received information upon the subject of them which has been perfectly satisfactory to me, and which I believe would prove equally satis- 307 factory to your Lordships if you were to go through them. The three persons who have been particularly referred to, it became necessary to pass over, on account of the death of Baron Smith, who had presented them, and the impossibility of obtaining any traces as to the inquiries upon which he had founded his recommendation. In Louth, the Chief Baron departed from the course which judges always pursue on these occasions, and did not ask the sheriff anything on the subject, but made out a list of his own, which list, on account of its not being founded upon local information, was very defective, and it accordingly became imperative upon the Government to supply its defects. I again deny that sheriffs have in any case been selected upon political grounds, or in a manner not susceptible of the most complete and satisfactory defence. And now, my Lords, I cannot help thinking that this resolution, throwing discredit as it does upon the very fount of justice, has been very hastily adopted, and that some better information should have been obtained on the subject before it was framed. But the next resolution goes beyond everything in violent, rash, intemperate, hazardous, and dangerous expressions:—"That the patronage of the Irish Government, and its prerogative of mercy, have been abused to the furtherance of purposes injurious to the peace of the country, the administration of its laws, and the stability of British connexion; that partisans have been placed in office as assistant barristers, as magistrates, as officers in the constabulary and police, whose recommendation in some instances has been their unscrupulous attachment to a faction; and that appointments made in this spirit have been subsidiary to the creation of fictitious votes, and have greatly prejudiced in public opinion the administration of justice." Now, in the first place, as to the allegation that the Government of Ireland places partisans in office, I put that altogether out of consideration. That is an accusation to which every Government has been equally open, and it has and must ever be the practice that Government should not put men in high offices of State whom they suppose to hold political opinions not in unison with their own. But when this resolution comes to cast a slur on a gentleman in the execution of his public duties, accuses him of placing fictitious votes upon the register, I do say that the framers of 308 this resolution ought to have some real foundations upon which to rest such a charge before they venture to bring it forward. With respect to the prerogative of mercy, any allegations against the fairness of its administration cannot but excite the strongest feelings of alarm and terror in all who hear it. Under this feeling Parliament has always been extremely tender in touching upon this matter, and I must say that I cannot conceive anything more dangerous to the public peace and safety than bringing the exercise of the royal prerogative of mercy under constant discussion, either in this or the other House of Parliament. If it is really supposed by any persons that Government has lent itself to administer this prerogative for the advancement of its own interested views, then I say it is the duty of those who hold such an opinion to do their utmost to remove that Government from power. There is no other remedy; and without this I think I am entitled to style this a most unjustifiable, rash, and imprudent resolution. I know that many objections have been raised against the manner in which my noble Friend the Lord-lieutenant has pardoned certain individuals in the course of certain journeys through the country. I am sure that my noble Friend is himself persuaded that such is not the course which should be generally pursued in such matters; but at the same time I consider that in the peculiar state of the country at the time a beneficial effect might be produced at the moment by such a proceeding; and I can assure your Lordships that on none of these occasions has mercy been extended without the fullest consideration of the cases of the prisoners. With respect to the general state of the country, we are led to believe from these resolutions that it is in a most dreadful state of anarchy, that life and property are alike unsafe, and that such a state of things prevails as to call loudly upon your Lordships and the Government for the interposition of their authority. Upon this subject I beg your Lordships' attention to the contents of a letter from a gentleman for whom I entertain considerable respect, and who I believe is held in much regard and esteem by some of your Lordships who belong to the county in which he is assistant barrister—I mean the county of Tipperary. Everybody knows that this is a county in which, if anywhere, breaches of the law are very 309 apt to prevail, and therefore we may not unreasonably infer that when things are going on well here that an average degree of peace and good order prevails throughout the country. [The noble Viscount here read a letter from Mr. Howley, stating that there had of late been few offences in Tipperary, that writs of rebellion had decreased, and that the people were less addicted to riots and feuds than they had been.] Now, my Lords, continued the noble Viscount, this gentleman also sends a letter from the under-sheriff, giving some gratifying information respecting the execution of writs in that county, but more particularly those in that most critical matter, tithes. [The noble Viscount read the communication to the effect stated.] Now, my Lords, he continued, I think it will be admitted that these are gentlemen who must know something of the real state of the country in their particular districts, and unless we are to suppose that they wilfully sat down to write merely what would be agreeable to the Government, I am at a loss to conceive how we can discredit their statements, that the condition of the country in the place they write is at present, comparatively speaking, very satisfactory. I do not wish to hold out too sanguine an expectation on this subject, however, because I know that periods of the greatest tranquillity are sometimes immediately succeeded by outbreakings of discontent and misrule. I take these statements merely for as far as they go, and I say that they are a complete answer to this petition and the resolutions now under your Lordships' notice. Amidst one or two general topics, which I sincerely wish had not been introduced, there is an observation upon a point which has sometimes been referred to in this House, namely, the perjury which the Roman Catholic Members were supposed to have committed in voting for the Bills which have been introduced on the subject of the Church of Ireland. Now, I cannot allow that to be a just charge of accusation against these Members, because I cannot condemn any of the hon. Gentlemen who voted for that measure without at the same time condemning myself. I, my Lords, have not taken that oath, but I am bound to its intention the same as if I had. My desire is for the maintenance of the Church, and if I believed that that measure tended to weaken or endan- 310 ger that Church, I should be guilty, not of the crime of perjury, but of a still greater crime, that of acting against my own principles and feelings. Saying this, I cannot by any possibility condemn these Gentlemen, because, if I did, I should be condemning myself also. I do not approve of that oath. I wish it had never been introduced into the act. We all know how it got in; it was because we could not get the Bill without it. The opponents of the measure called for securities before they could be brought to accede to it; but, on considering the matter, they found that there were no securities which could be given them; so they took this oath, which they considered as something in the nature of a security. I must repeat, however, that I consider that oath to be in itself highly objectionable. In my opinion Members of Parliament ought to come to their duties unshackled and unprejudiced upon any subject whatever; they should come entirely free to act according to their judgment; and any such an oath as this is very much in the nature of that which I object to very much upon the hustings, namely, pledges, which are equally contrary to the spirit and wording of the writ, which directs that persons shall be sent to Parliament with sufficient power to consent to such measures as may be introduced before Parliament. Now, I will suppose that such an oath had been administered to Parliament before the period of the Reformation—it would have been argued, doubtless, by the Roman Catholics of that time, that this oath prevented Members voting for the Reformation. But I do not think so. And if I had lived in those days, and had to take such an oath, I would still have voted for the Reformation. Not to enter into more detail, I must say, that there are many more of these resolutions the tone of which I cannot approve of, and that I am extremely sorry to see them signed by persons of any weight and character in the country. Is it possible, my Lords, that you can ever expect peace or tranquillity in Ireland whilst you continue to attack the religion of so large a majority of its population? It would be no light matter to declare war against even a small religious sect; how much more serious the undertaking to make war against the religion of a whole population. If gentlemen should take it into their heads to persuade persons to give up the supposed errors of their 311 creed, that is a proceeding which I could not pretend to prevent; but, at the same time, those intrusted with the safety and councils of the nation, should think a little before they assault with invective the religion of so large a portion of the population. I have trespassed upon your Lordships' attention with these observations upon some of these resolutions because, from the manner in which they have been brought forward, and the names which are subscribed to them, I considered that they called for particular observation.
The Earl of Roden
said, that he should feel that he was guilty of a dereliction of duty towards the individuals who signed the petition that had been presented if he did not take that opportunity of trespassing upon their Lordships for the shortest possible time. He had heard, as he had always heard, with great attention and respect the speech addressed to their Lordships by the noble Viscount, but he trusted to be able to show before he sat down, from documents which he would read, that the noble Viscount's declaration respecting the Protestant meeting and its objects was not warranted, and that the Protestants of Ireland had merely come forward to support their principles, which had been cruelly assailed. The noble Viscount had read the requisition which was signed by the peers who called the meeting. He would show to their Lordships that the words contained in that requisition were most constitutional in their nature, and most defined in their character; that the single purpose of calling that meeting was, that they might approach that and the other House of Parliament, and bring before them those grievances under which they had suffered. The protest which had been referred to by the noble Viscount, appeared in Dublin for the first time on the morning of the meeting, and was signed, certainly, by some most respectable peers, and by other individuals of the highest respectability. For some of those peers he entertained the greatest respect, for many of them the greatest regard, but he must beg leave to say they took a little too much upon themselves when they put their names to that document. He thought at all events, that they ought to have considered it more maturely. When their Lordships should read that document he thought they would agree with him in this opinion. What was the language of this protest? 312 The protest objected to the meeting calling itself exclusively a meeting of the Protestants of Ireland. So far it might be correct. It stated, that they conceived that a meeting bearing such a character was calculated to interrupt the tranquillity of the country. This was a matter for argument, and they must first show, that such tranquillity did really exist. But when they stated that the object and intention of those eight peers who signed the requisition was for a particular purpose, he begged leave to say, that they had no right whatever to state what the intentions of other individuals were, unless they had grounds of knowing what those intentions were. When he saw the names of the Duke of Devonshire, the Duke of Leinster and of many other noblemen, who signed that protest, he was satisfied that many of them were acquainted with the circumstances of the country, but many of them put their names to the document as members of a party. It was totally impossible for them from their absence from the country, to be acquainted with its real state, and whether there was tranquillity or not. It was rather too much for such individuals to state what his (the Earl of Roden's) intentions were, or what were the intentions of the noble Marquess who had presented this petition, in the line which they had adopted, and which, he would venture to say, they honestly took for what they conceived to be the benefit of the country. The noble individuals who signed the protest, stated, that they believed that the measures which it was the object of the meeting to frustrate were necessary for the promotion of the national interests. That might be so or not. It was matter of argument, and when these measures came under their Lordships' consideration he should be prepared to discuss them. But those noble Lords stated, that they believed that the meeting was calculated to interrupt the tranquillity of Ireland, and this tranquillity the noble Viscount referred to. It was with astonishment that he heard a Minister of the Crown who ought to be acquainted with the real situation of his Majesty's subjects in Ireland—it was with astonishment that he heard the noble Viscount re-echo this language about the state of tranquillity of Ireland, when he should be able, he believed, to show to their Lordships what that tranquillity really was, and what course had been pursued by his Majesty's Government. 313 He thought that some of the noble Lords who had signed the protest must have been dreaming of the tranquillity of Devonshire House, or of their comfortable residences in Yorkshire. They could never have known the situation in which the Protestant clergymen of Ireland were placed at this moment. The tranquillity of death reigned in Ireland. It was this tranquillity; and he would prove it by a reference to the documents presented by the Government itself, and by the proclamations of the Lord-lieutenant for the last twelve months; and then he would ask, whether it was a token of tranquillity when he informed their Lordships, that for the last twelve months there had been 290 proclamations in the Government Gazette; and of these, seventy-one were for actual murder? But let their Lordships remark how this tranquillity had increased. From the 7th of February to the 23rd—being only sixteen days—the proclamations for actual murder had been eleven. Where, then, was the tranquillity referred to by the noble Viscount? He could refer to other instances to show what grounds there were for speaking of this tranquillity. He found that to applications from the Protestant clergy in order to insure their lives, the answers invariably received were, that such was the state of Ireland, so tranquil was it according to the declaration of the noble Viscount, that they dared not insure the life of any Protestant clergyman. He would first trouble their Lordships with an application from the rev. Francis Killaire, of Waterford, to the Asylum Fire and Life Insurance Office in Dublin, which in answer to the application said that the office was willing to effect an insurance on his life, but they must except in the policy cases of death from popular violence or assassination—exceptions which were now always introduced into policies upon the lives of Protestant clergymen in Ireland. The next case to which he would refer, was that of a rev. Friend of his, a very eminent clergyman, who, having laboured zealously for a long period in his own country, had lately been usefully engaged in a very important mission here, and had been opening the minds of the people of England—he meant the rev. Mortimer O'Sullivan; and notwithstanding the aspersions that had been cast upon him, he (Lord Roden,) entertained for his conduct and principles the greatest respect and admiration. That bright and 314 eminent man, upon applying for a renewal of his policy to the Alliance Insurance Office, in London, received information that it was impossible, under existing circumstances, that they could assent to that application. Another instance of the same nature, was afforded in the case of the rev. Mr. Eyre of Galway, who, wishing to insure some property in the Alliance Insurance Office, made an application to that effect, but on the 28th of January, was informed in reply, that the Company were unwilling to insure any property belonging to the clergy of Ireland. The last case was that of another clergyman in the same situation, the rev. William Homan, who had received the following letter:—Albion Life Insurance Office,Dublin, 3rd March, 1837.Dear Sir—In reference to the insurance proposed by you to the Albion Company, on your own life, and submitted to the Directors in London, the 28th ult., I regret to acquaint you that, under the present aspect and state of some parts of Ireland, the Directors very reluctantly decline your proposition.Inclosed, therefore, I beg to hand you a Bank of Ireland post bill for 28l. 17s. 6d. being the amount left with me in the event of the Directors accepting the insurance on your life, the receipt of which please acknowledge.—I am, dear Sir, your obedient Servant,JOHN K. JAMES.Rev. Wm. T. Homan.Such were the grounds for the declaration of the noble Viscount, and it only surprised him (Lord Roden) to think how he could be so deceived, and what could have led the Government to consider it possible that Ireland was in a tranquil and peaceable state. He would also refer to another circumstance, which, he believed, would be sufficient to prevent any man in his senses, hearing the words to which he should call their attention, from saying that Ireland was in a peaceable state. Those who were in the habit of hearing anything about the proceedings of the National Association in Dublin, would be aware, that on the first announcement of that loyal assembly, from which this petition had emanated, that Association met and entered into resolutions, expressive of their indignation that the Protestants should presume to meet for the purpose of setting forth the grievances under which they laboured. In that, or the following day's debate one of the Members had moved that a Committee should be ap- 315 pointed for the purpose of taking measures to prevent the Protestant meeting from taking place; and the mode which it was proposed to adopt was this—would the House believe it?—that 100,000 men should be marched into Dublin on the very day, in order to overawe the proceedings of the Protestants. There was always much boasting and talking at that Association, and certainly those men of buckram never appeared. A meeting had been held, and a dinner given, at Carlow; and it had been stated by a most respectable gentleman, at the meeting in Dublin, that certain words had been used at that dinner, which were, however, denied by the person who was said to have used them: but he, as one of the persons who had called that meeting, had felt it his duty to take every opportunity of acquainting himself with the truth of the matter; and he would now first read to their Lordships the words themselves, and afterwards explain the course which he had himself pursued. The words were these:—Men of Carlow, are you ready? [Ay, ay]. I am the last man to recommend the shedding of one drop of blood; but we have tried every means of attaining our just rights, and they have failed. We have no course left us now, but that which I have always hitherto deprecated—the shedding of blood. Blood must be shed. [Uproar and "Hurrah!"] My reason for now saying that blood must be shed is to prevent the shedding of blood, for if your enemies again get into power they will shed your blood.But it was also stated by a learned Gentleman, a member of the Association, and one whom the Association acknowledged to be their owner—for he remembered that when an individual resisted an attempt on the part of that learned Gentleman to put him down, some person in the meeting called out, "Is it not your own Association, Mr. O'Connell?"—that learned Gentleman, referring to another Protestant meeting that had been held in the county of Down, stated, that if that (the late meeting) should have the effect which the Protestant meeting at Down had had—namely, the effect of producing a change in the administration of the country—the consequence must and should be, a bloody and brutal rebellion in Ireland. Such was the language used. It was like telling a crowd not by any means to nail the unfortunate victims ears to the pump. The people were 316 warned, indeed, not to raise a rebellion, but they were told to be ready in case of such a circumstance, by the great mover and director of his Majesty's administration. This individual did not, however, succeed in putting a stop to the meeting. There were other proofs of the tranquil state of Ireland. When their Lordships found such expressions as he should read made use of openly and avowed in a meeting in Dublin—and here he begged to say that he would read them particularly in order that his Majesty's Government might inquire into the truth of them and if they found them to be true, it was their duty to prosecute the individual who could make use of them. It was a proof, indeed, of the tranquillity of the country when permission was given to use such language. The object of this language was to overawe the Crown in the just exercise of the royal prerogative; namely, the changing of Ministers when his Majesty should think proper, and when the country desired it. He was anxious to ascertain, when he found this language denied, who were the persons that attended the dinner. He found that the following persons were present: the stipendiary magistrate, Captain Vignolles, Lieutenant Torrens, of the Fusiliers, and the chief Commissioner of Police. He begged to ask if Captain Vignolles had made any statement to his Majesty's Government with respect to the words used at the dinner. If Captain Vignolles were present, and heard these seditious words, which were calculated to raise his Majesty's subjects into rebellion, and did not make any mention of them, or report them to the Government, he was totally unfit for the responsible station he filled, and ought at once to be dismissed. It was the duty of the Government to ascertain whether these words had been used. If the words had been uttered, the course that ought to be taken by the Government was plain, and they ought to adopt the course to the individual who had uttered them which they would follow towards any other person that was guilty of sedition. He thought that, under these circumstances, it was vain to tell them that Ireland was in a state of tranquillity which even a meeting of Protestants could disturb. He would call their Lordships' attention to another paragraph, which appeared the other day in a paper which was well known to belong to the party of which the noble Viscount was the head, 317 and he would only ask the noble Viscount, had the Attorney-General for Ireland been directed to prosecute the individual who had been guilty of putting such words upon record? The words were these:—"The day that would give a Tory Ministry to the empire would summon a million of Irishmen to arms. There would be a fearful rising a simultaneous outbreak—a terrible struggle. A rebellion in one county in Ireland cost England 18,000 men, and twelve millions of additional debt. A prædial disturbance in another took six months in harassing service to 35,000 men, before it was even partially suppressed. What would it cost were all Ireland in arms? A people with nothing to lose, and everything to hope—once committed to a conflict—our natural advantages of position—every valley a ravine—every hill a fortress—every fence a bastion—a hardy people, and the approaching season when they could bivouac in the fields—all the small military and police stations absorbed by the population—union—the courage of right and of despair animating us within, and the sympathies of the world without, Let England pause before she will let loose Toryism in Ireland with this its inevitable result, for, whatever may be the result of such a struggle, England would come out of it, even at the best, a third-rate nation!" Now, he asked the noble Viscount, whether the Irish Attorney-General had taken any measures for the prosecution of the paper which contained words so calculated to excite the people to rebellion—naturally harrowing up their minds, and urging them on to their own and their country's destruction? He was sorry to detain the House so long upon this subject; but he confessed that when the noble Viscount talked so confidently of the tranquillity of Ireland, he had felt it to be his duty to call their attention to some facts, in order to prove what a deception it was, and how unfounded was the assertion of the protesters and of the noble Viscount. He need hardly tell their Lordships that another proof was to be found in the fact that the law was a complete dead-letter as to the recovery of the property of the clergy of Ireland. The noble Viscount had thrown out some doubts as to the reliance which was to be placed on the accounts that were received from different parts of Ireland; but he could tell the noble Viscount 318 that which had been told to his Majesty's Ministers in another place, that those who made these statements were ready to prove them to be facts; and, if there were time, he could then go into that discussion; but, whenever there was a specific motion before the House, he should feel it his duty to enter upon the entire investigation. There was, however, one case connected with the administration of justice which he could not refrain from mentioning, in order to afford additional proofs of the insecurity of life and property in Ireland, and of the inefficiency of the law as it was now administered, and of the strange tranquillity which prevailed. The case to which he alluded happened at the late Assizes at Carlow. There was a new sheriff, who had certainly been the last on the list, according to the return which he (Lord Roden) had moved for; and why the Lord-lieutenant had passed over the first and second, and chosen the last, he knew not; but he presumed there must be some good reason. The new sheriff, it appeared, had struck the panel in a very different manner from all former sheriffs. It was customary to strike the panel in the county of Carlow according to the list of the borough constables; and of persons entitled to be jurors there were 315 Protestants and 295 Roman Catholics. Out of that number a panel of forty-four was called over in court, and of those nine only were Protestants, although the numbers eligible were 315 Protestants, and only 295 Catholics. Now there were three most serious trials to be brought forward during those assizes, all of a political nature? In the first, two persons were indicted for feloniously entering a house by night, beating a family, and carrying away a pistol. On the first jury called there were two Protestants only; of course, the first step on the part of the prisoners was to challenge those two Protestants. Now, the remaining individuals, most of whom had not served on a jury before, not only were persons in the same sphere of life, as they properly might be, but were well known to have been following the same course of conduct as that pursued by those whom they had to try. After a very fair investigation—after the perfect identification of the prisoners—after witnesses had been examined for the prosecution, and not been contradicted, the result was a verdict of "Not guilty." He was told that one 319 of the prisoners having, at the conclusion of the trial, thanked his Lordship for his release—the learned Judge had said to him, "Thank not me, but thank the jury, who think you innocent." He knew not what the noble Lords opposite thought of that circumstance; he thought it a very formidable state of things; for he did say, that, by the act of his Majesty's Government, in refusing to challenge any of the jury on the part of the Crown, those prisoners had been left to be tried by participators in their crime. The next case was a prosecution for a rescue of cattle, and an attack on the magistrates, and the prisoners had been the leaders of a body of 10,000 men, who had cut and bruised, in a very violent manner, the officers of justice. One Protestant and eleven Roman Catholics constituted the jury, none of whom were rejected by the Crown, and the consequence was, that there was a verdict for a common assault against one of them only. The next case was one of riot and rescue of cattle, in which Honner and five others were indicted. The riot took place at a sale of cattle by auction, at Rathvilly. There was one Protestant on the jury, and as he resided in a remote part of the county, he was left on the jury, subject, no doubt, to fears and alarms. The evidence was perfectly satisfactory and conclusive, but the jury acquitted the prisoners. What was the language of the learned Judge, Baron Pennefather, on that occasion? He would read it to their Lordships:—Captain Vignolles proved, that he attended the sale by order of Government, and that he placed the police and military about a mile from Rathvilly, and placed videts between the place of auction and the force under his command. The cattle, however, were subsequently rescued, and a violent assault committed on Giltrap. He was called upon at eleven o'clock at night to take the depositions of Giltrap, who appeared to be dying from the effects of a beating he received. Dr. Burnet proved that he attended Giltrap, and he was in such a state as to require every degree of medical skill to save his life.Baron Pennefather asked Captain Vignolles why he did not pursue the cattle?Captain Vignolles—I would, my Lord, had Mr. Whitty made an information.Baron Pennefather—Did you require the information, for when you witnessed this riot you should have acted without one. For his part, he could not see of what use it was to bring the military and police within a mile of Rathvilly; for, under these circumstances, they might just as well stop at home.320Captain Vignolles—I acted in obedience to the orders of the Government, my Lord.Baron Pennefather—I protest most solemnly I cannot understand why, when a riot and a breach of the peace was apprehended, the military and police should be kept a mile from the town, where they could render no assistance. It was altogether a singular circumstance.Now, those occurrences were continually taking place, and he did maintain, that they justified that meeting, the object of which had been condemned by the protest which had been signed by the noble Lords opposite, and in which the noble Viscount had now joined. In order to prove what he had stated with respect to the jurors, he would take the liberty of moving, in the course of the evening, for a return of the panel which had been sent by the sheriff of the county of Carlow to the clerk of the Crown, and also for the jury paper. He trusted there would be no objection to that motion, as he thought it most essential to substantiate his statement. He had heard that it had been said by one who had entered into the resolutions referred to, and approved of the protest, that the Protestants of Ireland were "a miserable, monopolising minority." Whether such language was becoming in a Minister of the Crown, when he spoke of as respectable, as loyal, as important, a part of the population as any in the British empire, he would not say, but he would state, that if the Minister did use these words, they neither proved his great sagacity nor his great temper. That they were a minority, he must admit, but they were a minority in that sense in which their Lordships were a minority of the empire. If they were monopolising, it was the monopoly of all the offices of charity, and liberality towards their fellow-countrymen, which were gratefully felt and acknowledged. That they were miserable, he must admit, but their misery arose from their loyalty, and from the acts of the Government. It was also stated and objected, that the meeting at Dublin was exclusive. If they were to have any meeting at all, and to pass any resolutions expressive of their opinion, it must have been, in some sense, exclusive. Their Lordships would remember the meeting held in the Coburg Gardens, which was called by the citizens of Dublin. At that meeting the Protestant citizens of Dublin, the loyal Protestant gentlemen, attended, for the purpose of delivering their opinions against the resolutions that were about to be 321 brought forward, and the proposal that was made with respect to the conduct of the hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin. What was the consequence? A most violent assault was made upon them. At the head of the persons who committed the assault, there was a person of the name of Reynolds. He was the leader, and took a very active part on the one side of the question. So active, indeed, was Mr. Reynolds, who took a great share in Lord Mulgrave's triumphal entry into Dublin, in assaulting the Protestants, that he was found guilty of an aggravated assault, and sentenced to nine months' imprisonment, and the payment of a fine. If the Protestants had had such a meeting, he had no doubt it would have been more agreeable to the noble Viscount, for they certainly would not have had that immense petition. He would detain them but a few minutes longer, to mention one circumstance, which was this, that Mr. Reynolds, who had been sentenced to nine months' imprisonment, was, after one month's confinement, liberated by the Lord-lieutenant, without any reference having been made to either of the judges who tried him. What might naturally be the effect of such conduct—what value hereafter would be put upon the opinion of the judges—he left it to their Lordships to imagine. He begged to call attention to a letter that had been written to the noble Viscount by a gentleman who described himself as a Conservative Whig, and who had been at one time an active supporter of the noble Viscount's administration:—The public have suffered, and increased public danger has arisen, since I last addressed your Lordships, from an official act of my Lord Mulgrave, perhaps still more injurious and culpable than even the apathy which has marked the non-administration of law. Not only has every law which tends to check sedition been suffered to remain a dead letter, but even where private individuals have efficiently called the law into operation—where they had actually obtained the judgment and sentence of a competent court against the offenders—they have still been deprived of the benefit of these publicly useful exertions by a misplaced exercise, not to call it a gross abuse of the royal prerogative by your Lordship's Lieutenant. In the case to which I allude, the verdict of a jury had ascertained the guilt of the offender, and two of his Majesty's sworn judges had apportioned the punishment, in the solemn discharge of their constitutional duty. The sympathy of Lord Mulgrave, we must 322 presume, for suffering patriotism, and the popular virtue of one of the most energetic of Mr. O'Connell's instruments interposed the Crown's prerogative between the convicted offender and justice, as that justice had been measured by the competent tribunal. Need I inform your Lordship that the extraordinary case I advert to is that of Mr. Thomas Reynolds—the friend and most active partisan of O'Connell in the various enterprises in which he has been engaged against the tranquillity of Ireland?The offence of which he was convicted arose out of a meeting of the populace, summoned by public notice for the avowed purpose of sitting in judgment on the public conduct of a privy councillor and Member of Parliament for the University of Dublin, Mr. Frederick Shaw, the public notice intimating that the meeting was so called, not to inquire into his conduct, but to pronounce a sentence of condemnation in the first instance. This assembly, it is superfluous to say, if not clearly illegal, was at least one of very evil example, and inevitably tending to produce tumult and violence. It was, however, permitted to assemble in the open air, without any impediment or admonition, or adequate safeguard, being afforded by the executive. It produced almost instantly on its assembling a violent and sanguinary outrage. That it should have done so was nearly inevitable; it was a call to debate, to use no stronger term where the debaters were a mob, and the arguments bludgeons! Mr. Thomas Reynolds was a leader, and the nature and efficacy of his guidance in the field of battle formed one of the principal subjects for the consideration of the jury on the trial. That trial was had before a jury of whose respectability none has affected to doubt, except so far as disqualification for discharging the duty of a juror may be inferred from the fact of being Protestant! The jury certainly have been disparaged in that respect by their creed; for it is said, triumphantly, that the majority were Protestant. It is not, however, alleged that any of them was Orange, or marked as party men. Such as they were, however, they found Mr. Reynolds guilty, after a very long and patient investigation of the case by the court and jury, and after the ablest defence which very able counsel—Catholic council, too—could make for the patriotic culprit. The verdict met with the full approbation of the two presiding judges—one the Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, the other a very learned, very discriminating, and most merciful judge, Baron Smith. Their sense of the verdict, and their estimate of the quality of the offence, is, perhaps, best ascertained by the sentence they pronounced—an imprisonment for nine months—greatly aggravated, probably in the opinion of the convict, by also binding him to give security to keep the peace. Mr. Reynolds was committed to prison in execution of this sentence. As a matter of course in Ireland at present, the liberal press 323 imputed the conviction to the jury—the Protestant jury!—asif they were men utterly unfit, in their opinion, to sit in judgment on the trial of a liberal Reformer, even under the direction of judges to instruct and charge them in matters of law, though the riot arose from a Catholic populace sitting to try—no, not to try, but after condemnation without trial—to pronounce sentence on a privy councillor and a legislator, absent, unheard, and undefended! It was also matter of popular complaint that the judge had misconducted himself in his charge, and that both the judges had been guilty of injustice, by pronouncing a sentence unwarranted in its severity by the facts, even if the verdict of guilty were not itself an unjust one!Lord Mulgrave certainly did not instantly interfere to supersede this unpopular verdict and unmerciful sentence. His Lordship had the forbearance to wait until one ninth part of the sentence pronounced by the King's judges had beep suffered; but whether it was, that O'Connell confidentially communicated his wish that in 'justice to Ireland' the remaining eight months of the sentence should be remitted—or whether it was, that the spontaneous movement of mercy in the breast of his excellency could no longer be resisted—Mr. Reynolds was informed at the end of one month that he was free and that the sentence was remitted. He was thus remitted to the discharge of those public duties for his zeal in which he had been so unjustly sentenced to nine instead of one month, which in his excellency's estimate, was abundant punishment for his 'ever in judgment.'My Lord, this act of your Lieutenant was not merely indiscreet and irregular, but I submit it to your cooler judgment was unconstitutional and unwarranted—perhaps the most indefeasible act, in every point of view, of all that his excellency has committed since his joint reign in Ireland with O'Connell comnenced—indiscreet as regarded the individuals who had prosecuted an offender against the public peace—irregular as it regarded the royal prerogative, of which it appears so palpable an abuse; but most of all was it injurious to the public, by bearing the strongest possible indications of favour to either what is called the popular party, by whom the meeting which produced the offence was called, or to the convicted culprit, from his known connexion with O'Connell. Indeed the multiplied evil of the measure is evinced by the impression actually made by it upon the public mind and on both the opposing parties—on the one it has produced the hope, in the other the fear, of a partial administration of justice; and looking at it in all its bearings and circumstances, it seems difficult, indeed, to reconcile it with a fair exercise of the royal mercy. It may be, perhaps, within the power of his excellency to disclose facts, which may entitle it to a mitigated censure; but if such there be, they are concealed most modestly from the public; 324 for it will not now, I conceive, be denied that there was no extraneous fact which warranted the remission of the sentence—no new fact legitimately discovered or communicated—nor was either of the judges who tried the case previously consulted as to whether there were in their notes of the evidence (the only legitimate channel of learning the facts of the case) any circumstances which could warrant an exercise of the prerogative of mercy, consistent, at the same time, with justice and the public good.Surely, my Lord, it is not now that Lord Mulgrave is to learn that the prerogative of mercy is, like the other prerogatives of the Crown, vested in the Sovereign for the good of the people; that it is, therefore, not to be used capriciously, without any reasonable ground, nor vexatiously, or through favouritism, to the injury of one party, against another, nor from any private motive. The judges, therefore, who try a case in which it is thought that grounds may exist for the exercise of that godlike prerogative, mercy, are the advisers to whom common sense as well as the principle and habits of the constitution point, for previous counsel on the intended extension of mercy. If those learned and competent persons, competent from their habits, and competent because, from having presided at the time, they must have the most authentic and perfect knowledge of the evidence, and of the circumstances of the case—if they were not consulted (and that they were not will not, I believe, now he denied), the remission of eight months of the punishment awarded against Mr. Reynolds causelessly (for no application grounded on any ascertained fact is pretended), that remission must be gratuitous, capricious, unjustifiable, and therefore, an abuse of the Crown prerogative!He would make an observation or two respecting the National Association in Ireland, which had been adverted to by the noble Viscount. The complaint made by himself and Friends, was, that persons had been selected for official and highly responsible situations from the National Association, who had teen engaged in a way that was detrimental to the interests of the nation, and who had been parties to the passing of resolutions subversive of the Protestant religion—resolutions which declared that nothing but the voluntary principle would satisfy them. The appointment of those individuals was complained of on that ground, and not because they professed the Roman Catholic religion. He had the pleasure of being acquainted with many Roman Catholics, for whom he entertained very great respect. He certainly did most cordially abhor and detest the doctrines of the 325 Church of Rome; he believed them, as he bad sworn he did when he first took his seat in their Lordships' Mouse, to be idolatrous and superstitious; but he nevertheless entertained the greatest respect for the persons professing them, and he was anxious to promote the interests of those persons, conceiving that their religion ought to make no difference in that respect. He rebutted, then, the observations of the noble Viscount, and would say that he did not participate in the statements, on which the noble Viscount had animadverted. He must say, also, that he was not influenced by party feeling, it made no difference to him who sat on this or that side of the House. He could derive no advantage from any particular party being in power: he had no political ambition to gratify. He could only be benefited by the formation of a Conservative administration, as every man would be who had property to lose and a character to maintain. That for which he contended was the great principle of civil and religious liberty in its true sense; he contended for the toleration of the Protestant religion in Ireland; he contended for protection to those poor Roman Catholics who were convinced of the error of their faith, and were anxious to come over to the Protestant religion, but who were prevented by the power exercised over them from obeying the dictates of their conscience. There existed a party in Ireland, which kept that country in chains, and as long as such a state of things continued he would vote against the measures which he thought likely to strengthen that party, and would oppose them by every means in his power. The noble Viscount had acknowledged what had been the effect of these measures—he said they had proved a great discouragement to, and had inflicted a severe blow upon the Protestant religion. That such an admission had come from a Protestant he much lamented. He felt that he was bound to stand up against these measures, and though we lived in degenerate days, when the spirit of "liberalism," as it was called, but he would term it infidelity, had nearly swamped the land, yet he believed there was still to be found, not only in their Lordships' House, but in the great mass of the middle class of society, a spirit of pure Protestantism, which would spring up and show itself possessed of such power as would convince Parliament that Protestantism, could not be destroyed, He 326 considered the country to be on the verge of a great crisis; he was of opinion that the time was not far distant when the question to be decided would be, whether they must respect the legislative union, or the Act of 1829. If such a question did not come before them, he should not hesitate as to the course he should pursue, for the experience he had gained since 1829 had impressed it deeply on his mind that no security could be given by the Roman Catholic Members of the House of Commons for the Protestant Church as established by law.
The Marquess of Clanricarde
said, that while he admired the prudence and discretion which had led the noble Earl to postpone his statement and attack until the noble Viscount had addressed the House, yet he thought, in point of fairness, that the noble Earl ought to have made his statement when there was an opportunity of his being replied to by a Minister of the Crown, who, it was to be supposed, would be able to answer that statement in detail. The noble Earl had objected to the protest against the Protestant meeting on two grounds. The first had reference to the tranquillity of Ireland. Now, be was free to admit, at the same time that he was sorry to be obliged to admit, that when they spoke of the "tranquillity" of Ireland, they did so in a comparative sense; and, viewing the term in that light, it could not be said that they had not been warranted in making use of it. But the noble Earl, in order to show how erroneously it had been applied to Ireland, had recourse to events which had taken place, not only since the meeting had been held, but since the protest had been signed. Two out of the three letters he had read from clergymen, were dated since the signing of the protest. The noble Earl had also referred to the proceedings of a late meeting of the National Association, and therefore concluded that they had been in error, when they said, that Ireland was comparatively tranquil. He must say, he had signed the protest with the utmost readiness; for, looking at the events that had recently taken place in Ireland, in which he spent a considerable portion of his time, he had thought it fair to say, that the country was comparatively tranquil. When the noble Earl spoke of the dangers which prevented insurances from being effected on the lives of Protestant clergymen, he 327 ought to have shown what those dangers were. The insurance companies did not take the trouble of inquiring how many lives had been sacrificed by those dangers, but acted upon the declarations of the "Protestants of Ireland," who put forth grossly exaggerated statements, which, upon investigation, would be found to be incorrect and unfounded. The noble Lord's second cause of complaint, was in the general practice of the Government with respect to the selection of juries; but he had completely misrepresented the practice of the Crown in such cases. He said, that the Crown had given up the practice of setting by jurors, and he said nothing more; while the fact was, that the only practice that had been given up, was that of setting aside jurors on account of their religious opinions. That was the only difference. The noble Earl, not satisfied with this statement, had gone so far as to say, that a prisoner charged with a serious offence, although proved to have been guilty, had been acquitted. That was a very strong assertion; but of its correctness they had no proof beyond the noble Earl's ipse dixit. He had not attempted to show how the party accused was proved to have been guilty. What said the judge on the occasion, as quoted by the noble Earl? "Don't thank me, but the jury who deem you innocent." But did that cast the slightest stigma or imputation upon the jury? He thought not. The judge had said distinctly, "they think you innocent." If men were set aside in consequence of their religious principles, he would undoubtedly say that the jury was a packed one, and that such a proceeding very naturally cast a slur upon the character of justice, and excited discontent and distrust in the minds of the people. The noble Earl had stated, that men might be, or had been—he did not exactly know which—tried by their accomplices; but had he shown how, or quoted any instance of the sort? A case had lately been referred to, in which it appeared that one of the jurors had been convicted of a riot three years before; but what of that? If they were to prevent men who had been convicted before the magistrate or at quarter sessions of a riot, from serving as jurors, he should like to know how far they would carry out the principle, and if they were prepared to say that a man who had three years previously been convicted of a riot should not per- 328 form the functions of a juror. The noble Earl had referred to the case of Mr. Reynolds, and rather unfairly to the party accused. He should like to know why the subject had not been referred to last Session, when his noble Friend (Lord Mulgrave) was in his place in that House, after Reynolds had been liberated. His noble Friend, he believed, had come down for the very purpose of answering any complaint that might be made; and he had reason to expect that some would be made, in consequence of a notice of a motion given by the Marquess of Londonderry. He had heard in Ireland, what he was sure was the fact. Mr. Reynolds, having made application to the Lord-lieutenant on the subject of his sufferings, his Excellency applied to the Chief Justice for a report of the trial, which was laid before the law-officers of the Irish government, who were of opinion that the conviction had taken place contrary to law. He did not exactly know whether, if called upon, his Majesty's Ministers would be justified in laying a copy of that opinion before the House; but he could assure their Lordships, that what he had stated was a true version of the facts. The noble Lord opposite had complained of motives having been attributed to those who called the meeting in Dublin. What were the facts? A requisition had been signed by eight Peers, at the head of whom was the noble Marquess, who had that evening presented the petition, and who had presided at the meeting. He certainly looked upon that noble Lord as the chief mover in this affair, for he had of late taken up the character of an agitator on that side of the way. He was now the great anti-O'Connell agitator, whose attendance was requisite on all important occasions; and who, two years and a-half ago, had created such a great sensation in Ireland. What, then, could be the object—what the effect of this meeting? What could eight Peers want with a meeting? It could not be to petition Parliament for themselves; it could not be to address the Crown, because they had a right to demand an audience of the Crown; it could not be to address the subjects of the Crown, or to make any complaint against the Government, because, if they wished to do either, the House of Parliament was the proper place to do it in. Why, then, should noble Lords have disturbed the tranquillity of 329 town and country by the course they had adopted? The noble Lord was vexed with them for having used that term, but he now asserted, and advisedly too, that the tranquillity of Dublin had been most seriously endangered by that meeting. Great apprehensions of a riot had been entertained, and if the Irish government had not exerted itself as it had done, both privately and publicly, and in the most discreet manner, a scene of tumult, and very likely bloodshed, would have disgraced that city—a circumstance which the noble Earl would, no doubt, lament fully as much as any other individual. He would say, therefore, that it was very difficult to guess what the object of eight Peers could have been in getting up such a meeting, unless it were with some view to the coming session. He recollected the meeting of the county of Down, and the change that had taken place not very long afterwards. In the speech of the noble Lord in Dublin, there was no particular reason assigned for holding that meeting; but yet it contained matter of great exultation, which had been published by all the daily and weekly organs of the noble Lord's party, and given rise to conjectures respecting a certain change which they, in some degree, foreboded. The meeting in Dublin at which the noble Marquess had taken so prominent a part, was the consequence of a species of northern light, which had beamed beforehand from Glasgow. Could there be a doubt that all these meetings were held with a view to secure the triumph of a party? The coming forward of these noble Lords at both these specific times, did certainly look ominous, when a struggle was about to take place, and a victory about to be achieved, by which were to be advanced the interests of the party with which those noble Lords acted. At both these meetings, charges were freely brought forward against his Majesty's Government. It would have been befitting that these charges should have been subsequently substantiated! How had those charges been substantiated? Why, there had been no case whatever made out in support of the charges which had been thus generally made. He would appeal to the common apprehension of the humblest members of the community, as well as the most exalted, whether it was a trifling matter thus to charge the Irish government with the destruction of the rights 330 and privileges of a large portion of his Majesty's subjects, and with connivance at the proceedings of a "seditious organization." Surely, it was a matter of no ordinary importance to prefer such a charge against any administration; and, if such corrupt connivance were really capable of proof, it ought to be made the matter, if not of impeachment, at the very least, of a substantive motion before their Lordships' House. If noble Lords were sincere in preferring those charges, they should either practically take measures for substantiating them in Parliament, or, admitting that they were in error, should retract them. The noble Lord then read an extract from a letter written by Lord Castlereagh, upon the occasion of the superseding Earl Fitzwilliam in the Lord-lieutenancy of Yorkshire, in which Lord Castlereagh observed, that Earl Fitzwilliam had stated, at the York meeting, an opinion, which betrayed so much distrust in the Government, that it was judged to be incompatible with the honour of the Government to continue him in office. Now, it was worthy of observation, that the resolution which was adopted by the York meeting, referred to by Lord Castlereagh, prayed only for inquiry; and that nothing was positively stated in the way of charge. Whereas, at the more modern meeting, resolutions in the highest degree condemnatory of the conduct of Government were adopted, published very generally in the newspapers, and signed by the noble Marquess, as chairman of the meeting. The "General Association," had been solemnly condemned in those resolutions. For his part, he believed that there was much in the circumstances which existed at the time to justify the formation of that body. A noble Lord, who was seated opposite, on the second bench (Lord Donoughmore), had been the mover or seconder of a resolution at the great Protestant meeting in Dublin, and yet that same noble Lord, if he (Lord Clanricarde) was not much mistaken, had been the mover of a vote of thanks, not many years before, to Mr. O'Connell, at a meeting which was held in the county of Tipperary. To political associations, of every character, he entertained a great dislike. He never, as yet, had connected himself with any such associations; and, although he was averse to rash prophesying, he thought he might, with perfect confidence say, that he never would so 331 connect himself. But those who were real well-wishers of Ireland, should never speak of such associations, save with respect, What was it that, at the latter end of the last century, had carried the question of free trade in Ireland? What was it that had introduced the principle of free representation into the Irish parliament? What was it, in fine, that had carried the question of Catholic Emancipation? Surely, it was associations of exactly a similar nature. True it was, that such associations always betokened an unnatural state of society; true it was, that they constituted a sort of engine whose working might be perverted to great mischief; but he must say, that in his opinion, the association which was now complained of, was the least objectionable among associations of a similar nature; and that, recollecting what had happened during the last year, recollecting the feelings which must naturally have been excited at that time by recent political occurrences, there was as much to excuse the formation of that association as ever had occurred to excuse the foundation of any association at any period whatever. Much as he had declared himself averse from forming a junction with such a body, he had been very much tempted to join that association during the last recess; and the sole reason which had withheld him, was the consideration that there were not always very sound heads, nor, in all instances, perfectly honest hearts, engaged in the direction of those associations. It was quite a possible thing that speeches might be made, and resolutions adopted, at their meetings, which might render it not altogether becoming in him to join them. Whatever triumph—grateful to their political feelings—the party opposite might expect to achieve, he should be exceedingly sorry in any event, to see this association put down by force, or to see any Government seeking to put an end to its existence by any other means than that of satisfying the reasonable demands of the people. For his part, he attached but little importance to the resolutions which bad been carried at that tumultuous meeting, to which noble Lords before him had referred. In conclusion, he would beg to direct the attention of their Lordships to the fact, that the petition which the noble Marquess had this evening presented, had been agreed to upon the 24th of January last; and that 332 all the time which had passed between that period and the present, had been suffered to elapse without one word having escaped a single Lord in their Lordships' House upon the subject of those complaints. He certainly thought, that it would be becoming in noble Lords not to authenticate resolutions and statements of this description by their signature, unless they were prepared to sustain them boldly when the subject was brought forward for discussion in their Lordships' House.
The Earl of Donoughmore
said, he had had certain misgivings in his mind as to the quantity of power which would satisfy the Roman Catholics. Different members of his family had been the strenuous, the zealous, and the uncompromising advocates of the Catholics of Ireland; but it was on the clear and perfect understanding that any political power with which they were intrusted would not be used to the injury of the Protestant Establishment. Now, since the passing of the Catholic Relief Bill of 1829, all the engagements which were entered into with the Protestant subjects of Great Britain and Ireland had not been faithfully kept. It was not necessary for him, at this time of day, to repeat to their Lordships in what way they had been violated; but let him ask their Lordships if they recollected the evidence taken before the Committees of this House and the other House of Parliament? Was it not stated, that the Protestant subjects of Ireland would be secured if that relief measure passed? He did his utmost to get the Bill adopted; he voted for it; and what was the consequence of the passing of that Bill of 1829? Would they refer for an answer to the tithe war which had been raging on in Ireland? The other day, in Tipperary, a Protestant minister was starved to death. Were such circumstances to make no impression on his mind? He was ready now, and he always should be, to admit the Catholics to a full participation in all the blessings of the British Constitution, but, at the same time, he was determined to maintain the Protestant institutions in Church and State. These were some of the reasons for which he signed the resolutions; but another reason was, the attempt to pass the Municipal Corporation Bill, which he thought would tend to destroy the Protestant religion. For three years he bad done nothing, because he did not believe his Majesty's Government would leave the Protestants of 333 Ireland in the state in which they found themselves. With respect to the statements of the noble Viscount respecting the tranquillity of Ireland, it was evident that they proceeded from misinformation. From the accounts in his possession, it appeared that, in the space of only three years and a-half, no fewer than 641 human beings had, in that country, been deprived of life. He asked if, under such circumstances, the country was in such a state as to justify the Lord-lieutenant in liberating from gaol ninety-six persons? He trusted that he was no enemy to the extension of mercy in any quarter to which mercy ought to be extended; but, recollecting the difficulty of getting evidence and obtaining convictions, what must be the con-Sequence of the Lord-lieutenant's coming the day after and letting out of prison almost all who had been convicted? Was such a course as that calculated to assist the local magistrate in securing peace? No, other feeling but that the judges were tyrannical and the juries in error could justify the Lord-lieutenant in this kind of wholesale liberation. The noble Viscount apposite had declared, that he was quite sure the noble Earl at the head of the Government of Ireland would not have interposed so freely with the royal prerogative without the fullest previous consideration. Now, what was the extent of that consideration? One morning, his Excellency goes to the gaol of Clonmel, and, without any communication with a single county gentleman, discharges 57 persons. And that was called the fullest previous consideration. After a while, his Lordship sent to the governor of the gaol to order their discharge; when the answer to this Superfluous requisition was, that they had been already discharged many hours before. Among the prisoners who were thus let out, were two men of the names of James and Thomas Milbourn, whose crime was shooting at, with intent to murder, Thomas Cleary and son. Without any previous inquiry these men were liberated from prison. Another person, of the name of Bryan, had been convicted of a most grievous and wanton assault, amounting almost to a deprivation of life. He had been ordered to be imprisoned twelve months, and to find Securities for his good behaviour for five years. What followed? That on the 22nd of January this man was turned out of gaol without giving any security whatever. Not the course thus 334 pursued was most detrimental to all good government. It was most painful to him to make these statements. He had been charged with a want of consistency in politics. The charge was unfounded. He (Lord Donoughmore) had been charged with proposing a vote of thanks to Mr. O'Connell, in the county of Tipperary. He had done so, and he felt perfectly justified in having done so. After the Reform Bill had been thrown out in the House of Lords, it bad been thought necessary to get up petitions on that subject in Ireland. For his conduct on that occasion, he had proposed a vote of thanks to Mr. O'Connell; and if that hon. and learned Gentleman's conduct had been as praise-' worthy down to the present day, he should have been happy to repeat the proposition.
The Earl of Glengall
was of opinion, that after other associations had been put down in Ireland, it was most improper to connive at the continued existence of an association whose leader, in one of his recent manifestoes, had called upon the people of Ireland to continue their agitation, until they should have obtained Municipal Reform, Vote by Ballot, Short Parliaments, and a variety of other objects. When these measures were secured by the hon. and learned Gentleman, the repeal of the Union would follow as a matter of course. The noble Marquess had said, that this was a mere local association. The noble Marquess was, he believed, mistaken; for he would find that this Committee had what were termed "Committees up stairs," which were in communication with every part of the country—Committees, in short, whose meetings were as exclusive as ever had been those of the Orange Society. Not content with railing at what they termed "the Church nuisance," they now attacked the "absentee nuisance '' in most unmeasured terms, and while some of the members of the association were for stripping the absentees of half of their estates, others were for depriving them of the entire. He was one of the Peers who in 1829had attended the meeting which was held in Dublin, and at which the claims of the Catholics to emancipation were advocated. He certainly felt surprised at seeing appended to the recent protest the names of four Catholic Peers. He would recommend to the adoption of those noble Lords the example of the Roman Catholic Peers of 335 England. A noble Lord had alluded in the course of this debate to a phrase which had recently been very popular—he alluded to the phrase "monopolising, miserable minority." He certainly believed that this phrase, if applied to the Protestant portion of the Irish community, would be quite correct, for they certainly were great monopolists of land. In the county of Tipperary the Protestants held 550,000 acres. He believed, if he said the Roman Catholics held so much as 30,000 acres, he should be far outstepping the mark; and in the county of Cork (the largest county of Ireland, and also, in point of numbers, a very Catholic county), the proportion would not be found to differ much from the proportion in Tipperary. It was true that the Catholics outnumbered the Protestants in Ireland; but taken in the ratio of property the Protestants far outnumbered them. With regard to the alleged growth of tranquillity in Ireland, and to the letter of Mr. Howley, the assistant-barrister, which had been read by the noble Viscount opposite, he would just observe, that the diminution of the number of faction-fights at fairs, upon which that learned gentleman laid so much stress, was attributable mainly to the greater activity of the police. At whatever town a fair took place, it was now the custom to collect all the police of the barony. The noble Lord also said, that the intimidation of witnesses had subsided. But he (Lord Glengall) was sorry to say that, although a magistrate of the county of Tipperary, and intimately acquainted with the administration of justice in that county, he could not state that the intimidation of witnesses had diminished. The opinion, too, which Judge Foster had expressed upon this subject at the recent assizes, was totally at variance with the noble Lord's. With regard to the comparative tranquillity of the country, to which the noble Lord had alluded, he must say, that the returns of the last year were more prolific of murders than those of some three or four years preceding. In 1833, there were 136 crimes of this description, for which convictions were had: in 1834, 195; in 1835 (as we understood the noble Lord), 174; and in 1836, 204. The number of persons committed to the county gaol of Tipperary during the past year, was no fewer than 1,557. In the month of August last, his Excellency the Lord-lieutenant, upon visiting that county, 336 liberated fifty-seven persons from the county gaol. His clemency was, however, not limited to this instance. It was exhibited in instalments, thirty prisoners more were liberated afterwards. All these liberations, according to the noble Viscount opposite, took place after the most mature deliberation; and yet, it appeared that seven months after this circumstance took place, a letter signed by Mr. Drummond was forwarded to the inspector of this gaol, inquiring into the particulars of the character and conduct of these parties before and during their imprisonment, and, desiring him (the inspector) to specify whether any representation had been made by the local magistracy or gentry of the country, recommending the propriety of releasing these prisoners. The answer from the inspector of the gaol was to this effect—that Mr. Fell, the chaplain of the gaol, had recommended one female, whose period of imprisonment under her sentence had expired, but who had been detained for want of bail. Fifty-five male prisoners had been discharged on the recommendation of the gaoler and the turnkeys for their good conduct in the gaol, and one female had been discharged by the Lord-lieutenant himself; so that in all there had been fifty-seven discharged from that gaol without any recommendation from the magistracy. The number discharged in the county of Tipperary was ninety-seven. Now, when their Lordships recollected the number of magistrates who had been fired at, and some of them killed, in that county, he would ask, what must be the feeling of the magistracy generally, when they found that number of prisoners discharged and returned to their homes? Now, as he had said, all this had been done without any communication with the magistracy of the county. If the sentences of these men had been too severe, and it was deemed expedient to mitigate or remit the remaining portion of their sentences, it ought for the sake of the future peace of the country to have been done through the magistracy, that they might at least have some of the merit of the clemency thus exercised. It had been said, that this extension of clemency on the part of the Lord-Lieutenant had been charged upon him as originating in political bias and from political motives. He had made no such imputation, and if the noble Viscount Melbourne would look at the petition which had been laid on 337 the table, he would find that it contained no charge of that kind. The petitioners spoke of the prerogative of mercy having been so injudiciously exercised as to deprive the judges and the magistracy of that respect in which they ought ever to be held by the people. His Excellency having visited Waterford, directed the liberation of nine persons from gaol, and in Cork he discharged many more. One of the men so discharged was Richard Dunne. He was afterwards taken up for the commission of another offence, and was now under sentence of transportation for seven years. In Cork a man named John Bryan had been convicted of a felonious assault on a child, and was sentenced by Baron Penefather to two years' imprisonment. Five months of his imprisonment was unexpired when an order came from the Lord-lieutenant for his discharge. Soon after he was found guilty of a violent assault, and sentenced to two months' imprisonment. Shortly before this sentence was expired the man whom he had assaulted died of his wounds, and a warrant was sent to the prison to detain him on the charge of murder; but he had been discharged on the morning of the day on which the warrant had arrived, and he had not since been heard of. Now, the whole of this took place within the five months of his imprisonment which had been remitted, and if that remission had not been made he could not, of course, have committed the assault which caused the death of a fellow being. Another case of those liberations was that of a man named Crawley. He was under sentence of transportation for seven years, which was commuted to six months' imprisonment. On the very night of the day when his imprisonment terminated he committed a burglary and robbery, was tried for it, and was now under sentence of death in Cork. These, then, were some of the effects of that system of general gaol delivery lately adopted in Ireland, to which he knew of no parallel except that general gaol delivery which was effected in the reign of Richard 2nd. by Wat Tyler. He would now call the attention of their Lordships to the system which had recently been adopted in the appointment of sheriffs, and other public officers, in Ireland. From accounts which he had seen it appeared that not fewer than twenty-one gentlemen, in every respect qualified to execute the office of sheriff, had been passed, over, and seven 338 had been superseded. Formerly it was the practice in Ireland that the sheriffs used to be nominated by the county members, but on the suggestion of Sir John Newport, Sir Robert (then Mr.) Peel consented to give up that mode of appointment, and adopt the English mode of having three named by the judges, of whom one was selected by the Lord-lieutenant. In some recent instances this system had been departed from. For instance, in the county of Louth, three gentlemen of the oldest and most respectable families in that county, Mr. Fortescue, of Ravensdale, Mr. Bellingham, of Castle Bellingham, and Mr. Brabazon, had been returned to the Government by the judge (the Lord Chief Baron) and passed over—for what reason he did not know, unless, perhaps, it was considered that another sheriff might be more favourable to certain candidates at an election. That, at least, was the opinion of the Conservatives and the Radicals in that county. Now with respect to the appointment of assistant-barristers, it was well known that they were permanent judges in Ireland, and that a considerable portion of the property of the country, and a large share of its criminal jurisprudence were under their adjudication, and it was also known that their fiat was final in registration. An assistant-barrister, a member of the National Association, had been appointed in the county of Longford. That county was at the present moment in a state of considerable excitement, having recently had an election there, the return on which was now pending before a Committee of the House of Commons. Mr. Tighe, the assistant-barrister, had placed on the registry votes which had been struck off by an Election Committee of the House of Commons. Mr. Tighe considered that the House of Commons had no right to strike those votes off, and he again placed them on the registry. In Carlow, Mr. Hudson, for whom two other assistant barristers had been removed, though he saw no reason for the change, had done the same. There was no objection to Mr. French, the previous assistant barrister, except that he had very properly refused to place certain votes on the registry, which, however, Mr. Hudson granted. And what was the result? Why, this very day the Carlow Committee struck off one of the votes so placed, and probably would strike of the rest to-morrow. Now, let him ask 339 what was the situation of an assistant barrister, who was also a member of the Association? By his oath he was to support the laws, and see them, as far as he was concerned, duly administered; but by his pledge to the Association he was considered bound to resist the execution of some of those laws, so far at least as concerned the collection of tithes. Was he, then, a fit person to take cognizance of cases where tithes were the subject of litigation, and which, as a member of the Association, he was pledged to oppose? Let him now look to the conduct pursued by the Government in Ireland with respect to the Appointments under the Constabulary Act. That Act was passed last year, and received very general approbation. It was understood that the appointments under it would be made by the officer under whose general direction the constabulary force was placed, and that none but the most deserving individuals would be selected; It appeared, however, that that officer had little or nothing to do with those appointments. Since the Act passed twenty-three stipendiary magistrates had been appointed at an expense to the country of 12,00l. annually. Now, either the country was tranquil, and had no occasion for those appointments, or it was not tranquil, and there was occasion for them. For his own part, he did not think the country was so tranquil as some had represented it, yet he did not think the appointment of those magistrates necessary to the extent to which they were made. Amongst the magistrates so appointed was Mr. Lewis Crewe Smith, a member of the Association. By his oath that, gentleman was, as all magistrates were, bound to administer the laws, and by his pledge to the Association he was to obstruct that administration, which of those pledges Mr. Smith would keep he did not know. Out of the twenty-three stipendiary magistrates, there were nineteen who had never been in the police before, while there were 150 chief constables unprovided for, who had been ten, twelve, or fourteen years in the service. It was unfair to appoint such men, and pass over those who had served the country for years. With regard to sub-inspectors, twenty-five had been appointed, and seven of these had never been in the police before, and there were also 150 who had been in the old police, and were left without appointments. There 340 were eighteen paymasters, only two of whom had been in the police before. An Act was passed last Session for appointing a certain number of Crown solicitors, with a salary of 200l. a-year, and four of these gentlemen were members of the Association. These were the Crown solicitors for Tipperary, Westmeath, Mayo, and Sligo. These gentlemen had important business at the quarter sessions. A vast number of tithe cases were decided at these sessions, and the Crown solicitors were bound by their oath to carry the law into effect, while, by their connexion with the Association, they were pledged to a contrary course. He might mention an instance to show how the law was administered. An elector came before the assistant barrister, and stated, that he had given up his lease in order that he might not be compelled to pay the clergyman his tithes; and what was the Crown solicitor's remark on the occasion? That he had given up the lease in order that he might rob the clergyman of his rights? No; but that he might prevent the clergyman from robbing him of his rights; and before the tithes could be collected they had to employ a number of infantry and dragoons to enforce the law. Much had been said about the system of appointing pacificators, and great stress had been laid on that by a noble Lord opposite. Now, he believed most of these pacificators were dram-sellers and shopkeepers in towns; he believed, at least as far as regarded Tipperary, all the bona fide Roman Catholic gentry had invariably kept aloof from every association of that sort. In Tipperary there were no Orangemen; but certain parties, to suit their purposes, made all Protestants Orangemen. He would not trouble their Lordships further, but would thank them for the attention with which they had listened to his remarks.
The Marquess of Lansdown
Said, after the appropriate and convincing observations made by the noble Marquess below him (the Marquess of Clanricarde), who had signed the protest, and who was therefore well entitled to speak on the subject, it was not necessary for him to detain their Lordships long. He had declined to sign the protest, though he concurred entirely in the sentiments which it contained. He concurred in the sentiments because he thought it was proper to call the Protestants of Ireland to a 341 sense of the impropriety of their conduct, and divert them from a course so inconsistent with their former conduct, and so dangerous to the peace of the country. He could not help remarking the inconsistency of the noble Earl who spoke last but one; that noble Earl said the resolutions met with his entire concurrence, and why? Because he had apprehensions that a Bill would be brought into Parliament by his Majesty's Ministers for reforming the Municipal Corporations of Ireland; and in the same speech the noble Earl told the House that he had supported the Roman Catholic Emancipation Bill in the full desire that his Majesty's Roman Catholic subjects might enjoy all the privileges of his other subjects—no, not all the privileges; he knew they could not enjoy all the privileges; he knew that without a reform in the Municipal Corporations they could not enjoy them; and notwithstanding that, he tells the House that he quarrelled with a Bill which was to be introduced, and charged the Government with all manner of offences, even with treasonable practices, because he apprehended his Majesty's Ministers were about to introduce a Bill for corporation reform, by which they might carry out those very principles on which he supported Catholic Emancipation. The petition had been got up because noble Lords opposite considered their lives and property insecure, and they had no hope but in the House of Lords. For the purpose of getting up the petition a meeting was held in Dublin, from which were excluded all persons of different opinions; none were to be admitted except those whom they knew would agree with them, and they came undoubtedly to a most unanimous conclusion, that the Government of Ireland had not done its duty, that they were in undoubted danger, and that there was no hope for them but in the House of Lords. Why the petition was agreed to three months ago, and yet the noble Marquess did not think it worth while, notwithstanding all the alarm and anxiety under which he laboured, he did not think it worth while to come to the House the first day of the Session to apply for relief, but had for three months allowed the lives and property of his Majesty's subjects to remain in insecurity. However, after two months had elapsed from the commencement of the Session the noble Marquess 342 gave notice of a motion, and moved that the House be summoned. Well, he was anxious to see what was the object of the noble Marquess's motion; but the noble Marquess did not present the peti-tion—no, he postponed his motion, and left to the mercy of the Catholics the lives and property of the Protestants of Ireland for two weeks longer. Now, if he were to admit the danger, certainly it could not be said the urgency was great if the noble Marquess delayed for three months to call upon the House to exercise its powers in their behalf. Arid as to the powers to be exercised by their Lordships, the noble Marquess seemed totally indifferent on that point; for after having allowed the motion to hang over so long, when he does bring it on, he charges the Lord-lieutenant with something like treasonable conduct, and when he is asked if he bad any motion to propose, his answer was no, he had not even a notice of motion to give. Yet he had allowed persons to tramp up statements from newspapers in any quarter, which the Government had no means of contradicting; and when these statements are embodied in the petition, the noble Marquess moved that the petition be read, and he read accordingly himself, and concludes by moving that it do lie on the table; and was that all the noble Marquess and the noble Lords who signed the petition intended to do for the purpose of quelling disturbances in Ireland, and enabling the landed proprietors to collect their rents? But noble Lords opposite had gone into some minute details; they had adduced some trifling cases, which they denounced as irregular and contrary to constitutional government, but they had not given any general data, or any facts to which his Majesty's Ministers could reply. True, they had impugned the general government of Ireland, but it ought to be remembered that they impugned it only as regarded the exercise of two constitutional functions—the prerogative of mercy exercised by the Crown, and the conduct of jurymen; and these charges were brought by persons who arrogated to themselves the name of Consti-tutionalists—who used the word constitution at every step of their proceedings: the word was constantly in their mouths, as if it were their peculiar property. Now, he would tell them that he regarded the constitution as highly as they did, and could inform them, also, that what the 343 Lord-lieutenant did he did after due consideration. They complained that the Lord-lieutenant had visited certain gaols and liberated prisoners, as if he had done so on the impulse of the moment. Now, he believed, he might safely assert that it was impossible the Lord-lieutenant could have liberated any prisoners without having made himself master of the cases, and as a proof of this he should not go into particulars, but state general facts. He would state the result of the applications made to the Lord-lieutenant for remission of punishments. From a return which he held in his hand, it appeared, that from the 12th of May, 1835, to the 31st March, 1837, the number of cases reported unfavourably and favourably to Lord Mulgrave were as follow:—There were reported unfavourably, without reference to the judges, 588 cases, and after reference to the judges, 546, making altogether 1,134; of cases reported favourably there were 259; after reference to the judges, 200; after reference to the magistrates, 77; on reference to the medical offices, 108; and 108, 162, and 285, on recommendation respectively from the solicitor of the revenue, the magistrates and inspectors, and the governors of prisons—making with some other cases altogether 2,338. He was, therefore, entitled to ask, if the Lord-lieutenant had shown any want of consideration after the cases he had adduced? _ But other matters had been introduced, and comments had been made on the exercise of the prerogative of the Crown respecting the appointment of sheriffs. He would not go into all the cases adverted to, but he was prepared to mention a fact, and it was undoubtedly fortunate that he had a fact to confute one of the most prominent statements made by the noble Lord who spoke last. That referred to the appointment of a sheriff for the county of Louth. The noble Earl said, the Lord-lieutenant had been guilty of undue interference and undue exercise of the royal prerogative in that appointment. He happened to have the means of knowing what really did occur. Three gentlemen were recommended by the Chief Baron. The first was Mr. Fortescue, and an application being made to him, he declined the appointment, yet the noble Earl imputed blame. [The Earl of Glengall believed Mr. Fortescue to be a most respectable individual.] The noble Earl admitted be was most respect- 344 able, and there could be no blame imputed in that instance. The next gentleman was Mr. Bellingham. He had happened to serve the office in 1829, and it was not usual to appoint one who had been sheriff; the third was Mr. Brabazon, a very young man, and he applied to be excused because he considered himself unfit on account of his youth. Thus it appeared that the Lord-lieutenant was blamed because the first gentleman declined service, the second had served before, and the third was unfit to serve on account of his youth. He supposed the case was brought forward in order to show that the royal prerogative had been improperly exercised by the appointment of a Roman Catholic as sheriff, yet that was the very man, as had been learned since, who would have been recommended by the former sheriff, ex uno disce omnes. The Lord-lieutenant met the difficulty of the case by promptly appointing another gentleman, in order that the country might not be left without the means of good government. With respect to the apprehensions which had been expressed as to the consequences likely to result to England from the disturbances of Ireland, the noble Marquess who had previously spoken, had justly observed, that nothing was so likely to produce the dreaded evil as the publication of resolutions and declarations of this kind, whereby merchants and insurance offices were betrayed into the belief that there was no security for property in Ireland. But, he asked, was property growing more insecure in Ireland? It was rather remarkable, that amongst all the complaints they had heard, no intimation of that kind was ever made or thought of, and, therefore, to supply what was doubtlessly a casual and unintentional omission, he would trouble the House with the statement of a few results taken from the official items, of the number of offences and outrages of all kinds reported to the constabulary in the years 1836 and 1837. In the five months up to the month of February in the last year, the number of outrages reported was 1,794; during the five months up to February in the present year, the number of offences so reported was 765, and this at the very moment when noble Lords were proclaiming to the country that the security for life and property in Ireland was diminishing, and busying themselves in drawing up their resolutions and petitions on the subject of 345 their alarms and grievances. These facts spoke volumes, and blew to atoms the petitions and resolutions got up at the meeting of the noble Lords. Perhaps it might be conceived that these returns only stated the comparison between this year and the last, which were both only a portion of the same Administration. He would, therefore, proceed to state to their Lordships a comparison between the present times and those happy days before the Emancipation Act, which one noble Earl opposite regretted that he had ever consented to part with, and which another would fain revive by strenuously opposing everything like a concession of equal rights to the Roman Catholics of Ireland. The returns of outrages for the year 1830–31, gave 16,108 cases, whilst those for the year 1836–7 were only 9,628, It would thus appear that a comparison between the present times and those times of "glorious and immortal memory," before the Catholic Emancipation Act was granted, gave a clear diminution of no less than 7,000 on the latter period. He understood that a return had been moved for in the other House of all the offences which had been reported for each year during some years back, and he confidently anticipated that when that return was produced, it would exhibit a decided diminution of offences in the years subsequent to the passing of the Emancipation Act, from those in the years immediately preceding or accompanying that measure. With respect to the framers of these resolutions, he perfectly agreed with his noble Friend near him, that a great deal of allowance ought to be made for men who, finding their party superiority impaired by the Catholic Relief measure, and finding themselves deprived, in some measure of that exclusive possession of offices to which they had so long considered themselves entitled, were induced to make numerous though unfounded complaints of the management of affairs, because they experienced unpleasant reverses. But when he found such groundless and extravagant statements put forward as were contained in these resolutions—when he found it gravely stated, that the Protestants of Ireland were "labouring under the fiercest persecution"—that was the term used—the fiercest persecution ever levelled at any set of men—that they were deprived of all their rights and privileges as subjects, he must be allowed 346 to say, that such statements excited no sympathy in his breast, and he hardly thought that they would meet with much from any considerable body of men in this country. He could not help calling to mind on this subject an anecdote related of Charles 2nd, who, conversing one day with an eminent prelate, and also a great wit of those days, which did not render him the less eligible as his Majesty's adviser in matters of religion, inquired of the tenets of the various religious sects in the world; and, after passing several in review, as the Presbyterians, the Calvinists, and so forth, asked of the Armenians, "And what do they hold?" To which the Bishop (Morley) replied, "Sire, they hold all the best bishoprics and deaneries in the kingdom." Now, this was the case of the Protestants of Ireland, and he was quite willing that it should be so. He was quite willing that they should hold all the best property in the State; he was quite willing that they should engross office at the rate of two or even three to one of Catholics; but, at the same time, he thought it rather unfair, that because they did not happen to engross all and every one of those offices, they should complain to Parliament and to Government as injured men, and interfere to prevent passing into a law a measure of equal justice to their Roman Catholic fellow subjects. He could go into the details of the number of offices filled up by the present Government, from which it would appear that what he asserted generally was quite true, that Protestants had been appointed instead of Catholics at the rate of two or three to one, but such a statement was not necessary. This being, however, the state of the case, he said, that the Protestants of Ireland had no ground for the accusation comprised in the petition and resolutions before their Lordships. If those who framed them were sincerely persuaded of the opinions which they conveyed, and of the justness of the charges which they comprised, why, then, in the name of justice, and of that Constitution which they pretended to respect, they ought not to have stopped at these resolutions. These charges were either charges of a very serious and important nature, deeply impeaching the character of one of the highest officers of the State, or they were nothing, or rather, as he (Lord Lansdowne) was inclined to say, something worse than nothing. Let 347 them put Lord Mulgrave on his trial for defeating the ends of justice, and then he would say, God send him a good deliverance, which he was sure he would have.
The Duke of Wellington, said, I always had the greatest disinclination to take a part in the discussion of such questions as the present, but under the circumstances of the case I feel myself called upon to offer a few observations to your Lordships. It has, my Lords, been always my wish, my sincerest wish, a wish which I have frequently stated to this House to see the Protestants of Ireland on the best possible terms with the Government, and to see that Government affording to them every protection in its power. It is my firm and decided conviction that the safety of this country—that the continuance of the Union, and the stability of the empire—are, in a great measure, if not entirely, dependent upon the good understanding existing between the Government of Ireland and the Protestant population of that country. I am also equally certain that safety for Protestant propery and Protestant person in Ireland must mainly depend upon the good understanding which exists between them and the Government. Matters can never by possibility go fight without such an understanding. This, my Lords, was my opinion, expressed seven ears ago, and it is an opinion in which I am now even more and more confirmed. I am sorry to say that the proceedings of to-night are calculated to increase the irritation which exists in the Protestant mind in Ireland. My Lords, the noble Viscount admits that the Protestants of Ireland have great reason to feel hurt with their present position. He admits that they feel a certain sort of jealousy, and I must say that, having made this admission, the noble Viscount, instead of aggravating, should have done all in his power to conciliate the Protestants. He should endeavour to induce them to feel that they might rest secure of protection to their life and property from the Government, and that there was no fear of their being sacrificed to those who every day preach up sedition against the established institutions and Government of the country, and incite insurrection against Protestant person and property. "My Lords, the Protestants of Ireland are 2,000,000, and of the property of the country nine-tenths are in their possession. They are the
best educated and best conducted portion of the population. The province which is peculiarly theirs is as well cultivated and is in as good condition as any part of England and as a class they are well deserving of every possible favour and protection from Government. Now, my Lords, let us see whether the Protestants of Ireland have not reason to be jealous. Let us look at the transactions which have taken place for the last two years. Let us consider the attempts which have been made to compass the total destruction of tithe property. Look, my Lords, at the condition to which the Church is reduced. Let me ask your Lordships whether, looking at these various occurrences, whether the Protestants of Ireland have not reason to apprehend some latent intention of putting down the Protestant Established Church, and of substituting something else in its stead? My Lords, I have heard noble Lords on the opposite side talk of 1792. It was alluded to by the noble Viscount opposite, and the noble Viscount also alluded to the history of 1798. But, my Lords, let us look a little further back, let us look back to the letter of the Earl of Clarendon, and let us ask ourselves whether the Protestants of Ireland are not right in apprehending that they see some indications of the same description as those which exhibited themselves at that period. Do they not see the same description of power exercised over the present as was exercised over the Government of that period? My Lords, all the statements made by my noble Friend near me, by my noble Friend behind me, and by the noble Marquess who opened this debate, ought to have the greatest possible influences on the Protestant mind of the country. Your Lordships perfectly well know, that neither Protestant life nor Protestant property is secure in Ireland. In his Majesty's Speech from the Throne, Ireland was represented to be in a state of tranquillity. But every Gentleman from Ireland knew at the time that an Association existed in that country expressly established for the purposes of agitation. Now, my Lords, the Marquess Wellesley has told us, and his authority, my Lords, has been quoted in this House, that disturbance was the result of agitation, as certainly as any other cause followed any other effect. Consistently with that statement how could such an assertion as that
in the King's Speech have been made, and yet, my Lords, it is in this very country in which an Association is established for the purposes of agitation that the Lord-lieutenant goes about from place to place, and, without any communication with the magistrates or with the judges of the land, releases in every county gaol which he visits a certain number of persons. My Lords, the Protestants of Ireland, have a deep and peculiar interest in the administration of the laws, and in the tranquillity of the country. They are in possession of the greater proportion of the property of the country. My Lords, in viewing these proceedings it must at least be admitted that this mode of releasing prisoners is without a precedent, or if there is a precedent, it is one of such rare occurrence as ought not to have been followed. My Lords, the power of the Lord-lieutenant, with respect to the exercise of the royal prerogative of mercy is one which should be used with great discretion, and certainly not in the manner in which lately it has been used in Ireland. Several of the persons thus released, were convicted of felony, I am not acquainted, my Lords, with the technicalities of the law, but I believe I am warranted in stating, that each of these persons thus released, ought to have a written document granting him his pardon. Without such document the person so released is liable to certain fines and forfeitures, and those pardons cannot be perfect, at least they are not perfect, by the old law, without such an instrument—and it is imperative on them to produce it to show that they have been released. Now, my Lords, the late releases made by the Lord-lieutenant of Ireland appear to have been made without the written documents, and merely upon verbal orders given to the gaolers. My Lords, again I say, the royal prerogative should not be exercised in that manner. Such an exercise of the prerogative of mercy is highly irregular, and well calculated to produce the most pernicious effects in the minds of the Protestants of Ireland. The noble Viscount and the noble Marquess opposite tell us that the Protestants ought not to expect any other result when the Roman Catholic Relief Bill was to be carried into full operation. My Lords, there is no person more inclined to carry that 'Bill into operation Chan I am, but I must confess that I never understood the measure as giving a warrant to the Go-
vernment to deal with the person or the privileges of any man. The noble Marquess opposite, in replying to a noble Lord on this side of the House, argued on the Irish Municipal Bill. Now, my Lords, it might be very proper to introduce Roman Catholics into the Municipal Corporations of Ireland either under the Act of 1793, or the Act of 1828. I say it might have been proper to introduce them under either of those Acts, and I sincerely regret that some Roman Catholics—that a large proportion of them—were not introduced into the Corporations under each of these Acts soon after they had passed; but, my Lords, there is a difference between admitting Roman Catholics into existing Corporations, and framing a new system of Municipal Government, not for the purpose of admitting Roman Catholics conjointly with others, but to make over the municipalities exclusively and entirely to them. That, my Lords, is the real point at issue, as respects this municipal question. The noble Marquess was pleased to read some statements from police reports, with a view to show the state of cringe in Ireland between this and former periods; but I should like to know what was the nature of the crime so reported, for that would make a material difference. My Lords, I have a document which may throw some light on the question. It is the charge of Baron Foster to the grand jury of the county of Tipperary at the opening of the last assizes. My Lords, it would be well to bear in mind, that Baron Foster made that charge in 1837, after the summer assizes of 1836:—
Gentlemen, it is with deep regret that I lay before you the state of your calendar. It contains the names of 182 prisoners in custody for trial. This number does not include those who are out on bail. How many such there may be, I have no sufficient means of estimating, but I should suppose at least fifty. But it is not, however, the mere number of offences which constitutes the chief matter of regret—the nature of these offences presents a still more melancholy subject for consideration, consisting as they do almost wholly of the majora crimina.
Of the entire number of 182 prisoners there is but one who stands charged with larceny, the crime which usually furnishes the chief employment for the Crown Court at our assizes:
I speak of larceny below the degree of cattle stealing, of which there are, in fact, ten instances in the calendar. It must not, how-
ever, be from thence concluded that larceny is unusual in your county. I have obtained returns from the governor of the gaol, from whence it appears that since the last assizes 151 persons have been tried for the crime of larceny at your quarter sessions, which I should have supposed had in this county assumed exclusive cognizance of the offence, if it were not for the solitary exception of the one prisoner, who is now in gaol who is to be tried for that crime. For this the magistrates at sessions and the assistant barrister are entitled to our best thanks. The disposal of criminal business at the assizes would else keep the Court assembled for a length of time, which would be extremely inconvenient. But, in estimating the amount of offences within your county, we must not omit to advert to the extent of the committals—the mere number of the crimes which have been reserved for the assizes, might else tend only to mislead, I have therefore called for returns, by which it is ascertained that the real number of prisoners who have been committed to the gaol of Clonmel under criminal charges since the last assizes, is exactly 921; of these the number which now remain for trial is, as you have already heard, 182; 151 more have already been tried for larceny: of the remainder, 317 others have been tried for assaults and riots. I feel it right to add that no person committed for mere drunkenness is included in the number of 921. It remains for me to inform you in what manner the 182 prisoners now in custody stand charged. There are for murder and aiding to murder, sixty-three; conspiracy, five; manslaughter, six; shooting at persons, three. There are also for robbery of arms, six; assaults, five; cattle stealing, ten; rape, seven; administering unlawful oaths, four. Gentlemen, if a stranger were to contemplate this amount of crime appearing on a calendar at the commencement of our assizes, he might well look forward with awful interest to what might be expected at its conclusion; but a stranger could not be aware of the extent to which these offences are, under the actual condition of society in this country, unprosecuted, and, therefore, necessarily unpunished. It is not for me to predict what may be the result of those assizes which are only now commencing, but I may be permitted to say, in the way of illustration, that at the assizes in the city of Kilkenny, which have just been concluded, and from whence I have last come, there were upon the calendar of that very limited jurisdiction the crimes of murder, house burning, house breaking, robbery, and rape; and that, nevertheless, there was no trial whatever for murder, no trial for house burning, no trial for house breaking, no trial for robbery, and no trial for rape.
This difference between the amount and prosecution is, however, in no degree attributable to official negligence. On the contrary, no officers can be more efficient or more sincerely desirous to perform their duty than those to whom
these prosecutions are entrusted; but it is owing to the indisposition to give evidence, originating in a well-understood system of terror, which renders the administration of justice more or less difficult in various parts of Ireland, and which in some counties goes the length of compelling the Crown to depend almost exclusively either on the evidence of the police or on that of approvers about to be expatriated to the colonies, at the public expense, or on that of the relatives of the deceased in cases where their resentment gets the better of their prudence. In some parts of our country there is no room for this observation. In many of our counties the ends of justice are attainable with neither more nor less difficulty than in England; but this is not the case in others. I may be excused from the ungracious office of entering into a comparison as far as other counties are concerned; but I feel it my duty to assure you of the unwelcome truth, that in no other is the difficulty felt to be so great as in your county. Gentlemen, I need not endeavour to impress upon you how much these considerations enhance the importance of the duties which devolve upon you. I well know, from experience, that there is no grand jury more anxious for the due discharge of its most solemn functions than that of the county of Tipperary.
This document, ray Lords, may serve as a set off to that produced by the noble Marquess. My Lords, I have but one observation more. I will ask your Lordships whether it were discreet in the Irish Government to select for judicial officers—to select for the prosecution of offenders—to select for the administration of justice—men who belong to the General Association of Ireland? Your Lordships will remember that those who belonged to the Association stood pledged to procure an overthrow of the laws which gave security to one species of property in Ireland—I mean the property in tithes. Government thought fit to put down the Orange Societies in Ireland; but before those societies were put down it was agreed on, that no person belonging to that body should be placed in any office under Government. My Lords, if I recollect right the men were put aside from the office of high sheriff, who were, in every other respect, exceedingly well qualified for the office for the administration of justice, and the execution of the law merely on the ground of their being Orangemen. This, my Lords, was done and no complaint was made. Now, my Lords, I ask, is it proper that men who are pledged, to a systematic hostility to the laws of their country, and particularly to those
laws which, by the most sacred ties, your Lordships are above all others bound to do all in your power to protect—is it fitting that those men should, above all others, be selected for the administration of justice. My Lords, I shall conclude by expressing my earnest hope that the result of this discussion will place the Government on the best possible terms with the Protestants of Ireland, and insure for them from the Government full and certain protection for their persons and property.
The Marquess of Westmeath
regretted at that late period of the night to be under the necessity of troubling their Lordships with a few observations; but he could not allow some observations that were made by a noble Marquess on the other side of the House to pass without some remark. The noble Marquess said, that the Roman Catholic Emancipation Act could not be complete without they gave Ireland Municipal Reform. He could not agree in that. He wished it to be distinctly understood, that it never entered into the minds of the people of Ireland to ask for Corporate Reform. It was entirely the child of his Majesty's Ministers, for their own purposes. It was not required in that country, and was only calculated to keep up a state of disturbance, and not to produce any remedy for any of the grievances that affected and afflicted Ireland. It reminded him of the story of the friend of man and the needy knife grinder. The feelings of the friend of humanity were chiefly excited by a hole in a coat or a nether garment, but when he was asked for six-pence he gave a stone. Let them give the people of Ireland employment, and not a Municipal Reform Bill. It was bread they wanted. He would not shrink from bearing his share of the responsibility of pressing this petition. He had signed the petition because he was perfectly satisfied that the Protestants of Ireland were in a state of great insecurity as to life and properly. The Protestants of Ireland were not now in as good a condition as the Roman Catholics were in before the Emancipation Act passed. The noble Marquess referred to the fact of certain prisoners having been discharged from the gaol of Mullingar whilst the gaoler was in a state of transition. [Laughter, from the Ministerial benches.] It might be a matter of mirth with the noble Lords opposite, but to him, and those who, like him, resided in Ireland, it 354 was matter of serious reflection. It might be a very good joke to the noble Lords opposite, but he would repeat, that on the recommendation of this gaoler, while in a state of transition from sanity to insanity, nineteen persons were set at liberty, and. those very persons were immediately afterwards imprisoned for new offences. This was the state of Ireland under his Majesty's present Government. His honest opinion was, that the industrious Protestants of Ireland sooner than see the continuance of this kind of Administration, would rather be subjected to the strongest species of despotism that would ensure security and certainty. The abuses of the Reform Bill in Ireland had made it almost impossible for Protestants who had honest opinions to venture to express them. If any man ventured to give an honest opinion, he was denounced as a Tory; and if he were willing to surrender the representation of the country and its institutions they were called Liberals. He supposed he was considered illiberal by those on the other side; but he could conscientiously, and on his honour, say, that if the measures of his Majesty's Government did not alarm him to the core of his heart he would give them his support; but they did alarm him, and for that reason he denounced them, and thought it his duty to tell what he knew of the state of Ireland, and he trusted he should always pursue the same course.
The Earl of Fingall
regretted to be compelled to trespass on the House at that very late period of the evening, but as one of the Peers who had signed the protest to which so much allusion had been made, and as a person who, in his place in Parliament, gave a general support to the present Administration, he felt that he was bound to say a few words. With respect to the protest which he had signed, and which a noble Lord on the opposite side seemed to think he ought not to have signed, he begged leave to say, that he considered that, as a Peer—not of Parliament, for this was not a Parliamentary transaction—he was perfectly entitled to sign the protest. The object of that protest was not to prevent any meeting taking place in Dublin; the object was to record their opinions as dissenting from those of the noble Lords who called the meeting. When the protest was first spoken of, he was applied to as a Peer and a landed proprietor in Ireland to sign it. He replied 355 to the noble Friend who made the application, that he would not sign the protest, that as his religious opinions were a matter of notoriety it would appear rather extra-ordinary if he signed the protest. The answer was, that there was nothing exclusive in the protest; and upon this statement he signed it. The protest stated, that those who signed it considered that the country was in a state of tranquillity, and he for one felt bound to sanction that, opinion. Those noble Lords who were not connected with Ireland must consider it very strange to hear statements so totally contradictory with respect to the condition of that country. In his heart he believed that there was at that moment in Ireland a comparative degree of tranquillity. When he used the word "comparative" he meant to imply the absence of dangerous crimes arising out of combination and attended with violence. He regretted that the state of Ireland was not still more tranquil. He had never lent himself, nor had he ever endeavoured in any manner to kindle the flame of agitation in Ireland. There were two accusations brought against his Majesty's Government. The first was the exercise of their patronage in an improper manner; and the next chiefly related to the conduct of the Lord-lieutenant. As far as related to the abuses of patronage, he did not see that any fair objection could be made. There were in Ireland two powerful parties, call them by what names they pleased, either Whig and Tory, or Radical and Conservative, the fact of the existence of those two great political parties was undoubted, and there was a very material difference between them. One of them gave a very zealous and efficient support to the present Administration; the other gave an equally zealous, and a very uncompromising opposition. If the Administration could find amongst its supporters persons of character and of great abilities, was it not their duty to pay them some attention? Several papers had been read to show that the present Administration had disposed of its patronage more in favour of Roman Catholics than of Protestants. He had endeavoured to ascertain what places the present Administration of the Earl of Mulgrave had disposed of, and he found, that out of three judges, two were Protestants, and one, the Master of the Rolls, was a Catholic Of the seven as- 356 sistant-barristers appointed, four were Protestants, and three Catholics. Of six other law-officers, four were Protestants and two Catholics. Of the stipendiary magistrates—which was the largest branch of patronage—there were twenty-five appointed; and of these thirteen were Protestants, and twelve Catholics. Of the Commissioners of the Dublin police there were two appointed—a Protestant and a Catholic. Of inspectors of police there were four; three Protestants and one Catholic. This made a total of forty-seven officers connected with the administration of police who were appointed by the present Administration; and of these, twenty-seven were Protestants, and twenty Catholics. The noble Earl stated that a gentleman of the name of Smith had been recently appointed a stipendiary magistrate. He knew Mr. Smith, and knew him to have acted as a magistrate many years. That Mr. Smith was a member of the National Association he had no doubt, but he saw no reason why this should be made a ground of complaint against his appointment. With respect to the complaint about the remission of sentences by the Lord-lieutenant, he begged to say, that when the Lord-lieutenant was in the county of Meath he attended upon him. It was certainly true that the Lord-lieutenant did not call upon arty country gentleman in the county, but he was bound also to say that there were not a great many of those gentlemen that had waited on his Excellency. The Lord-lieutenant was attended by all the officers connected with the gaol, and by the magistrates of the towns; he remained in the gaol two hours, and he could safely say that the Lord-lieutenant took great pains to investigate all the cases. He had also received a letter from a noble Lord, not a Member of that House, but who was Lord-lieutenant of the county of Wexford, in which he stated, that he had attended the Lord-lieutenant, and that his Excellency discharged no prisoner without a strict inquiry into the circumstances of his case. The noble Earl concluded by thanking the House for the patient hearing they had given him.
§ Lord Cloncurry
begged to observe, that with respect to the persons who had been liberated there was not, he believed, one who had been guilty of felony. The great majority of those liberated consisted of persons who were confined under what was 357 called the green-wax process, namely, poor persons who had become bail, and were unable to pay the penalty. During the whole period of the present Administration being in office they had not liberated more than one-third of those for whom application was made without full investigation. They were investigated by a reference to the judges or the chairman of the sessions. The one-third whose cases were not so referred were discharged upon the recommendation of the local authorities, or the governors of gaols. He had himself once made application for the discharge of a prisoner, but he was refused, as the charge against the prisoner Was one of combination, a species of offence which the Lord-lieutenant had resolved not to pardon. As to the appointment of sheriffs, there were only seven out of the thirty-two whose names were not in the returns of the judges, and these were accounted for. The Roman Catholics had now for seven years past been eligible to this office, and yet, out of the 436 appointed, only forty-three were Roman Catholics. If the proportion of the population were taken it would be a sufficient excuse to the Government if they had thought proper to make the difference the other way. The Roman Catholics, having been relieved from the penal code, and put on a footing with the rest of his Majesty's subjects, sought for nothing but a free and entire confirmation of the promises held out in the year 1829. There was hardly anything so constantly harassing to the feelings of the Roman Catholics, and so offensive to them, as the exclusion from corporate offices. The Corporations of the towns in Ireland were in the hands of some great men in the neighbourhood, who became the patrons, and who filled all the offices with connexions of their own family. These offices made away with the property of the Corporations to the patrons, and thus the Corporations were left without funds. To reclaim this property was more the object of the Protestants than the Catholics, the latter being a rural population, whilst the population of the towns was in a great measure Protestant. With respect to the General Association, he knew no object which they had in view that was illegal but that of tithes, and they would be willing, he was convinced, to accept from the Legislature any just arrangement that could be made, and they would pay fully to the clergy what they 358 were entitled to, but they resisted this Until they should have some arrangement upon the subject of Corporate Reform. He hoped their Lordships would not disappoint these just expectations.