The Earl of Roden
rose on the Order of the Day to bring forward his motion relative to the state of Ireland, and said, he could assure their Lordships that he regretted greatly that some of his noble Friends near him had not undertaken the most important subject which it now became his duty to bring under the consideration of the House; for he could sincerely assure their Lordships that nothing but a strong and imperative sense of public duty could have induced him to forego the happiness and tranquillity of his domestic circle to come into that House, year after year, to occupy their Lordships' attention with the unhappy and distracted condition of the country to which he belonged. But the state of that country rendered it incumbent on him to take that course. Sharing as he did in the opinions, and possessing the confidence, of a very large and much-respected portion of his fellow-countrymen, he felt that he should be acting in a very criminal manner indeed were he not, in this hour of deep and great distress in which his country was placed—distress which, in his lifetime, until lately, was altogether unknown—were he not to come forward and to state plainly what appeared to him to 949 be the causes, many at least of the causes, which rendered life and property insecure in various parts of Ireland—causes of such a nature as operated to strike terror into the minds of the peaceable, and to prevent many, very many individuals in that country, from the exercise of that civil and religious liberty, which it was the duty of a good and efficient Government to provide for, under all circumstances, however difficult, and without any reference to personal or to party feeling. He would freely confess to their Lordships, that the subject which he was compelled to bring forward this night he found one of considerable difficulty—not because he had not matter, and most painful matter, to bring before their Lordships, but because he found the subject so vast, its ramifications so extensive, and its details so numerous, that they encumbered him by their complexity, and weighed him down by their importance. The great difficulty was, how to compress those details into such a space on the one hand as would not take up too much of their Lordships' time, and would, on the other, enable him to substantiate facts as a foundation for the motion with which he intended to conclude. Their Lordships would remember, that, at the commencement of the last Session of Parliament, there was a paragraph in the Speech from the Throne, in which external and "domestic" tranquillity was mentioned. Their Lordships would also recollect, that the noble Lord who seconded the Address had extended the application of that paragraph, not only to England and Scotland, but to Ireland. Their Lordships would further recollect, that he objected to the application of that paragraph with respect to Ireland, and he afterwards submitted to the House a motion on the subject. He objected to such an application of the paragraph, because he was perfectly aware that the so-called tranquillity of Ireland could be no other than the tranquillity of death itself. Why did he entertain that feeling? Because he well knew, that at the time, there was in existence and in full operation, in that country, a combination of the most dangerous and alarming kind—the effects of which had been to terminate the lives of many of those whose exemplary conduct had brought them within the vengeance and under the ban of this foul and bloody proscription. Persecution was practised 950 on individuals the most harmless, the most innocent, of lives the most praiseworthy. He recollected, that on the occasion of his motion, the noble Marquess opposite answered his statements with that eloquence and ability which he always manifested when the noble Marquess addressed their Lordships. That speech he had since seen published—published, he believed, on authority. Therefore, he felt himself at liberty to quote from it, and to show, that not one of the facts which he had brought under their Lordships' consideration had been attempted to be denied. He should now confine himself to certain facts which had occurred since the last time he had the honour of addressing their Lordships. Those facts would form part of his case as a ground for the motion with which he meant to conclude. They were facts which tended to prove the real state of Ireland at the present moment, and to exhibit to their Lordships a picture of that country with respect to crime on the one hand, and the conspiracy and combination which now existed against the possibility of obtaining justice, if not in all, at least in the great majority of instances where serious criminal charges were made, on the other. The facts which he meant to quote were literally and truly facts; and if he were not convinced, that he could prove them to be so before a committee of their Lordships, he should not have ventured to trouble the House on the subject. He should be able to prove, that combination and crime existed to such a degree in Ireland as called for the interposition of the Legislature—as strongly demanded inquiry at the hands of their Lordships. That country was now suffering under a tyranny, was now groaning under a system of proscription, which he believed was altogether unknown in any other country in the world. He had taken his statements from different counties, in order to show that crime was not confined to one or two counties; that it was not confined to Tipperary or Westmeath, in which there had always been crime. No; he should prove, that crime, in its most frightful and repulsive forms, was extending to all the counties of Ireland. The first cases he should allude to to prove the extent of intimidation that prevailed, occurred in Tipperary; and first on the list, was the trial of the murderers of Messrs. Cooper and Weyland. It was proved on the trial, that 951 the murderers met at public-houses and talked of the murder every Sunday from February to April. People in the neighbourhood knew of it, and laughed at them. They would not catch their horses when they fled; and women cried out, "Why don't you come in here?" During the three months that Mr. Weyland lay dying, his father received a note almost daily, to bid him not waste his money on drugs for his son, as if he recovered, they would shoot him as soon as be crossed the door. Mr. O'Keeffe was shot in the street of Thurles. At the inquest, three labourers said they saw the shot fired, and saw O'Keeffe turn towards them. Still, they could not identify the murderer. On the evening of the 16th October, a person tried to murder a man named Gleeson in the street at Thurles. There was a person looking on, but he gave no aid to the party assailed. A magistrate had written, "I never heard of any instance when any inhabitant of Thurles came forward to prevent outrage." On the 18th of September W. Brien was murdered on his way to the fair of Castle Otway. On the inquest it was proved that at the time the murder was committed, a crowd was present; but, notwithstanding no one could identify the murderer. Burke, a herdsman of Mr. Scully, Queen's Counsel, was murdered on the 6th of September, because another labourer had been displaced. On the 10th of December, Currie, a carpenter, was murdered, for giving Mr. Orde information. He would advert next to the county of Sligo. At the trial of the murderer of Allan and M'Kenzie, the carman, who drove them and saw all the parties, would not identify them, nor would any of the crowd. There were four cases of carmen travelling on different roads from Sligo, who were beaten nearly to death. One man, George Cavan, was beaten three times. Yet, though he knew the parties, he was afraid to prosecute. There were many persons, in the last and the preceding summer, found by the chaplain in the hospital at Sligo, suffering from bruises or wounds. They knew whom the parties were by whom they had been ill treated; but, from fear, they refused to inform against them. He would next turn to the county of Leitrim. A farmer, named Price, employed by Lord Clements, was beaten, and threatened if he dared to prosecute. He re- 952 fused in consequence; for this tremendous system of intimidation ran through the whole country. In the county of Longford, on the estate of a noble Friend of his, Lord Lorton, whose name need only be mentioned to command respect and esteem, near Ballinamuck, no less than ten murders, or attempts to murder, were perpetrated from May, 1836, to January, 1837; and there was but one prosecution. A man by the name of Brock was murdered in a field a quarter of a mile from the village. His unfortunate wife pointed out the murderer to a party of individuals standing at the door; but, to use her own words, "they scoffed at her." Another man (Cathcart) was three times fired at before he was shot dead, in open day, by armed men. Here, also, no evidence could be obtained. No later than last Monday week, the rev. Mr. Butler received a notice that he must part with all his Protestant servants. This he refused to do, and one of his servants going into Longford last week, on his master's jaunting-car, was attacked and severely beaten. He now lay in Longford in a hopeless state. He would proceed to Roscommon. From documents sent to Mr. Drummond last spring, it appeared, that there was a general combination, night attacks, and oaths tendered. But parties would not identify the offenders. Lillie, a farmer, was driven from his farm, and was obliged to work as a labourer in the town of Boyle. As he attributed his molestation to feelings growing out of an election contest, he last year went back to his farm, supposing that those feelings no longer existed. He had not, however, been there more than a few days, when he was again attacked, and compelled to seek refuge in Boyle. Guffrey was killed in the open street in Keadre last August; but no evidence could be procured from those who were in the street at the time. He would next notice Westmeath. The police had reported to Government that it was completely organized. A magistrate wrote—" Don't mention our names. We are living here only by sufferance, and it is not safe for any gentleman to have his name brought forward." He would ask his noble Friend, the Lord-lieutenant of the county, whether this was an overstatement? He did not wish to overstate any thing. He would rather understate than overstate; but, in fact, it was next to impossible to overstate the fright- 953 ful situation of Ireland. Mr. Hinds, of Mitchell's-town, bought a property in May, 1836. This was the case of a gentleman of fortune, who was anxious to vest his money in the purchase of land in Ireland. The others were the cases of people in humble circumstances. How was this gentleman treated? Why, eight attacks were made on his property, or on his servants. At last a party of police was stationed by Government in his yard. Again, the care-taker of Mr. Ennis, Queen's Counsel, was savagely murdered. Here, also, no evidence could be obtained. Mr. Mears bought a lease of sixty-seven acres of land from Major Elrington, and meant to have renewed some others. Priest Coghlan denounced Major Elrington's agent, Mr. Brabazon, who was murdered on the 5th of December, in the open road. A crowd was near at the time, but no evidence could be obtained as to the identity of the murderers. A Scotch gentleman laid out a large sum of money on a property. He warned off a leader of a Riband gang, who was cutting his turf: He then received a threatening notice. Government offered 30l. reward for the discovery of the offender, and an attack on his farm was the consequence. He had received a letter the other day from the county of Westmeath, stating that an outrage had been committed on Friday last, the day on which the commission was opened at Mullingar, just at eleven o'clock, when the chief constable had ordered the police to be in attendance at the court. In this outrage one man was shot, and another sadly beaten. In Waterford Mr. Keefe, of Mountain-castle, was fired at and killed, in April, as he was going to mass. Crowds saw it, but none stopped the aggressor. By a late trial it was proved that there was a general organization in Louth. In June last, James Anderson, steward of the rev. Mr. Wright, was beaten to death. A man who was with him, although he saw it, would not give evidence. The magistrates of Monaghan had applied for an increase of constabulary force. Mr. Gillespie, a publican and a Roman Catholic, three miles from Monaghan, spoke disparagingly of a Riband leader. The gang came to his house in September last and beat him. Government offered a reward of 30l.; and on the 4th of December they returned and stabbed him and took away his arms. Such cases were rare in Car- 954 low formerly, now the calendar contained about seventy cases generally. In Clare a man named M'Namara and another, were indicted for murder at the last assizes, but intimidation prevented the necessary evidence from being given, although the widow of the murdered man was among the witnesses. Mr. Baron Richards, who presided in the court, observed that it afforded a most lamentable view of the state of the country, when such murders were committed, and none could be found to come forward for the purpose of bringing the offenders to justice. He was afraid of wearying the House in going through these details, but he felt the necessity of stating; hem, as the grounds of the motion with which he intended to conclude. In Limerick there had settled on the mountains of Latera sixteen Protestant families, who were visited by a clergyman, Mr. Stoddart. They were continually attacked by their neighbours, and they were forced to warn the clergyman, whom they paid themselves, to desist from coming, and since that the persecution they were exposed to was so great that ten out of the sixteen had left the place. He would mention another case—that of Thomas Brazil, who had lands six miles from Limerick town. In 1836 he refused to memorialize Government in favour of two men who he believed had murdered his tenant: he became unpopular; his tenants would not pay, and he ejected them; then no one would cut corn; none dared to occupy houses; and armed bodies marched in open day across the lands. He applied to Government in October for police, and Mr. Drummond stated that "too few were employed in that neighbourhood in proportion to the duties to be performed." The cases which he had now brought forward he had taken from twelve counties; but he had not taken King's county; he left that to his noble Friend who had taken so active a part in the late lamentable transaction in that county—a part which was honourable to himself and most useful to the country to which he belonged. As one who was most anxious for the welfare of Ireland, he must say, that the noble Earl's conduct with respect to those transactions had procured for him the approbation and respect of all good and loyal subjects. The communications which had just been read to the House were every one derived from magistrates in many parts of Ireland; but 955 if those magistrates were spoken of publicly by name, they would every one of them immediately be marked men, the objects of assassination and destruction. There was one singular statement furnished by the Government authorities themselves in proof of this: there were four magistrates—two in Tipperary, and two in Westmeath who had received notice from the police to be watchful at what hours they went out, for they were marked men. He could relate many other such circumstances; but he was anxious to leave it to his noble friend, who lived in another part of the country where outrages had taken place, to speak of them. It was his own happy lot to live in a part of the country where these outrages were not so much known—he would say, not known. There the authorities had to deal with a peasantry to whose character he was anxious to bear testimony. A more industrious or peaceable peasantry could not exist anywhere, except in instances where the Riband conspiracy made its approach, as it had done in some districts, and carried with it those murderous principles which were the foundation of the system. But he was sorry to say, that it was the object of demagogues in different parts of the country to destroy the peace and the religion of that peasantry. He was afraid that there was but a small spot in all Ireland where some of the outrages which he had described had not taken place. But before he sat down he should move for the appointment of a Select Committee to inquire into the state of the country, and, if possible, to arrest the arm of the assassin, and to trace the progress of that conspiracy to which he should by and by advert more at length, as another ground for his motion. The arguments which he would use to justify his motion for the Select Committee were, first of all, the acknowledged state of crime in Ireland, which no one could deny; and he would next ask the consent of their Lordships to his motion, because of that panic, which even the noble Lord opposite admitted to exist, and which was driving the people from their homes, in order that they might provide elsewhere for themselves and families, that security which the law and which the authorities were unable to give them. Last year 112 deaths by violence had taken place in Ireland. He believed, indeed, that there were many more, but that was the number which he had ascertained with- 956 out the assistance of the local authorities, who, he thought, would be able to swell the account very much. But there was another argument: above all, he hoped their Lordships would agree to the motion for a Committee as an act of justice to the noble Marquess, on whose Government rested so much responsibility for those tears of sorrow and streams of blood that had marked the career of his viceregal authority. He was speaking of the noble Marquess only in his capacity as a public officer, and as a public man he had a perfect right to deal with him in that House, and to arraign these proceedings under his Government of Ireland which had been, he thought, so detrimental to the public safety. He knew that the noble Lord would tell the House that crime had always existed in Ireland, and it could not be denied, that unhappily for many years past that country had been stained by crime. But what he said was this, that never had crime been suffered to go on as under the Government of the noble Marquess, whose predecessors, when they met with crime, grappled with it and subdued it. That he had always acknowledged, notwithstanding any difference of opinion he might have had with former Governments with regard to other departments of their policy. The noble Baron (Fortescue), who talked of consulting the late Lord-lieutenants of Ireland now he was about to undertake the same duties, had resolved, he hoped, to consult Lord Anglesey; for under the advice of that Nobleman he would be more likely to administer the Government in a manner satisfactory, at least, to the loyal people of Ireland. In which, from his heart, he trusted the noble Baron would succeed, and in which he would be most happy to render every assistance in his power. Should the noble Baron consult Lord Anglesey, he would be likely to receive advice which would enable him to administer the law, not to change it, and to remove all cause for the complaint which was now made, that the law had not been duly administered. He was sure, that the noble Marquess had acted from a conscientious feeling of what was right; but he begged to say to the noble Marquess—and it was an important fact, that he was going to state—that, whatever might he his opinion of the benefits of the course which the noble Marquess had pursued, however loud might have been those shouts of applause 957 which he had received in his popular tour through Ireland from a multitude ordered to attend, he believed, for that purpose by the priests, or sent by the demagogues—however respectable the noble Marquess might deem the support which he had received, yet the astounding fact remained undisputed, that at the present moment animosities in Ireland were more prevalent, religious distinctions more marked, the social bonds more extensively broken, the Protestant faith more assailed, and life and property less secure, than in any former period since the passing of the legislative act of union. That he should be able to prove, if their Lordships would grant him a committee. The noble Marquess the other night seemed surprised when he stated, that the course which he had pursued of opening the prisons in many parts of Ireland, and clearing the gaols, had produced very great alarm and disgust in the minds of many of the most peaceable and loyal subjects of her Majesty, not of one grade or of another grade, but of all grades. He had not made that statement without due consideration, and he now repeated it. He would read the statement of a fact which would prove, that he had not spoken too strongly. In Autumn last, a Roman Catholic named Gubben, in consequence of a political quarrel with a Protestant, pursued him, followed by a mob, into the house of a man named Barnett, in which he had taken refuge. Gubben and his followers insisted on his being given up to them, as they were determined to beat him for being an Orangeman. This Barnett refused to do, when they commenced an outrageous assault upon his house, which they nearly demolished, destroying and plundering almost every article it contained. For this offence Gubben was tried at the quarter sessions in October last, and Mr. Fogarty, then assistant-barrister for the county of Antrim, after hearing the case, sentenced him to six months' confinement, expressing at the same time, his regret, that he could not legally sentence him to transportation. He was committed to the borough gaol on the 27th of October. A memorial was immediately got up by his friends, and within three weeks, viz. on the 15th of November, an order arrived from the Lord-lieutenant for his unconditional discharge. And now mark the effect. His first proceeding was to re-assemble his mob, and return to the 958 house of Barnett, when he tauntingly called on him to come out and see him again at liberty, and hoped he would now see the influence enjoyed by his friends at Belfast. Was it possible to expect peace in Ireland while such a system existed? He was not surprised, that the noble Marquess had refused to lay certain memorials before their Lordships the other night. Had they been produced, their Lordships would have known what sort of persons those were who made application for the liberation of prisoners. By a return furnished to the House of Commons, dated from February, 1837, to May, 1838, it appeared that within those two years no less than 1,173 convicted prisoners had been discharged. Of that number thirty-seven had been condemned to death, thirty-three sentenced to transportation for life, and sixty-three to seven years. In the noble Marquess's popularity tour, so it was called in Ireland—in his popularity tour taken in the month of August, 1836, there were discharged 284 prisoners, 110 of whom were discharged by verbal order. That was during the lifetime of his late Majesty. Now, suppose his late Majesty had taken a tour of the same kind, and had visited Chelmsford, Hertford, and York, and had discharged from Chelmsford thirty prisoners, as the noble Marquess did at Leitrim; twenty-four from Hertford, as the noble Marquess did at Sligo; and seventy-two at York, as the noble Marquess did at Tipperary, would such a proceeding have excited no attention? It was true, that the King could do no wrong; but would not the magistrates have remonstrated with the Government on the effects of such a proceeding? Such conduct, as it had been well described, would make mercy feared instead of justice. There were other circumstances connected with this discharge of prisoners to which he would not further allude, but which he trusted some learned Lord would take up, as he himself was unable to discuss the legal part of the question. The next subject to which he was anxious to call their Lordships' attention was the existence of an association which he was sure was known to their Lordships by the mischief of which it had been productive. It was the association known by the name of the Precursor Society, and which had been established and carried on for purposes of mischief by a learned Gentleman who was the stay and support of the pre- 959 sent Government, and of whom the noble Viscount opposite had said, that he had the most perfect confidence in her Majesty's Government. Of this society the learned Gentleman was the chief; but though it had been called into existence by his influence, it was supported and upheld by the Roman Catholic priests. The noble Marquess opposite might tell him, that he had nothing to do with this association; but his answer to that was, that in not using the power with which he had been intrusted as governor of Ireland, to put down that society, the noble Marquess became a participator in all its proceedings. He said so the more particularly, because he remembered, that the Government had suppressed the Orange Society—a society which was calculated to promote the welfare of the country, because that body had for its object purposes which were perfectly legal, and was established to uphold the laws of the country, and to preserve the integrity of the empire. Such were the objects of the Orange Society, whereas the first object of the Precursor Association, as had been acknowledged, was the destruction of the Protestant Church in Ireland by the annihilation of tithes, and, if that object could not be obtained, then its second object was a Repeal of the Union. Now, he would tell the noble Marquess if he again affirmed, that he did not belong to the Precursor Society, that so long as the Government of which the noble Marquess was a member did not attempt to put down that association, so long were the Government implicated in its transactions, and responsible for its proceedings: Qui facit per alium, facit per se. He considered he was bound to bring this association under the notice of their Lordships; but in regard to its objects, he was unwilling to rest his statements upon his own testimony, and he should, therefore, with their Lordships' permission, read a few extracts from the testimonies of others. The first extract he should read was from a letter written by the learned gentleman who had established this body.Indeed, I pity the Irishman who supposes there is any hope for his country, save in the repeal. I request an adjournment for a fortnight of the Precursor Society—that is, from Monday the 11th, to Monday the 25th. On the latter day, I will, please God, attend, and remain in Dublin, organizing the popular party 960 for a fortnight. I will, in the first week after the recess, bring in the subject of an equalisation of the Parliamentary franchise between England and Ireland, and again divide the House on that question. I will try the same measure in substance, but in a different form, so as to meet Parliamentary usages, in the month of May. Being defeated in these attempts, I will then submit to the Precursor Society the necessity of either dissolving, or making way for the National Association for the Repeal of the Union. This last plan must be carefully digested, in order to make us as many friends and as few enemies as possible. I mean of course, in Ireland; but if I stand alone, I will then commence the repeal agitation, and never abandon it, save in success, or in my grave. It is my conscientious conviction that I owe it as a duty to Ireland, and to that God who will judge my actions and motives at his judgment seat, to struggle for the restoration of the Irish Parliament, and to commence that struggle the moment the present Session of Parliament has passed away without producing any substantial benefit to our unhappy country. In the meantime, let us work as Precursors—augment by all legitimate means the number of Precursors. Let the Irish people show no apathy, no indifference. Send in as many petitions as possible; in short, agitate during the session for measures of equalisation and identification. In future, our agitation shall be for repeal.He would read another extract from the same learned gentleman's speech at Limerick, in November, 1838. The learned gentleman commenced:Agitate, agitate, agitate—the only wise words spoken by the Marquess of Anglesey the whole time he was in Ireland. That was his advice, and it is necessary we should take it. My Precursor plan is for universal organisation. The man who will not be a Precursor we will not abuse or ill use, but we can make him uncomfortable, for no man will speak to him. If I had a petition signed by 500,000 fighting men, beginning at the age of fourteen and ending at sixty-five, it would be attended to. A few words would do—'We her Majesty's dutiful subjects, whose names are subscribed hereto, being 500,000 fighting men, respectfully pray, beseech, and implore upon the knees of our hearts, as beggars would for alms, to have justice done to us, and ending with the words, 'And your petitioners will ever pray.' A petition of that kind would be likely to be attended to, and no other, I repeat, will be listened to.Now, the only question he would ask the noble Marquess opposite was, whether any such petitions had been presented to her Majesty; and if they had, then he should like to be informed whether they had been favourably received, But this 961 association was, as he had stated, not supported merely by the learned gentleman, for it was supported and upheld by the Roman Catholic priests at large. He now came, therefore, to the speech of a Roman Catholic priest, which had been delivered at a dinner, given to the learned Gentleman, the Member for Dublin, in the town of Thurles. He was glad to see the noble Lord opposite (Lord Lismore) in his place, as the noble Lord had been in the chair at the dinner to which he alluded, and would, therefore, be able to say whether the statement he had to make to their Lordships was correct or not. At that dinner, a priest of the name of Laffan, after complimenting the noble chairman, said:You well remember when we beat the descendants of the Cromwellians by a majority of 1,036. If the same course is followed we shall free ourselves for ever from the Cromwellian grasp. I am happy to say that the Precursor agitation is getting on well here. In my own parish there are already 1,000 shillings paid down. In a neighbouring parish, there are 1,400 Precursors, in another 700, and it delights me to add, before January, universal Tipperary will be Precursors. Let Ireland follow that example, and it will soon enable us to put an end to the bloody tithes. We should never cease till tithes are totally and entirely abolished both in name and nature. The only good done by the bill, and for which we may thank our guest, is, that the arrears are wiped off; but I repeat, that alone does not, will not, satisfy us.The Catholic priest then concluded with a tissue of vulgar abuse. He would not allude more to this dinner, and he had only stated so much which he believed to be true, in order to show how the Roman Catholic priesthood were engaged, and what their real objects were. He found his statements fully confirmed by the testimony of a Roman Catholic barrister, a man of great celebrity, who said that it was manifestly true that the line of conduct pursued by the Roman Catholic priests was one tending directly to the destruction of the Established Church. He alluded to Mr. O'Driscoll, who in a speech delivered at Youghall, in September, 1836, had said:As a Roman Catholic I may be allowed to assure you of the nature of those dangers. I tell you not to be deceived in the present day, for I fearlessly assert that the end, aim, and object of the Roman Catholic clergy is to subvert your Church of England altogether, and to annihilate it, root and branch from the land.962 Such were the opinions of Mr. O'Driscoll as regarded the views of the Roman Catholic clergy, and he believed they were fully borne out by the facts. In reference to this subject, he held in his hand a paper which was an extract from a pamphlet lately written by a very eminent individual, and to which he wished to call the attention of their Lordships. The title of the pamphlet was "The Elements of Civil Government," and the work professed to be written by a "British Jurist," and had been published in Dublin, in 1838. In reference to the Precursor Society and to the learned gentleman who had established it, the "British Jurist," spoke as follows:One obvious and undeniable feature characterises the whole, and that is, that they professedly aim at, as their main object, a separation of the two islands, constituting, as they now do, one state. Declarations of the most public kind, in and out of Parliament, have been made by this agitator, a thousand times repeated, that the ultimate end of his labour, as the representative of all Ireland,' is a repeal of the union and the restoration to Ireland, of an independent domestic legislature, and that the subordinate measure on which he has successfully excited and inflamed the Irish populace, as well as a great portion of the middle orders, namely, the abolition of the legal provision of the Irish Church tithes, and the reduction or extinction of the Church itself as a national Establishment, the extension of the representative franchise, universal suffrage, secret voting, a subversion of the hereditary independent peerage as a branch of the Legislature, and the degradation of the House of Peers to a representative body, are all but subordinate measures, pursued as means to obtain that 'great and indispensable good'—the one thing needful—separation of Ireland from the present legislative union with England; and that if he waves for a season the express pursuit of this essential good, it is but to await the result of an experiment, of which he avows his conviction that it must fail, namely, obtaining from a united Legislature those particular objects, which he calls justice to Ireland,' and this through the influence of his sole argument—the fear of 7,000,000 of a Popish population. Now, let those who have the government of this empire in their hands well consider, whether it be consistent with their duty, or with the ultimate safety of the kingdom over whose destinies they preside, to permit this object to be thus avowed, or thus pursued. Is it, or is it not, treasonable thus to endeavour, through the medium of the physical force of the country, and the intimidation of its power, to overthrow the existing fundamental law of the realm? Shall a man be hanged as a traitor if he be guilty of procuring by force or terror, the enactment or 963 repeal of a single law? And shall the safety of the whole empire be left in jeopardy for years until the treason of another individual effects, in the long run, its own object, by subverting forcibly, or obtaining by fraud, a change of the whole system of laws by which the state is now governed, and until a government by the mob, and a religion from Rome shall supersede the government which we have now a right to enjoy—namely, one founded on law and on principles of rational policy, and a religion which is part of the British state, one which we have hitherto reckoned it as our peculiar pride that we have established as part of our constitution, and sealed with the best blood of our ancestors? If this, then, be treason, is not the time yet come when its progress shall be arrested? Must we wait, defenceless, the approach of the rebel horde—the 7,000,000, or fly on their approach? Must we patiently and passively expect the murdering host, which have spread pillage, and arson, and massacre, over the land, and rest satisfied and comforted with the consolatory declaration of a chief governor, who assures us that Ireland is tranquil.' How long, may we ask, is the sword of justice to be suspended? How long, till the 'power' of the state and the force of the law shall unite to save us from the forlorn, the destitute condition of the almost betrayed and deserted Canadas? We may, perhaps, console ourselves that there is not yet a Papineau to marshal and lead a rebel force—none to take the field, and hazard his person for his principles, like the bolder rebel in Canada; but may not some more fearless aspirant, some less discreet and cautious traitor than we now suffer from—be found to venture a worthless life under the secret auspices of the prime leader? If so, it may then concern Britain herself even though the existing minority of the Irish people, the loyal and Protestant, were to fall disregarded—predestined victims of the folly or crimes of Government—it may, I say, then behove Britain herself to consider whether she has nothing to dread from the further progress of movement.The pamphlet from which he had taken that extract was one of great ability; its author, although he only signed himself a "British Jurist," he knew to be a very clever man, and he would beg to recommend the pamphlet to the perusal of their Lordships, as it was full of important information in regard to the state and prosperity of Ireland. The next subject to which he was anxious to call their Lordships' attention as a ground for the committee he intended to move for, he had before alluded to. The subject was, that of a conspiracy in Ireland—a conspiracy systematic, organized, and secret, and which was directed against the life and 964 property of all who would not join it and support the treasonable objects which its members had in view. From that conspiracy the poor farmers were the greatest sufferers, for, however anxious they might be for security, peace, and quiet, yet if they refused to join this conspiracy, or to obey the dictates of its members, they were visited at night, beaten, maltreated, and exposed to the greatest cruelties. The object and ultimate aim of the Riband conspiracy was exactly the same as those of the Precursor Association—namely, separation from England, in which was involved the annihilation of the Protestant faith. Such, he believed, were the chief objects of both bodies. He had stated before, that the Government were acquainted with the existence of that conspiracy front the investigations of its own officers, and he well remembered that when he made that statement, the noble Marquess opposite had said that he knew nothing of such a conspiracy, and if he recollected right, the noble Marquess also added, that he did not believe such a conspiracy existed. It, therefore, was incumbent upon him to prove to their Lordships the existence of a conspiracy in order to lay an additional ground for the Committee which he should conclude by moving for. The first statement he should make as to the existence of this conspiracy was from the speech of Judge Burton, in discharging the jury at the close of the commission which had been held in the county of Tipperary. That learned judge told the jury that the cases of crime which had come before them were of a most aggravated and atrocious character; that out of thirteen cases of murder three had been cases of premeditated assassination, arising out of conspiracy; and he added, that he could imagine nothing more horrible than systematic and premeditated assassination, and he was sure that what they had heard and witnessed must have filled their minds, as it would fill the minds of every right-thinking individual, with horror, the more particularly as it was found almost impossible to obtain evidence to convict the guilty. The conspirators also were encouraged by the disposition of the peasantry to screen the criminals from punishment. The next was the testimony of the Lord Chief Justice of the Queen's Bench, relative to the case of Mr. O'Keeffe; and then came the case of Lord Norbury, into which he would not then enter, as his 965 noble Friend near him would call their Lordships' attention to it. Here was a noble Lord shot while walking in his park in open day, in a populous neighbourhood, and yet the assassins had escaped. And although upwards of 4,000l. and an annuity of 100l. had been offered for the detection of the murderer, he believed not a syllable of evidence had yet been elicited. But he had before him something still stronger to prove the existence of conspiracies, namely, the Riband oath. The following statement was made upon the affidavit of a person who had been a Ribandman, and was sworn to on the 9th of February, 1839.—He stated—That he is a member of the Riband Society, that it consists of county delegates, parish delegates, treasurer, body-master, committee-men, and common members; states how these are chosen, that the county delegates meet quarterly in large towns for the purpose of giving renewals of pass-words, signs, warrants, &c.; at the parish meetings, &c., members are admitted and sworn. The oath, amongst other things, is, that the member shall keep secret all he may see or hear, be loyal and true to each brother, fight for each other to death (especially against Protestants or heretics, or any man who may oppose his religion), not to discover or give any information against any brother, and to hold himself ready to rise in defence of his religion when called upon: that at their meetings orders are issued by the committee for the beating, carding, or other punishment of any person who may have rendered himself obnoxious in any way,—such as by taking land from which any member has been ejected, voting at an election against the candidate the society favours, giving evidence, &c.; and for the purposes of punishment, people from a different neighbourhood are appointed, in order that they may not be known, and a person (of the neighbourhood) to point out their victim. The (pass) warrant is written with contractions, so that none but the initiated can read it, and the pass-words are changed quarterly. He states the names, and addresses, and offices of various persons well known.Now, that came from a person he would not name, but he held in his hand a similar statement, which he had no objection to communicate to any noble Lord, and which was fuller in its details, and had been forwarded to Government. Now, this same system had been traced to Leitrim and Cavan, and persons in the employment of Government had also discovered traces of it in Wicklow. During last winter in the gaol of Mullingar, proofs had been obtained of the existence of the 966 same system in that neighbourhood, and in Carlow it had been traced by the exertions of three of the magistrates of that county. In the county of Sligo it appeared from the information of two individuals who were Ribandmen, that an attack on the property of a gentleman of the name of Sims had been organized by the Riband Society, and he begged to state that at the last sessions at Drogheda several prisoners were found to be in possession of the Riband oath, and their trial was in consequence remanded to another session. He would now read to their Lordships a document relating to the attack made on the property of Mr. Sims, which would show to what a tremendous extent this Riband conspiracy was carried. The noble Lord read a paper setting forth that "Mr. Sims, a Scotch flour merchant, took a mill in Sligo; that some dispute arose between him and two gentlemen of the name of Kelly, who had been the original proprietors of the mill. It was then signified in the county that no one must deal with Mr. Sims; and the consequence was, that his large flour mill, which was previously in full operation, was reduced to inaction. Mr. Sims was on the eve of being ruined by the people deserting his mill, when he was obliged to agree to the terms of the Messrs. Kelly, who required a sum of money from him; and from that moment all opposition to him ceased, and the priest was active in bringing persons to the mill." It was not his wish to insinuate any charge against the Messrs. Kelly, but nevertheless the transaction he had described was of an extraordinary character; and those gentlemen of the name of Kelly were afterwards received by the noble Marquess opposite, and had been, he was informed, made justices of the peace. He repeated, he made no charge against any one, but he maintained that he had grounds for saying that an organized Riband conspiracy existed in many of the counties of Ireland. The last subject with which he should trouble the House was more important than any he had yet touched upon, and called imperatively for their Lordship interference. It referred, not to the spirit of resistance originating in tithe disputes, or in any political controversy, but to the conduct of the Roman Catholic priesthood, first of all in endeavouring to impede the Protestants in the exercise of their religious duties; and in the next place, it referred to the conduct 967 of her Majesty's Ministers, who, when the facts were represented to them, took no measures for insuring civil and religious liberty to these aggrieved Protestants. He was sure that many of their Lordships would agree with him in thinking that much of the misery and agitation of which they had to complain in Ireland arose from the violence of the Roman Catholic priesthood; and he would fearlessly assert that many of his poor Roman Catholic brethren in a humble sphere of life might be pointed to as examples of a good peasantry, were it not for the lessons they received from those who ought to teach them better things. He did not wish to make this statement merely on his own authority, for he knew that the charge of being a great bigot was sometimes thrown out against him, yet he would not yield to any individual in anxiety for the welfare and happiness of his Roman Catholic as well as Protestant fellow-countrymen. In corroboration of what he had just stated, he would adduce the authority of Baron Richards. The following was an extract from the charge delivered by Baron Richards at Castlebar, March, 1838:—As a friend of humanity, and particularly as a friend to the people of this country, I must deeply regret such a state of things. I cannot but grieve over the depraved character of a people who can be guilty of the many atrocious cases that have come before me at these assizes, and several of those homicides have occurred as the parties were returning from the mass-house. I must here say, that I cannot but think the minds of the people of this country are as open to instruction as those of any other; and if proper and due precepts were impressed upon them, they could be restrained from the violence and bloodshed which so greatly disgrace this country. I am certain the people could be humanized, and without anything like reproach, I do say, that a heavy responsibility rests on those who met these people in the house of God—I mean the spiritual instructors of the people, whose duty it is to keep them from violence and murder, and I think that could be done by proper exertion and persuasion. Many of the reverend Gentlemen I allude to are excellent men, and for them I have a high respect, but in the discharge of my duty I must say, that I conceive the people of this country are as susceptible of receiving benefits from the instruction their pastors should bestow as the people of any other. It is by the efforts of their clergymen more than by law the people can be humanized and rendered amenable to the voice of justice and peace. Feeling that such is the case, it strikes me with amazement that the people should still exhibit such savage conduct. Very 968 many cases of murder that have come before me were committed on the return of those concerned from the house of God, and that murderous habit I cannot reconcile with the moral and religious instruction which ought to be impressed on the people.Such was the language of Baron Richards—a gentleman whose testimony would not be questioned by the noble Lords opposite, for he was a judge lately appointed by her Majesty's present Government. The next evidence he was anxious to produce in corroboration of his statements was that of a respectable gentleman, a Roman Catholic by birth, brother of a respectable Roman Catholic priest in Dublin. This gentleman, Dr. Meyler, had written an interesting pamphlet on the state of Ireland, which he recommended to their Lordships' attention, and from which he would take the liberty of reading, in the mean time, the following extract:—The Protestants have no safety but in coalition, and if they coalesce in a liberal spirit of amity towards their Roman Catholic countrymen, they will be met more than half way by all the respectable portion of that community, who, whatever religious opinions they may profess, are equally adverse, as are the Protestants, to mob and priestly dominion.Again, speaking of the priests, Dr. Meyler says,In consequence of the hatred with which they inspire the people against the Protestants, they are the chief instruments in preventing tranquillity; the minds of the peasantry cannot settle down in quiet, in consequence of the state of excitement in which they keep them. They dread the influence of friendly intercourse with their Protestant landlords, and they keep them in an attitude of constant hostility on that account, putting themselves forward to the peasantry as the only authority they should obey, and the only guides they should follow. There can be no doubt but there is organized in Ireland, and that it is in active operation, also, a secret, powerful, and dread tribunal, which has assumed to itself the government of the land, and that its members take upon themselves to regulate the affairs of the country, and exercise a power far more formidable than that of the law. They denounce from the altar, they excite the people to lawlessness, and exercise over them an unlimited despotism by the agency of their superstition; they direct all things, as if invested with unlimited authority; they dictate to the rulers of the land, and send Members to Parliament, who Joust, in return, obey their dictates; they watch over even the private conduct of Protestants, and know all their proceedings and domestic secrets by the agency 969 of the confessional; the Protestants court them from fear, and contribute to their exactions. There can be no security for the country, nor no hope for its civilization and prosperity, till this order be put down—Delenda est Carthago. Every effort should, therefore, be made to repress the spread of sedition by the strong arm of the law, and even moral influence should be employed to wean the people from the doctrines of the priest, and to free them from the dark and degrading bondage of their yoke.In connexion with this part of the subject he was anxious to bring under consideration the state of persecution endured by certain Protestants in the west of Ireland, merely on account of their religion:—A severe famine with which the western coast of Ireland was visited in 1831, led to the establishment of the Protestant colony at Achill. A minister of the establishment, Mr. Nangle, having acquired a knowledge of the Irish language, and having directed his mind particularly to the missionary operations of the United Brethren among the Greenlanders and other barbarous people, was led by his anxiety to benefit his fellow-creatures, to visit them in this time of their suffering and distress. He found on his arrival the most extreme destitution and ignorance prevailing; then it was that the plan of his mission, designed to further the temporal welfare of the natives in subserviency to their higher interests, was first conceived. He received encouragement from the chief proprietor of the island, who gave them a lease of 130 acres on the north-west part of the island. It was a wild tract of moor, overrun with heath, in order to reclaim which, and render it productive, houses were to be built in the midst of this wilderness, without any means of access or communication with a civilized country but by the sea. The works which were necessary were to be accomplished by the inhabitants, destitute of skill, or with the advantage of suitable implements. However, a steward was hired, the farm was enclosed, and two families took up their abode there in 1833. The reverend Mr. Nangle removed there with his family in 1834, and has since built a church. A congregation has been formed, in part of converts from the church of Rome, and of those who always belonged to the Protestant Church. They are occupied in their lawful calling of improving their farms; but the religion they profess has exposed them to the violence and persecution of Dr. M'Hale and his priests.He did not wish their Lordships to believe this story merely on his assertion; and therefore would read depositions taken on oath, before their Lordships' Committee, which supplied complete proof 970 of his statement. The following was the evidence of the witness Rolph:—You went to the chapel where the people were?—Yes.Did you see Dr. M'Hale in the chapel?—I did.Did you see Mr. Conolly in the chapel?—I did.Did you see the other priests of the island in the chapel?—I believe he had a curate; I think he was there.Did you hear Mr. Conolly preach or say anything in the chapel concerning the Protestant religion?—I did.What did he say?—For one thing, he said, that the Protestant religion began in hell, and that it would end in hell.Did he say anything about the salvation of Protestants?—No. What he was saying was, that that religion had no foundation; that it was a new religion from the time of Luther; that it had begun in hell, and would end in hell.Did he say anything about the Protestant settlement?—He did. He was blaming the people for going to work there, and represented them as one going before the Devil, and the Devil having two half-crowns on his two horns, and that the man who went to work with them was like the man who would take the half-crowns from the Devil's horns, and fall down and worship them or thank him.Did he forbid persons to sell to the Protestant settlement?—Yes, he did. He told them not to have any communication with them, not to buy or sell, or even speak a word to them.Did M'Hale say anything when this sermon was over?—He got up, and seemed to me to confirm this.Thomas M'Nulty's evidence was as follows:—Were you a Roman Catholic when you came to Achill?—I was.Were you ever in the chapel of Duncanelly, in Achill?—Yes.Who was the priest that officiated when you went there?—Mr. Conolly.Do you recollect any advice he gave the people at that time?—Yes.Was it in his sermon?—Yes.What did he say?—He gave orders to his congregation, that any person, being a Protestant or reader from the settlement, who would come to them in the field where they were at work, whatever they should have in their hand, if it was a spade, to strike them with it; and he likewise told them, if it was a pitchfork they had in their hands, to stick them.Mr. Dombrain, another witness, the Inspector of the Coast Guard, deposed as follows:—You inspected the Coast Guard, that being your object in going to Achill?—Yes, I did,971Did anything remarkable come to your knowledge?—Yes; it had been intimated to me that some very strong language had been used by the priest from the altar, either on the previous Sunday or the Sunday before that, in the presence of some of the Coast Guard men.Did you call those men?—I did. After the inspection was over, I called the men forward, and before entering into the particulars, I told them, that if anything had occurred between them and their priest connected with their religion, or anything of a spiritual character, I did not wish to hear it; but if anything had happened that was likely to compromise the character of the service, or its efficiency or discipline, or anything likely to lead to a breach of the peace, which I had been given to understand the words used were likely to do, then I thought they were bound to come forward and state it.How many men were there that were so called?—Two.Were they Roman Catholics?—They were. "What were their names?—Kelly and Donovan.Who had given you this information?—Mr. Reynolds.Did they state anything to you?—Yes; they stated, that the priest had been speaking from the altar about the Protestant colony, and that he had desired the congregation generally to hoot and hiss at them wherever they met them, for that he would not be satisfied till he had driven them out of the island.Mr. Reynolds, the chief officer of the coast guard, swore that the priest Conolly had declared, in his chapel, that he would banish Mr. Nangle or any man who should take their part, and it was his intention to drive the Protestants out of the island. He was not surprised at this violence on the part of the Roman Catholic priesthood, because, though there were, of course, exceptions, the greater part of the Roman Catholic clergy were known for their hostility to the Protestants; but what he was surprised at was, that after the danger incurred by these Protestants had been represented to the Ministers, they should have allowed months to pass away without taking means to provide against that danger. After the witnesses whose testimony he had quoted were examined, Mr. Nangle returned to Achill, where the persecution against the Protestants continued and increased, when an account of the examination of the witnesses arrived there. On the 30th of October last Mr. Nangle wrote a letter to Lord J. Russell, from which the following was an extract:— 972We receive no tithe; we and the whole of our missionary apparatus are supported by the voluntary contributions of Christians disinterestedly attached to the principles of our church, as laid down in her Articles. Our principles have been misrepresented, our motives vilified, our characters calumniated, our property invaded, our safety threatened, our persons injured. We are at this moment, my Lord, while I write, enduring the rigours of a Papal interdict; our neighbours have been forbidden to buy or sell with us, to speak to us, or to exchange any of the charities or courtesies of social life, under pain of the heaviest weight of Papal malediction: One of cur congregation has been providentially preserved from a murderous blow aimed at him by an unknown assassin; another, the father of a numerous family depending for support on his industry, was assaulted in broad daylight on the highway, and sent home bleeding to his family, and wounded in such a manner, that a medical man, who has been consulted, cannot speak confidently of his recovery. Dr. M'Hale himself visited this island, to give a more furious impulse to the machinery of persecution which his priests organized, and whose movements they regulate. Yet our converts remain firm, and are more steadfast to their profession, in consequence of the antichristian conduct of the priests, and a growing murmur has arisen amongst the more respect able and enlightened portion of our Roman Catholic countrymen in this island.He then wrote a letter to Lord Morpeth, the Chief Secretary for Ireland, on the 30th of October, complaining of the difficulties, the persecutions, and trials, which this unfortunate colony had suffered; and submitting to the Lord-lieutenant the necessity of having petty sessions established in the island of Achill. Not having received an answer to this letter, he again wrote to Lord Morpeth on the 3rd of November, praying for a reply to his former letter, and imploring Government to consider the unhappy situation in which this colony was placed. This letter was written on the 3rd of November; on the 5th of February, he came to attend to his duties in Parliament, and being informed of the circumstances, and that no answer had been received to either letter, he moved on the 7th of February for the production of all correspondence between Mr. Nangle and the Government on the subject. This was furnished on the 25th of the same month, with the addition of a letter dated the 21st of February sent by the Government in answer to the two letters of Mr. Nangle to which he had before referred; and he believed that if he had not called their Lordships 973 attention to the subject, that answer would not have been sent at all. Was not this, he would ask, a flippant manner, to say nothing worse, of carrying on the Government of a country, and of attending to the distresses of a loyal people? But what had taken place in the mean time between the 30th of November and the date of the answer to that letter? Why, Mr. Reynolds, one of the witnesses whose evidence he had quoted, was murdered in Achill. He would say, that the Government was highly reprehensible, if they had it in their power, not to have sent earlier answers to letters complaining of the sufferings of a loyal Protestant people. The answer dated the 21st of February, to which he had alluded, was to the following effect—that with reference to Mr. Nangle's letter of the 30th of November, not that of the 30th of October, he was directed to say that there could be no immediate change in the arrangement of the petty sessions, but that the subject should receive the consideration of Government, as it appeared desirable that petty sessions should be established in Achill, and as they were anxious to secure a speedy administration of justice in Ireland. This might be true but he would ask, what would be the effect such a letter would produce in Ireland, when the enemies of this persecuted colony of Achill found that no notice was taken of their proceedings by those who ought to have been its protectors? He felt that such a state of things was calculated to demand the most serious attention of their Lordships. They were aware the laws of England were paralyzed in many parts of Ireland; that the laws and canons of Rome superseded the efficiency of British judicature there; and that the trial by jury, the glory of the British constitution, and one of its brightest features, was a curse to that country. Oaths were reckoned binding or not, according to the circumstances to which they referred or the subjects to which they related; and even murder itself as he was able to prove, had been palliated—nay, encouraged, and considered praiseworthy under certain circumstances. The great end or object, as he believed, was the annihilation of the Protestant faith in Ireland. But he entreated their Lordships not to consider the subject which he had brought forward that night as a mere Irish subject, for it was clearly connected 974 with the best interests of the empire at large. It was impossible to separate the interests of England from those of Ireland, so closely were they united; and, even whilst he was addressing their Lordships, Ireland was the battle-field of the empire for the Protestant Establishment. It had been said in the time of Queen Elizabeth, and true enough it wasHe who would ever England winMust in Ireland first begin.That was also true now. He trusted, therefore, that their Lordships would consider that he had laid before them sufficient grounds for inquiry into this subject. He had occupied too much of their Lordships' time, but he had an important, though plain, duty to perform—to bring this matter under their consideration. He hoped he had said nothing in the course of his address to hurt the feelings of a single person; but, if he had, he would affirm that it had been far from his intention to have done so. He had only said that which he believed to be true, and he left the case in their Lordships' hands, imploring them, for the sake of humanity and justice towards all classes and denominations of persons in Ireland, to give it their most serious and anxious consideration. The noble Earl concluded by moving for a select committee to inquire into the state of Ireland since the year 1835 with respect to the commission of crime.
The Marquess of Normanby
spoke as follows*:—I am perfectly ready, my Lords, at this moment, and in its fullest extent, to meet the responsibility of anything which the noble Earl has been able to lay to my charge. The noble Earl calls that responsibility awful, and awful, indeed, would it be, my Lords, if the evidence upon which these charges were supported, at all equalled the vehemence of language, and the earnestness of manner, with which they have been brought forward. The noble Earl is always personally courteous, but his denunciations have on this occasion been strong indeed. With natural indignation, I am ready, in reply, to prove now on the floor of this House, before I conclude, that I have grappled with crime wherever I found it, that I have vindicated the law wherever it was violated, that I have grappled with crime continuously—that I* From a corrected report, published by Ridgway.975 have vindicated the law successfully—and so far from the noble Earl being justified in drawing an invidious distinction between me and my noble and gallant Friend (Lord Anglesey), in this respect—that it is not only now, in your Lordships' House, and as a means of justification in your eyes, that I state I would, in similar circumstances, have done as he did, but that I took occasion, when visiting a part of the country, which had been peculiarly disturbed in his time, in answering an allusion to its improvement, to remark, that had the case been unhappily different, it would have been the utmost of my ambition to emulate the personal energy, which he then so advantageously displayed in repressing crime and vindicating the law. I will, however, prove, if not to the noble Earl's satisfaction, at least to his conviction, that the state of Ireland is not unparalleled—that it is not, as he states, unparalleled in his recollection—I will prove this, not merely from vague letters, which, even though they are from magistrates, can only be considered as their personal representations, since they are not pretended to be founded on depositions taken in their magisterial character. I will ground my answer on extracts from the despatches of former Lords-lieutenant of Ireland, respecting the state of that country in their time, comparing it then with the most exaggerated reports of its condition under my administration. I will also refer to another most unequivocal test; the charges of the judges during the last three years contrasted with former times. The noble Earl says he has gone through twelve counties. He may have named twelve counties to your Lordships, but how? In reference to isolated crimes still in existence—but that those counties thus alluded to, are in a worse state than before my administration, I am prepared to disprove most satisfactorily by evidence which I will offer your Lordships. What, however, is the ground of this extraordinary motion, for extraordinary it most certainly is? If the state of the country is not unparalleled, the course pursued by the noble Earl certainly is? From whom does this motion proceed? The noble Earl states he speaks in the name of the Protestants of Ireland. I deny any such delegation as the noble Earl claims. Amongst the Protestants of Ireland, there are a numerous, influential, and enlightened body, who differ far more widely from the noble Earl in politics than from the Pope in matters of faith. But what will the Catho- 976 lics of Ireland think of the motion of the noble Earl? Are they not to be considered? He says, that socially he lives on good terms with his Catholic fellow-countrymen. But what is his political position? Is he not known as the grand master of the Orange lodges in Ireland—and, depend upon it, if the noble Earl is successful in his motion, the effect of it will be in Ireland to convince all parties there, that under the auspices of the late grand master of the Orange lodges of Ireland—the same still in feeling though not in name—your Lordships have taken the executive Government of Ireland into your own hands. The noble Earl has spoken of individual cases, and yet, to show his want of correct information, he has referred to the murderers of Muirhead. [The Earl of Roden: I did not mention Muirhead.] The murderers then of Cathcart; but in every case of the murderers of Lord Lorton's Protestant tenantry, there are at this moment persons in custody awaiting their trials, except in that of Muirhead; where a conviction has already taken place, and execution has, by this time, been possibly done upon the unhappy criminals. The noble Earl, to show his general inaccuracy, has alluded to the case of Roscommon, and to the excitement there produced by the general election. Why, in Roscommon there was no contest at the last general election. Then, with reference to the case of Lord Norbury, your Lordships have been called upon to discuss a question, at this moment in the course of judicial investigation. The noble Earl still relying upon his information—too little trustworthy, as I can prove it to be—states, that there is no trace of evidence nor suspicion against any one in this case. Why, my Lords, to prove how ill timed are such assertions on such subjects, there are two persons in custody at this moment. I had this morning intelligence of their arrest. The noble Earl, three weeks ago, put a question on the same subject to me. I then stated, that two other persons were in custody; two soldiers, one an informer against his comrade. Of this case I may now speak, though I am aware of the force of that caution hinted to me by the judicial mind of my noble and learned Friend (Lord Plunket), but this case, as concerns these two men, has now had a legal termination; the approver has already been convicted of perjury in the accusation against his comrade; yet upon a former occasion, the noble Earl followed up his first question by 977 the extraordinary one of whether I thought there was much probability of a conviction against these men? Why, my Lords, ought not such a question to be a sufficient warning to you of the nature of the inquiries which will be put, if you take the extraordinary—the mischievous—the groundless course of referring such matters to the committee, which is the object of the noble Earl's motion? I will now proceed to examine the present state of crime in Ireland, with a view to prove to your Lordships, that it is not from any individual cases, however distressing, or revolting, the particular circumstances which have marked those atrocities, you can infer the general character of the country; but your opinion should be founded on pains taken in analyzing returns, and comparing the state of the country in one year, with that which those returns present in another. When I addressed your Lordships on the noble Earl's previous motion, the position which I endeavoured to establish was, first, that crime was less now than it was formerly, both in extent and atrocity; secondly, that there were more committals in proportion to the number of crimes; and, thirdly, that there were more convictions in proportion to the number of committals. If, therefore, I can establish these three propositions, which I think I can, and that the country is in a better state now than before my administration, I shall at least free the Government from any blame, for not grappling, as the noble Earl has said, with crime in Ireland. To continue what I stated on that occasion, I beg to recal to your Lordships' recollection, that I never said, that Ireland was in an entirely satisfactory state, but, that it was in a state of progressive improvement. My words were, "that species of tranquillity for which the Government have either received or taken credit, is not of a nature to make occasional exceptions or interruptions, a contradiction to its general continued existence. It is sufficient for us, that we see every reason to believe, that the improvement is, upon the whole, progressive." With respect to certain offences of the worst description, affecting the security of life and property, or involving open violations of the public peace, I, upon that occasion, read to your Lordships extracts from the constabulary returns—establishing, with reference to those offences, a gradual diminution from the commencement of my Government. The last period then quoted 978 was the first nine months of the year of which I was then speaking, the year 1837. I will now, by way of continuing the comparison in the simplest manner, quote offences in the three last months of that year and the corresponding or last three months of the following year, 1838.
1838. 1837. Homicides 58 52 Firing at the person 14 36 Cutting and maiming, and aggravated assaults 209 329 Rapes and assaults, with intent 21 23 Abductions 4 4 Levelling 6 20 Incendiary Fires 125 147 Burglary 24 48 Attacks on Houses 99 182 Demands or Robbery of Arms 68 91 Unlawful Oaths 8 20 Illegal Notices and Meetings 92 182 Riots and Faction Fights 29 55 Rescue and Resistance to Legal Process 12 65 Totals 769 1254
The Marquess of Normanby
I speak from the regular constabulary returns, and am not quoting from newspapers or pamphlets, or private letters, as is sometimes done, but from official returns,—so that in the year 1837, for the period I have mentioned, the number of serious offences was 1,254, and for the same period in 1838 only 769. So that there is, evidently, a great decrease in the state of crime; am I not, therefore, as right now, as I notoriously was in 1837, in saying that the improvement is progressive? I will now look to the returns of the last five years; and, with respect to cases of homicide, I regret to say, there is no reduction—on an average it is the same. In 1837 the number was the smallest, and the largest in 1834. In the latter year, it appears that the number was 278; in 1835, 261; in 1836, 231; in 1837, 228; in 1838, 248. During the same period, for firing at the person, the numbers were, 1834, 105; in 1835, 83; in 1836, 78; in 1837, 91; in 979 1838, only 47. For attacks on houses and firing into dwellings, the numbers were in 1834, 923; in 1835, 818; in 1836, 518; in 1837, 637; in 1838, only 352. For demands and robbery of arms, in 1834, 224; in 1836, 147; in 1837, 246; in 1838, 176. For cutting and maiming and aggravated assaults, 1834, 1,343; 1835, 1,422; 1836, 1,161; 1837, 944; 1838, 838;—am I not, I again ask, entitled to say, that the improvement is progressive? I have also here a summary of the returns from the Inspectors of Prisons, of persons committed and convicted from 1832 to 1838. I could not expect your Lordships to follow me through all the details even of this summary if I were to read it, but it again serves to establish my position, that crime has diminished and convictions have increased. I will read only that part which shews the offences affecting human life.*
From 1832 to 1838, committals have diminished from 772 to 575; the convictions increased from 203 to 298. Your Lordships will, of course, always bear in mind, that the returns of the constabulary give the offences committed; those of the inspectors of prisons the offenders confined. Now, let us, my Lords, for a moment turn to a comparison made, I believe, with great accuracy, between the amount of crime in England and in Ireland. In England and Wales the committals in 1837 were 23,612; the convictions, 17,096. In Ireland, the same year, committals, 14,804; convictions, 9,536. The comparison cannot be so clearly made in any previous year, because, up to that time the petty sessions were included in the Irish returns. Your Lordships will, however, be surprised to learn, that the proportion of sentence of death to the whole population is, in England 1 in 26,992; in Ireland, 1 in 46,014. Transportation for life in England, 1 in 18,258; in Ireland, 1 in 30,460. The proportion of the capital sentences to the total convictions, is in England and Wales, death 1 in 39—in Ireland 1 in 62. Total for transportation in England I in 4½—in Ireland 1 in 8½, and it is in the imprisonment cases that the numbers are nearly equal. The proportion of convictions to committals is, in both countries, nearly the same, or about 71 per cent. These calculations of comparison between the different divisions of the empire, are of course not the regular official documents from which I have been previously quoting, but they are from tables constructed with great care,* See Table.980
981 and upon which I believe perfect reliance can be placed. I feel now obliged, by the particular details into which the noble Lord has gone, to refer to former periods by way of shewing that he is not accurate when he represents the state of Ireland during my government as unparalleled. This will be an irksome task to me, and, I fear, must be wearisome to your Lordships. It is, indeed, painful to have to revive the records of by-gone misdeeds; I must, however do so, not to blacken the character of a people amongst whom such things have been perpetrated, but to spew, that if the Government is at all answerable for crimes, which after all are in the main traceable to defects in the social system, the blame must as much attach to the harsher rule of the days of ascendancy as to the more conciliatory policy of the recent system. I could, according to Mr. Peel's declaration, in bringing in the Catholic Relief Bill, choose at random any period between the Union and that day, for he justly observed, that there was hardly a year in which Ireland had been under the ordinary form of the Constitution; but I will take two epochs as examples, as they were both connected with somewhat similar moves in this House, and though neither partaking of the culpatory character of the noble Earl's motion, were both resisted by the minister of the day. The first period was the year 1816, during Lord Whitworth's time, when the Duke of Bedford made a motion in this House, referring to the state of Ireland. Lord Whitworth's despatch alluded to the disturbances which had taken place from the year 1811. He stated, that convictions had produced no good effects, and that, in many instances, justice had not been obtained on account of the intimidation of witnesses and juries. He stated, that in 1814, the Peace Preservation Act had to be put in operation in Tipperary; applications were made from 28 magistrates of Westmeath, and from 20 magistrates of Clare, for assistance to preserve the peace of their districts, and were refused. Lord Whitworth stated, that dragoons, some of whom were killed, were obliged to be called out to defend the mail coaches, and their barracks had been afterwards attacked. In 1816, occurred the assassination of Mr. Wm. Baker. Here was a case which showed, in all its parts, a successful and extended conspiracy. Mr. Baker had pursued to justice several persons belonging to an armed party, who had attacked and burned a house. A conspiracy was in con- 982 sequence formed to murder him, and the deed was perpetrated by five persons in mid-day. Parties had been stationed on all the roads by which he could return from Cashel, and when the shot was fired, a savage shout of exultation arose from every side, announcing to all the parties implicated, the death of their victim. In Clare, at that time, many houses had been plundered of arms; ninety meetings of the populace had taken place, and seven houses been burnt; and in the despatch of Lord Whitworth, he alluded to the disparity which took place at that time between the convictions and committals. By the paper to which he alluded, I can prove to your Lordships, that the disparity was very remarkable at that time. So far from there being, as now, four convictions in five, there was not at that period, one conviction in five; and Lord Whitworth attributed this to the intimidation of witnesses and juries. The next period was in the year 1822. A noble Friend of mine, who is prevented by indisposition from being present this night, (the Marquess of Lansdowne) brought forward a resolution at that time to consider if any measure could be brought in which would tend to the tranquillity of Ireland. In that year Lord Wellesley stated, amongst many similar reports, that 200 armed men on horseback, had met to commit depredations, and had attacked several houses, and also a number of persons coming out of church in one county. And in Clare and Galway 200 men in a body had attacked a number of persons. But, perhaps, it may be said, these outrages were then of a different sort—that since the passing of the Emancipation Act these offences have assumed a religious character—that what we now complain is, that, under the late Government, Protestant life and property are not secure. But what says Lord Wellesley in the year 1822, quoting that excellent authority, the Provost of Bandon? Why, that thirty-seven houses had been attacked, all belonging to Protestants; a large quantity of arms taken, and the persecuted Protestants obliged to quit the country and seek protection in towns. Tipperary was represented as bad as ever. It was in that year that the famous encounter between Lord Bantry and 500 armed men took place, he having thirty mounted gentry and fourteen troopers to oppose them. Serjeant Torrens, in charging the jury at Limerick on that occasion, stated, that "the convictions there 983 would give satisfaction to the few loyal people in that neighbourhood." A magistrate of the county of Kilkenny, stated, at that time, that "all control over the disposal of landed property was superseded by the sort of code established." I have quoted this, because the year 1822 was a year in which the noble Earl opposite, making, I believe, his first appearance in this House, stated as follows.—
1832. 1833. 1834. 1835. 1836. 1837. 1838. Committed. Convicted. Committed. Convicted. Committed. Convicted. Committed. Convicted. Committed. Convicted. Committed. Convicted. Committed. Convicted. Murder or Manslaughter 620 168 687 274 575 299 712 309 620 292 519 175 424 199 Shooting at, Stabbing, and Administering Poison 72 26 70 18 74 11 78 22 65 25 48 13 36 9 Assault with intent to Murder 22 2 55 11 47 3 113 71 127 97 111 72 104 85 Conspiracy to Murder 58 7 14 — 33 2 19 7 31 11 10 3 11 5 Total Offences Affecting Life 772 203 826 303 729 245* (Sic orig.) 922 409 843 425 688 263 575 298It would be in him a dereliction of duty were he not to state the conviction of his mind, that the great cause of these evils was non-residence. It was the great number of absentee landlords which formed the principal evil. Their absence broke those links which were necessary to preserve confidence between the different ranks and relations of society. While adverting to the spirit of outrage which unfortunately prevailed in Ireland, he should be guilty of a great omission were he not to acknowledge the vast improvement which had taken place during the last ten years.A great improvement had taken place in the last ten years, had it? What, when the Provost of Bandon describes successful attacks upon thirty-seven Protestant houses! When landlords retained no power over the disposal of their landed property! When Lord Bantry, with thirty armed Yeomanry, and backed by regular troops, was obliged, as may be seen in a despatch from Sir John Lambert, to retreat before an armed mob of 500 men! If the country was improved then, what is it now? And can the noble Earl, even if every one of his unauthenticated statements were true, with a grave face say, that its condition is now unexampled? I could continue the review through other succeeding years; I could ask which of the melancholy instances of individual crime we have still to regret,—which of the cases thus brought before us, could compare with that long chain of guilt growing out of one transaction, commencing with the murder of Mr. Chadwick, in 1827, followed by the assassination of the witness Mara,—the attempt upon the lives of his brothers,—the complication of iniquity shown upon the trial of Grace, by the whole Russell family? Where now are such scenes as the burning of the Sheas, and the sad tragedy of Wild Goose Lodge? With reference to the memorials which have lately come from Tipperary and the King's County, I must read one from the magistrates of the county of Cork, in 1823. The noble Earl's improved times. 984May it please your Excellency,We, the magistrates of the county of Cork, assembled at Cork, to carry into effect the provisions of the new Constabulary Act, feel it our duty to lay before your Excellency, for the information of his Majesty's Government, the disturbed state of part of this county, together with the expression of our conviction that the spirit of insurrection is rapidly extending into parts of the county hitherto undisturbed.We understand that our County Grand Jury, after the minutest investigation, have presented a sum of about 10,000l. for damage sustained by fire, destruction of cattle, breaking machinery, &c. &c., and though the greater part of those outrages have been hitherto confined to a comparatively small portion of the county, yet we regret to say there have been instances of crime connected with the system in various other districts.It cannot be necessary to impress on your Excellency the extent of suffering which has been inflicted by the persevering atrocity with which the insurgents have perpetrated the work of destruction. Many are now dependent altogether on the presentments which have been passed for their compensation for all they can be deemed to possess; nor can we feel that property of any description is exempt from the influence of that spirit which unhappily prevails, and is directed against all property whatever.By notices posted and personally served, many have been obliged to abandon their farms; witnesses who have prosecuted, have done so at personal risk; persons giving evidence at the present assizes, as to the value of property destroyed, have had their houses burned immediately on their return home; money has been extorted from several, by personal threats, to support and carry on their plans; arms still continue to be plundered, and pikes forged, to arm the disaffected.We regret to state that our exertions, aided by the vigorous co-operation of the military, police, and armed associations, have hitherto been insufficient to counteract the designs of men who have set all the constituted authorities and the law of the country at defiance. We therefore feel ourselves imperiously called upon to state to your Excellency, that whatever further measures may be adopted, they cannot be too promptly or vigorously carried into effect.Signed by desire of the meeting.DONERAILE,"Chairman."Cork April 7, 1823.Again, I ask, is the present state of Ireland unparalleled? Now, my Lords, I proceed to produce to your Lordships the most unequivocal testimony—the most unimpeachable witnesses to the progressive 985 improvement of the country. The charges of the circuit judges at different periods. In the year 1816, it appears from the charges of the several judges which I hold in my hand, and to which any noble Lord may refer, that the state of crime in the counties of Clare, Galway, Louth, Tipperary, King's County, Donegal, Armagh, and many others, which are in my list, was of an aggravated and extended nature. In Clare the calendar exceeded 120, comprising many cases of a very heinous nature. In Limerick the calendar contained 103 prisoners, of which twenty-three were charged with murder. Judge Day said, he held in his hand a calendar, marked with the most atrocious crime that human nature could perpetrate. In Armagh, Judge Moore called the attention of the jury to the unparalleled state of the calendar. (Unparalleled—so the noble Lord did not invent that term as applicable to the period of my government), which demonstrated the county in a most disturbed state, and observed, and referred to the districts, bounding on Louth and Monaghan, and commented on the evil of search and seditious associations, which were extending themselves in Tipperary. Lord Norbury, in addressing the Grand Jury, said, that the outrages against all government and authority which have disgraced the county have now arisen to such a height, that no Government could overlook such offences. In Louth there was a special meeting of magistrates to inquire into the state of the county. In Galway the Insurrection Act applied for. In Donegal a meeting of magistrates to consider its disturbed state. In the King's County the Insurrection Act was in force, and the estimates of its expense for two months was 600l. Take another period in the year 1821. In Limerick, bands of armed men were traversing the county, committing depredations and seizing arms. In Monaghan, Baron M'Clelland remarked on the state of the calendar, which contained a considerable number of offences, and many crimes of a heinous nature. In Mayo, Baron Pennefather remarked on the state of the calendar, heavy in number and enormity. In Fermanagh, Judge Jebb deeply regrets the state of the county. In Clare the calendar was very heavy, including eleven for murder. In 1825. Judge Moore remarked on the very bad condition of Tipperary. In Sligo, Baron Smith condoled with them on the state of the calendar, which contained several heinous cases, In Down, Judge 986 Burton observed on the number of cases for murder on the calendar. In Longford there were sixty criminals for trial, and it was alleged, that the Riband system had extended itself to it from Westmeath. In Cork the calendar contained 145, in-eluding twenty-three for murder, and twelve for house burning. Again in 1827, Limerick calendar amounted to 193, including sixteen cases of homicide: and Sergeant Lefroy, who presided as judge, remarked that the increase of crime I was truly melancholy. In Cork the calendar contained 374, including twenty for murder. In Westmeath there were a number of capital convictions. In Cavan the calendar was very heavy. In Wicklow there were a vast number of convictions. In Down, Judge Jebb said the number of prisoners on the calendar were numerous beyond example. In Tipperary, Judge Burton said, he was concerned to find the list of crimes, not only in number, but in magnitude, unexampled in this or any other county. It is painful to observe the proportion that the crime of murder bears to all the rest, and that this crime is marked by peculiar features of barbarity and atrocity, appearing in many instances to be preconcerted by bodies of men confederated in defiance of all law, to commit a crime, that strikes not alone against individual life, but against the security of all society. In Wexford, Baron Pennefather remarked on the heavy state of the calendar. In Limerick, Judge Jebb remarked on the number in the calendar charged with murder—thirteen or fourteen. In Monaghan, Baron M'Clelland remarked on the immensely heavy state of the calendar, and alluded to the large number of cases in the county of Louth, which he had just left: and although a very small county, no less than 106 indictments were sent to the grand jury. In 1835, during the spring circuit, before I entered upon the Government of Ireland, attention is called to Roscommon, where the calendar contained 102 prisoners for trial—seven for murder, two homicide, three stabbing, &c. In Louth, a small county, the calendar contained fifty-nine for trial, including five for murder. In Leitrim there were seventy-two for trial, and in Monaghan, Judge Johnson, in addressing the grand jury, regretted the state of the calendar, which is heavier than usual. In Westmeath, Baron Smith said, although the calendar is not numerous, it contains several heinous crimes. In Cork, Sergeant Greene said the calendars have been re- 987 markably heavy throughout the Munster circuit, and I find that Cork will not prove an exception. Let me now contrast with this picture the state of some of the counties to which I have adverted in the years 1836 and 1837, and see what the same class of testimony proves with regard to them. In Down, the Chief Justice congratulated the grand jury on the extreme lightness of the calendar. In Louth, Chief Baron Joy said it gave him great satisfaction to observe that the calendar at the present assizes was very small when compared with former years. In Waterford, Chief Justice Bushe remarked on the extreme lightness of the calendar. In Kilkenny, Baron Pennefather congratulated the county on the lightness of the calendar which contrasted happily with the former ones. In the Queen's County, at Mary-borough, Judge Johnson congratulated the county on the extreme lightness of the calendar, and said some of the principal cases were adjourned from last assizes. In Wexford, Judge Johnson congratulated the county on the state of the calendar—very few cases. At Fermanagh, Baron Pennefather congratulated the county on the pleasing appearance of the calendar. In Limerick, Judge Perrin congratulated the grand jury on the reduced state of the calendar, which was evidence of the peaceable state of the county. In Kildare, Judge Johnson complimented the grand jury on the lightness of the calendar. In Sligo, Judge Burton remarked on the lightness of the calendar; and in Clare, Baron Foster said, he was happy to congratulate them upon the great diminution of crime, that had taken place in the county, compared with former years. In Carlow, Baron Smith remarked on the lightness of the calendar. In Wexford, Baron Pennefather said, he was happy to inform them there was little to be done. He was really surprised to see a county of such extent so free from crime. 1837.—In Fermanagh, Chief Justice Bushe said, the calendar was only of ordinary description. In the Queen's County, Baron Pennefather said, there is nothing on the face of the calendar which requires observation. In Cork, Sergeant Greene said, there is nothing in the calendar requiring observation. In Roscommon, Judge Burton said, he saw nothing in the calendar, that could make him think, that the county did not enjoy the utmost tranquillity. In Leitrim, Judge Perrin remarked on the lightness of the calendar. In Kerry, Baron Richards said, the calendar was swelled with minor 988 offences that should be tried at sessions. In Down, Judge Torrens said, the offences on the calendar are but of such a nature as must occur from the extent of the county. In Louth, Chief Baron Joy told the grand jury, that the criminal business would be very light. "I cannot help hearing my noble Friend opposite observing, that this would go to prove, that there is no crime at all in the country." My Lords, it is no intention of mine to prove any such absurdity; on the contrary, I regret, as much as any man, that heinous crimes do still remain, exceptions to the general improvement of the country, but the use I make of these charges is to prove, that the Judges take, as they are bound to do, an enlarged view of the subject, and give, by the language they have lately used, as compared with what they were formerly obliged to express, the most indisputable confirmation of the position with which I started. In Limerick, Sergeant Greene said, the calendar was unusually light, containing no crime worthy of comment. In Wexford, King's 'County, and Kilkenny, Judge Johnson and Foster severally remarked on the lightness of the calendar. In Armagh, Chief Baron Joy said, the calendar contained the smallest number of cases he ever saw. In Kerry, there were only thirty-four for trial. In Donnegal, Baron Pennefather congratulated them on the lightness of the calendar. And, in Monaghan, Judge Burton did the same. Such is the opinion of Judge Burton, a name which I cannot mention even thus incidentally, without paying the humble tribute of my praise to the zeal and energy displayed by that learned person, in undertaking, at my request, in spite of his years and infirmities, the arduous task of holding the late special commission in Tipperary; thus showing, [...]t least his devotion to his duties had not been impaired—those duties which no one could better discharge. 1838—Spring assizes. In Meath, there was but little civil or criminal business. In Wexford, there were but twenty-two prisoners for trial, and all minor offences, except two; and Baron Foster, in addressing the grand jury, said, there were no cases that required any observation from him. In Lough Judge Burton, in addressing the jury, said he was happy to state, from the appearance of the cases upon the calendar, it would not be necessary for him to make any lengthened observations, or give them any particular directions. The number of cases was not large; the crimes were not 989 of a serious character; they were such as might be expected in a densely populated county, such as Louth. At Limerick Sergeant Greene said, he was happy to have it in his power to repeat the congratulation, which, at the last assizes, he offered upon the state of the calendar. The offences are neither numerous, nor of a serious character. At Cavan, Judge Torrens congratulated the jury on the state of the calendar. In Kilkenny, the number of prisoners for trial, amounted only to twenty-eight—eleven of the number were bailable offences; and this the quantum of crime in a population amounting to 200,000, In the county, the calendar used to exceed considerably 100. In Kilkenny county, Baron Foster, congratulated the jury on the lightness of the calendar, and said it formed a great contrast with former calendars in the county. In Waterford county and city Baron Foster and Judge Moore, congratulated the juries on the lightness of the calendars. 1838—Summer assizes. In Wicklow, there were but eighteen prisoners on the calendar, and Judge Moore said, the extremely peaceful state of the county spoke so well, both for the higher and lower classes in the county. In Louth, Judge Burton said, the state of the calendar rendered any observations unnecessary. In Kilkenny, Judge Crampton said, he was happy to find, that his labour would be light. In Clare, Baron Richards congratulated the jury upon the lightness of the calendar. In Roscommon, Judge Perrin said—It is with great satisfaction, I feel myself called on to congratulate you on the peaceable and tranquil state of your great and populous county. And in Leitrim, Sergeant Greene said, he took occasion to express his great pleasure at witnessing the very light state of the calendar. In the county of Cork, Baron Richards observed, that he had great pleasure in offering his congratulations on the unprecedentedly light state of the calendar; it ought to give the county great pride. In Mayo, Sergeant Greene said, that although there were many cases on the calendar, still, with a few exceptions, they were not of a heinous character. And at Enniskillen, county Fermanagh, Baron Pennefather said, I have to congratulate you on the appearance which your county presents not only by the calendar, which is light, but by its general tranquillity. While in Galway, Judge Perrin said, with the exception of two or three heavy cases standing over from last assizes, there was nothing 990 to call for any particular observation, and nothing that might not be expected in so extensive and populous a county. Sergeant Greene addressed similar observations to the grand jury of the town. And at Armagh, Judge Burton said, from an examination of the calendar, the business would not be heavy or protracted. And in Londonderry, Mr. Justice Torrens said, "I feel pleasure in again congratulating you, and communicating that the calendar is excessively light, in fact, at every successive assizes, I find crime decreasing, and tranquillity becoming established in your county." These, my Lords, were the opinions of the judges, giving the impression on their minds at the time, by a recent examination of all the commitments; and if your Lordships are to go into a Committee, what further evidence can you produce to set against this testimony to the improvement of the country within the last three years. We have had a great many references to the state of Munster in former times—I will read a letter which I have this morning received from Mr. Barrington, a gentleman of well known intelligence and great experience; it relates to the present assizes:—Cork, 17th of March, 1839.My Lord—This circuit is now drawing to a close, and as Lord Roden's motion is fixed for the 21st, it will be satisfactory to your Lordship to hear, that the counties of Clare Kerry, and Cork, and a great portion of Limerick, are perfectly free from agrarian disturbances. The attendance of witnesses even in those cases arising from insurrectionary outrage, where intimidation might be supposed to prevail, was very great, and the number of convictions bore a greater proportion to the number of cases tried, than had taken place for some years.In the county of Clare, the calendar was extremely light, and there was no case of an insurrectionary nature. I observe, however, that Mr. Colquhoun, in the recent debate in the Commons, has alluded to a case which was tried at the Clare assizes, where a person of the name of M'Namara, and others, were tried and acquitted for the murder of a man named Minogue, and has adduced that case as a proof that witnesses are intimidated from giving evidence in Ireland. This case, however, proves exactly the contrary. A field had been let to two different persons, by a father and a son, each of whom claimed property in it. Each tenant brought a large party to till the ground; a general quarrel ensued in which a man named Minogue received a blow which caused his death. Informations were sworn, implicating several persons in the homicide, but a large sum of money, having, it is said, been subscribeu and paid to the family of the 991 deceased, they declined to prosecute effectually.In Limerick, the calendar was much heavier, and several cases of an insurrectionary nature, such as entering houses searching for arms, administering oaths, and assaulting habitations, were tried at the assizes. There was the fullest attendance of witnesses, in these cases, and convictions had in each, which I am sure will be most useful.The assizes of Kerry were concluded in three days; the convictions were chiefly for sheep-stealing.In this great county, the calendar is equally light, exhibiting no offence beyond those which occur in every crowded community.Upon the whole, I consider, that this circuit affords the most satisfactory evidence of the improved state of the country, and an increasing confidence on the part of the people in the administration of justice,I have, &c.(Signed) M. Barrington.The noble Earl has spoken of the late and present state of Ireland under my government as unparalleled. No doubt the noble Earl speaks his honest feelings on this occasion; but I will beg to ask whether the noble Earl recollects what was said of the state of Ireland in 1834, under the government of a noble Marquess, (the Marquess of Wellesley), whom I can never speak of, but with the highest respect, and, perhaps, I may say this with somewhat more sincerity than the noble Earl who professed it this evening, for I never heard that during the administration of the noble Marquess, the noble Earl had given him any effectual support, either in this House or elsewhere. Does the noble Earl recollect what was said of the state of Ireland in that year by a rev, gentleman (Mr. Professor Boyton), who was sent over to this country by the Protestant party in Ireland, indeed specially nominated by the noble Earl himself, to convey to Englishmen an accurate picture of the miseries which Protestants were then enduring. That rev. gentleman at a public meeting here, said:—It will be difficult to give any idea to the people of this country of the state of Ireland, in which there was a total absence of anything like order or security for property. Imagine if possible, that at the close of day, having examined the lower stories of your houses, and, afterwards, your upper and sleeping apartments, and found all secure, you should afterwards be aroused by seeing flames burst forth as refulgent as those of Birmingham and Wolverhampton, and let you heighten the terror of he scene, by the reflection, that to every fire 992 there was a victim, and you will have a faint idea of the unfortunate condition of many parts of my unhappy country.This, then, is merely a faint idea, a mere sketchy and indistinct outline of a picture of the state of Ireland given by the rev. gentleman—the emissary of the noble Earl and his Protestant friends—at the time, which the noble Earl has this night represented as that in which crime was grappled with, and the law vindicated, under that noble Marquess, now the object of his sudden adulation; and the noble Earl, the patron, if not the author of the description, which I have just read, has, nevertheless, charged me with not having grappled with crime, with not having vindicated the law—with having produced a state of things unexampled, I will now come to another point, which, though not directly arising out of any statement of the noble Earl, I still feel it necessary to advert to; because, not having any claim to reply, I think I have a right to anticipate arguments, which (from what occurred in another place) I may fairly presume will be used by noble Lords, who will follow me in the debate. I will first advert to the memorial from the magistrates of the county of Tipperary, agreed to at a meeting in which a noble Earl (the Earl of Glengall) not now present took a conspicuous part. The answer to that memorial was objected to, as being supposed to convey a censure on the magistracy and landed gentry of that county. The paragraph objected to, stated, that property had its duties as well as its rights—perhaps an unnecessary truism to any one not aware, that to the neglect of some of those duties had, in all times, been attributed many of the worst evils of Ireland, which broke out in perpetual disorders, in disgraceful outrages. But in more recent resolutions it has also been stated, that this answer had had the effect of increasing animosities against the owners of the soil. Would not any one infer, on reading that resolution, that the sentiment in question which has given offence so disproportioned to its obvious truth had been volunteered as an address to the peasantry, instead of being an answer to a memorial from the magistrates of Tipperary, most unsparing of attacks upon all but themselves and their class? It accused the jurors of violating their oaths—the Government of neglecting its duty, it threw out insinuations in other quarters, usually considered invulnerable. Whilst disregarding such attacks, and pas- 993 sing by such insinuations, the Government vindicated the juries by showing that the convictions in cases of homicide, at the Spring assizes had been to the full average in proportion to the trials, and by quoting the authority of the venerable judge, that the verdicts had been in accordance with his charges. With regard to the ancient custom of challenging jurors, the answer to the memorial corrected a mistake into which the memorialists had fallen, in arguing that the Government had entirely abandoned the practice. The answer upon this point stated, that the privilege of challenging was not abandoned, but that in cases in which the Crown was concerned as prosecutor, it was not adopted except upon what appeared to be a sufficient reason, and that in no instance would it be used merely upon the ground of the religion or politics of the juror, but upon some special ground of exception. It then proceeded to touch upon this evidently tender ground, but in an answer merely to the magistrates themselves, which never saw the light afterwards, till moved for in the other House of Parliament, when certainly, as the magistrates had published their memorial, the answer could not be refused. "Property has its duties as well as its rights,"—this then is tender but not untrodden ground. The effect of too sudden an attempt to correct, by ejectment, the vicious system of subdividing lands which was adopted for purposes no longer available, has been often the subject of discussion and complaint, before this unfortunate truism excited so much misplaced indignation. Why, as far back as at the time of the Committee of the House of Lords in 1825, the report states, that it hopes the increasing intelligence of landlords will correct this evil, with a due regard to the comfort and well being of those directly concerned. (I think I am quoting nearly the words). Now, on all sides, what was more than this the subject of debate at the time of the passing of the Catholic Relief Bill? In the debates on the Catholic question, an hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. O'Connell) described with great force and feeling the situation of the unhappy peasantry, whose fate was in the hands of those who were not aware that property had its duties as well as its rights. Another hon. and learned Gentleman said, this was a picture drawn by the hand of a master, and wondered that none of the Government attempted to gainsay it. Moved by this appeal, what was the line 994 taken by that Member of the Govenment who did then reply—and from whom did that reply come? An individual who spoke with all the effect of the esteem universally felt for his private character, all the weight of his official station, and all the authority of his recent military experience in Ireland. Sir George Murray thus expressed himself:—An hon. Gentleman has alluded to the removal of the peasantry, which has taken place in consequence of depriving the 40s. freeholders of the elective franchise. That system was radically defective; it was calculated to create a political influence of real detriment to the landed estates, and to the country. However well the system may sound in name, it was undoubtedly in Ireland a great evil. I admit it was impossible to remove that evil without the danger of incurring that which we feel as one of its consequences, for when the motive of the landlord—namely, the creation of political influence was removed private interest it was to be expected, would step in, and, perhaps, with too harsh a hand cast out the tenantry which no longer answered the purpose for which they had been created.If, however, any noble Lord opposite supposes that by this much criticised observation, the Government intended to imply that the landlords of Ireland were bearing more harshly upon their tenants than heretofore, they are perfectly mistaken, as will appear from the words of the answer itself, which are, that "property has its duties as well as its rights, and that it is to the neglect of these in times past, that many and most of the present miseries are to be attributed." I will now advert for a moment to a most distressing occurrence. I mean the murder of Lord Norbury. And when I consider the amiable character of that noble Lord, his position in society, his extensive connections, and the shock which his death occasioned through the country, it is an occurrence which, in common with your Lordships and every right-minded man in the community, I do indeed deeply deplore. I will not enter into any speculation as to the cause of that melancholy event; but I must say, as yet there is no evidence that the crime was the result of of any extensive conspiracy. Like the murder of Mr. Weyland and others, I believe it arose out of a local conspiracy connected with the possession of land—a conspiracy arising from revenge on the part of those, who were dispossessed of lands which they had held. I will here say a word, as to the high character of 995 the gentlemen who were sent down by Government to investigate the circumstancet connected with the murder of Lord Norbury. I do this, because certain returns connected with their appointment were moved for by a noble Earl opposite, (Lord Charleville), as if there was some intention to found a charge against me for their selection. However, when the returns arrived, whether the noble Earl did not think them likely to answer his object, I know not, but he stated, he did not wish them to be printed. Mr. Brownrigg was a gentleman who had been distinguished by his commanding officers when in the Rifle Brigade; he had been since the year 1832, sub-inspector of the county Kerry, where I had an opportunity of becoming acquainted with and observing his able discharge of the duties of his office. At that time, if he had any politics, of which I really never informed myself, they were supposed not to have been much those of the present Government. He was afterwards, when in Dublin, high in the confidence of Colonel Shaw Kennedy; and it was upon his report that I was further induced to take an early opportunity of promoting him. I would here read your Lordships a letter from Colonel Shaw Kennedy to Mr. Brownrigg, at the time of his quitting the service, but it is hardly necessary thus to occupy your time. Mr. Haly was a gentleman whom it had been the intention of Lord Wellesley to appoint, upon a vacancy, sub-inspector of county Cork; but, upon his own representation that he was a native of Cork, the appointment, which would on that account have been contrary to rule, did not take place. In every situation in which I have since employed him, he has had the good fortune and tact to give general satisfaction. Now, what I complain of in the conduct of the noble Earl opposite, is, that his deportment towards these gentlemen was uncourteous and capricious. He complained to them to them of the Government having sent them down. The noble Earl dissents. I am aware that he did not in the first instance; but the moment they entered seriously upon those functions on which their utility depended, then the noble Earl began to complain of them. It was on the occasion of the examination of Maguire that I find it stated in the report by these gentlemen.The examination had just commenced when (about half-past one o'clock) Lord 996 Charleville entered the room in the gaol where the prisoner was under examination by us. His. Lordship appeared greatly excited—expressed his astonishment that we should have interfered with Maguire in his absence, and who, his Lordship was of opinion, ought not to have been examined for several days. Lord Charleville then indulged in much invective, and, at some length, against the Government, for whom, he said, he entertained no respect whatever, and in whom he placed no confidence; he also said, he supposed we had received secret instructions.We assured his Lordship that we had not received any such instructions, that our orders were to act as already mentioned, and that we were under the full conviction, that in examining Maguire we were acting with his Lordship's concurrence: that nothing was further from our intentions than to spew the least disrespect or discourtesy towards his Lordship or the magistrates.Lord Charleville expressed himself quite satisfied with our explanation, and with regret for the warmth of his manner, apologized for anything he might have said to hurt our feelings, adding, that although he felt no respect for the Government, he did for us.Now surely, my Lords, this is not language which ought to have been used on a solemn occasion like that, in the presence of a person under examination for a heinous offence, and of officers sent down by that Government whom the noble Earl chose in his character of magistrate thus to vilify. If, as the petition, of which a copy has been sent to me, states, "the constituted authorities (as they call themselves) are not treated with proper respect," such conduct as this is not calculated to correct the evil.Lord Charleville proceeded to inform us of his intention to bring before the House of Lords the unconstitutional conduct of the Government, in having sent down two gentlemen to supersede the local authorities, and for not having communicated with them on the subject.The noble Earl does not seem quite to admit this. Then, of course, I will say no more about it, further than this, that the noble Earl is no doubt perfect master of any line he may choose to pursue as to what he may bring before the House of Lords, only that then he had better give his notice here than there. I now come to the noble Earl's speech at the meeting of the King's County magistrates; upon which occasion the noble Earl introduced a variety of topics, spoke with great appearance of preparation, but I think I shall shew that on all the subjects on which he touched, the noble Earl had 997 not taken the necessary pains on one important point—to procure due information with reference to the facts. First, as to the noble Earl's perversion of the real circumstances of a case in which at the early part of my government I exercised to a certain extent the prerogative of mercy, but which the noble Earl considered appropriate to introduce on this occasion. The noble Earl is reported to have thus expressed himself:—When a person is found guilty of the most atrocious crimes, what has been the conduct of the Irish Government, and what the result? One result is the demoralization which we all lament and deplore. I may be told that this is a sweeping charge. I may be called on for proof, that proof I adduce. Do I turn to the east and look to Durrow, the seat of the late outrage? No, I turn to yonder gaol, and in that gaol I hold evidence of the fact to which I have alluded, At March Assizes, 1836, four prisoners were committed to gaol for attempting to murder the steward of Lord Bloomfield. They failed in murdering the steward, they were tried for the attempt, and found guilty, and the man who fired the shot was executed on that drop. My noble Friend, Lord Haddington, was then Lord-lieutenant of Ireland, and knowing well how to execute and wield the power entrusted to him by his Sovereign, thinking as the intended victim had not fallen under the blow of the assassin, that justice was amply requited by the execution of the man who fired the shot, he commuted the sentence on the other three to transportation for life. Within six weeks Lord Mulgrave came to Ireland, superseding my noble Friend in his high office of Lord-lieutenant. He may have received memorials, but every gentleman I address knows how little value is to be attached to a memorial from a county; they are often not the genuine signatures of those they represent; but even supposing them to be genuine, they are often extorted by personal fear from the individuals applied to, and in the general fear of terrorism and intimidation which pervades the county. Well, a petition was presented to the Lord-lieutenant; I understand the name of Lord Bloomfield, the next victim on the list, was attached to it. It may have been so. I know not who said so. I know not who sent it, or who called the Lord-lieutenant's attention to it; but this I know, that the Lord-lieutenant commuted the sentence of transportation to a temporary imprisonment in the gaol of Tullamore.This was the statement of the noble Earl; will your Lordships allow me to make mine? A very few days after I had arrived in Ireland, I saw Lord Bloomfield, whom I had known long. His Lordship presented to me a memorial, signed by 998 three clergymen and five justices of the peace, besides other respectable neighbours, and he said, that he conceived that it would be better for the peace of the country, as well as for his own comfort, that these men should have their sentences commuted. I told him that in the case of so serious an offence, I could not think of commuting the sentence then, but that I would communicate with the Lord Chief Justice on the subject. I did write to the Lord Chief Justice on the subject, and his Lordship said, that he did not see anything in the circumstances of the case itself that called for commutation, but that the effect of such a step upon the peace of the country was peculiarly a question for the executive to consider. Still I would not exercise the prerogative of the Crown, and I decided that the law must take its course. Before I again saw Lord Bloomfield I had had some communication with the present Judge Perrin, then Attorney-General, whose recommendation was strongly in favour of a commutation, but upon this I still hesitated to act, and I told Lord Bloomfield, when he came to me four months afterwards, that I would not do it then; but that I would do it then, and then only, when the noble Lord could tell me that the country was in a better state. At length, after the lapse of one year, after renewed application to me on the part of Lord Bloomfield that the sentence might be commuted. I gave the necessary direction that the commutation might take place, but not that the sentence should be commuted, as the noble Earl stated, "to a temporary imprisonment," but to two years imprisonment, and for the remaining portion of it with hard labour. I hope your Lordships will not fail to remark that this is one of the cases which are said by those who are in the habit of making attacks on my Government, to have been decided in a summary manner, and as the noble Earl says, "we don't know how." Really I think, as the noble Earl was in the country at the time, he ought to have informed himself of the real state of the case, before he ventured these attacks upon her Majesty's Government. But see, my Lords, how misrepresentation spreads. It was stated a few days afterwards, on the authority of this speech of the noble Earl's, at a meeting in the north of England, by a noble Marquess, the cause of whose absence to-night I much regret, that I had liberated these men because the Catholic priest interposed, and the Catholic pea- 999 santry memorialized in their behalf. Intimidation, too, was stated by the noble Earl as causing Lord Bloomfield's application. But I must say, I think the well known character of Lord Bloomfield is a security against the possibility of intimidation. But it is necessary I should add, that Lord Bloomfield was so struck with the erroneous representations of the noble Ear], that he wrote to the noble Earl explaining the real circumstances, and saying that he did it to enable him to correct the erroneous impression his speech was calculated to make, which he was sure he would be desirous to do: and he sent a copy of his letter to me. [The Earl of Charleville: Did he send you my answer.] Yes, he did; and I thought it was most unsatisfactory. But the noble Earl had not yet done with the consequences of the ignorance in which he had spoken. Mr. Johnston Stoney, the gentleman who had been shot at, writes to the noble Earl, complaining most justly and temperately of the prejudice to the administration of justice which such a course as that pursued by the noble Earl was likely to inflict. But the noble Earl's notion of justice seems to be, that when persons are awaiting their trials, it is then the fittest time to excite a prejudice against them; for, when the case of Ward and Gannon was again brought forward the other night, the noble Earl gave as a reason for not having mentioned their former offence before, that they were not then in custody. In this instance Mr. Johnston Stoney, the person fired at, gives his opinion that they were not the guilty party. He also corrects the noble Earl in another point, shewing that he could not have carefully informed himself on any part of the subject. There was no shot at all fired at Lord Bloomfield's steward, as was asserted by the noble Earl. Mr. Stoney's letter elicited the following reply from the noble Earl—Charleville Castle, Tuesday JanSIR,—I had the honour to receive your letter of the 19th inst. this day, and though I read several Dublin papers, yet I cannot find the expressions quoted by you and attributed to me. I did not assume the guilt of the prisoners. I did not express any public or private opinion as to their guilt. I did not designate their crime as the most atrocious.I have the honour to be, &c.CHARLEVILLE.J. Stoney, Esq., Emall Castle,Did not express any opinion of their guilt! did not designate their crime as the 1000 most atrocious! Why, in the extract I have read from the report in the Evening Mail, in the last line the question is asked, "what is the crime?" which surely assumes guilt—else accusation is the word—but in the first line as applied to them is the phrase even "the most atrocious crimes." So that we gather, coupling this report from the Evening Mail, with the noble Earl's declaration, this curious collateral fact, that the noble Earl does not read the Evening Mail. I admire his taste, though I cannot say much for his gratitude, as certainly to that source he owes much of his recent fame. I read the Evening Mail, because it abuses me, if it praised me as it does the noble Earl: from which I trust I may be preserved, I, should follow the noble Earl's example. Then again, the noble Earl in the course of his speech assumes, on the slightest possible grounds, the guilty participations, as he stated, of the whole population, in the murder of Lord Norbury, because, according to him, two persons, who must therefore, have had a foreknowledge of the intention, came to the lodge where Lord Norbury was, and asked if he was dead. Now, what were the real facts as proved by the depositions of the lodge-keeper, Eliza Charnley, and an old pensioner who, with his companion, were the persons who came to the gate. It appeared that the woman had told them what had happened when she met them on the road, and the old soldier who it happened was not a Catholic peasant, but a Scotchman and a Presbyterian, said to his companion, "I have had some experience of gun-shot wounds, let us return and see if we can be useful;" and thence their inquiry as to his being alive. They both remarked afterwards upon the inexplicable conduct of the steward, who passed through the people returning from the funeral, without giving any intimation, or attempting to procure assistance; had this been done, the deposition goes on to say, the murderer must, in all probability, have been secured. Now, one more mistake; and it is really almost the only other statement of fact made in the noble Earl's speech, which produced such an effect upon his brother magistrates as to induce them to pass these extraordinary resolutions. The noble Earl stated something about two persons having been engaged to murder two different parties, and having for special reasons changed the lots, and the one who was to murder the man taking the woman instead. This story 1001 gained additional currency from having been been adopted apparently from the speech of the noble Earl by the noble and learned Lord near me, who stated it to your Lordships on the first night of the Session more clearly and forcibly, but not as it appears more correctly. I understand the effect upon your Lordships was great; but I am sure he will be happy to have any effect destroyed which was produced from such a painful source. The statement was this:—Notwithstanding all these difficulties we have had it proved within the last month, that when it was resolved by persons minded to kill two individuals, that one should kill the man and the other the woman, an objection was made—not to the criminality—not to the foul and hideous crime of murder,—but that the person on whom the lot had fallen to kill the woman, happened to have some conviction that it was more convenient that he should kill the man; so he changed the parts, and both the man and woman were murdered. And yet, my Lords, to my infinite astonishment I have heard the Crown lawyers who conducted the prosecution congratulate themselves and the country that the charges of conspiracy had been disproved;—that there existed no 'extensive' conspiracy in that part of the United Kingdom.Now, I had hardly finished reading this, before I sent for the Solicitor-General to inquire how it was if this had been proved, and as it appeared at the late commission in Tipperary, that I had never heard any thing about it. He said, that it was equally new to him. I then desired that circulars should be addressed to the Crown solicitors of all the circuits through whom the prosecution, if any, must have proceeded. I hold in my hand the replies from them all, not only distinctly denying any official knowledge of such a fact, but adding that they cannot even understand on what such a story can have been founded. The special commission at Tipperary has been alluded to. So far from any thing having been elicited there to prove the existence of a general or extended conspiracy, I take the direct contrary to have been the fact. Convictions were pronounced on the evidence of informers. Great individual depravity was proved, but it appeared evident that the conspiracy, such as it was, was of a local character, and for limited objects—connected in short with the tenure of land, and extending to the connections or clan of those affected by the particular acts out of which the intention to commit the crime 1002 arose. One thing however I may observe, with respect to the convictions before the Tipperary commission, that it was so far satisfactory, as it proved that jurors of every degree and shade of opinion, some of them being of much stronger political opinions than I could approve, can be brought to do substantial and impartial justice. With respect to a charge that has been circulated that I commuted the sentence of the law in the case of two persons of the names of Kelly and Hourigan, convicted of killing another by beating him with stones: and that I did this without a communication with the judges, and because I conceived that death by stones was not to be considered as murder. This monstrous misrepresentation having obtained considerable circulation through the press, and being calculated to create a most injurious impression upon the minds of the peasantry, I communicated with the learned judges Burton and Perrin, who agreed with me that it would be desirable, if an opportunity occurred, to correct so injurious an error by stating the real facts of the case. These are, that I twice rejected memorials for a remission of the capital punishment, on the ground that the malice appeared to me to have been proved in the evidence and that the instrument with which the fatal blow was struck ought not to make any distinction, but when a memorial came from many of the jury begging a reference to the judges, I could not of course interpose my opinion in a case of life and death, and after two communications I got a distinct and conjoint recommendation, founded doubtless on their better means of information that the capital sentence should not be carried into effect. This brings me to a portion of the attacks upon my government which I am most anxions to put correctly before your Lordships. I allude to an alleged abuse of the prerogative of mercy. Now this charge relates principally to what passed in the year 1836. It comes, then, after repeated opportunities have occurred of bringing the whole subject before the House, and after the noble Earl made a motion, eighteen months ago, of a very similar character to the present, and when every document referring to the subject has been ten months on the table of the House. As to individual cases which may have occurred since, I have on all occasions shown every desire to give the fullest explanation, when they have been brought separately before your Lordships; 1003 selected as those cases have been, as I have frequently said, with considerable care, by those who brought them forward, but all, I think, in the opinion of your Lordships, capable of receiving a satisfactory answer. Now to correct some of the Misunderstanding as to the exercise of this prerogative, on personal inspection of the gaols, in the years 1835 and 1836, but principally for a reason which I shall explain to your Lordships, in the latter year. The cases upon which I then decided, were of three descriptions. The first, those upon which there had been much previous inquiry—as was shown the other night in the case of Ward and Gannon, one of those on which I had been supposed to have decided summarily and capriciously. Upon all of these, what passed was only the communication upon that occasion of a previously formed decision, sometimes merely reserved up to that time for some final local inquiries. The second class were those of whom there were several instances, both in 1835 and 1836. Persons convicted of light offences, whose sentences were very nearly expired, and who were recommended on account of their exemplary conduct in confinement, by all the authorities, the local inspector, (in every instance but one a Protestant clergyman) the governor of the gaol—their recommendations generally backed by the testimony to previous character on the part of some accompanying magistrates. I received, some months afterwards, the most satisfactory accounts froth the local inspectors, of the benefit this very limited indulgence had been in maintaining the discipline of the gaol, and improving the character of its inmates. The third class to which I applied the exercise of the prerogative, upon the occasion of my tour in 1836, was most numerous in the gaol of Clonmel. There and elsewhere, the law had been pressed with unexampled certainty and severity, through the officers of the Government, against a sort of offence which had previously been neglected, if not encouraged—hardly ever punished. I mean faction fights, and riots at fairs.
In passing sentences upon some of these and others for assaults, Mr. Howley, the assistant-barrister—a gentleman who has the singular good fortune, in a most arduous situation, to have given universal satisfaction—Mr. Howley stated, that the sentences were of a nature, which 1004 might, perhaps, receive subsequent mitigation, if the state of the country in those respects became better. Mr. Howley afterwards spoke to me in the same sense, and, in visiting Clonmel, my object was to inform myself as to those persons convicted of this particular sort of offence, who had been best conducted in gaol, whose sentence was most advanced, and who came from a part of the country which was in a most improved state. As to the result of this experiment, we have some months after the testimony of Mr. Rowley, who, in his charge to the grand jury at the quarter sessions of the county Tipperary, in October, 1837. observes:—Occasional acts of clemency, judiciously exercised towards offenders, act with a moral force, oftentimes as effective as the cell.And further in reference, to these particular cases—No person can deny, that the experiment was at least worth the trial; and if it should not, in the end, produce the good effects which his Excellency, who humanely applied so lenient a remedy, looked for, it must be only cast aside amongst the legislative lumber of insurrection and coercion acts, which, I believe, are no longer looked upon as specific for Irish disturbance. But so far as I have yet had an opportunity of judging, I should say, with great submission to those who would propound a contrary opinion, that any clemency exercised towards persons convicted at the Quarter Sessions of this county, has rather worked beneficially than otherwise; and it may be some proof that it was not unworthily bestowed, that not one of the objects of it have been since been brought before me for trial; while the factions riots, for partaking in which a number of those discharged had been convicted, have almost entirely ceased within the county.Two things I distinctly deny, that upon these occasions any persons detained for serious offences were discharged without there having been mature previous inquiry. And, secondly, that any were discharged, merely because I happened to pass through the town, who would not have been equally considered as entitled to the same indulgence upon facts stated in a memorial. Now, as to the general question of the exercise of the prerogative of mercy—the best mode to arrive at the truth is to analyse a return, which I hold in my hand, of the memorials presented to me, and the decisions upon them, since the last motion of the noble Earl in November, 1837, when all the facts to which I have been just alluding 1005 might have been brought before the House, and ought to have been so, if noticed at all. From the 1st of November, 1837, to the 31st of January, 1839, there have been presented to me 1,631 memorials;—of these, there were decided unfavourably, without reference to judge or assistant barrister, 371; unfavourably, after such reference, 431; favourably, without reference to judge or assistant barrister, 188; favourably, after such reference, 634. It is obvious, that the principal observations must apply to the 188 decided favourably, without reference to any such authority; but of these, forty-three being fines under green wax, or warrants for non-attendance as jurors, or fines for having unregistered arms, were, in point of fact, referred to the proper officers, either the solicitor of the Crown revenue, or clerk of the peace, or convicting magistrates. There remain, therefore, the 145 to be dealt with. I have here in my hand an explanation, as far as time permitted, of each of these cases, and I think I need not mind being questioned on any of them. They are in three classes: the first, where a remission of sentence, from the time when the memorial was considered, took place—sixty-two; a second class, where health was either the only ground or an ingredient in the decision—twenty-four; a third, where only a prospective mitigation was given—fifty-nine. In all these there are only three cases of transportation, in all of which the mitigation took place upon the certificate of unfitness for the voyage: one of these is an old acquaintance, Michael Brien, of whom we have latterly heard so much. But to examine the matter in another way, the whole actual mitigation or remission of sentence of the sixty two and fifty-nine, all taken together, does not amount to much above 140 months in all, or one fourteen years' transportation divided amongst them all, as the whole extent of mitigation. But then, it is said by some, that the lavish manner in which I have exercised the prerogative of mercy, has promoted the more numerous presentation of memorials—more certainty of the success of such appeals. How is the fact? Some nights since f quoted a speech of Sir Robert Peel's in 1824, upon a motion of Mr. Hume's, for the abolition of the office of Lord-lieutenant; he stated, as a reason against it, the increase of business it would entail upon the Home-office; and cited, 1006 as an instance, that Lord Wellesley, in the year preceding, had before him 2,600 memorials, and that the capital sentence had been set aside in 400 cases.—2,600 memorials in twelve months! why, 1,600 in the last fifteen months, is only in the proportion of one-half! 400 capital sentences set aside in twelve months! How many capital sentences do your Lordships imagine were set aside in the last twelve months? Just nine; and all, of course, by the recommendation of the learned judges; as also, I presume, were those of the noble Marquess. Do not let it be supposed that I would, in the slightest degree, insinuate blame, any more than Mr. Peel did, in making the statement. Much of the difference between the capital sentences set aside at one time or the other, of course arises from the altered state of the country, and the changes in the law; but at least it strews how much foundation there is for the charge against me, of having encouraged any extraordinary ins crease of these memorials. Another way of judging the effect of such an experiment as that I tried is, by the number of re-committals. Every one who has studied the statistics of crime, knows the constant tendency of those once inured to guilt to revert to evil courses, and in consequence the immense numbers who habitually return to prison. Your Lordships will recollect we have been talking of convictions, amounting very nearly, including those at petty sessions, to 20,000 in a year. How many do your Lordships think, by a return which I hold in my hand, of those whose sentences were mitigated by me have since been re-committed within the last two years? Just twenty-one and as the original offences of most of these were light, so were the grounds of recommittal, as I find here, amongst the twenty-one, such atrocities as "breaking windows," "throwing stones," "found "drunk." This, then, my Lords, I say, as to the liberation of the prisoners in the year 1836, that it rested on grounds very different from those usually attributed to it; that in the peculiar circumstances of that country at the moment when severity had so often been tried, it was an experiment well worth the trial; that I never mentioned it as an experiment to be lightly repeated; but that I have every reason, from the best testimony, to be gratified with its success; that if questioned at all here, it ought to have been questioned 1007 before. Then as to the general exercise of the prerogative, I challenge comparison with my predecessors, without, I need not again repeat, wishing to make any invidious reference; but, defending myself by maintaining at the same time the course pursued by them; I have the opinions of some of the judges, with whom I have little personal and no political connexion, that no Lord-lieutenant ever took more pains in the examination of each case, or was more generally in accordance with their reports. With regard to what the noble Earl has said of secret oaths, I do not believe in their existence to the extent pretended; certainly not by any means in the shape of a general confederacy. It was impossible for me to say, that ribbonism was entirely extinct in Ireland, but I hold in my hand documents which would prove that Government had not overlooked the fact whenever they could touch it; but still with every effort on our part, and every desire to put an end to the last vestige of that system, we have not been able to procure evidence sufficient to obtain a conviction; and I must say, that of all expedients ever hit upon, a Committee of your Lordships' House was, in the circumstances of the case, the least likely to elicit the truth. When this question was formerly discussed, I stated, that Government had observed traces of ribbonism, but that they had no evidence of any general conspiracy partaking at all of a political character, but that, whenever any information could be offered, Government would examine and endeavour to probe it to the bottom. On another point I have been frequently accused of a disposition to appoint exclusively Catholics to the prejudice of Protestants. Mind, in the list I read in answer, I do not claim any merit in the proportions in which they appear, any further than as it is an answer to an unjust charge. The merits of the appointments must rest upon the intrinsic character of each. Of judges and assistant barristers I have appointed eight Protestants, six Catholics. Of the higher appointments of the constabulary, sixty-nine Protestants, thirty-seven Catholics. Of promotions in that force, twenty-seven Protestants, eight Roman Catholics. The disproportion here is greater from there having been fewer officers of long standing Catholics. Of legal and other appointments in the courts and offices in Dublin, Protestants forty; Catholics thirty-seven. 1008 Another ground of attack was, that I had not taken strong measures for putting down the Precursor Society. The noble Earl says, I am not answerable for the establishment of that society; but that, being established, I should have used every exertion to put it down. Now, this is a question which has puzzled many Governments before now, and I believe it has not usually been the practice for the Government to interfere to put a stop to a society merely because it disapproves of some of its proceedings. I have never concealed my opinion with regard to this society, and have taken every opportunity of stating my objections to it; so I did also to the Orange Lodge; and the noble Earl was, I believe, a member of an Orange Lodge; and still they were not interfered with. Now, the Precursor Society is a public society, free from all secret oaths; and all I will further say on that point, is, that although I sincerely disapprove of the Precursor Society, which was very well known to all parties, and throughout Ireland, as soon as the society was formed, yet I did not by any means think with the noble Earl that it would have been expedient for the Government to take any steps to put it down; indeed to any recommendation on my part to Government to come to Parliament with a proposition for putting down the Precursor Society, I had at that time, on constitution al grounds, the most insuperable objections. The noble Earl has alluded to certain phrases used by Mr. O'Connell at some meetings of that society. Now, the noble Earl has not always been very guarded in his own language, or very cautious as to his companions. In the year 1831, at a meeting in the county of Down, the noble Earl in the chair, a Mr. Cromelin talked of the time being come to drive the Papists from the land; again, in 1834, in a letter to the Protestants of Ulster, the noble Earl said that he knew their strength, their moral courage, and their numbers; and that the time might come when these might be important. Now, although the noble Lord did not actually talk of fighting, yet such a reference to their numbers, under the circumstances, exhibited something like an intimation that he would be disposed to use them. And again, in the north of Ireland, in the year 1834, the noble Earl indulged in equally strong language against the then Government, all of whom were equally obnoxious in his sight. There are 1009 still one or two points on which I wish to say a few words. I regret that I have found it necessary to go so much into detail, because, in the first place, such details are irksome to hear, and make it embarrassing for any one to speak with effect or with justice to himself, from having a constant occasion to refer to papers. Of the two points which I have still to urge upon your Lordships' attention, the first is, with regard to the administration of the Criminal Law in Ireland, upon which I have been attacked more than once, and I rest my defence of that part of the subject on the two measures I have introduced; one of which is, the establishing local prosecuting solicitors in Ireland. Now, it is a fact, that, up to the introduction of that system, many offences were compromised; and the result has been, to render the administration of justice throughout the sessions of Ireland most efficient; and the effect of this system will endure long after this party attack has been forgotten. The other point to which I wish to refer, is the constabulary force which is at this moment organized under one head. The bill for that purpose was passed the year after I went to Ireland; and it had engaged my earliest attention after my arrival. Certain alterations had been made in it in Committee of your Lordships' House, which, as I stated then, I did not think of advantage; but still I am bound to admit, that the measure works extremely well. Previous to that, the force was under four independent authorities in the four provinces of Ireland. The system of the constabulary was thus various, isolated, and ill-defined; but under the provisions of the new enactment, and the control of Colonel Shaw Kennedy, and his able successor, Colonel Macgregor, the constabulary of Ireland had been rendered in every way efficient. Previous to their formation, the troops in Ireland amounted to 19,000, and now there are only 15,000. The numerical addition to the constabulary was only 500 men, as the force previously amounted to 8,000 men; it is now 8,500, but the difference is most striking in their moral influence, in the perfection of their discipline. Some men seem to present a rare union of qualifications for the discharge of the duties entrusted to them, and such I believe to be the case of the present Inspector-General, Colonel Macgregor. After the resignation, by me much regretted, of 1010 Colonel Shaw Kennedy, I felt all the difficulty of choosing a worthy successor who would not be open to immediate objection from some quarter. I had known Colonel Macgregor long, both personally and by repute. I had seen him in the West Indies, and remembered his character there as a commanding officer. I had known him afterwards on duty in Dublin. He had then again gone on service to America, but I thought, when looking around for an officer to fill this post, that he united many qualities which peculiarly fitted him for the situation. I made the offer which was accepted, and after nine months experience of his conduct in that command for which I selected him, I believe there is not a second opinion as to his merits. I may well feel satisfied at thus having left behind me not only a superiorly organized force, but a most worthy head under whom the improved system must continue and prosper. Now I have gone through my legal and constabulary appointments, let us examine for a moment my distribution of clerical patronage. One of the most current clamours against the present Government is its supposed disregard to the interests of the Church. I have had the disposition of the Church patronage of the Crown in Ireland for nearly four years. Is there one of the noble Lords opposite who can find fault with a single act of mine in connexion with this subject? I observed the other day a paragraph in a Tory provincial paper, stating that, in the course of my Government, I had promoted thirty-six curates who had no other passport to my favour but their merits. I kept myself no account of the numbers, but it was with the most sincere desire to promote the efficiency of the Church, of which I am myself a member, that I considered each individual case as it came for my decision, and is it not something to have succeeded in making this so evident, that with all the disposition which cannot be denied to party attack, it has never been pretended that on this subject there has been cause for a single murmur? I am not aware, my Lords, that I have anything further with which to trouble you at present. Should any new subject be brought forward in the course of the debate, I trust that, according to the usual courtesy of your Lordships, I shall be allowed an opportunity for explanation in matters where I am personally concerned. With regard 1011 to the motion before the House, I must say, that the manner in which it has been brought forward, and the limitation of the inquiry to the period of my Government, oblige me to consider it as a direct attack upon the system on which I have administered the affairs of that country—an attack for which I confidently assert that the noble Earl has laid no sufficient grounds. And what support out of this House is it likely to receive, except from the agents of Orange intrigue? Where are the demonstrations of public opinion, which call for such an extraordinary proceeding? It would be natural to expect some sympathy between the two Houses. Where are the Commons thronging your Lordships' bar with articles of impeachment? Has any one dared even to make such a motion as that of the noble Lord in the other House? Why, when in a shape studiously devised so as to prevent that House from being called upon to pronounce any opinion upon it, the subject of these grievances was brought forward, of all the numerous party who coincided in the general views of the majority of this House, forty Members could not be found to listen to the oft told tale of the misdeeds of the Irish Government. Do not deceive yourselves, my Lords; if you accede to this motion, the effect must be to convince the people of Ireland, and to make a strong impression upon the people of England too, that you are about to take on yourselves the Executive Government of Ireland. Are you prepared for the consequences of such a step? It is not for me to impress upon your Lordships what these consequences may be. But in the much less serious point of how it may affect myself, it is possible that the result of this night's division may be to prove that I have not acted as a majority of your Lordships would have thought right. Whatever the effect of that decision may be upon my future position, it cannot at least deprive me of the pleasure I derive from the past, in the reflection that it has been granted to me to raise the political condition, to, sustain the legitimate hopes of those whom my Sovereign had graciously committed to my charge. It has been my lot to live on terms of intimacy and friendship with many of your Lordships to whom I am politically opposed. I will not affect to be indifferent to your good opinion. It is more than probable I may have often erred; no one can be 1012 more sincerely aware of his manifold personal deficiencies, but even to secure your Lordships' approbation, or to avert your sentence, I would not change or modify the intention and tendency of any one act during my administration in Ireland. My conduct of affairs in that country is now the question at issue. Whatever this night's result may be, your Lordships' decision cannot deprive me of the gratitude of a long suffering but warm hearted people, nor of that, which alone I value more, the approval of my own conscience.
§ The Duke of Wellington
did not think that the noble Marquess who had just resumed his seat had done justice to the noble Earl by whom the present motion had been brought forward, when he imparted to him any violent or party motives, for he thought he never heard a more moderate speech, on making a motion of this sort, than that of the noble Earl. He had stated clearly and dispassionately the points to which he wished to direct the attention of the House, and upon which he called upon the House to institute an inquiry, and there certainly was nothing in what he had said which exhibited anything of party inclination against the noble Marquess. The noble Marquess was, no doubt, well satisfied with his government in Ireland; and he must say, as the noble Earl by whom the motion was made had already said, that there was no charge against him personally; but what the noble Earl had really stated was, that a very great degree of crime had been apparent, and that murders had been frequent during his Administration, He believed the fact to be, that during the last year the average number of homicides throughout Ireland had been from two to three a day, or from 700 to 1,000 in the course of twelve months, and he said, that this fact alone, without adverting to the other topics which had been mentioned by the noble Earl, ought to be sufficient to induce the House to institute the inquiry which was sought, and to endeavour to ascertain whether there was not something in the jurisprudence—in the state of the law in that country—which required some remedial measure beyond any which could be adopted by the existing Government. The noble Marquess in his speech had reminded the House of what they had heard upon every occasion when this subject had been before discussed, that the case had always been as it now was, 1013 That was rather a large mode of stating the case, however, and there was besides this difference between former times and the present, that they had not formerly a Government coming down to Parliament and telling them, that Ireland was in a state of tranquillity—that they had not a speech from the King on the Throne informing them of the same fact—and that they had not the satisfaction of seeing the Lord-lieutenant in his place in that House making a speech of some two or three hours' length, to prove that Ireland was in a state of perfect tranquillity, and in cases of murder, alleging, that the want of the discovery of the offenders was to he attributed to the conduct of his noble Friend sitting near him, and not to the inefficiency of the means employed by the Government. He must say, that the circumstance of the murders which had been committed, and of threats having been held out to a noble Lord connected with the county of Tipperary, together with the state of crime as it appeared from the returns presented to the House by the Government itself, would be a sufficient ground of inquiry. When they had had a discussion upon this subject a year ago, he ventured to point out to the House the difference between the returns made to this and to the other House of Parliament. The noble Marquess had made an able speech in reply to the observations which he had made, but he thought, that he had entirely failed in showing any sufficient cause for the existence of the difference. He had got in his hand a paper of the same description as that to which he had alluded, containing the return from 1837 to the end of the last year, and their Lordships would hardly believe, that in the returns made by the inspectors of prisons, and those made by the clerks of the Crown and the clerks of the peace, who made a return of the numbers of persons tried at the assizes and quarter sessions, there was in the year 1837 the difference between 14,804 and 22,241, and that the number returned in this year was 27,340. [Lord Plunket: The difference is in the return from the petty sessions.] He had allowed for the quarter sessions, and that fact alone, which he had stated, and which was not accounted for, and which he took in the face of the return made to Parlialiament, would be a sufficient reason for the inquiry which was proposed by his noble Friend, But there was another 1014 ground upon which he should press the necessity of granting the motion, for it appeared in a late discussion in another House, and in their Lordships' House this evening, that it was admitted', that there was a secret society existing in Ireland called the Ribbon Society; and it appeared to be stated, that several persons had been proved to be members of that society, bound by the same oath in different parts of the country; and this fact alone, which was admitted by the Government, was a sufficient ground for inquiry by this House into the state of the execution of criminal law in Ireland—to see how far the state of crime was influenced by the proceedings of this society, and particularly as to the mode in which certain persons were enabled to influence the members of that society. But there was still another view in which this question might be regarded, and which was highly important. It appeared, that the Government had known of the existence of this society for some time, and he should like to know whether they were aware of its members being bound by this oath, and if they were acquainted with the nature of that oath, he would beg to inquire how her Majesty's Ministers had put into the mouth of her Majesty a Speech from the Throne in which she was made to advert to the state of tranquillity of Ireland. He said, that that also was a ground for this inquiry. The noble Marquess had been pleased to say, that the noble Earl had made a personal motion against himself, and had thought proper to defend himself respecting the appointments which he had made during his Government in Ireland. There was no insinuation at all against the noble Marquess in this respect; but as the House had now got at the fact, and as it was admitted, that there was a secret society existing in Ireland, called the Ribbon Society, and as the noble Marquess had chosen to advert to his appointments, and to justify them, he should like to hear from the noble Marquess (he knew he had taken care never to appoint an Orangeman to to a situation—they were all sent away—there was no need of them)—whether he had taken care not to appoint any Ribbon-man to any situation? He was not going to attack the appointments of the noble Marquess—that was not his practice; but when the noble Marquess came there to defend himself, he should like to go a little further than the noble Marquess 1015 seemed disposed to go. That, however, was not the question; but whether Ribbonmen, bound by a secret oath to perform certain acts, whether legal or illegal, should be appointed to situations? The noble Marquess had said a great deal upon the subject of the Precursor Society; but upon this he (the Duke of Wellington) knew nothing, and he should only like to know, when the noble Marquess talked so much of his appointments, whether he had appointed any Precursor? [The Marquess of Normanby: Never.]—And whether the Precursor, being a man who paid his shilling in order to bind himself to the repeal of the union, and as one of 60,000 fighting men, he had taken care not to appoint any of them? No charge was made against the noble Marquess, for he did not think that his noble Friend had said one word about the appointments in his speech; and he should have said nothing about it either, if the noble Marquess had not thought proper to advert to it himself; but all that had been done was to bring the case under the consideration of their Lordships, and under that of the noble Lord who had recently been appointed to fill the office lately held by the noble Marquess, in its true light.
The Marquess of Normanby
said, that the noble Duke had put a question to him, and he hoped the House would allow him to answer it. The noble Duke had asked him, whether he had ever appointed a Precursor, and he answered that he had not. The noble Duke had also asked him a question, whether had he ever appointed a Ribbonman? and he thought that he need hardly answer a question which could scarcely have been asked seriously, and he thought that it was almost unnecessary for him to say, that he had never made such an appointment, if he was aware that the individual was a member of the society alluded to. He had taken every pains to find out whether the individuals he had appointed were members of that, or any other society of a similar description, and if he had discovered that they were, after he had appointed them, he should have removed them.
§ Viscount Beresford
would be glad to know whether any members of the Catholic Association had been appointed to office by the noble Marquess?
§ Viscount Beresford
What I allude to was not exactly the Catholic Association, but the National Association.
§ The Earl of Charleville
was understood to say, that he had a painful and onerous duty to perform, because he stood before their Lordships to defend the conduct of the Lord-lieutenant of King's county, and the other magistrates who acted with him. The noble Marquess had stated, that conviction, trial, and active investigation, had taken place in almost every case. Out of four trials for murders in that county there had been only one conviction. Out of three cases of desperate outrage, in one of which a person had lost his life, and another had been made a miserable cripple for the rest of his days, there had been no conviction. There were also other trials in which no conviction had taken place. There was the case of Mr. Brock, who was killed by two men, one of whom had been a student of Maynooth, and was discovered some time after the offence was committed in a cabin in Leitrim, going by a false name. He was acquitted in consequence of a relation being upon the jury which tried him, the law officers of the Crown having neglected to challenge him. From the description of the noble Marquess, one would think that Ireland was a most happy and halcyon country, and that by some magic spell he had reduced it from a state of comparative outrage to one of comparative tranquillity. But, unfortunately for the noble Marquess, by the report of the Committee appointed to inquire into the state of Ireland in 1832, of which a colleague of the noble Marquess, Mr. S. Rice, was the chairman, it appeared that previous to that year there had been a great decrease in crime, and that quarrels arising out of religious differences of opinion were less frequent. But since that period, from the commencement of the reform agitation up to this day, there had been an increase in both cases. His noble friend had gone so amply into the state of other parts of Ireland that he would confine himself to King's county. The first outrage which he would notice was that upon the property of Sir W. 1017 Smith in 1832, which could not have arisen from any hostility to him as a landlord, because he had no tenants, but it originated in the honest discharge of his duty as a judge and commissioner of King's county. No sooner was that outrage made known, however, than the people flocked around him (the Earl of Charleville), and offered every assistance in their power to bring the perpetrators of the outrage to justice, and a sum was subscribed amounting to 405l., as a reward for the discovery of the offenders. Sir William Smith expressed the high sense he entertained of the conduct of the people on this occasion, and in allusion to the subscription, said the 5s. contributors were not the least pleasing amongst them. The next case to which he alluded was, the shooting at Lord Bloomfield's steward, and also that of Mr. Drought, a respectable gentleman who was returning home from church, and was shot at, as well as the Rev. Mr. Dunn. It was somewhat singular, that while 25l. was offered for the discovery of the person or persons who shot at these gentlemen, the same sum was offered about the same time for the discovery of the persons who shot a dog. The next case was that of a man named John Kennagh, who was murdered in consequence of a dispute arising out of his wish to marry a young woman, which was objected to by the man who waylaid and murdered him. Crime had considerably increased since 1832. By a return made up from reports on their Lordships' table he found that the number of prisoners committed in 1832 was 271; in 1833, 428; in 1834, 505; in 1835, 634; in 1836, 766. In Sligo, Tipperary, and Westmeath, an increase had also taken place. In the beginning of 1839—on the 1st of January—Lord Norbury was murdered; and as some observations had been made upon his conduct with reference to it both by the noble Marquess and a colleague of his elsewhere, he wished as briefly as possible to vindicate the course he had pursued. Immediately he heard of the murder he went towards the spot where it had taken place. He stated at the meeting of magistrates at Tullamore, that in passing through the town he had been met by a crowd of persons, who cried out, "He is dead, he is dead," and gave three cheers. Lord Morpeth said that the crowd who cried out "He is dead" were a drunken mob who had been turned out of a public- 1018 house; but the decided opinion of the gentleman, Captain Fox, who accompanied him, was, that the mob gave indications that they rejoiced in the murder of Lord Norbury. When they uttered the exclamation, "He is dead," he (Lord Charleville), who was riding in a cab, immediately pulled up and looked at them, but the moment he went on again they repeated the cry, "He is dead, he is dead," and the impression made on his mind, as well as on the mind of Captain Fox, was, that the people rejoiced in the murder of Lord Norbury. He knew that among a series of toasts which were drunk at a public-house that night there was this—" Let the man never lose either a finger or eye that shot Glendyn;" and similar toasts were drunk at other public-houses in the town. He met Mr. Brownrigg, the Government magistrate, near the spot where the murder was committed. He introduced himself to him, and said he was exceedingly glad he had come down to assist in the investigation, and that he and the local magistrates would very gladly co-operate with them. He took him over the grounds, and explained to him every thing he knew of the circumstances in the most cordial manner possible. He invited him and Mr. Heely to reside at his house, instead of going to an inn, but having declined, he passed that night at Tullamore, where he called on them frequently, and communicated with them with the most perfect cordiality. In the morning he got some important private information, and in order to avoid the slightest appearance of jealousy, the first thing he did was to put his private and confidential letter into the hands of Mr. Brownrigg, requesting him to communicate it to the Government. When attending the inquest he put no question to the witnesses without taking the opinion of Mr. Brownrigg and Mr. Heely as to its propriety; when they parted, he stated that he would wait upon them at one o'clock the following day. But he was much surprised to find when he called that the prisoner M'Guire had been taken out of his cell and examined, without any communication with him or the other committing magistrate. He continued, however, to act with them till the prisoner was released; and he was only prevented from continuing to act with them upon receiving a letter to this effect, that it had been widely circulated in the town and in the market 1019 that he was the cause of the apprehension and detention of the prisoner, against the wish of the Government; thereby marking him out to the vengeance of the party, this information being circulated by the Government magistrates. In that country the Government, in the case of Lord Norbury, seemed anxious to smother all inquiry. He then thought it was better for the ends of justice that he should not interfere. On a former occasion he had stated that the steward, frightened by the sight of the murderer, had not given any information; and yet it was strange, that although the steward had given no alarm, some people returning, at the instant, from a funeral were apparently acquainted with the circumstance. The next communication he had with Mr. Brownrigg, who was at the head of the police in the province, was to beg for the assistance of a policeman, as he had information which he thought might lead to the discovery of the murderer. The application was forwarded to Dublin, and some time afterwards, undoubtedly, the policeman was forthcoming, but not until the person from whom he learned the facts had left the country. A meeting had been called by the High Sheriff in reference to the meeting of magistrates of King's county, which had been held subsequent to the murder of Lord Norbury, and to the requisition calling on the High Sheriff to convene that meeting, he found there were the signatures of a great number of Ribbonmen. In short, such was the state of things in Ireland, that day after day and week after week had passed away, and notwithstanding all the exertions which had been made, and the great amount of the reward which had been offered, the family of the murdered nobleman were still in uncertainty, and no evidence had been obtained to bring the assassin to justice. With respect to the pardons which had been granted by the noble Marquess, he wished to make a few observations. He had on a former occasion alluded to the case of Coghlan, and the noble Marquess had at that time pleaded total ignorance of the circumstances he had stated; but he held in his hand a return which showed that Coghlan had been convicted several times, and that he had been pardoned twice. Then came the case of Brown and M'Namara, who had been pardoned, although they had been guilty of the most atrocious crimes, 1020 and upon the strongest evidence of their guilt. He held in his hand a return of the convicts pardoned by the noble Marquess from February, 1837, to March, 1839. The first individual mentioned in that return was a person of the name of Burnett, who had received a free pardon on a medical certificate, but who had since been tried and transported. Then there was the name of James Smith, who had been pardoned on the 3rd of February, 1837, on a medical certificate, and who had also since that period been re-tried, convicted, and transported. In short, out of 104 convicts whose sentences had been commuted, and nineteen pardoned, on medical certificates, three of those pardoned had been again tried and transported since they obtained those pardons. Under such circumstances he hoped that Government would pause before granting any more pardons on medical certificates. He would not trespass further on their Lordships' time; but when he reflected on the state of Ireland, and the little security either to life or property which existed in that country, he could not but give his cordial support to the motion of the noble Lord who had brought this subject under their Lordships' consideration.
§ Lord Rossmore
, having lived long in Ireland, and being well acquainted with the people of that country, felt himself called upon to make a few observations in reference to some statements which had been made during the course of the debate. On the part of the inhabitants, and particularly of the peasantry of King's County, he stood up to give the most unqualified denial to the observations which had been made against them in that House and elsewhere. He stood up to remove the brand which the noble Lord, the Lord-lieutenant of the county, had thought fit to fix upon the peasantry at a meeting which had been convened by himself, and he gave the most unqualified denial to the charge which had been brought against the inhabitants of King's County of having conspired to murder their landlords, and to effect any one object by private assassination. The noble Lord, the Lord-lieutenant of the county, had brought forward no facts to entitle him to make such a charge, for the case of Lord Norbury was not sufficient ground for such a sweeping condemnation. He defied any person to bring from the calendar one fact to warrant such a general charge against the 1021 peasantry of the country, or the inhabitants of Tullamore. He had lived long in the vicinity of that place, and he had kept up a constant communication with it, and he could say, from his own knowledge, that a more industrious, peaceful, and loyal people was nowhere to be found. As to the circumstances which had been stated by the noble Earl opposite to have occurred when he was passing through Tullamore, he must say, that he considered the noble Earl to have mistaken the cries to which he had alluded. He had received two letters on the subject, but before alluding to them more particularly, he wished to state, that he had been requested to invite the noble Earl to investigate the matter upon oath, and if the noble Earl did not choose to accept that invitation, then the inhabitants themselves would institute an inquiry, and publish the result throughout the empire. The letters alluded to the statement of the noble Earl, that he had heard on passing through Tullamore cries of "He is dead," from which the noble Earl concluded, that the people of that place exulted in the murder of Lord Norbury. But his informant stated, that no such cries had been uttered; that he was present when the noble Earl passed through, and that nothing of the kind could have taken place without his knowledge. Those who reproached the noble Marquess with doing nothing should recollect, that shortly before he took upon himself the Government of Ireland that country was in a state little short of civil war, and that ever since then it had been progressing towards convalescence. Where were the Orange processions now? Where were the disturbances which had regularly recurred every 12th of July? Where, too, were the rustic faction fights? They had all disappeared under a Government, which it was alleged, had done nothing to tranquillize Ireland. He gave the most unqualified denial to the allegation that the amount of crime had increased during the noble Marquess's administration of that country. What said the judges upon that point? Had they not in almost every county in Ireland congratulated the different grand juries upon the lightness of crime in the several calendars submitted to their notice? He called upon the noble Lords opposite to exercise the influence which they had over the Protestants of Ireland in soothing, not in exasperating, the differences which unfortunately dis- 1022 tracted that country. There were two classes of Protestants in Ireland. The system of one class was to monopolize all patronage and privilege to themselves, and to exclude from it all their Roman Catholic countrymen. The system of the other class was to extend to all the privileges which they themselves enjoyed. He wished that the system of the latter was more generally adopted, as the system of the former, by adding fresh fuel to the inflammable materials already in Ireland, had a tendency to aggravate party animosities to a most frightful height, and to place in perpetual jeopardy the peace and prosperity of its inhabitants. When they were told daily, that Ireland was a country which the mariner ought to avoid—when it was dunned into their ears, that its inhabitants were cowards and assassins, and savages, worse than Turks and Hindoos—when they were denounced as aliens in blood, in language, and in religion, and were represented on that account to be unworthy of the privileges conferred upon the inhabitants of Great Britain, it became the House to take care that the parties so maligned did not recur to resistance, as their only refuge from insult, menace, and prosecution.
The Earl of Donoughmore
wished to explain an expression of his, which had been the subject of much comment both in and out of Parliament. He certainly had given the noble Marquess credit for having carried the common law into exeecution with vigour during his administration of Ireland; but in giving the noble Marquess that credit, he had wished to contrast what he had then done with what had occurred three months afterwards. He had told the noble Marquess that the powers of the common law were not sufficient for his purpose, and that he would be obliged to come down to Parliament to ask it to arm him with additional powers. He had also recommended the noble Marquess to amend the Arms' Act. The noble Marquess had deemed his recommendation unnecessary. What was the fact? What had occurred within two months after his recommendation was given? In one short winter's day, at the end of January or at the commencement of February, he could not say which, Major Warburton had seized no less than 163 stand of unregistered arms on the banks of the Shannon, between Portumna bridge and Shannon harbour. He could assure their 1023 Lordships that no opinions which he might be compelled by a sense of duty to express, either in that House or out of it, and that no calumnies by which he might be assailed in consequence of it, would ever prevent him from giving his humble assistance to any noble Lord to whom the Government of Ireland might be intrusted, in carrying the law fully and vigorously into execution. He asked the noble Marquess not to give him or his Friends any share in the distribution of the patronage of that country; but at the same time he called upon the noble Marquess not to give the sanction of his name to any more circular letters issued by Mr. Secretary Drummond, which were of a character highly offensive to the feelings of the magistracy of the country. He did not think that such a course was becoming the high situation lately occupied by the noble Marquess; and he must be permitted to say, that the noble Marquess had replied to the memorial of the magistrates with a great deal of bitterness and acrimony. He assured the House that in his own immediate neighbourhood he was informed by a police constable, that seventeen of his own people had unregistered arms in their possession, and he went out, and himself collected ten stands. It was indispensible that the Arms' Act should be amended; for not only must the unregistered, but also the registered, arms be called in, for the latter were lent out to persons who had no right to possess them. The noble Marquess had alluded to the language of Mr. Justice Crampton; but what, he asked, were the words of that learned gentleman at the Assizes of Clonmel? Mr. Justice Crampton there observed, that "it appeared to him that the mass of violence and bloodshed gave to the county a fearful pre-eminence to crime, and in the disregard of human life, not only above every other county in Ireland, but above every other part of the civilized world." That was the frightful picture presented by Mr. Justice Cramp-ton of the state of Tipperary, where only a week ago the calendars for the north and south ridings exhibited not less than sixty-four accusations of murder. He could add, that in the assistant-barrister's court, in the same county, which was presided over by a most efficient officer, there had been during the last three months, sixteen people transported, and 384 persons sentenced to different periods of confine- 1024 ment. The assistant-barrister sat five months in this court in the course of the year, and very nearly as much crime went before him as before the judges at the common assizes. He would make one observation with respect to the answer given by the noble Lord to the memorial of the magistrates immediately after the murder of Mr. Cooper. In that memorial, it was represented that crime was increasing, that juries were acting under palpable intimidation; and that the Crown had given up the wholesome practice of challenging, and the magistrates called on the noble Marquess to amend the Arms' Act. The noble Marquess took a whole month to consider his reply, and then he informed the magistrates that it was necessary to institute adequate inquiries as to the evils complained of, and the immediate cause to which they were to be attributed; and soon afterwards the noble Marquess told the magistrates, that all their complaints were groundless, and that the country was progressing in tranquillity; and he added, that the Crown had not given up the right of challenge, but that the Crown Solicitor exercised it at his discretion. Those were the words of the noble Marquess, who told the magistrates, that by their expulsion of the cotter tenantry, and by the improper manner in which they had exerted their right of property, they themselves were the cause of all the mischief. He thought he should be able to show, that the noble Marquess had by his own acts falsified the very conclusions to which he had come, after deliberate investigation. Why, if the country was in a state of progressive tranquillity, why did the noble Marquess think it necessary to issue a special com-mission? In the interval between the murder of Mr. Cooper and that of Mr. O'Keefe, what was the state of Tipperary according to the returns on the table? In the course of these six months, not less than twenty-five homicides had been committed, and that was progressive tranquillity. Then the noble Marquess said, that the juries were not intimidated, but that they did their duty manfully. Why, then, he again asked, had a special commission been issued? He entirely agreed in one of the noble Marquess's observations, that no juryman ought to be put aside either on account of politics or religion; but but there was another description of persons which it was the noble Marquess's 1025 duty to have challenged—he meant the small publican. Upon this point some light appeared at last to have penetrated the noble Marquess's mind, for at the last Tipperary assizes, where there had been some capital convictions, though there were none at the preceding assizes, the sheriff of the county, a most excellent Roman Catholic, took care that these publicans should not be put on the jury. He trusted that the sheriff acted in this particular by the advice of the Government. He might mention, as another instance of the progressive tranquillity of the county, that on Sunday week a most barbarous murder had been committed on an old man of the name of Hanley, aged eighty-four years, within a mile and a half of Nenagh; and on the same night the house of a person of the name of O'Connor, situate but a short distance from Hanley's, was also attacked. And this was progressive tranquillity! It was almost impossible for the gentlemen of Tipperary to occupy the lower rooms of their houses, because they were there exposed to the attack of assassins. He held in his hand a letter from the rev. J. Beresford, who lived within a mile and a half of the boundary of Tipperary, in which the rev. Gentleman stated, that a shot was tired into his drawing-room the other evening, and carried away the top of the couch where his wife had been sitting, and where, if she had remained only five minutes longer, the shot must have passed through her. This, he supposed, was progressive tranquillity again! Before alluding to the appointments to the police force, he must say, that he thought some person had imposed on the confidence of the noble Marquess. He found in the police list, as a chief constable, a W. Slattery, a person whom the Governor of Ireland, being anxious, as he ought to be, for the proper organization of the force, ought not to have appointed to that situation. This Slattery kept a small dram-shop in the town of Tipperary, and having got into debt, had absconded from the place, for the purpose of concealing himself from his creditors. He had been intrusted with various sums of money by farmers, which he had not restored; and he asked their Lordships whether this was a proper person to appoint to the situation of chief constable of police? Another appointment to which he felt called on to express his objection was that of Dennis Welsh. 1026 He was also a small publican in Clonmel, and had been in the situation of a gutter agent—that was to say, a man who brought up voters to the poll. He had been fined over and over again for selling spirits at illegal hours, and three months before, he had, at the Sessions Court, sworn that no policeman ought to be believed on his oath. Even the people of Clonmel had turned this man's appointment as policeman into ridicule. There was one other appointment to which he felt bound to call their Lordships' attention. On the retirement of a meritorious officer, Major Carter of Nenagh, from the situation of stipendiary magistrate, a gentleman was recommended to the Government as his successor by a noble Lord opposite, and by Lord Bloomfield. They stated, that his title to the place consisted in his services, of which they gave the following representation—he had prosecuted to conviction in sixty-nine cases of murder of an atrocious description in Tipperary; and by his instrumentality alone thirty persons had been transported and seven executed, and he was at that time actively engaged in prosecuting to conviction, five people implicated in one of the worst murders ever perpetrated in Tipperary. The noble Marquess opposite acknowledged that the services of this gentleman were noted at the Castle; but said, that if he should be appointed, he could not be allowed to act as a stipendiary magistrate in the neighbourhood of his own residence, which was at Nenagh. His surprise was very great on finding, when he looked over the return of the stipendiary magistrates, that the vacant situation had been filled up by the appointment of a most gallant officer undoubtedly, but one who had performed no service in the police, and whose services could stand no comparison with those of the gentleman he had just alluded to—. Mr. Brereton. The services of that gentleman were attested by Lord Bloomfield. It did turn out, most unhappily for the noble Marquess, that the gentleman who had been appointed to this situation was nearly connected in marriage with the learned Gentleman who was supposed to have a great share of the patronage of Ireland at his disposal. He only threw out the insinuation; most unfortunately for the noble Marquess that was the case; but upon graver grounds he had a right to impugn the appointment. Such was the 1027 state of that county, that the noble Marquess ought to have availed himself of the services of Mr. Brereton. Although the noble Marquess had made a rule, that he would not appoint a stipendiary magistrate to act in the neighbourhood of his own residence, he had not adhered to it in all cases. The noble Marquess might recollect a person of the name of O'Brien, who once kept a small apothecary's shop, and who had been appointed by the noble Marquess—first an inspector of police, next a pay-master, and then a stipendiary magistrate. The noble Marquess had placed this gentleman near his apothecary's shop to discharge his duties at Wychestown. But that gentleman had much more important duties to attend to when there was an election for the borough of Cashel. That gentleman was an undertaker for the return of that borough, and at every election, the services of Mr. O'Brien, late retailer, and now stipendiary magistrate, were indispensable to the noble Marquess. Really nothing was more painful to him than to make these observations, but a sense of duty impelled him; he did it with the greatest reluctance, and he had nothing more to say, except to thank their Lordships for their indulgence.
The Marquess of Normanby
would say one word with reference to Mr. O'Brien. Till now he was not aware of the former profession of that gentleman, but a more efficient officer and a more excellent magistrate than Mr. O'Brien, or one better able to discharge the duties of his office, could not be named. With respect to Mr. Dennis Walsh, he rather thought the noble Earl was misinformed as to his appointment. It had not taken place when he (the Marquess of Normanby) left Ireland, nor had he any reason to believe that the appointment had since been made. With regard to Mr. Slatterley, he could not but remark that this was an instance of the extreme inconvenience that ensued from the practice of noble Lords holding back information from the Government that might be in their possession, and bringing it forward and discussing the personal characters of men in Parliament. The noble Earl might be misinformed. At all events, everything which he had heard of Mr. Slatterley was quite contrary to what had been stated of hint by the noble Earl. He had no reason for supposing that Colonel Macgregor would have appointed him if there had been any 1028 legitimate grounds of objection against him. The noble Earl had criticised the reply sent by him (the Marquess of Normanby) to the magistrates of Tipperary; but he begged to say, that he had never stated that the crimes committed in that county were owing to the conduct of the landlords. It was addressed to the Lord-lieutenant of the county, in answer to the memorial by the magistrates, and was confided to his care; and, in point of fact, that inflammatory document, as it had been represented to be, had remained in the hands of the noble Earl till moved for in the House of Commons.
§ Viscount Lismore
said, that as reference had been made to his having presided at a dinner given to Mr. O'Connell at Thurles, he begged to explain to their Lordships that when he was invited to preside, he replied, that he respected Mr. O'Connell for the advantage he had been the means of procuring for that country by the emancipation of the Catholics, and that he was most anxious to show him every respect in his power; but still he would not attend the dinner if it were attempted to countenance either the Precursor Society or the Repeal of the Union. He was thereupon assured that not a word would be said about either subject. The noble Earl had alluded to his recommendation of Mr. Brereton as a stipendiary magistrate. He (Lord Lismore) did so at the suggestion of Lord Bloomfield. At the same time, he begged to say, that Mr. Brereton was an old acquaintance of his, and he did not believe that there was a more useful or respectable gentleman in the country. He, however, understood that it was a rule of the Government in Ireland not to appoint any gentleman to such a situation in his own county, and he, therefore, no longer pressed for the appointment. One word with respect to the motion before their Lordships. He believed that this Committee of Inquiry would lead to bad consequences in Ireland. With respect to the great and important county to which he belonged, he was sure it would aggravate the evils that already existed there. It would excite questions which would never otherwise be raised, and would cause much anger and heart-burning among the people of Tipperary. He regretted, likewise, the feeling which had been evinced by the noble Earl who brought the motion forward towards the Roman Catholics. The noble Earl had accused them of a 1029 conspiracy against the lives, property, and religion of the Protestants, and had represented their clergy as promoters of sedition and abettors of crime, and by these accusations, was impeding and thwarting the efforts of those who sought to put an end to the agrarian outrages that had prevailed in the county of Tipperary for more than sixty years, and which, he would maintain, had been already in a great degree put down by the exertions and energies of the noble Marquess. The Roman Catholics were not abettors of crime. The Catholic people of Ireland were not conspirators against the lives and property of the country; and he wished that those who thought they were would not shut their eyes to the real causes of crime and misery in Ireland, but would, by one strong and universal effort, exert themselves to promote the welfare, not only of Ireland, but the united interests of Great Britain.
The Marquess of Westmeath
supported the appointment of the committee, and grounded his support on the fact of twenty-six outrages having occurred in the county of Westmeath since the month of February. The noble Marquess quoted a letter from a priest to an hon. and learned Gentleman, recommending a repeal of the union, as proof of the existence of the riband conspiracy. He must complain, too, of the manner in which the remonstrances of the magistrates of Westmeath had been treated, and in many instances the penalties inflicted by them had been remitted by the Lord-lieutenant, in consequence of which, crime and outrage had increased. Notwithstanding what had been stated, he was convinced there were ribandmen in the police, as he held in his hand a notice which had been stuck on a police station in his neighbourhood, recommending "the bloody d—d Peelers" to provide themselves with coffins, for having turned a Roman Catholic out of their body. He would relate another instance of outrage in which a person had sent a man to fetch some ale, who had been attacked by a party of ruffians who broke all the jugs to pieces, and ill-treated the man. It was not always safe to give names, so he would give their Lordships the affidavit of blank, in the parish of blank, in the county of Westmeath, who, when at the chapel of so-and-so, heard the reverend Mr. Fuller say, that so-and-so had a gun. This information was particular enough, although 1030 some of their Lordships might not understand it. However, it would be all proved hereafter. The next case was that of a policeman in the county of Roscommon releasing a man from prison who had been, committed by Lord Crofton. The man was interceded for by a Catholic priest. The misconduct was not punished. He mentioned these as a few out of a multitude of facts, to show that the Government of the noble Marquess was not thought the same of at that side of the House as the other. He concluded by giving his hearty concurrence to the motion.
The Earl of Fingall
, as a Peer connected with Ireland, and belonging to that race which a noble and learned Lord, not then present in his seat, had designated as alien in blood to the English nation, could not allow the debate to close without offering one or two observations. He wished to state that, from his own observation as a resident in that country, he believed the condition of Ireland to be progressively improving, that property was increasing in value, agriculture advancing, industry becoming more general, and that, although great crime certainly prevailed—although the existence of conspiracies, amongst the lowest orders could not be denied, the general condition of the country was nevertheless rapidly improving. He was satisfied that the noble Lords opposite, as well as his noble Friends near him, would bear him out in the statement, that the rate of the purchase of land in Ireland had considerably increased since the passing of the Roman Catholic Relief Bill. Even in Tipperary, which was represented as the most desperate part of the country, estates had recently been sold at a very high rate. Nay, he understood that the noble Marquess who had just spoken (the Marquess of Westmeath), and whose view of the condition of the country was so unequivocally bad, had lately become the purchaser of estates in Tipperary at a very high price.
The Marquess of Westmeath
I sold the half of the purchase shortly afterwards to Mr. Hindes, who has since been bullied out of the property in the manner de, scribed by my noble Friend.
The Earl of Fingall
understood, that the noble Marquess had purchased the estate at a very high rate, and that he had since sold the half of it at an increased value. With respect to the proposition made by the noble Earl (the Earl of 1031 Roden, for the appointment of a committee of inquiry, he should certainly vote against it, because he did not see what good could possibly result from it. The noble Duke (the Duke of Wellington) had stated, that one of the chief objects of the Precursor Society was to advocate the repeal of the union. He (the Earl of Fingall) was not a member of that society, and never should be; but he knew many members of it who did not approve of the repeal of the union, and who had joined the society upon the distinct understanding that it was not to be an association for the repeal of the union. He thought, that noble Lords would better consult the welfare of Ireland by consenting to pull together in the adoption of measures for its benefit, rather than by uniting in vague recriminations and general accusations against the Government.
§ Viscount Melbourne
said, that although this was a subject of very great importance, admitting of the introduction of almost every topic, great and small, from grave matters, which affected the whole state of society, down to the appointment of a policeman, and therefore, might lead to a very wide field of remark, and observation, and expatiation, still the question itself appeared to him to be very clear, very short, and very simple. The case involved in the debate, had already been very distinctly stated on both sides, as well by the noble Earl who introduced the motion, as by his noble Friend the Marquess of Normanby, whose very able speech was in his mind most definite, most clear, and most satisfactory. After this it did not appear to him to be necessary, that he should trouble their Lordships with more than a very few observations. He owned he was a little surprised at the speech of the noble Duke, (the Duke of Wellington.) He considered the speech a very bold speech, one of the boldest he had ever heard in any House of Parliament. The noble Duke said, that there was no offence in the noble Earl's motion—that it contained nothing, implied nothing, to which the government could object—in short, that there was no inculpation, no condemnation in the motion. Now, in his (Lord Melbourne's) estimation, not only was there inculpation—not only was there condemnation in the motion, but it was a pure censure and nothing else upon the Government. Because there was not one of their Lord- 1032 ships, from the noble Lord who opened the debate down to the noble Earl who last spoke—there was not a man who had taken a part in the debate, or who had listened to it in silence, who expected anything to result from this proposed inquiry—who thought that it would teach them anything—who thought they could learn anything by it—who thought that anything would be discovered or found out in consequence of it. There was not one of them who expected or supposed, that when such an inquiry terminated, he would know anything more about the state of Ireland, and the remedies to be applied to it, than he knew at present. Good God! an inquiry into the general state and condition of Ireland! An inquiry into the conduct of the Government would be something. That would have some meaning; there, possibly, something might be discovered. But at this time of day, considering how much they had inquired—how much they had investigated—how much they had examined—how minutely they had looked into the subject—how many hours they had devoted to it—how many committees of inquiry had sat—how many books had been published—how many reams of paper had been exhausted in the compilation of reports on the subject—considering all this, how could their Lordships expect to discover anything from instituting a new inquiry upon the general state and condition of Ireland. In the years 1824 and 1825 they had two committees of both Houses of Parliament sitting for two whole Sessions, examining every body, and inquiring into everything. Since then other committees had been repeatedly appointed in which the condition of Ireland had been amply considered. They had had committees upon tithes, committees upon education, and committees upon various other subjects, all of them more or less involving an inquiry into the general state of the country, and into the general feeling of the people. Last of all, they had had a most complete local inquiry carried on by the commissioners appointed to prepare the way for the introduction of the new Poor-law Bill, and who had gone most minutely into the whole state of the country, into the whole condition of its agricultural population, into the whole of the effects which its peculiarities had upon the character and feeling of its inhabitants, Was not every one well aware of what the misfor- 1033 tunes—what the crimes of Ireland were? The nature of the remedies proper to be applied was a very different thing. That which was to change the minds of a people—to alter the feelings of a people—was not so easily devised? but their Lordships were just as ripe to consider and frame these remedies as they could be if they were to consume a Session or two Sessions in such an inquiry as the noble Earl's motion would lead to. It was generally apprehended that the crimes of Ireland arose from conflicts about the tenure of land. He had no doubt if the Committee were granted, that the noble Earl would be able to establish all the facts he had stated. No doubt the outrages to which the noble Earl had alluded were perfectly true. But when the inquiry had been gone into—what then? How would their Lordships be wiser? How would they be better able to determine in what manner they should act. It was impossible to deny that there was unfortunately in Ireland, and had been for many years past—from causes originating long ago—a disregard for human life, and there was unquestionably not the same desire to discover a murderer in that country as there was in this. Comparisons were often drawn between the two countries in that respect; but he thought that in England they should be careful not to plume themselves too much or too hastily upon the point, that murderers were not allowed to pass unsought for and undiscovered. In Ireland it was to be accounted for, because unhappily the sympathy of the people was with the cause of the murderer—because there was a notion of right connected with the murder. How that feeling originated he knew not—whether from the defect or fault of the old laws of the land, or from some undefined but strong and immovable impression in the minds of the people about the original rights of property, he could not say. From whatever cause it originated, it was difficult, most difficult, to cure. But their Lordships would please to recollect that in this country there was a great anxiety to discover a murderer, and great indignation expressed against murder, because in general there was no sympathy with the cause of the murderer. But when, as sometimes happened, they came to murders which interested the feelings of the great mass of the people—murders, for instance arising out of strikes in the great manufacturing districts—there was pretty 1034 much the same difficulty in obtaining evidence, and in procuring co-operation for the discovery of the murderer, as in Ireland. Their Lordships all remembered—at least he (Lord Melbourne) perfectly well remembered—the murder of Mr. Ashton, at Stayley-bridge, in 1832—a murder not very unlike some of the atrocious murders that had occurred in Ireland. The perpetrator of that murder had never to this hour been discovered, because the people symphathised and felt with the persons by whom it was committed. He apprehended that the noble Duke had considerably exaggerated the number of homicides in Ireland when he said, that they amounted to 700 a year. He believed that 230 or 260 was the maximum number. Quite enough, God knows, but still trifling as compared with 700. Then the noble Duke stated that the existence of a riband conspiracy in Ireland, which had never been admitted before, was another ground for inquiry. Instead of never being admitted before, he believed that the existence of suck conspiracies had never been denied before. He had never heard it denied that there were ribandmen in Ireland nor, that there had been for years and years, secret societies, persons binding themselves together by secret and unlawful oaths for the attainment of objects not recognised by the laws. The existence of such societies had been one of the great misfortunes—one of the great curses of the country. The noble Duke had adverted to a murder they all regretted—the murder of Lord Norbury. They all knew, that, perhaps, viewing it philosophically and strictly in reason, there was no greater crime in the murder of Lord Norbury than in the murder of any other man; but, at the same time, they knew, that that was not the constitution of human nature; they knew, that the death of a man of the rank, station, and title of Lord Norbury created ten times as much impression as the death of a subordinate person; but that feeling would not prevail in that House; he was sure, that was the last assembly where it would be entertained. He thought the noble Duke went a great way in saying, that the mere fact of that murder being undiscovered justified the instituting and establishing this commission of inquiry; and when the noble Duke said, that it was no condemnation or attack on the Government, he surely forgot the whole of the 1035 speech of the noble Lord who moved for the committee and which went to condemn his noble Friend (Lord Normanby) for not having administered the law; to condemn him for conduct respecting the Precursor Society, in short, to condemn him for the whole course of his administration, and for the whole policy he had pursued. It was said, that "those who had gone before his noble Friend had administered the law boldly, and had grappled with crime." He remembered, that the noble Lord who now eulogised that Government, had formerly charged it with want of energy, and with great partiality, in the same manner, as he now thought proper to charge his noble Friend with those faults. The noble Earl said his (Lord Melbourne's) noble Friend, by not taking measures to put down the Precursor Society, had encouraged it. What could he said of Lord Liverpool's Government? He had recognised the Roman Catholic Association; and had brought in a bill to put it down, that bill entirely failed; and because the Government of that period had not immediately attempted stronger measures for that purpose, were they to be considered as adopting and acting with, and approving of all the acts of that association. The noble Lord said, that the Precursor Society was established by a gentleman who was a great stay and support of the present Government. Unquestionably, the Government had received very efficient support from that learned Gentleman. He had sometimes been asked if he would not repudiate and reject that support. Most certainly not. It was the business of a Minister of the Crown to obtain support, not to drive it from him, without sacrificing a principle. He did not think that the hon. and learned Gentleman in question had given the Government very efficient support by establishing a Precursor Association. He must own he wished he had taken other means. There was nothing, in his opinion, which had tended more to alienate those who were well disposed to the Government in this country than some of the proceedings of the hon. and learned Gentleman, and the opinion that in those proceedings he was closely connected with the Government, an opinion, which was entirely false, but had been made a source of considerable weakness, At that period of the night, he would not go farther into any of the topics that had been urged in the course 1036 of this debate. He Was against this committee of inquiry, because, as he had said, he thought there was nothing to be learned by it, because he thought it was not in the slightest degree required, because he thought they were already in possession of all the materials they possibly Could have, of all the facts that were necessary for being fully informed on the subject; whatever was the object in view, whether a simple improvement of the present law, whether the introduction of new laws, still no further inquiry was required; they were in possession of all the information which they could obtain by any inquiry into which they might enter. He was against it, because it was a direct censure on his noble Friend and on the Government with which he had acted. It was no light censure and would not be attended with light consequences. He was unwilling to call in question the highest prerogative of the Crown—that of dispensing mercy. Upon a great case shown it was absolutely necessary—it might be wise and prudent—to enter into the consideration of the manner in which the prerogative had been exercised, but in general, all wise and prudent statesmen had as much as possible kept such questions out of Parliament; they had always considered it imprudent to meddle with them. They heard nothing but statements of pardons which ought not to have been granted, of sentences which ought not to have been commuted, of punishments which ought not to exist, and Complaints generally upon the whole exercise of the prerogative of sovereignty in Ireland; in fact, the motion was directed against his noble Friend's administration, and against the prerogative of the Crown, and Was, in the highest degree objectionable.
said, he should have felt it necessary even if the noble Viscount had not put the question On the footing which, in the exercise of his judgment, he had thought fit to place it—he should have felt it to be a duty to himself, on the present occasion, when he was about to vote against those with whom he had hitherto been in the habit of acting, and in favour of those with whom he so widely differed on most subjects, and especially under circumstances which might cast a doubt on the nature and tendency of his vote—he should, he must repeat, have felt it to be a duty to himself as well as their Lordships to state the 1037 grounds on which his vote would be given. In stating these grounds shortly and simply in order to get at the essence of the question, he should at once proceed to consider the statement given by the noble Viscount of the object of the motion of the noble Earl. Nothing could be more different from its real object than the one ascribed to it by the noble Viscount; it was not for a vague inquiry, without object and endless voyage, without compass or chart over the vast ocean of Irish affairs, but a Committee of Inquiry as to the state of crime in Ireland, in which there was nothing vague or indeterminate, and he would do the speakers on the other side the justice to say, that however much he might differ from them, yet in their speeches they had strictly confined themselves to the terms of the motion. He would not shelter himself behind the base pretence that he was not imputing blame to any one—as he was voting on known constitutional and parliamentary grounds. He considered, then that a primâ facie case for inquiry had been made out—a case that required an answer—and, rather than at once proceed to pass a censure, be must first have further information upon the question. The real question was, whether Ireland, as regarded crime and outrage, was, as each view of the case had been that night insisted upon in different parts of the House, progressing, stationary, or retrograding. It was as difficult to understand that return as if it had been drawn in a language of which be had been entirely ignorant. One word with regard to an observation of the noble Lord, the Lieutenant of the county of Tipperary, who had said, that the law had been enforced in Ireland as vigorously as was possible, but that it had been found ineffectual in checking the progress of crime, and that, therefore, a new law was required. He did not concur in that view; he did not think that a new law was required; he did not think either that a law was called for in order to put down the Precursor Society. It might be a very foolish, a very ridiculous, a very mischievous, a very innocent, or a very meritorious society; it was, at all events, legal, and he should strenuously oppose any attempt to pet it down. As to that society, said the noble and learned Boron, I disapprove highly of it, and for this reason, that it holds out as the meaning of its title that it is a prelude to the 1038 agitation for the repeal of the union. Its name implies its origin and signifies its object. It is preparing or precursoring another state, and what that state is which it shall be expanded or blown into, whether it is likely to become a full grown vermin, when it leaves the present chrysolite condition; whether it will ever come into that state, when it will be not only offensive, but that it will sting, can be best ascertained by attending to the conditions on which the repeal of the union is to be demanded. "If," say its founders, "we can succeed by means of two million of shillings, and by our numbers of fighting men, sometimes counted at 14,000, sometimes at 2,000,000, and sometimes at 100,000; but if by our men and our money, we can succeed in accomplishing the objects for which our society is founded, then you shall hear no more of the repeal of the union." Now, what where these objects? To add fifty or sixty to the number of Members for Ireland, and to take away an equal number from England, as well as to carry universal or an extended suffrage, annual Parliaments, and vote by ballot, all of which Parliament and Government have solemnly resolved not to grant. Does any man, then, in his senses—does any one of the two millions of precursors think, that the conditions on which they consent to refrain from seeking a repeal of the union can be complied with? It means, then, a society for the repeal of the union. Therefore, I disapprove of it—therefore, I am against it—therefore, I will use all lawful means, by argument, by influence, by debate, here and elsewhere, to oppose it. But why do I not approve of a law to pet it down? Because it would be unconstitutional and against the liberty of the subject. Though I think the association a bad one, and established for bad purposes, I am not disposed to nurse it (impotent and ridiculous as it has hitherto been), into importance by legislating against it. The noble and learned Lord went on to remark, that an odious, false, groundless, and inconsistent contrast had been instituted by some of those who supported the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Normanby) that night between the noble Marquess's administration, and those of his predecessors. It was the business of the noble Viscount (Viscount Melbourne) to take any support which he could obtain, without making any unbe- 1039 coming sacrifices; but if he (Lord Brougham) were in his position, he could figure to himself nothing more distasteful, nothing more distasteful, nothing more disgustful, to his feelings, his honour, and his principles, than to have received such support on the ground on which it was given. Now, what was the ground? Why they said "we oppose Lord Grey and Lord Brougham (these were the two names selected); we did all we could to unseat them; we finally succeeded with the help of a court intrigue, and we support the same Lord Melbourne whom we opposed before, because we know his Government to be utterly incapable of having proposed or carried the disgraceful Coercion Bill of 1833. That was the avowed ground of this support, and yet that very bill came out of the department of his noble Friend (if be would allow him to call him so), for being incapable of supporting which he was now placed in contradistinction to his former colleagues. He came now to the reasons on which he should give his support to the motion. By the constitution of England, mercy was not left to the arbitrary caprice of the monarch to be indulged in as any other caprice. It was a part of the duty of the monarch, and intimately and inseparably mixed up with the administration of justice itself. They could not be separated. Justice without mercy degenerated into cruelty; and mercy, in like manner, if not guided and controlled by justice, became absolute folly, or still worse, partial favour. With respect to the number of cases in which pardon had been granted, it was not pretended, that there had been in each instance communication with the judge who tried the case. The number of these cases, was, he believed, 284, excluding all cases tried at quarter sessions. Now, in the county of Tipperary, he believed, there were 400 cases of persons tried at quarter sessions who had been pardoned, or whose punishment had been mitigated. in no one of which there had been a reference to the judge by whom they were tried. In the vast number of these case: the effect of the pardon was to remit the punishment altogether, without communication with the judge by whom they had been tried. With whom communication had been held it was not for him to say, but he thought it was for their Lordship to inquire. He had the honour of a seat 1040 on the judicial bench for some time, and he had communication with some of the most distinguished persons who now presided over the administration of justice; I and he knew from personal communication with those learned and reverend personages, that very great alarm and disquietude had been occasioned in them by these proceedings. He knew that in conjunction with their feeling of the propriety of extending the mercy of the Crown, there was a strong persuasion of the intimate connection between the exercise of mercy and the administration of justice. They expected, too, that an inquiry should be made in that, the highest court in the kingdom, whenever the subject was brought before them. And was it not brought before them? Could they flinch from their duty? The statement of the noble Earl—the statements respecting the counties of Tipperary, and Westmeath, and King's County—would of themselves make it difficult to flinch from the inquiry. But it was utterly impossible, after the speech of the noble Viscount, who said, that this was a case made out, or affected to be made out, against the Government of Ireland on account of the abuse of the prerogative of mercy. Consider what the case was. He would assume for the present, and his noble and learned Friend (Lord Plunkett) need give himself no trouble to take notes for the purpose of answering, for he would assume, that in every particular case in which the prerogative of mercy was exercised by his noble Friend in his progress through the kingdom, where he was receiving so many tributes of applause, and so many testimonies of the respect and affection of the Irish people—that in every one of those cases, to the number of two or three hundred—he believed two hundred and eighty odd—in which he had liberated individuals, his noble Friend had made, previously, deliberate and accurate investigation. He would admit, in the second place, that the noble Marquess had made inquiry in the proper quarters, that he had inquired of the judge who tried, whether that judge were the chairman of quarter sessions, the assistant barrister, or the judge of assize. He would admit, that in every individual instance, inquiry had been accurately made of the judge who tried and sentenced the prisoner. He would admit, that in each case, the gaoler and turnkey, who had communication 1041 with the prisoner, during his confinement, had borne testimony to the good conduct of the party. And, lastly, he would admit, that there was not one of these prisoners, whose case was not a case for mercy; and in doing, this, he believed he made very large admissions. [Lord Plunkett hoped his noble Friend, would abide by them.] Yes, he had no wish to be released from them, and the hand of the clock would not go over three minutes before his noble and learned Friend would see, that he had no desire to escape from them. He knew he made very large admissions—admissions, he believed, as inconsistent with the real state of the facts as could possibly be. But there was one thing necessary to justify the exercise of the prerogative of mercy which he could not admit, which, if his noble and learned Friend could prove, would at once please him, which would change his opinion, prevent his vote, and restore him to the society of his noble and learned Friend on this occasion. His noble Friend had the means of silencing him, and of cutting short his labour, and that of their Lordships. Let it be proved to him, or asserted—for he would take his noble and learned Friend's mere assertion in the matter—that there were no other prisoners in any other part of Ireland who equally deserved to have their cases investigated, and to be made subjects for the exercise of the prerogative of mercy. [A laugh.] Let not his noble Friend treat the matter lightly He would not laugh many minutes longer, or imagine that it was a light matter. As a friend to justice, as a friend of the just prerogatives of the Crown, and of this its most delicate and most valuable prerogative of the Crown, as a friend of the monarchy, and as one who wished to see monarchy continue to be the government of this country, because he believed it secured peace within and respect from without, he protested against the exercise of this prerogative, unless some new circumstances had subsequently transpired, or the sentence had been too severe, or had been improperly given. Let the fullest meed of popular applause greet the arrival, the sojourn, and the departure of the noble Marquess, he had not a word to say against it; but let not the prerogative of the Crown be used—be abused—be perverted—nay, more, be prostituted—through caprice, or, what 1042 was worse still, through interested motives, for the mere purpose of securing a few elections. Mercy was one of the brightest prerogatives of the Crown, but at the coronation it was sworn to be exerted in conjunction with justice; but once let it be recklessly administered, or prostituted to party purposes, and it became tainted at the source, and we had no longer either mercy or justice. But it was a painful subject to see the viceregal office degraded in this manner, and the functions of it so exercised. It was a painful subject, and he did not wonder that his noble and learned Friend (Lord Plunkett) had not thought fit to take part earlier in this debate, lest he should be obliged to take a view of these enormities; he was not surprised to find, that spectaculo averteret oculos, ne tantœ majestatis deformationem aspiceret. He had now fully and fairly stated the case; and he thought it most manly on his own part, and most becoming such of their Lordships as agreed with his views on this subject, that both he and they should state fully and fairly, that they thought a primâ facie case for inquiry was made out. This he trusted on inquiry might assume an altered face, still he hoped and trusted that for the reasons he had given, their Lordships would agree to the motion.
said, though he rose perhaps with less confidence than the noble and learned Lord who last but one addressed their Lordships, he hoped, before he sat down, to be able to give a satisfactory answer to the chief points of his speech. Upon one side it was avowed, that censure was not intended upon the noble Marquess; upon the other side it was disavowed; and yet, where parties were disagreeing so much with each other, were they to form a majority which was to affect the Government? If they did so, it would not be creditable to the character of that House. As to the noble Earl who proposed the motion, he wished to refer to opinions expressed by him in February, 1825. [Laughter] He did not know that there was a statute of limitation against such references. In the month of February, 1825 the noble Earl who brought forward the motion contended for the necessity of adopting decisive measures for the purpose of pulling down the late association, and that he declared it was not by prosecutions of this or that person that this was to be done, as they 1043 only tended to increase iritation.* The noble Earl art that time declared, that some more stringent measure than prosecutions should be adopted. Now, however, the noble Earl made it a charge against the Government, that they had not adopted the method of prosecutions. The noble Earl on like grounds, in 1826, charged the Marquess Wellesley's Government with being weak and puerile, and declared, that it was the disgust of the Protestants and the contempt of the Catholics.† The next statement to which he would take leave to refer, was made by the noble Earl in July, 1832, and speaking of the appointment of the Marquess Wellesley to the Lord Lieutenancy of Ireland the Noble Earl said, "It was formerly deemed necessary to appoint men of experience and ability to conduct the affairs of Ireland, and he lamented that these qualities were not to be found in the noble Marquess."‡ Now he begged to remark, the noble Earl was not entitled by any station or qualification he might hold to pass such an opinion upon one of the greatest statesmen that ever adorned this country—a man distinguished at home and abroad in places where the noble Earl's name was never heard—a man the memory of whom would ever be cherished by his country. On subsequent occasions the noble Earl had objected to the Reform Bill, the Education Bill, and the Procession Bill, and designated all those measures as means by which to drive Protestantism out of Ireland. The inference he drew from these statements was, that the noble Earl would repeal the emancipation Bill, and all those measures which Parliament in its wisdom had passed. He did not think either his noble and learned Friend (Brougham) or the noble Duke opposite (Wellington) would join the noble Earl in those principles. But the noble Earl had suggested no measures to be adopted. Indeed, none had been suggested, except by the noble Duke, with respect to ribandism. The amount of ribandism had been overstated, and he was of opinion, that ever since 1798 the principle of ribandism, or secret associations, persons sworn, and all the machinery connected with ribandism, had never entirely been taken away; but he* Hansard (New Series), vol. xii., p. 29.† Vol. xvi., p. 1232.‡Vol. xiii.(Third Series), p. 1190.1044 could state, as far as his own observation had gone, there was not any insurrection or movement in contemplation. When he spoke of the tranquillity of Ireland he spoke of it in that sense; at the same time he was quite willing to admit, that the system of ribandism ought to be carefully watched, and that if persons were found applying the machinery which existed, they ought effectually to be dealt with, and the thing be put down. He now came to what he conceived to be the view of the argument of his noble and learned Friend (Lord Brougham). His noble and learned Friend had said, that justice and mercy were so essentially and intimately connected, that mercy was to be considered as part of justice, and that unless it was so, it was not Mercy; and he then added, that the coronation oath, which bound the Sovereign to administer justice with mercy, did not mean it should be administered at the discretion of the Crown, but on certain fixed and settled principles, and this his noble and learned Friend said, was the settled constitution of the realm. Now, if he was not mistaken, until a very late period, the accession of George 3rd, it was the regular course, on the accession of a new monarch to the Throne, that an Act of Grace was passed for all prisoners, with certain exceptions, and therefore he should be glad to know when that principle of the constitution, for which his noble and learned Friend contended, arose. His noble and learned Friend, in arraigning the exercise of the prerogative by the noble Marquess near him (Normanby), had relied only on one proposition, and that proposition had been known to his noble and learned Friend in 1837. But did his noble and learned Friend then arraign the noble Marquess for the exercise of the prerogative—an exercise which his noble and learned Friend now considered to involve such acts of delinquency that he felt it his duty to arraign it? It was for his noble and learned Friend, then, to explain why, in 1837, he gave his unqualified approbation to the course of conduct pursued by the noble Marquess. Suppose the noble Earl opposite should succeed in his present motion, which he admitted to be a vote of censure, he begged to ask him what course his noble and learned Friend would then follow? Had he any measure to propose, or was he willing to adopt the 1045 propositions of others? Was he willing to commit all the Friends with whom he had hitherto acted, and to surrender all the principles and opinions which he had advocated with such transcendant ability in the best days of his life. Was he willing to wait oh the issue of what might be done by those with whom to-night he had allied himself? He could not consider this motion in any other light than that of a party proceeding. What course, he must inquire, was intended for the public good from this most inexplicable coalition of persons of opposite opinions? Seeing no result could follow from it, and that the only object of it was the removal of Ministers, he must repeat it was, he would not say, a factious, but a party motion. He, however, did not believe the intelligent people of England and Ireland would be disposed to join in any party proceeding of the kind; and he sincerely grieved, that his noble and learned Friend should be willing to incur the consequences of such a coalition, and to sacrifice the glories of his former life for the dearly-purchased triumph of to-night; and he would caution the noble Duke opposite (Wellington), and those noble Lords who were disposed to co-operate with his noble and learned Friend on this occasion; not to count too confidently on the continuance of that support, for they might rest assured, his noble and learned Friend would repay himself with usury for the use he had lent himself to, and would say with the poet—Qui te nunc fruitur, credulus aurea.
, in explanation said, that in 1837 he was prepared to have urged the same point be had argued tonight on the question of the prerogative, and had actually conversed with two of the most learned persons in the country on the subject; he had not used one word to-night which he had not used in that conversation fifteen months ago. He denied, that he had supported the motion as a vote of censure, for the House had not yet the materials for censure; he had, however, said, there was a primâ facie case of blame, and that he hoped on inquiry that case might be found groundless.
The Marquess of Normanby
could not thank the noble and learned Lord for the forbearance he had displayed. Though the noble and learned Lord might have 1046 conversed on the subject alluded to in 1837, yet so far from having Mentioned it in debate, the noble and learned Lord had then defended his conduct Without reserve, and he had in a publication entitled Notes on Irish Affairs, congratulated him on having successfully followed the policy of Lords Wellesley and Anglesey, However, he was not afraid to go to a verdict of his country on the manner in which he had been attacked on this occasion.
observed, that the publication to which the noble Marquess had just alluded, had reference solely to the following out of the policy of Lords Anglesey and Wellesley, in not making that invidious distinction which had been drawn between different classes of Her Majesty's Government in Ireland by former Administrations. With regard to the extent to which the prerogative of mercy had been pushed in Ireland, he looked upon it as an ultra-barbarism. When George 4th went to Edinburgh he never dreamt of doing such a thing, neither did he do so upon his visit to Dublin. It was reserved for the representative of Royalty to do that which Royalty itself would not have undertaken.
The Earl of Winchilsea
gave his hearty concurrence to the motion of his noble Friend, uninfluenced by one particle of party feeling. He grounded that concurrence on the frightful state of crime which prevailed in Ireland. No one had attempted to deny the existence of a fearful organization in that distracted country. The noble Marquess himself had admitted it, and admitted that he could not state the object for which it had been formed. This single fact furnished to his mind abundant ground for the inquiry. It was not at all his object to pass city vote of censure upon the noble Hardness; he considered, however, that at least a primâ facie case had been made out of the necessity of instituting such an inquiry, with a view to ascertaining the causes of this frightful state of demoralization. There was one point of the noble Mover's statement to which no reply whatever had been offered by the noble Marquess, and that was with reference to the island of Achill. Had the noble Marquess extended to the Protestant population of that island the protection which they had a right to expect at the hands of the Government, it was highly 1047 probable that the life of an unfortunate murdered man might have been saved.
The Marquess of Normanby
stated, that Mr. Cruise, a stipendiary magistrate, had been directed by the Government to proceed to the island of Achill, upon the information of the disturbed state of the island reaching them.
The Earl of Roden
briefly replied, explaining, that his accusation with reference to the transactions at Achill was, that, until six months after the application was made, no notice whatever was taken of it by the Government.
§ Their Lordships divided:—Content 63; Not-Content 58—Majority 5.1048
|List of the CONTENTS.|
|Mountcashell||Stuart de Rothesay|
|List of the NOT-CONTENTS.|
|H. R. H. the Duke of Sussex||Breadalbane.|
|Gosford||Saye and Sele|