§ On the motion for resuming the adjourned debate,
§ Earl Fortescue
rose and said, that before he proceeded to consider the general question then before their Lordships, he wished to advert to one particular point which had personal reference to himself. He understood that representations had been made elsewhere by very high authority, that during the last three months of the late Administration in Ireland seven stipendiary Magistrates had been appointed in excess of the number on the existing list. The terms in which this statement was made and the place where it was promulgated left no doubt of the imputation which it was intended to convey. Now, he would tell their Lordships, that for that act of the Government of Ireland he, as the head of that Government at the time, was solely responsible. Not having access to any official documents, and the unfortunate absence of (Lord Morpeth), who at that time filled the office of Chief Secretary for Ireland, preventing him from deriving assistance from his noble Friend, with whom he had been in the habit of consulting as to these appointments, he could not enter fully into all the circumstances, or afford to their Lordships all the information respecting them which he otherwise would have done. On reference, however, to the only document which he had on the subject—a return of all the appointments made by him during his Government of Ireland—he found that the statement was correct, as to the number of appointments. He found that he had appointed between 860 the 15th of June and the 28th of August, 1841, seven stipendiary Magistrates; but it was not true that those appointments were in addition to the pre-existing number. Amongst the Magistrates three vacancies had occurred by retirements or dismissals, which vacancies of course were filled up. This left four out of the seven. Of these four, one was appointed for a district in the county of Armagh, upon an earnest requisition from Lord Gosford the Lord Lieutenant and the Magistrates of that county, agreed to at a meeting of those Magistrates, in consequence of an atrocious murder committed in that district. A second Magistrate was sent to Tralee, in consequence of constant disturbances amongt the fishermen in that quarter, which the local Magistrates having personal interests in the fisheries were unable to settle satisfactorily. A third Magistrate was despatched to the wild coast of Donegal, in consequence of affrays between the Revenue police and the people, in one of which a man had been killed. One remained to be accounted for; but, having no memorandum on the subject, he could not exactly state why that appointment was made; he was certain, however, that if he had the correspondence, it would appear to have taken place under circumstances equally urgent. He trusted that this would be a sufficient answer to the statement made in another place. Entertaining the views which he did of the great usefulness of these Magistrates, and of the immense benefit to the administration of justice which had been uniformly derived from their exertions—he should have considered himself very culpable indeed in his own estimation, if he had abstained, on account of any feeling of responsibility at the eve of his retirement from office, from making any appointments of this nature that he might have deemed advantageous to the public cause, more especially as those who succeeded him might find difficulties which he did not in making them from the objections of some of the Local Magistracy. Whatever might have been his faults (and he was well aware of many) in the discharge of his official duties, no one ever undertook them with more single-hearted anxiety for the welfare of Ireland, and he could most truly declare that no appointment ever was made by him for the mere exercise of patronage, in consequence of any 861 personal or political feeling. He should now proceed to consider the question immediately before their Lordships. He would not weaken by attempting to repeat any of the arguments so ably brought forward by his noble Friend, in support of his motion, but he certainly could not agree with the noble Baron (Howden) who censured the Motion as ill-timed, because it might embarrass the Ministers; and he thought that it was most unjust and unfair to his noble Friend to impute to him motives for its introduction, differing from those which he had assigned for it. He did think that it would have been ill-timed had it been brought forward during the time when the legal proceedings which have just terminated, were still going on. But, he must contend, that they were fully, at liberty, in such a crisis as the present, to call upon Government for a justification of their conduct, and to express their opinion upon that conduct. Indeed, it would be a new doctrine in British politics—a doctrine most foreign to the spirit of the Constitution—were the Legislature, in times of great public emergency, to be debarred from raising its voice upon the plea of the embarrassment it would occasion to the Government. He must do his noble Friend, the Lord President of the Council, the justice to say, that he did not concur in that doctrine. He (Lord Wharncliffe) had, on the contrary, thanked the noble Marquess who introduced the Motion, for the opportunity thereby afforded him of vindicating the proceedings of the Government of which he was Member, and any one would admit that he had shewn great ability in the performance of that difficult duty. The charge against Her Majesty's Government was, that after the late Government had delivered Ireland into their hands in a state which was admitted by their Lord-lieutenant, by their Chief Secretary, and by the Prime Minister himself, to be in a state of tranquillity and contentment, that country had, during the few years for which they had held office, been brought to a state, the existence of which every one must deplore. But it was said, that the agitation did not commence under the present Administration, and it was quite true that some large Repeal Meetings were held, and some violent language was used at them in 1840; he believed, however, they never would have taken place had it not been for the introduction of a Bill into Parlia- 862 ment in that year, which went to deprive a large proportion of the county constituency of Ireland of the privileges of the franchise. In consequence of those meetings, he had, on the part of the Government, made that public declaration which had been before alluded to in their Lordship's House, and the great mover of the agitation had acknowledged more than once, in no very measured language, the check which had been given to it by that declaration. But, perhaps, a still more conclusive proof of this might be afforded by comparing the amount of the Repeal Rent, as it had recently been, with what it was during his own administration. During the latter it had never exceeded per week the sum of 200l. and did not average 100l. But it had recently exceeded 2,000l. in one week, and the average weekly receipts amounted to about 500l. His noble Friends and himself had been taunted in this debate with the abuse which they had received from Mr. O'Connell, and they had at other times been severely reflected upon, for the influence which that hon. Gentleman was supposed to exercise over them. Now, he had long been acquainted with Mr. O'Connell, and in any personal communications which he had ever had with him, he (the hon. Gentleman) had always treated him with the utmost courtesy and respect. It was also quite true, that Mr. O'Connell had supported the late Irish Government, and had uniformly continued his support down to the year 1840, and it was due to Mr. O'Connell to state that he had never, except in one instance, asked for any patronage, either for himself or any of his friends, and in that instance the Government refused it. The hon. Gentleman had however in the year 1839, greatly served the Government by the exertion of his influence for the suppression of Chartism, which was at that time rapidly spreading over a great portion of Great Britain; and so effectual had been the efforts of the hon. Gentleman in excluding it from Ireland and in preserving the peace of that country, that he (Earl Fortescue) had felt himself justified, without any solicitation whatever, in offering an appointment to his son, and in doing so he had stated by letter to Mr. O'Connell, that it was given as an acknowledgment from the Government of the service which he had rendered to them and to the country by his conduct on that occasion, and 863 he must say, that in the more recent case of the Clontarf Proclamation, he thought the preservation of the public peace and the prevention of any collision between the people and the military, was much more owing to the influence of Mr. O'Connell than to the forethought or precautions of any of the constituted authorities. Of the proceedings which had been instituted against Mr. O'Connell it was not necessary for him (the noble Earl) to take any lengthened notice; but he could not help saying that more extraordinary proceedings or more unlike those of a British Court of Justice never had occurred. He hardly knew which would seem most strange in any English trial,—that the Attorney-general should send a challenge to one of the counsel on the other side, or that the Chief Justice should think it necessary to call in the aid of the counsel sitting under him for instruction how to deal with the outrage which had thus been committed against the court. With respect to the measures which the present Government proposed to introduce, though he thought them wholly inadequate to producing any amount of good at all commensurate with the evils which existed in Ireland, he was bound in candour to admit that they were steps in the right direction. He was glad to find that an increased amount of money would be applied to the purpose of Education; but if the Government intended to make such a grant effectual for the joint instruction of the people of Ireland, they ought not to choose the highest dignitaries of the Church from amongst the number of those who were the most warmly opposed to the Board of National Education. He was glad, too, to learn that the Government, enlightened by the responsibility of office intended by a new Registration Bill to extend instead of curtailing the Elective Franchise in Ireland: with respect to the Commission now sitting to inquire into the relations subsisting between landlord and tenant, if it did nothing more than encumber the shelves of the library with another Blue-book, their appointment would be considered by the country a mockery, but from the character of those composing the Commission he had much better hopes of the result of their labours, and after the legislative changes which had already been made in the relations of landlord and tenant indirectly by the abolition of the 40s. freeholds, and directly 864 by the Subletting Act, and indeed by various other measures, he never could admit that the just rights of property would be invaded by an attempt further to amend the laws by which their relations were regulated, and to correct the grievances so loudly complained of on that score. On the subject of the Church and the payment of the Roman Catholic priesthood, he would not, considering the difficulties now attending that question, go over again the opinions which he had already expressed, but which he feared were shared by few of any if their Lordships. He would only add, in justice to himself, that he was convinced no permanent or satisfactory settlement could be had till the Protestant Establishment was reduced into some proportion with the numbers of its adherents, and the Roman Catholic clergy as well as the laity put in all respects on an equality with their Protestant brethren.
The Earl of Haddington
said, the noble Earl who had just addressed their Lordships commenced his speech by complaining of a statement made elsewhere with respect to his appointment of certain stipendiary Magistrates towards the close of his administration in Ireland; and he was anxious, as far as he was informed, to put the question upon its right footing. The present Ministry had been accused of the removal of Stipendiary Magistrates. It was said they had removed ten of the number in consequence of their dislike to that most useful and valuable body of men; and it was in order to defend himself and the Irish Government from that charge, and not with the view of inculpating the noble Earl, that the statement he (Lord Fortescue) referred to was made by the Home Secretary. The facts of the case, however, were these:—When the present Government came into office they found sixty-six Stipendiary Magistrates in Ireland. On looking at the late nominations, they found that the estimates for 1841, which were printed by order of the House of Commons on the 7th June, 1841, provided for fifty-nine Stipendiary Magistrates. They thus found that seven Stipendiary Magistrates had been added, between the 7th June and 28th August, 1841—the day on which the noble Viscount opposite resigned his office and the late Government ceased to exist. One of these Magistrates was appointed on the 15th of June; two were appointed on the 28th of July; two 865 on the 6th of August; one on the 16th of August, and one on the very day of the termination of the existence of the Government, namely, on the 28th of August. Under these circumstances, notice was given for the removal of ten, which had probably given rise to the belief that ten had been dismissed; only seven however, were dismissed, reducing the number to the fifty-nine for which the House of Commons had given a vote; there were at present sixty; therefore, Her Majesty's present Government had now one more than there were during the years 1839, 1840, and 1841, up to the 15th of June. He thought, therefore, Her Majesty's Government were not liable to the imputation of having wished to set aside what no one who had seen even the little of Ireland which he had, but must know to be a most valuable body of men. Since Government came into office, from what cause he did not know, four vacancies had taken place, which had been filled up by four of the gentlemen who had been originally appointed by his noble Friend (the Earl of Fortescue), and removed by the present Government for the reason he had stated. One of the seven, he understood, had since died, and there remained therefore, only two others. With a view to making this clear, and of defending Ministers and the Irish Government from the charges which had been made against them, the statement was made in the other House. There certainly was a discrepancy in the accounts of this transaction, as the noble Earl had stated. The noble Earl said, that Gentlemen high in office ought to be very sure of their facts before they made their statements. He was not aware that there was any difference of facts between the right hon. Gentleman and his noble Friend, excepting that his noble Friend said, he did not appoint seven in addition, but that he appointed seven, there having been three vacancies. He had no doubt he believed what he said, he said that there were only three vacancies to be filled up; but if that was the case, how came the number to be sixty-six? because, according to Cocker, if you added seven to fifty-nine, that would make sixty-six, which was the number which the present Government found when they came into office. He was speaking from information only, for the matter was not in his department; but certainly he must say that the facts stated by his right hon. 866 Friend in another place remained uncontradicted, and they were brought forward to show that the Government were not indisposed to entertain the highest opinion of the worth of this body of men, nor acted by any illiberal desire to set aside the persons appointed by their predecessors. Having disposed as far as was in his power, of this comparatively minor point, he would address a few observations to their Lordships on the question before the House. When he looked at the terms in which the notice had been framed, he agreed with his noble Friend the Lord President of the Council, that there was little in the terms themselves to call for any difference of opinion. They certainly had been led to imagine that the motion in terms would have imputed blame, more or less, to Her Majesty's Government, for their conduct in the late proceedings in Ireland. The Government fully expected it; but if any one ever had that intention, it must have been changed owing to the proceedings that had lately taken place. But although the terms of the motion did not impute blame to Her Majesty's Ministers, that implication was amply made out in the speeches in that House, particularly in the speech of his noble Friend who had introduced the motion. Any one, judging of the motion, would have thought that the late proceedings and events would have been passed over as to their propriety or otherwise; that the main objects of the speech introducing the motion would have been to show how Her Majesty's gracious intentions with respect to Ireland were to be carried into effect; how the improvement of that country was to be advanced; how the security of the subjects in that country was to be obtained. One would have anticipated from a statesman that some great, comprehensive speech would have been made, instead of which the speech of the noble Marquess was utterly barren of measures, and fruitful only in crimination. Her Majesty's Ministers had propounded their measures of improvement, namely, the Land Commission—the increased grant for Education—the new Registration Bills—and the means of providing, by a new Act of Parliament, for religious purposes, and for glebe houses and glebes to the Roman Catholic Clergy. Those things had been stated; they had been well received by their Lordships; and they had been admitted to be important matters, seeing that they embraced, 867 as he believed, a majority of the grievances that had been dwelt upon with the greatest force in Parliament, and with the greatest virulence at these monster meetings and other public assemblages that had taken place. In addition to these he wanted to know what it was that had been propounded—what were the other things that had been called for? The payment of the Catholic Clergy was a very old subject of desire by one party, of deprecation by another. His noble Friend, however, in the course of his speech, so far from proposing that, admitted most justly, that whatever opinion he might have on that subject, this was not a time when it could with any advantage be proposed; and certainly, if it were a valuable and good measure, nothing could be worse than to propose such a measure at a time when it was not likely to be successful. This measure of the payment of the Catholic Clergy formed one of the wings, as they were called, of the Catholic Relief Bill. When the Catholic Emancipation Bill was introduced by his noble Friend behind him, it was admitted on all sides of the House, that he acted most wisely in limiting his measure to Catholic Emancipation alone. [The Marquess of Lansdowne: One of the wings was carried.] He hoped the noble Marquess would allow him to deal with his wings in his own way. Most undoubtedly the Catholic Emancipation Bill was accompanied by one of its wings—the measure for the abolition of the forty-shilling freeholders. The noble Duke, however, was, in his opinion, quite right in not accompanying the Bill with a provision for paying the Roman Catholic Clergy, for any attempt to append to it such a provision, would have defeated that great measure. With regard to the Church funds, various propositions, it seemed, had been made. There were certain parties who called upon them for something like equalization in religious matters. That appeared to him a preposterous proposition. If they were prepared to say that the voluntary system should alone prevail in Ireland—if they were prepared to argue that the Church Establishment in Ireland must be abolished, and put down without endangering other Establishments, that might be equalization; but he defied the noble Marquess to show how, maintaining a shadow of the Protestant Establishment of Ireland, they could effect this equalization. With respect 868 to seats in their Lordships' House—who would dare to name to the people of this country or the Protestant people of Ireland, that Peers of Parliament named by his Holiness the Pope, should take their seats in Parliament? Yet there would be no equality without. If the Church of Ireland was to retain a shadow of what it was guaranteed to be by the Act of Union nothing of this kind could take place. The agitators of Ireland had never treated the question in that way; they were for sweeping the Church away altogether: the voluntary system was their panacea. In fact, all these concessions would be in vain and perfectly useless, and would consequently be thrown back in their Lordships' faces. No such thing as equalization of Churches could be accomplished if it were tried. The Act of Union forbade anything of the kind—that act which, confirming former acts, gave a solemn recognition and guarantee of the Irish Establishment. The Act of Union it was the intention of Her Majesty's Ministers to support, it was their determination to uphold the Established Church, and they would oppose any measure that could destroy, or injure, or impair it. There was ample room for timely legislation towards the Roman Catholics of Ireland, and he was quite sure Ministers had every disposition to consider anything that could be done for that numerous class of Her Majesty's subjects in Ireland. There were several minor matters alluded to by a noble Marquess opposite, which he would not detain their Lordships by noticing at any length. He alluded to emigration, railways, and other public works, and so forth. With respect to the question of emigration, he had not a doubt that it was a good; but to indulge in the habit of considering it as a means of national relief appeared to him to be chimerical; for how were they to convey any sufficient portion of the 2,000,000 of the people who were described as being paupers across the Atlantic, and if they did, would not the increase of population go on as rapidly as ever, so as to fill up the vacancies thus created? He looked with somewhat more expectation to public works, for he knew that the more the roads and railways were improved in Ireland, the more employment there would be for the industry of the people, and, if agitation were to cease, peace and quietness would enable the people to apply themselves to industry—and 869 an industrious people he could say that they were—and by such means the growth of Ireland would become conspicuous. He should wish to say a word or two upon some topics alluded to by the noble Marquess, certainly in that light and good-humoured manner which belonged to him, yet he had uttered, with a smile on his face, a great many hard things on account of the hostility to Ireland, which he imputed to the Government—but he did not think that he had made out his case. The noble Marquess said Her Majesty's Government had denied Ireland equal rights; that was something solid and substantial, he conceived; yet the noble Marquess did not explain what he meant in any part of his speech, which, indeed, had more of declamation than argument in it. What was the meaning of the charge?—Were not the laws of the two countries the same, and he trusted that they were fairly administered? He did not think that the noble Marquess was one of those who considered it a denial of equal rights that the Irish had not 200 representatives instead of 105. The noble Marquess did not say, that he thought so. If the registration had dwindled away, that had been through causes over which the present Government had no control—it had dwindled away in the time of their predecessors. So far from there having been any indisposition on the part of the present Government to deal with this subject, they had declared their intention to introduce a bill to remedy the evils which had arisen from the interpretation put upon the law, which had so greatly diminished the number of voters in Ireland. But rights, it was said, had been denied to the people of Ireland. He wished he could learn what rights belonging to the people of Ireland had been evaded or denied to them by Her Majesty's Government. Had the Government interfered with the course of justice or the administration of the laws? There was a great deal said about challenging the juries, but he believed that system was done away when his noble Friend (the Marquess of Normanby) was Lord-lieutenant of Ireland, and the juries were chosen now just as they were during his government of that country. They had been told that they had made improper appointments to the judicial Bench. He apprehended the learned Gentlemen who had been so elevated were well qualified for their important func- 870 tions, and he wanted to know whether a gentleman was not to be put on the judicial Bench because he might have made in Parliament or elsewhere a speech or speeches which might have been distasteful to the Catholic hierarchy? That came with bad taste to them from a noble Marquess, who, unless he was greatly belied, had offered the office of Master of the Rolls to Mr. O'Connell. He had no doubt the noble Marquess was quite ready to justify that step. ["Hear, hear."] Then, the noble lords had no right to assail the present Government for their one or two appointments. He (Lord Haddington) held such a charge as cheap as possible. Let the noble Lords explain how and in what respect any rights had been denied to the Irish people. In regard to the enjoyment of equal rights by the different classes of the Irish people, that depended not upon the Government; it depended upon the state of society in Ireland. Those were matters over which the Government had no sort of control. They had next been accused of inconsistency in dealing with the monster meetings and more particularly with the final meeting or intended meeting at Clontarf. It had been said, that two courses were open, and that the manly course would have been to have prosecuted the first meeting at which improper language had been used, which would have put a stop to these meetings: that they had not taken that manly course, but had supposed the meetings would work themselves out. But the Government had not been absurd enough to imagine when they saw those meetings one becoming more violent than another, that they would work themselves out; but they had thought it best to give the parties fair warning of the impropriety of their conduct; and that had been done in various ways. In the first place, most of the parties read the newspapers, and must thence have known the opinions of all parties in England on the subject of meetings of that kind,—that they were improper and illegal. Then came the much-abused discretion exercised by the Lord Chancellor of Ireland in dismissing the Magistrates, and he maintained, that the Government were perfectly justified in the course which the Lord Chancellor had adopted. He meant to say, that Magistrates who would go to meetings of that sort, having such objects, attended by such numbers of persons, and carrying 871 with them so much possible risk to the public peace, and endangering the fundamental principles on which society was held together—he meant to say, that Magistrates who attended such meetings could not be trusted for contributing in their official capacity to put down excesses which might be created by the excitement caused by such assemblages of the people. He repeated, that he had no doubt at all of the propriety of the measure. He thought the noble Marquess would find it much more difficult to justify many of his dismissals. If, as the noble Marquess said, they had looked to this agitation with the idea that it would wear itself out, surely it was time, when the Clontarf meeting was announced, that they should be cured of that delusion. Mr. O'Connell, at Mullaghmast, had declared his intention of holding six or seven meetings: the Clontarf meeting was ushered in by a proclamation and species of military array that rendered it high time to interfere. He thought it had been clearly shown to their Lordships, that not a moment's time had been lost, The Lord Chancellor was sent over immediately to Ireland. As soon as he arrived the Proclamation was issued. It was published at two o'clock on Saturday, and by four o'clock of that day there was no reason why it might not have been known all around the neighbourhood where the meeting was to be held, and that was as good as if a month's notice had been given. The Government couriers or messengers, who carried the Proclamation into the localities adjacent to Dublin, were on foot and at work an hour before Mr. O'Connell's messengers went on the same errand. He did not deny the attempts of Mr. O'Connell to keep the peace, and was disposed to give him full credit for them. He thought a breach of the peace would have been the worst thing that ever could have happened to him; but they were alarmed by the influence obtained by that individual. When he said there should be peace, there was peace—and at all those meetings there was only an old woman's fruit-stall kicked over. But what if he had proclaimed there should be war—that the time had come when they should abjure peace—what, if he called on them to remember 1798, to remember former instances in Irish history, some fabulous and some true? Supposing all this could be done, a man 872 who had this power might use it dangerously. But at Clontarf he admitted that he had the power, and that he had exercised that power well it were vain to deny. One of the noble Marquesses (the Marquess of Clanricarde) who had spoken the other evening, had complained of the manner in which these parties had been brought to justice; he had complained of the principle on which they had been arraigned: he complained that they had been arraigned for conspiracy; he did not contradict the law as it was laid down by the learned Lord Chief Justice; but at the same time he had said that it would not be understood by the people of this country; and that it would have been better to have arraigned them for the meetings at Mullaghmast, at Tara, and at Clifden, to have prevented these meetings, than to have waited for the meeting at Clontarf. Was the noble Marquess sure that the Government would have run no risk in arraigning the meeting at Mullaghmast? At Dublin they had the garrison on which to rely; but at Tara, at Mullaghmast, and at Clifden, they had a very small force to put down any outbreak, and supposing the people had taken it into their heads to resist, what would have been done? Were they to proclaim, and do nothing? They must have proceeded, and have been prepared to be assailed by that magnificent infantry which Mr. O'Connell had eulogised, superior, it was boasted, to the troops which his noble Friend behind him (the Duke of Wellington) had commanded at the battle of Waterloo. It would have been unwise to have moved with a small force; if they had, they would probably have led to bloodshed, and then he would like to have heard the language of noble Lords opposite. Would not the cry of Peterloo have been revived?—would they not have been told of the cruelty of destroying the people at a peaceable and loyal meeting convened for a lawful object? As it was, it did not appear that the jury were satisfied upon the illegality of the meetings; they declared the traversers guilty of conspiracy, but not for attending unlawful meetings; and had the Government relied only on the illegality of the meetings, in the result, instead of vindicating the law, they would have been defeated, and in all probability they would have been obliged to come to Parliament and say, "The law is not sufficient; we cannot vindicate the law, and 873 we come to you for further powers to enable us so to do." However, the indictment was for conspiracy, or, if they preferred it, a combination—not a secret combination, because things were not now done in that way, but a combination to carry certain objects which were lawful by unlawful means. He said, then, that the Government stood vindicated before their Lordships, as he would take upon him to say, they were in the opinion of the people of England, in the course they had taken; and it would always be a source of satisfaction to the Government that they had done all that they could for maintaining the public peace, by the ordinary aid of the law. They might have prosecuted for seditious speeches; it was very difficult, however, to fix precise words, and of what value would that be, to avert an evil of such extent and magnitude. Suppose they had indicted the persons for violence of language; God knew this violence was disgusting enough, to see the manner in which all men and all things were spoken of. Some who ought to have known better, ought to have been ashamed of the manner in which they had spoken of the noble Duke behind him. It was enough to create disgust in every human creature. But it appeared from something that had been stated elsewhere, that the Government had acted in a very cruel manner towards the traversers, in having prosecuted and convicted them for violence, and for exciting the people to hatred of this country; and then with having acted with great inconsistency in being associated in their Ministry with one remarkable for his hostility towards Ireland, and the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government had been accused of putting his noble and learned Friend on the Woolsack, on account of his abuse of the Irish and his hostility to Ireland. He had never in his life read an accusasation with more indignation. In the first place, the attack on his noble and learned Friend was a foul calumny; no one who knew his noble Friend—no one who was in that House—could accuse him of being the enemy or hostile to any human creature; there never was a person less liable to the charge, or of a more generous or temperate disposition. ["Hear."] He begged pardon of his noble Friend for having thus spoken of him in his presence, but every Member of the Government had a right to feel that this was an imputation 874 upon the right hon. Baronet who formed the Government, and on his Colleagues, for a connivance at it; and he thought, that the imputation, that the right hon. Baronet had made his noble Friend Lord Chancellor of England because he was hostile to a large portion of Her Majesty's subjects, used language which went beyond all his experience of party attack. It was language which he did not like to hear, it was an imputation which he had heard with regret, and those who had used it ought to regret that it had been made. Language of this kind was little likely to heal the wounds of Ireland. The noble Lord who had spoken the other evening from the cross-benches (Lord Howden) had pointed out the mischievous effect of a motion of this sort, by its placing difficulties in the way of the Government and on the tranquillity of Ireland. It contributed to keep up that angry spirit which all desired should have an end. It would, however, be the business of the Government to continue, as they had hitherto done, maintaining and upholding the supremacy of the law, and leaving no legitimate means untried—which appeared to them likely to tranquillise and conciliate the people of Ireland.
The Marquess of Clanricarde
wished to say a few words in explanation. He had been misunderstood as having mentioned an equalisation of the Protestant and Catholic Churches. He did not say a single word on that subject, which was one of so much importance that he would not express an opinion till after mature consideration, and certainly would not introduce it incidentally. He had also been misunderstood on the subject of emigration; he had not recommended emigration, but he had said that it was no use appointing a Commission unless they intended to consider the subject as part of a combined and detailed system for the relief of the pauper population of Ireland. Neither had he said, that the Government could have prosecuted those who had attended at Tara and Mullaghmast as well as at Clontarf; they had not prosecuted those who attended at Clontarf or any other meeting, and he had not said that even these meetings were illegal. He had certainly said, that the charge of conspiracy was one of such a constructive nature, that it would be generally odious to the people of Ireland, and opposed to the feelings of the people of this country, and he had said 875 distinctly that the other meetings might have been stopped just as the Clontarf had been—by proclamation. But when he had referred to a prosecution for seditious language, he had not taken upon himself to say, that such a prosecution could have been carried on, or that seditious language had been uttered. In the Government proclamation, however, for putting down the Clontarf meeting, it was said that seditious language had been held at previous meetings; if this were true, and the Government ought not to have proclaimed it unless it were true, then he said that for this seditious language, the person who had uttered it ought to have been prosecuted.
§ Earl Fortescue
rose to explain the statement relative to the stipendiary magistrates appointed immediately preceding his retirement. He would name three persons who had caused vacancies. Captain Hay had resigned, and had left Ireland; Mr. Roche, at his own request, had been permitted to retire; and the third, an old man, had been displaced; his name it was not necessary to mention. Those three had been withdrawn from the bench between the 15th of June and the 28th of August, and four additional magistrates had been appointed at the pressing request of particular districts. He might thus have increased the number beyond those of the preceding year, but it had been the practice of himself and his predecessor, when well-established cases were made out, to appoint Stipendiary magistrates.
§ Lord Monteagle
said, that he could not help thinking that the appointment of stipendiary Magistrates formed but a very small portion of the subject now under consideration; at the same time, he considered that his noble Friend who had lately filled the office of Lord Lieutenant of Ireland was not only justified in giving, but was compelled to give, the explanation which had just fallen from him; because it was not in the suggestion of the appointment of a greater or fewer number of stipendiary Magistrates that the sting of the charge consisted, but in the imputation that at the period of the breaking up of the late Government his noble Friend, for the purposes of a low and corrupt patronage, had taken the opportunity of adding to the number of that force, a force 876 which he was rejoiced to hear not only vindicated but praised by all sides of the House. On that subject he thought that the vindication of his noble Friend afforded an answer complete and triumphant to those who did not know his character—for to those who did, any justification was wholly unnecessary—because he had shown that those additions had been made either on vacancies previously existing, or on the demands of the local Magistracy. With one observation more he would dismiss this point. Whilst the noble Lord claimed credit to the Government for their disregard of patronage, more especially in selecting for appointments those officers who had been previously appointed by his noble Friend, he fully justified those previous appointments—for however reckless of patronage the Government might be, he could not believe that they would carry this principle to so romantic and extravagant an extent as to make appointments of improper persons, merely because they had been previously selected by their predecessors. With respect to the terms of the motion he would say a few words. The noble Lord, who had just sat down, as well as the noble President of the Council, who opened this debate on the part of the Government in a manner which, politically opposed to him as he was, and differing from his views of Irish policy, he must yet admit to have been entitled to the praise of being in a conciliatory spirit, and to which he was, therefore, most ready and willing, and anxious to render every justice—both those noble Lords stated, that to the terms of this motion they would have no objection, were it not for the speech which introduced, and the inferences which had been drawn from it. If this were so—if his noble Friend, (Lord Normanby) who understood Ireland as well as any Ex-Lord Lieutenant, had embodied in this resolution his views of the spirit in which we ought to carry on the Government of Ireland, and the noble Lords opposite admitted, that such was the spirit in which they also desired to carry on that Government,—was it not singular that the results of the government of the noble Lords opposite, and of his noble Friend, should be so very different? Must there not be something required beside parliamentary declarations—something beside the spirit in which the Government was professed to be carried out, 877 to account for the lamentable discrepancy between the state of Ireland, under the Administration of his noble Friend, and, he would not say its present state now, but the state in which it had been for a considerable time after the accession of the noble Lords to the Government? It was stated by the right hon. Baronet, who was now at the head of the Government, when he came into office in 1839, that he felt his greatest difficulty would be Ireland—he did not allude to that memorable declaration in a reproachful or a hostile spirit; it was made in a previous Parliament, and it was now a matter of history. Soon after Sir Robert Peel's acceptance of office, and found Ireland in a state of tranquillity, and when Ireland continued in a state of tranquillity for some considerable time he (Lord Monteagle) heard it a frequent boast on the part of the Members and Friends of the Government, that that which had been anticipated to be the greatest difficulty in his way was in fact no difficulty at all, and that Ireland continued in a state of as perfect tranquillity under the present Government as it had been under their predecessors. During the first year of the present Administration, troops had been withdrawn from Ireland for the purpose of aiding in the preservation of the peace here, and at that period it was the boast of the Friends of Government that Ireland was in a state of perfect repose. How was this to be accounted for? Why, because in human and political affairs effects survive the causes which produce them. The effects of mis-government and of evil councils, too often survive the causes which have produced them; and, on the contrary, habits of peace, order, and respect for the law are so obviously beneficial in themselves, and communicate such great blessings to the people, that it requires strong impulses and irritation to put an end to the good which a Government, wise and popular, has once produced. Therefore, with respect to the tranquillity of Ireland in the early part of the present Administration, it was but an additional tribute offered to the mode in which Ireland had been governed by their Whig predecessors. But it was soon otherwise. Before he approached this part of the subject he wished to say, that he was far from raising any argument against the military precautions of the Government, that he did 878 not complain of the extent of the force employed in Ireland; though he might raise an argument from this fact, as to the exciting cause which rendered so large an amount of force necessary, yet in the present threatening state of the country, which he was not prepared to deny, he was satisfied that the Government had done no more than their duty in providing to the uttermost for military defence. He was persuaded that in saying this, he was not only speaking the opinion of the class to which he belonged, and of the friends around him, but he believed he was asserting that which would be generally acquiesced in by the Irish. He knew that the military force employed in Ireland, was so far from being unpalatable and displeasing even to those who were considered the most discontented classes, that there was no measure on the contrary more popular in Ireland than an increase of its military strength. On that point, therefore, he had no complaint to make; and he had further to observe, in relation to the legal proceedings which had lately taken place, he was far from denying that the Government had taken a right step, and had fulfilled its duty in resorting to the ordinary law of the country, rather than to the cheap, vulgar, but in ancient times the accustomed mode of coming to Parliament for increased powers. On this ground therefore, also, he had no complaint to make against the Government, on the contrary, he felt bound to pay them a tribute of acknowledgment for the course which they had taken. But, if the noble Lords opposite, were disposed to govern Ireland on terms of perfect conciliation—if they differed with this side only in degree, how came it to pass, that they did not succeed In keeping Ireland in a state of tranquillity? The cause struck him to be simply this—They had not the confidence of the mass of the people of that country. He would admit, that in one sense, with respect to confidence, it was the same in one respect with the Government of which he had been a Member. There were, unfortunately, in Ireland two classes of persons. Did they (the Ministers) think that anything that we (the Opposition) could have done, when in Government would have secured the confidence of the noble Earl (Lord Roden) who spoke last night, or of that class who claimed for themselves, he thought unjustly, the exclusive title of the Protes- 879 tants of Ireland. If we made them all Archdeacons of Armagh—if we perpetrated in behalf of every one of them, such a job as was perpetrated last year for one favoured and highly-beneficed clergyman, they would not be contented, because they were resolved not to have confidence in us. The present Government was in the same position, though more justly with regard to the great bulk of the Irish people. They might wish to administer the affairs of that country in an upright and impartial spirit, and he gave them every credit for the sincerity of their intentions, but they could not possess the confidence of the great mass of the people. The two great parties in the State were thus in some degree in the same position. But there was this difference between them—the party which now governed did not possess the confidence of that division of the Irish people which was incalculably the most numerous, the most excitable, and the most suffering. Was there not a cause for this? If there were not, we should be left without hope. If we traced effects to their causes, we might discover some reason not to despair of the future state of Ireland. The noble Lords would excuse him, and would not, he hoped, think he was treating them with disrespect, because in the language of frankness and simplicity, he told them, they had not the confidence of the Irish people, because they had done nothing to deserve it. Their political conduct during the last ten years, had been such as to deprive them of that confidence. He would go into the proofs. The last ten years had been eventful years in Parliamentary history. During those years measures of great importance had been discussed in both Houses of Parliament; and in what spirit were those measures proposed on the one side, and discussed on the other? Look to them—one and all—look at them as proposed and dealt with year after year, you who complain that you do not possess the confidence of the majority of the Irish people—you philosophers, who may wish to trace events to their real causes! Look to the discussion on Parliamentary Reform, to the discussions, on the Irish Franchise! Look to the generosity with which these measures was proposed on the one side, and the suspicion reluctance which they was assented to on the other Look to the Municipal Reform Bill! The noble Earl 880 said, that he was in favour of equal rights between the two countries. If he did not know the excellent understanding and the retentive memory of his noble Friend, he should have thought that the history of the last few years had been to him a perfect blank; he could not imagine that he, as a lover of equal rights, could have been acting for years with that party which allowed equal rights between England and Scotland, but when the same rights were asked for Ireland, turned round, and said, "Other parts of the empire may be deserving of municipalities; from our confidence in the soundness of their principles they may be entrusted with the performance of those functions—but you, the Irish, are unworthy of such franchises, and we will not give them to you." And what was said by some others of the party? "We do not object to give Corporate Reform to England and Scotland; but those Corporations are in Ireland the bulwarks of the Constitution, and of the Union, and we will not substitute Catholic for Protestant Corporations,"—thus making religion a bar to those civil rights to which his noble Friend thought the people of Ireland entitled. Surely, the noble Earl must for the time have lost his memory when he thinks that the Irish people have been treated on terms of equality. But, my Lords, it must be admitted that you afterwards changed your tone, altered your course, and abandoned your position! And what did you then do? When you saw that the position in which you endeavoured to remain, was no longer tenable, did you frankly, generously, and wisely concede to the Municipalities of Ireland the same rights and privileges as you did to those of this country? No, you pared down their franchises; you restricted their duties, and if you complain now that the power of those municipalities has been applied to other purposes than those for which they were by law constituted. ["Hear," from the Duke of Wellington.] (He objected as much as the noble Duke to that application of them) you have only yourselves to blame for this result. You employed so much astuteness in depriviing the Irish Corporations of any power of doing good, that you have only left them to choose between, what was worse—an activity for mischief. Had he not thus proved both his positions? Did not all the propositions made by the Conservative party in both Houses, imply distrust of the 881 Irish people, and, therefore, you are now so justly repaid by the loss of their confidence; and do you now expect to be believed and forgiven, when you say, that they are entitled to the same civil rights with the other portions of the empire? Was that all? No such thing. When the subject of Education was alluded to, in this debate, the Government came forward and claimed, (as he admitted they were fully entitled to claim), great credit not only for what they were now doing, but what they had done last year; but when he was dealing with the question of confidence, he must ask, Did they remember how this subject of Education was dealt with when it was originally introduced? In the observations of the noble Earl last night, whom he was sorry not to see in his place now, they had pretty strong evidence of the mode in which the question was still dealt with by their eager partisans; but more conclusive evidence had been given when the Irish system of Education was first proposed. Then it was treated as if the Protestants of Ireland were insulted and ruined, and religious men in Ireland were taught to believe that the object of the Government and the consequence of their measures was to deprive the Protestants of their Scriptures; and multitudinous meetings—he would not call them monster meetings, though they were equal to any of those lately held—were called, at which certain persons of station and influence, asked whether the people would tamely submit to be robbed of their Scriptures? whereupon a given number of Bibles were taken out of a given number of pockets, and the people declared they never would allow themselves to be robbed of the Sacred Volume. But it was not only among the warm people of the north of Ireland, it was not at Pettifriland alone, that such language was used. Even within the walls of this very House—in this Temple of Justice—in this the first Tribunal of the land, a sentence too eloquent to be forgotten, and too remarkable to escape the memory of any noble Lord who had heard it, was pronounced in reprobation of the Irish system of Education by one of the learned Members of the reverend Bench, who uttered the pious, and he had no doubt sincere prayer, that it might never come to pass, that by reason of the irreligion and iniquity of that system he should hear that denunciation 882 pronounced against the Sovereign of this country, which had been pronounced against a Jewish Sovereign—"Because thou hast renounced the Lord thy God, so have I renounced thee from being King over Israel." He gave this as a specimen of the mode and manner in which Irish affairs were discussed even in this House, he was now demonstrating the injustice of the charges against the Irish system of Education, for he was now defending it as proposed by the late Government, and as adopted honestly and generously by the present. The noble Earl (Earl of Haddington) had said, in reference to the payment of the Roman Catholic Clergy by the State, that although the question was one which might be right in itself, yet it was one of those which might be marred by a premature discussion. In that, he (Lord Monteagle) quite agreed with the noble Earl; but on looking back through the history of the world, would not the noble Earl find, that if some questions had been marred by premature discussions, others had been ruined by a too late concession? Now, that was to some extent the case with the Education system, which, if carried at the right time, might have been a blessing to Protestants and Catholics alike. But it had been found, the question of Education was a most advantageous one on which to fight a party battle. It was therefore made a party question, and the party of the present Government had undoubtedly agitated it most successfully against the late Government, but their crime was now revisited upon themselves in tenfold punishment. Even if when the present Government had seized the reins of power, Ministers had at once conceded the question of Irish Education, good might still have been done, but they hesitated, they deliberated, and, if their Lordships would permit the application of a familiar passage, he would say that in such a case the Statesman, "who deliberates is lost." They hesitated, and the majority of the Irish Bishops, with the Archbishop of Armagh at their head, and nearly the whole of the clergy—many of the best—some of the most sincere—many of the most earnest clergymen in the country, were left in the dark; they were allowed to continue in ignorance of the intentions of Government for upwards of a year, they withheld their co-operations 883 from the national system, and some even used all their exertions, hoping by perseverance they might overthrow the system altogether, or at all events, obtain the countenance of the Government to a rival one. Their Lordships would remember, that petitions flowed in in thousands, and all prepared and presented by the friends of the Government. Still the Government maintained their timid or their obstinate silence. He admitted, that the ultimate determination they arrived at was a proper one; it was just, but it came too late to repair many of the mischiefs which had been occasioned by their long delay. Again, in considering the causes of the distrust felt towards the Government, let him ask, was it just, nay, was it prudent, to designate and mark by opprobrious names, as if they were tabooing the whole of one section of the Members connected with Ireland. The law recognised not a jot of difference between any of the Members of either House—they were all Members of the Imperial Parliament, and all equal; yet an attempt was made to undervalue and discredit the majority of the late Government, because it was, as it was called, a mere Irish majority. That was a most unfortunate argument, for if there was one point on which the Irish people felt more sore than another, it was the thought of being looked down upon—undervalued, as though not worthy of being classed with, and belonging to the great community of the nation. The cry against the Irish majority was a most unfortunate one and was one of the most fatal causes for producing dissatisfaction and discontent. Ireland not only had her poets, but the whole people might be said to be poetical, and they were as soon and as easily irritated, as was proverbial with that irritable genus, and they could not but feel acutely the sarcasms and the sneers constantly raised against and thrown upon Irish majorities. The noble President of the Council (Lord Wharncliffe) had been driven into a lamentable admission, when he acknowledged that the Ministry were governing Ireland through the minority of her people. He said true, it is so, but we have the majority in the other two countries. Was not that a very awkward argument to send forth to Ireland? It said, "No doubt the great majority of the Irish people are against us, but we have, as it were, a writ in aid, from the people of gland and the people of Scotland, to 884 govern you." But was it only the Irish Members who were attacked? No, the Irish people were attacked. But above all, their religion—the religion of the great bulk of the Irish people, together with their priesthood, were attacked virulently, and year after year accusations of the most gross nature were brought against the College of Maynooth,—accusations, of which, if one-tenth were true, it would have been a deep and foul disgrace to those Protestants who were made visitors of that College by the law. He had a perfect right to allude to that which had passed in debate in that House, now that it had become matter of history; but he was unwilling to say anything that would be likely to introduce any personal acrimony on that occasion; it was enough for him to say, that there had been attributed to the highest authority in that House terms which were considered painful, offensive, and insulting to the whole mass of the people of Ireland. He was quite aware, that explanations had been given on the subject, he could only say, that whether from dullness, or from whatever other cause, he did not think that the explanation palliated or excused the original offence. But whether the words were meant in the original sense or not, they were so understood, they were repeated throughout the length and breadth of the land, and, without doubt, they had not lightly contributed to exasperate a most sensitive people. The name of Mr. O'Connell had frequently been mentioned in the debates of this House during the last ten years. Great efforts were made to represent Mr. O'Connell in the most odious light throughout England; and, having partly succeeded in that object, the next great and paramount object of the then Opposition party was to connect him with the late Government. That was part of the tactics of the party. He (Lord Monteagle) would not then stop to enquire whether Mr. O'Connell was right or whether he was wrong, but he would not disguise his opinion, if a proper time arrived for stating it; but they found a man who possessed more of the confidence of his fellow-countrymen, who filled a greater space in the minds of the people, than any other man either in ancient or modern days—he would say a larger and more irresponsible power than any man ever wielded since our Parliamentary history began—and he would assure their Lordships, that 885 it was a larger and more irresponsible power than any man ought to be possessed of—still, they found the man in that position, the master and the idol of the multitude, and he was made the subject of incessant vituperation, of constant and unceasing attack—nay, even their Lordships added immense weight to his already overgrown power, for so cordially had they brought their minds to hate him, that let a measure come before that House, be it what it might, the fact, or even the suspicion, that it had received the support of Mr. O'Connell was quite enough to insure its rejection. Noble Lords opposite even where they condemned Mr. O'Connell's power, made themselves his slaves, for he had only to express his approbation of any measure before Parliament, and it was rendered imperative on them to record their dissent. Now, was it wise, he would ask, to continue the abuse of such a man for the mere purposes of raising a party cry or swelling a party vote—was it wise to irritate an individual so situated, and through him to irritate the great mass of the people of Ireland, who revered him? The noble Lords certainly had, by these and similar means, secured their accession to office; they had obtained their whistle, but they paid, and were paying too dear for it. He could not go from that part of the subject without alluding to the observations which had fallen from the noble Earl with respect to the offer made to Mr. O'Connell of the Mastership of the Rolls. With respect to the offer of that appointment, he might say, look at your own, justify them if you can. But this would only be a tu quoque argument. He highly approved of the offer of the Rolls to Mr. O'Connell at the time, and he was perfectly ready to admit his entire approval of it now. But were there none of the party of the Government now in power of their friends, who approved of that offer when made, and who deeply regretted its rejection? He could assure their Lordships that there were many Conservatives of both Houses, who would have thought it the greatest of all blessings for the country if the learned Gentleman had thought fit to accept the situation, and fill a position for which his talents so eminently fitted him. Remember, he was not proposed to be made a Criminal Judge, he was not to be placed upon a bench where politics 886 came into discussion, but in an Equity Court, where equity was administered to all—to Protestant and Catholic alike. He (Lord Monteagle) deeply regretted that the offer was not accepted. He did not regret that it had been made; he was glad that it was avowed, and he was perfectly ready to bear his share of the responsibility. He must guard himself from any inference which any of their Lordships might draw from what fell from him, that he approved of Mr. O'Connell's recent proceedings—nothing was further from his feelings. No one was more opposed than he was to the bold and violent system of agitation which had lately disturbed Ireland; and he was still more hostile to the cry which had been got up for the Repeal of the Union. But this should not betray him into any invective or personal attack. It was his fate, under Lord Grey's Government, in April, 1834, to have to reply to the hon. and learned Gentleman upon the same question; he considered it an honour to have been so trusted by the Ministers, under whom he then served, and he did not shrink from the task; but he would never make use of his privilege as a Peer to vilify and attack a man, who was absent, and who with all his faults, was the object of deep veneration to his countrymen. In saying these words in relation to Mr. O'Connell, their Lordships would readily believe, that it proceeded neither from gratitude for past, nor from hope of future favours. He owed no gratitude to Mr. O'Connell, for it was only last year that he went home and found that the learned Gentleman had denounced him as the long and ever-to-be enemy of his country. Some noble Lords might consider such denunciations as matters of trivial importance, but certainly they could not infer from them, that in what he had said in reprobation of the course of personal attacks made in that House on Mr. O'Connell, he could be influenced by any private bias. Another mode in which the people of Ireland were deeply insulted, was the mode in which the Irish appointments made by the late Government were received. Three gentlemen of high attainments, of great accomplishments and learning, and of unimpeachable character, were appointed to office, Mr. Sheil, Mr. M. O'Ferrall, and Mr. Wyse. The manner in which those appointments were received, created a greater movement than any measure short 887 of what the repeal of the Emancipation Bill could have done. What was done by the West Riding Reformation Society? If the Cabinet wished to inquire into that matter, let them ask the President of the Society, who was also President of the Council. The Conservative party had their agitators too, and they called for their fasts and prayers to ensure the safety of the land, because a Roman Catholic had been sworn in at the Privy Council Table. It might be alleged that Ministers had nothing to do with these proceedings, but if a great political party adopted the follies of their friends, above all if they profited by them, those faults and follies became their own, and they became responsible for them. His noble Friend (Lord Haddington) talked of equality of rights, and were pleased to say how desirable it would be to communicate them. He was glad to hear him, for there was joy over the repentance of a political sinner; he would willingly accept the repentance of any of the noble Lords opposite, and he trusted it would be for their temporal and spiritual benefit. But when he remembered the bill which was introduced for the purpose of restricting and limiting the Franchise in Ireland—when he recollected the manner in which that Bill was seized upon by party for the purposes of party—he could not but say that the people of Ireland had been made the victims to party warfare. The introduction of that most unwise bill caused an immense ferment amongst the masses of the people; but party purposes having been now served, he was glad that justice was about to be done, and the franchise extended. He need scarcely refer to the Irish Arms Bill; no doubt, the opposition it met with, was somewhat exaggerated; but that opposition it met with led to many important modifications of the measure. However, he did not think it tended to strengthen the confidence of the people in the Government. [The Earl of Haddington was understood to say that it was never intended to do so.] He was obliged to the noble Earl: but certainly he was rather surprised to hear the admission.
The Earl of Haddington
observed, that he had been misunderstood: what he had said was, that the prolonged discussions were not occasioned by Ministers [No, no.] He assured noble Lords, upon his honour, that he had not meant to say, nor had he 888 said, that the Arms Bill was never intended to secure the confidence of the people of Ireland.
§ Lord Monteagle
.—If he had not understood his noble Friend in another sense he would not have made the observations he did; he was incapable of misrepresenting any noble Lord, far less so old an acquaintance for the purposes of debate. The first question he had endeavoured to discuss, was that of confidence or no confidence between the present Government and the Irish people; and the next was, what were the causes of the admitted want of confidence? He had endeavoured to show that the whole course of policy of the present Government was adverse to the feelings and interests of the vast majority of the inhabitants of Ireland, and hence the want of confidence in their intentions as well as in their measures. With regard to the monster meetings, he was bound to admit, that he highly and entirely approved of the course Ministers had taken regarding them in the last Session; and he had frequently said so, although he had been twitted by his political friends as well as his political enemies (he would not call them enemies, but opponents) upon the subject. It had been stated, among other things, that if the present Government had possessed the resolution of their predecessors in 1831, they would have framed a Coercion Bill; but his answer had been that he doubted much whether a Coercion Bill would produce the benefit that some eager politicians expected from it. Neither a great nor even the little Coercion Bill (merely to change the venue on the recommendation of a noble and learned Lord) would do any permanent good in Ireland. To revert to the meetings, he would remark that he did not think that Ministers, by their long forbearance, barred themselves from proceeding at the proper opportunity. Nay, more, he thought the case was perfectly ripe for prosecution at the time proceedings were taken. He was of opinion that they had fixed upon the proper time, because the instant there was an open avowal by men—whether the object were legal or not he would not stop to inquire—but the instant there was an open avowal of a resolution to obtain an object by illegitimate means—the moment any party avowed and showed an intention to assume military organisation, all parties 889 were interested in putting it down, but none more so than that party which advocated the popular cause, because the abuse of popular opinions and popular rights was the thing which at all times and in all countries was fatal to popular liberty. Therefore he thought that the very instant the Proclamation calling for military organization was issued from the Corn Exchange, the Government was bound to proceed. He went further. He thought it would have been puerile to have allowed the substitution of one notice for another, of "groups" for "troops," "wardens" for "officers,' "meetings" for "muster," to have altered the intentions of Government. It would have been perfectly absurd and ludicrous. But, although he agreed so far with the Government in the course which they took; although he thought they were perfectly justified in prosecuting for the act—in prosecuting for the meeting so proposed to be held, he did not think that the Government, any more than an individual, were justified in standing by, seeing a long course of measures followed up day by day, week by week, month, by month, and then, at any particular time, prosecuting not only for that one act, which was the only act, but making an accumulative case by bringing together all the acts which they had allowed to pass unnoticed. He thought that would be unjust in private life; he thought it impolitic and unjust on the part of the Government. But then we had heard a charge made against the Government for their delay in issuing their Clontarf proclamation; or had also heard their justification; and he would now call their attention to that charge and to that justification. He should be the last man in the world to attribute to the present Government, or to any Government that ever could exist in a country like ours, that which nothing but falsehood and calumny could have conceived—an accusation that they delayed their proclamation with a view to allow the meeting to take place, and to put it down by force. It was an absurdity; he would not waste words upon it. But though free from one imputation, were they not subject to another, let us see how they issued this proclamation. It was clear that the proclamation only came out about three o'clock on Saturday, the meeting being intended to take place on the Sunday. It was clear, also, that part 890 of the charge—the gravamen of the charge against the monster meeting was, that the people were brought in great multitudes from great distances, from different quarters to attend this meeting. Well, it was asked, why not issue the proclamation sooner? The answer was given by the noble Lord the President of the Council. It was most inconclusive and most unsatisfactory. He said that the notice of the meeting appeared on Thursday, the 28th; that the military proclamation was issued on the 30th; that it reached London the 1st October, when Lord De Grey was sent for; that on Tuesday the decision of the Government was taken—to do what?—to refer the case to the law officers of the Crown; that it was not till Thursday, the 10th, that Lord De Grey set out for Ireland.—[The Duke of Wellington. That is not correct, but go on.] That on Friday he arrived there; that on that day the Privy Council met; and on Saturday the proclamation was issued. Now the question was, was there due dispatch—that dispatch which men of sense, such as the Members of the present Cabinet, men of decision—(he presumed there was no lack of decision or vigour among them) might have been expected to have used? Was that the mode in which the business ought to have been conducted? It has been said, that this proclamation was matter of very great nicety, that they had to adjust their words, as if it were a nice matter of special pleading, as if it required the greatest possible carefulness in drawing it up. Why, an intimation on the part of the Government that they objected to the meeting, and a simple prohibition was all that was wanting to carry their intentions into effect. Why was the delay from the 1st of October to the time of the meeting? Why was not a public intimation given on Friday, given, even if the proclamation did not appear till the following day? If the Government really wished to communicate to the public what their intentions upon the subject were, the slightest intimation, the insertion of a statement in any of the papers on Friday, that a proclamation would be issued on the Saturday, would have been sufficient to forewarn and to put every one on his guard. He confessed that when he heard the defence of the noble Lord it reminded him, by way of contrast, of great Parliamentary days—of a great and triumphant exhibition of Par- 891 liamentary talent, in which the unrivalled orator passing on in his rotation from day to day, had marked on every day the event which had occurred—it reminded him—but in the way of contrast—of a most splendid passage, in the speech of the great Statesman Mr. Canning, when he described proceedings taken under an exigency certainly somewhat more formidable than the meeting at Clontarf. Mr. Canning said, on the subject of the expedition to Portugal:—It was only last Friday (he spoke on the Tuesday) that the precise information arrived; on Saturday His Majesty's confidential servants came to their decision: on Sunday that decision received the sanction of His Majesty; on Monday it was communicated to Parliament; on this day Tuesday, and at the hour I am now addressing you, the troops are on their march.Mr. Canning took no longer time for the purpose of taking a step which might have compromised the whole fate of Europe, putting his troops in actual motion, than the Government had taken in the issuing of their miserable proclamation. The noble Lord had only done justice to Mr. O'Connell in saying that he performed his duty in undertaking, as far as possible, to prevent the meeting. That conduct was wise and just. Then we came to the proceedings of the trial. He was no lawyer; and if he were, he should not presume to discuss this part of the question; but he must say that the Government had been the most unfortunate Government that ever were in the world. Such a number of things had happened which could not be defended, but of which we are required in charity to believe they knew nothing, and for which they implore us not to hold them responsible. They first had pitched upon an Attorney-general who had unfortunately made a speech before his appointment, in which he declared that Roman Catholics were not to be trusted on their oaths. Government knew nothing at all about it—a most unfortunate Government, that events alluded to in the public prints, and much dwelt on at the time, should have altogether escaped their notice. They then came to the question of the panel. Undoubtedly they were not responsible for the conduct of the Recorder if he did wrong; still less were they responsible for the Recorder's clerk if he did wrong; but still their evil fate attended 892 them, most unfortunately one sheet of the jury list was lost—a most unfortunate Government thus again to be held up to suspicion. Another most unfortunate contingency arose; the single sheet so lost by the unfortunate clerk acting under the Recorder is shown to be the sheet, and the only sheet in the whole jury list, which contained a larger number of Catholics and Protestants of adverse opinion than of Conservatives. But here their misfortunes were not over. They came next to the challenge of the jury. What I have hitherto alluded to were the acts of others, but I come now to their own acts, that is the acts of their officers, the challenge of the Roman Catholic jurors. [Lord Brougham: There was not one challenge.] My noble Friend undoubtedly has been kind enough to set me right. The jury were only set aside, it was the counsel that was challenged. The counsel was challenged, and that through the medium of a polite note conveyed by a policeman from the hands of the Attorney-general. He (Lord Monteagle), had not intended to mention this, but the correction of his noble Friend (Lord Brougham) had made it necessary to show how it was, that the word "challenge" was present to his mind. Then the officer set aside a man, a good, holy, Roman Catholic apostolic juror, mistaking him for a Protestant. He happened to be a Roman Catholic, and the Government incurred suspicion from their mistake. Then there came another mistake. They having been in possession of this list, they had found upon it the name of a certain Michael Dunn—a name which they were very familiar with in Ireland, and which was not a very popular name in any country. Mr. Dunn, a reasonable politician, was mistaken for another Michael Dunn, a Repealer; he suffered for the mistake—Dromio of Syracuse was mistaken for Dromio of Ephesus, and thus ended this memorable Comedy of Errors, represented in the Court of Queen's Bench in Ireland, by Her Majesty's Servants. This was unfortunate; but he was bound to take the admission of the noble Lord the President of the Council, that notwithstanding this source of misfortune, nothing could be further from the intentions of Government than to have set aside any individual on the mere account of his religion. He thought that was right in collecting such to have been the opinions of all the Mem- 893 bers of the Cabinet. But was this the opinion of their friends and their supporters? Of this some evidence had been given on a former night. Was that the argument of the noble Earl (the Earl of Roden)? Noble Lords would remember that this debate went to Ireland, and let them take as evidence speeches which had been pronounced on their own side of the question. The act of excluding all Roman Catholics from the jury was justified, not by them, but on their behalf by their supporters, on the ground that it was very fitting that Roman Catholics in such a case should be set aside. The logic of the noble Earl was this:—Every Roman Catholic was a Repealer; this was a question which involved Repeal; therefore a Roman Catholic would not stand indifferent as sworn, and consequently he was rightly set aside. If such were the doctrine of the Government, or if it were avowed or defended by them, he could tell them that simple declaration would do more to destroy the peace of Ireland, than all the acts which Government had promised would effect to restore it. If there was one principle more necessary to enforce than another, it was the indiscriminate union of all classes in Ireland in the administration of the law. Without this, there would be no success nor confidence in the administration of the law. He would mention a case which happened during the Government of Lord Melbourne, as illustrative of this. It was a time of most violent tithe agitation and Repeal agitation. In some of the offences of that time a priest of the Roman Catholic Religion was implicated. The Crown prosecutor was resolved to prosecute. He was told "Beware; he is a priest; you will not obtain a conviction." He said, "I have a case for prosecution and conviction, and prosecute I will." He was then told, "Take care of your jury." He did take care of his jury. He took care, that so far from there being an exclusive jury, there was a jury upon which six Roman Catholics were to be found. He did not stop there. He gave his first brief for the prosecution to a Roman Catholic counsel, as leading counsel for the Crown. The prosecution of the Roman Catholic priest by a Roman Catholic advocate, before a jury composed half of Roman Catholics and half of Protestants, took place, the priest was convicted, and justice was done. He took the liberty of urging this, not to 894 convince those who he hoped required no argument on the subject, but to meet an observation which was made in a very different spirit. He wished to say a few words before he sat down, on the subject of the measures which Government announced. He thought they had been rightly described as good measures and in the right direction, although far from being large enough; and if he might venture to express anything in anticipation of opinions in Ireland, he doubted whether they would be considered quite large enough by those for whose benefit they were intended. But although he thought, that Opposition had its responsibilities as well as Government, he thought that the more urgent responsibility of Government might justify them in not proposing measures which exceeded their power of carrying into effect. But still, the principle involved in these measures was very important. The Commission of Landlord and Tenant undoubtedly involved matter of the greatest possible difficulty—of the greatest possible delicacy, and too much ought not, and must not, be expected of the Commission. In the relation of Landlord and Tenant there was a great deal arising not so much out of the law as unfortunately, out of the social condition of the country. A great deal, also, arose out of the actual physical state of the population. He was surprised at the omission of well considered and voluntary emigration. Though considering it delusive that emigration could be applied to the whole face of Ireland, he was convinced, that as a local or topical remedy, as the physicians called it, was, of all others, one which in some places must be resorted to. The estate which belonged to his noble Friend at the head of this Commission, exhibited a most beautiful example, that much might be done without an alteration of the law at all. He might speak on the subject, in the absence of the noble Lord, but he could speak of nothing which was not in the language of just and sincere eulogy. The mismanagement of that single estate before it had fallen into the hands of his noble Friend, had produced all the disturbances of 1822. There were forty square miles of ground occupied by the military, and all this was formerly caused by the disorganisation of one estate, which was now a model of tranquillity under the system of his noble Friend. 895 This showed, that a great deal might be done by an alteration of the system and by a good example. We were also promised a measure on the subject of the Franchise. When introduced he would discuss that measure in all sincerity and in all frankness, and without any unfair bias, but would take the liberty of throwing out for the consideration of Government that no measure could be effectual on the subject of the Franchise in Ireland which would leave the Franchise wholly dependent on the mere grant of a lease of the land. He considered the creation of a franchise formally of a higher amount, but an amount which was tested only by the occupation of land of a given value, to be essential to the freedom of election in Ireland, because so long as you left the franchise entirely dependent upon the lease granted by the landlords, you would at once give to the landlord the power of defeating the franchise, by withholding the lease, you would also do what was worse, you would interfere most materially with the proper mode of managing the estate—you would dispose the landlord, who might fear what he considered to be abuse of the franchise, but which he (Lord Monteagle) only considered its free exercise to refuse the lease which it might be otherwise his interest to give, rather than create a political interest against him. We were promised large measures on the subject of Education. Rejoicing at the promise he should take the liberty of calling the attention of Government to the recommendations of the commissioners with respect to agricultural education. Ireland had the finest soil in the world; she had an industrious people but a people who did not know how to apply their own resources to make their own land profitable. We had an admirable system in Dublin for the purpose of the instruction of teachers; it had been suggested most earnestly by the Commissioners to connect with the instruction of teachers in other matters, instruction in agriculture. He should most earnestly intreat the Government to give their attention to that. He rejoiced to think that they proposed to make some advance towards improving the condition of the Roman Catholic clergy. He hoped this might be received in a kindly spirit; he thought it ought to be so received. There was no possible objection that had ever been urged however unavailingly with respect to a state provision which 896 by possibility, could apply to this. There could be no clamour raised against the noble Lord in this country. He was in fact only doing in Ireland, that which had already been done in England. But it was in Ireland the change was most requisite. Therefore it was right in principle; but he hoped it would be carried much further. He believed that we should see, not only in Ireland, but in other parts of Europe, efforts made to acquire glebes in Ireland for the Roman Catholic clergy. There was another subject to which he would pray their attention. He had listened most anxiously to all that had fallen from the noble Lord, and had anticipated with the deepest solicitude an intention on the part of Her Majesty's Government to improve the present condition of the College of Maynooth. Against that, most necessary step, no plausible argument could be raised. You were not endowing the Roman Catholic Church, you were not adopting any new principle, you were only extending that which the wisdom of a Pitt, the advice of Burke, and the spirit of every Government since 1795 had sanctioned. But he would say even to those who had objected most strongly to the present condition of Maynooth, that if their arguments were correct and true, it behoved Government on other grounds—it was one of the most urgent and one of the most pressing duties of the Government—to give to Maynooth its proper character. You ought to make the establishment both useful and attractive in itself; you ought to make it intellectually attractive as well as attractive from the scale and system of the establishment, and you would have individuals of a higher class entering the Roman Catholic priesthood. You say that you are precluded, from the peculiar circumstances of the present grant, from taking any step in the direction of ameliorating their condition as clergymen, but you were only more bound on that very account, to take immediate steps in an enlarged and liberal spirit, for the improvement of Maynooth as a place of instruction. You would thus extirpate the weeds, and place in their stead the more wholesome seed. That was a matter which required the gravest and most attentive consideration, and was not to be abandoned because there might be a little opposition. It was a pressing matter, and on the same grounds on which noble Lords had taken 897 up this question, he humbly and earnestly entreated them, as an Irishman not wholly unfamiliar with the interests of the country, not to overlook this subject. He thanked their Lordships sincerely for the attention they had paid him, he was aware that he had occupied more of their time than he was entitled to do, but he had only endeavoured to discharge a duty which he felt he owed to his country and to himself.
§ The Earl of Ripon
, then said, that he concurred in the expression of the noble Lord near him (Lord Wharncliffe), that he was glad the noble Marquess had brought before their Lordships this motion on Ireland, because it had given the Government a natural, a reasonable, and a fair opportunity of explaining to the House and the country the grounds on which their conduct proceeded in the administration of the affairs of Ireland, and because it had led to expressions of opinion from many noble Lords whose general views of policy were different from those adopted by the Government, that in many respects they had satisfactorily explained their conduct; and, that with respect to their prospective measures, they had proposed nothing but that which was in itself right. It was true, many of their Lordships would say they did not proceed far enough, according to their views; but they admitted that Her Majesty's Ministers were treading on sure ground—that, by the course they were taking, the interests of Ireland would be consulted, and that, in their view, many great benefits might be anticipated. He said, then, it was a great pleasure to those who were responsible for what had been done, and for what was proposed to be done, that in respect to the former, complete explanation had been given, and that against what it was proposed to effect no objection could be raised. He should have been content to rest the case of the Government on the speech of his noble Friend the President of the Council, but he thought he could not, with propriety, from some motives influencing himself, abstain from making a few observations on some of the topics that had been introduced into the debate. Not merely as a Minister of the Crown, but as being connected with the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, whose conduct had been impugned, he thought he might be excused for saying a few words with respect to his noble relative, and the course that had been pursued in imput- 898 ing blame individually to him. His noble Friend who introduced the question, amongst other comments which he made in a facetious tone, remarked, that it was not surprising that the people of Ireland placed no confidence in the present Administration, and argued that its composition was such, that Ireland could not be governed in a satisfactory manner, and he professed to maintain that position by saying that in the Government there were three Scotchmen and a half, and a number of Englishmen; but he could not discover a single Irishman except the noble Duke near him (the Duke of Wellington). His noble Friend, no doubt, meant it as a joke, but it was a curious joke; because when his noble Friend supported Lord Grey's Government, he must have thought that Government was unable to manage Ireland, because no Irishman was a Member of that Government. He therefore supposed that that remark was rather a specimen of his noble Friend's good humour, than of his usual powers of reasoning. What had the right hon. Baronet done in the selection of the two persons on whom the Irish Government mainly rested—his noble relative as Lord Lieutenant, and another noble Lord, a Friend of his, as Chief Secretary? Now his noble Relative, he admitted, had strong feelings of party attachment. It happened that the question on which, of all others, his noble Relative's feelings were most keen from the moment he first took his seat in that House, and on which he differed from his friends and family, and from the majority of the party with which he acted, but on which he acted from conviction, was that of Catholic Emancipation. So that there was primâ facie evidence that the Lord Lieutenant's feelings were in favour of that portion of Her Majesty's subjects. He knew that his noble Relative acted on principles of justice, that he thought the measure was just and right, and that he gave it his constant and hearty support; and, therefore, he (Lord Ripon) said that the right hon. Baronet was right in supposing, as he did suppose, that he was a person who would administer the affairs of that country in an honest and just spirit. So with respect to his noble Friend the Chief Secretary. Their Lordships knew what his feelings and opinions were, what his conduct had been; they knew that he had all along been an eager, ardent, and devoted friend and supporter of that question. There was, therefore, no division in the Government of Ireland; 899 the Lord Lieutenant was not of one opinion and the Chief Secretary of another. And this he (Lord Ripon) undertook to say, that his noble Relative, in his administration of Irish Affairs, had determined neither to be bullied nor cajoled by any party, and he believed every one who knew his noble friend's character knew that he was quite capable of acting up to that principle. He believed it could be clearly shown that the assertion that Lord de Grey had departed from the principle he originally proposed to himself on going over to Ireland was totally without foundation. He did not mean to say that his noble Friend, any more than other men who possessed his powers, and had the means of dispensing high patronage, would command universal approbation. That was a hopeless attempt. He (the Earl of Ripon) knew something of the possession of patronage himself, and he did not like it; it was no desirable thing to have, because you were quite certain to offend more than you could oblige. But he would undertake to say, that, in the appointments his noble Relative had made, he was not justly liable to any of those imputations cast upon him. Those imputations—somewhat frivolous as they certainly were—if they meant anything, meant this, that Lord de Grey did deliberately abandon the principle upon which he undertook to conduct the government of Ireland, by appointing gentlemen who were unpopular in that country to offices of high honour, and who were known to have uniformly resisted the principle which his noble Friend avowed. Now, what were these appointments? Great stress had been laid upon the appointments of Baron Lefroy and Mr. Jackson, and the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Normanby) had said—how was it possible that the appointment of persons who were committed, as those gentlemen were, to particular opinions, could give satisfaction. No doubt Mr. Baron Lefroy was a man of strong opinions, and that he had expressed them openly in Parliament, and undoubtedly they were there as openly met. He (the Earl of Ripon) did not mean to say whether those opinions were right or wrong; he did not certainly agree with many of the opinions of that Gentleman; but he was a very good lawyer, as everybody said; he was an honest man; perfectly uncorrupt and incorruptible. Good God! was it to be said that such a man, because he entertained strong political opinions, was therefore an unfit man to 900 be appointed to a judicial seat? So with respect to Mr. Serjeant Jackson. What objection could there be to the appointment of that gentleman? His noble Friend (the Marquess of Normanby) said himself that he could produce no objection except that the hon. and learned Gentleman was a great opponent of the National Education scheme. Were they really come to such a pass as this, that it should be an objection to the advancement in his profession of any man, however eminent and great his talents, because he had opposed a system of National Education? Why, what was this but prescription? It was exclusion. Upon what pretence could his noble Friend set up such a ground to deprive a man of his fair prospects of attaining honour and emolument in his profession? Even his very opponents admitted that he was an excellent judge. And was it to be made matter of condemnation against the Lord Lieutenant, was it a ground of imputation against the Irish Government, almost sufficient, as it seemed to be considered, to justify their impeachment, that they had appointed an eminent lawyer, and a man of high moral character, to be a judge, who happened to have been an opponent to the scheme of National Education? He (the Earl of Ripon) had supported that scheme; he thought it a good one; and regretted that it should be opposed. But he believed that those who did oppose it were actuated by conscientious motives; and he certainly should regard it as persecution to set up such conduct as a perpetual bar to professional advancement. To exclude a man on account of any previous opinions he might have expressed from being advanced to any post of honour and emolument in his profession, and to make the appointment of such a man a matter of grave charge against the Government, was certainly somewhat inconsistent on the part of his noble Friend, who had been a Member of a Government which had proposed to raise to the seat of judgment an individual who had just been found guilty of conspiracy. Now, he (Lord Ripon) did not mean to say that those who offered a judgeship to that individual were to blame, because he did not wish to defend any person whom he respected by mere recrimination; but he did think that his noble Friend's zeal for finding fault had outrun the accuracy of his recollection. With respect to the case of Mr. Holt Waring, that gentleman, he (the Earl of Ripon) understood, had been a 901 most respectable man; he was possessed of a large fortune; he certainly entertained strong opinions, and moreover was an Orangeman. On one occasion, when it was necessary to renew the Commission of the Peace, that gentleman's name was omitted, on the ground of his having been an Orangeman; but that step was very distasteful to the gentlemen of the county; they represented to the Government that it was a harsh proceeding, and the result was, that he was restored by Lord Plunket to the Commission. A few years ago, both Houses of Parliament came to very strong resolutions upon the subject of Orange societies. He concurred most cordially in those resolutions. However those societies might have originated, he considered that they were calculated to do very little good, but might produce the greatest mischief. When Mr. Holt Waring knew of the resolutions of the two Houses of Parliament, he exercised the great influence which he possessed over his own tenants and over others, to induce an immediate compliance with the wishes of Parliament, for it was not a law, but merely a resolution; and the exertions of that gentleman were crowned with success. He did not know whether their Lordships recollected a letter which appeared at that time directed to the Orangemen of Ireland. He was not then aware who the author was, but he recollected having thought at the time that it was one of the most beautiful compositions that he had ever seen. It contained the best principles put forth in admirable language, and it inculcated the most dutiful attachment to the Crown, the utmost respect for the Parliament, and the most rigid obedience to the laws. It was in furtherance of the wishes expressed in that letter that the Rev. Holt Waring exerted himself so effectually on the occasion; and he would say that that instance of such ready, such willing, and such immediate compliance with the express wishes of Parliament, in a matter in which the peace of the country was concerned, should be, in his humble judgment, sufficient to wipe away from their recollection any blame which could possibly have been attached to him for the part which he had previously taken in carrying those institutions into active operation. He therefore considered it idle to say that to promote that rev. gentleman to an office of dignity, which though exalted in its nature produced him no emolument whatever, should be regarded as an insult to the Roman Catholics of Ire- 902 land. The rev. gentleman might have previously made use of strong language, but in exact proportion to the extent of his prejudices, to the strength of his feelings, and the warmth of his language on the subject, was his subsequent merit in subduing those feelings and prejudices, and in yielding immediate obedience to the wishes of the Legislature. He therefore considered that, under all the circumstances, the objections rested on the most futile ground on which it was ever attempted to prove that the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland had mal-administered the patronage of the Crown, or had directed it in a quarter offensive to the feelings of the great majority of the inhabitants of the country. He trusted he had said enough on that subject to set his noble Relative right in the opinion of their Lordships and of the country, and it must be a satisfaction to him (the Lord Lieutenant) to know, that no man had attempted to impute to him any want of honour, of good faith, or of uprightness of conduct. He had only to add, that his noble Relative had been most reluctantly induced to yield to the earnest solicitations of his friends in accepting the Viceroyalty, as they believed him to be a nobleman likely from his character and disposition to discharge the duties of the office beneficially to all classes of Her Majesty's subjects in Ireland. Having said so much upon that subject, he wished in the next place to offer a few remarks relative to the recent State Trials in Ireland. The speech of the noble Lord who last addressed the House was in his opinion a most complete acquittal of the Covernment from any charges that had been brought against them respecting the lateness of the period at which the final proceedings against the Repeal agitation had been commenced. The noble Lord said the Government had acted right in not commencing those proceedings at an earlier period—that they were right in proceeding at the time they did go on, and on those points he believed noble Lords opposite would admit there could not be a better judge or a higher authority than his noble Friend. The only part of the question which admitted of any doubt, was that arising from the lateness of the period at which the Proclamation had been issued; but noble Lords should recollect the number of days that had elapsed between the time at which the Government became aware of the issuing of the Proclamation from the Corn Exchange, referring to the marshalling of the 903 "Repeal Cavalry," and the suppression of the intended meeting. The period was, after all, only a few days, and if noble Lords took the trouble of examining into the matter, they would find it not longer than was absolutely necessary for the purpose. The noble Lord had drawn a contrast between the time which the late Government had taken to make preparations on a similar emergency, when Mr. Canning had fitted out the expedition to Portugal with such promptitude, and that which had been found necessary on the present occasion, and had spoken of the promptitude evinced by the predecessors of Her Majesty's present Ministers as a proof of their admirable general arrangements for the government of the country, and of their greater capacity to cope with urgent difficulties. It was certainly true, that on the occasion alluded to by the noble Lord, the intelligence did not reach this country until Friday, and that on the Tuesday following the troops were ready to embark; but his noble Friend appeared to have forgotten that all the arrangements in that instance were decided upon in London, whereas on the late occasion the communication had to be transmitted in the first instance from Dublin to London, and afterwards from London back again to Dublin. If the object to be attained were the prevention of a meeting at Hounslow-heath, or Blackheath, then the brief period which the noble Lord appeared to think only necessary in the case of the Clontarf meeting would have been quite sufficient for the execution of the intentions of the Government; but it should be recollected that in Ireland an alteration had been made in the wording of the advertisement from the Repeal Association arranging the order of the procession, which threw some doubt as to the course that ought to have been pursued on the part of the Executive, and which rendered a further communication with London necessary. The omission of the words "troops" and "cavalry" was of course mere nonsense, and did not alter the clear intelligible intention of those who had issued that proclamation; but still it might have made some difference with respect to the legal mode of dealing with the question, and some time, about a quarter of a day additional, was accordingly required for consultation before the Lord Lieutenant could leave London. Instead, therefore, of arriving in Dublin on Thursday, his Excellency was not able to reach that city until Friday, which was the day 904 that his noble Friend considered the Proclamation ought to have been issued. If, however, the two days necessarily interposed by the circumstance of the thing to be done be in Dublin, and not in London, be taken into consideration, it will appear, that the case of rapid decision and execution, in the case of the expedition to Lisbon in 1826, which his noble Friend has cited as a contrast, is in fact neither more nor less than a parallel. He understood his noble Friend to have stated that the Lord Lieutenant was not in London at all at the time; but that was a mistake, as his noble Relative had been in London since the preceding Sunday, though certainly in a state of ill-health, which almost incapacitated him from any bodily exertion whatever. Those, however, who were acquainted with the noble Earl, the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, and especially those who acted with him as his colleagues in office, had reason to know that notwithstanding his bodily suffering—and few persons had undergone more suffering than he had within the last few years—the vigour and energy of his mental powers had never deserted him, and, it was his (Lord Ripon's) opinion, never would desert him. With respect to the proceedings at the trial, it could not be supposed that he should offer any opinion, as he should plead his ignorance of any acquaintance with legal quibbles, but he could not avoid remarking that he thought, in all the points which had been raised during the legal proceedings, the decision had been, in every instance, in favour of the Attorney-general. It was not, therefore, likely that the Attorney-general had the character as a lawyer, which a noble Marquess on the opposite side of the House would attribute to him. [The Marquess of Normanby said, their complaint was, that Mr. Smith was not known to the Cabinet before his appointment.] The noble Marquess certainly said that Mr. Smith had never been heard of. [The Marquess of Normanby: I beg pardon, but it was your own colleague, the noble President of the Council, who used those words.] No, no. That would not do; what the noble Lord (the President of the Council) said was, that he never read a certain speech said to have been made by the Attorney-general. But he would ask, was it contended for on the other side that the Cabinet in England were bound to know the qualifications and characters of all the leading men at the Irish bar, before they received information on the subject from 905 the Lord Lieutenant? The Secretary of State for the Home Department, or, if they pleased, the First Lord of the Treasury, might be supposed to have perhaps some knowledge of the qualifications of such men; but to suppose that a Cabinet generally should be acquainted with the professional merits of a barrister of the Irish bar was really absurd, and was, he would venture to say, a knowledge of which no Cabinet that ever existed professed to have itself. But this he would say of the Attorney-general for Ireland, that he was a gentleman whose legal acquirements were universally acknowledged to be of a very high order, and he also found that Mr. Whiteside—one of the most powerful defenders of the traversers, and a man who, though his politics might not agree with those of the noble Marquess opposite, must have been possessed of the purest, the most honourable, and the most unsullied integrity, or else the traversers would not, it was to be supposed, have selected him,—he found that that Gentleman in his speech used these words:—The Attorney-general, in his statement of the case, performed his duty with great moderation, and, indeed, I must say, the counsel for the Crown have conducted this prosecution with great fairness and talent throughout.He admitted that lawyers were sometimes in the habit of complimenting one another to an amusing extent, and he would confess he should look very suspiciously on such compliments; but still, he never knew any man of honour compliment another for great fairness and talent, if it could be justly said that he was devoid of either. He thought, therefore, that Mr. Whiteside's acknowledgement was a complete answer to what had fallen from the noble Marquess on the opposite side of the House. He would not then enter into the question of the formation of the jury or the omission of a certain sheet from the Recorder's list, but he would briefly observe, that it was now an undoubted fact, that that sheet had been lost by the carelessness of an officer of the Recorder's Court, who happened himself to be a Roman Catholic. Though it was somewhat suspicious, that a sheet should have been lost from a list for a parish in which there were a great number of Roman Catholics, still he thought they completely disposed of that suspicion, when they showed that the officer by whom the slip had been lost, was himself a Roman Catholic. And yet the Government, 906 who could not possibly have had anything to do with the matter, was accused of having offered an insult to the Roman Catholic population of Ireland, on account of its having occurred. His noble Friend, who last addressed the House had, however, given their Lordships a specimen of the want of popularity that was likely to attach to a Government who opposed the Repeal agitation in Ireland, as he had told them that he was himself described as an enemy to his country, for the part which he had taken when a Member of a former Cabinet, in opposition to that question. Noble Lords, however, knew such a representation to be untrue, as they were aware of the sincere attachment which his noble Friend had always exhibited for the welfare of the country. They were aware of his being a most useful friend to that country, but the treatment which he had received showed that, when it suited a purpose to run a man down, whose opinions were the reverse of those from whom the calumny proceeded, how easy it was to load him with calumny, and to spatter him with their venom, because he had the manliness, the truth, and the justice to oppose what he believed to be the dangerous question of a Repeal of the Union. The noble Marquess had thrown out an imputation, that the jury lists so cut up might have been conveyed to the Castle of Dublin. ["No, No!"] There had been certainly something like that expression used; but, as the noble Marquess did not mean to say anything of the kind, he (Lord Ripon) would of course take no further notice of it. He would only say, that he could declare that he would not have raised his voice in defence of his noble Relative, as he had done that night, if he did not know it to be utterly impossible such an act could have taken place with his knowledge or connivance. He would ask noble Lords if they were satisfied of the principles on which the Government brought forward the beneficial measures which they intended to lay before Parliament, and if they thought those measures to be in the right direction, to be calculated to prove of service to Ireland, and to soothe angry feelings in that country, not to press them to disclose at once a full detail of all they had in contemplation. He did not pretend to know what might be the result of those measures, or what they might have in tranquillising Ireland, or satisfying the minds of the inhabitants. He for one would not permit himself to be too sanguine on those 907 points, as he knew no greater mistake that a Government could commit, than that of creating high expectations in the public mind of the consequences of measures which they wished to pass, and of the instantaneous good which those measures were likely to effect. They had seen many instances of such mistakes of late years, but, for his part, he would prefer waiting to witness the effects which were likely to follow from the measures now about being introduced before he expressed his conviction of their success. If those measures failed they could not help it. The Government would introduce them because they believed them right, and while that conviction remained upon their minds, they would continue to propose to Parliament every measure which they thought calculated to promote the best interests of the country.
§ The Lord Chancellor here retired, and the Earl of Shaftesbury, the Deputy-Speaker, took his seat on the Woolsack.
§ The noble Earl was proceeding to put the Motion, when
The Marquess of Normanby
rose to reply. He said he had delayed addressing their Lordships under the impression that the noble Lord who occupied the Woolsack, and who had just retired from the House, would speak on the question, and he had to express his surprise at what he supposed he should now term the determination of the Lord Chancellor not to give them the benefit of his opinion on the question before the House, an opinion which was of the more importance in consequence of the course which the noble Lord had adopted with respect to Ireland, when one of the leaders of the Opposition. It was then the habit of the noble Lord to speak frequently and strongly, he might say vehemently, on the subject of Ireland. Allusion had been made at the very commencement of this discussion to certain expressions of the noble Lord, the effect of which was still rankling in Ireland. It would have been curious to have heard how far he adhered to or qualified the opinions he then entertained; his present opinion had also been asked as to certain judicial proceedings in Dublin. But if his silence had been settled and was the result of predetermination, he would at once proceed to make some remarks upon the observations offered to their Lordships on the subject of the motion. It had been objected, that it was too doubtful in its terms, and the noble President of the Board of Control had reiterated that objection, whilst his noble Friend the 908 First Lord of the Admiralty repeated, that there was something so indefinite in the wording of the motion, that in his opinion, he (the Marquess of Normanby) must have had a previous intention to frame it as vaguely as possible. That expression had, also been used by another noble Friend of his (Lord Howden), and had since been retracted by that noble Lord, in consequence of his (the Marquess of Normanby's) assurance, that it was the only one he had ever intended to make, and that it had been previously shown to other noble Friends of his on that side of the House. He had framed his motion so that in his opinion it might be adopted by noble Lords even on the other side of the House, and he had been induced to put it in this form because of its importance, and further, for the reason that a committee of the whole House, was almost without precedent in this House. A motion like the present, which in general terms pledged to future enquiry was the only alternative, and upon it being carried, he should be prepared to propose to refer various portions of the subject to select committees. [Here the Lord Chancellor re-entered the House, and took his seat on the Woolsack amidst a little confusion, which rendered the noble Marquess inaudible. After a short pause the noble Marquess continued with much emphasis],—I certainly should not have risen but for an intimation which had been conveyed to me by a noble Baron, that the Lord Chancellor did not intend to address the House. That intimation was conveyed by a noble Baron who had been to the noble Lord's room to inform him that the House was awaiting his return in these terms, "he says he will not speak," and this was heard by all the noble Lords about me, and I am sure that so far from showing any intention to intrude upon the House, it will be admitted that it was not until I understood that no one else had anything to say that I rose to address your Lordships. I am not, it is true, much informed upon the regulations of the House, nor am I much versed in the forms of your Lordships' proceedings; but this I must observe,—that it is not competent to the noble Lord to address you after me, and that he must know that he has no means of speaking to the House upon this question hereafter. [Cries of "No, no!" "Yes, yes!" from both sides of the House.] I waited patiently until I found that no one else rose to speak, and the noble Duke opposite will bear me witness 909 that I have evinced no desire to intrude upon your Lordships. Yet now, when I rise under these circumstances to reply, I hear, "How can I get in a word now?" Why, I tell the noble Lord that he cannot—I say he cannot speak after me. [Cries of "Yes, yes!" and some confusion. If the noble Lord does so, I say it is contrary to all order and all precedent. ["Hear, hear," and "No, no."] I must say that if the noble Lord does persist in doing so, he will be taking a most unfair advantage of me, for I would not have exercised the privilege of reply but I understood that all the noble Lords opposite had concluded their remarks, and if, under such circumstances, the majority of the House think fit to allow the noble Lord to proceed, it will be in my mind a most unheard-of and unprecedented thing in this House. [Cries of "No! No! Order, order."]
rose to correct a mistake into which the noble Marquess had fallen with respect to the practice of the House. It was not by any means a fixed rule of the House to prevent noble Lords following after the Mover had spoken in reply. If the noble Marquess did not rightly understand the message delivered to him about the Lord Chancellor's intention, he has no right to feel disappointed at the consequences of his misunderstanding.
rose to order. It did not he thought much signify how the matter went, for his noble Friend had not heard anything which could influence the remarks he might have to make. [Cries of "Order."] Well, he was speaking to order. [Lord Radnor: "No, no, Order!"] He did contend that he was speaking to order, and he entirely agreed with the noble Baron on the cross-bench (Lord Kenyon), that there was no rule of that House which gave an indefeasible right to the Mover of any Motion to close the debate finally. It was as well for their Lordships to meet such a new doctrine now whilst it might be met and confuted. There was no rule on the subject at all but the courtesy of the House, which certainly had given, and did give, the right of reply to the Mover of any Motion. That was, however, by no means a final right, and if he had heard it once he had heard it 100 times when noble Lords had spoken after the Movers had spoken in reply, and he himself had been rejoined upon under similar 910 circumstances by many of their Lordships in that House.
The Lord Chancellor
said, that with the permission of the House he wished to explain something of his position to their Lordships. He had been sitting in his Court from ten o'clock that morning; from five o'clock until nine o'clock he had been waiting in that House during the address of the noble Earl. Under these circumstances, he had quitted their Lordships' House for the space of five minutes during the address of his noble Friend, and on his return he found the noble Marquess speaking. He had for his own part no desire to address their Lordships except for one reason, which was, that he wished to lay before the House some matter explanatory of his conduct in consequence of what had been said relative to it. However, he had been so nobly defended, so warmly vindicated by his noble Friends, that he never could forget the accusations which had been made against him, they had elicited such a flattering defence. He had been in expectation that some of his noble Friends would have spoken, in order to have got at some or any explanation of the opinions of the supporters of that Motion; but, as they had not done so, he would, for his part, rest satisfied with the decisive and triumphant arguments in refutation of the charges which had been made against him and the noble Lords with whom he acted.
The Marquess of Normanby
said, that with respect to the facts of the case, he would only observe, that unless it had been brought to his ears by a noble Baron, that the noble Lord did not intend to speak, he would not have risen. He had been told that the noble Lord did not intend to speak, and had left altogether. When, therefore, the noble Lord who sat on the Woolsack was about to put the question, seeing that no other noble Lord rose, he had commenced to reply. But, however, as the noble Lord states the grounds why he now wishes to speak, I at once give way and reserve my reply to the conclusion of the debate. [Loud cries of "Question," "Order, order."]
The Lord Chancellor
stating he did not now intend to speak, then proceeded to put the question, when
The Marquess of Normanby
amid considerable noise and disorder, rose and said, that he must appeal to their Lordships if ever there was a more unfair proceeding attempted to be committed. He had been addressing the House when his Lordship 911 entered, and had given way because he understood that the noble Lord wished to defend himself. He had that opportunity—
The Lord Chancellor
I must beg to set the noble Marquess right. He has quite misunderstood me. I said that I would not speak because I considered it unnecessary after the defence which had been made by my noble Friends.
The Marquess of Normanby
said, to return to my reply: He was stating to the House when interrupted, that he had purposely so framed his motion as that those might vote for it who did not participate in all the feelings with which he frankly confessed he had brought it forward. He did not conceal that it was because he did not think that the Government had acted upon those principles which the resolutions state as the only ones upon which Ireland ought to be governed, that he required the House to affirm these principles. It was, however, in substance, a motion for enquiry, and any noble Lord who thought that the state of Ireland was such as to demand Parliamentary enquiry might vote for his motion, protesting against adopting the inculpatory spirit in which he owned he himself pressed it upon the House. His noble Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty had said, that he had offered no suggestion for the future. As to the past, his noble Friend had himself got confused as to the wings of the Emancipation Bill, but he thought his noble Friend's memory must have flown away even upon the one wing left to him, for he stated one by one the substantive propositions adopted at a meeting at Claremont House, at which the Duke of Leinster had presided, and he had stated, that every one of them was worthy of the attentive consideration of Parliament. He stated, that he looked for the future to an equalisation of religions. He stated, that the first step towards this would be to elevate the character of the Roman Catholic priesthood by every means in their power, and to remove from the hierarchy those disqualifications and degrading restrictions which the Catholic Relief Bill had imposed. The noble Lord opposite had stated, that it would be impossible to alter the proportion of the representation between the two countries—that it had been settled at the Union. Now he felt bound to say he did not admit of any such impossibility. He saw all the difficulties of the question, but as to its being settled at the Union, it had been unsettled then by the Reform Bill. An addition 912 meagre and unimportant it is true, had then been made, but still it was an alteration of the Act of Union. Besides in moving the Act, Mr. Pitt had stated that he could not give any satisfactory reason why he had fixed the number at a hundred. He would not now enter further into this question, but he wished to guard himself against acquiescing in the unalterable nature of that which was fixed on no principle, and had since been changed according to circumstances. The noble Lord who has just sat down, had remarked in answer to his observation, that there was not a single Member of this Government that had any connexion by birth with Ireland, except the noble Duke; that he had accepted office under Lord Grey's Government, who had no Irishmen amongst their ranks. In the first place he had no connexion with Lord Grey's general Government, or responsibility for their domestic policy. It is true, he accepted an important colonial appointment under Lord Grey, but he would have been rather surprised if he had gone to him and said, "True, you offer me a prospect I much desire, of ameliorating the condition, if not of entirely changing, the lot of the negro slave—but you have not got an Irishman in your Government." But neither was that the fact. Was there not my noble Friend near me (Lord Lansdowne), the representative of the Fitzmaurices? But compare the present Government with that to which he really did belong, the Government of Lord Melbourne—besides my hon. Friend just mentioned, there were Lord Besborough, Lord Palmerston, and Mr. Spring Rice. As to the appointment of Lord Eliot, it was, he must say, most extraordinary; but stranger still were the grounds on which it had been recommended, for it had been stated as one cause of his selection, that he had been opposed to the policy of the Government, and had acted in opposition to the measures introduced by the Administration of which he was appointed a Member. His noble Friend had said, it was rather hard that he should object to the advancement of Messrs. Lefroy and Jackson because of their strong leaning in politics. Now, it was not he who had originated that objection to Mr. Lefroy, for when the noble Duke was at the head of affairs, and Sir R. Peel Home Secretary, the Irish Administration under the Duke of Northumberland had prevented Mr. Serjeant Lefroy from going circuit as judge, because of the strong terms which he used with reference to Catholic Emancipation. If the 913 noble Lord did not know that, he had only given another instance of the general ignorance on Irish matters of which he (the Marquess of Normanby) complained. Of Mr. Serjeant Jackson, he had spoken in more qualified terms, but he did not think it judicious—to say the least of it—to place that person on the judicial bench, who was an inveterate opposer of the Education system and of some of the measures of Government. With respect to patronage his noble Friend opposite said, "How can you expect us to appoint people to places who oppose us?" Be that as it might, what would they say to the Church appointments? Was it to be wondered at that the Irish people should look with distrust upon the present Government when they saw all the Church patronage bestowed upon their constant opponents? As to the Attorney-general, he would say no more of him. His noble Friend said that he never had heard of him before his appointment and thus further exhibited that want of information upon Irish affairs to which he had before alluded; but he was content to pass the right hon. and learned Gentleman (the Attorney-general), for he had heard too much of him already. With respect to the defence made for the proceedings which occurred at the suppression of the monster-meetings, and of the time chosen for it, he was not at all satisfied. He could not at all make out how his noble Friends opposite were justified in allowing ten or twenty meetings to take place, and then in saying, "If we had allowed the 21st to take place, we should have deserved impeachment at the Bar of this House." If these meetings were seditious, they should have been proceeded against as such. Mr. O'Connell had, said his noble Friend, announced seven more meetings. That fact could have nothing to do with their legality or illegality. Now as to the first programme of the Clontarf demonstration; he must be allowed to say that, if it really meant a military array and organization, there was no character (and he said it with great respect for those gentlemen) in which the Dublin tradesmen could be less formidable than as "mounted cavalry." In the late trials, there was one of the traversers, now no more, who, if he might judge from his previous character, was of all men the least likely to engage in any course of action calculated to be injurious to his fellow-countrymen, or in any respect likely to disturb the public peace. He was a man of whom he knew something, as a most active 914 promoter of charitable institutions in Dublin; and he had every reason to believe that to the exertions of that individual the safety of Dublin was in a great measure owing on the day which followed that appointed for the Clontarf meeting. His noble Friend opposite said that the tendency of the present motion was to embarrass the Government. This was an assertion very easily made, when the condition of the Government was such as to make it inconvenient that a motion of this kind should be made. But surely it was not his fault that such a motion should be inconvenient—it was not his fault that the Government were in their present condition. Then he was told that the present motion was ill-timed; but that was the old answer given on all similar occasions. The fact was, that whenever a subject happened to be intensely interesting, there prevailed a habit of saying that any motion made respescting it was ill-timed. He unequivocally denied that his motion was ill-timed; and, on the contrary, he contended that nothing could be so well calculated to tranquillize Ireland, as a disposition shown on the part of that House to adopt the principles embodied in his motion. But, though this motion might have the effect of embarrassing the Government, he certainly did not bring it forward with any such intention. Neither was he guilty of that which had been imputed to him by the noble Earl opposite—namely, the offence of taking for granted that every one approved of his (Lord Normanby's) Government in Ireland. He had said nothing of the sort, and if ever a speech were free from a charge of that nature, he should take the liberty of saying, that that with which he had opened the present debate might be considered to have come within such a description. But then the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Roden) had made the most astounding declaration, but with all respect for the noble Earl, it was met by the House in a way which prevented the necessity of giving it much serious notice. It had by him been said that the country was now reaping the fruits of that wholesale discharge of prisoners of which he had been accused. Let it be remembered that they were now in the year 1844, and that the event in question took place in the year 1836; that after that event he remained three years in Ireland, and that it was found that very few of the prisoners so discharged had ever been recommitted. On that occasion he had tried an experiment. He 915 had not repeated that experiment, and he had no intention of repeating it; but it was idle at a moment like the present to say that the country was reaping the fruits of what he had then done. Whatever might have been the opinion of a majority of the House then as to the policy of his conduct in that respect as establishing a precedent, it was never pretended by any one that it had had a mischievous effect. Why, their Lordships were three years in finding out that it had happened at all; and after five years more, that the noble Earl should now say, that they were suffering from the effects of it, does really shew that however fair the disposition, or clear the intellect of a person, if he has once been a Grand Master of Orangemen he does view some subjects through a mist of prejudice which is quite impenetrable. It was not a singular case, however, for in the year 1823, during Lord Wellesley's administration in Ireland, that noble Lord had not less than 2,600 petitions presented to him by prisoners in confinement for offences, and of those he had, as stated by Mr. Peel in the House of Commons, remitted 400 capital punishments. In his own instance, the number of petitions had been 1,600, and those remitted on his tours were all lighter offences. In respect of dismissals from the magistracy there had been but one during his time, namely, that of Colonel Verner. That gentleman was in the Commission in a part of the country where the population was pretty equally balanced as to religious persuasion, and it had been deemed always a great object to have in the magistracy impartial men, and men uninfluenced by religious distinction. The cause of dismissal was a toast he drank at a dinner of a very decided political character, and, as he thought, dangerous in the recollections it might excite. It was, "The Battle of the Diamond." He had sought an explanation from this gallant colonel—anything, indeed, would have satisfied him; but the reply of Colonel Verner was such that he could not help recommending to the Lord Chancellor of Ireland to remove his name from the list. Some observations of a noble Friend (Lord Howden) he felt he ought to reply to, but he would prefer making them in his presence, and therefore he would wait for a few minutes. [Lord Howden here entered the House.] His noble Friend had begun by stating that he spoke in perfect good humour. He was not aware of the necessity of such a declaration, as he could not conceive any possible 916 reason why it should not exist; but it was with a desire to reciprocate the same spirit that he cautioned my noble Friend not to be too much elated by the reception his speech had met with. Whatever might be his merits as a speaker, and he rendered a willing tribute to them—to his graces of delivery, and his pleasant mode of expression, yet he might believe one who had had considerable longer experience of such assemblies, nothing meets at first with such ready applause as very smart and apparently (though of course not in spirit), bitter things, said against those with whom one is supposed usually to have agreed. He had reason to think he knew, his noble Friend would admit, what his opinion had been on Ireland, and Irish Governments. His noble Friend was very anxious to address the House, and he owned with all due respect for the noble Marquess opposite (the Marquess of Westmeath), he was on his noble Friend's side—he preferred the anticipation of listening to him. But having heard his noble Friend, he must say he could not conceive why he pressed forward, for any speech more guiltless of any allusion to anything which occurred in debate, he never heard; and therefore it seemed little to signify at what period it was delivered. It was surely hardly worthy of his noble Friend, and of that reputation which he was sure to earn in this House on such an occasion, to revive and rake up the recollection of some alliterative abuse used by Mr. O'Connell towards Lord Grey's Government. His noble Friend stated, that he had had no intention of alluding to the Repeal of the Union, unless he had mentioned it. And then his noble Friend favoured them with a Latin quotation for which they ought to be thankful.Magnaque numinibus vota exaudita malignis.[Lord Howden: I thought it applicable.] It might be so, it was rather trite, but as he just said, such being rare now, it was welcome. Then if his noble Friend accused them of borrowing their grievances from Mr. O'Connell, he thought he must allow him to say, that he borrows his figure of speech from him,—First flower of the earth; first gem of the sea.[Lord Howden: I altered it: that was not so.] He admitted his noble Friend altered it—he said "Not fifty years would roll over their shores before the boasted flower of the earth would be plucked by 917 some unfriendly hand, and the gem of the sea would be set in the crown of a stranger." He was good enough to speculate upon the period of gestation of his resolution. He set him right upon that subject, and therefore would not speculate upon the gestation of his peroration, but he must forgive him if he thought there must have been some little labour of the fingers before that "gem" was so carefully reset "in the crown of a stranger." Another noble Friend had also referred to the fact that the office of Master of the Rolls had been offered to Mr. O'Connell. Now, with respect to that offer, he (Lord Normanby) never saw any thing to occasion the least feeling of regret, except that Mr. O'Connell had declined to take the office. He was sure this House would agree with him, when he said that there was a wide distinction between appointing a political partizan to a judgeship, where he might be called on to administer the criminal law, and the appointment of the same individual to the bench of a Court of Equity. On the occasion to which he was then referring, he had some communication with his much esteemed Friend the late Sir M. O'Loghlen, That right hon. Baronet expressed his perfect readiness to take the office of Chief Baron, in order to place the Mastership of the Rolls at the disposal of the Government. He (Lord Normanby) sent for Mr. O'Connell and made to him the offer of that seat on the Bench which he had just mentioned. Mr. O'Connell expressed his gratitude, and said that he had no wish to accept any office, but that if he were to receive any appointment whatever, none could be more agreeable to his feelings than that of Master of the Rolls. And now he should conclude the remarks which he had to make on this part of the subject by saying, again, that he equally regretted that one so eminently qualified to fill the office of Master of the Rolls had not then accepted it—if he had, the effect upon the feelings of the Irish people, would, he believed, have been excellent, and a great deal that was most painful in the history of Ireland since that period might have been avoided. But, leaving the subject, he had to state to their Lordships, on behalf of his noble Friend the Marquess of Anglesea, that nothing but extreme suffering, which had obliged him to leave the House, and precluded the possibility of his addressing them, prevented his stating, in person, to their Lordships how cordially he approved of the motion—how cordially he concurred on every 918 Irish question with the late Government. With respect to the abolition of the office of Lord Lieutenant, he (Lord Normanby) had always thought the situation an anomalous one; but though he should wish to see it abolished, as the consequence and the consummation of the establishment of practical equality; yet, until the people there had greater confidence in the stability and sincerity of the Government, he thought it would be too soon to take from them that practical protection which he thought they derived from the presence of the Queen's representative. In conclusion, he had only to say he wished he could entertain a doubt as to the issue of this motion. As to the ultimate result, they had only to look back to the history of their own lives to be sure that unless impeded (which might God forbid) by any outbreak or civil war, that result could not be doubtful. In that alternative, the ultimate result for the interest and character, even of the victor, it was also impossible not to see. But he would banish that idea as impossible, and say that if that House, by removing just cause of complaint, did not stop the course of discontent, who that looked back to the history of the last twenty years could doubt that through the continued influence of peaceful agitation, the result must be large concessions to popular principles in Ireland. The question was one only of time. It might be postponed by the conduct of that House and of the Government. It might afford another of those lamentable instances of tardy, and therefore ungracious concessions; but come it must, as certainly as that he was there addressing their Lordships. Then, said the noble Marquess, that upon you (the Opposition) it devolved to calm the passions of the Irish people, and to induce them to await with hope that which, if they will so await, they must ultimately obtain; and meanwhile (addressing the Government party) upon you be all the responsibility of the present dangers.
, rising amidst loud cries of "Question," said, he only wished to remind their Lordships of the very extraordinary position in which they were placed. He had opposed the motion for the adjournment on Tuesday night, holding it to be totally unnecessary to adjourn, and that their Lordships might have sat on and finished the debate that night; and so it turned out, because they were now told that a noble Marquess, for whom he (Lord Brougham) would have made any sacrifice, and set all night rather than put to incon- 919 venience, was not able, from ill-health, to come down, as he otherwise would have done. Then his noble and learned Friend (Lord Campbell), who, in the ordinary course of Parliamentary usage, ought to have begun the debate, having moved the adjournment on the last night the House sat, had not made any speech, for which he must say he (Lord Brougham) was not at all sorry. This showed the folly and mischief of adjournments of debates.
The speech of my noble and learned Friend is quite irregular. But I am not surprised at that, because all his proceedings in this House are quite irregular. My Lords, my object in moving the adjournment was, that I thought he would have spoken, and then I should have followed him. My Lords, I may be pardoned for thinking that he would have spoken, for this, I believe, my Lords, is the only debate of importance, that I can remember, in which he has not spoken at least seven times. I expected also that we should have heard the noble and learned Lord upon the Woolsack. My Lords, a grave attack has been made on the legality of the principles which were applied to the conduct of the late trial; yet my noble and learned Friend on the Woolsack has not opened his mouth. He has spoken neither by himself nor by his counsel. [Loud laughter, arising from the circumstance that Lord Brougham was sitting on the Woolsack and conversing with the Lord Chancellor at the time.] My noble and learned Friend has, as the lawyers call it, let judgment go by nil dicit. My other noble and learned Friend says, that he is not sorry that I have not spoken. I believe he is not sorry when I am silent; but I will not be deterred by fear of him from expressing my opinions when I think fit, and whenever he shall put forward the principles to which he has attached himself, and which I condemn; for he has departed from those principles for which I once admired and concurred with him. I say, whenever he does bring forward those principles, I shall think it my duty to bring forward those which he once advocated, and oppose those which he now adopts.
My Lords, I have been charged with irregularity. Any thing more grossly unfounded in point of fact than that charge, I have never happened to have heard even from my noble and learned Friend. My Lords, I had a perfect right to address your Lordships in the course of this debate. The rule of 920 Parliament—of both Houses of Parliament, and I have sat longer in both houses of Parliament than my noble and learned Friend—is, that every Member has a right to speak in the course of a debate. My Lords, I had not spoken in this debate, and I had a right to address your Lordships, as I did; and after the noble Marquess had taken his seat after a speech in reply, which the courtesy of the House alone gave him the title to, I had a right to have risen and addressed myself to the subject before your Lordships. That right which I, as a Peer of Parliament, have, no taunt of ignorance—no taunt of ignorant new Members of Parliament, who do not know the A B C of Parliamentary regulations, who show an ignorance so gross that I should not have thought it possible for any person to have shown the like of it on any subject—my Lords, I will not be deterred from the exercise of my undoubted right, as a Peer of Parliament, by the taunts of such ignorance; but, my Lords, I confess that, in a second time addressing your Lordships, I am out of the strict rule of your Lordships' House; but is that an unusual course in Parliament? Is it not, on the contrary, usual in both Houses of Parliament to allow a departure from the strict rule in favour of an individual Member who finds himself unexpectedly charged with an offence? That, my Lords, is my ground for imploring the indulgence of your Lordships; and now glad and happy am I to find, for the first time, that charge produced in this House, when I can meet it face to face—the vile, the false charge—the foul imputation that I have changed my political principles, when I quitted that party of which as a party man for so many years—to my no great advantage—to their no great advantage, perhaps—I was the zealous, the constant, the unflinching, the untiring supporter. My Lords, I have not changed my principles; but I was compelled to change my relations with them when they parted with the principles which we had held in common, as I again and again took occasion to tell them when I was sitting by them on the other side of the House, without ever receiving the shadow of a pretext of any answer. My Lords, I deny the charge. I defy any man to prove it; and I will speedily, now that I am charged by my noble and learned Friend, give him an opportunity of substantiating his charge, since he has been chosen as the most powerful, the best informed, the most judicious, the 921 most discreet, the most experienced antagonist against me whom they could call out from among them and find in all their ranks,—I will give them an opportunity of showing—I think I shall be able to do so—if they can, that I have departed from any one political principle that ever I advocated at any one period of my life. That challenge is a large one, my Lords; but I throw down that challenge with the most absolute and undoubted confidence that I must prevail.
My Lords, I will not detain the House any long time. My noble and learned Friend, as I shall still call him, has said that he will give me an opportunity of entering on these topics. It may happen, perhaps, that he may show that those to whom he now attaches himself have all changed their opinions and adopted the opinions he once held and advocated. Whether they or he have changed, it is not now the opportunity for me to discuss, but I shall be ready to do so at a fitting opportunity.
The Lord Chancellor
begged the indulgence of their Lordships while he made some observations on what had fallen from the noble and learned Lord (Lord Campbell). The noble and learned Lord had said, that a grave charge had been brought against the Government with respect to the conduct of the trial in Dublin. He (the Lord Chancellor) had heard no such charge from any noble Lord who was a lawyer, and with respect to the charges made by persons who were not lawyers, he considered that those charges were satisfactorily answered by his noble Friend the President of the Council (Lord Wharncliffe), and his noble Friend the President of the Board of Control (the Earl of Ripon); for that reason, and having been absent at the moment, he had not been disposed to trouble their Lordships with any remarks on the subject.
§ The House then divided, Content, Present, 39; Proxies, 39: Total 78.—Not Content, Present, 79: Proxies, 96; Total, 175:—Majority 97.924
|List of the CONTENTS.|
|Fitzhardinge||Say and Sele|
|Gainsborough||Stanley of Alderley|
|Gosford||Stewart de Decies|
|List of the NOT-CONTENTS|
|Harewood||Stuart de Rothesay|
|Duke of Somerset||Marquess of Aylesbury|
|Marquess of Anglesey||Earl of Essex|
|Marquess of Westminster||Earl O'Neil|
|Duke of Leeds||Lord Forester|
|Earl of Belfast||Lord Churchill|
|Marquess of Clanricarde||Earl of Clare|
|Earl of Lovelace||Earl of Beverley|
|Earl of Thanet||Viscount St. Vincent|
|Lord Wenlock||Earl of Dartmouth|
|Lord Furnival||Lord Keane|
|Lord Stourton||Bishop of London|
|Lord De Mauley||Earl of Malmesbury|
|Lord Belhaven||Earl of Lauderdale|
§ House adjourned.
§ The following Protest was entered on the Journals:—
§ "Because the military occupation of one-third of the United Kingdom, avowedly on the ground of the general discontent of the people, is a state of things which calls for the immediate attention of that Parliament to which are entrusted the interests of the whole United Kingdom.
§ "Because those discontents are not confined to that portion of the Irish people who advocate the Repeal of the Union, nor even to our Roman Catholic fellow-subjects alone. The grievances of their country are felt strongly and stated distinctly by some—the highest in rank and most influential in position—of the residents in Ireland of all religious persuasions.
§ "Because the attempt to govern a country possessing the framework of free institutions through the exclusive influence of a small minority, never did and never can succeed.
§ "Because no satisfactory explanation has been given of the vacillation and subsequent rashness shown by the Government in dealing with the present agitation in Ireland.
§ "Because the recent legal proceedings have been conducted in a manner to deprive them of that weight in public opinion which belongs to the due administration of justice.
§ "Because the measures announced by Her Majesty's Government, even if admitted to be in the right direction, are utterly inadequate to meet the legitimate wants of the Irish people.
§ "Because under the system pursued during the first four years of Her Majesty's reign, the value of property in Ireland had increased, in consequence of the tranquillity produced by confidence in the impartial administration of the laws. Since then, Ireland has become the chief difficulty of the Executive, and for this reason, that those who, as legislators, had previously impeded the full extension of equal 925 laws, have since, in the conduct of the Government, neglected to secure to that people the practical enjoyment of equal rights.
- "MONTEAGLE (of Brandon), for second, third, and sixth reasons,
- "LANSDOWNE, for second, third, and sixth reasons,
- "LILFORD, for second, third, and sixth reasons,
- "BEAUMONT, for sixth reason.
- "RADNOR, for sixth reason,
- "TEYNHAM, for first and sixth reasons,
- "VIVIAN, for second, third, fourth, and sixth reasons,