§ EARL GREY
then rose to bring forward his Motion on the State of Ireland. The 1344 noble Lord spoke nearly as follows:—My Lords, in rising to submit to your Lordships the Motion of which I have given notice, I feel that I am, in the first instance, bound to apologize to your Lordships for having taken upon myself the task of bringing under your consideration a subject of such extreme difficulty and importance, to which I am painfully conscious how little I shall be able to do justice. The only excuse I can offer for what must appear such great presumption is, that I found no other noble Lord willing to undertake a task which I thought absolutely to be performed, even though it should be by one not better qualified for it than myself. The measures that have lately been brought before your Lordships with respect to Ireland are, in my judgment, of such a character as to impose upon the House the necessity of taking the earliest opportunity, after having given its assent to them, of declaring by a solemn vote that those measures by themselves are altogether inadequate to the case of Ireland—that they cannot possibly be expected to cure the social evils by which Ireland has so long been afflicted, and that they are only to be justified upon the supposition that they are intended for nothing more than to give time for the application of other and more effectual remedies. It is the object of the Motion I am about to submit to your Lordships to call upon this House to express that opinion. I most earnestly wish the task of asking you to do so had fallen into other and worthier hands; but as that has not been the case, I have only to entreat your Lordships' indulgence for the imperfect manner in which I am aware I shall perform this duty. In bringing this subject under your Lordships' notice, unfortunately there is but little need for me to dwell upon the unhappy condition of Ireland. You have already heard too much of it on much higher authority than mine. The noble Earl opposite, in bringing forward on behalf of Her Majesty's Government the different measures that have been proposed with respect to Ireland, has disclosed to us a state of society which it is indeed awful to contemplate; a state of society in which there is no security for life or property; a state of society in which the usual wretchedness of the population has been so aggravated by the partial failure of the potato crop, that famine and pestilence must stalk through the land, unless those measures which Parliament has adopted 1345 to counteract those evils should fortunately arrest their progress. This is the state of things described by Her Majesty's Government; and unhappily this is no accidental, no extraordinary, no unlooked-for calamity. It is but an aggravation, and perhaps no very great aggravation, of the habitual condition of Ireland. The evils of that unhappy country are not accidental, not temporary, but chronic and habitual. The state of Ireland is one which is notorious. We know the ordinary condition of that country to be one both of lawlessness and wretchedness. It is so described by every competent authority. There is not an intelligent foreigner coming to our shores, who turns his attention to the state of Ireland, but who bears back with him such a description. Ireland is the one weak place in the solid fabric of British power—Ireland is the one deep (I had almost said ineffaceable) blot upon the brightness of British honour. Ireland is our disgrace. It is the reproach, the standing disgrace, of this country, that Ireland remains in the condition she is. It is so regarded throughout the whole civilized world. To ourselves we may palliate it if we will, and disguise the truth; but we cannot conceal it from others. There is not, as I have said, a foreigner—no matter whence he comes, be it from France, Russia, Germany, or America—there is no native of any foreign country different as their forms of government may be, who visits Ireland, and who on his return does not congratulate himself that he sees nothing comparable with the condition of that country at home. If such be the state of things, how then does it arise, and what is its cause? My Lords, it is only by misgovernment that such evils could have been produced: the mere fact that Ireland is in so deplorable and wretched a condition saves whole volumes of argument, and is of itself a complete and irrefutable proof of the misgovernment to which she has been subjected. Nor can we lay to our souls the "flattering unction" that this misgovernment was only of ancient date, and has not been our doing. It is not enough in our own excuse to say, "No wonder this state of things exists: the Government of Ireland before the Union was the most ingeniously bad that was ever contrived in the face of the world; it was the Government of a corrupt minority, sustained by the superior power of this great country in oppressing and tyrannizing over the great body of the nation; 1346 such a system of government could not fail to leave behind it a train of fearful evils from which we are still suffering at the present day." To a certain extent, no doubt, this is true. No man has a stronger opinion than I regarding the iniquitous system of misgovernment in Ireland prior to the Union. But the Union is not an event of yesterday. It is nearly half a century since that measure passed. For nearly fifty years, now, Ireland has been under the immediate control of the Imperial Parliament. Since it has been so, a whole generation has grown up, and is now passing away to be replaced by another; and in that time, I ask you, what impression has been made upon the evils of Ireland? It is true some good has been done. I gladly acknowledge that many useful measures have been adopted, which have, I hope, contributed in some respects to the improvement of Ireland; but none of these measures have gone to the root of the social disease to which Ireland is a prey; in the worst symptoms of which no amelioration whatever can be observed: the wretchedness and misery of the population have experienced no abatement. Upon that point I can quote high authority. I find that the Commission presided over by a noble Earl, whom I do not now see in his place (the Earl of Devon), reported the year before last, that "improvement was indeed beginning to take place in agriculture; but there had been no corresponding advance in the condition and comforts of the labouring classes." By the Report of that Commission we are informed, that the agricultural labourers are still suffering the greatest privations and hardships, and still depend upon casual and precarious employment for their subsistence; that they are badly fed, badly clothed, badly housed, and badly paid for their labour; and the Commissioners conclude this part of their Report by saying—We cannot forbear expressing our strong sense of the patient endurance which the labouring classes have generally exhibited under sufferings greater, we believe, than the people of any other country have ever endured.This is an authentic statement, and comes from a Commission appointed only the other day to inquire into the state of the people of Ireland. It is a Report describing the state of things in that country before the failure of the potato crop, and the Commissioners tell you that the sufferings of the great mass of the people of that country are greater than those of 1347 the population of any other country in Europe. This is indeed a fearful statement, coming from such authority. But there is another symptom of the condition of Ireland, which seems to me even more alarming than the prevalence of distress—I mean the the general alienation of the whole mass of the nation from the institutions under which they live, and the existence in their minds of a strong deep feeling of hostility to the form of government under which they are placed. This feeling, which is the worst feature in the case, seems to be rather gaining strength than to be diminishing. I am led to that opinion by what I heard two years ago fall from the Secretary of State for the Home Department in the House of Commons. I heard that right hon. Gentleman—and it was a statement which made a deep impression upon me—I heard the right hon. Gentleman, in answer to a speech made by a noble Friend of mine, distinctly admit that we had military occupation of Ireland, but that in no other sense could it be said to be governed; that it was occupied by troops, not governed like England. Such was the admission of the Secretary of State for the Home Department. And now, my Lords, I ask you, is that a state of things which ought to continue? And I ask is not such a state of things, so clearly established by authorities so high and indisputable, a good ground for inferring that there is something wrong in the policy which has been hitherto pursued towards Ireland; and that some measures different in character, and more effectual than those we have been in the habit of trusting to, are necessary to meet the exigency? That is the only inference which appears to me to follow from the premises universally admitted. I cannot understand how any man with the use of his reason could arrive at a different conclusion. I say, then, some change is absolutely necessary; we are bound to endeavour to apply some remedy to the evils of Ireland more efficient than any which have yet been attempted. This necessity, however, does not appear to be recognised by Her Majesty's Government. Her Majesty's Government propose only to go on with measures such as those we have tried over and over again—measures which have allowed all the evils of Ireland to go on, as I have shown, and rather to get worse than better. They propose doggedly to pursue the old and beaten track. How, then, can they expect that it should lead to any but the accustomed termination? 1348 Two words, "money" and "coercion," seem to describe the whole policy of the Government. We have never been sparing of either: both have been tried over and over again; and we see in the state of Ireland the most convincing proof that by themselves they hold out no hope of success. Shall I be told, then, that improvement in that country is impracticable—that the causes of the unhappy condition of Ireland are either undiscoverable, or else of such a nature as to be beyond our power to cure them? Such an assertion, I should say, is a libel at once upon Providence and upon human nature. I, for my part, utterly disbelieve in the possibility of such a state of things existing in any country, unless through great faults on the part of the rulers. Is there anything in the nature of Ireland or of her people that can warrant a different view of the case? Undoubtedly not. So far as regards the nature of the country, Ireland has been gifted by Providence with a soil of surpassing fertility, with great mineral wealth, with a climate mild and genial. In her large extent of coast and numerous harbours—her great natural facilities for internal navigation—in her command of water power, she has great natural resources, and every requisite for commercial greatness. The natural resources of Ireland are not only great, but unusually great. Then, as to her people. When they are removed from Ireland — when they are taken away from the pernicious influences by which they seem there to be surrounded, the men of Ireland have shown themselves capable of everything that is good and great. We see them in our Colonies—we see them in America, in various countries of Europe, distinguishing themselves in every pursuit of industry, and every branch of art. So little is it true that they are incapable of regular industry, that in this country many of the employments imposing the severest labour are chiefly in their hands. In the county with which I am connected, we have been in the habit of seeing every year large numbers of Irishmen come over as reapers during harvest, many of them from Donegal, and other districts, where the greatest wretchedness and misery prevail. What is the character of those men? We have always found them grateful beyond measure for good treatment; tractable, industrious, cheerful, and gay—in some respects, no doubt, thoughtless, and easily excited; but, on the other hand, exhibiting, 1349 upon the whole, a degree of prudence and forethought not often seen in men of their rank in life and amount of education—living in the most economical manner when in work, and saving their hard earnings in order that they may pay their rents when they get home. This is the character of the people of Ireland in England; and I say with such a people and such a country, is it not clear that the fault must be with their rulers if lawlessness and wretchedness prevail amongst them? My Lords, I cannot doubt it to be so, and therefore I never can for a moment believe in its being impossible for Parliament to interfere with effect to improve the condition of Ireland. I am not, indeed, such a visionary as to expect that evils of such long standing, and so inveterate, can be removed in a moment. I know too well that this is utterly impossible; but of this I am persuaded, that if we will seriously, and with earnestness and singleness of purpose, apply ourselves to that great task — if, without regard to preconceived opinions or dearly cherished prejudices, we will honestly and fairly set ourselves to find out and to do what can be done for the benefit of Ireland, we shall discover measures, the adoption of which will soon give evidence by their happy effect that we are on the right track, and on the road to improvement, and which will, in due time, leave Ireland for generations to follow us in the condition of a prosperous, happy, well-ordered community. I say this is in our power if we do our duty; if Parliament discharges as it ought the great task devolved upon it, we may safely rely in humble confidence on the blessing of Providence on our honest endeavours. The fault which I am disposed to find with the measures of Her Majesty's Government lies much more in what they do not do, than in what they do; it is much more that their measures are inadequate, than that they are altogether erroneous in themselves. I think the objects which Her Majesty's Government have in view are good objects; I find fault with the means they propose to adopt. I think those means are insufficient, and in some particular points ill adapted to the end they have in view. If I rightly comprehend the policy of the Government, it is this. They consider that the great evils of Ireland are, first, the absence of security for life and property; and next, the absence of due encouragement for industry, and of a sufficient demand for honest labour at adequate wages. I conceive 1350 these are the two great points to which the efforts of Government are directed; they wish to increase employment, they wish to promote security; and they consider that these two evils are closely and intimately connected together. I have no doubt that so far Government are perfectly right. I think it is impossible attentively to consider the state of Ireland without seeing how very closely these two symptoms in her condition, if I may so call them, are connected together—so closely, that it is really almost difficult to say which is cause and which is effect. If we look to the natural resources of Ireland, and the means she has of rewarding industry, if duly applied, I am tempted to say that nothing but the want of security can account for the fact that her natural resources have not been better developed, and that there industry is not better rewarded. On the other hand, if you look to the wretchedness and poverty of the people—their entire dependence for subsistence on the land—and the manner in which predial outrages are connected with their dread of losing their only certain means of subsistence—it seems impossible to deny that poverty and wretchedness have much to do with the existing insecurity of life and property. Each of these evils tend to aggravate the other; and I believe no remedy you can attempt to apply to the situation of Ireland will be effective, unless you, at one and the same time, apply yourselves to both giving employment to the people, and correcting that insecurity which prevents private capital from affording employment. These are the objects which I understand Government to have in view, and so far I think them perfectly right. I think, also, that what they do with a view to remedy the immediate and pressing want of employment is right in itself and sufficient. In that respect it might probably be difficult to do more than Government purposes. I believe that the measures they have adopted by grants and loans, for providing artificially, if I may say so, extended employment to meet the present distress of Ireland, are, on the whole judicious and well considered. I have no fault whatever to find with those measures, either as to their nature or adequacy, so far as they go; in this respect it would, I believe, be difficult to do more. But we must never forget, in assenting to measures of this description, that the permanent employment of the people must, after all, be the result of the spontaneous operation of private enterprise 1351 and private capital. No country can be in a wholesome condition where the population depend for employment on measures artificially brought forward by the Government. As a temporary resource to meet the immediate and pressing want that exists, I admit it is quite proper that such measures should be attempted; but when we are looking to the permanent improvement of the country, to that which is to be its habitual condition, then I say that employment directly afforded at the cost and under the superintendence of Government, is utterly and entirely inadequate. It will accomplish no real improvement, unless, while we provide that temporary and artificial employment, we encourage private capital and enterprise to step in and take up the work of providing natural and permanent employment. But we cannot expect this to happen; we cannot expect to see private industry and enterprise flourishing and prosperous, until peace and security are established on some better foundation than laws arming the Executive Government with almost arbitrary power. It is utterly impossible, if quiet is only maintained in Ireland by laws of this description, that private industry and enterprise can take root in that country. The very existence of those laws, even if they have the effect of repressing outrage and preventing the commission of crime, prevents that feeling of security in the minds of men which is no less essential for commercial and industrial improvement than actual safety. Such laws also interfere with that liberty of action which is the very lifeblood of commercial enterprise. Do you suppose that men can embark in great enterprises of industry and commerce where they cannot venture outside their own houses after dark, unless at the risk of being transported? It is utterly impossible. Until you can establish security on some better foundation, and make it compatible with a return to the ordinary law and constitution, restricting the Executive Government to its constitutional powers—till you can do that, you have done nothing. And this it is which accounts for the failure of your past liberality to Ireland in the way of public works; for do not flatter yourselves that you are doing anything new by making grants and loans for public works. Since the Union, enormous sums have been contributed in this manner; and what has been the result? I am afraid that no inconsiderable proportion of the money has 1352 been jobbed away in extravagant expenditure. But I hope that of late years this has been the case to a far less extent; and that a large proportion of the money has been well and usefully applied. Still, what is the result? You have executed considerable public works; as far as they go they are useful; but they have failed in giving that impetus you expected to private industry and enterprise; they have failed in calling into activity the internal resources of Ireland. The reason of that failure is, in my opinion, obvious; it is because you have not yet succeeded in establishing security, together with the restriction of the Executive Government to the ordinary powers of the law. I say, therefore, that one great object your Lordships ought to have in view is to establish good order on an effective basis, and under mild enactments, without having recourse to temporary laws of this severe and arbitrary character. Then I come to the inquiry—is there anything in the measures of Government which can give us a hope that they will be attended with this result? Is there anything in what they propose to us which we can even expect will have the effect of re-establishing order without the necessity of strong powers being entrusted to the Executive? It is with deep concern I am obliged to say, I know of nothing they have done, or intend to do, which holds out to us any such prospect. In those measures I can see nothing which gives even the faintest hope that when the temporary Bill lately passed by your Lordships shall have received the sanction of the Legislature, and shall have run its term—I see nothing that can give us hope that, in October, 1849, we shall have peace and security without a renewal of measures of so arbitrary and despotic a character. What, my Lords, is the cause of its being so often necessary in Ireland to have recourse to laws of this sort? Why is it that the ordinary law is in that island utterly powerless to protect the peaceable subject, and to maintain good order? I believe every person who has at all attended to the situation of Ireland will at once say that the reason for this is, that, unhappily, the whole body of the population are adverse to the administration of the law. In a well-ordered community, the law, I may say, is self enforced. It is not merely the officers of Government—not merely those who are specially employed in administering the law and maintaining good order, who are 1353 peace officers, but every member of the community. Here, if there is an infringement of the law, every man, however humble, is ready to join in repressing it. In Ireland, on the contrary, the population is everywhere united in a general combination to resist and thwart the endeavours of those whose duty it is to enforce the law. Compare what happens in England and Ireland, when some great crime has been committed. In this country, if a murder has been committed, and the culprit has escaped, and is known, he can hide himself nowhere: every one is on the alert to assist in the detection of the murderer; the newspapers carry his description to the remotest corners; wherever he goes, a hundred jealous eyes are scrutinizing every unknown face; every stranger to whom the slightest suspicion attaches is at once stopped, and brought before a magistrate; and it seldom happens that among those stopped the real culprit does not fall into the hands of justice. But what happens in Ireland? When a murder is committed, the population do not interfere to seize the murderer and bring him to justice: on the contrary, their sole object is to screen and protect him. The greatest disgrace which can attach to an Irish peasant, in the eyes of his fellows, is to be supposed to have given the slightest assistance, directly or indirectly, to the enforcement of the law. The character of an informer is one which it is worth as much as a man's life to acquire. And what is the Irish definition of an informer? It is not what we mean in England. Here, when we speak against an informer as an odious character, we mean a man who for the gain of the penalty goes and lays an information against a person guilty of an infraction of the law, very often one of a perfectly venial and insignificant description. In England, an informer is thus a man who endeavours to get a not very creditable livelihood by the faults or offences of his neighbours. But in Ireland an informer is any man who dares to give information of any kind as to the commission of a crime. We were told the other night by a noble Earl opposite (the Earl of St. Germans) that this danger from giving evidence applied even to the son or wife of a man inhumanly murdered, of a man who might have been dragged out of his bed in the dead of night, and barbarously murdered by a band of hired assassins. Though it may be the wife, son, or brother of the victim who ventures to tell what he knows, and to describe 1354 the persons, or give the names of the criminals, yet the party venturing to do this, is, in the Irish definition of the term, an informer; and though a person labour under the strongest provocation, he cannot give evidence without consequent risk to life and limb—so much so, that I believe it has been the practice in Ireland in former years, and probably it has not yet been quite discontinued, that when a man gives evidence on the part of the Crown, in cases of murder or some other atrocious crime, and when the verdict of the jury has been obtained, the Crown is obliged to defray the expense of enabling the man to emigrate to the Colonies, because his life is in danger. This is the real reason of the difficulty of enforcing the law in Ireland. It is because the great body of the people are banded to resist it, and instead of co-operating with the administrators of the law, they only endeavour to screen and assist those who violate it. Their sympathy is not with the murdered, but with the murderer; and so far is this carried, that the murderer is actually a privileged character in Ireland. In favour of the murderer, even that jealousy of a stranger coming into a district to which he does not belong to seek for work, which is generally so strong, is suspended; and I believe there are well-authenticated instances of men, wishing to find employment at a distance from their native districts, actually pretending to have committed a murder, and to be trying to escape the search of the officers of the law, in order that they might be permitted, unmolested by the population, to seek for work in a district to which they did not belong. If I am not much mistaken, I have heard a former Secretary for Ireland describe well-authenticated instances of this kind as having existed. My Lords, I think it is sufficiently established that the temper and disposition of the people in Ireland is not to assist, but to thwart, the administration of the law. Until that temper is altered, it is in vain to multiply Coercion Bills; it is quite impossible that by such means you can establish real security. The object must be to change their disposition. I ask you, my Lords, has the Coercion Bill any tendency to do so? Are the severe provisions which we are compelled to adopt when endeavouring to repress crime, while the population continue animated by the spirit I have endeavoured to describe—are those severe provisions calculated to reconcile the people to the law, and bring them to look upon its 1355 ministers as their friends instead of their enemies? I think no man will maintain such a proposition. It is a resource too much like the dram of the drunkard, in the fits of intolerable depression which succeed his excesses. He knows that a fresh excess will give him temporary relief, and to that temporary relief he flies, though it is certain to be followed by a return, with increased severity, of all his painful sensations. I believe the effects of these severe laws are precisely of the same sort. They may repress, perhaps, for a moment, the commission of crime; but they have no tendency to take away the spirit which really creates the difficulty of efficiently administering the law without extraordinary powers. This is the conclusion as to the effect which these coercive measures are calculated to produce, to which I think we should be led by reasoning on the subject; but it is also confirmed by experience. Have not measures of severity been tried long enough, and without much reserve as to the degree of severity employed? I find in a speech made by the right hon. Gentleman now at the head of the Government, so long ago as 1829, in introducing to the House the measure he then proposed for the relief of the Roman Catholics from civil disabilities, that he gave this history of the measures of severity which had then been adopted in Ireland:—In 1800, we find the Habeas Corpus Act suspended, and the Act for the Suppression of Rebellion in force. In 1801 they were continued. In 1802, I believe they expired. In 1803, the insurrection for which Emmett suffered broke out. Lord Kilwarden was murdered by a savage mob; and both Acts of Parliament were renewed. In 1804 they were continued. In 1806 the west and south of Ireland were in a state of insubordination, which was with difficulty repressed by the severest enforcement of the ordinary law. In 1807, in consequence chiefly of the disorders that had prevailed in 1806, the Act called the Insurrection Act was introduced. It gave power to the Lord Lieutenant to place any district by proclamation out of the pale of the ordinary law—it suspended trial by jury—and made it a transportable offence to be out of doors from sunset to sunrise. In 1807 this Act continued in force, and in 1808, 1809, and to the close of the Session of 1810. In 1814, the Insurrection Act was renewed; it was continued in 1815, 1816, and 1817. In 1822 it was again revived, and continued during the years 1823, 1824, and 1825. In 1825, the temporary Act intended for the suppression of dangerous associations, and especially the Roman Catholic Association, was passed. It continued during 1826 and 1827, and expired in 1828. The year 1829 has arrived, and with it the demand for a new Act to suppress the Roman Catholic Association.My Lords, I might continue this painful history. Only four years after the time 1356 when the right hon. Gentleman the present First Minister thus spoke, it was again found necessary to introduce a measure of the severest kind, which in the greater part of its provisions was renewed in the year 1834, and expired, I think, only four or five years ago. Again, in the year 1846, we are called upon to renew it. Such, my Lords, is the result which experience shows to have been obtained by mere severity. Such is the prospect we have, if we confine our efforts to merely repressing, by stern and rigorous measures, the commission of crime — such is the prospect we have of restoring real security to Ireland. I contend, then, that we must look further; we must look to the root of the evil, and we must see whether it is not possible to change the temper of the Irish population, to effect a reconciliation between them and their rulers, to make them the friends instead of the opponents of the administrators of the law. This, I say, is the object to which our efforts ought to be directed; and I say, if those efforts are honestly directed to its accomplishment, I believe it is one not beyond our reach to attain. It is true, the task is a most difficult one. You have to erase from the minds of the Irish people the deep impression left by long ages of misgovernment, and to convince them that their rulers have both the will and the power to serve them, and to promote their happiness and prosperity. This is what you have to accomplish; and I shall endeavour to show what to that end should be the nature of the means employed. In the first place, then, in order to convince the people that the law really exists for their benefit, you must amend it, both in its provisions and its administration, for I believe both are defective. I am persuaded that the law as it now exists in Ireland is inadequate to secure to the poor man, who cannot afford the cost of litigation, that justice to which he has a right. I believe it is more particularly so inadequate in those parts of the law which relate to the tenure of real property. This is a subject of extreme difficulty and extreme importance, owing to the state of society in Ireland. As has been observed very recently by the Minister of the Crown who is more particularly responsible for the peace of Ireland, the Home Secretary, the state of the law, and the opinions of the people in respect to the tenancy and occupation of land, are at the root of the disorders by which the country is afflicted. I believe that the law as it 1357 now exists requires, and is susceptible of, improvement. I believe that the most frightful injustice can and does take place under it. I think it was only the other night a noble Marquess, not now present, asked my noble Friend the noble Earl (the Earl of St. Germans) opposite, whether Government had received any information as to the truth of certain circumstances stated to have taken place in one of the western counties of Ireland—Roscommon—a statement than which, if true, no man can conceive anything more horrible—three or four hundred families being driven from the homes they had occupied for years, absolutely without resource, and left to starve or perish. I trust that statement was incorrect; I hope and believe that the paragraph in the newspapers to which the noble Marquess very properly called the attention of the Government, did not state the real facts of the case; but, whether it did or not, I believe that this is undeniable, that the clearance of estates has taken place in Ireland to a great extent, and in a manner utterly impossible to reconcile to our ideas of real justice and real humanity. I think it is contrary to what every man's feeling must tell him to be right and just, that when, whether by the fault of the actual owner or his predecessor—I care not how—a large population has been suffered to grow up on a particular district of land, they should, when a lease falls in, be driven off in wretchedness and misery. That such things should be possible, I think, is a disgrace to a civilized country. We have it on the authority of the Commissioners who lately inquired into this subject, that the practice which prevails in regard to paying for permanent improvements of the land, such as draining and building—and they have, I fear, been but of small importance—is very different to that which obtains in England; the cost in Ireland being nowhere borne by the landlord, but by the tenant. We are also told that, by the law as it now stands, it happens, though I hope not very often, that when an industrious man has spent two or three years in improving a small allotment of ground, and has thus given a new value to it, depending upon it for the subsistence of himself and family, he can be, and at the pleasure of the landlord sometimes is, turned out to starve on the wide world. Can these things be? Is it possible they should exist, and not create a strong feeling of exasperation in the minds of the peasantry? Another abuse, 1358 not uncommon in Ireland, arises from the practice of subletting, which prevails in that country very extensively; it sometimes happens that when an industrious man, having a small allotment, has fairly and honestly paid for the land he occupies to his immediate superior, and that superior fails to pay the rent to his superior, the poor man who holds the plot of ground is liable to have his property seized and sold before his eyes, to satisfy the claim of the head landlord. [A cry of "No, no!"] My noble and learned Friend near me tells me that it is the law both in England and Ireland. It is true; but in England the practice of subletting does not prevail in this manner, and it does not work the same practical injustice as in Ireland. I say it is notorious that acts of the most cruel and dire injustice have been done under this state of the law. A noble Friend of mine told me a case which had come under his own notice, where a poor man took a small piece of land in conacre, paying 9l. for half an acre, on which he grow a crop of potatoes which were to afford subsistence to himself and family, probably till the succeeding crop. This rent, which here appears so extravagant, is the common price of land taken as conacre in the county of Waterford. The man had thus paid for his potatoes; but his immediate superior was in arrear to his landlord; his landlord put in a distress, seized the growing crop, which was the only dependence of the poor man and his family, and actually refused to tell the unhappy peasant, whose ripening crop was thus snatched from his possession, what was the amount for which the distress was put in. I am told the peasant committed an assault upon his keeper, for the mere purpose of bringing the case before a noble Friend of mine, in whose justice he had confidence; but who, when the case came before him, found that the state of the law was such that no redress was in his power, though it appeared to him, as it must to your Lordships, and every man of ordinary feeling, a case of the most cruel oppression and injustice. My Lords, the first step you have to take towards bringing about a better state of things in Ireland, is to correct those provisions of the existing law under which such injustice has been wrought. The subject is, I know, one of extreme difficulty and delicacy; and, I am concerned to say, I think that difficulty has been infinitely aggravated by the most unfortunate and imprudent course which Her Majesty's Government have pursued 1359 in regard to it. At the conclusion of the Session of 1843, a Bill for establishing what has been termed fixity of tenure was brought into the other House of Parliament by Mr. Sharman Crawford. Leave was given to bring in the Bill without opposition: when it came to a second reading, in the course of the discussion which took place, the Prime Minister pointed out some obvious defects in the Bill; but at the same time stated, that the subject was one which Her Majesty's Government felt to be of great importance, and that their attention would be given to it. Upon that statement Mr. Sharman Crawford consented not to press the second reading, and the Bill was thrown out without a division. At the commencement of the following Session, Her Majesty was advised formally to announce in Her Speech from the Throne that she had thought fit to appoint a Commission for inquiring into this subject; and a few days after (on the 13th of February, 1844), in a debate in the Commons, on the Motion of Lord J. Russell, for a Committee of the whole House on the state of Ireland, the Secretary for the Home Department, adverting to the issue of the Commission, expressed his hope that before the termination of that Session it would be in the power of Her Majesty's Government to introduce some measure on the subject. I took the liberty at the time of expressing my great apprehensions that Government were taking an imprudent and unnecessary course. I said I thought the issue of such a Commission, the circumstances under which it originated, and the fact that it was formally announced in the Speech from the Throne, were calculated to create very unfounded and exaggerated expectations in the minds of the people of Ireland on a subject on which, of all others, it was most dangerous to agitate their minds by expectations not to be realized. I said at the same time, that I thought the real state of the law and its workings might have been ascertained by Government without the issue of a formal Commission; that they might have obtained all the necessary information by private consultation with the ablest lawyers of the country, and the country gentlemen who were best acquainted with the practical operation of the law; and that with such assistance a measure might have been matured and brought forward. But I further said, that for Her Majesty's Government, while in ignorance whether any improvement was practicable or not — whether they might 1360 not find the complexity of the law so great as to obstruct any improvement that would give satisfaction—to issue a Commission in the manner they had, was the most dangerous and imprudent course which it was possible for a Government to adopt, and would, I feared, be followed by very unfortunate results. That anticipation, I am sorry to say, has been more than realized: from all the information I can obtain as to what is now going on in Ireland, I believe the present great increase of agrarian outrages is in no slight degree traceable to the issue of that Commission, without its being promptly followed by the adoption of any practical measure. I believe you have created in the minds of the peasantry of that country an impression that they are to be the owners instead of the occupiers of the land. I believe that any reform you may now make will give far less satisfaction than even a much less reform would have done if effected two years sooner, with less parade, and less flourish of trumpets. I do not charge the Government with having done this wilfully—I do not charge them with the deep guilt of having endeavoured to stave off a difficult and embarrassing question by the appointment of that Commission, and by bringing forward the abortive measure founded on it, which fell to the ground without attack, because its own friends could not support it; I do not, I say, charge the Government with having been wilfully guilty of such a dereliction of their duty; but in the face of this House and of the country, I do charge them with having been guilty of the most unpardonable imprudence in the manner in which they have dealt with this subject. My Lords, I must add, that what they have done now renders the necessity of a reform of the laws affecting real property in Ireland more pressing than ever. Not a day—not an hour—ought to be lost in devising such a measure, and bringing it before Parliament. In framing that measure, you must be prepared to go to considerable lengths, and to act—not in the spirit of mere technical lawyers, but with the comprehensive views of statesmen; you must look to the principles of the public good, on which the law of real property is founded, and not to conventional and technical notions as to the practice of that law. A reform conceived in that spirit is absolutely necessary; and I trust Her Majesty's Government will do their duty, and bring some such measure forward with the least possible delay. But, 1361 my Lords, it is not sufficient that the mere letter of the law as it affects real property in Ireland should be reformed and improved—it is not enough to amend its mere provisions. You must look to its administration also. A noble Friend of mine on the other side of the House, told me that when I quoted the saying of a great authority, that "in Ireland there was one law for the rich, and another for the poor," I had not given the whole of the sentence; and that what had really been said was, that "there is one law for the poor, and another for the rich—and both equally ill-administered." My Lords, I firmly believe that this was most true when it was said: I hope that a considerable improvement in the administration of the law has been effected of late years; but I cannot help expressing my fears that since 1841 there has been again rather a change for the worse in that respect. The information I have received leads me to apprehend that since that year the law has been so administered as to give less real confidence and satisfaction to the people of Ireland than before. One cause of this has been the nature of your appointments to the Bench. You have placed on the bench of justice eager and virulent partisans. I believe these appointments are greatly calculated to check the confidence of the Irish people in the equal adminstration of justice. I am informed also that the practice, which between 1835 and 1841 had been abolished, of excluding men from juries on account of their religion, has been to some extent revived since the latter year. I hope, if such is not the case, that the assertion will be denied, because anything more objectionable or more improper I cannot conceive. I deliberately say, my Lords, that, in my opinion, it would be less objectionable to suspend trial by jury altogether than to continue such a practice. I believe that it is better to have no jury at all than a partisan jury; and I say, if the Government have revived that practice, they have incurred a great and fearful responsibility. But a reform in the law itself, and in its adminstration, is not all that is required. You must look still further, and do much more, if you really hope for your efforts to be successful. There is another consideration that cannot be overlooked in viewing this question. I never can believe the law will be cheerfully obeyed so long as the Parliament by which it is enacted, and the Government by which it is enforced, are objects 1362 of hostility and suspicion, instead of respect and confidence. To have the law cheerfully obeyed, to make it really effective, it is indispensable that the people should look to their rulers with feelings of a very different kind. My Lords, I know that in what I am now going to argue, the general opinion is against me. We have often been told, upon what must be considered high authority, that there is no connection whatever between the agrarian outrages on the one hand, and discontent and the Repeal agitation on the other. I confess that all the consideration I have given to this matter—and I have taken much pains in considering it—have impressed on my mind a strong conviction that those who tell us so labour under a great mistake. There are, no doubt, more immediate and exciting causes of agrarian outrages; but that their prevalence is closely connected with the existence of the Repeal agitation, is, to my mind at least, a clear and obvious fact. My Lords, in the first place, there is at all events this connexion between them, that the prevalence of agitation, and the open display of a spirit of discontent, are altogether fatal to our hopes of permanent improvement from the spread of industry and manufactures. While such a state of things exists, capital will never flow into that country. Commercial industry will never take root or flourish, whilst political agitation is as rife as it has been. As, therefore, the poverty and distress of the population are admitted to be the immediate cause of agrarian outrages, and these exist in consequence of the want of employment; agitation, as it prevents the influx of that capital by which alone distress and poverty can be removed, and the want of employment supplied, clearly must be considered to be, if not the cause, at all events closely connected with the continuance of agrarian outrages. But this is not all: it seems to me you cannot expect that political discontent can prevail throughout the country without its tending to exasperate and keep alive the feeling of hostility to the law, and to those whose duty it is to enforce the law, which has been shown to be at the bottom of that dreadful state of society now existing in Ireland. The enforcement of the law is, after all, the main duty of Government: it is that by which alone it is known to the great body of the people. Do you then suppose it possible that the population should be successfully taught to hate and 1363 despise their rulers, and at the same time should obey cheerfully the laws which it is the business of those rulers to make and to enforce? It is utterly irrational to expect such a result. If you consider for a moment the character of the disturbances which are so unhappily prevalent, you cannot fail to perceive how entirely they proceed from a feeling of hostility to the law, and to those whose duty it is to enforce the law, which it is impossible to regard as unconnected with political discontent. Those crimes—of which another has this week been added to the frightful catalogue so recently laid before your Lordships, another magistrate having been shot but a few clays back, close to one of the large towns in the south of Ireland—those crimes are not, as in this country, the acts of individuals inspired by the desire of plunder, or for the gratification of passion. No! Irish crimes and outrages are of an entirely different character. They are the work of combinations and secret societies—they are the means adopted to enforce obedience to the regulations which midnight legislators think proper to make for their own objects. Is not the inference clear, when you know those crimes are committed for the purpose of enforcing obedience to certain regulations which the people think necessary to their interests—that, if the law were in harmony with the feelings of the people—if the rules laid down by it for the decision of their disputes were consistent with their ideas of justice, and were impartially and fairly applied, the people would soon learn to prefer appealing to the regular and constituted tribunals of the country rather than to those instituted by the midnight legislators, who enforce their regulations by such barbarous and sanguinary means? If you had the people with you, you would cut off the motive to those crimes. I say, my Lords, the very fact of the desperate and misguided fidelity with which the people obey their self-constituted legislators, shows the readiness there is in the Irish character to yield obedience when they can be brought to believe their rulers really do take an interest in their welfare and happiness. As Captain Rock and his officers were obeyed, so were the Repeal magistrates and Repeal judges till you put them down. Though those self-assumed magistrates had no power to enforce their decisions, so well were they obeyed, that you, my Lords, thought — and, in my opinion, rightly 1364 thought—the fact one of the very worst symptoms in the state of Ireland. Those persons were taking on themselves all that belonged to the regular Government: they were usurping the functions and the duties of the authorized Government and its officers. No doubt that was a fearful state of things; but, again, I ask you, does not the fact that they were so readily obeyed, when armed with no legal power to enforce their decisions, show that where the Irish people can be made to attach themselves, they are naturally obedient and amenable to control. Any consideration of those circumstances seems to me to lead to the inference that in order to make the law as it exists in Ireland effectual, you must gain the attachment of the people. Political agitation is the cause of discontent. Where those in whose hands authority now rests are regarded with hatred and suspicion, the law will continue to be practically powerless and inefficient; and so long as such feelings are entertained towards the Government, you cannot hope to see a well-ordered state of society. If, my Lords, I have made out this part of my case, and satisfied you that the Repeal agitation and political discontent are closely and intimately connected with the prevalence of those outrages—what conclusion are we to draw? Shall I be told by noble Lords opposite, the inference is, you ought to put down the Repeal Association, and by a series of severe laws to repress agitation and civil discontent? If this be the remedy you suggest, I hope you will remember before you adopt it that this experiment has been already tried in former times, and not, as I think, with that degree of success which should encourage us to repeat it. You can only repress agitation and the outward expression of discontent by severe laws, which are repugnant to the whole genius and spirit of our Constitution, and which must greatly interfere, if not altogether abrogate, what is so justly regarded by all Englishmen as the sacred right of publicly discussing public measures. It is only by laws of such a character you can put down agitation by force. But remember, my Lords, the unhappy tendency of laws of this kind is to alienate from your Government all the Irishmen—constituting as I hope and believe a still numerous body—who understand and value constitutional liberty, and have hitherto hold aloof from the Repeal agitation. To adopt such a measure is to drive into the ranks of your opponents 1365 such men as those; and you gain but little if you repress agitation by means which exasperate the feeling of hostility to our existing institutions, which is really dangerous, and cause it to extend to thousands not before infected by it. My Lords, I think you must look to something more effectual than such laws. You cannot gain men's hearts by force. You must win them back to you by justice. You cannot compel them to render a cheerful obedience. I know that I shall hear the answer from the noble Lords opposite that we have so often heard before. When we argue that it is necessary to win them to you, we are told it is impossible. We are assured the desires of the Irish people are set on Repeal: nothing less, it is urged, will satisfy them, and this it is impossible to grant. This, it most certainly is, my Lords, impossible to grant. There is not a Member of your Lordships' House who would be more firmly prepared to resist a Repeal of the Union than myself. But on the other hand, I am persuaded that discontent never prevails throughout a country unless there exist some good grounds for it, and unless there is some substantial foundation for it in the existence of real grievances, though the sufferers may be and often are greatly mistaken as to the nature of the evils of which they have to complain, and still more as to what is the fitting remedy. But though a people may often be in error in what they ask, and labour under a mistake as to what ought to be done, I believe it is seldom that redress of their real grievances fails to prove a remedy for their discontent. I think there is a strong proof of this in the analogous case of Scotland. Soon after the Union of that country with England there was almost as great discontent on the subject as is now prevailing in Ireland—with this difference, that it was very much more hopeful, and that the opponents of the Union were much more likely to carry their object than those who support the agitation in Ireland. The subject was taken up by a very powerful party, and brought forward in Parliament. In the year 1713, a Motion was made in your Lordships' House, for leave to bring in a Bill to dissolve the Union. How did the House deal with it? Did they reject it by such an overwhelming majority as the other House exhibited when a similar proposition was made with respect to Ireland—with such a majority as might be 1366 expected in your Lordships' House, where I believe there could not be found a noble Lord to propose it? No! they divided, and there appeared 54 Peers for the Motion, and 54 against it, the majority by which it was rejected consisting of four proxies—the proxies being 13 for, and 17 against the Motion. I say, then, the discontent existing in Scotland was encouraged by a much more rational hope of success; but the Parliament most wisely and most happily, instead of granting what was so unwisely asked, set itself to endeavour to remove the feeling of discontent in another way. Scotland was governed on a principle of equal justice with England—a just and equal Government was granted to her; and under its influence all desire for a dissolution of the Union vanished, and I believe that at the present day you would not find in Scotland one advocate for such a measure. Let us, my Lords, try the same remedy in Ireland. You cannot grant Repeal,' tis true; but let us try the effect of legislating for Ireland as an Irish Parliament fairly representing the mass of the Irish people might be expected to do. Let the laws and measures which we adopt for Ireland be such as Ireland would adopt for herself. Let us take the wise course recommended by the right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of St. David's) in the course of the debate on the Maynooth grant last year, and I am persuaded that in a few years you will see its happy result. I cannot deny to myself the satisfaction of reading to your Lordships a passage from the speech of that right rev. Prelate, which I have perused with delight and instruction:—I consider it as the fulfilment of a great and solemn duty. It is the fulfilment of an obligation, which I conceive we contracted when we assumed the dominion of Ireland, namely, that we would give to that country the same amount of benefit as it would have received from an independent domestic Legislature really representing the wants, the feelings, and the wishes of the Irish people, with the single exception and qualification of excluding anything which would tend to the disruption of the Union, and the dismemberment of the Empire."*To that opinion, my Lords, I most cordially subscribe. I believe it points out to you the only means by which you can obtain real security, and by which alone you can hope to give peace and prosperity to Ireland. Let me ask you, my Lords, have you hitherto governed Ireland in this spirit? Is there any noble Lord in this House who will* Hansard's Debates, vol. lsxxi. p. 93.1367 say so? I ask you, my Lords, would an Irish Parliament, fairly representing the great mass of the nation, have delayed Catholic Emancipation till 1829? Would such a Parliament have legislated as you did on the subject of corporate reform? Would it have acted as you did with reference to the registration of voters, and above all on the subject of tithes and of the Church. This is the test to which you ought to bring your acts; and if they will not stand its application, you are clearly in the wrong. And this, my Lords, brings me to that part of my subject which is, I am aware, by far the most dangerous and difficult portion of the ground on which I have to tread: I must come now to that awful and momentous question—the state of the Irish Church; and I have to ask you whether you think an Irish Parliament fairly representing the nation would have dealt as we have dealt with this question of the Church, when you recollect that until lately you refused to permit any amendment to be made in the mode of collecting tithe—that up to this moment you still persevere in devoting to the sole and exclusive benefit of a minority of the population the great endowments intended for the benefit of the whole. I am aware of the little sympathy I am likely to meet with among your Lordships in discussing this question; but I am convinced that it lies at the bottom of the whole subject. It was admitted to do so by the right hon. Secretary for the Home Department in 1844; and it meets you still at every turn in your attempts to govern and legislate for Ireland. My Lords, it is a question which cannot be avoided or eluded, which you must look fairly in the face, and be prepared to deal with if you wish to give peace to Ireland. Consider what is the real state of the Irish Church. We all know that the property which now constitutes her endowment was originally granted to the Catholic Church, for the purpose of instructing the mass of the community in the Christian faith—in that form of Christian faith in which alone they will accept instruction. But by the superior power of this country it has been diverted from that purpose, and is now applied, not to the instruction of the great body of the people, but to the instruction of a very small minority. The noble Earl opposite who was very lately Secretary for Ireland (Lord St. Germans) stated last year that the property of the Irish Church was rather better than 600,000l. a year, 1368 and that the whole of this vast income was applied to the exclusive benefit of between 700,000 and 800,000 persons, who were about one-eighth of the population. And the noble Duke (the Duke of Wellington) told the House, that of the 8,500,000 people, for whose benefit that magnificent endowment was intended, seven-eighths were Catholics, for whom it did nothing. But more than this, my Lords, not satisfied with that revenue, my noble Friend (Lord Monteagle) stated that there had been granted, since the Union, from the public purse, by Parliament to the Established Church, not less than 595,000l.
§ EARL GREY
My noble Friend says the sum is much larger. Now, my Lords, in order that you may feel the real importance of these facts, you must remember that the adherents of the Irish Church consist chiefly of the wealthy classes, for whose religious instruction there exists the magnificent endowment to which I have referred; and, in addition to this, large grants have been made by Parliament. At the same time there is the Presbyterian body, about equal in numbers to the Established Church, to whom Parliament has also made large grants, although they are Dissenters quite as much as the Catholics. But to the Catholics, though they constitute the great mass of the population, and by far the poorest part of it, including in their number almost the entire peasantry of the southern part of the kingdom, to whose miserably destitute condition I have already adverted, you have given no assistance whatever: they have been compelled to build their own chapels, to pay their own clergy, and, except the miserable and paltry grant for the education of their clergy, which, at length, last year you were ashamed of, and increased, you have done no one thing to assist them. I ask your Lordships if this is a state of things which is likely to satisfy the Irish people? I beg you to reflect upon the striking contrast presented in the greater part of Ireland by the Catholic and Protestant places of worship every Sunday. To the Protestant church you may see going the Protestant landlord and one or two of his Protestant servants, where they occupy a mere corner of a well-built, well-repaired, and comfortable building, in which, for their exclusive benefit, the services are performed by a well-educated, well-paid functionary. On the other hand, on the same day, and hard by, you may see the 1369 great mass of the population, those whose industry gives value to the property whence the tithe-rent charge is derived, those for whose benefit the magnificent endowments of the Irish Church were originally intended, but from whom they were wrested by violence and wrong—you will see these men going to a miserable, ill-repaired, insufficient chapel, inadequate to contain the numbers who throng to worship within its walls—so inadequate that one-half of the congregation are kneeling on the damp ground around the doors, while the solemn services of religion are administered within: the priest who officiates, and to whom they are indebted for all the spiritual instruction and assistance they receive, having no income or means of subsistence, but the inadequate contributions which, from their wretched poverty, they are able to spare for him. This is a spectacle which, Sunday after Sunday, and year after year, is to be seen in the south of Ireland; and is it to be thought that human nature can submit to the existence of such a state of things, and not feel it to be an injury and wrong? Is it possible that the Irish people can look at such a state of things without reflecting upon what are their real rights, and without its producing a deep and rankling sense of injustice in their minds? But that is by no means the worst part of the case: more remains behind. I firmly believe that if what I have now described had been all of which the Irish Catholics have to complain—if the Legislature had contented themselves with wresting the property from the Catholic to endow the Protestant Church, and had treated the people in other respects with common justice and common, humanity in bygone times, they would never have aroused this deep sense of injustice. But that has not been the case. In spite of all the warnings that have been given, in spite of every remonstrance, the Protestant Established Church has been only known and felt by the Irish people, during more than a century and a half, as being the cause of oppression and misery to the great mass of the people. I know that I am using strong words; but I do not think them stronger than the case warrants. To begin with the tithe system. The tithe system as it existed in Ireland was, in my opinion, the most atrocious and iniquitous system of oppression that ever existed in any country. If it had been for the payment of a clergy to whom the people were as deeply attached as human nature 1370 would allow them to be, still this system would have been a yoke which the people could not possibly have borne without complaint. But it was a yoke fixed upon the Irish people for the sake of the Protestant Church; and, what was more, for fear of a small diminution of the pecuniary means of the Church, even the slightest mitigation of the evil in the means of collecting it, was refused. In the years 1787–88, the tithe system was denounced in the burning eloquence of Mr. Grattan before the Irish House of Commons. He described it as an enormous load, which no people could bear with patience: he asked for no diminution of the property of the Church; he only asked that the revenues she enjoyed should be fixed at their real legal amount, and should be collected in such a manner as to relieve the people from an intolerable oppression. This moderate demand was refused, and the refusal drew from him a speech of indignant eloquence. He described the tithe system as the great cause of discontent and disturbance, and said, "The most sanguinary laws on your Statute-book are Tithe Bills—the Whiteboy Act is a Tithe Bill—the Riot Act is a Tithe Bill." Speaking of the heads of the Church, whose resistance had mainly contributed to defeat his efforts for the relief of the people, he said, "The bishops rejected a Lease Bill, and have almost uniformly resisted every Bill which tended to the improvement of the country, if, by the remotest possibility, their body could be in the smallest degree prejudiced in the most insignificant of its least warrantable pretensions." He remonstrated with them in words which few would now be bold enough to use, but which I may quote as the words of Mr. Grattan, and told them that they legislated as if they thought that "Christ could not prevail upon earth, unless he were taken by the hand by Mammon." This was his indignant remonstrance to the heads of the Church, who prevented any reform in the tithe system. That was in 1777 and 1778, and it was not till 1822 that the monstrous system was exposed, and some partial alleviation permitted. It was not until ten years later that another measure, still very imperfect, was brought forward by the noble Lord opposite (Lord Stanley); and it was not till a later period still, when the people had taken the matter into their own hands, and when they had practically succeeded in refusing payment, it was only then that in the mode of collecting the revenue a real 1371 and efficient reform was introduced. Do you think it was calculated to endear the Church of Ireland to the people, to find that their dearest interests were sacrificed to the mere pecuniary interests of the clergy which the heads of the Church, as Christians and as Christian prelates, should have taught the people by their example and their preaching to hold as of no importance when compared with the preservation of peace and concord? Was this likely to reconcile them to the original and crying injustice of the transfer of a magnificent endowment from the nation at large, to a mere section of the community? But, more than this, the safety of the Church was made the reason for enacting and maintaining the most ingenious and detestable system of oppression that ever existed. It was for the safety of the Protestant Establishment that the atrocious system of penal laws was devised and carried into effect. It was for the safety of the Church Establishment, that year after year this House rejected the measure of Catholic Emancipation up to 1829. That measure was rejected on the alleged ground that the passing of emancipation would endanger the Church. For the interest of that Church you achieved an ill-omened and disastrous triumph, when on this pretext you succeeded so long in your opposition to popular rights, and by so resisting the just claims and rights of the people, you burned into their minds, as though it were with a hot iron, a deep hatred of the Establishment. If in the year when Grattan so eloquently denounced the injustice of the Irish tithe system, the Legislature had conceded Catholic Emancipation, and substituted a better mode of collecting tithes for the oppressive laws which were so long and obstinately maintained, the Establishment might have existed for ages to come; but instead of this, the friends of the Establishment in the Legislature achieved, as I have said, an ill-omened victory, and refused all redress of the grievances so justly complained of until it was extorted from them by terror—until the continuance of oppression had created an agitation which you could no longer control—until you were obliged to yield to force what you had so long refused to justice. My Lords, it was the obstinate adherence to this policy which has, I believe, sealed the fate of the Protestant Establishment. But, my Lords, as if that were not enough, even after Emancipation, was carried, for the same reason—the same unhappy 1372 reason, the safety of the Establishment—you rendered that just measure in a great degree a dead letter. You still continued to treat the Roman Catholics with suspicion and doubt—you refused those equal rights to that part of the kingdom which you accorded to other classes of Her Majesty's subjects. In the debates on the Registration Bill—in those on the Corporation Bill (I remember them well, for I have had to answer such arguments over and over again), the ground on which the extension of English measures to Ireland was refused, by the very persons who now hold the reins of power, was still the safety of the Establishment. My Lords, can you, after having pursued such a course, wonder that the feeling is deep rooted in the minds of Irishmen that the Establishment must be altered, or there will be no such thing as content and peaceful submission to Government? We must judge of their feelings by what our own would be under the same circumstances. I have asked more than once, but in vain, a question which I will now repeat, and to which I do hope that I shall obtain an answer now, especially from the right reverend Bench; as to them I have a right to look as the representatives of the Church. What I want to know is, what would our feelings be in such a situation as that in which the Irish are placed? And is it consistent with that divine precept which is at the very foundation of our religion, "Do unto others as you would they should do unto you," that you should ask the Irish people to submit to that state of things which I have endea voured, imperfectly and inadequately to describe to you, unless you can honestly say that we ourselves, if placed in a similar situation should be content to bear it? Can we say this? Let me only imagine the case our own. Suppose the relations of the two countries to each other had been reversed, and that Ireland had exceeded England in wealth, power, and strength: suppose we had been the conquered country, and that the Imperial Parliament sat in Dublin; and suppose that it insisted on maintaining an Irish Catholic Establishment here: suppose there was an endowment originally intended for the instruction of the people in the holy religion which we profess, and that that endowment had been wrested, by the superior power of an Imperial Parliament from its intended purpose, and applied to the maintenance of a Catholic Establishment where there were no Catholics, or but an insignificant number as compared 1373 to the Protestant population of the country: suppose further, that the safety of this Establishment had been made the reason or pretence for subjecting us to ages of the direst and severest oppression; I say, suppose we stood in that situation, and I ask you how long should we submit to it? I cannot answer for others, but I can for myself—not one hour longer than I was forced to do so. To such a badge of slavery, not only being unjust in itself at the present time, but as the mark of past slavery and oppression, would I not submit one hour longer than I was compelled. My Lords, I have no doubt this is the feeling which rankles at the bottom of the Irish heart. They would be more or less than men if it were not so. I know and have heard it said, that the payment of the Protestant Church is not now the practical grievance that weighs most oppressively upon the people, and of which they most complain. This is very possible; it is not always the deepest feelings of which most is said. But if you wish to know what the feelings of the Irish people really are on this point, you must listen to their representatives. I heard almost with awe the declaration made in the calmest and coolest, and yet the most decided manner, by an hon. Friend of mine, a Catholic Member of Parliament. "If you are determined," said he, "to make no alteration as to the Irish Church, you must give up all idea of governing Ireland except by military force." I felt, if in my hon. Friend's situation, those would be my feelings, and therefore, I believed him when he stated them to be his. This is a state of things which sooner or later you must consider. My Lords, I have another authority I can quote on the subject. In the debate last year on the Maynooth grant, a right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of London) who is not now in his place, though he was here at the commencement of the evening, said—There could be no doubt that the Roman Catholic priesthood of Ireland were taught to regard the English Government as foreigners … The Roman Catholic child had books put into his hands in which the English were spoken of as spoilers of his Church and usurpers, and those principles were disseminated through the breadth and length of the land by the Education Societies."*My Lords, this was the statement of the right rev. Prelate. I firmly believe it to be strictly in accordance with the truth.* Hansard, vol lxxx. p. 1202.1374 But if the right rev. Prelate were himself in the situation of the Roman Catholic priesthood, would his feelings and conduct be very different from what he describes to be theirs? If, in the See of London, a Catholic Establishment had usurped those revenues which he tells us most truly are at present inadequate for the supply of Protestant religious wants, and applied them to the benefit of a Catholic clergy without congregations, or with congregations, of Catholic units where there were thousands of Protestants? If he, as a Protestant bishop, were treated as an inferior, and compelled to take a lower place in society, and to gain a precarious subsistence from an impoverished and distressed congregation, while an intrusive prelate of the rival Church was in the enjoyment of rank and affluence; if he saw his flock most inadequately provided with religious instruction, while at the same time there were ample endowments for the spread of his religion diverted to a purpose for which they were never intended, and employed to maintain in splendour the Catholic hierarchy and clergy; I want to know whether, under these circumstances, he thinks that we should have a right to expect that he as the Protestant bishop should teach the Protestant child to be well affected to the State, and to assent tamely, and with "bondman's key," to such a state of things as perfectly just and proper? I think we all of us, that know anything of human nature, or of the character of the right rev. Prelate, should expect his conduct and language to be different. I certainly should not blame him for it if it were so—far from it. I say it would be absurd to expect, while human nature remains what it is, that he under the circumstances I have supposed should rest satisfied, or teach others to be contented, with a state of things so contrary to our notions of justice. I say then you must—however it may run counter to your feelings or your long-cherished prejudices—look this state of things in the face. As the noble Duke (the Duke of Wellington) told you last Session, you must as practical legislators and statesmen deal with the fact, that a large proportion of the Irish people are Roman Catholics. The noble Duke said most truly and most forcibly, that—The population of Ireland numbered probably 8,500,000, of which about seven-eighths are to be considered as Roman Catholics. … We cannot avoid their being Roman Catholics, and we must find We means of providing them with ecclesiastics capable of administering to them the 1375 rites of the Roman Catholic Church. It is desirable to elevate the character of those ecclesiastics."*This argument goes a great deal farther than the endowment of Maynooth. "It is most desirable to raise the character of these ecclesiastics;" and to that end I believe it to be necessary to give them some independent means of subsistence, without an appeal for contributions to their congregations. My Lords, I have now—I feel how inadequately — described what seems to me a monstrous injustice. I do not mean to enter into particulars as to the means by which that injustice ought to be corrected. It is undoubtedly a subject of extreme difficulty. That man must have indeed overweening confidence who, without the information which no individual Member can obtain, and without the assistance essential to such a task, can say he is prepared to give even an outline of a measure which he would be prepared confidently to recommend, as calculated to be satisfactory on this subject. All I can say is this — the principle I insist on is, a perfect equality of treatment between Protestant and Catholic: that no superior measure of favour shall be shown by the State to one class over the other. What you do for one, you should also do for the rival Church. My Lords, there are various modes of arriving at this result. Some propose that the whole endowment should be taken away from the Church as existing interests fall in, and should be applied to what is called secular education. I confess I should greatly grieve if any such measure were adopted. I, for one, am no admirer of the voluntary system. I believe it to be a bad one. I believe it to be of great importance that a fund should be set apart for the maintenance of the ministers of religion, whose province it is to teach the people, in such forms as they will accept, the great truths of Christianity; therefore, I should deeply grieve if the whole endowment were taken away for secular education. But, though I am most anxious to see this property made really available for the spiritual instruction of the people, and though I should deeply grieve if the endowments of the Irish Church were diverted from this purpose, to which in my judgment it ought properly to be devoted, still even that plan I should consider to be better than the present arrangement, which, as has been justly said, combines all the disadvantages of the* Hansard, vol. lxxx. p. 1166.1376 voluntary system with all the disadvantages of a State Church; for you have in it all the disadvantages of the voluntary system, as far as regards the want of adequate provision for the religious instruction of the body of the people, and more than all the disadvantages of an Established Church, as regards the invidious distinction involved in making such provision for only one denomination of Christians. But, on the whole, I hope we shall not see this plan carried into effect. I hope we shall not be driven to what I should consider a last alternative, only less objectionable than leaving things as they are. There is another plan, by which it has been proposed that the Roman Catholic Church should be made the Established Church of Ireland; that as the Protestant Episcopal Church is the Established Church of England, and the Presbyterian Church the Established Church of Scotland, being in each case the churches of the majority of the people, so the Roman Catholic Church, on the same principle, should be made the established church in the greater part of Ireland. That plan comes to us with high authority. It is the plan of a man whose character I admire and revere more than that of any man who has lived in our times, I mean the late Dr. Arnold; and I have no hesitation in saying that it is deeply to be regretted that that is not the arrangement in existence. I regret that the Protestant Church was ever made the Established Church of Ireland; it was a great and fatal mistake, which I wish had never been committed. But I own I have some doubt whether, in the actual state of things, we should remedy the evil by returning to a Catholic Establishment. Another proposal which was last year made by a noble Friend of mine on the other side of the House (Lord Wicklow), was to tax the landed property of Ireland for the payment of the Catholic clergy. I think that proposition perfectly just and reasonable as far as it goes, and I hope some day to see it adopted. But I think that by itself this would be insufficient, and that to make such a measure effectual, you must add to it an arrangement for taking away, as existing interests fall in, some part of the property now held by the Established Church in Ireland. I remember that, last year, a noble Lord, then in Her Majesty's Household (Lord Hardwicke), asked whether it was not true that in Ireland there were 150 parishes in which the rent-charge amounted to 1377 58,000l. for the support of the Church, and in which there was no Protestant inhabitant? I believe the answer he received confirmed substantially the accuracy of his statement. Now, my Lords, I have no hesitation in saying that this state of things cannot continue. I have no hesitation in saying that, as existing interests fell in, such portions of the superfluous property of the Protestant Church ought to be diverted to the purpose of religious instruction of such a character, and reaching them through such a channel, that the Roman Catholics would consent to avail themselves of it. I know the objection has often been made, "The Catholics now claim no assistance. The time is gone by for such a course. Some years ago they would have accepted our bounty, but they will do so no longer." I confess I am very incredulous as to these assertions. I believe that if assistance were given them in a proper manner, under suitable provisions, the distribution of the funds, and all the arrangements to be made, being committed to their own authorities, they would accept it readily. I am aware, indeed, that the country can no longer obtain all the advantages from such a measure that would have been obtained if the assistance had been given long since; for no longer, either directly or indirectly, will the Roman Catholics yield to the State the remotest control over the appointment of their clergy. Formerly, such a power would have been readily granted; but you, unluckily, lost the opportunity; and I believe it would be the height of madness, in the present state of things, to attempt to obtain such a control. I believe also the clergy would receive no assistance in the form of a direct payment of their stipends from any officers of the Government, although in 1825 they were ready to do so. But an unhappy error was committed by the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government, who resisted the wise proposal of a noble Friend of mine (Lord F. Egerton), and prevented in that year Catholic Emancipation from being carried, coupled with the grant of a provision for their clergy. I believe, had his influence been thrown into the other scale — into the scale of justice instead of resistance—that at that time Catholic Emancipation would have been granted, and that he more than any one man is responsible for the delay. It is now too late, however, to repair the blunder that was then committed. But I still think the 1378 Roman Catholics would take a grant, if it were in the shape of a certain annual sum to be administered by Roman Catholic authority, and applicable, at their discretion, to the building of glebe houses and chapels, and also, in cases where they might think it advisable, in providing stipends for the priests of poor congregations. I believe if a measure were passed of large and generous disinterestedness, not excluding stipends to the clergy, it would soon come into operation. I shall not go farther into details which it is unnecessary now to discuss. All I ask upon this question of the Church property is, that if you endow one Church, you will endow both. But there is another matter not less important than the question of endowment. You must give the Catholic clergy an equality also in social rank and position. You must recognise the Catholic hierarchy even more distinctly than in the Catholic Bequests Bill. Let them take their proper place and station in society — that station to which, as the chief of the pastors and clergy, who as a body are distinguished for their piety and earnest promotion of the welfare of the people, they are justly entitled. I carry my view on this subject so far as to wish to see the prelates of the Roman Catholic Church take their places in this House on the Episcopal bench; and most earnestly do I wish that we had now an opportunity of obtaining the advice and assistance, on questions relating to Ireland, of those who are united to the Catholic population by such intimate ties, who could explain their feelings and their wants, and the best mode of conciliating them. That any danger can follow from admitting to your Lordships' House an equal number of Irish Roman Catholic prelates with the prelates of the Irish Church who sit here, I for one cannot imagine. It is impossible, I think, that four Roman Catholic prelates can lead away your Lordships, constituted as the majority of your Lordships' House is. I know that the policy I am now advocating for Ireland is opposed by great difficulties. I am prepared to meet with little sympathy and support from your Lordships' House. I am prepared to find that the Address to Her Majesty I am about to move, will be rejected by an overwhelming majority; but I entertain an unshaken confidence that many years will not elapse before the policy I now recommend will, in its substantial features, be adopted by Parliament, and become the law of the land. From the 1379 time I have been in public life, I have had ample reasons for believing that every cause resting on the solid foundation of truth and justice is sure ultimately to prevail. When I first came into Parliament, nothing could be more discouraging than the state of the question of Catholic Emancipation. It seemed to have gone back instead of having progressed. A new Parliament had just been chosen which rejected the measure which a former House consented to. In 1827, the first year I sat in Parliament, nothing was more discouraging than the state of the Catholic question; but in two years the great measure of Emancipation became the law of the land. At the same time, the question of free trade, and especially free trade in corn, was looked upon as altogether hopeless. We who wished to apply to our commercial regulations the principles upon which philosophers in their closets had long been agreed, found ourselves treated as visionaries, hardly worthy of a serious answer; and if we attempted to make even a cautious approach towards giving a practical effect to our principles, we found ourselves supported by some dozen or twenty Members. Such was the state of things in 1827; and yet in the nineteen years which have since elapsed, I have lived to see the question of free trade in corn steadily, year by year, advancing, till it is now on the eve of a final settlement; for, if, unfortunately, its triumph should still be retarded, it obviously can only be so for a very short time; its ultimate fate is clear, and we are within sight of the goal. And so the doing justice to Ireland in this matter of the Irish Church, though it may be resisted for a time, will ultimately be sanctioned. I see many symptoms that such an end is approaching. I see it in the debates of last year: I have already quoted the speech of the noble Duke opposite (the Duke of Wellington) last year, which goes much farther than a sanction of the Maynooth Bill. I see evidence of progress in this fact, amongst others, that those who advocate justice to Ireland undergo no change of opinion, but every now and then there are significant changes on the other side. We see hon. Members of the other House who came into Parliament with very different views, giving their adhesion to these opinions. But, above all, we know what is the tone of private conversation. I am sure all your Lordships will admit—even those who differ most from me—that the tone of private conversation is, that the Irish 1380 Church is an anomaly which should never have existed in a civilized country, and that the difficulty now is, to see how to get rid of the disadvantages of a system which should never have been created, and to carry a reform most earnestly to be desired. It is true such remarks are usually followed up by an argument that nothing can be done; we often hear such language as this: "However desirable this measure may be, yet the prejudices of the people of England, and more particularly of the people of Scotland, upon this subject, are too powerful to be overcome; and that it would be unwise to rouse them by stirring the question. I confess that to use language of this kind, and to act on such principles as these, seems to me to be unworthy of men of true courage and honesty. If a measure is right, then it is right it should be proposed, however adverse it may be to public opinion. It is only by being proposed and discussed, that public opinion can be reconciled to it. It is this conviction which has induced me now to trespass with this argument on your Lordships' attention. I must add, that to use such language as I have quoted is in the highest degree unjust towards our countrymen. I know that they have strong prejudices upon this subject; but I also know that the language of reason and justice is never addressed to them in vain. If they go wrong, it will be the fault of those who ought to direct them to go right, but fail to do so. If those whose province it is to take a lead in public affairs—those to whom the nation has learned to look up for advice and guidance where its interests are at stake—if those who stand in this high and responsible station, either from a want of discernment as to what is necessary to be done, or from a want of courage to avow unpopular opinions, and a fear of injuring their personal position by stemming the current of public feeling—if such men from such motives shrink from advocating what they ought to know to be the right course, and condescend to flatter the prejudices and passions of the people, it may be long before those prejudices are dissipated, and too late for the safety of the Empire, before the necessity of doing justice to Ireland is recognised by Parliament; and fearful will be the responsibility incurred by those to whom so fatal a postponement of what must come at last, will be attributable. But, my Lords, I would fain hope for better things. I would fain hope that the events of 1829 and 1846 1381 may be a lesson to those upon whom so much depends, and teach them to beware of again being so blind to coming events, or so disingenuous as the result has proved them to have been in 1825 and 1841; and that they will not, for a third time, place themselves in that most painful, of all situations—that of being compelled to make a choice between betraying the vital interests of their country in a great emergency, or else incurring the just reproach of having deceived their confiding followers, and themselves carried the very measures, in resistance to which they had been the foremost and ablest champions. I hope we shall not again see so unhappy a spectacle; but that, having well considered the state of Ireland, they will apply more effective remedies than hitherto to her social evils. In the Address, which I now conclude by moving, I do not call on you to express any particular opinion as to any particular measure. I feel it would not be right in me to do so. I do not stand here with sufficient authority to give me any right to demand your decision upon such questions; but I have thought myself bound fully, fairly, and honestly to tell you my conscientious, deliberate, long-matured, and openly-avowed opinion, which I have entertained and expressed since the first moment of my entrance into public life. I have thought it my duty to do this; but in the Address I do not call on your Lordships to express any opinion as to any individual measure. If you have other remedies better calculated, let them be propounded and discussed. If convinced of their utility, I shall be most happy to support them: no effort on my part shall be wanting to give them a full and fair consideration. But this is what I call on you to do, to agree to a solemn Address to Her Majesty, expressing your conviction that Ireland cannot be left as she now is, and that something or other must be done. If the remedies I propose be wrong, let others be adopted; but we cannot, if we have the slightest regard for the best interests of the Empire, continue to palter with the state of things in that country as we have done. I am convinced that a great crisis is at hand in the history of this country and Ireland. In its present state that country cannot possibly long continue: it must get worse, or it must get better. There is one way—and I firmly believe only one way—of appeasing the Repeal agitation, of allaying discontent, of gradually restoring order 1382 and tranquillity to a most disorganized and unhappy state of society; and at the same time ensuring the security of the British Empire. There is one, and but one way of doing this, and that is not by granting the Repeal of the Union, but by following the advice of the right rev. Prelate whom I have already quoted; that you should "legislate for Ireland, as an Irish Parliament, fairly representing the wants and wishes of the country, would be expected to legislate." Adopt that plain simple principle: act upon it at once fairly, honestly, and consistently, and I am convinced you cannot go wrong. Reject it, and you will have nothing but a miserable succession, on the one hand, of destitution and wretchedness, heightened by every accidental failure of the potato crop, into absolute famine and pestilence, insufficiently warded off by the interference of Parliament, and large grants from the public purse; and, on the other, of a recurrence of outrages imperfectly repressed by severe and arbitrary laws; until at last you bring about a fearful catastrophe, fatal to the power and glory, and perhaps to the existence, of the British Empire. My Lords, this is what you have to consider; and I ask you to pledge yourselves to do what in you lies to avert the fearful result I have attempted to describe, by agreeing to the Address I now propose. The noble Lord concluded by reading the following Address:—That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, humbly to submit to Her Majesty, that this House, in compliance with the recommendation in Her Majesty's Most Gracious Speech from the Throne, has taken into consideration the frequency with which the crime of deliberate assassination has of late been committed in Ireland; and that we hope that the adoption of measures calculated to give increased security to life, and to bring to justice the perpetrators of so dreadful a crime, may be the result of our labours. That we have also given our sanction to the measures proposed to us for relieving the distress occasioned in that part of the United Kingdom by the loss of a large part of the potato crop of last season. That having thus attended to what appear to be the most pressing exigencies of the actual condition of Ireland, we think it right humbly to represent to Her Majesty, that Parliament has repeatedly found it necessary to make provision, by temporary measures, for difficulties with reference to that country, similar in character to those which have now demanded our attention, grants having on various occasions been made for the relief of the Irish people from the apprehended miseries of famine; and the Executive Government in Ireland having also from time to time been armed with extraordinary powers for the repression of crime. That we observe with deep concern, that the necessity which has now again 1383 arisen for measures of this description proves that their adoption heretofore has failed in eradicating the evils against which they were directed; and that the progress which might reasonably have been hoped for, has not yet been made in remedying the social disorders of Ireland. That we are impressed with the conviction that under these circumstances, merely to grant pecuniary assistance for the relief of present distress, and to pass severe laws for the detection and punishment of crimes, cannot be considered as fulfilling the duties of the Imperial Parliament towards Ireland; but that measures ought without further delay to be adopted, for the purpose of effecting a real and permanent improvement in the condition of this part of Her Majesty's dominions. That to this end, it should be the aim of Her Majesty's Government and of Parliament, by giving to the Irish people confidence in the equal administration of justice, to obtain their co-operation in the enforcement of the law; and, by remedying real grievances, to allay the spirit of discontent to which the prevalence of outrages and violence is to be traced. That without the co-operation of the people, the enforcement of the law must ever be uncertain and unsatisfactory; and while the spirit of discontent continues to prevail, no system of repression, however severe, can be expected to prevent its breaking out from time to time in acts of outrage. That a change in the temper and disposition of the people, brought about by an improvement in the laws, and in the mode in which they are administered, is therefore required for the establishment, upon a solid foundation, of the good order and security indispensably necessary for the development of the industry of the nation, and of the improvement of its great natural resources, whereby alone the periodical recurrence of insubordination and distress can effectually be guarded against. Humbly, therefore, to assure Her Majesty that we shall be ready to co-operate with Her Majesty in the adoption of measures having for their object to allay the discontent and conciliate the affections of the Irish people, in the earnest hope that by the blessing of Divine Providence, peace and prosperity may thus be established in Ireland.
§ The Motion having been put,
§ The DUKE of WELLINGTON
My Lords, it is not my intention to follow the noble Earl through all of his able speech. Much of it is founded in fact, unfortunately; but to some of it I am enabled to give an answer. I do not think it necessary to enter into that portion of his speech which related to the nomination of a Commission by Government to inquire into the state of property in Ireland, and to the measures which have been adopted in consequence of that Commission, further than to say that I suppose the noble Earl will admit that on the occasion of that nomination my right hon. Friend in another place never stated, in proposing the Commission, that he intended in any manner to admit the justice or propriety of the Motion under consideration at the time—I mean that relating to fixity of tenure. 1384 But the part of the noble Earl's speech to which I shall confine myself is that which immediately relates to the Address he has moved. My Lords, similar addresses have been presented frequently of late. At the commencement of this and of the last Session a desire was expressed by Parliament to co-operate with Her Majesty and Her Majesty's Government in any measure which could tend to the prosperity of Ireland. But, my Lords, it is impossible for me to concur in the Address now moved, considering not only its expressions, but the speech in which the noble Earl brought it forward; a speech—the latter part in particular—which shows that he intends to found upon the Address a series of measures which must end in the extinction of the Church of England in Ireland. The noble Earl has spoken throughout, in his consideration of this part of the question, as though it were an open question—as though Parliament had done nothing on the subject—as though it were a question on which a measure could be adopted without the smallest difficulty, without any breach of former arrangements and former compacts. My Lords, if ever there was a point which was made a subject of compact by Act of Parliament, it is the maintenance of the Church of England in Ireland. It is an institution which the two Parliaments at the time of the Union resolved should be perpetual: they styled its preservation, in the article in which it was most particularly mentioned, a fundamental part of the engagement. The noble Earl says, "I do not desire you to repeal the Union; but that which I do desire of you is, that you should adopt my Address"—an Address, my Lords, which I tell you, will lead to the pulling down of the Church of England in Ireland—of depriving that Church of its possessions—and which must end in the repeal of that very Treaty of Union which the noble Lord states he is not desirous should be conceded. My Lords, the Irish Parliament was a body capable of legislating on this subject; competent to frame and agree to this Treaty. That Parliament entered on the consideration of the question under the auspices of the Government of George III. They had the power of either agreeing to or dissenting from the Act of Union; and they stipulated for the Sixth Article, by which it was provided that the two Churches of England and Ireland were to be united for ever, and to be governed by the same laws. You cannot replace the Irish nation or the 1385 Irish Parliament in the situation in which they stood at the time that the compact was signed; and I say that you cannot depart from the compact without a positive breach of engagement. I say, then, you have not a case before you for the accomplishment of this object—you cannot make the arrangement proposed; and I therefore recommend to your Lordships not to agree to the Address moved by the noble Earl. My Lords, undoubtedly measures must be adopted calculated to benefit Ireland; and this and the other House of Parliament ought in every case to adopt measures of legislation for the benefit of Ireland, whenever the interests of that country come under consideration. And, my Lords, I must say, that Parliament has done its duty in the matter. I believe—and the noble Lord will not deny it—I believe that there never was a country which has so advanced in improvement of all description as has Ireland in the years which have elapsed since the Union. I will not go into details—others more able to do so will follow me; but it is quite remarkable that in every way—in trade, in commerce, in shipping, in revenue, in customs, in excise—in everything the increase has been enormous. True, the noble Lord said, in the early part of his speech, that foreigners who travelled in Ireland expatiated on the misery which they witnessed there. My Lords, true there are great poverty and great misery in Ireland, as there are in other countries; but yet, my Lords, in Ireland there are vast capitals and great riches. Ireland is at this moment setting an example to the world which could be imitated in very few countries in Europe—I mean that she is laying out millions at this moment in the construction of railways at the expense of private individuals. It is very true that railways are in the course of being constructed in other countries in Europe. But how? At the expense of the Government, not out of the capital of private individuals. In this country, of course, the same thing is being done as in Ireland; but, excepting these two nations, there is not in the whole world one railroad which has not been constructed, or is not in the course of being constructed, at the expense of the public treasury. Now, my Lords, I don't much care whether this capital in Ireland be the property of Irishmen, or whether it has been borrowed in this country and sent across St. George's Channel on the credit of Irishmen. If it be the property of Irishmen, as I hope it 1386 is, then that expense, my Lords, demonstrates the improvement that has taken place in that country; an improvement for which the noble Lord ought to give Parliament, and those who govern Ireland, some credit. On the other hand, if it be the property of Englishmen and sent to Ireland, at least it shows that there is some credit in Ireland, and that men have lately more confidence in the restoration and continued existence of peace than the noble Earl appears to have. My Lords, I hope they may not be disappointed; and I am sure that the Government will do all in their power that the measures which they will introduce may be calculated to give satisfaction to the country, and to ensure the public tranquillity. Now, my Lords, I must say I think there is evidence that the noble Lord is mistaken in respect to the alleged great dislike entertained by the Irish towards the English Church Establishment in Ireland. My Lords, it is a most remarkable circumstance, but it is a fact which you will become convinced of by looking through the records of Parliament, that, after the English and Irish Parliaments had been endeavouring in vain to discover a mode of enabling the Roman Catholics to testify their allegiance, they struck out of the oath of supremacy all reference to Catholic doctrines, such as transubstantiation and everything else; but that part of the oath which referred to the property of the Church, to the revenues of the Church itself, was inserted on the petitions of the Roman Catholics themselves. Those petitions, commencing in 1805, and going on from that time, in 1806 up to 1826, and so on to the period of the passing of the Roman Catholic Relief Bill, showed that the people felt no desire to deprive the Church of its property, or to injure in any manner the privileges in the possession of the Church; that all, in fact, they desired was the removal of civil disabilities, and the privilege of standing on the same footing as their fellow subjects in the eye of the law and the Government. I say, therefore, that it is not very probable that there should have arisen a total change of sentiment on that subject. In the mean time, it is very true that some people may look after the property of the Church as other men do after property of all descriptions; but if there be one thing more certain than another, it is that the insertion of the words to which I have referred, in the declarations or oaths which must, by the law of the land, be now taken by any person 1387 who claims an advantage under that law; if there be anything more true than another, it is that the insertion of these words was suggested by the Roman Catholics themselves. Now, I have stated that this institution of the Church in Ireland at the time of the Union, and the maintenance of that Church, were matters of compact from which the House cannot depart. But I go further and say, that there is no one principle in the Constitution of this country in favour of the determined maintenance of which so many solemn declarations have been made, as in respect to this principle, the preservation of the Protestant Church of England in Ireland. At the coronation this principle is declared. It was declared in the Act of 1828—the repeal of the Corporation and Test Acts. It was declared again in 1829 in the Catholic Relief Act; and on every occasion on which any concession of privilege was made to the Roman Catholics, it was declared again. I repeat, therefore, that we have it not in our power to change this principle, so uniformly acted upon, so repeatedly declared, of preserving the Church of England in Ireland. My Lords, I go a little further; and I believe I can state other reasons against the course which the noble Earl proposes to take. I saw some years ago—three years ago—a petition from the Peers of Ireland, complaining of the discontented state of the people. They mentioned, it is true, amongst a number of causes, this very subject, the existence of a Church Establishment. But, my Lords, they mentioned other causes of discontent. They said, that the relative proportion of Members of Parliament from Ireland and from England, taking into account the populations of Ireland and of England, was not what it ought to be. Is the noble Lord prepared to concede that? With reference to the Municipal Corporation Act, they maintained that the qualification had been placed higher in Ireland than it ought to have been, or than it was in the English Corporation Reform Act, especially considering the state of property in Ireland. They maintained also that the number of Irish Roman Catholic Judges was not that which could be fairly claimed for the Irish Bench. Now, for my part, I have always understood that Judges were always selected from those most capable of performing the duties of the judicial office. I believe such is the case in this country; I believe that this is the course pursued in Ireland; and I do not know that the Irish Judges 1388 are deficient in those qualities which render the judicial character respected. These were some of the grievances stated by the noblemen in question who signed the petition from Charlemont-house. Is the noble Lord prepared to turn these grievances into an Act of Parliament? But whatever these grievances may be, I think I can show you from what has passed heretofore, that the most ample concessions on the part of Parliament will not put an end to that which is the cause of the mischief—I mean the agitation, the perpetual agitation, for Repeal of the Union, or for any other measure, whether it be the extinction of tithes, or the demolition of church rates, or whatever may be the prevailing cry of the moment—I think I can show your Lordships, from the examples of what has passed in former years, that there is no concession you can have which will not be followed by additional agitation and consequent additional discontent. My Lords, a great measure of concession was passed in 1829. What happened? The law was passed in the month of April, 1829. In the month of June, 1829, the great agitator was in the county of Clare, urging the people there to combine for repeal, and to struggle for civil, as they had struggled for religious liberty. Well, from thence he went to Dublin, and commenced there a system of agitation in the month of December, 1829, which he continued through the year 1830, and up to the month of January, 1831, under different forms and circumstances, and in different parts of the country, until at last my noble and gallant Friend the then Lord Lieutenant, and the noble Lord the then Secretary for Ireland (Lord Stanley) issued a proclamation, under the Association Act, by which they put an end to this description of agitation. But, my Lords, observe that this fresh agitation on the subject of tithes and church rates, and repeal of the Union, commenced on the very morrow of the passing of the Catholic Relief Bill. Well, my Lords, after this measure, after these proclamations, the agitation recommenced for the suppression of tithes and church rates; and it was thought expedient, and very properly in my opinion, to put an end to church rates in Ireland, and to find other means of providing for the expenses which had been formerly paid from that fund. Hardly was that change accomplished, when the agitation recommenced on tithes, and then the Government were under the necessity of introducing a Coercion Bill; and I beg to refer 1389 the noble Earl to the opinion of the noble Lord who was then Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Lord Wellesley, a nobleman who had some knowledge of public affairs, who stated solemnly in a despatch laid on the Table of this House, that he desired that His Majesty's Government would attend particularly to the connection which he invariably found to prevail between agitation for Repeal, and for abolition of tithes, and popular discontent and agrarian outrage—that they followed each other as cause and consequence invariably. I beg your Lordships to observe this, to observe what is passing around us, and then to say whether or no you feel disposed to make the concessions called for by the noble Earl. Having this fact before your faces, and having every reason to be satisfied that the moment you make that concession, agitation will recommence for some other object, the obtaining of the properties of individuals, or any other similar purpose, you may be as well satisfied that that agitation will give fresh ground for discontent, and cause a portion of the people to commit new agrarian outrages. Well, my Lords, after the Coercion Bill of 1833, another was passed in 1834, not so stringent in its provisions, and limited to a twelvemonth's duration; and it was succeeded by a measure in 1835, which was still less efficient, but which was passed for five years, terminating in the year 1840. There was, I believe, some little cessation of agitation in 1835 and 1836, owing, it is supposed, to some political arrangements made here in London. But, my Lords, that apparent tranquillity did not last long. The agitation for Repeal was continued under different forms during 1837, 1838, 1839, and 1840, until at last in that year the meetings of great bodies—the monster meetings commenced. Those were continued through 1841, 1842, and down to November, 1843, when they were put down by proclamation of the Lord Lieutenant. My Lords, during all this time there was no want of measures of conciliation. The tithe arrangement was brought to a complete conclusion: the Tithe Bill was passed, and every measure adopted which could tend to the prosperity of Ireland—Parliament acting on all those occasions as though it were an Irish Parliament, legislating only for the benefit of the Irish people. But, my Lords, this system of agitation still continued, and monster meetings were assembled which could be got the better of at last only by military force. Such, 1390 my Lords, is the history of the effects of concession. I do not mean to say that it was not right to concede on all these points. I only ask you whether you choose to concede on this occasion—in the face of facts which no man can deny—in the face of the compact which binds you to preserve the United Church of England and Ireland in the latter country. My Lords, I will confess that I think I have not put the question of the preservation of the Church of England in Ireland on such high grounds as those on which I might have put it as a religious establishment. My Lords, we enjoy the advantage under the influence of this establishment, of possessing a people with as strong a sense of religion, and as great respect for religion, as exists in any other country in the world. We have besides the advantage of universal toleration. Every system of religion is tolerated in this country: and, above all, we have the advantage of religious peace. These are three great Christian advantages, which I think are the great objects of a religious establishment, and I entreat your Lordships not to incur the risk of losing any of them by consenting to any such measures as those proposed by the noble Earl. My Lords, it is true that though we have religious peace, there are great political differences of opinion among the different sects which exist in this country. This, my Lords, is the consequence of our political state of existence. Every separate body in this country has considerable political power, and it is the object of all these sects and classes to increase their political power: they are acting constantly under the direction of their ministers or others who may lead them; they are anxious to increase their political strength, and they enter into political contests with their rivals. But, my Lords, will the concessions which the noble Earl proposes to make, put an end to these political rivalities among these contending sects? These sects will remain, and of course these rivalities will remain, and their contests for political power will be continued; but, my Lords, I am afraid that religious peace will not remain. We shall no longer have facilities for settling such questions as the marriage question, which was brought before this House some years ago, and other questions which have arisen, and have been settled, but which cannot be settled elsewhere. Look at Germany, at France, and at Spain, and you will find that these questions cannot be settled there. But 1391 suppose, my Lords, you can secure religious peace; what becomes of toleration under this Catholic establishment, without which, I say, that this country could not go on for a moment? Under these circumstances, considering that you are bound by a compact to maintain in Ireland the United Church of England and Ireland, considering the great religious Christian advantages you derive from the existence of the Church of England—advantages enjoyed by the Roman Catholics and Presbyterians equally with ourselves—I entreat your Lordships, by your rejection of this address, to avoid giving ground for your belief that you have any intention to adopt the measure suggested by the noble Earl.
§ EARL FORTESCUE
said, that the noble Duke had based his opposition to the Motion rather on the arguments of the noble Earl, than on the terms of the Address itself, or on the occasion on which it was brought forward. He must say for himself that it was because he concurred with the views which his noble Friend the noble Earl had expressed, that he gave his support to his Motion. He had given a hesitating and reluctant assent to the third reading of an arbitrary measure which had lately passed their Lordships' House; and he had done so, not because he by any means approved all the enactments of that Bill, or felt any confidence in the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General for Ireland, who was believed to have framed it, but because it appeared to him, after the statement of the noble Earl (the Earl of St. Germans) of the amount of crime and outrage committed in Ireland, that some strong measure was necessary, and because, looking at the character of the noble Lord entrusted with the chief government of Ireland, of the noble Earl (Earl St. Germans) who brought it forward, and at the character of his hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General for that country (Mr. Greene), he hoped that the powers so liberally given by the Bill would be sparingly and temperately exercised. But he thought that when a measure had been passed which denied a man the commonest right of the subject, the right of free egress and ingress to his home at any time, Parliament was bound to accompany such a measure with some assurance that they would look into the causes which had produced such a state of things in that country as to make that law necessary. Under the circumstances in which Ireland was placed, it was their duty not merely to pass measures to repress outrages, but to 1392 put an end to the causes from which such outrages arose; and it was to that, and that only, that the present Address proposed to pledge the House. The noble Duke had objected to the Address, because in the speech which his noble Friend had made, he had expressed his opinion that a great reform was necessary in the Established Church in Ireland. In that sentiment of his noble Friend's, he (Earl Fortescue) cordially concurred. He cordially agreed with him in the opinion which he had expressed, that they would never have perfect contentment in Ireland until the Church of the great body of the people was placed in all respects on an equal footing with that which was called the Established Church—the Church of a very small minority of the people. He concurred also in the wish that they might one day see the heads of that Church taking their share in the counsels of the State in that House of Parliament; and they might rely upon it that not only would it be considered a great boon by the people of Ireland, but that it would be a great advantage to have such an accession of Members to that House, who could give them much useful information, and make many valuable suggestions in legislating for Ireland. The noble Duke had spoken in glowing terms of the improvements which had taken place in the general state of that country. The misfortune, however, was, that this improvement had not extended in a corresponding degree to the lower and poorer classes of society; and it was the want of these improvements among them which rendered them so liable to be made the instruments of agitation and violence. He must say that he thought the great and predominant evil of Ireland was to be found in the circumstances attending, not merely the relation of landlord and tenant, but the tenure and possession of land in Ireland. The conduct of the Anti-Corn-Law League in this country had been blamed; but, without attempting to defend all that might have been said or done by members of that body, he thought that the League had done a great deal of good, and that the country was under a great obligation to them, not on the ground of their having purchased and conferred fictitious titles to property for the purpose of qualifying voters at elections—because that they denied having done—but because they had induced persons who had saved a little money to invest their small savings in land, and thereby acquire an interest in the soil. If the League had assisted such persons 1393 in getting rid of the difficulties which the technicalities of the law imposed upon those who desired to acquire a qualification, he, for one, must say that he thought the country—ay, and the landowners too—ought to be very much obliged to them. It would be very advantageous if the same thing were done in Ireland, because there was at present a total want in that country of those small landowners so numerous in England, who in themselves united the relations of landlord and tenant. He recollected that when the Emancipation Act was passed, and when the rights of the so-called 40s. freeholders were very properly abolished, he had suggested that it would be very desirable if the right of voting were continued to persons holding land in fee-simple of the value of 40s. a year. He was told, however, that no such thing existed in Ireland, and therefore, that he might save himself the trouble of making the suggestion. Why was that so? He surely could not be told that there did not exist among any portion of the middle classes in Ireland sufficient capital to purchase small landed property in that country. The fact was, that Irish landed property was in general so much encumbered that it was almost impossible to sell it as, in England in small parcels; and that was, he believed, the reason why there was no such thing as small freeholds in Ireland. He hoped, however, that some measure would be introduced which would put the 40s. freeholder in England and the 40s. freeholder in Ireland on the same footing. He hoped, also, that some measure (he could not say exactly similar to that introduced by his noble Friend last year), would be brought forward to secure compensation for improvements to tenants who were evicted from their holdings. He believed that the tenure of land was, directly or indirectly, at the bottom of the outrages by which Ireland had been disturbed, though they might be aggravated by other causes. At the same time he was quite sure that their Lordships would not restore contentment to Ireland unless they assimilated the law in Ireland to that which obtained in this country, and placed all classes in that respect on an equal footing. For instance, the qualification for the municipal franchise was higher in Ireland than in this country, and it ought to be the same in both. The noble Duke had stated that all the concessions which had been made to Ireland had only produced fresh agitation. It should be recollected, however, that 1394 all the concessions which had been made to Ireland had only been the fruit of agitation; and it was not to be expected, therefore, that after this lesson had been taught them, the people of that country would believe that quiet and good conduct was likely to be productive of advantage to them. Catholic Emancipation was conceded to the agitation which was carried on by the Catholic Association; the mitigation of the tithe evil was the result of tumult and of agitation. Such would continue to be the state of things until their Lordships legislated in a spirit which would give the people of Ireland more confidence in the laws, and remove every just cause of agitation, by putting them in all respects upon an equality with their English fellow subjects. If their Lordships acted in that spirit both as respected Church and State, they would, in his opinion, at once and effectually, put down agitation among the people of Ireland, who were certainly not ungrateful for kindness; but if, contrary to all reasonable calculation, they unhappily failed in this benevolent object, they would then unite every friend of peace and good order throughout every part of the United Empire, in support of any measures of security which they might then find it necessary to adopt.
certainly would not have presented himself to the House upon this occasion, so lately as it was that their Lordships had discussed Irish affairs, had it not been for one or two allusions made in the very able, and, generally speaking, temperate speech of the noble Earl who had submitted the Motion to the House. He was bound to take notice of those allusions, in justice to the case and in fairness towards the Government. To these topics he would refer by and by. Most of the facts to which the noble Earl had called the attention of the House in his speech were, unhappily, too true. Most part of his statement of the amount of distress—of the evil administration of many private affairs—of the misery which prevailed among a large portion of the people of Ireland—of the fearful outrages upon life and property which had, whether as the result of that misery or of other causes, defaced that country, scared the Government from its propriety, and forced it to have recourse to a measure of severe coercion, abridging not merely the political but the natural rights of the subject—all these facts were too true, and indeed were not matter of controversy; they had been all admitted 1395 in the course of the discussion on the late coercive measure. But, unhappily, these things had root far deeper than any misgovernment of the present day, or any political agitation of the present day, though perhaps they were not altogether unconnected with political agitation. They, unhappily, had their root deeply planted and widely spread in the social condition of the Irish people in respect of their enjoyment of landed property, and their exclusive addiction to agricultural pursuits. But was the remedy so easy? Their Lordships could not interfere with the rights of property, the most sacred of all rights, on which society itself depended, the corner-stone of the whole social edifice—the line of demarcation which separated the savage from the civilized state of society. They must, in all they said and did, and in all they meditated to do, start from this first principle; and no man who claimed the name, not only of a statesman, but of a rational being—of a person of common sense and ordinary reflection—could entertain for one moment a doubt, or could allow to pass over the surface of his imagination a shadow of doubt, upon that fundamental principle. But then he found that there were speculators, and practical speculators too, who not only suffered to pass across their imagination the abstract idea that property might be interfered with; but who so far carried that idea into execution as an object of their desire, or used it for the purpose of deluding their dupes in their own country—ignorant men as compared with them, but hardly more thoughtless and unreflecting than they—as to propound Bills on the subject in Parliament, of which he had heard for the first time that night. He could hardly have believed it possible that in the middle of the 19th century, and in a British House of Commons, there should have been propounded what was called by the gentle and euphonious term of fixity of tenure, but which meant thereby an Act of Parliament to rob the owner of land of his property, and to confer it on the occupant his tenant. What cared he for the condition, if the tenant was to have the property in spite of the owner, that he was to have it on the payment of a perpetual rent? That was as much an interference with property—as much a desecration of the sacred right of property, on which all society rested—as if they openly robbed the owner. He could only account for such a Bill not meeting with an indignant rejection at once, by the accident that the 1396 matter might have been thought so perfectly absurd and extravagant in itself as to carry its refutation along with it. At all events, it was brought forward about the middle of August, a time when long discussions were to be deprecated, and Government therefore thought it best, he supposed, to get rid of the Bill, mentioning, at the same time, that they meant to appoint a Commission of Inquiry; though he happened to know that that Commission was contemplated before. It was unfortunate that any doubt should have existed as to what was intended by that Commission, which had as much to do with fixity of tenure, in the sense of robbing the landlord on behalf of the tenant, as with robbing the tenant on behalf of the landlord. It was to be lamented that in any part of the United Empire there should exist such a state of things as had gradually grown up in Ireland, and that matters there were otherwise than in this country with respect to the management of property. His noble Friend had well illustrated this circumstance, and he would give another illustration. What did their Lordships think of an estate of between 15,000l. and 20,000l. a year, on which there were about 1,300 or 1,400 head tenants, and about 3,000 under-tenants, the highest of whom paid 40l. or 50l. a year, the great bulk from 10l. to 20l., and many paid so low as 10s., 12s., and 15s.? Another circumstance to which his noble Friend had alluded as calculated to create alarm and indignation was, the casting out of their possessions at one time a great number of those small holders. This happened in consequence of the desire on the part of the landlord to have his land better cultivated by persons who could bring to that cultivation the advantage of capital and skill; and it certainly would be a great hardship to the landlord in Ireland if he had not the free and entire power, as by law he unquestionably had, to dismiss the small holders, and consolidate the farms with the view to improvement, as had been done in Scotland to a great extent, as the noble Duke on the cross-benches well knew. Still he should be loth to believe that an example such as that mentioned by a noble Marquess the other evening, but which immediately met with a satisfactory contradiction, was extensively followed—namely, the turning out of scores of persons from their holdings as soon as their leases expired. Undoubtedly it was the landlord's right to do so if he pleased; and 1397 if he abstained, he conferred a favour, and was doing an act of kindness. If, on the other hand, he chose to stand on his right, the tenants must be taught, by the strong arm of the law, that they had no power to oppose or resist. Such was the law of the land, and property would be valueless and capital would no longer be invested in the cultivation of land, if it were not acknowledged that it was the landlord's undoubted, indefeasible, and most sacred right to deal with his property as he list. His opinion undoubtedly was, that their Lordships began at the right end when, considering the state of outrages existing in Ireland, they passed a coercive measure to put down those outrages. The first lesson to be taught the deluded people of that country was, that they must obey the law, and that all their agitators and all their evil counsel lors—be they laymen or priests—could not succeed in urging them to resist the law, or to persist in outrage, without their finding that they must meet with the condign punishment which attended criminal acts. With regard to providing remedial measures for the grievances of which the noble Earl complained, he had alluded to them in so general a manner that their Lordships were left as far away as ever from the consideration of any practical means of putting an end to those evils which in his speech he so strongly described; and he was sure that all their Lordships joined him in deploring those evils. There was but one portion of his speech in which the noble Earl brought forward a specific ground of complaint. For instance, he had complained of a long course of misgovernment in Ireland, and complained of grievances which had been inflicted by that long course of misgovernment, and which they all lamented; but the noble Earl, when alluding to some of those evils, spoke of things which happened many years ago, so long ago that they might be said to have occurred before the experience of the present generation, and which were no doubt the fruitful sources of evil; but when the noble Earl described that misgovernment, he did not follow up his description by prescribing any practical means for remedying the evils. The noble Earl alluded to one specific grievance in Ireland, namely, the anomalous state in which the religious sects were balanced, or rather not balanced, in point of numbers and property; but he stated that the Catholics would have cheerfully submitted to that disposition of the 1398 property with regard to the relative numbers of the religious sects, if it had not been for one grievance in connexion with the payment of tithes to the Established Church, namely, the mode of collecting them, which mode was so unbearable as to become in their minds the master grievance, and to cause them to entertain a more violent feeling of opposition to this impost. He had no wish to deny the grievances which that collection might have produced; but he recollected that in 1832 he introduced, with his noble Friend opposite, (Lord Stanley), a Bill, which his noble Friend had been connected with executively, and that Bill put an end altogether to the former mode of collecting tithes. So that he took it, a tithe proctor was a thing in rerum naturæ, not to be found in Ireland at the present day; that it was, as Lord Plunkett had said on another occasion, as difficult now to meet with one of them in the country as to meet with an ostrich. The tithe was not now collected in the manner which was formerly complained of by the Roman Catholics as so severe a grievance, and to which the noble Earl alluded—it was paid now by a rent-charge—paid by the landlord, and not by the occupying tenant; and therefore the evils and sufferings which had been endured from the mode of collecting the tithe ought to be struck at one dash of the pen from the list of grievances of which the noble Earl complained. He would direct their Lordships' attention particularly to the more specific and precise grievances complained of by the noble Earl; and he would show that they were such that the blame could not be laid upon this or that Administration, but rather more properly to the state of society in Ireland. One of those had reference to the administration of justice in Ireland, and the other to the balance of the churches and sects. With respect to the administration of justice in Ireland, it was a subject to which he had given much consideration, and which he had carefully examined. It might be in the recollection of many of his noble Friends that, in 1823, when he had a seat in the other House of Parliament, he presented a petition from Ireland, complaining earnestly of the grievances under which the people at that, time laboured in consequence of the maladministration of justice in that country, it was a painful duty for him (Lord Brougham) to go through all the instances, and afterwards to expose them to the House, which showed that justice had not 1399 been properly administered in that country; that the complaint of the maladministration of justice in the petition which he presented was founded on a real grievance; and that it was no clamour, no popular outcry or vague charge, such as he should show it was at present. It was a fact well known in the history of Ireland, that every species of expedient was resorted to in order to carry the great and wholesome and invaluable measure of the Union into law; and one of those expedients led to a great abuse of judicial patronage—the most delicate and responsible description of patronage with which the Government was invested. In consequence of this, certain learned persons—or rather, he should say, certain persons more or less learned, were promoted to the Bench—all of them learned by courtesy, but some of them learned in fact as well as courtesy—and those Judges who were appointed at that period were known afterwards by the name of "Union Judges"—a name now recollected as only a matter of history; but as post hoc ergo propter hoc was sometimes a sound maxim in logic, it was argued by many, that as those Judges had been appointed at the time of the Union, they had also been appointed in consequence of the Union; and if he were called on to point out Judges appointed in Ireland who had given the greatest satisfaction to all, who had conferred honour upon those who appointed them, and who had obtained the confidence of those around them, he should not point to some of those Judges as filling that character. During their time the administration of justice had been very political, and some judicial charges had been delivered which evinced strong political and even factious bias on the Bench. But that was all over long ago, and things were now altogether changed in this respect. In consequence of the notice which the noble Earl had given, he (Lord Brougham) within the last three days read over the statement which he made in the other House on the occasion to which he had before alluded (in 1823). He read the exact passages as he had spoken them, and he could assure their Lordships that he found no single ground of complaint which he then urged still continuing to exist. It had been stated to their Lordships that of late years certain political appointments had been made—that political partisans had been selected for promotion. The question, however, was not whether the Judge who had been 1400 selected had been a political partisan when at the Bar, and whether he was a political partisan before he was elevated to the Bench—not whether he was given to factious courses before his elevation—the question was, what had he done since his elevation? The question was, had he thrown off with the gown which he had worn as a barrister the character of a partisan, or was he still, after his elevation to the Bench, political—had he retained his party feelings where party feelings should never enter, or continued to be a partisan when he occupied a position where factious feeling should never come? On his gown, as a barrister, he had a right to carry the badge of faction, and it would not soil him; but the ermine should be free from any such stain. Was it to be said, if a man of any particular party or political opinions were elevated to the Bench, that he was therefore a political Judge? If that were so, it would be highly objectionable; but if it were not, what did it signify? It had been said, indeed, that the appointments to which allusion had been made by the noble Earl, had been unfavourably viewed by the people of Ireland; and in answer to that argument, he (Lord Brougham) would remark that he divided the people of Ireland into two classes, one half, and more than one-half, disapproved of the appointments, and one-half and more, approved of them. [Alaugh.] He had fallen into a mistake, but the statement of the noble Earl was so long it was enough to cause him to believe that it consisted of more than two halves, and therefore led to his mistake. The appointments were highly approved of by one party in Ireland, and disapproved of by others. But, good lack! if they waited till all the people in Ireland approved of judicial appointments, there would be no use in Coercion Bills, for there would be no Judges to administer the law. What were the appointments which had been made of late years in Ireland? There was Mr. Devonsher Jackson, and there was Mr. Serjeant Lefroy, men whom he only named to honour, for more able, learned, and upright Judges could not be found; and be it recollected that he did not speak as a partisan, for he differed from those Judges in the political opinions which they held before their elevation; they were honourable and just men, and totally incapable of exhibiting, as Judges, any political or party bias. Then, during the Melbourne Administration, Mr. O'Loghlen, a Roman Catholic, and Mr. 1401 Perrin, a Protestant, were elevated to the Bench; and subsequently Mr. Ball, Mr. Wolfe, and Mr. Brady were appointed, every one of them having been before their elevation politicians and party men more or less, and they were all upright and able men on the Bench. He should also mention Judge Crampton and Mr. Blackburne, the latter of whom, although differing in politics from the Whig Government, had been appointed Attorney General during the viceroyalty of Lord Anglesea in Ireland. It would be better to have men who had never been politicians or party men; but the difficulty was not to get such men to lay aside their political feelings after their appointment to the Bench, but in getting people to believe that they had done so; for it had been truly said that justice ought not only to be pure but unsuspected. Those appointments showed that the choice of Judges from among men who had been politicians was not the fault of any Administration, but was the result of absolute necessity, which arose in consequence of all the Bar in Ireland being more or less engaged in politics, and more or less political partisans. They should therefore go on selecting from one party or another until a third party sprung up in Ireland—a third party, the want of which Lord Plunkett had said was the greatest curse of that country, and then at that remote day they might be enabled to select Judges who were not attached to either of the parties in Ireland. It had been the same in Scotland. Fifty years ago, in Scotland, every one at the Bar was either of the Hanoverian or Jacobite party; it behoved every man to be a party man, to be either for King George, or King James; and every one who was promoted to the Bench was accordingly selected from one or the other party. But that time was gone by; and either from the greater lights of the present age, the greater liberality of opinion which prevailed, and, above all, the utter hopelessness of the cause of the Jacobites, it was altogether forgotten. So long as there were two great parties in Ireland, a Catholic and a Protestant party—but, indeed, the distinction of party was not confined to Ireland, for in England we had Conservatives and Liberals, or he preferred the old names of Whig and Tory—so long would they find barristers belonging to one party or another. The Irish Judges who at present filled the Bench were men of great learning, wisdom, and ability; and he would state to their Lordships that the 1402 writs of error and appeals which came before them in that House from Ireland showed such an amount of learning and ability on the part of the Irish Judges, that it would be impossible to speak too highly of it. The fault was not in any particular Administration, but in the social state of Ireland, where there were seven millions of Catholics, and only one million of Protestants. Then it was stated that there was an ecclesiastical grievance. By an act of violence, it was said, the Legislature took away from the Catholics the property of the Catholic Church, and gave it to the Protestant Church. But that property was given for Christian and religious uses; and as the kind of forms and discipline through which religion should be taught were matters of human rather than divine ordinance, it became the right, and not only the right but the duty, of Parliament to make such arrangements as should cause the religion of the State to be taught through the means of that property. That was the case; it had produced a most anomalous state of things, the greatest anomaly in ecclesiastical history; he admitted it was a great evil; he would go the length of saying it was the master evil in the state of Ireland. The emoluments of a Church well endowed were received by the pastors of 600,000 or 700,000 of the people; the rest of the inhabitants, 6,000,000 or 7,000,000, having to pay their priests for spiritual services. That was a great evil, and a grievous anomaly. But, when he came to deal with it, then he felt the force of the noble Earl's remarks on the difficulty of the case; he heartily agreed with him that it was difficult, excessively difficult, and he would add, so difficult that he thought it impossible. How could they deal with it? What the noble Earl proposed was only a palliative; it would never be tried, but if it should be tried, he predicted it would fail most signally; the palliative would be rejected by everybody, lay as well as clerical, with indignation. The true remedy was of another description; the people ought not to be left to pay for their own religious instruction: the State should pay the Roman Catholic clergy. He would not entertain that question at present further than to say, that though it was stated the Catholic clergy would not receive that payment, he would stake his life upon it they would. If they did not, they would find it much more difficult afterwards to get their payment from the people; and, 1403 partly from a love of connecting themselves with the Government and the Treasury, and partly from the increased difficulty of getting a regular payment from the people, depend on it they would sooner or later accept it, perhaps not in the first quarter, but certainly by the end of the second. With respect to the subject of challenging Catholics who were summoned on a jury, he asserted they were not challenged quasi Catholics; but if men were liable to other objections then they might be set aside, even though they were Catholics, and that, he would assert, was the case with respect to those Catholics who had been set aside. He could, however, suppose a case in which it would be a very fair ground of challenge to a person that he was a Roman Catholic. If a murder was committed—if a question arose which involved the subject of Catholic and Protestant—if the question were involved of favour towards a Catholic charged with an offence, or doing justice against him where the question was Catholic—it might then be supposed that in such a case the ends of justice might not be best answered by the case being tried by a Catholic jury. The noble Earl had called their attention to the case of foreigners tried for offences by mixed juries: but it was incorrect to say that they were to be tried by a jury composed of half their own countrymen and half of Englishmen—they might be tried by a jury consisting one half of foreigners and one half of Englishmen—so that a Frenchman might be tried by a jury half of Spaniards and half of Englishmen. The conclusion, he feared, to which their Lordships must come, was that of the evils which afflicted Ireland, by far the greater proportion lay beyond the reach of a legal remedy—that the remedy would consist in a great degree of the advance of civilization and refinement; of the strict and impartial execution of the law; firmness and vigour on the part of the Executive Government—a Government which would refuse to barter and traffic with agitators—who would adopt as high a tone as any men deserving the name of Ministers or the name of a Cabinet ought to hold towards those who offended against the law—and who would refuse to barter or compromise with such legal offenders, whether they were individuals or associations—but who would discharge their duties as Ministers of the Crown regardless of all attacks, whether from agitators or Catholic priests, It was to a fair discharge of duty, without partiality, but with vigour, that he looked 1404 for the first impulse towards a healthier state of things. Then God forbid that any ameliorations of the law should be withheld! He was about to introduce a Bill for extending to mortgages and leases the provisions of an Act by which the difficulties in the conveyance of land were now greatly removed in this country. Why not extend those provisions to Ireland? His noble Friend had spoken of the law as expensive in Ireland. The law in England was ten times more expensive. Ireland had some admirable institutions, such as the Assistant Barristers' Court; and cheap law was so much the lot of Ireland, that it was usual for people here to point to the state of that country as a reason for not making the law cheap here. It gave him, at all times, very great pain to argue in favour of coercion, and still greater pain to be compelled to state that for existing evils—great grievances—he could see no legislative remedies except those of a distant and indirect nature. But those evils would be aggravated if their Lordships gave their high countenance to clamours which existed out of doors as to the pure administration of justice; if they lent themselves to the jobbing arts of one person, and the malpractices of another; if they made themselves accomplices of one half the mischiefs that arose; and he, for one, was not able to acquit the political agitators of all participation in the agrarian disturbances, for he had read speeches made at meetings by priests and others which went indirectly to suggest attacks on the landed interest; not saying that property has its duties as well as its rights, which, like the right of resistance, was very wholesome, as remarked by Mr. Fox, to be remembered by kings, but very dangerous to be remembered by subjects; was very wholesome to be borne in mind by landlords, but very dangerous to be ventilated among a disturbed population of tenants under them. He believed that property had its duties, and he believed also that the landlords of Ireland faithfully and honestly discharged them; but their right was a right of perfect obligation and a legal one, whilst their duty was one of imperfect obligation, as moralists call it. If he saw a poor woman starving with a baby in her arms, and he refused to give her a shilling to relieve her distress, he should deserve to be called a hard-hearted man; but the law said that she should not take the shilling from him, as he had a legal right to keep it. That was 1405 the case of the Irish landlords, and he hoped that they would always to continue to discharge, as he believed they now discharged, not only their perfect duties, but those of imperfect obligation, charitably, kindly, and affectionately.
§ EARL FITZWILLIAM
said, that he thought the House and the country were indebted to the noble Earl who had brought forward this Motion. Ireland was a country of which Englishmen were exceedingly ignorant. It was a mirror in which England did not very well wish to look, but from which she ought not to shrink, although she might not see anything reflected there which would cause her to exult. England might see in that mirror much cause of regret and much cause of shame; and although at present those charges could be made with less justice, yet it could not be said that England even now looked with perfect justice upon Ireland. One most important part of the noble Earl's speech related to the Church of Ireland. On a former occasion he (Earl Fitzwilliam) had ventured to state his opinion that the Legislature must deal with that Church. The noble and learned Lord who had just sat down, stated that the subject was one of difficulty; indeed, he appeared to think it was impossible; and the noble Duke went even further, and talked of an eternal compact made by which the Churches of England and Ireland were for ever established in that country. The noble Duke would allow him to suggest that the words "for ever" were words which legislators ought to be very cautious in using. This generation had no right to disinherit their posterity of the exercise of their full legislative functions; any more than their predecessors had a right to deprive the present legislators of their functions. He ventured to think, on the contrary, that they had received the right of legislating freely from their progenitors, and that they should transmit that right with equal freedom to their posterity. As the "Imperial" Parliament, they had a full right to deal with that question as seemed to them meet and just. Would their Lordships establish an eternal anomaly in Ireland, as the noble and learned Lord had called the Church of that country? He should look with great regret to any portion of the land of Ireland being deprived of a Protestant Church and Protestant ministration; but that should not prevent them dealing with the question. He confessed he did not clearly understand the nature of the course which his noble Friend proposed to adopt. Did 1406 he mean to take out of the pockets of the people of England money raised by way of taxation for the payment of the Roman Catholic priesthood of Ireland? He (Earl Fitzwilliam) trusted that he never should see such an attempt made. Let their Lordships see what it would be doing. It would be making the Catholic clergy of Ireland a stipendiary priesthood. As a Protestant he should never think of proposing such a measure; if he were a Catholic he should never accept it. He should like to see the Protestant and Catholic priesthood placed on a similar footing; and that was the only condition on which they could with propriety or ought to be placed. There was no other footing on which they could be satisfactorily disposed, but that in which one could not look down upon the other as an inferior, or on the other as a superior. But their Lordships might depend upon it that the question should be deal with; and if it were not dealt with fairly and shortly, they would have other questions arising of still more awful interest to the two countries—of still more serious and awful interest to the landholders of Ireland. His noble Friend to the left (Lord Brougham) had made a speech which would, doubtless, be very acceptable to the landed proprietors of Ireland. He (Earl Fitzwilliam) could well imagine a Chancellor of the time of Edward III. presenting a petition from the villeins of that day asking a Parliament of the Plantagenets to give them "fixity of tenure;" but what would such a Chancellor think now, could he be but resuscitated, to see the villeins of those days, who held their land by just such a precarious tenure as the cottier tenants of Ireland at the present time hold theirs—could he but see the descendants of those villeins now, in the reign of the sixth Sovereign of the House of Brunswick, holding their lands by a tenure of copyhold, a tenure as good as that by which any one of their Lordships held their estates? It was of course well known that everything that was said in that House was sent elsewhere; but he was desirous of addressing himself, not abroad, but to their Lordships: and it was to their Lordships only he spoke when he requested them not to induce the cottier tenants of Ireland to look too sharply into the rights by which landed property was held. The first thing which he was desirous of doing was, to lay the foundation of a better order of things in love and in the affectionate gratitude of the people. Let them in that spirit look to the great questions with which 1407 they had to deal. And, with respect to the Church question, where was the difficulty to be found which should prevent them addressing themselves to its consideration? Was it to be found in the prejudices and bigotry of England? Or should they go farther north, and look to the prejudices and bigotry of Scotland? Was it the Presbyterianism of Scotland that refused to listen to any interference with the Church Establishment of Ireland? What struggles had been made by England to establish Episcopacy in Scotland, and how successfully had those attempts been resisted! Was it correct that England had failed to establish Episcopacy in Scotland in despite of the feelings and opinions of the great majority of the people? Was there a single one of their Lordships who would venture to rise in his place and say that it was? or would any one of their Lordships, on the other hand—and he would address himself particularly to his noble Friend the leader of the Presbyterian Church party in that House (Lord Kinnaird); would his noble Friend, or any of the Scottish Peers, assert that it was wrong to establish the Presbyterian Church in Scotland instead of the Church of England? If their Lordships would not venture to sustain either of those propositions, would they still assert that it would be wrong to establish the Roman Catholic religion in Ireland? If it were right to have established Presbyterianism in Scotland, why would it be wrong to establish Catholicity in Ireland? Was that which was right and justice in Scotland, wrong and injustice when transferred to Ireland? But with regard to the Church property, it had been bequeathed, and it belonged not to any particular sect, but to the Church of Christ. He denied that it belonged to the Church of England by right. He denied that it belonged of right to the Roman Catholic Church. It had been made to belong to the Church of England by Act of Parliament. But was that Act of Parliament in itself right? That property should be applied in the true spirit of charity, to the uses of all the people, and not to the exclusive use or benefit of any particular sect; and that their Lordships would shortly be obliged to deal with the question he was satisfied. But his noble Friend had said that he would put down agitation in Ireland. Put down agitation! Why, how had anything been ever gained by Ireland except by agitation? How had Roman Catholic Emancipation been extorted from the noble Duke opposite except 1408 by agitation? His noble Friend knew very well that Ireland owed every amelioration in her condition to agitation. The expression "put down agitation in Ireland," meant "put down every means of obtaining anything for the improvement of the condition of Ireland." The only mode by which the agitation at present existing in Ireland could be put down, would be by legislating for Ireland as an Irish Parliament would legislate. Not as a restoration of the old Irish Parliament would act, for the Irish aristocracy had no community of feeling with the people. They had not grown up out of the people of Ireland, but had been imposed upon them; and to say that a restoration of the old Irish Parliament would do good for the country was absurd. There was no more perfect specimen of an oligarchy than that Parliament presented.
explained some points in his speech; and said he could inform the noble Earl (Earl Fitzwilliam) that if he so admired the fixity of tenure principle, by which the villeins had become proprietors, he had only to allow his tenants in the county Wicklow to hold for forty years without demanding any rent from them, and they would be proprietors to his noble Friend's heart's content.
The MARQUESS of CLANRICARDE
should not have thought of taking any part in the debate, or of occupying their Lordships' time at that late hour, but that he unfortunately differed from his noble Friend on many of the reasons which he had given in support of the Motion which he (the Marqness of Clanricarde) should support also, but for different reasons. And in the first place, he begged leave to assure the noble Duke opposite that he was mistaken in the assertion he had made regarding the petition to which he had alluded. He (the Marquess of Clanricarde) had never signed his name to any petition that prayed for the overthrow of the Protestant Church in Ireland, or set it forth as one of the principal grievances of the country. He could not, of course, answer for individual opinions; but, speaking generally, the noble Lords who had signed the petition referred to by the noble Duke, were not persons who entertained such an opinion. The Protestant Church had been put forward so frequently, that it had become at length associated in the minds of the people of Ireland with the idea of a monstrous abuse, and with much that was unpopular. It was said that the Established Church in Ireland was at the bottom of all the difficulties 1409 of the country. He did not agree in that opinion; and his noble Friend who had quoted his illustrious countryman, Grattan, ought to have remembered that that great man had always avowed his determination to maintain the Protestant Church in its integrity, and had expressly declared that determination upon every occasion which he proposed Catholic Emancipation. The evidence of Mr. O'Connell himself, before Parliamentary Committees, was to the effect that he never desired or contemplated the destruction of the Protestant Church. But "the Church" did not signify the clergy merely. It meant the great body of the people. And if the establishment could be shown to be out of all proportion to the communicants, he, and he believed all his Friends around him, would be ready to consider the reduction of that establishment, and the reform of any abuses which might have crept into it. As an Irish resident, he was competent to form an opinion upon one part of the subject. He had had an opportunity of seeing the effects of the voluntary system carried to its greatest extent; and he could say that it was the very worst description of system for the support of the clergy; and he would willingly pay his proportion if a tax for the support of the Catholic clergy, were a plan devised by which that object could be attained. He would deem it money very well laid out, and he would think it a very cheap purchase of peace, and of an improved condition of society. But their Lordships would see that they could never pay the Catholic clergy without their own consent, nor without the consent of the Catholic people of Ireland. Those of their Lordships who were acquainted with the Roman Catholic and Protestant religions, as they existed relatively in Ireland, would also see the difficulty of dealing with the question upon another point. The chief portion of the revenues of the Catholic clergy was raised by means of resembling what were called "surplice fees" in the Protestant Church. Now, they had thought fit to permit and to encourage the collection of surplus fees in the Established Church, so that they still existed in addition to the fixed revenues. Again, the taking of the property from the Protestant Church and handing it over to the Catholic, would not obviate the difficulty; for if one half the revenues were so transferred, it would leave the objection still that the division was not in fair proportion, 1410 and that the Catholics should get at least seven-eighths. But, still, he thought, that they should look to the temporalities of the Protestant Church in Ireland, and lop off such proportion of its extra wealth and useless revenues as should appear excessive to the great body of the people. No man in his senses could fail to regret the present position of the Church, and something should be done to remedy its position without destroying it; for he (the Marquess of Clanricarde) could not consent to any measure for its destruction. He thought that the necessity had arisen for the Imperial Parliament to interfere, and force the Ministers into taking measures for the amelioration of the condition of the people of Ireland. He was sorry to have heard the noble Duke speaking in such cheerful tones of the state of Ireland. Why, had they not just passed a Coercion Bill for that country upon the most meagre grounds that ever were put forward by a Minister? Upon previous Occasions, when such extraordinary measures were called for, it had been the custom to lay Papers, containing voluminous reports, upon the Table, and upon their contents discussions had been raised. It could not be expected that such measures would be granted upon the mere parole evidence of a Minister. But on the present occasion there was no such evidence brought forward; and why? Because the facts of the present emergency were open and palpable to all; so open and so palpable that every one knew them. They also had agreed to pass sudden and extraordinary measures for the relief of poverty, without calling for proofs further than those facts that were palpable to all. But more than that remained to be done. They saw the Queen's Government denuded of all authority. They saw the Queen's Representative in Ireland virtually reduced to the condition of a mere superintendent of police. They saw the Repeal Association, on the other hand, supported by the entire people, led by men of great learning, ability, and untiring energy; connected, too, with the clergy of the people; having its own organs and officers, and in full possession of the public mind. That was the relative position of the Government as regarded one party in the country. On the other hand, there was the great body of Protestants in the north of Ireland. The Government had certainly not secured their confidence. Nor was the state of things in any respect in Ireland such as to reflect credit on the Government. 1411 The present Ministers were responsible for this state of things. The country was in a very different state when the present Government received it from the hands of its predecessor. He referred to the charges of the Judges in 1842, to show that the country was then in a state of perfect tranquillity. He really did not wonder at the attachment of the people to the idea of Repeal, when he considered the way they had been treated of late years, as for instance in respect to the electoral franchise, and to municipal corporations. As his noble Friend (Earl Grey) had reminded their Lordships, the creed and polities of the people had been injudiciously urged as a reason for not giving the people the same franchise as in England. It had been said, that if the Irish people had the same franchise as in England, they would have Roman Catholic and Radical Mayors and Aldermen in all the large towns. Well, he would like to know why they should not have Roman Catholic and Radical Mayors in all the corporations if the people happened to be of that creed and of those opinions? In 1841, Sir R. Peel taunted the Whig Government with not having brought in a Registration Bill; and yet here they were near Easter, in 1846, without any thing being done upon that, or any other matter by the right hon. Baronet's own Government, except to state that after some matters were disposed of, they intended to introduce some measure on the subject. The present Administration had appointed a Commission to inquire into the state of landlord and tenant in Ireland—a step which he considered one of the most mischievous that had ever been taken by an undecided, vacillating feeble Government. But having appointed such a Commission, he thought that when they got the Report, the least the Government could have done was to have founded some measure upon it. There was no doubt that the minds of the people of Ireland had become greatly alienated from the Imperial Parliament; and he considered that much of the blame of this lay at the door of the present Government. His noble Friend (Earl Grey) had alluded to the judicial appointments of the Government. This, he was aware, was a very delicate subject; but after what his noble Friend had stated, he could not help saying that these appointments had been most unfortunate. His noble and learned Friend (Lord Brougham) said, that Government could not help men being partisans. Perhaps they could not; but they could watch 1412 the conduct of men who were extremely violent and conspicuous and offensive to the great body of their fellow countrymen, and could avoid appointing such persons to administer the laws of the country. Noble Lords opposite had found great fault with a noble Friend of his for having offered a seat on the judicial Bench to Mr. O'Connell; and therefore had no right to rely upon it as a precedent, which it was not as it referred solely to an Equity Court. No one objected to the appointment of a person like Sir E. Sugden to a judicial office, even though a party man; but when a person who conspicuously sided with a party in the country, and who joined in declarations against the religion of the people, so strong as to imply that individuals of this prevailing religion were not easily and readily to be believed on their oath; when such a person was exalted to preside over the criminal tribunals of the country, it could not fail to give the mass of the population a distrust of these tribunals. The circumstances connected with the late State trials, was another source of discontent among the people. His noble and learned Friend (Lord Brougham) had said that he could easily imagine a case where it would be justifiable to exclude a person from a jury on account of his being a Catholic He (Lord Clanricarde) could not concur in this opinion. He thought that such a system was altogether indefensible. The condition of the country had been stated that night in very strong terms; but he believed it had not at all been exaggerated—he meant in regard to its political aspect. He believed that the state of Irish politics had never been fraught with so much danger to the integrity of the Empire as at this very moment. He had had conversations with those who were old enough to remember the period of 1798, and the year before that memorable and unfortunate year; and he believed from what he had heard, that at that disastrous period there was no such danger to be apprehended as at this moment, when there was a spirit of deep-rooted discontent abroad which it would be necessary to take the most energetic steps to deal with. He thought it was high time that Parliament should determine not to leave Government to provide in any way they pleased for the peace and prosperity of that country, and therefore he gave his hearty assent to the Motion of his noble Friend.
§ The DUKE of WELLINGTON
rose, and said he had never presented a petition in 1413 which the Irish Church had been denominated a grievance, as seemed to be imputed to him by the noble Lord.
The MARQUESS of WESTMEATH
said, there were one or two statements in the speech of the noble Earl (Earl Grey) which required some explanation before they could be allowed to go forth as deserving of credit. He had stated that one Irish landlord received as high as 18l. an acre for conacre land. But the noble Earl ought to have explained what conacre land was. Conacre land was land highly manured and seeded; and, besides, an Irish acre was larger than an English acre in the proportion of eight to five. He (Lord Westmeath) had heard of some conacre land as high as 9l. and 12l. an acre, and in one instance, in Tipperary, as high as 13l., but he had never himself seen any so high. He thought it was invidious of the noble Earl to throw out that the Irish landlords let their land at that price, without, at the same time, explaining what conacre was. The fact was, in his opinion, that nothing could be more unfortunate for an Irish landlord than to have his land let in conacre. Another point to which the noble Earl referred, was the maladministration of justice in Ireland, and the appointments of judges, alluding to the usefulness of the magistracy, for that he must have meant when he spoke of the superior respect that the Irish people had for the Repeal courts as compared to the lawful tribunals. That absurdity of the Repeal courts was now over; and he must say that he never knew a poor man go before one of them except from fear and compulsion. As to the assertions of the noble Earl and the noble Marquess near him of the extreme discontent of the Irish with the Imperial Government, he denied its existence. The people of Ireland had in their hearts no such feeling. The Repeal agitation, and other agitations which had been going for a length of time, had done all that industry and perseverance and talent could do to alienate the feelings of the people from this country; and he was sorry to see a noble Peer of this country endeavouring to impose on their Lordships and the country, from intelligence he had received, which he (the Marquess of Westmeath) thought was very worthless, the idea that the feeling of dissatisfaction did exist among the people of Ireland. As an Irish Representative Peer, he felt it his duty to assert that the Irish people were not so discontented at heart. There was a press maintained 1414 in that country for the purpose of sedition. It was maintained by large sums of money, and circulated gratis, and it lost no opportunity of exasperating the people against the Saxon; but the heart of the Irish people, he was convinced, was sound; he was convinced that they were attached to the English connexion, that they were desirous of obeying the law, and that they would always show that obedience to the law when the Government was strong enough to protect them.
§ The DUKE of RICHMOND
said, that after what the noble Earl had said with respect to the Irish Church, it was quite impossible for him to vote with the noble Earl; but he was anxious that it should not be thought that, in voting against the noble Earl, he was expressing any confidence in the Government: he did not feel that confidence, and, what was more, he never again should entertain that confidence in those who he thought had treated most ill the interests to which he was attached.
The MARQUESS of LONDONDERRY
said, that admitting a great part of the noble Earl's argument to be strong, and what he concurred in, yet, when he found, towards the end of the noble Earl's speech, what was the real object of his Address, he thought the noble Earl had better have concluded by moving an Address to Her Majesty to reform the Irish Church. But if that reform were carried as the noble Earl wished, there would no longer be any security for the estates of the landed proprietors. He should like to know, if the noble Earl were to carry his project into execution, and he (the Marquess of Londonderry) were to lose his Irish estates in consequence, whether he would give him his Howick estate as a compensation? The noble Earl had said that he would not shrink from upholding the Union; but how would the overthrow of the Established Church be compatible with the maintenance of the Union? If they abandoned the Church of Ireland, they would commit a breach of the engagement entered into between the people of Ireland and the people of England at the Union. He (the Marquess of Londonderry) had a strong feeling with regard to the improper evictions and ejectments that had taken place in Ireland. Something, he thought, ought to be done to place some restriction on the practice. It would be a very great improvement if the great non-resident proprietors of Ireland would occasionally go 1415 there and stay three or four months or so, and see for themselves into the real state of things, and that justice was done their tenantry. If they would only go amongst that people, whom he must call a grateful, obedient, and affectionate people, and live amongst them, he was sure that the country would be different from what it is, and very far from wanting those laws which, Session after Session, they were bringing in. He would mention one anecdote illustrative of what he had said. He knew a noble lady, who had a large estate of 3,000l. or 4,000l. a year, in one of the northern counties of Ireland. She had an agent who thought it necessary to eject from fifty to sixty persons who were greatly in arrear from the estate. She was advised to send over money, and lay it out to make these poor people comfortable, and see whether that would not do good. She took that advice, and sent over money to make their habitations comfortable, and gave them clothing and fuel, and built them pig-houses, and in three or four years the tenantry presented a totally different aspect, and the arrear, which was very considerable, was nearly all paid off. He would tell the noble Earl, as an Irishman who had lived much in Ireland, that if ever Parliament attempted to destroy the Protestant Church of Ireland, they would hardly do it without a return of the scenes of 1798.
§ The EARL of ST. GERMANS
would crave the attention of the House but for a very few moments. The objections he had felt to the proposition of the noble Earl had not been removed by the speeches he had heard. The noble Earl made this Motion distinctly on the ground that he meant to follow it up by some measure tending to the spoliation of the Irish Protestant Church. He was not about to follow the noble Earl into the wide field over which he had travelled. He had touched on the subjects of agrarian outrages, the administration of justice, the Established Church, the Landlord and Tenant Commission, and what was called fixity of tenure—subjects any one of them of such magnitude as to discuss it would occupy the greater part of an evening. He should not be doing justice to any of these subjects if he were to follow the noble Earl into all he had said upon them. The noble Earl had said that the Landlord and Tenant Commission was an ill-advised and ill-conducted Commission. He entirely differed with the noble Earl, and he would 1416 say that any one who took up the Report of that Commission, would, if he read it attentively, have a greater knowledge of Ireland than he could possibly acquire from any other source. In the observations which the noble Earl made on agrarian outrages in the south of Ireland, he connected them, as he (the Earl of St. Germans) understood him, with political grievances; but if that were the case, the same causes would produce the same effects elsewhere; and why then did they not find the same agrarian outrages in the northern and midland counties of Ireland that took place in the south? With respect to the tenure of land, the Government had last Session felt that the relations of landlord and tenant in Ireland were not in a satisfactory state, and they did lay before their Lordships a Bill for the purpose of remedying the defects of the system; but it was not possible, owing to the late period of the Session, to give it due consideration. Now, however, they had a measure in preparation, which he trusted would be found, while it respected the rights of the landlords, to secure to the occupying tenant the benefit of improvements and everything to which he might be found to be fully entitled. With respect to what the noble Earl had said of the Judges, he was convinced there was no greater confidence placed in any men in Ireland, than in those to whom the noble Earl and other noble Lords opposite had alluded. He was bound in justice to say, that they were guided in their proceedings by the purest motives; and since their elevation to the Bench no men could have discharged their high functions with greater impartiality; and how much soever some of them might have been conscientiously opposed to Catholic emancipation, no man ever for a moment supposed that they allowed any religious feeling to influence them in the exercise of their duties. There were, indeed, no men in Ireland whose judgments were entitled to greater respect than Judges Lefroy and Jackson. As to the Church question, he agreed with what had fallen from the noble Duke near him (the Duke of Wellington), and dissented totally from the noble Earl opposite as to the obligation to maintain the integrity of the Protestant Church in Ireland. There could be no doubt that a compact was entered into at the period of the Union for the permanent preservation of the Established Church in Ireland. The noble Earl had adverted to the case of Scotland. 1417 But the noble Earl should have recollected that at the time of the Union with Scotland, the Presbyterian religion was the established religion of the country, and that the Parliament of England treated with the Parliament of Scotland as a co-ordinate power. So with regard to Ireland. The Protestant religion at the time of the Union was the established religion of the country, and the Parliament of Ireland entered into an agreement with that of England permanently to maintain the Established Church in Ireland. It had all along been stated by the leaders of the Roman Catholics that they had no desire to injure that Church; and he felt satisfied that if the people of this country had not put faith in the declarations made by the Roman Catholic leaders to that effect, neither the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government, nor the noble Duke near him, would have been able to carry the Roman Catholic Relief Bill. He maintained, therefore, that they had no right to violate a compact of this nature, unless they could make out a case of paramount and overwhelming necessity for so doing. The noble Earl had failed to make out such a case. He did not agree with the noble Earl in believing that the Church in Ireland was the cause of heartburning and discontent in that country. [Earl GREY: Hear.] The noble Earl met his assertion with a derisive cheer; but his acquaintance with the people of Ireland did not lead him to the conclusion that the Roman Catholics desired to possess the temporalities of the Established Church in that country. He said so on the best authority—on that of the Roman Catholic prelates themselves. He could not help observing that very great misapprehension and exaggeration prevailed respecting the temporalities of the Irish Church. It did not exceed 600,000l. or 650,000l. a year; there were 1,400 beneficed clergymen, and about 700 curates in Ireland; so that, dividing the temporalities by the number of clergymen, there was not to every incumbent a larger salary than 300l. a year. Absenteeism was one of the grievances of Ireland, and he could not help believing that the withdrawing from that country such a well-educated body of men as the Protestant clergy would be a much greater mischief to Ireland, than apportioning part of their income to the support of the Roman Catholic clergy. Though the Roman Catholics had declared their willingness to cut down the temporalities of the Established Church, they had always refused 1418 to participate in those temporalities. But while the Government refused to lay their hands on the possessions of the Established Church, they had not neglected the real interests of the Roman Catholic Church. He might refer to the healing measures which had been passed for the relief of Ireland, to show that Government did not disregard the wants of the Irish people. They had done everything in their power to bring instruction to the door of the poor; and he was happy to inform the House that a great increase of education had taken place in Ireland during the last years. The number of schools had increased by 273, and the number of children, 37,000. They were about to establish model schools; and he need not remind the House of the Colleges which had been established to secure for the middle classes the benefits of a sound education. He had much pleasure in reading to their Lordships a letter which had been received from Mr. Macdonnell, the resident Commissioner of Education, in reference to these Colleges and the recent appointments, which he was sure would be regarded as highly satisfactory. The statement of Mr. Macdonnell was, that the appointments of the Presidents of those Colleges by Lord Heytesbury were "the best and most honest appointments ever made in Ireland." Such testimony was most honourable to the noble Lord who was at the head of the Government in Ireland. He had much satisfaction also in informing the House that the increased grant to the College of Maynooth had been received with the most grateful feelings, and that much good, in producing kindly sentiments towards this country, had resulted from the measure. He had called their attention to these few points to show that Government had not been unmindful of the actual wants of their Catholic fellow subjects, but were disposed to adopt every possible meams to promote their moral and social well-being. He could not venture to hope, that in the present state of the public mind justice would be done to the efforts now making by Government to promote the welfare of the people of Ireland; but he trusted the day was not distant when the mists of prejudice and passion would so far pass away that justice would be done to his right hon. Friend at the head of the Government, and that his Administration would yet be regarded as having laboured not without success to promote the permanent good of the people.
§ EARL GREY
replied: He said he was 1419 desirous to explain one or two matters on which it appeared he had been misunderstood. In reference to the subject of the conacre letting of land, he stated that it was not the amount of rent of which he complained, although it did appear to him to be enormous; but the grievance to which he called attention was, that where the occupier had paid his rent, and the person from whom he held had neglected to pay his rent to the person above him again—that the unfortunate occupier was liable to have the very potatoes he had reared for the support of himself and family taken from him for the rent he had no right to pay, as well as to be turned out of the land altogether; which was a state of things that he considered ought to be altered. His noble Friend who sat near him had also charged him with desiring the overthrow of the Established Church; but he would appeal to the noble Lords who heard him, whether he had made use of a single remark to that effect. He was as attached to the Protestant religion as any noble Lord in that House, and he was anxious for its extension; but there was a great difference, he said, between the religion and the Church Establishment. He considered that a portion of the endowments of the Establishment should be appropriated to teach the people of Ireland that religion to which they belonged. He hoped that he had made himself understood, and that he would not be again charged with having wished to effect the overthrow of the Established Church.
§ On the Question, their Lordships divided:—Contents 17; Non-contents 61: Majority 44.
|List of the CONTENTS.|
§ House adjourned.