§ THE MARQUESS OF WATERFORD,
in rising to draw attention to the recent release of "suspects" imprisoned under the Coercion Act, and to move for any Correspondence connected therewith, said: My Lords, I had some time ago a Question upon the Paper relating to this subject; but I withdrew that Question, as I was informed that the Prime Minister had stated, in "another place," that he would take into consideration whether or not he would be able to produce the Correspondence, or some of it; and I thought if further information was likely to be forthcoming, it would be better to wait until that information was before your Lordships' House. But now I am informed that the Prime Minister has refused to produce that Correspondence; and I think both your Lordships and the country require, and it is most desirable, that some further information should be given upon this most serious matter. Indeed, I may say it is positively necessary, because the extraordinary and dangerous disclosures which have been made—disclosures which have been most damaging to the Government, and which are a source of the 20 very greatest danger, to my mind, to this and all future Governments in Ireland—require some further light thrown upon them than has yet been the case, and cannot be explained away by a simple denial; and the greatest doubts and anxiety exist in England, and the gravest danger may arise in Ireland, if what has been called "the information" placed at the disposal of the Government by the Land League, and "the information placed at the disposal of the Land League by the Government," cannot be more clearly defined than it is at present. The country has been told by Mr. Gladstone that there has been no compact and no terms of compromise; that the Government have given nothing and have received nothing in return; but, at the same time, the information received was sufficient to induce Her Majesty's Government to entirely reverse all their former policy, to make them sacrifice their Chief Secretary, and also to bring in a Bill amending an Act which was of late so sacred in their eyes that they absolutely passed a Vote of Censure on your Lordships' House for having appointed a Committee to inquire into its administration. What are the disclosures which I have referred to? The first of them was caused by Mr. Parnell reading a letter in "another place," originally written by him and addressed to Mr. O'Shea for the purpose of being laid before the Cabinet. Mr. Parnell read that letter with a view of clearing himself before the people of Ireland, and he omitted or suppressed the most important paragraph in that letter, because it would, if it had been read, have had exactly the contrary effect, for it would have proved that he was prepared, upon certain terms, to place his services at the disposal of the Government. The Members of the Cabinet who sat by and heard that letter read must have been well aware that the most important paragraph was omitted, a paragraph so important that it caused Mr. Gladstone to write a letter to Mr. Forster upon it, saying that it would not be right for him to accept Parliamentary support from the Land League, at any rate, at the present time; but not one of them thought fit to rise in his place and draw attention to the omission which had been made; and unless Mr. Forster had produced a full copy of the letter, feeling that his 21 honour was imperilled, no one would have had any idea of the overtures made by Mr. Parnell to the Government; and it is not difficult to understand why the Government thought it better not to correct that omission. I do not wish to say anything to which Members of the Cabinet may take exception; but, at the same time, I think it very extraordinary that they should have sat by and allowed the letter to be read with that most important paragraph omitted. But Mr. Forster laid down three stipulations, upon any one of which, if it had been fulfilled, he said he would have been prepared to remain in the Government, and yet to allow the "suspects" to be released. The first of these stipulations was, that a promise should be given by the Land League Leaders that they would obey the law, without any promise being given in return on the part of the Government. The second was, that Parliament should be prepared to grant further powers for the prevention of crime in Ireland. And the third was, that Ireland should have assumed such a tranquil condition that the "suspects" could be released without danger. In my former Question I alluded to the "negotiations" which have taken place, and which, I believe, resulted in what has been called out-of-doors the "Treaty of Kilmainham;" but I believe Her Majesty's Government have the greatest objection to call them negotiations. My reason for using that word was that I thought, and still think, it must be clear that negotiations did take place, as Mr. Forster, who conducted part of those negotiations, having had most to do with them at the beginning, called them by that name when he said, upon hearing that Mr. Sheridan was to be employed—I was very sorry I had had anything whatever to do with the negotiation, although all I had to to with it was to try to get from the hon. Member for the City of Cork a promise not to break the law. I felt I would have nothing more to do with it."—[3 Hansard, cclxix. 791.]I ask your Lordships, if that promise was given, as Mr. Forster says it was, without a corresponding promise in return on the part of the Government, in the shape of what Mr. Forster called blackmail, what was his reason for leaving the Government, because he distinctly stated that he would have agreed to the "suspects" being released, and would have still remained in the 22 Government, if such a promise was given, provided there were no promises given in return by the Government; and, therefore, I think it seems clear that though this one of his stipulations was complied with, it was complied with in such a manner as to leave the impression upon Mr. Forster's mind that it was impossible, as a man of honour, that he could accept it, or remain in the Government that did accept it. Again, another of the stipulations made by Mr. Forster, by which he could have continued in his position as Chief Secretary and opened the prison doors, was that further powers should be granted by Parliament for the prevention of crime in Ireland; and this was referred to by the noble Earl the Leader of your Lordships' House (Earl Granville), when he stated, in a touching speech which he delivered when a heavy and deep sorrow cast a gloom over this country, in moving the adjournment of your Lordships' House, in consequence of those awful murders in the Phoenix Park, that a Bill for strengthening the administration of justice in Ireland had been before the Cabinet during the week previous to the murder of Lord Frederick Cavendish, and that with a few finishing touches it would be introduced in the week following. I would now ask the noble Earl, whether the Bill he then alluded to is the same Bill, or anything like the same Bill—the Bill for the Prevention of Crime, which, I am told, will shortly come before your Lordships' House, because, if that Bill is the same, surely it would be amply sufficient and strong enough to fulfil all the expressed wishes of Mr. Forster, and, therefore, to allow him to retain his position in the Government and still be able to set the "suspects" free. Therefore, if a promise was given by Mr. Parnell without any promise on the part of the Government in return, and a Bill, such as I have described, had been prepared with Mr. Forster's knowledge and sanction, two out of the three stipulations laid down by Mr. Forster had been fulfilled; and I cannot understand, if that was the case, why Mr. Forster should have resigned, as he stated that, if one alone of those conditions had been fulfilled, he would have been able to retain his position in the Government. We must, therefore, suppose—and it is the only reason I can see—that Mr. Forster was under the impression—and who could be 23 a better judge?—that a compact had been arrived at, which, he believed, would tend to the encouragement of crime, and would seriously weaken the power of this and all other Governments in Ireland, with which, as an honourable man, he could have nothing to do, or countenance by remaining in the Government. That, as far as I can make out, is the only explanation of Mr. Forster's leaving the Cabinet. But it seems that further communications had taken place between the Government and the Land League—communications of a character which would make it appear to the mind of any unprejudiced person, not in the secrets of the Cabinet, that the Government were prepared to make use of what Mr. Forster called the "outrage-mongers" of the Land League for the purpose of putting down outrages in Ireland; or what is the meaning of the remarkable passage in the minute taken down by Mr. Forster after his conversation with Mr. O'Shea, which minute he forwarded to the Cabinet, with his own remarks relating to the operations of Mr. Sheridan in Ireland, and which was to this effect—That the conspiracy which had been used to get up 'Boycotting' and outrages would now be used to put them down?Mr. Forster goes on to say—I said to Mr. O'Shea, it comes to this—that upon our doing certain things he (Mr. Parnell) will help us to prevent outrages.The question, then, which I wish to ask Her Majesty's Government is, have the stipulations contained in Mr. Parnell's letter been fulfilled, and are the Land League in a positionTo make use of exertions, strenuously and unremittingly, to put down outrages and intimidation of all kinds, and to co-operate cordially for the future with the Liberal Party in forwarding Liberal principles?Mr. Gladstone stated that he acted on the information he had received; and, so far as the information is before your Lordships', according to the minute which was circulated among the Cabinet, which is all we know about it, the information he received was to the effect that if he would do certain things the Land League would do certain other things. Well, the Prime Minister has done most of the things specified; but we are not aware that the Leaders of the Land League have either the will or the power 24 to carry out the programme which Mr. Parnell laid down for them, and we want to know whether they can? I do not think, judging from the speeches which Mr. Brennan delivered on the 2nd of June, and which Mr. Davitt delivered in Ireland, that we can say that they, at any rate, are prepared to carry out the programme, or are ready to coalesce with the Government in the forwarding of Liberal principles. Mr. Dillon, in a speech which the Prime Minister described as" heartbreaking"—although, if there was no compact, I cannot understand why the Prime Minister should have expected Mr. Dillon to make a speech in any other terms than those he had used so often before—Mr. Dillon declared that he was not at all disposed to denounce these outrages. Mr. Parnell, certainly, the next day, made a moderate speech, and attempted to explain away some of the remarks made by Mr. Dillon; but, at the same time, he led the House to believe that he had had no communication with that Gentleman; therefore, I do not see how Mr. Parnell could have known better what was in Mr. Dillon's mind than Mr. Dillon himself. Of course, we have the statement of the Prime Minister that there was no compact and no compromise; and that is sufficient proof that, whatever had been the result of the negotiations, at any rate, in his mind it did not amount to what he understands as the meaning of the word "compact." But what we want to know is, what did it amount to? There is not the slightest doubt that it has produced the greatest and most marked difference in the policy of the Government, and some difference also in the policy of Mr. Parnell, as shown by a former speech of his upon the second reading of the Bill to which I have referred before as being shortly about to come before your Lordships' House, in which, though differing from the Government—as from his position in Ireland he was bound to do—about the necessity for such legislation, he yet spoke of the Prime Minister and the Attorney General for Ireland, who had lately said that he (Mr. Parnell) was steeped to the lips in treason, in such admiring, and almost affectionate terms that it would lead one to believe he was soon about to join them, and become one of the most ardent supporters of the Government; but how this difference has been brought about 25 is what we wish to understand. The change of policy has in itself been sufficient to cause the most extraordinary reports to appear in the newspapers, and has, I believe, had the most injurious effect upon the state of Ireland; and, in my opinion, except for the report of an understanding having been arrived at between Her Majesty's Government and the Leaders of the Land League, the awful and horrible murders in the Phoenix Park would never have been committed, for there can be no doubt that report was the direct cause of their occurrence. There is an extreme Party in Ireland, who, whether attached to the Land League or not, look upon the Leaders of that movement as having the same aims and objects in view as themselves, and that is nothing less than the dismemberment of the Empire. That extreme Party, believing that they had been sold by Mr. Parnell, and not wishing to bring about separation by so curious a process as an alliance with the English Government, resolved to make it quite clear that no compromise was possible, and, therefore, they carried out their bloody and infamous work. If it had been clear to these men that no compromise at all had taken place, I do not, for one moment, believe those murders would ever have been committed. My Lords, the position we have arrived at is, that disclosures have been made which point out that there were negotiations between the Government and the Land League; and, whether those negotiations resulted in what has been called the "Treaty of Kilmainham" or not, we have a proof in the resignation of Mr. Forster that he, at any rate, believed that they resulted in a compact. I have been informed that upon the same date upon which Mr. O'Shea visited Mr. Parnell there was another gentleman, who has been described to me, and who visited Mr. Parnell directly afterwards, and there is, I believe, no record of his visit in the book of the gaol; therefore, if this be true, it would appear that, at any rate, he must have been authorized by the Government to attend at Kilmainham. I should like to know from noble Lords opposite whether there is any truth in the report that another gentleman visited Kilmainham by the direction of the Government; and, if so, whether noble Lords opposite will tell us who that other gentleman was? I 26 look upon it as a positive necessity that we should have full and clear information about the whole of these transactions. My Lords, I think it a most terrible thing that there should be an idea in the minds of the people of Ireland, and in the minds of the people of this country as well, that it was possible that any arrangement could have been come to by the Government of this great Empire with the Leaders of a conspiracy whom the Government themselves have denounced as traitors, whom they have imprisoned for treasonable practices, and who they have, over and over again, declared are mainly responsible for the murder, mutilation, and anarchy which exist in Ireland. But facts are stubborn things, particularly if no explanation be given; and the publication of this extraordinary Correspondence, coupled with the resignation, in the circumstances I have named, of Mr. Forster, is likely to lead everybody to the belief that there was an arrangement of some kind or other between those who are responsible for administering the law of the land and those who, the Government themselves have said, have set their unwritten law above the law of the land, and who have enforced the decrees of that unwritten law by outrage and mutilation. Well, my Lords, we have no information except Mr. Parnell's letter and Mr. Forster's minute; the Government have vouchsafed nothing to us, or to the country, except an indignant denial of any compact; we do not know whether negotiations are still going on or not. We do not know anything with regard to the position of the Government in the former negotiations. Under the peculiar circumstances of the case, I do not think that a simple denial is sufficient for the people of England. If there is nothing to hide, why should not the whole Correspondence be made public? It is not like a Correspondence with foreign nations; therefore, why should not the full Correspondence be produced, so that the Government can distinctly show the people of Ireland that they are entirely wrong as to their belief that any surrender has been made by the Government to traitors, and to clear up all the doubt and anxiety which exist, at present, largely among the people of England? My Lords, in the interests of all future Governments in Ireland, in the interests of the good government of this 27 great Empire, and in the interests of Her Majesty's present Government themselves, I trust that if this Correspondence can bear the light of day the Government will agree to my Motion, and be prepared to give us the information we require. The noble Marquess concluded by making the Motion of which he had given Notice.
§ Moved, "For correspondence respecting the release of certain persons imprisoned under the Act."—(The Marquess of Waterford.)
§ EARL COWPER
My Lords, I wish to say a few words upon this Motion, and I think, perhaps, it will be more convenient if I do so before the noble Earl (Earl Granville) rises from the Front Bench to reply. I was still Lord Lieutenant when these men were released; but I wish to explain that my resignation had been accepted some days before, and from the time that my resignation was accepted I considered myself to be virtually no longer a Member of the Government as filling the position of Lord Lieutenant; and, therefore, I knew no more of all this than any Member of your Lordships' House. I wish to explain that before I signed the document for the release of these three Members of Parliament I sent a telegram begging that it might be left to my Successor, and I only signed the release on the distinct understanding that it was a matter of form, and that I did not commit myself to its policy. I feel, therefore, that I am as much entitled to express an opinion on these facts as any one of your Lordships. I confess that when I received the telegram, announcing the intention of the Government to release the Members, it took me so completely by surprise that I could hardly believe it, and I must say that I thought it a most grave step. Such was not only my opinion, but was the opinion of everybody; and I saw a great many people whom I came across—and I wish distinctly to say that, in alluding to other people's opinions, I am not alluding to any of the permanent officials, because, if I did so, I should be falling into what I consider to be the great mistake made by the noble Marquess opposite (the Marquess of Salisbury) in alluding to a man who is dead, and in attributing to him opinions which, I feel sure, have caused great pain to 28 his relatives; and I think also that by them a slur has thus been cast on a public man whose character is beyond reproach. I may, perhaps, be allowed to say that I cannot believe Mr. Burke ever made use of such language as has been imputed to him. He was, I believe, the very last man in this world to employ such language, or say a word against those under whom he served; and I feel sure that any previous Lord Lieutenant would agree with me. The noble Duke (the Duke of Marlborough) is not present; but I think he would agree with me that Mr. Burke was the last man who would say such things to anybody. I also know he was not particularly intimate with Mr. Staples; therefore, he was not likely to say anything to him of this nature. I think, therefore, that the statements attributed to Mr. Burke are in the highest degree improbable. I also know Mr. Staples to be a man of great honour, who would not willingly lend himself to anything that was wrong; and I feel confident in my mind that there has been some mistake, and I am sorry that the noble Marquess should have called public attention to the matter. I say this to clear myself from being supposed to refer to any of the permanent officials; but all the professional men I met—Judges, lawyers, military and naval officers, landlords, agents, the clergy of all denominations—everybody, I believe, was completely astonished at this sudden step. It was its suddenness which, in my opinion, constituted its chief evil; and I am bound to say that I think the anticipation which we all felt of the evils which would follow has been accomplished. I do not refer to the tragedy in Phoenix Park. We know as yet too little about that deplorable occurrence to say from what motives it arose; but I refer to the effects produced locally in every part of Ireland which had not previously been at all disturbed. It is notorious, and was made so by every bonfire which was lighted on that occasion, both publicly and privately, by what appeared in the Press, and from all channels of communication, that it was looked upon at the moment as a complete surrender; that its effect was most disastrous, and will be to stimulate disaffection, and to make the pacification of Ireland and the restoration of law and order more difficult than it was 29 before. I have spoken of what I consider the great evil of what was done by the release. I also am sorry that the question of arrears has been mixed up in the matter. I am not going to refer to the Bill before Parliament; but I think I may say, without being out of Order, that it is a very delicate matter, and everybody admits that it is most unusual, and contrary to a great many principles which many of us are accustomed to consider sacred. As it is, however, it will be defended successfully or unsuccessfully—perhaps successfully—by the necessities of the occasion; but that it should in any way be supposed to be a sop to the people, to induce them to come forward in the cause of law and order, I cannot admit for a moment. I have said this much openly as to what my judgment is on the policy adopted by Her Majesty's Government; but I certainly do not wish to associate myself with those men of extremely violent views who have made imputations and remarks almost personal in their character upon the Government. I cannot see that there is much force in what has been so often said about an agreement. It has been denied by men of the highest honour, and I am perfectly willing to believe what they have said, that there was nothing in the shape of an agreement. I am also perfectly willing to believe, and I am perfectly willing to admit, that these men could not have been kept in prison for ever. They must have been let out sooner or later, at some time or other; and when the Government received information which induced them to believe that these men would no longer stir up the country, or be instrumental in causing disturbance, there was, I will admit, a difficulty in confining them any longer. They were confined in prison on reasonable suspicion of being the cause of that disorder, and for that reason only. Therefore, there is more, as I have said, in the way it was done than in the doing of the act itself. I was anxious to be able to make this explanation, and am much obliged to your Lordships for the patience with which you have listened to me.
§ LORD CARLINGFORD
My Lords, my noble Friend the noble Earl who has just sat down (Earl Cowper) is fully entitled to refer to the release of the "suspects" in whatever terms he pleases, and 30 to define and limit his responsibility in the matter. I am not inclined to make any comment on that part of his speech; but with respect to the evil consequences which he supposes—I do not understand upon what grounds or on what authority—have followed upon that decision of the Government, I am bound to differ from him. I know of no reasons whatever for that opinion. Her Majesty's Government know of no reason for it; and both with respect to the release of Mr. Parnell and his Friends under the particular circumstances of the case, and with respect to the prospect of good to be done in Ireland by the measure dealing with the arrears of rent, which I hope will before long come before your Lordships; on both of those subjects I can only say that Her Majesty's Government, according to their information and my noble Friend's Successor in the Office of Viceroy, upon whose information the Government to a great extent depend, differ from the opinion just expressed. I now come to the Motion of the noble Marquess opposite (the Marquess of Waterford), and I confess I find it difficult to deal with the cloud of questions which he has raised. The whole thing resolves itself into this—that the noble Marquess thinks that there is some great mystery—of which we and Parliament know nothing—that there are some great revelations which might be made if only the Government were inclined to make them. All I can say is, that there is no mystery, and that there are no revelations to make. Parliament already knows all that can be known as to the release of the "suspects;" and when the noble Marquess asks mysteriously about the certain other visitors and other communications made to Mr. Parnell in Kilmainham, I can only say I do not even know to what he refers. I cannot speak positively upon the matter, for by whom Mr. Parnell might have been visited I do not know; but my impression is that there was no other visitor whatever of such a kind as that alleged by the noble Marquess, and most certainly there was no visit on the part of the Government.
§ THE MARQUESS OF WATERFORD
Would there not be a record of the visits which took place in the gaol books?
§ LORD CARLINGFORD
I have never heard the story before. I am not, however, surprised at the speech of my noble Friend, because we have heard of so 31 many similar speeches made elsewhere. My noble Friend's first Notice, which was given, before Whitsuntide, I heard many people describe as a bad joke; and I must say that his speech to-night gave such a description of these transactions, and drew such a picture of them, that I can only describe it as a travestie or caricature of the facts. As regards the release of the "suspects," it is hardly necessary for me to remind your Lordships of the situation of these Gentlemen at the time they were confined in Kilmainham, and of the rights and duties of the Government in respect to them. One would have supposed, to hear the noble Marquess, that these Gentlemen were prisoners under sentence, and that the Government had weakly and indulgently released them, and set them free from the remainder of their sentences. I need hardly say that the position was a totally different one to that. These persons were put in prison under a most exceptional law, entirely and absolutely as a matter of precaution, because we believed their conduct was dangerous to the tranquillity of the country. It was necessary, at the time of their arrest, that that conduct should be put an end to. But if the Government, at any time, had reason to believe that that danger to the public tranquillity no longer existed from these persons being at large, it was evidently their bounden duty to consider such circumstances, and to consider whether they were entitled—even legally entitled under the terms of the Act—to keep these persons in confinement. And if they had reason to believe that these persons had the intention, and were ready to announce that intention, to refrain from dangerous agitation in the future, that obligation upon Her Majesty's Government was, of course, greatly increased. The question then arose in that way—namely, whether the time had come or not when these Gentlemen should be released. I should like to know how long the noble Marquess opposite intended to keep Mr. Parnell and his friends in prison? Well, the question arose whether the time had come when it was still necessary or unnecessary to keep them under arrest; and the matter was treated, not as a matter of negotiation, but as an administrative question, and as a most serious administrative question, in the exercise of 32 their exceptional powers by the Government under the Act of last year. That question has been dealt with by the Government upon the best knowledge they could obtain, under all the circumstances of the case, in view of the whole situation, and with a single eye to the public interests and to the restoration of tranquillity in Ireland. We have heard a good deal about "negotiations," "treaty," and so on; but I do not accept any of those terms, and for one simple reason—that after all this took place, the Government were absolutely free to deal with every Irish question as they thought best. We were under no engagements whatever which bound or hampered our conduct; but I can very well imagine that these proceedings might have taken a form which might have been called by the name "negotiations," and which yet would have been totally harmless. I can imagine, for instance, Mr. Parnell asking what declaration on his part would have been held sufficient, and that would have amounted to something which might be called negotiation; indeed, I do not understand how any step could have been taken for the purpose of obtaining a pledge from these Gentlemen, which was the view taken by my right hon. Friend (Mr. W. E. Forster), in opposition to his Colleagues, without something which might in some sense be called a negotiation taking place. But it so happens that that was not the course the Government chose to adopt; and, at the eleventh hour, they found themselves bound to differ from the right hon. Gentleman the late Chief Secretary for Ireland, and they did not adopt that process. An intimation was first made by Mr. Parnell through a friend, and afterwards a letter was written by him, which he himself read in the House of Commons. The fact was that the communications from Kilmaiuham came absolutely uninvited—proffered voluntarily to the Government, and, therefore, suddenly, as my noble Friend has termed it. I have a right to ask whether the Government were to pay no attention to such declarations on the part of these detained persons? The Government believed that they were bound to pay attention to these communications so volunteered, and that they were bound to make inquiry in order to ascertain whether the reports which reached them as to what Mr. Parnell said were accurate, as they were at 33 first not under the hand of Mr. Parnell; and the whole of their action in the matter was directed to the point of ascertaining the authenticity of these documents and of knowing what Mr. Parnell intended. They took those declarations as being what they were—namely, those of a Gentleman—and they were regarded by the Government in view of the whole situation of affairs in Ireland at that time. There was much then, as there is now, in the state of Ireland to cause anxiety; but the Government saw how different the state of the country was from the condition of things last September, when Mr. Parnell and his friends were arrested. We were convinced, speaking broadly, that the "no rent" policy of the Land League had broken down; and we were also convinced that among the Irish tenantry—probably the bulk, certainly the best of them—there was a desire for quiet and tranquillity; a desire to return to a state of law and order, and to devote themselves to their industry under the greatly improved tenure which Parliament had conferred upon them. The Government also had regard to the communications in connection with the Bill, and the debate upon the Bill introduced into the House of Commons by Mr. Redmond and Mr. Healy, and upon the back of which was the name of Mr. Parnell himself—we saw, in that Bill and in the debate upon it, a willingness on the part of the Land League to make the best of the settlement of the Land Question upon which Parliament had decided, and to withdraw from the violent attitude exhibited by them last autumn. We took the declarations which were proffered from Kilmainham in connection with all these facts, and we made up our minds that the time had come when it was safer to put an end to the detention of these Gentlemen than to keep them in prison any longer. That is about the whole history of the matter. But my noble Friend says, "You now give the Land League this Bill dealing with arrears;" and he seems to think that there is something disgraceful in the fact that the Government should have brought in an Arrears Bill, with regard to which they agree with Mr. Parnell and the Laud League. Now, Mr. Parnell is, no doubt, very anxious that this critical question of arrears should be effectually settled; but we did not require 34 any negotiation, if the noble Marquess insists upon the word, or any communications from Kilmainham, in order to ascertain that fact. We knew it from the introduction of the Bill, on the back of which was the name of Mr. Parnell, and which gave rise to the debate in which the Prime Minister gave his public adhesion to the propriety of a settlement of the arrears question. That, it should be noted, is the only promise of any kind, either public or private, that has been given by the Prime Minister. But Mr. Parnell did not invent the question of arrears. It has been felt by us for months past to be a most serious question, and one which must inevitably be dealt with by the Government. Parliament made an attempt to deal with it last year, in the Land Act; but, unfortunately, the attempt has proved to be a failure; and the very fact of that failure increases the obligation of the Government to endeavour to provide a remedy. Surely the noble Marquess will not condemn the decision of the Government to deal with the question of arrears, simply because on that point they are in agreement with Mr. Parnell and the Land League.
§ LORD CARLINGFORD
I beg pardon. I was under the impression that my noble Friend had done so in connection with this question. If he has not, he is certainly the only person who has attacked the Government on this matter without dragging in the Arrears Bill. But the agreement of Mr. Parnell in that measure is not a condemnation of it, and ought not be one; for I should like to remind the noble Marquess that there is another question of far more permanent interest—namely, the question of the purchase of the property of the landlords by their tenants, in which Mr. Parnell was also very much interested, and upon which the noble Marquess and his Friends appeared to me to be pretty much at one with Mr. Parnell himself. They have made a proposal which would, if carried out, abolish landlordism in Ireland to a great extent, and they, like ourselves, have not been deterred in this matter by the fact that they are in agreement with the Land League on that point. Whether the Government will be able to follow 35 them closely in that direction, whether the Government will be able to proceed on that road as far as Mr. Parnell and noble Lords opposite, is a question which remains to be solved. The Government, upon that and all other matters relating to Ireland, are absolutely free to follow the course which their duty may require them to take. The noble Marquess has made great use of that particular sentence in Mr. Parnell's letter in which a hope is held out of his acting at some future time in concert with the Liberal Party, and also of certain expressions which passed between Mr. O'Shea and Mr. Forster, and which, I understand, were Mr. O'Shea's words and not Mr. Parnell's. The noble Marquess has singled out that expression about the Liberal Party as being the most important sentence in the whole letter. We, on the contrary, think it the least important. [Laughter.] I confess I am not surprised at the opinion expressed by my noble Friend, for he has the highest authority for that opinion—namely, another noble Marquess opposite, who pounced upon this particular sentence in Essex the other day, and said, "That is the whole explanation of the conduct of the Government," and who did not take the slightest notice of anything which the Government had said when giving an account of their own motives and actions. But, whatever my noble Friend may think, I can tell him that that passage in the letter, and those expressions in the conversation between Mr. O'Shea and Mr. Forster, instead of explaining the motives which led the Government to their decision, were, in the opinion of the Government, obstacles in their way. They knew very well the use that would be made of such expressions as those. [Laughter.] I do not quite Bee the cause of that laughter; but, certainly, our expectations have not been disappointed in this respect. I say, however, that those expressions and the contents of that letter, good and bad together, were volunteered to the Government. The Government did not ask for them. They had no control either over their phraseology or their contents. The Government had simply to take them as they stood, and to make up their minds upon the course to be followed; and they did make up their minds. They know very well the additional difficulty that would be caused by these 36 particular expressions; but they would have been weak indeed if they had been deterred from taking the course which appeared to them to be the best in the public interest, and in the interest of Ireland, by the thought of the embarrassment and Party attacks that might be brought upon them. They made up their minds that in those expressions there was nothing which really changed the circumstances of the case—nothing to change the conclusion at which they were prepared to arrive. In spite of, then, and not on account of these expressions, they made up their minds that the time had come when it was better for Ireland that Mr. Parnell and his Friends should be released from prison, than that they should remain there. Nothing, I am bound to say, has happened since to cause the Government to change their opinion. Something has been said by my noble Friend the late Lord Lieutenant (Earl Cowper) of a connection between the dreadful tragedy in the Phoenix Park and the conduct of the Government in releasing the "suspects." No such connection can rightly be traced. All probability goes to show that that dreadful deed had been planned some time before, and it had been resolved that a blow should be struck by the conspirators at the Heads of the Executive in Ireland. If there were any connection between the action of the Government and the tragedy in Phoenix Park, it would be this—that the most dangerous men in Ireland feared the good effects of the policy of the Government to such an extent that they were ready, by that fearful atrocity, to endeavour to destroy them. The Government are confident that no harm has been done in Ireland by the release of these Gentlemen. On the contrary, they believe that both the measures of repression and the measures of reform intended for Ireland have a better prospect of success than they would have had if we had continued to detain the "suspects." But the Government do not depend upon the action of Mr. Parnell or the Land League for the restoration of peace in Ireland. They welcome any assistance from any quarter for that great object; but they rely upon their own determination and that of the Lord Lieutenant to restore peace to that country. They rely for that object upon the authority of the law and all the means within their power, including those con- 37 tained in the Bill now passing through Parliament. At the same time, the Government hope that the settlement of the question of arrears, by a Bill which I trust will be very soon before your Lordships, will tend very effectually to quiet the minds of the masses of the Irish peasantry and to help the prospects of the restoration of law and order in Ireland. Of course, I need hardly tell my noble Friend and 3'our Lordships that we have no documents to produce. The idea of documents—as if this were a treaty between two Powers—is, of course, nothing but a joke. But my noble Friend will lose nothing by not obtaining the documentary evidence he wishes for, for this simple reason, that there is no mystery, there are no engagements which can be disclosed, no secret motives which actuated our conduct. As to that conduct, and those motives as we have described them, and as we assert them to be, we confidently leave both the one and the other to the judgment of the country.
THE EARL OF DUNRAVEN
said, that the Lord Privy Seal concluded his speech by saying that he had no documents to give to the House, and he objected to the use of the word "documents" as utterly inapplicable to the case. Now, not very long ago, the Prime Minister, in reply to a Question put to him in the other House—a Question similar in nature to the Motion now before the House—said he did not see any reason why the documentary evidence as to the release of the Members of Parliament should then be produced. The Prime Minister considered the term "document" to be applicable to the case. As the Prime Minister did not consider there was any reason for producing it at that moment, the natural inference was that there was documentary evidence to be produced at some future time. The Lord Privy Seal, however, said everything that could be known was known, and that nothing more could be laid before the country. But it was possible there might be letters, evidence, correspondence, and conversations, which the Lord Privy Seal himself was not aware of. He said he could give no information about a matter which the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Waterford) referred to—namely, that some persons had been admitted to Kilmainham Gaol without their names being recorded in the books, because he knew nothing 38 about the circumstance. He hoped the Lord Privy Seal would inform himself on the subject, and that the House would be put in possession of any information which could be given. He hoped, too, the Members of the Government would inform themselves whether there was any further documentary evidence of any kind that could be laid before Parliament. To judge by the speech of the Lord Privy Seal, it would be supposed that the noble Marquess made a speech objecting to the release of the prisoners. He (the Earl of Dunraven) did not know whether the noble Marquess did so object; but the speech of his noble Friend was not directed to the fact of their release, but to the method in which it had been conducted—to certain negotiations which had preceded it. He objected that the release was made apparently conditional upon a certain line of action being adopted by the "suspects;" and that they, in their turn, made that line of action conditional upon the adoption of a certain programme by Her Majesty's Government. He did not know how that was to be described except as a bargain. In the ordinary affairs of life it would be considered a bargain by men of honour, though not signed and sealed and delivered as a legal document. Mr. Parnell appeared to have entered into the provisional engagements. He declared in his letter that, if a certain programme was adopted, he and his Party would be able to throw their weight on the side of law and order; and he confidently believed that Her Majesty's Government, by the end of the Session, would be able to dispense with any coercion in Ireland; and, he added, he would be able to support the Liberal Government. These were the two advantages which the Government might hope to gain from the arrangement with Mr. Parnell, and the advantage which he was to get was the adoption of a certain programme. Mr. Chamberlain also put the matter very clearly. He wrote a letter to Mr. O'Shea, in which he said that, if Her Majesty's Government were to be bound to show great consideration for Irish opinion, the leaders of Irish opinion must show greater consideration for English and Scotch opinion. "Bound," was the word used by Mr. Chamberlain, and he could not have used a stronger term. If that meant anything, it partook of the 39 nature of a bargain between two parties. It came to this—"If we are to take your opinion into consideration, you must take ours." That might be an excellent mode of conducting business, but it did not appear quite suitable to the dignity of the Government of a great country. If the Government considered that a certain line of action would be beneficial to Ireland and the United Kingdom, they should adopt that policy without making conditions as to the value to be received for it from Mr. Parnell or anyone else. Ho would like to know whether it was likely that Mr. Parnell and his Friends would consider themselves bound to carry out their part of the bargain, or whether the introduction of the Coercion Bill might be held to relieve them from their obligations? The Prime Minister said that the Coercion Bill was not brought in in consequence of the terrible murders in the Phoenix Park, that it had been determined upon before; but that the Government thought it better to allow a very few weeks after the release of the prisoners to elapse before introducing the Bill. The difference between Mr. Forster and the Prime Minister was very small then, because Mr. Forster was prepared to allow that the "suspects" should be released if the Government were armed with further powers, and Mr. Gladstone was prepared with a Coercion Bill to be introduced "a very few weeks" after the release of the prisoners. It was very strange that such a slight difference should have led to there-signation of Mr. Forster. Now, he would like to know whether Mr. Parnell was aware that one of the strongest Coercion Bills ever introduced was to be brought in within two or three weeks of the release of the prisoners; and, if he were not, whether it was not possible, and even likely, that Mr. Parnell might consider he had not been fairly dealt with, and that he was not bound to show himself on the side of law and order, and to consider English and Scotch opinion? There was a passage in Mr. Chamberlain's letter which suggested terrible consequences that might ensue if Mr. Parnell did not consider English and Scotch opinion. Mr. Chamberlain commented on the fact that the loaders of Irish opinion did not sufficiently consider Scotch and English opinion, and on the disastrous effects of such a course, 40 and said that in consequence nothing could be easier than to stir up an anti-Irish agitation in England almost as severe as the anti-Jewish agitation in Russia. It was positively frightful to contemplate anything like such an agitation being got up because Mr. Parnell did not sufficiently consider Scotch and English opinion. Ho did not agree with Mr. Chamberlain on that matter. It appeared to him that the attitude of the English people had been magnificent, superb; that they had maintained an amount of self-control which set a good example to the rest of the world. He did not believe that an anti-Irish agitation could rise spontaneously. Mr. Chamberlain, however, said that nothing would be easier than to get it up. He did not know whether Mr. Chamberlain was an authority upon the matter, or whether he knew much about the machinery and organization by which such things were got up. He should like to know whether the Members of the Government in that House shared the opinion of their Colleague, and, if they did, whether they had taken, or were about to take, special measures against any such agitation? Being an Irishman, he felt strongly on the subject. After the murders in Phoenix Park, Mr. Parnell, Mr. Davitt, and Mr. Dillon issued a manifesto, in which they denounced and commented upon the cowardly murder of "inoffensive and friendly strangers" in Ireland. But, so far as his knowlege went, those Gentlemen had not denounced in that manner any of the murders that had taken place before. And he would like to know whether any of their Lordships, who had interests in Ireland, when they went over to that country, were to be regarded as coming under the category of "inoffensive strangers" or not? If anyone who was possessed of property in Ireland, or who was partly Irish, was to be persecuted in Ireland because he was not a stranger, and was to be subject to this frightful agitation in England because he was an Irishman, his position would not be enviable. He would suggest that, under the circumstances, some asylum should be arranged where those who might consider themselves as part Irish, part Englishmen, might take refuge and regard themselves in some measure safe. The whole transaction surrounding the release of the "suspects" was so mixed up with much that was 41 doubtful and extraordinary, that he sincerely hoped the Government would, if they had any further information, or if they could discover any, lay it at once before Parliament. He also hoped they would give their opinion whether, under the circumstances, Mr. Parnell and his Party were going to consider English and Scotch opinion; whether, if they did not, the consequences suggested by Mr. Chamberlain—an anti-Irish agitation in England like the Russian agitation against the Jews—was likely to occur; and, if so, he should like to know what measures Her Majesty's Government intended to take to meet such a contingency?
§ LORD ABERDARE
said, he fully concurred with the noble Marquess opposite that a bargain such as he had described would enormously increase the difficulties of government in Ireland, and the course taken by the Opposition in this matter tended to increase that very danger; but when Her Majesty's Government, in the strongest and clearest terms, and in accordance with the most natural construction that could be placed upon the whole matter, repudiated any such compact, he could not understand how the Opposition could persist in their tactics. What good result was to be obtained by regarding the affair, in spite of these declarations, as a dangerous and iniquitous compact? In his time he had worked with most of the Ministers who formed Her Majesty's Government, and he knew them, to be utterly incapable of stating what was not the fact; and when, with the full responsibility of their position and character, they denied that any such negotiation had taken place, it was not unreasonable to expect that they should be believed. What had, in fact, occurred? A Bill was introduced by certain Members of the Land League into the House of Commons, proposing to amend the Land Act, although up to that moment they were opposed to the measure altogether. They had hitherto done their best to frustrate the advantages to be derived from the Land Act, and to prevent the people having recourse to its provisions. They had sought to widen the gulf of separation between England and Ireland by every possible means. For the first time they now showed a desire to co-operate with the Government, and they came forward with certain proposi- 42 tions for the amendment of that Act. One of the most important questions with which they proposed to deal was that of arrears. Long before the introduction of that Bill this subject had undoubtedly occupied the popular mind, and all agreed that it was absolutely necessary to deal with it. The Prime Minister, on hearing the speeches of the introducers of the Bill, at once stated that the Government would be prepared to consider the question. A communication then reached them from Mr. Parnell, who felt convinced that no course would more effectually contribute to the pacification of Ireland. That was precisely the feeling in his own mind at the time—that there was no longer any reason for keeping Mr. Parnell in prison, and that nothing would so conduce to the future prosperity of Ireland as legislation on the question of arrears, with the imprisoned Members in their places. The attempt that had been made to put a sinister construction on these circumstances had clearly failed, and he regretted only that in making the attempt the Opposition had assumed a dangerous and unpatriotic attitude.
said, he considered that all Mr. Gladstone's Irish measures had been failures. They were all introduced with admirable speeches, and with sophistry that had no equal; but he thought no one would be so extremely ironical and sarcastic as to congratulate the Prime Minister on the success of his Irish legislation. The right hon. Gentleman's policy, which seemed to consist of alternative coercion and conciliation, was not likely to give the Irish people confidence in the justice of the Government. There were many Irishmen living under such terror that they dare not pay their rents and do other things they were entitled to do. Was it likely that the terror which the Land League had managed to inspire would be lessened by the fact that these dangerous individuals were at large? As to there being cheerful accounts from Ireland, he did not receive them, and one of the last incidents he had read of was a nocturnal visit paid by 100 "Moonlighters." That did not look like the arrival of a millennium; and he could not help thinking that nothing would have been lost, and much might have been gained, if the dangerous individuals had been detained a little longer, and if the most 43 objectionable of the "suspects" had not been selected for early release. But why such men should have been selected as the recipients of the clemency of the Government surpassed his comprehension, although it was in accordance with Mr. Gladstone's commendation of Mr. Dillon, just after that Gentleman had shocked public feeling by his speech upon maiming cattle.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, the noble Marquess behind me (the Marquess of Waterford) may not have succeeded in eliciting from the Government any of the documentary evidence to which the Prime Minister alluded, but he has, at all events, succeeded in producing a very interesting debate; and among the speeches which we have heard, none has been more interesting than the vigorous denunciation of the policy of the Government which was delivered by the late Viceroy. Though the noble Lord has very fairly and rightly limited his own responsibility, nobody can mix him up with the transactions which have recently taken place; and the very fact that they came upon him with such suddenness, and were such a surprise, shows what a sharp turn in the policy of the Government must have taken place at that precise crisis in their history. Whether the cause of that sharp turn was or was not the information which was conveyed by means of messengers and letters from Mr. Parnell to the Government, is a matter about which each one of us must form his own conclusion. In the course of his observations, the noble Lord opposite (Earl Cowper) made one reference to myself which I cannot suffer to pass unnoticed; he condemned the revelation of the opinions of Mr. Burke upon the causes of the present Irish troubles, and he condemned me for having quoted these disclosures when they had appeared. I must say I cannot see that there is any shadow of condemnation to be attached to the conduct of Mr. Staples for giving the opinion of an experienced public servant upon a matter of vital public interest, at a moment when the usefulness of that public servant could in no way be affected by any disclosure made respecting his opinion. Undoubtedly, the public servants of this country are in a peculiar position; they have to serve with successive Governments, with politicians succeed- 44 ing one another, who have strongly opposed one another. They have to render equally loyal assistance to each in its turn; and, consequently, it is impossible for them to express in public their opinions of the policy under whom they have to serve, because if they did so they would not only compromise their own future official career, but they would make it very difficult for them to go on serving satisfactorily the Chiefs of the various Parties whom they have to assist. But none of these considerations apply in this case. Mr. Burke had passed away from the possibility of either his official career being affected, or any difficulty being interposed in the way of his serving successive political Leaders; and the observations which he made privately to Mr. Staples—because Mr. Staples is distinct as to the effect of what was said to him—must be taken as absolute proof, entirely sweeping away tons of argument from antecedent probability and â priori conclusions as to what Mr. Burke was likely to have said. We know from Mr. Staples what Mr. Burke actually said, and ingenious conclusions drawn from his character by others who knew him cannot be accepted as countervailing evidence to that testimony. Mr. Staples, in disclosing what Mr. Burke said, in no degree whatever placed any hindrance in the way of the conduct of the Public Service. Limitation is placed upon the language of our public officials; reticence is imposed upon them merely that the Public Service may not be hindered; but when it can no longer be hindered, the cause for that reticence has entirely disappeared. On the other hand, was there no ground for informing the people of this country, who, after all, have most interest in the matter, what opinion had been formed with reference to the cause of Irish troubles, and the capacity of their Rulers, by the man who, of all others, was most qualified by experience and knowledge to form an impartial opinion on the subject? As to myself, I have nothing to defend, for the statement was publicly made, on unimpeachable authority, by an honourable man, and it became matter of public history. I know not what evidence I should be allowed to appeal to in discussing the sacred character of Mr. Gladstone's Administration if I am not allowed to appeal to that which is already public property. Another noble 45 Lord opposite (Lord Aberdare) appeared as a witness to character, and delivered his testimony with the greatest energy, and conferred all that advantage upon the case for which he was summoned which witnesses to character usually do. But the noble Lord, in exhorting us to believe and accept implicitly the account which he, no doubt, most sincerely gave of these transactions, omitted to think whether that account was itself consistent with the account which we have received from the Government themselves. As I understand the noble Lord, the fact which suddenly flashed upon the Government, and caused them to reverse their previous policy and to release Mr. Parnell, was the discovery that Mr. Parnell, having been hostile to the Land Act, was now favourable to it. I think that is a very sorry comment on the discretion of the Government in the use of the vast powers placed in their hands. Having been given the power of suspending the liberty of the subject and imprisoning Members of Parliament, if it be really true that they shut up a Member of Parliament for nine months because he was hostile to the policy of an Act of Parliament to which they were particularly attached, nothing that any Member of the Opposition ever suggested has conveyed a deeper censure on the action of the Government. And that was the defence made by the noble Lord. But a very different account of the matter was given by the Lord Privy Seal; and though it was ingenious and plausible, I venture to think it was historically weak. The noble Lord represented it to us that Mr. Parnell was released because the "no rent" policy failed. Well, then, I presume he was imprisoned because the "no rent" policy was threatened. As a matter of fact, the "no rent" circular was never issued until Mr. Parnell was safe within the walls of Kilmainham. The noble Lord tells us the state of things was very different in May from what it had been in the previous October, when Mr. Parnell was shut up. But Mr. Parnell was not imprisoned, as the Lord Privy Seal seemed to think, on a Warrant drawn in October for offences committed in October. Mr. Parnell was in Kilmainham on a Warrant that was drawn, I think, on the 12th of April, and he was released early in May. He was imprisoned on a Warrant charging him with 46 being reasonably suspected of treasonable practices. The Act of Parliament had provided for the possibility of a change of circumstances. It had carefully anticipated the contingency that the causes for which a man had been originally incarcerated might, in course of time, disappear, and the justice of the incarceration might no longer be manifest; it had provided that every six months each case should be wholly reconsidered, and, I believe, a new Warrant had to be issued by the Lord Lieutenant in order to continue the incarceration of Mr. Parnell; so it was not for his conduct in October or upon any conclusions formed then that he was further imprisoned; but it was on account of circumstances which presented themselves with complete and absolute vividness to the minds of the Government in the middle of April, that Mr. Parnell was further detained. And the change of circumstances, if change there was, must have occurred between the middle of April and the first few days of May. If that was the case, is it unreasonable to suggest that the real change of circumstances must have been some undertaking, some profession, some compact, that came from Mr. Parnell, and of which we may or may not have all the articles and undertakings? The noble Lord seemed to treat it as a light matter that they should have come to an understanding with Mr. Parnell. It is difficult to find a phrase which, in the minds of noble Lords opposite, will precisely express the conveyance of ideas between their minds and that of Mr. Parnell; they are sure that there were no negotiations; but, at all events, there was information which was mutually exchanged between the parties. They seem to think this a light thing. Has it occurred to them that it is an absolutely new thing in English history? We have had the Habeas Corpus Act suspended again and again in England and in Ireland; but I have never heard of an instance—and I think I can safely defy the production of one—in which a person arrested under a recent Warrant on reasonable suspicion of treasonable practices was released on having announced that he would do his best to stop certain crimes, complicity with which he was not accused of, and that he would follow the Liberal Leaders. This transaction has been compared with the Lichfield House 47 compact with Mr. O'Connell. That was always thought to be at once a disgraceful and a fruitless transaction; but there is a difference, like light and darkness, between that and the present transaction. Mr. O'Connell was a free and an unaccused man. He bartered Parliamentary support for a promise of legislation and of political patronage, and it was not usually thought the most creditable thing in his career, or in the career of the Government with which he bartered; but there is no comparison in that case with a Government bargaining with a man in prison under their own Warrant, on suspicion of treasonable practices. Much has been said in the present debate about conciliation and the value of conciliatory measures to Ireland. I am very far, indeed, from disputing that view or from wishing to adopt any other tone in dealing with the Irish Question. I am fully aware of the enormous superiority of methods of conciliation over methods of coercion, where methods of conciliation can be successfully applied. But, unfortunately, conciliatory legislation and deterrent legislation differ in another most material particular. Conciliatory legislation is infinitely superior; but it depends for its efficacy on the circumstances under which it is used, and on the manner in which it is applied. Deterrent legislation, if vigorous and strong, at least deters, whatever the value of that process may be. But conciliatory legislation only conciliates where there is a full belief on the part of those with whom you are dealing that you are acting on a principle of justice, and not that you are acting on motives of fear. Where there is a suspicion or a strong belief that your conciliatory measures have been extorted from you by the violence which they are meant to put a stop to, all the value of that conciliation is taken away. Now, the peculiarity of the action of Her Majesty's Government has been throughout that they have so contrived their conciliatory measures that, whatever their own motives in their own minds may have been, they have done their very utmost, by the time and the manner of applying those conciliatory measures, to enforce and strengthen the belief that they had been extorted from them by apprehension, and are used by them as a means of buying off outrage and crime. In no transaction in the 48 course of their government has this fatal mistake been so strongly manifested as in this unlucky Treaty of Kilmainham; and the justification of my noble Friend for desiring to throw the most brilliant and the clearest light on all the details of this transaction, and to bring forth its true character to the light of day, is that, if it is innocent, its real character cannot be too widely known. The belief which Her Majesty's Government have contrived to impress on the Irish peasantry is not a belief which will hamper fair legislation or hinder their policy alone. The measures of the last two years have so deeply impressed on the minds of all—whether they are loyal to England or the reverse, whether they approve the policy of the Government or the reverse—that each successive step of concession has been extorted by a constantly rising demand of agitation and of outrage, that for years and generations the impression will remain. It will be a shadow that will fall not only on the path of this Government, but on the path of many future Governments that will succeed it. It will hinder every effort at conciliation. It will make the necessity of coercion again and again a lamentable incident in English policy; and, therefore, the Treaty of Kilmainham—not only of itself, but as the culminating point, and the typical incident of the system on which the Government have proceeded in their legislation towards Ireland—will long be remembered as the cause of constantly-increasing evils in Ireland, and as threatening with serious danger the connection which is of vital importance to both countries.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
My Lords, in the few words I shall address to your Lordships, I shall begin by saying that I agree with the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Salisbury) in saying that he is glad the noble Marquess below the Gangway (the Marquess of Waterford) has brought on this discussion. It appears to me that this discussion will be of great use, not only in this House, but with the public, in dispelling many of those insinuations which have been made, I am sorry to say, by men in very high stations—insinuations which have absolutely no foundation in fact. The noble Marquess opposite paid a very great compliment to my noble Friend the late Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, and described his speech, though not 49 with perfect accuracy, as a strong condemnation of Her Majesty's Government.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
Of the policy of Her Majesty's Government. My Lords, the noble Earl's speech was certainly not one entirely in favour of Her Majesty's Government, and it condemned certain things which had been done by them; but, at the same time, it repudiated, in the strongest manner, all the principal charges which have been brought, more particularly by the noble Marquess, against Her Majesty's Government. There was one part of the late Lord Lieutenant's speech which the noble Marquess did not like at all, for he devoted about 10 minutes to an elaborate defence of himself because the noble Earl had expressed his regret at the way in which the noble Marquess had introduced a hearsay story which the noble Earl believed to be entirely without foundation. The noble Marquess defended himself by a reference to the unfortunate death of Mr. Burke. We do not complain that Mr. Burke, having done an unofficial act, mentioned it in conversation to a friend; but we do complain that the noble Marquess, with that impulsive feeling which always makes him think any stick is good enough to beat a dog with—when Her Majesty's Government are concerned—introduced this hearsay story into a speech at a moment which all admit is a critical one, and one of great importance, and that, while the noble Marquess does not make any attempt to turn Her Majesty's Government out of power, he does everything he can to tarnish and damage them, and to weaken them in the important task they have to perform. It is precisely because Mr. Burke is dead and cannot contradict the interpretation which has been put upon the story, that we object to it. It is a singular thing, and I hear it from various quarters, that all persons who knew Mr. Burke well think that the condemnation he is said to have given of Mr. Gladstone is quite contrary to his habit of expression and line of thought. The noble Marquess then complained of my noble Friend behind me coming forward as a witness to character. Well, my Lords, I think character is of some im- 50 portance. Perhaps more than anybody in this House I have lived in close intimacy with public men during the last 30 or 40 years; and, whatever the noble Marquess's experience may have been, I state most positively that I have not known one who did not think it right to apply the rules of private morality also in public life and who would not be utterly ashamed, either for himself or for his Colleagues, to publicly state things which were contrary to the fact. I regret that my noble Friend (the Earl of Dunraven) should have continued that sort of insinuation, asking us to inform ourselves, and find out. We believe that we know all that passed, and we know what passed among ourselves; and when you talk of "compact" I deny it. The noble Earl asked whether Mr. Parnell was aware that the Prevention of Crime Bill was about to be introduced? I answer him "Certainly not," for the simple reason that Mr. Parnell was not informed by the Government of one single step, right or left, they meant to take. It was not a question of policy or expediency, but one of common sense. We have such difficult problems to solve in Ireland at this moment, that when information was volunteered to us of an important character we were bound to act upon it according to our light. The noble Earl was astonished at the difference of opinion between us and Mr. Forster. The only difference between us and Mr. Forster was, that Mr. Forster indicated the three modes in which he would have consented to the release. I am very glad to remark that both the noble Marquess and the noble Earl did not really question that it was desirable to release the "suspects." The difference between Mr. Forster and ourselves was this—that Mr. Forster wished that the Prevention of Crime Bill should pass, or that we should get a perfectly explicit and public declaration from the "suspects" that would satisfy him. He may have been right or wrong; but it appeared to us that we should by such a course be adopting that very arrangement, that compact with Mr. Parnell, which we succeeded in avoiding. Information was given to us. The noble Earl has spoken of a communication with Mr. Chamberlain as a communication with the Government; but does the noble Earl think it really bears that character? I read Mr. Chamberlain's 51 letter, and I think it is an excellent letter. But does the noble Earl really think that there is a compact between the Government and "suspects" in prison, because, in answer to a letter from a Member of the Liberal Party who has constantly supported Her Majesty's Government, asking for a more sympathetic treatment of the Irish Members, Mr. Chamberlain answered that some responsibility rested upon the Irish Members not to do that which gives offence to the whole of England and Scotland? This is the sort of nonsense which is talked when we ask for evidence about the Government compact with Kilmainham. The noble Marquess has expressed his views about repressive measures and measures of conciliation. He said it was a historical fact that deterrent measures had always succeeded.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
The expression I probably used was that, when properly administered, they had always deterred.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
My knowledge of history is not so extensive as that of the noble Marquess, but I am not perfectly certain that his facts in this case are more accurate than some of his information about the Government. I agree with him that measures of conciliation depend upon the mode and time at which they are done. My limited historical recollection brings to mind many measures of conciliation which have lost all their force, all their grace, and all their efficacy in consequence of having been delayed too long. I have only, in conclusion, to say that I am really grateful to the noble Marquess for giving us the opportunity of debating this question.
§ THE MARQUESS OF WATERFORD
said, that he was not aware that there was no Correspondence on the subject, or he should not have gone on with his Motion.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
said, there might be the order for release. The noble Marquess might, no doubt, see that if he wished.
§ Motion (by leave of the House) withdrawn.