having this day taken his seat in the House of Peers under the title of Lord Fortescue, spoke to the following effect:—My Lords, I know not whether, as there is no question at present before your Lordships, I am strictly in order in addressing you; but whether I am or not, I feel I shall not appeal in vain to your Lordships' sense of justice for permission to offer a few observations with regard to what passed in this House, on Thursday last, on matters of grave consequence not only to myself individually, but to those great and important interests in the administration of which I have been called upon to take a share in Ireland. I seek not to deprecate the political hostility of the noble Lord who thought fit to originate this discussion; I complain not of any conduct which his 1145 public duty may have prescribed towards me, but I think it would have been more convenient to your Lordships, I will not say more just, to me, if intending to found an attack upon an uncorrected, and I must say an incorrect, report, of words purporting to have been spoken in the other House of Parliament, he had waited till in my place here, I had had an opportunity of being heard in my defence, or if the zeal of the noble and learned Lord for the Protestant Church in Ireland could not allow him to wait until I should be present, if he had condescended to have informed me beforehand of his intentions, and to have given me an opportunity of stating to some friend the expressions really used by me on the occasion referred to, and thereby have enabled him to offer such explanations as I might, in my necessary absence, have wished to have been given on my behalf. I shall offer those explanations to your Lordships presently, but before I state to the best of my recollection the terms of the speech referred to—before I do this, I would wish to ask that noble and learned Lord, whether, notwithstanding his great eloquence, his varied knowledge, and his acknowledged tact and ability in debate, whether, notwithstanding all these, and his well-grounded confidence in his varied powers—it has never happened to him in the heat of debate to let fall expressions which have been construed and commented upon and reported, in a sense very different from that which in his cooler moments he would have wished to have attributed to them? and does the noble and learned Lord consider that the use of those expressions amounts to a disqualification from holding any office connected with that country to which those expressions related? My Lords, I ask the noble and learned Lord, as a lawyer, whether he thinks it fair, without proof of an offence—for the noble and learned Lord did not profess himself to have heard the words, referred to—whether he thinks it fair to assume the proof, and at once to pass judgment and call for execution without giving the individual charged the opportunity of speaking in his defence? My Lords, "I come to administer the laws, and not to alter them"—were the words of a distinguished statesman, a near relative to the illustrious Duke I am happy to see in his place opposite (the Duke of Wellington), because I know that from that noble Duke, at least, I shall receive nothing but fairness and justice. "I come to administer the laws, and not to 1146 alter them," were the words used by Lord Wellesley, in answer to an address presented to him on his arrival to take the government in Ireland, when reference was made to opinions he had expressed upon Catholic Emancipation—from which it was assumed that his coming to take the Government was an indication of an intended concession upon that question. "I come to administer the laws, and not to alter them," will be my answer to any addresses—should I be honoured with any on my arrival in Ireland—referring to opinions of mine upon any legislative measures in this, or in the other House of Parliament. My Lords, allow me to say, that I have not taken up this view merely at the exigency of the present moment, or the spur of the present occasion—I have been all my life a strenuous advocate for reform—I have, during my political life, advocated considerable changes in many of the laws both of this country and of Ireland, and I am happy to say, that many of those objects of my early hopes I have lived to see brought to a successful consummation; but I defy any man to prove, that on any occasion I have ever advised disobedience to existing laws, however repugnant they might be to my own feelings and opinions; and I am sure, that with respect to Ireland, I can confirm this statement, for with the opinions I entertain as to the Church of Ireland—believing that it ought to be reduced within limits more commensurate to the demands of the Protestant population—with these opinions, which I never shall shrink from declaring—here or elsewhere—I beg leave to say, that there is no one of your Lordships—that there is no man in this country, who has exerted himself more strenuously to procure for the ministers of that Church the payment of their just dues. My Lords, I was in Ireland in the autumn of the year which immediately preceded the passing of the Coercion Bill—when all persons paying tithes were publicly denounced as enemies to their country. At that period I gave directions that the tithes on the whole of the property with which I am connected in that country should be paid to the minister to whom they were due, and I took care to make it known that I had done so; and the result of that was that my life and property were threatened by a placard stuck up upon the chapel of my own village—and such was the intimidation of that time that no individual could be found to remove that paper till I tore it down with my own hands. My 1147 Lords, it is irksome always to speak of one's self; and I owe an apology to your Lordships for mentioning this matter. I can assure you that I take no merit in it, I have done so only for the purpose of showing, that however disposed I may be in my place in Parliament to advocate certain changes in the law, there is no man more determined than I am to maintain obedience to existing laws. Now, my Lords, with respect to the speech which formed the subject of conversation on the late occasion. On referring to the reports of that speech, I must say all of them are rather meagre, and general outlines than anything like correct or accurate reports of the words spoken by me on that occasion; and I can further state, that the words quoted by the noble and learned Lord were those by far the most incorrectly reported, and were the most unlike what I did say in that debate. I will not trouble your Lordships with any part of the speech, except the one passage particularly referred to by the noble Lord: and the words which, to the best of my recollection, I used, were these:—But if the struggle against the present tithe system were still to go on, notwithstanding the passing of this bill, the burden of that struggle will be transferred from the shoulders of the poor and ignorant peasant to those of the rich and powerful landlord, whose shoulders would be much better able to bear it, and who, I hope, will carry on the war with effect.I regret that I used the word "war," because I am quite sensible, that it was liable to be interpreted in a very different sense from that in which I uttered it. My Lords, it may be supposed, that this is an ex post facto explanation—that I attach a different sense to those words now, from what I did at the time I used them—in consequence of the notice that has been taken of them. My Lords, I trust it will be believed by those who know me, that I am incapable of such shuffling and falsehood. What I intended to convey by the expressions I used was, that I hoped measures for the reduction of the Church Establishment in Ireland would be pressed, in the shape of petitions and re-*"But if the struggle against tithes were still to go on notwithstanding this bill, the burthen would be on the shoulders of those, who were much better able to bear it, and who, he hoped, would carry on the war with effect."—Hansard, Third Series, Vol. xliv., p. 656.1148 monstrances, addressed by the landlords through the proper constitutional channels, upon this and the other House of Parliament—that that mode of warfare would be substituted—that that legitimate and constitutional warfare would be substituted for the resistance of physical force, which had produced such miseries and horrors in Ireland; and that remonstrances coming, as they would through those channels, they would receive due attention from the Legislature of this country. My Lords, that was the sense in which I used that expression. I am aware, that in the course of the debate a different construction was put upon it, and it had been my intention to have got up at the time to explain it. I spoke at the time to my noble Friend, the Secretary for the Home Department, and I asked him in what sense he had understood me. He said, though others had put a different construction on the words, he had understood them in the way I have just stated; and he added, "I will, if you please, make that explanation on your behalf, and he did in fact afterwards so explain them." My Lords, I gladly acquiesced in that explanation, feeling, as I always do, and as I am afraid you will have plainly perceived this evening; feeling, as I always do, considerable embarrassment in speaking in Parliament, and being on that occasion particularly reluctant after having once spoken, to press any further observations on an impatient House. My Lords, I feel, that I am about to undertake a situation encumbered wirh great difficulties—difficulties, allow me to say, which have not been diminished by the course taken in this House, by the description which some of your Lordships were, in my absence, pleased to give of my political opinions, and by the anticipations you were pleased to form of the character of my administration. I have, however, the satisfaction to know, that I have before my eyes, the example of my predecessor. I shall endeavour to carry into the administration of the laws in Ireland that strict and impartial justice which procured for my noble Friend (the Marquis of Normanby) from one of your Lordships, a pretty strong opponent of his Government, the important admission that at no period had the law been more vigorously exerted for the prevention and punishment of crime, than it had been under the administration of my noble Friend. I shall carry with me into the Government of that country the same sympathy which has been shewn by my 1149 noble Friend for the wants of the people of Ireland—the same affection for their open-hearted and manly character—the same anxious desire to extend their comforts and promote their welfare; and happy indeed shall I be, if, at the close of my career, be it long or be it short, I can reap the same harvest of benedictions from millions of Irishmen, which marked the departure of my noble Friend from the shores of that country. My Lords, I am sorry, that on my first appearance among your Lordships, I should have been called upon to express sentiments at variance, I fear, with those of many of your Lordships. I trust, that in doing so, I have not departed from the courtesy generally observed in your Lordships' debates, and which I am always anxious to shew towards political opponents. My Lords, I beg to tender my respectful thanks to noble Lords opposite, as well as to my noble Friends around me, and to the whole House, for the patient and indulgent hearing they have been pleased to give me.
§ Lord Lyndhurst
My Lords, it is with some reluctance that I rise, but I am called upon to address your Lordships, in consequence of what has fallen from the noble Lord, and I beg leave to state that I am most happy that I brought this case under your Lordships' consideration, since it has had the effect of calling on the noble Lord to state in your presence the opinions which he entertains, and the policy he means to pursue, with respect to the Protestant Church of Ireland. My Lords, I have another reason for being happy that I brought this subject under your Lordships' consideration, inasmuch as I found in two of the leading ministerial prints the very speech to which I referred of the noble Lord, set out in detail, and made the foundation of a compliment to the noble Viscount for having appointed the noble Lord to the situation of Lord-lieutenant of Ireland—thereby stating in the strongest terms that they, the supporters of her Majesty's Government, were of opinion that declared hostility to the Protestant Church of Ireland was the best qualification for the situation of Lord lieutenant of that country. My Lords, allow me to say a few words in my justification, in consequence of what has fallen from the noble Lord. And first, the noble Lord took occasion again to allude to an expression which fell from me on a former occasion with respect to Ireland, 1150 and which at the time was misinterpreted by the noble Marquess opposite, (the Marquess of Lansdowne.) The noble Lord asks me whether I should consider the use of that expression was a disqualification, provided in other respects I were qualified for holding a high situation in that country. My Lords, considering the impression which that expression has created in Ireland—considering the use that has been made of it—considering the odium that has been cast upon me in consequence of it, I say, in answer to the question put by the noble Lord, that I should consider it a decided disqualification for holding that appointment. My Lord, the noble Lord charges me with acting unjustly towards him, for bringing forward this question in his absence. Give me leave, my Lords, to say that I never considered this a question as between the noble Lord and myself. The charge that I made was a charge against her Majesty's Government; it was a charge against the noble Viscount opposite. The noble Viscount and the rest of her Majesty's Government were present for the purpose of entering upon the defence of the noble Lord, and that, my Lords, I consider a sufficient justification for the course I pursued. But the noble Lord again says that I should have postponed my observation. Yes, my Lords, I did consider well whether I could venture to postpone them. At that time I had reason to believe the appointment had not been actually made. I was desirous of interposing before it was too late, and therefore it was, that in the first instance, and upon the very first occasion, I put the question to the noble Viscount with respect to the nature of this appointment. The noble Lord says that it was unjust to bring forward a question of this kind in his absence. I might advert to a circumstance not very dissimilar, viz., a charge brought against a noble Friend of mine—a noble Marquess—(the Marquess of Londonderry)—not preferred in this House, where the noble Marquess would have had an opportunity of meeting the charge, but preferred in the other House of Parliament, and in which the noble Lord opposite (Lord Fortescue) was himself a distinguished performer.—[A Noble Lord: What appointment?] I allude to Lord Londonderry's appointment. My Lords, when I put that question to the noble Viscount, I considered it necessary to be cautious as to the evi- 1151 deuce on which I proceeded. I looked at the different reports of the proceedings. I looked at what was said by the different parties in the House. I consulted some Members of the other House, and I was satisfied, that I was justified in imputing to the noble Lord—I won't say a precise expression—but imputing to the noble Lord those opinions, and those statements which I took the liberty of stating. My Lords, I read in the first instance the report from a volume which is considered to contain the most accurate report of what takes place both in this and the other House of Parliament. I read only part of that report because I thought in putting a question to the noble Viscount opposite on a subject of this kind I ought to be as concise as possible; and in doing so, I was charged by the noble Marquess with not giving the rest of the speech. My noble Friend, the noble Earl who sits near me, the Earl of Roden, read the whole of the speech, and that speech, so far from contradicting the statements I had made, bore them fully out. My Lords, I did not confine myself upon that occasion to the report in the work to which I have alluded, but I looked also at the report to which the noble Lord has referred, and there I found, that the noble Lord has said, that the Church Establishment in Ireland was a stain and a disgrace to the country, and I find, he also said, that it was some satisfaction to him that the burthen was about to be changed from the weak to the strong and expressed a hope, that the war would continue with effect against the Church Establishment of the country. I knew, my Lords, that it was possible those expressions might be misunderstood, and, therefore, I looked to the rest of the debate, and there I found that the noble Lord, the Member for north Lancashire, and the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, had commented upon the expressions of the noble Lord and expressing their regret, that the noble Lord had thought it necessary to address the House in the spirit that he had done in support of the bill, on the ground, that he thought it would effect the ruin of the Church Establishment in Ireland. The noble Lord upon that occasion did not rise for the purpose of making an explanation, but another noble Lord who leads the Ministerial party in the other House, gave the explanation In giving that explanation, did he state that the noble Lord did not feel that hos- 1152 tility to the Church of Ireland, that had been imputed to him? No such thing. The only explanation, that was given was as to the mode in which the hostility should be carried on. This, my Lords, is the explanation of the course I pursued in the investigation. I thought it was necessary to enter into it, before I put that question to the noble Viscount, and I ask your Lordships whether I was not right under those circumstances, acting upon materials, that justified me in considering that in substance, the question I put to the noble Viscount was put upon a correct representation? Now, what is the explanation given by the noble Baron? Does it not accord with the statements that I have made? What does he say? Why, that the Establishment of the Church in Ireland is a stain and a disgrace to that country. What does the noble Lord further say? Why, that the effect of the bill would transfer the burthen from the weak to the strong, and he hoped, that in consequence of that, the war would be carried on with effect against the Protestant Church of Ireland. The noble Lord says, of course, the mode in which that war is to be carried on was not to be by resisting the law, but by constitutional means. Does that, my Lords, make any difference? The noble Lord is now placed at the head of the Government of that country. The Catholics of Ireland, are assailing the Protestants of that country. The noble Lord, himself, according to his own declarations, is hostile to the Establishment there. The noble Lord pursues his own mode of warfare, and no doubt those with whom he co-operates, will pursue their mode; but can it, my Lords, be said, that the declaration of the noble Lord will not encourage them? Will they not feel, that they are acting under his guidance in the measures they are pursuing? My Lords, allow me to call your Lordships' attention a little to the history of the proceedings with respect to the Church of Ireland, which have taken place, within the last few years. During the Ministry of my Lord Grey, immense reductions were made in the Establishment of the Church of Ireland—half the episcopal bench were removed—the Bishops were reduced from twenty to ten, and a heavy tax was placed upon the parochial clergy of Ireland. That was a great step towards reduction, and it was as far as that noble 1153 Earl had thought it necessary to go. Now, with respect to the proceedings during the last Session. In the last Session, a bill was passed, by which thirty per cent. more was taken from the parochial clergy of Ireland. In what manner was the bill carried through both Houses? In the debate, it was stated it was a compromise, and in consequence much was given up for the sake of the harmony, the peace, and the tranquillity, of Ireland. But one individual said, that he would not be bound by that compromise—that he only considered it as an instalment, and accordingly, soon after the breaking up of Parliament, we find him establishing a society in Ireland, the object of which was the total and entire destruction of the Established Church in Ireland. "Nothing will satisfy us but the destruction of tithes." Now, for a moment, my Lords, look at this—after all his expressed desire to compromise—all his desire to establish tranquillity in Ireland. Now, what is the course taken by her Majesty's Ministers? They place at the head of the Government in that country an individual who has avowed his hostility to the Church of Ireland; and whose appointment, though the noble Lord tells us his hostility will be carried on in a particular form, is, above all others, calculated to renew agitation, to give alarm to the Church of Ireland, and to encourage the Catholic population, which is endeavouring to subvert the Protestant Church there. My Lords, this is an explanation of the course I have pursued, and the motives by which I have been actuated. I am told, indeed, and we were told the other night, and I do not dispute it, that the noble Lord is distinguished for his high constitutional opinions and principles. Undoubtedly he has upon more than one occasion, by his active interposition, rescued the Government from destruction, and they owe him a debt of gratitude on that account. But as far as relates to the constitutional opinions of the noble Lord, if they correspond, as I presume they do, with those of Her Majesty's Ministers—so far, in my opinion, and according to the best of my judgment—so far from being built upon constitutional bases, I think they tend to the destruction as well of the Constitution as of the Monarchy itself. I shall not attempt to describe the political character of the noble Lords opposite—I should be disposed to leave that for the graphic 1154 pencil of my noble and learned Friend opposite; his skill in this description of portrait painting is so well known and so highly appreciated; but I will say, with respect to the present Government—not using my own language, but borrowing from one of their supporters—taking the description of the noble Lords in the present Government from an individual who has for many years been their supporter, and who has declared he would make the greatest sacrifices for them, if necessary—he has described them in a letter, and to that description I subscribe. He says, "the Whigs cannot stand without the assistance of the Radicals; the Ministers must, therefore, be constantly doing something to please them, and thus the rights of the people will be gradually secured;" and in the same letter he describes those rights as being an elective House of Lords and a complete democratic House of Commons. I believe, for my own part, the Ministers will make concessions just so far as are necessary to keep themselves in power, and that they will go on in that way till there cannot be a doubt that both the Constitution and the Monarchy will be in danger. There is no question before the House, but I stand in such a position with reference to the noble Lord who before addressed your Lordships, that I felt myself called upon to address you. I thank your Lordships for the patient hearing I have had, and I presume this will be the last we shall hear of this business.
§ Viscount Melbourne
As this is to be the last we are to hear of this matter, and as there is no business before the House, it may, perhaps, appear superfluous, and in some degree imprudent and unwise, on my part to address your Lordships at all; but still I shall take the liberty of making a very few observations. Unquestionably, if this is to be the last we are to hear of this—if the matter is to be carried no further, I cannot help thinking the course that has been taken by the noble and learned Lord is in the highest degree unwise and impolitic. What effect can it possibly have, except to stir up grievances that had better be left to subside—except to stir up animosity and prevent the possible completion, the possible well working, of this measure, which is now so unnecessarily, so wantonly, and without any object, brought forward, except that which is unquestionably and perhaps unintentionally 1155 by the noble and learned Lord now avowed. When I was asked a question on this subject by the noble and learned Lord, and quite unexpectedly, I answered what was perfectly true, that I was not aware of the speech of my noble Friend, as the noble and learned Lord has now read it. It was not for me necessarily to know every speech my noble Friend had ever made; but I was acquainted with the general principles and character and opinions of my noble Friend, and my knowledge of that character and of those principles and opinions made me conceive that he was, if not the fittest, among the fittest of those whose services were at the command of her Majesty, for this great and responsible office. I said, that he had always supported the measures we had brought forward, and that was all that was necessary for my noble Friend; and if upon that speech I had pronounced his disqualification, I should, at the same time, have pronounced my own disqualification for the office I hold, but which I am not so ready to do as the noble and learned Lord opposite is. I don't know whether the disqualification acknowledged by the noble and learned Lord is confined to those offices to which it is not very likely he would be selected by any persons who may be called upon to advise her Majesty; or, as there are other offices, I do not know whether he considers himself equally disqualified for them, or whether he reserves his opinion of his qualifications for such offices, as he may have held before, and which he may perhaps naturally indulge his ambition in looking forward to holding again. The noble and learned Lord has made some observations upon leading articles in newspapers, and has indulged in reading articles from what he calls Ministerial prints, and from which he says he is bound and entitled to conclude that those opinions of hostility to the Church of Ireland are the opinions of my noble Friend; opinions which he does not entertain, and never did entertain, towards the Church in that country. There is not a warmer friend to the Church of Ireland than my noble Friend himself. But it is said, that those feelings of hostility are the best qualification of the noble Lord to the office to which he has been chosen and elected. Now, I don't at all acquiesce w those representations of these Ministerial journals. I do not know to which the noble and learned Lord alludes, 1156 but I do not admit the authority—I do not admit they were speaking the opinions of the Government; and I am sure, if I am to judge from many of the articles I have lately read in some which I suppose the noble and learned Lord calls Ministerial papers, I cannot consider that they are of a very friendly nature, or likely to give to Government any very efficient support. My noble Friend has told your Lordships the principle on which he takes charge of the Government in Ireland—that he is proceeding thither to administer the law as he finds it—to carry the law into effect—to give it power and force, and to administer it with impartiality. If know any man who is likely to act up to those principles it is my noble Friend; and I feel perfectly satisfied, that under the circumstances, a better choice could not have been made than has been made in him.
§ The Duke of Wellington
confessed, that he should have been very anxious to have avoided entering into this subject had it not been for some things that had fallen from the noble Viscount, in the course of what he stated in reference to his noble and learned Friend behind him. The noble Viscount had been pleased to cast an imputation on his noble and learned Friend (Lord Lyndhurst) that the course be had taken was likely to prevent the good working of the measure adopted by her Majesty's Government. The noble Viscount seemed to have forgotten entirely what had passed a few nights ago in that House—that the discussion was not brought forward by his noble and learned Friend, but by the noble Lord opposite, and that what the noble Lord opposite had said, rendered this discussion necessary. It was perfectly true, that they stood now in a situation very different to that in which the House was a few nights ago. He (the noble Duke) was not in the House on that occasion; he had been discharging his public duty, at that time, in another part of the country; but from what he had seen and heard of that discussion, his noble Friend then did produce reasons which were considered by their Lordships amply sufficient for the step he took. The explanation of the noble Viscount was totally different from the text which had been read by the noble and learned Lord; and he considered that text as calculated fully to justify his noble and learned Friend in calling on the Go- 1157 vernment to make some representation of the grounds on which they had made the selection of the noble Lord to the high office to which he was appointed. The noble Lord (Baron Fortescue) had stated his determination to carry on the Government in Ireland upon the principles which were stated by a noble relation of his (the noble Duke's) own, upon assuming that same Government some years ago, namely, that he should go there to administer the law, and not to alter it; but then the word war had been used, and was he going to administer the law as it stood, or did he mean to carry on a war for the alteration of the law? Was the noble Lord going to carry on an administration of the law by war, or was he going to adopt the more formidable manner of war by carrying forward those measures, taking them even according to the terms used opposite, constitutionally adopted, as they supposed, and which had for their object the alteration of the law? He should be ashamed of himself, if, knowing what he did of the noble Lord, and after having heard him this night, he could suppose the noble Lord would, in any manner, be a party to those measures which ought, in reality, to be called measures of war—which ought really to be called formidable—that the noble Lords could have approved of them, or, under any circumstances, could he a party to them. He did expect, after what had been stated by the noble Lord, that he would go there to administer the law impartially, and that he would extend the protection of his Government to persons, to property, and to every thing that called for protection in that unfortunate country. He believed, that was what the noble Lord would do, and by such an administration of his power, he would prevent war. The real question here was the Protestant religion and the Protestant Church in Ireland. That was the real question. This had been a principle of the Government and of the policy of this country for hundreds of years. The principle had been re-asserted over and over again at different intervals. He would go no further back than the Acts and Treaties of the Union. Since that time there had been what was called the Catholic Emancipation Act, and in that Act, as well as in an Act which has been subsequently on the table of both Houses of Parliament, the principles of the Protestant Church in 1158 Ireland were again asserted and maintained, and the stability of that Church secured by the oath required to be taken for its maintenance. The noble Lord said, that the Church Establishment was far too extensive for the wants of the Protestant population of Ireland; but, it appeared to him, that it was no more than adequate for the important and onerous duties it had to perform. When he first read the explanation of the noble Lord, and when his attention had been first drawn to it, he thought it was due to her Majesty's Government to institute some inquiry. He wished to see what was their policy, what was their intention, as to the administration of justice in that country, and whether they still intended to maintain the Protestant Establishment in that country? He was very happy to hear the explanation of the noble Lord, and his firm and high intention to administer the laws with impartiality in that country. He would remind that noble Lord, that filling the high office of the representative of her Majesty in that country, he had, as he happened to know, very great power and patronage in respect to that Church, and, really, he thought they should have some security for the performance of those duties beyond the bare declaration the noble Lord had been pleased to make that night, that he would maintain the laws. The House and the public had a right to expect from the Lord-lieutenant of Ireland, that he would not only maintain the laws, but that he would carry them into execution in such a manner as to carry into effect the policy of that country, for the maintenance and support of the Established Church. That was the point to which he thought both that and the other House of Parliament had a right to look with great jealousy, having little more than the mere declaration of the noble Lord, that be would maintain the laws. He felt it his duty to offer these observations to their Lordships, and to the noble Lord opposite, for whom he personally entertained the highest respect.
said, my Lords, I rejoice greatly that I gave way to the noble Duke, as it enabled the noble Duke, to deliver his manly and candid statement, which has been marked with the same manliness which has influenced every part of his career. My Lords, I also do not regret that my noble and learned Friend brought forward this question last week, 1159 and I differ with the noble Viscount near me, who has lamented its being brought forward, because, I think, nothing more important could have been achieved than that which has arisen out of my noble Friend mooting the case. I mean the explanation which has been given by my noble Friend, the new Lord-lieutenant for Ireland. He has told you, what I think has been mistaken by my noble and learned Friend—what, I think has been misrepresented somewhat by my noble and learned Friend, doubtless, from his impressions of it, viz.:—that my noble Friend's (Lord Fortescue's) opinions remaining the same to the extent of the Irish Establishment, that he still considering so disproportioned an Ecclesiastical Establishment as a grievance to the people of that country, that he nevertheless is not an enemy or an adversary, or in any manner of way an antagonist, whether peaceably or hostile, of that Establishment, but only of its excess. This is my understanding of my noble Friend's explanation—therefore, it was not correct to misrepresent him as adopting expressions put into his mouth—"that the Irish Church Establishment was a stain and a disgrace to that country." My noble Friend meant its present overgrown dimensions, and no other. He has given the best evidence that he himself, acting in his own capacity, confronting the outrageous clamour that had been raised, has rendered implicit obedience to the laws. Therefore, my Lords, I hold this explanation to be of great importance; for it now appears, from my noble Friend's own declaration, that whoever has represented him as an enemy to the Church, except to its abuses, has grossly and foully misrepresented him—that whoever expects from him overt acts of hostility to that Establishment will be utterly and entirely disappointed—that whoever may dream of seeing him attempting to do that indirectly, which he dares not avowedly do, whoever, as the noble Duke well, and justly, and accurately, observed, shall expect from my noble Friend, the new Lord-lieutenant of Ireland, an indirect and silent countenance of the scheming of some parties against the Church Establishment, or the Constitution of these realms, will find, they have to do with a man who is by far too honest and plain dealing for their sinister purposes—that whoever hopes to find in him a ready tool for their own private ends, will find their hands deprived of the 1160 instrument which they had smilingly opened to grasp—that whoever looks to him for allowing all the measures to be introduced to be made suitable to their partizan views, and all the patronage to flow into their particular channels, will be instantly, and immediately and bitterly disappointed. My noble Friend has told your Lordships, quoting the words of one of his most illustrious predecessors, whom to name is at once to praise—I mean Marquess Wellesley—"That whatever his opinion may be of the form and structure of the law, he goes to administer that law and not to change it"—by which is meant to administer the law, and see that that law is carried into execution—to see that crime is sought out, and criminals found out, and trials had, and convictions found, and sentence executed, in order to deter evil doers in the like behalf from offending in future; and my noble Friend goes to make those laws, if they cannot be amended and improved, so as to be respected, he goes to make them be obeyed. So long as my noble Friend pursues that honest, manly, course of strict duty, he will entitle himself to the confidence of the country—to the forbearance even of his adversaries, and to that which is better than the one or the other, to the approval of his own honest conscience. If he takes another course—if he submit to dictation from any quarter—if he suffers any man to tell him, "I have 6,000,000 of men at my back, choose between their plaudits or their hatred, if he do not honestly make his election, and prefer the hatred of all the lawless and all those against the law—if he depart from what he has to-night laid down as his principle of action—if, instead of an administration of the laws, he makes himself only the executor of the wishes and designs of certain parties—then all that has been done by my noble and learned Friend's notice—all that has been done by the noble Duke's observations, all that has been done, and all that has been temporarily and provisionally accomplished by my noble Friend's explanation and by his avowed and declared intentions will all the more redound to his shame and disgrace and to the discomfiture of those who have appointed him, instead of conducing to his own glory and the lasting benefit and advantage of the country. And then men will say, "you sent over a fireband among combustible materials;" and men will say, 1161 even his good qualities are noxious if used as a firebrand among those materials; and then I shall have the sorrow to know, and the country will have the sorrow to feel, that those great qualities which I have long experienced, that good character to which the other night I bore my feeble testimony—that long experience of public affairs—that descent and lineage, and the name my noble Friend bears, from one of the greatest judges that ever sat on the bench in England, will all vanish, will all go against him, will all be converted into materials of which torches and firebrands are made—his race and name will go for nothing.Quamvis Pontica Pinus,Sylvæ Filia nobilis,Jactes et genus, et nomen inutile,My Lords, I know which of these two parts my noble Friend will choose, and he will act up to the declaration which he has this night made. The enemies of the constitution, who would be the worst enemies of my noble Friend—for in this instance, the praise which has been lavished on his supposed speech, which he turns out never to have made, are only, flatterers.Pessimum inimicorumGenus, laudatores.The enemies of the constitution, who would be the enemies of my noble Friend, will find that those who wish to employ him for evil have mistaken their man. My noble Friend will hold the balance even between the conflicting parties, as his noble predecessors, Marquess Wellesley and the Marquess of Anglesey, have formerly done; and as my noble Friend, who has just returned from Ireland (as far as circumstances allowed him, to hold it even between both parties) has also lately done.
§ Lord Wharncliffe
begged his noble Friend (Lord Fortescue) not to suppose for one moment, that he or his noble Friends found fault with him for the speech which had been alluded to, that speech was not discreditable to him—he had a perfect right to make it as a Member of Parliament, but in their opinion there was something which ought to have prevented the Government from appointing him to the office of Lord-lieutenant of Ireland. He found fault with the Government for making the appointment in the particular circumstances—his noble 1162 Friend was then only a Commoner, and it was usual, that the office should be filled by a Peer, and he was raised to the dignity of a seat in that House for the purpose of the office. The Ministers might attempt to disguise it as they liked, but it was impossible that his noble Friend could go to Ireland without filling the Protestants with fear and alarm and raising hopes in the breasts of the Catholics. Were they not justified in taking that view of the conduct of Government, and looking with jealousy at the appointment of his noble Friend? That was not an isolated case. In October last a nobleman, then holding a situation in her Majesty's household, within two months after her Majesty expressed a hope, that the Tithe Bill would work for the benefit of the country, signed a requisition calling a meeting for the total abolition of tithes—he attended that meeting, and supported its object, and yet he belonged to the household still. That alone was sufficient to make them jealous of the conduct of the Government in any appointment connected with Ireland. Such facts gave rise to much jealousy as to the policy and intentions of the Government. The Protestants of Ireland would naturally view the appointment of his noble Friend with much alarm, in consequence of the speech, which there was no doubt he had a perfect right to make.