The MARQUESS of WESTMEATH
rose to move an address to Her Majesty for papers connected with the administration of justice in Ireland in certain cases. The noble Marquess said, that he had taken upon himself to discharge what he considered to be a very disagreeable duty; but not having been able to bring himself to think that it was not a duty, he had come over from Ireland with regret for the purpose of performing it. The Motion 1363 was for an address to Her Majesty respecting the interference of the Irish Government with sentences which had been passed by competent authority upon prisoners in that country. He regretted to say that sentences so passed had been frequently reversed. Now, the reversal of sentences, unless in cases where the reversal was clearly justifiable, was calculated to have a very bad effect in any country. It was calculated to have even a worse effect in Ireland, he believed, than in this country; but, fortunately, such a thing was not attempted in this country, and, therefore, they could not calculate what the feeling would be if it were. In Ireland, however, when sentences were reversed, the disorderly part of the population immediately took upon themselves to wreak their vengence upon those they disliked, while the peaceable and well-affected were discouraged. The reversal of a sentence, if passed by a magistrate, was calculated to have a bad effect, because it brought odium upon him and his office; and if the sentence had been passed by a judge, the act was one of positive censure on the manner in which he had discharged his duty. The first case to which he had to refer had arisen out of the very violent conduct of some individuals in the town of Galway. It appeared that at a social meeting which had taken place in that town at the end of January, or the beginning of February last, the band of a regiment of the line had attended, and when the object of the meeting was concluded, the band played "God save the Queen." The two individuals to whom he referred, Messrs. Timothy Fcely and Edward Roche, students of the college at Galway, hissed that performance of the National Anthem. Mr. F. G. Murphy, a magistrate of the district, remonstrated with' them on the impropriety of their conduct. The matter did not go further at the moment; but on the following day those two individuals went to a place where they had met Mr. Murphy, the magistrate, and one of them, Mr. Feely, beat him on the face and on the person in the most inhuman manner; while his companion, Roche, who had accompanied Feely to the spot, looked on, but, he believed, did not strike any blow. The case was brought before the magistrates, who sentenced those two persons for what was called an aggravated assault, to a month's imprisonment with hard labour. That sentence was passed on the 3rd of February; but on the 7th or 8th of the 1364 same month the present Lord Lieutenant of Ireland ordered that the hard labour should be remitted to the prisoners. Now he (the Marquess of Westmeath) could see nothing in the circumstances of the case to justify that proceeding on the part of his Excellency. The heads of the Galway College, at all events, seemed to have taken a more unfavourable view than the noble Earl of the offence of those parties; for they had thought proper to rusticate them for twelve months, while the noble Earl had remitted their sentences. He believed that that transaction, and others of a similar character, showed that the Lord Lieutenant was anxious to acquire popular favour by a sacrifice of strict and impartial justice. His Excellency had pursued a similar policy in the case of a number of persons who had been sentenced to various terms of imprisonment, from twelve months to six months, and downwards, for very aggravated offences at the last election, and who had been so sentenced by Mr. Justice Perrin—a judge who was well known to deal very leniently with criminals. Again, the Lord Lieutenant had reinstated Mr. Kirwan in the position which the preceding Government had considered that he had justly forfeited by his conduct at one of the Irish contested elections; and he need hardly remind their Lordships that at the head of that Government there had been placed a nobleman who had won golden opinions from men of every party during his stay in Ireland. He wished it to be understood that he was then making no attack on Roman Catholics. He had himself many friends and relatives of that religion. There were branches of his family which occupied distinguished positions in Austria and in France, and all of whose members were Roman Catholics. He could sincerely say that he looked on the Roman Catholics of Ireland with the feelings which became one whose ancestors had all at one time professed that religion. But he could not approve of the conduct of the Government permitting the continued encroachments and aggressions of the Roman Catholic clergy—men whose hands were against every man, and who had had recourse to the most extraordinary and unbecoming proceedings for the purpose of returning their nominees to the House of Commons. In this very metropolis—-in the centre of our civilisation—nay, in the Committee rooms of the House of Commons, a Roman Catholic priest had been seen making grimaces at a witness, with a view, 1365 no doubt, of influencing the evidence he had been giving on his oath before an Election Committee. Englishmen should bear in mind the extreme audacity of such an attempt to mislead a most important public tribunal; and they should also bear in mind what must be the conduct, and what must be the influence, among an ignorant peasantry of men who could be guilty of such a proceeding as that in London. He was not then directing any general attack against the Roman Catholics of Ireland. It had recently been said elsewhere that the Roman Catholics of Ireland were not loyal. But he believed that that statement was not true. He was sure that the upper classes among the Irish Roman Catholics were loyal to a man, and were ready to show their loyalty by every means in their power. But he confessed that he was not quite so certain that the nominees of the Roman Catholic clergy in Ireland were equally loyal, for they themselves sometimes said that they were not. But what were we to think of a Government who, by sanctioning the doings of these priests, placed us, to a great extent, under the influence of people who did not hesitate to declare that British affairs were vastly secondary to other considerations which they had in view? But the Government had thought fit to form an alliance with the Irish party; they had thought fit to nominate an hon. and learned Gentleman of that party to the post of Solicitor General for Ireland. He readily acknowledged the talents of that hon. and learned Gentleman; but he believed that Her Majesty's Ministers could not have been aware when they had made that appointment of an occurrence which he would state to their Lordships, while he felt that it was one of which they ought not to have been in ignorance. At the last election for the county of Westmeath, Mr. Keogh, although he did not hold, as he (the Marquess of Westmeath) believed, a single acre of land in that county, canvassed the electors in favour of a gentleman who was ultimately elected. In the course of that canvass a meeting was held in the open air, in the town of Moat, at which Mr. Keogh had, according to the testimony of three magistrates who had been listening to the hon. and learned Gentleman, used language which he (the Marquess of Westmeath) would repeat to their Lordships. "Boys," said the hon. and learned Gentleman—for in Ireland every male between the age of sixteen and sixty-five was a "boy," and the 1366 women even, who in a row could fling stones as well as the men, were sometimes included in the epithet—"Boys, the days are now long, and the nights are short. In the autumn the days will be getting shorter, and the nights longer. In the winter—in November, boys—the nights will be very long; and then let it be remembered who voted for Sir Richard Levinge." It should be observed, that Sir R. Levinge was the opponent of the gentleman whose claims were supported on that occasion by the present Solicitor General for Ireland. Now, the words he had just quoted had in Ireland at least a very serious import. In the month of January last Her Majesty's Government had obtained evidence against several persons implicated in the Ribbon conspiracy in the north of England and in Ireland; and it was a remarkable fact, that the words contained in one of the documents discovered among the conspirators in Lancashire very closely resembled those words which had been used by the Irish Solicitor General. Their Lordships might say that these words were mere gibberish—to the uninitiated they might be so, but to the initiated they were full of meaning. In that document there was the following passage:—"The summer is approaching, and the short days are gone, Friendship will flourish; yes, and then the days will get long. May freedom rule by land and sea, and death to him who shall betray!" The Solicitor General for Ireland might in the natural course of things expect to be made a Judge at no very distant period; and he (the Marquess of Westmeath) wished to know whether Her Majesty's Government would be prepared to raise to the bench the man who had used the language he had quoted; and three magistrates, he would repeat, would be ready to depose to the fact, that the hon. and learned Gentleman had addressed those words to a crowd in the town of Moat. The magistrate who had first communicated the intelligence to him, informed him that a poor farmer, who was standing by his side, had said to him at the time, "What would be done to me if I had used those words?" He (the Marquess of Westmeath) had referred to the case, not for the purpose of making an attack upon Mr. Keogh, but in order to show the dangerous policy which Her Majesty's Government were adopting in Ireland. That policy was evinced by the mode in which they had enlarged prisoners in that country, and it was also evinced by their conduct to the soldiers, who, after having been engaged 1367 In defending the law at Six-mile Bridge, had been placed in the dock as culprits. There was another subject to which he thought it advisable that he should refer at that moment. The hon. and learned Gentleman the present Solicitor General for Ireland had been entertained at a dinner by his constituents in Athlone; and what would the noble Lord, who had introduced the Ecclesiastical Titles Bill, say to the fact, that the first toast at that dinner had been "The Pope," which had been given with "nine times nine," while the "Health of Her Majesty," which had followed, had been given "with the usual honours?" He held in his hand a list of the toasts which had been proposed at that dinner. First upon the list was "The Pope," and then came "The Queen;" and the hon. and learned Gentleman Mr. Keogh was, as he (the Marquess of Westmeath) had been informed, present upon the occasion when those toasts were thus given. He was sorry to find that the Government should have selected for a position connected with the administration of the law in Ireland a person who could be capable of entertaining sentiments and opinions such as those which had been attributed to the hon. and learned Gentleman in question. He regretted extremely to have been obliged to bring forward the topics which he had brought under their Lordships' notice that evening; but he had done so because he, believed it to be a duty which he owed to himself and to the country to call the attention of Parliament to a state of things of whose existence he could by no means approve.
§ The EARL of ABERDEEN
said, that he knew nothing whatsoever of the circumstances connected with the late election for the county of Westmeath, nor of the speeches which had been delivered at the time of that election. If the noble Marquess had given notice that it was his intention to bring that subject before their Lordships, he (the Earl of Aberdeen) should have endeavoured to obtain some information upon the subject; but he had addressed his attention entirely to those points of which the noble Marquess had given notice, and was completely ignorant of the character of the speeches which had been delivered at the hustings in Westmeath. He should, therefore, without adverting further to that subject, immediately address himself to reply to the noble Marquess in connexion with the particular questions with respect to which he had placed a no- 1368 tice upon the paper. He was happy to be enabled to congratulate their Lordships upon the circumstance that the state of Ireland was at the present moment so tranquil, so free from disturbance of every description, that the noble Marquess had been compelled to bring under their notice a matter which in importance was very slight indeed, and afforded but very inconsiderable ground for complaint. The noble Marquess had stated that persons who had been condemned for certain offences in Ireland, had been arbitrarily released. The two cases to which the noble Marquess had referred were as follows;—The first case was that of two students of the Queen's College in Galway—and he (the Earl of Aberdeen) wished to assure their Lordships, with respect to the parties implicated in that case, that he had not the slightest conception whether they were Protestants or Roman Catholics. One of the students to whom he had just referred, had, it appeared, been present upon some occasion upon which the air of "God save the Queen" was played, and refused to take off his hat; upon which a gentleman, Mr. Murphy, who was standing near him thought proper to knock it off. The assault to which the noble Marquess had called their attention was the consequence of this proceeding, and the two students were sentenced to ten or twelve days' imprisonment, with hard labour, according to the Statute. But the very magistrates who had passed this sentence had forwarded a recommendation to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland to the effect that it would be desirable to remit that portion of the sentence which enjoined hard labour, inasmuch as those upon whom it had been passed were physically unable to undergo the hardships which would be consequent upon its execution. It was precisely and altogether upon this recommendation of the committing magistrates that that part of the punishment had therefore been remitted by the Lord Lieutenant; and he felt persuaded that their Lordships would not be inclined to condemn the conduct of his noble Friend in exercising his clemency under all the circumstances of the case. The next case to which the noble Marquess referred, was that of ten or twelve persons who had been engaged in a riot which took place at the time of the late election in the city of Limerick. Those parties were sentenced by Mr. Justice Perrin to several months' imprisonment, and a petition very numerously signed was presented to the 1369 Lord Lieutenant praying for a remission of their sentence. The Lord Lieutenant had not acted in reference to the matter with the caprice which the noble Marquess had imputed to him, but had referred the case to the Judge by whom the parties in question had been tried; and it was only in accordance with his recommendation that a portion of their sentence had been remitted. Now, he (the Earl of Aberdeen) believed that that was the course which it was usual to pursue in such cases; and his noble Friend had assured him that under no circumstances whatsoever had he remitted any sentence which might have been passed, except he had the concurrence of the Judge who passed that sentence in taking such a course. He thought it was quite unnecessary for him to make any observations with regard to the case of Mr. Kirwan, as that case had been completely disposed of by the discussion which had taken place a few weeks ago. He begged leave to say, in conclusion, that he had not the slightest objection to produce the papers for which the noble Marquess had moved. If the noble Marquess had any curiosity to ascertain the manner in which the recommendations in connexion with the cases to which he had called their attention had been made, he was perfectly welcome to peruse the documents in which those recommendations were conveyed. He should, however, decline to produce the confidential report made by the Judges, inasmuch as it was not usual to adopt such a course. That document had, he believed, not been in direct terms moved for; and he, therefore, had only to repeat that he should give his entire concurrence to the production of those papers which the noble Marquess had moved to have laid upon the table of the House.
The MARQUESS of CLANRICARDE
thought that the noble Lord opposite (the Marquess of Westmeath) had been greatly misinformed upon this matter, for he had made several mistakes in the statement which he had made to the House. Thus he had stated that the assault was upon a magistrate, but such was not the fact—there was no magistrate of the name in Galway. [The Marquess of WESTMEATH: He might be a county magistrate.] He (the Marquess of Clanricarde) said that it was not so. Mr. Murphy was no doubt a most respectable man; he (the Marquess of Clanricarde) believed him to be a young professional man of much ability; but he was not a magis- 1370 trate. The real facts of the case were these. When the student, to whom reference had been made, refused to take off his hat, he was turned out of the room, and in that proceeding Mr. Murphy made himself very conspicuous. Upon the following day this student, with another, met Mr. Murphy,' and his conduct of the preceding day having been referred to, an assault on Mr. Murphy was committed. That gentleman very properly made his complaint to the authorities; and the two students were sentenced, not to ten or twelve days, but to one month's imprisonment, with hard labour. When he (the Marquess of Clanricarde) added, that one of these students, being rusticated, lost an entire year of his academical course, he did not think that the House would consider the course pursued by the Lord Lieutenant was over lenient. With the election speeches of his hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor General for Ireland, he, of course, had nothing to do; he would, however, venture to say that the noble Marquess opposite had made words spoken during the heat of an election vastly more important than they deserved.
§ The EARL of DERBY
thought the statement of the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Aberdeen) quite conclusive with respect to the two cases which had been brought forward by his noble Friend. If, with regard to the first case, the remission took place in consequence of an application by the same justices who convicted, and if, with regard to the second case, the sentence was remitted in consequence of a reference made to the Judge by whom the penalty was inflicted, and in accordance with the recommendation of that Judge, he did not think his noble Friend had any strict ground for requiring the production of these papers. He understood the noble Earl to say that the Limerick case, of which he (the Earl of Derby) knew nothing, was in accordance with the recommendation of the Judge. If he stated that in his place, as a Minister of the Crown, there would be an inconvenience in asking for the confidential report of a Judge. The Lord Lieutenant, it appeared, did not act on his own mere motion, or merely on the application of parties who might be interested, but who had no right to advise the Government. That being the case, he agreed that it would be inconvenient to produce papers which involved an unnecessary interference with the administration of justice. But he thought the noble Earl 1371 and the noble Marquess opposite had both dealt rather too lightly with another part of the case, although it formed no part of the Motion—he meant the language imputed, correctly or incorrectly, to the hon. and learned Gentleman who was now Solicitor General, at the election for the county of Westmeath. The noble Marquess had hinted that there was a tribunal for inquiry into contested elections, and that such matters did not concern their Lordships' House. So far as the effect produced on contested elections was concerned, undoubtedly that was no subject for inquiry before their Lordships: there were proper tribunals to inquire whether an election was vitiated or not. But the noble Earl had treated too lightly the practical moral effect, not of the language of the hon. and learned Gentleman, but the effect that it might immediately, or shortly afterwards, produce on the public feeling, seeing that he had been selected by the Government to fill an important office connected with the maintenance of the law. The noble Earl had said, and he was bound to believe him, that he knew nothing about these election speeches. Now it was a matter of such general notoriety that such language had been held that he could hardly believe the subject had not been brought under the notice of the noble Earl. He was bound to give the noble Earl credit for what he had stated; but it was extraordinary, when the matter was publicly and generally reported, that he should not have known, at the time of Mr. Keogh's appointment, that he had made that speech. Let their Lordships observe what had occurred. The county of Westmeath was one in which Mr. Keogh had not a foot of land. He was acting as a leader or partisan in his cause—liberal in some respects, but illiberal in others—and in that capacity, having been a Member of the former Parliament, and a candidate for a seat in the next, and intending to make his support valuable to the Government, he was reported to have warned the people that the nights were then short and the days long—that the time was coming when the nights would be long and the days short—and that that would be the time at which any person who might vote for Sir R. Levinge for Westmeath ought to look out for what might follow; and if he (the Earl of Derby) was not much mistaken, there was a recommendation that the people of that county should collect together and go into 1372 the town of Athlone, for which he was himself a candidate, armed with shillelaghs, and taking care to use them when they got there. There might in what he had stated be greater or less incorrectness of details; but he would affirm that if anything of the sort had been said by Mr. Keogh—and what he had said on the occasion had been said so openly and publicly, that the facts were easily ascertainable—then, certainly, such language, or any language of the sort, should have been taken as wholly disqualifying the person who uttered it for any office in the Government which, in the slightest degree, had reference to the administration of the law. He must say, it appeared to him that the appointment by the noble Earl of the person who had uttered this most violent and exciting language to a legal office in the Government of the country, was eminently calculated to have the effect, and he feared it had already had the effect, of shaking whatever confidence the people might have had in the sincerity of the desire of the Government to put down disorder and to uphold the law—of creating a general belief that the system of impartiality acted upon by his noble Friend behind him (the Earl of Eglinton), while Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, was about to be departed from.
§ The DUKE of NEWCASTLE
said, it was unnecessary for him, after the speech of his noble Friend (the Earl of Aberdeen) to say one word with reference to that part of the case which had been brought forward by the noble Marquess, as affecting the Lord Lieutenant; for his noble Friend had completely established his own case, and refuted every position of the noble Marquess. But there was another person whom the noble Marquess had chosen to attack, and that without having given the notice which he ought to have given, that individual being a Member of the other House, and holding office under the Government. He confessed he was somewhat surprised that the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Derby) had departed from the prudent course of not assuming upon the instant that every fact brought forward in the shape of an accusation by the noble Marquess required to be investigated. He had occupied a seat in the other House of Parliament at the same time as the noble Earl, and when a case of this kind was brought forward there by a Gentleman from the sister island, they were in the habit of saying, "I wonder whether that is an Irish 1373 fact." Now he thought he should be able to show that the fact of the noble Marquess—he did not say it offensively—was only an Irish fact; and he might describe, without offence, Irish facts to be a species of facts susceptible of being, upon analysis, considerably modified. The noble Marquess had ostensibly brought forward the case of the remission of eleven sentences in order to make an attack on the Lord Lieutenant; but its real object seemed rather to be to throw a certain amount of dirt upon an honourable Gentleman not in that House, and holding high legal office. When an accusation of that kind was made with-out notice, to use a common phrase some of the dirt so thrown would stick; and? whatever contradiction might be made twenty-four hours afterwards, a certain amount of credence would attach to the original statement. The noble Earl had improved the occasion by turning this statement against Mr. Keogh into a charge against the Government, and he said they were bound to have known of Mr. Keogh's speech, and that they ought not to have appointed the hon. and learned Gentleman under such circumstances to the office which he now held. He really did not know whether the noble Earl had suddenly found out that it was the duty of every one entrusted with the formation of a Government, to be acquainted with the speeches of every one of his followers, and that he was not only bound to ransack Hansard, but the chronicles of each county in which he may have stood a contested election, for that purpose. Above all, he did not know whether the noble Earl had suddenly become a convert to the opinion that this was especially his duty as regarded the appointment of a Solicitor General. Not many months ago—about this time last year—the noble Earl, on being asked whether he entirely concurred in every opinion expressed by Sir Fitzroy Kelly on the subject of Protection, in the county for which he was a candidate, declared that he was not responsible for what Sir Fitzroy Kelly, his own Solicitor General, had said—that he had not time to read the newspapers; and now the noble Earl turned round upon the Government, and said, with an amount of pathos which must undoubtedly have affected their Lordships, "It is certainly a most lamentable result that the appointment of that hon. and learned Gentleman to be Solicitor General for Ireland has had the effect of making many persons in that 1374 country doubt whether it is the intention of the Government rightly and fairly to carry out the law." The noble Earl must recollect that the fact of those speeches of Sir F. Kelly—which never were denied, and which could not be denied—did attach considerable doubt to the intentions of the Government of the noble Earl, and to his declarations as to a protective policy. He would not pursue this subject further, because he was fully prepared to meet the case; but he wished to remark that if on future occasions similar statements should be made, little faith ought to be attached to them, until the circumstances could be fully investigated. The noble Marquess said, he had felt it his solemn duty to bring this charge against the hon. and learned Gentleman—[The Marquess of WESTMEATH: Against the Government.] He accepted the correction most readily. The noble Marquess had preferred the charge in the performance of his solemn duty. Now, the noble Marquess was not merely a Member of their Lordships' House; he was the Lord Lieutenant of the county in which, according to his own account, these transactions took place. Had he completely fulfilled his duty in not bringing the matter under the notice of the Government before this? The noble Marquess said, he did not trust the Government, and did not think they would carry out the law fairly; and he accused the noble Earl at the head of the Irish Government of being a popularity hunter, and therefore he did not think fit to bring forward this accusation except in the present form. But that was no justification for the noble Marquess. When did this. "fact," in the sense in which he had used the term before occur? When did it take place? In June last year. Who was at the head of the Government then? The noble Earl opposite. Who was his Lord Lieutenant? The noble Earl at his side (the Earl of Eglinton). Why did not the Lord Lieutenant of Westmeath bring forward this accusation then? And if he did feel it his duty to bring it before the Government, why did not the Government investigate the charge? He did not say that that was the duty of the noble Marquess; but he certainly had no right to make party attacks on the present Government, when he did not pursue a course which he might have done in his capacity of Lord Lieutenant of Westmeath. He now came to a more important part of the 1375 case, and was in a position to give the noble Marquess a complete answer. The noble Marquess and the noble Earl said, the Government ought to be in a position to state whether this was true or not. He had already said, that, following the example of other heads of the Government, his noble Friend was not aware of any such speech having been delivered by the hon. and learned Member for Athlone. For himself, he could say that he had never heard of the accusation until it was brought forward by the noble Marquess; and he believed he might say the same for all his Colleagues. But when his noble Friend (the Earl of Aberdeen) rose to reply to the noble Marquess, he went where he thought he should obtain correct information, and there saw the hon. and learned Gentleman himself, who had authorised him to say that the speech quoted by the noble Marquess was a newspaper fabrication—that he never did make such a speech—that, to the best of his belief, not One word of what had been quoted by the noble Marquess fell from him; and the whole tenor and purport of what he did say had been entirely and utterly perverted. The reason why his noble Friend the noble Earl at the head of the Government was not able to answer the noble Marquess on this subject was, that he had had no opportunity of making any communication with the hon. and learned Gentleman. But was the noble Marquess aware, when he made this statement, that the hon. and learned Gentleman had already positively denied the accuracy of that statement? He (the Duke of Newcastle) said the noble Marquess was, because he knew that an individual had conveyed the denial of his hon. and learned Friend to the noble Marquess. And yet the noble Marquess had not the candour or fairness to inform any noble Lord on that (the Ministerial) side of the House, that he was about to make this accusation; but had brought forward this accusation against an hon. and learned Gentleman holding the important office of Solicitor General for Ireland—although that hon. and learned Gentleman denied it to a friend of the noble Marquess—and had turned it into an attack upon the Government. He thought he had satisfactorily proved that it would have been unfair to turn it into an attack against the Government, even if it had taken place; and that it was equally unfair to bring forward such an accusation, affecting the 1376 character of an hon. and learned Gentleman a Member of the other House, without giving notice of his intention to do so; and he hoped he had also substantiated the fact, as far as the word of an honourable man could go, that the statement brought forward by the noble Marquess was as baseless as the accusation he had brought against his noble Friend the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.
§ The EARL of EGLINTON
said, he was at a loss to understand how the noble Duke could draw a parallel between the case of a Solicitor General of a Government who was merely making a speech with regard to the political questions of the day, and with regard to his own private opinion upon a question which at that very time was in abeyance, and was, as avowed by his noble Friend (the Earl of Derby) to be determined by the decision of the country, and the case of a private individual making a speech—if he did make that speech—in which he avowed, and openly recommended, assassination and riot. But when the noble Duke asked why, if it was the case that the hon. and learned Gentleman the present Solicitor General for Ireland had made such a speech, it was not brought by the noble Marquess to the notice of the late Government in this country or in Ireland, he would tell the noble Duke the reason. Mr. Keogh was a private individual; and certainly he (the Earl of Eglinton) had no intention of recommending him at any future time to be Solicitor General of Ireland, and he believed his noble Friend never had the intention of offering him such an office; but he assured their Lordships, that if every man had been prosecuted for every violent speech he had made on the hustings at the last general election in Ireland, the law officers of the Crown would have had a very busy time. But the case now assumed a totally different character from what it did when the noble Marquess brought it forward, and the noble Earl refused to give any opinion on the subject in consequence of no formal notice having been given. The question was now one of truth or falsehood. Did Mr. Keogh, during the last election for Westmeath, on the hustings at Moat, use expressions which in Ireland, or almost any country, could boar no other construction than that he distinctly recommended to the persons he was addressing at a future period, when the long nights came, if not 1377 assassination, most violent outrage? The question was whether that was true or false. He had listened to what the noble Marquess said, and he believed what he had stated was very much the same in substance with what he had hitherto believed, and which he should continue to believe, to be the words used by Mr. Keogh upon that occasion, until the denial of them was distinctly proved. He was bound, of course, until it was proved, to believe that Mr. Keogh meant what he now said; but the noble Duke said Mr. Keogh contradicted the words now used by the noble Marquess. He would not say the exact words put by the noble Marquess were used, because he might have transposed them in such a way as to change the meaning of them; but he must say he did put great credit in the assertion he had before heard, and which was now made by the noble Marquess, that throe magistrates of the town of Moat had heard that language and believed it; but he had another and a stronger reason for believing that the words referred to by the noble Marquess were used by Mr. Keogh on that occasion. He had seen, and he had in his possession, an affidavit sworn before a magistrate by, he believed, a respectable man present upon that occasion, ascribing words almost identical with the words ascribed to Mr. Keogh by the noble Marquess. He could only say what he had heard and seen. He was bound to believe that noble Lords opposite had no knowledge of those words having been used, because they said so; and he was also bound to believe Mr. Keogh's assertion, unless that assertion could be disproved; but after what had passed in the House upon that occasion—after the assertion made by the noble Marquess that there were three magistrates ready to swear that the words were used—after he had stated to their Lordships upon his own authority that he had an affidavit to that effect sworn before a magistrate in Ireland—he thought the subject ought not to be lightly disposed of, but ought to be maturely considered by their Lordships in that House, or by a Select Committee, or by any other means that might be thought proper. He must say, that he thought the appointment of Mr. Keogh the least reputable appointment of the present Government.
§ The DUKE of NEWCASTLE
said, he did not wish to throw any personal acrimony into the discussion; but he was almost compelled to make a remark on the 1378 last sentence of the noble Earl's speech, which would commit Members of the late Government; and he believed the noble Earl knew what he meant.
§ The EARL of EGLINTON
I do not know or care whom it may commit; but I will not be committed for one moment before your Lordships by any hint or inuendo. [Cheers.]
§ The DUKE of NEWCASTLE
Then, as noble Lords opposite cheer, I suppose they wish me to state, and I will state, what I allude to. My statement is this—that I have been assured, when the noble Earl says the appointment of my hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Keogh) is one of the least reputable acts of the present Government—and I have it on the best possible authority—that a communication was made by a noble Lord who occupied an office under the noble Earl opposite, before the completion of the arrangements of his Government, which was supposed to come from the noble Earl opposite, at the head of the Government, to inquire whether my hon. and learned Friend would take office under him. That is my answer to the statement of the noble Earl; and my reason for not stating it broadly in the first instance was, that I did not wish to bring the noble Earl (Lord Derby), who did not say the appointment of my hon. and learned Friend was disreputable, in any statement before the House. I have now made it. I did not rise for this purpose. I merely rose not to allow the noble Earl to slip out of his statement, because he has made two most opposite assertions as to his belief; he said he had the fullest intention of believing the statement of the noble Marquess until it was disproved, and also of believing his hon. and learned Friend until it was disproved; but what I want to reassert is this—there was no equivocation whatever in the denial, and, of course relying on the personal honour of my hon. and learned Friend, I made the statement to the House; but he did not authorise me merely to contradict the words stated by the noble Marquess, but a great deal more than those words; he positively and distinctly denied that any words he had uttered on the occasion referred to bore the signification represented by the noble Marquess, or that there was the slightest truth, or vestige or shadow of truth, in the accusation brought forward. I rose to make that denial as distinctly and clearly as possible.
§ The EARL of DERBY
I think it is my duty, after what has been stated, to 1379 say that I have heard of the rumour to which the noble Duke has alluded. I heard it, for the first time, after the appointment of Mr. Keogh had called forth a great deal of observation in Ireland, and had been loudly condemned. I heard it put about by Mr. Keogh's friends that a certain offer had been made, and I lost no time in authorising every person who might hear that, to state on my authority that I did not know, nor have I ever authorised, nor did I then believe, nor do I now believe, that any such offer, proposition, suggestion, or hint was ever made to Mr. Keogh.
§ The EARL of EGLINTON
I distinctly deny it on my part, and I tell the noble Duke that I did not know that such a rumour had existed.
§ The DUKE of NEWCASTLE
I stated to the noble Earl across the table the name of the individual who is represented to have made the communication to my hon. and learned Friend.
The MARQUESS of WESTMEATH
, in reply, said the noble Duke had challenged him to deny that Mr. Keogh had communicated to him that he had never made the speech alluded to; and he admitted that that communication had been made; but then, on the other hand, he had the authority of three magistrates to the contrary. At the late elections in Ireland unparalleled violence had been committed, and the enlargement of the persons to whom he had referred was calculated to have a bad effect. He understood that it was the intention of the Government to bring forward a measure next Session to put a stop to bribery in England; and he trusted that they would also propose a measure to put a stop to unconstitutional violence in Ireland.
The EARL of CLANCARTY
considered that a satisfactory explanation had been given with respect to the cases referred to in the Motion, but thought a portion of the papers moved for—namely, a copy of the Memorial in the case of the Limerick prisoners, might be produced.
§ The EARL of EGLINTON
was also of opinion that the explanation of the noble Earl at the head of the Government in respect to the two cases mentioned in the Motion ought to be deemed satisfactory, and recommended the withdrawal of the Motion.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ House adjourned to Monday next.