HL Deb 30 April 1869 vol 195 cc1954-72

rose to put the Question of which he had given notice, Whether, having regard to the facts that within the last few months numerous open-air assassinations (independent of other agrarian outrages) have been perpetrated with absolute impunity in Ireland, it is the intention of the Government to adopt any immediate measures, repressive or remedial, for the protection of human life in that country? The noble Marquess said, that the subject to which his Question referred involved not the present Government in particular, but, to a certain extent, all recent Governments. Independently of those open murders of which every day brought accounts from Ireland, and to which his noble Friend near him had called their Lordships' attention, every day brought fresh rumours of discontent and dissatisfaction, which were breaking out in new districts of the country—a general sense of depression pervaded the minds of well-affected people in that country, and a want of confidence either in the power or the will of the Government to protect their lives and property. At the same time the wildest expectations existed among a certain class of the population with respect to the land question. They believed that the land of the country was to be handed over to them; that it was the wish and intention of the Government to do so, and that it only required a gentle pressure to be put on the Government to have their views carried into effect. These hopes and wishes, he feared, had been induced by an exaggeration of certain expressions, not very wise in themselves, and not always very wisely uttered, used by certain Members of the Government during the heat of the late elections. These words were twisted to a meaning at variance with their plain expression, and still more at variance with the intentions of the speakers. The people pointed to the Irish Church. Bill as the first instalment of their unreasonable demands and as an earnest of the complete satisfaction of their wishes. The relations between class and class were still further disturbed, and the hopes of the people were still further raised by the various Land Bills that had been brought in by successive Administrations, which appeared to be framed more as a relief from husting pledges than from any wish to consult the interests of the country, or to create a proper relation between landlord and tenant. Much of the present state of things in Ireland was also, he could not but think, due to the unwise liberation of the Fenian convicts, who had been already too leniently dealt with by the previous Administration. For the existing state of things he did not say that the Government were wholly, though they might be partially, responsible; but they would, he maintained, be personally and entirely responsible for every act of murder or violence henceforward committed in Ireland, if they did not immediately put in force the full powers which they possessed for the purpose of repressing crime and securing life and property in that country; or, if they found that the powers which they now possessed were not sufficient for that purpose, if they did not immediately to come to Parliament and ask for further powers. Above all, they would be responsible if they did not at once declare their policy on the land question, so as to frustrate the machinations of the agitators, and show the people that the Government had no sympathy with their wild dreams. The Government would only have to call upon the well-disposed portion of the people, and give them authority to act, and the result would not be doubtful. That result, however, could not be attained without contests, in which many lives might be lost; and if the Government, by neglecting to take energetic and immediate measures, allowed that conflict to occur, the responsibility would attach personally to the members of the Government. He viewed with alarm the fact that no real effort had yet been made by the Government to put down these murders in Ireland. He was not now alluding, however, to the truly Irish method of sending a few dozen policemen to the locality, and quartering them on the persons who were the principal sufferers from these outrages. He wanted to see strong measures adopted for the protection of life and property. The noble Viscount opposite (Viscount Lismore) had given notice of his intention to ask the Government on Monday last a Question similar to that which he himself was about to put, but at the request of the Government the noble Viscount had postponed his Question. Since then, however, fresh outrages had been committed and fresh words of treason spoken. Now, he should be sorry to ask any question which would impede the free action of the Executive. He would not ask, for instance, what opinions had been asked of and given by the Law Officers of the Crown, nor would he inquire as to what steps the Government had taken in particular cases: but he did ask—and he thought the country had a right to know—whether the Government were prepared to use the powers the law gave them for the repression of crime? And if these were not sufficient, whether they would come to Parliament for further powers—and, above all, whether they would declare their policy with regard to the land question, and thus put an end to the agitation which was the cause of all these evils?


To the Questions put by my noble Friend I shall answer shortly, and am afraid, as to some particulars, in a manner not satisfactory to him. The noble Marquess has referred to these outrages as being the state of things throughout Ireland. Now we have heard Irish Members on both sides of this House protest against such a description being generally applicable to Ireland, however true it might be—and it is lamentably true—in regard to certain districts. The noble Marquess said that the expressions reported to have been used on the hustings by some Members of the present Administration were one cause of the dissatisfaction now existing in Ireland; and both my noble Friend and the noble Viscount opposite referred to the question of the Irish Church as being one other of the causes of that dissatisfaction. Now, I venture to suggest, as at least one other possible cause—and I do so, not in the least by way of reproach, but merely in order that the matter may be considered, not only by your Lordships, but by other influential persons out of this House—I am not going to argue whether the Irish Church measure is a desirable one or the reverse, whether it is a good measure in itself or a bad one—but we all know this fact, that the last House of Commons, by a majority of above 60, and the present House of Commons, by a majority of above 100, have declared their decided opinion that the Irish Church shall be disendowed. Now I imagine that not only sanguine tenants, but calm men like your Lordships, must feel that it is, at all events, extremely probable that at no distant period some portion of the disendowment of that Church is sure to occur, whether it be recommended by Her Majesty's present Government or by a subsequent one. Well, if that is the fact, is it wise, my Lords, and is it desirable to hear it argued, as is done every day, contrary to the general sense of mankind, that the right of the Church to its endowments stands exactly on the same basis as the rights of your Lordships to the property which you enjoy? Is it possible to doubt—I entirely put aside the question whether we have a right to meddle with the Irish Church or not—can it be possible to doubt that there are persons who entertain visionary ideas as to what legislative measures should be passed with regard to tenant-right—though I beg to assure the noble Marquess he is perfectly mistaken if he supposes that we have any sympathy with them—and is it possible to doubt that such persons may put the two things together, and to say to themselves—"If both kinds of property are equal, and if one kind is certain to be given up, may we not agree that the other kind of property may be given up also?" I own I think that the bearing of all these political questions on agrarian outrages and murders is exaggerated. If it be true that the miserable men who commit these murders do so because they were led to expect that legislative measures would give them that which they desire to have, the fact appears to be rather a reason for postponing a murder than for committing it; and, as far as these mis- guided persons were concerned, I believe if you pass a reasonable measure, it will be likely to irritate them and to act as an incentive to these outrages, unless you accompany that measure with some others which will show that these crimes cannot be committed with the present impunity. It is clear that, to a great extent, the difficulty is not in the law. The chief difficulty, into the causes of which I will not now enter, but which has been the misery and bane of Ireland, is that there is a certain class of crimes in regard to which there exists a sort of brotherhood of feeling, so that to obtain evidence is one of the most difficult things in the world. The noble Marquess (the Marquess of Bath) said he should hold us personally responsible for any murder committed if we did not take certain steps which, in his opinion, we ought to take. I had occasion, the other night, to remark on this kind of strong language, which I am willing to pass over—only as I have a great many personal friends in the House I hope they will not all claim the privilege to use language which they will perceive, on reflection, to be objectionable. The noble Marquess wants to know what measures the Government are taking or are about to take? I can only repeat what I told the noble Viscount the other night, that we shall exercise as promptly and as energetically as possible all the powers that the law gives us for the repression of crime. If the noble Marquess wants to know all the details of these measures, I must throw myself on your Lordships' feeling and reason as to whether it would be wise or judicious for me to specify them. I think, however, that as the noble Marquess has such strong opinions on the subject he might have given us some slight hint of one measure which he may think would be available. All I can say now—and I do not think your Lordships will expect me to say more—is that we are determined to put into practice all the provisions of the present law, and that her Majesty's Government have been and are in earnest communication with the Government in Ireland, in order to ascertain whether it be expedient or not to take any further legislation for the purpose of putting down outrages of so terrible and lamentable a character as those which have lately occurred.


The two subjects which have been brought before your Lordships this evening differ from each other, although they are closely connected. With regard to the first of these subjects, although both of them are painful, the feeling which I am sure pervades your Lordships' minds is much stronger than a feeling of mere pain. The noble Earl opposite (Earl Granville) has said, in reference to the position of the Mayor of Cork, that his name is not now in Her Majesty's Commission of the Peace—from that Commission I am told it was not long ago removed—but still he fills a position of very great importance, being the first civic magistrate in the second city in Ireland. The noble Earl has stated that Her Majesty's Government is now considering what steps ought to be taken by them, supposing the language attributed to the Mayor of Cork is found to have been correctly reported. The noble Marquess who spoke just now expressed some doubt as to the proceedings which could be taken. I entertain no doubt upon that point. If Her Majesty's Government are in possession of the proper evidence, the course, and the only course, open to then, is for the Attorney General for Ireland to file an ex officio information in the Court of Queen's Bench. And my Lords, I am sure I speak the sentiments of every one of your Lordships, when I say that the words attributed to the Mayor of Cork, on their being first read by your Lordships in the ordinary channels of information, must have produced in your minds a feeling of absolute horror and disgust. My Lords, for anyone in any position in England or Ireland to have used the words which the Mayor of Cork is reported to have used would have been bad enough; but that the first magistrate of a great town, on whom devolves in a special degree the care of the peace and well-being of that town, should have used such expressions is a circumstance which every Englishman, and, above all, everyone who is connected with Ireland, will blush to think of, because such words indicate nothing short of gross disloyalty and savage barbarism. My Lords, I will only add that I trust, in considering the course which they may think it right to pursue, Her Majesty's Government, at all events, will not forget two considerations. The one is that, if the reports which we have read, and which have never been contradicted, are correct, this is by no means the first— although it may be the worst—specimen of the conduct of this officer in the course of his mayoralty at Cork. The other is this—I hope we shall have no nice criticisms of the state of mind or confusion of intellect that may have existed at the time particular words were uttered; and I hope the Government will, above all things, consider how far the chief magistrate of a city like Cork was justified in presiding at all at a public banquet the avowed and notorious object of which was to do honour to those principles for the maintenance and assertion of which the liberated convicts had, in the first instance, been punished. My Lords, I pass from that to the other and cognate subject; and, in the first place, I must advert to some observations made by the noble Earl (Earl Granville). The noble Earl said that Members of your Lordships' House acted unadvisedly in endeavouring to connect the question of legislation on the subject of the Irish Church with the question of legislation on the subject of land. But I think the noble Earl altogether misapprehended the character of the remark which fell from my noble Friend who spoke last but one in this debate (the Marquess of Bath). I understood the object of that remark to be this—You are proposing to legislate with regard to the Irish Church, and people in Ireland, by the expressions which they use, show that in their minds, at all events, these two subjects are connected, and that the character of the legislation which is proposed with respect to the one is expected by them to be followed with respect to the other. I do not for a moment suppose that Her Majesty's Government believe that the question of Church property is the same as the question of private property in land. I do not now stop to consider whether they are right or wrong in the distinction they make between the two; but I know that they do make the distinction, and I know that it is upon that footing they deem themselves justified in the way they propose to deal with Church property. But the purport of the observation of my noble Friend was this—If that be the ground on which you proceed; if you are in your own minds fully persuaded that you have a right to deal with Church property, but have not a right to deal on the same principles with property in land, let that be known—let that be made clear to the people of Ireland; and the way to make it clear is to accompany your legislation on the subject of the Church with a distinct declaration of that which you are prepared to propose on the subject of the land. I own that the noble Earl (Earl Granville) made a confession which was to my mind extremely painful. He said that if your Lordships were, in this Session, to pass a reasonable measure on the subject of land, you would by doing so lead to greater disturbance, to more agrarian outrage in Ireland, than if you left the subject altogether alone. My Lords, what does that mean? Does it mean that nothing will put a stop to agrarian outrage but an unreasonable measure on the subject of land? My Lords, these expressions will be interpreted in that way by the people of Ireland. With regard to those unhappy occurrences which are, I fear, happening almost daily—I am glad to think not in all parts, but in some parts of Ireland—I will venture, with your Lordships' permission, to read you an extract from a letter addressed to a Member of this House by a most intelligent man in Ireland. I do not mention the name of the writer, or that of the person to whom it was addressed, nor the part of the country to which it relates, for obvious reasons; but those particulars are at the disposal of any of your Lordships who may desire them. The letter was to the effect that nothing could be worse than the state of many parts of Ireland at present. In that county from which the letter was written especially, almost all business in land was suspended; no one dared to demand possession even for non-payment of rent, or if they did it was answered by a threatening notice. A farmer, who had recently taken some vacated land, was put on his knees by two men with pistols and sworn to surrender it again: that was told him yesterday; and many outrages were not told, and did not get into the papers, because people were afraid to tell them. My Lords, that is a sad and melancholy picture to draw of a country, and to find drawn by a courageous, an experienced, and an able man who is the writer of that letter. The noble Earl (Earl Granville) says that Her Majesty's Government are availing themselves of all the provisions which the law puts in their power for the purpose of checking this unfortunate state of things. My Lords, I am fully persuaded that that is so; but I think that what your Lordships would desire to know is this—Is it the opinion of Her Majesty's Government that the present state of the law confers on them, or does not confer on them, adequate powers for checking the state of things which prevails in Ireland? My Lords, if they do, then we may hope that, acting vigorously on the powers they possess, we may see a stop put to the outrages that are daily occurring. But if they do not, I think your Lordships will expect, and the public will expect, that Her Majesty's Government will come down to Parliament and apply to Parliament for further powers to arrest these calamities. My Lords, I impress this on them the more because, if I am rightly informed, it was elsewhere stated on the part of the Government that they were, to a greater extent than was ever done before, availing themselves of the powers of the Peace Preservation Act with reference to the quartering of an extraordinary number of police on the disturbed parts of Ireland. Now, my Lords, in addition to that being a measure which alone has not proved successful in checking these outrages, I must enter my protest against its being deemed either a sufficient, or even a fair, way of dealing with these disturbed parts of the country. What does this mean? A gentleman, whose name has been mentioned to-night, is assassinated in open day in a particular county of Ireland. He is the occupier of a farm in the place where he was killed. The assassination is viewed with despair by his family, with horror by all the surrounding occupiers of land. And. what is the cure that is proposed? A body of police is sent down from Dublin to be quartered there, to be paid for by the family of the man who was murdered, and by the surrounding occupiers of land, who are in daily terror of their lives; and those who are the guilty persons, or those who connive at or harbour the guilty persons, go perfectly free, and no punishment—even in the shape of a payment—is inflicted on them. But the case is even worse than that; because the source from which the payment is made is the county cess, and if the burden should possibly go beyond the occupiers, it falls on the owners of the land, whose security for the receipt of their rent is made less through the heavier county cess occasioned by this proceeding. I hope, then, that Her Majesty's Government will not think that the sending of additional police to the disturbed districts is alone the remedy to be applied, and that they will, without any kind of delay—for these are things which ought not to continue a day if they can be prevented—if they are not satisfied with the powers they possess, apply to Parliament to increase them.


said, that having had the honour to be a Member of the Administration by which the Peace Preservation Act was passed, authorizing the sending down of extra police to the disturbed districts at the expense of those districts, he wished to point out to the noble and learned Lord (Lord Cairns) that that measure was not so entirely without reason or authority as he seemed to suppose, nor, he would also add, had it been wholly unsuccessful. He remembered the discussion which the general state of Ireland led to in the Government at the time; and one of the points which they considered was, whether they could not resort to something like the principle followed at an early period of our history, and make the district liable for the offences committed in it. In the days of King Alfred the Great the hundred was held responsible for every murder committed in it; and that principle of Anglo-Saxon legislation proved the means of establishing quiet in England, and was an influential agent in civilizing the country. It appeared to the Administration, in 1847, that it was not unreasonable to believe that a similar remedy might be applied with advantage to Ireland. And there was this additional reason for so applying it to that country. Those outrages were committed with the connivance of the population; every man knew that if the people inhabiting the district chose to give information the police in twenty-four hours would have been able to put their hands on the criminals. But it was because the people of the district were really conniving at those offences, and assisted the offenders to escape, that those atrocious crimes went unpunished. The consequence was that the Peace Preservation Act was passed, providing that additional police might be sent to the district where such offences had oc- curred, and that the expense should be defrayed from the rates, not levied in the ordinary manner, and falling on the owners of the land, but falling on the occupiers—the very class whose connivance gave impunity to the murderers. He did not deny that, in particular cases, when a murder occurred that was not owing to agrarian disputes, but to other motives, the measure might cause some hardship to individuals; but those were cases which might be met by the discretion left to the Government. If the Government were convinced that the inhabitants of the district were doing their best to bring the offenders to justice, he thought they acted improperly in applying the Peace Preservation Act to that district. The discussion suggested many observations which he should like to make, but having had more than one opportunity of speaking on this question, he thought he should be abusing their Lordships' patience if he said more on this occasion.


My Lords, my noble Friend (Earl Grey) has explained so clearly the grounds upon which the Peace Preservation Act was introduced and passed into law, that I should not have thought it necessary to rise were it not to protest against the attacks that have been made upon the Government in this debate. First, the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Bath) calls us to task for not putting in force with sufficient vigour the law as it stands; and then, on the other hand, the noble and learned Lord opposite (Lord Cairns) says that the law is a bad one, and that it ought not to be put in force. As between the two noble Lords, that is a perfectly untenable position; but I would accept the advice which has been given to the Government to put the law in force rather than act upon the opinion of the noble and learned Lord and part with the instrument which is almost the only one that has been found effectual for the preservation of peace in Ireland. The principle on which that Act is based has been explained by my noble Friend. As your Lordships know, Ireland is distinguished by this most unfortunate peculiarity—that the sympathies of the people are with the violators and not with the upholders of the law. That undoubted fact is at the root of the difficulties which the Government have to encounter in enforcing the law; and when the noble Marquis calls on us to take measures to discover and repress these abominable atrocities, I ask him to remember what are the difficulties of the Government in dealing with this question. Such is the feeling in Ireland that the police can get no information even as to murders committed in the open day. Men have been murdered in the high road while labourers have been peaceably ploughing in the fields close by—the murderer has been seen escaping by more than one person—and yet no information could be got from them which would lead to the detection of the murderer. More than this—the utmost facilities are given to the murderer to escape, and criminals have for weeks and even months gone from house to house among the peasantry, obtaining shelter until they could make their escape to the United States. When such a state of things exists I think it is perfectly just to apply a punishment which only in a sense falls upon the innocent. We must in such a case regard the district as a whole; and, if the population does not give that assistance in enforcing the law which they ought to give, I think the Government are justified in imposing a fine upon them. At this juncture I trust that the Lord Lieutenant will not hesitate to enforce in the strongest manner the provisions of the law; and though, in so doing, no immediate effect may be produced upon this epidemic of murder, yet some amendment may be produced in those parts of the country where the law is applied. The Government has been asked to adopt stronger measures. But you must discover what those "stronger measures" are; they must be such as can be practically carried out; and it is exceedingly difficult to devise measures which will meet this peculiar evil. One word as to the remarks of my noble Friend near me (Earl Granville) upon the land question. In his answer to accusations made against the Government for not declaring our policy and bringing forward a measure, I think my noble Friend was misunderstood. His meaning was, that no mere explanation of policy, however acceptable it might be to Parliament, could apply an immediate remedy to the evils under which Ireland is suffering. You cannot do more than lay the foundation of a better state of things. These agrarian crimes are the outbreak of a bidden or open discontent which has existed for many generations. Now, any remedies you can apply, with a view to produce a better state of feeling, can have but a gradual effect. It is impossible that an evil which has existed so long—an evil found unconquerable by successive Governments—can be at once put an end to by measures which any Government, no matter what, or any Parliament can pass. We can only hope for future improvement as the result of such legislation. And I think that, even did the state of Public Business not forbid any attempt at legislation this year, it would be undesirable and unwise that Parliament should legislate in time of panic, expecting by any measure on the land question to stop these abominable murders in Tipperary and Westmeath. I say it is perfectly Utopian to expect that by any measure whatever you can stop these agrarian outrages, the result of an organization which extends, as we are told, even to England. An attempt has been made to fix Her Majesty's Government with personal responsibility for these crimes. Such an attempt can only come from those who weigh their own words very little. I can say for myself that they have very little effect upon me. The present Government are neither more nor less responsible than any other Government which has had to deal with the state of things which has so long existed in Ireland, and which has puzzled the wisest heads in this country generation after generation.


said, he thought the noble Earl (the Earl of Kimberley) had not understood the argument with which he had tried to deal. Nobody was fool enough to suppose that if a measure were now introduced by the Government with reference to the land it could have the immediate effect of putting an end to ancient disputes and long existing evils—that was impossible; but such a measure might still have the effect of repressing the present outbreak of agrarian crime in Ireland. For some years past the relations between landlord and tenant had been improving in that country, and security to the tenant had been increasing. The present outbreak was not, therefore, due to the old law. What, then, was the immediate cause of it? The fact was that in a country like Ireland you could not shake the stability of any one class of property without unsettling the basis of all property. You could not with impunity in the midst of an excited population propose to transfer property from one hand to another. In the words of Sir George Grey, you could not do that without something like a revolution. Further than this—there were many in Ireland who attributed the proposals of the Government respecting the Irish Church to the result of the Fenian outbreak—they attributed it to the effect of panic; and he himself had little doubt that if there had not been that alarm about Fenianism this measure would never have been proposed. It was said by many in Ireland. "This alarm has induced the Government to bring forward the Irish Church Bill. Let us try a little more agitation with regard to the land, and the same result will follow." This was the language held by Ribbonmen. He did not say they were justified in using such language, but it was very natural that they should say this; and there was no doubt that the recent extraordinary outbreak of agrarian crimes, which did not arise from old existing grievances, was, to a certain extent, explained by this belief among a section of the Irish people. It was desirable, therefore, that the Government, while unsettling the public mind upon the question of the Irish Church, should show that upon the land question they were at all events, firm, and should declare that their principles with regard to the rights of property were fixed. No one expected that any legislation with regard to land would at once remove long-seated evils; but the present outbreak was due to temporary causes, which he believed that Her Majesty's Government, by a bold, determined declaration of policy respecting the land, might do much to terminate.


said, that the Irish lower orders were engaged not so much in a Fenian agitation as a political agitation, because they believed that, by agitation, they could squeeze out of the Government measures however unsound and however much at variance with the principles on which the sanctity of property depended. The doctrine of the rights of property was being interpreted in a manner to which, in this country at least, they were little accustomed. The landlords were advised to give up a little of their property in order to preserve the rest. He (the Marquess of Clanricarde) had never been able to discover the exact meaning of the recommendation or the limits within which it was to be applied. It probably referred to the proposed institution of a peasant proprietary—an institution which could only be brought about by the transfer of the greater part of the land in Ireland from the owner to the tenant. It was said the other night that the murders which were being perpetrated daily, and the spirit of insubordination to law which prevailed were of a local character. It might be that the murders were confined to a particular locality; but the spirit of insubordination displayed itself in different parts of the country widely apart. No one could doubt that a spirit of insubordination and lawlessness was abroad in Ireland, which required to be repressed by a vigorous hand. The topic he was about to enter upon might be thought a delicate one, but he must say this was not a mere local question—it was an Imperial question; for foreign countries regarded these matters, which were, therefore, likely to have a serious effect on the position of this country among the nations of the world, especially in respect to international negotiations. He did not think it was the case that the outrages were confined to a small locality—outrages of one sort or another were now being reported from districts far removed from each other. One of the last was the boarding of a vessel in a dock in the port of Cork, and robbing it of arms. That was in the extreme South. In the centre of Ireland—in Tipperary no less than six murders had been perpetrated since last August; and in Westmeath a murder was reported in the course of yesterday; and by information which he had received he was given to understand that the state of things in Meath was anything but satisfactory. This morning they had an account of tumult and riot in the city of Londonderry, under the eyes of a Royal Prince, in the course of which two men were shot dead and others were wounded. All this showed that throughout Ireland there was a want of vigilance and efficiency on the part of the police. Individually, and for the purposes to which they were put, the police were admirable; but what was daily occurring constituted an irrefragable proof that they were not sufficient or pro- perly organized to maintain the authority of the law. If the state of the city of Londonderry had been known to the police, they ought not to have allowed a Royal Prince to go there without taking due precautions for the preservation of the peace. With regard to quartering police on the disturbed districts, he believed that was a proceeding very much dreaded by the people of the localities. These outrages were openly discussed beforehand, and if the people knew that a police force were likely to be saddled on them many a meditated outrage would not be carried into execution. It was highly important that the Government should be in better communication than they were at present with men of property and influence in Ireland. The Government had, no doubt, a considerable majority of Irish Members in the House of Commons, but he saw no signs that they had in any part of Ireland any real influence. He could not find that any Lord Lieutenant of a county or any Board of magistrates in Ireland or any individual magistrates, who were able to give useful information and advice, had been consulted by the Government, or that they were on such terms of communication as were fit with the Government. On the contrary, it was within his own knowledge that the stipendary magistrates and the police concealed from the local magistrates much of the information they possessed. He admitted that some discretion on this point must be allowed to the police, but he maintained that the latter were too reticent.


said, he only wished to say a word on one or two points. First of all, he wished to point out that he was afraid there could be no doubt that these agrarian outrages were gradually speading. The noble Earl opposite said they were confined to some particular localities. He (the Earl of Carnarvon) was afraid the evidence he received every day showed that they were enlarging the field of their operation; and, further, he feared they were increasing not only in number but in intensity. If they cast back their eyes a few years, they could not fail to be struck with the difference between what O'Connell very happily called the "driftless" character of former outrages, and the deliberate system under which they now appeared to be perpe- trated. The change seemed to be well worthy of attention. In the next place, the danger now obviously pressing was this, that they were introducing a spirit of lawlessness and crime throughout the whole country. It had been observed by several speakers that the population of Ireland unfortunately connived at the perpetration of these crimes. That was perfectly true, and it constituted one of the great difficulties of dealing with the matter. It was true that this participation generally went no farther than connivance; but they had very good reason to know that the actual authors of these detestable outrages were brought over, often from a considerable distance, and then hired for a small sum of money to commit the crime. The only other point on which he wished to make any remark was the mode in which the present state of things in Ireland was to be dealt with. Her Majesty's Government had alluded to the Peace Preservation Act, and that Act might, he had no doubt, be used with great force. The evidence of all who were well acquainted with Ireland showed that, in certain districts at all events, it was a measure dreaded by the small occupiers, and that it had been resorted to with considerable effect in certain parts of the country. But he (the Earl of Carnarvon) viewed this question rather in the light of a simple question of executive administration. He could not help believing—and he made no complaint of the present in this respect any more than of the late Government—that if the powers which the law gave were carried out with an unsparing and energetic hand, they would be found to be effectual in putting a stop to a great extent to those outrages of which they had heard so much. Was there, he would ask, any other civilized country in Europe where such a state of things would be allowed to go on as that reign of terror which was now being established in Ireland? This was not the first time, he would add, that they had had to deal with evils of this kind. The diabolical confraternity of Thugs in India, which it was supposed to be impossible to touch, was trampled out by the unsparing exercise of executive authority; and the same unsparing exercise of it in Ireland would, he felt assured, result in reducing crime in that country within very much narrower limits than had hitherto been the case. Depend upon it, whatever might be the grievances under which that country laboured, and whatever might be the remedies which they might propose to apply to those evils, their first duty was to crush out every open defiance of the law, such as that which they were now discussing, which could not be justified by any motives, and then to apply those remedies which they might think fit, and which prudent and humane legislation might suggest.


said, that, in justice to the small farmers and tenants who were accused of conniving at these outrages, it ought to be known that they lived under a system of terrorism that paralyzed their energies. A reign of terror existed in Ireland; and the only way to put an end to the present outrages in that country was to make the terror of the law stronger than the terror created by disaffection. In his own long experience of Ireland he had frequently been appealed to by his own tenants to save them from what they called "those blackguards," meaning the Ribbonmen; and he regretted much that a fresh impulse should have been given to the action of those criminal men by throwing open the gaols, as had been done by the Chief Secretary for Ireland. The Government, he maintained, ought to go on the stool of repentance for the way in which they had acted in that matter, as well as for their conduct in doing away with the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act under the circumstances in which Ireland was placed. He called upon Her Majesty's Government to take the most vigorous measures for enforcing the law, and to declare the principle of the measure they would introduce for the settlement of the land question.


said, he had been asked in a former part of the evening by the noble Viscount (Viscount Lifford) whether, in any legislation which might take place on the subject of the tenure of land, the Government would respect the rights of property. He could have no objection to make such a declaration in the plainest manner, inasmuch as he had already made it on a previous evening. Another Question, put to him by the noble and learned Lord (Lord Cairns), was whether, in dealing with this subject, the Government would consider the right of individuals to pro- perty as something distinct from the rights of the Church to property. He had no hesitation, also, in saying that the Government would recognize such a distinction.


suggested that, in every instance where a murder had been committed and the murderer was not brought to justice, the district should be made to act the part of a life assurance company, and should be required to put the family of the murdered man in a better position than it was before. In his opinion, if that course were taken, these murders and outrages would be put an end to. As to the term "agrarian murders," he objected to it altogether. They were political, not agrarian, murders. He believed it was the practice of parties in this country to fight their battles on Irish soil. The feeling which existed among all parties in Ireland—he said it with deep regret—was dislike to England, and the connection between Ireland and America, which was every day increasing, might yet give rise to very serious dangers. The policy which had lately been adopted had so completely turned away the minds of those who formerly looked to English connection as their greatest hope, that they were becoming careless, even with regard to the continuance of the Union with Great Britain. The state of Ireland was such as to demand the most serious consideration. The evil was far deeper, he feared, than was generally supposed either in that or the other House of Parliament. It was a most dangerous thing to set aside the educated classes of a country, and to suppose that the whole system of administration was to be carried on through the police.