*THE EARL OF CAMPERDOWN,
in rising to call attention to recent occurrences in the town of Tipperary and on the Ponson by Estate in the County of Cork, and to the action in connection therewith of the National League, said: My Lords, the condition of things which prevails, and has for some time prevailed, in and near the town of Tipperary is so remarkable that I think it deserves the consideration of this House and especially I hope that it will obtain due attention from the country. In Tipperary we see the extraordinary spectacle of a large number of tenants at issue with a landlord, who is admitted to be one of the best landlords in Ireland, and for whom the tenants themselves had before recent occurrences always shown the greatest respect. They are tenants not merely of agricultural farms, but also of urban holdings, and many of those who have urban holdings pay to Mr. Smith-Barry merely a small ground-rent and have erected valuable tenements with their own capital. None of the agricultural tenants have complained of the rents they are called upon to pay. Yet we see the extraordinary spectacle of men quitting fine shops, substantial houses, 1410 and good farms, ruining themselves and sacrificing their business for some reason which it is very difficult to understand. But one thing is plain, and it is that all this is done under the guidance of the local and the central leaders of the National League. The instrumentality of the National League is beyond all doubt and question; and it is very fortunate it is so in this case, because we are thus enabled to see the National League in its working, and to test how far the statements of its leaders which are made in Parliament are true; we are also enabled to examine the working of their organisation, which is conducted upon fixed principles and upon a regular plan. That plan I shall proceed to lay before your Lordships. I do not think it would be possible to get a more excellent illustration, of the methods of the National League than we have in this case. If your Lordships wish to understand this matter aright you must look at the question as a whole; you must not limit yourselves exclusively to what is now going on in Tipperary; but you must go back to the causes and to the origin of this dispute between Mr. Smith-Barry and his tenants. For that purpose it will be necessary to allude for a moment to what has taken place upon the Ponsonby Estate, near Youghal. When Mr. Ponsonby succeeded to the estate a great many years ago, it was well-known to be in a somewhat encumbered position. He has resided a good deal on the estate from time to time, and lie is well acquainted with all the circumstances of his tenants. That their rents were moderate was shown by the fact that out of 237 tenants only some 70 served originating notices under the Act of 1881, and that out of those 70 only 27 went into the Courts, the remaining rents being settled by private agreement. The average reduction taken over the whole estate was rather less than 13 per cent. In 1885 Mr. Ponsonby gave reductions of 10 and 20 per cent, to his judicial and to his nonjudicial tenants respectively; and in 1886 he made the same offer. But by that time the Plan of Campaign had been organised. On the 14th of November in that year a meeting of his tenants was held, at which Mr. Lane, M.P., and Dr. Tanner were present, and at this meeting reductions of 25 and 35 per cent, respectively were demanded. As that was not 1411 acceded to, the Plan of Campaign came into force on the estate,' and from that time, to the present not a penny of rent has, I believe, been paid upon that estate. Mr. Ponsonby made several attempts to arrange with his tenants, into the details of which I need not go; and, finally, in November, 1888, he authorised a former agent to accept a sum of £110,000 in full for the purchase of the estate. The tenants, through their representative, Canon Keller, offered £106,000, but also claimed to deduct Government charges amounting to some £16,000, which made the offer about £88,500 net. That offer Mr. Ponsonby's Trustees found it impossible to accept. It was at this point Mr. Smith-Barry, and others associated with him, appeared upon the scene. They saw that an attempt was being made to commit a very great act of injustice upon Mr. Ponsonby; they saw that this was an attack made upon a single landlord who was supposed to be in such circumstances that he was unable to resist it, and that it was intended to break him down by the sheer force and pressure of the principles of the Plan of Campaign. Therefore, Mr. Smith-Barry and others determined that they would help Mr. Ponsonby in this matter, and they purchased the estate. But before doing so they insisted that a fresh offer should be made by Mr. Ponsonby to his tenants, and that accordingly was done. By a circular of April 5, 1889, Mr. Ponsonby offered to every tenant, all then owing nearly, or quite, four years' rent, on the payment of one year's rent, either that their future rent should be fixed by agreement or through the agency of the Court, and that 3 per cent, should be paid by them on the balance of arrears, which should remain; or, if the tenants preferred to purchase, he proposed to sell to them under the terms of the Ashbourne Act at a price which would greatly diminish the present payment and would have made them owners of their holdings in 49 years. But all those offers were rejected, and the consequence was that in June of last year Mr. Ponsonby began to carry out evictions upon his estate. Now at this point I would ask your Lordships to note a fact which seems to me very important. It is this: that in the eyes of the National League 1412 it is perfectly right that Members of Parliament should go down to estates with which they have nothing to do, and of which they know nothing, to incite the tenants to join the Plan of Campaign or to take any other course they choose to advise; but if any friends of a landlord who is attacked attempt to assist him, that is a monstrous act of tyranny which must be immediately avenged by the National League. Mr. Smith-Barry, as I have said, is one of the very best landlords in Ireland. It is admitted that he takes the greatest interest in his estate and in those who are upon it, and he has expended large sums of money upon it in the same way that many of your Lordships have done in England and Scotland and Wales; and if we wish for any testimony to his character as a landlord, Sir Charles Russell) selected him when speaking before the Special Commission, and said that he was a good landlord, and that he (Sir Charles Russell) was glad to be able to-mention him as an instance of a landlord who was not merely considerate in the matter of rent, but as a landlord who-took an interest in the condition of his people, and in all that concerned them. His tenants have said precisely the same-thing in a memorial which they brought to Mr. Smith-Barry in London last year. If you want further evidence, you have the evidence of Mr. Healy. Mr. Healy has said that Mr. Smith-Barry could not be fairly described as a rack-renter, Mr. Parnell has stated in a speech, and it has been repeated over and over again in the other House, that Mr. Smith-Barry prevented a settlement on the Ponsonby Estate. That is not the fact. The difference between the landlord and the tenants was no less than £20,000 out of £110,000. Mr. Smith-Barry did not have any dealings with Mr. Ponsonby or his estate until his offer had been definitely refused by the representatives of the tenants. The next thing that is said is that Mr. Smith-Barry's tenants rose of their own free will to assist Mr. Ponsonby's tenants. Now I shall ask your Lordships to listen to the manner in which this agitation on Mr. Smith-Barry's Estate arose. The agitation on Mr. Smith-Barry's Estates was started in the first place by Mr. Lane, M.P., in a letter to the Freeman's Journal of the 11th of March, 1889, in which he said that— 1413If Mr. Smith-Barry devoted his rents to fighting the 300 and odd tenants on the Ponsonby Estate who nobly took the van in the last struggle to obtain justice for Irish tenants he might find it would not be to his advantage.In a letter to Mr. Townsend, Mr. Lane, M.P., again pointed out that—Sooner or later every one connected with this interference would regret their co-operation in it.The next thing was a speech of the Secretary of the Youghal Branch of the National League, saying—It was time that Mr. Smith-Barry was taught a lesson, and he hoped the Tipperary tenants would consider the position of their brethren on the Ponsonby Estate.Then, on the 28th April, Mr. Lane, M.P., again speaking at a place close to Tipperary, denounced Mr. Smith-Barry and said—We will make man-hunting a dear amusement to him.On the 2nd May there was another meeting close to Tipperary; Dr. Tanner was there, and he called upon—The men of Tipperary to boycott Mr. Smith-Barry in every possible manner.Another Irish M.P., Mr. John O'Connor, was also present, and spoke to the same effect. Then the next thing was that, on the 5th May, 1889, another meeting of the Tipperary League was held in the Town Hall of Tipperary, which, by the way, Mr. Smith-Barry built for tire town and allowed public meetings to be held there at any time without any charge. On the 30th May again the National League of South Tipperary held a meeting, and Mr. O'Neill, who had been sent from Youghal by Canon Keller, spoke against Mr. Smith-Barry. Then, on the 23rd June, Mr. O'Brien attended a meeting at Tipperary of Mr. Smith-Barry's tenants, and delivered a speech, in the course of which he said—The tenants can, and I venture to promise they will, combine to warn Smith-Barry that if he is determined to create desolate homes on the Ponsonby Estate, his tenants may possibly be driven to leave him a desolate rent office of his own in Tipperary. I ask you to appoint a deputation to wait on Smith-Barry. What I ask you is, and I make no secret about it—I ask you, the Tipperary tenants of Smith-Barry, I ask you to appoint a deputation, who in the name of the whole body of tenantry, will be prepared to wait upon Mr. Smith-Barry, and upon Mr. Horace Townsend, and to address them in perfectly civil, but in perfectly de, termined, English. Let them say, 'We have given you no trouble upon your own estate; we want peace if we can possibly have it, but we 1414 are not going to stand idly by—it would be a crime and an eternal scandal if we did stand by—while our hard-earned money was used to inflict this abominable wrong upon our brother tenants. Let them say to him, 'Give up this diabolical work—withdraw from this syndicate. Stand no longer between a settlement for these unfortunate tenants and their landlord.'And further on he said—And having said this much, I don't think that the deputation are bound to take Mr. Smith-Barry or Mr. Horace Townsend any further into their confidence as to what further course of action they may think it necessary to take. Possibly upon some future day—some future rent day—we may have an opportunity of consulting and of meeting here again, and of asking Mr. Smith-Barry once for all whether he has made up his mind to accept the same measure from his Tipperary tenants that he is meting out to-day to the Ponsonby tenants.Mr. O'Brien was as good as his word, because on the 24th June he, accompanied by several Nationalist Members of Parliament, went round to all the shops in Tipperary with a memorial to Mr. Smith-Barry to the above effect, and a great number—nearly all—of the trades people signed it. At the same time, a gentleman was sent to Cashel to obtain signatures for it on Mr. Smith-Barry's Estate there. On the 26th June Archbishop Croke wrote approving of the combination, or as Mr. O'Brien had called "blessing their banners." My Lords, this is the manner in which this agitation was begun. It was begun not by the tenants themselves at all, as I have shown your Lordships, but by Mr. O'Brien and a number of other Nationalist Members of Parliament, and it was kept alive and fomented through the agency and instrumentality of the National League. On the 3rd of July the memorial to Mr. Smith-Barry was presented in London; and on the 10th of July Mr. O'Brien appeared at Tipperary on rent-day and made speeches announcing the Tenants' Defence League, and, no doubt, did everything he could to prevent the tenants from paying their rents. On the 9th of August Mr. O'Brien again went to Tipperary, when a resolution proposed, if I remember rightly, by some member of the National League, was passed at a meeting by which the tenants agreed to tax themselves 10 per cent, to raise a relief fund for the Ponsonby tenants, and to deduct 25 per cent, from Mr. Smith-Barry's rents—that is to say, the 10 per cent, they were going to sub- 1415 scribe for the Ponsonby tenants, with 15 per cent, more for themselves—and at the same time making a strong protest against the use that they alleged was being made of what they termed "their hard-earned money." I ask your Lordships to consider what is the meaning of that term "their hard-earned money." That expression shows that Mr. Smith-Barry's tenants and the National League look apparently upon rent not as a payment due in exchange for advantages received, but as their own hard-earned money that was being extorted from them by their landlords, and which is to be spent only in such manner as I suppose they themselves shall approve. On the 24th of August the interests of a number of the tenants on the estate who had refused to pay their rents were exposed for sale, but out of five tenants' interests that were exposed for sale no fewer than four were bought in. At the next sale of tenants' interests, which took place on September 4, Mr. Redmond, Mr. Condon, and Mr. Gill, the Nationalist Members of Parliament, appeared on the scene, and still out of 20 tenants' interests put up for sale no less than 13 were bought in. Yet, in the face of these facts, we are constantly being told by the Irish National leaders that the tenants act and have acted of their own free will in the matter. Well, what followed immediately? As a consequence of some of the tenants having bought in their interests, or paid their rent, their windows were smashed and pickets were placed at their shops, black lists were made containing the names of all those who had paid, and they were boycotted in the most determined manner. This treatment had its effect. It had such an effect upon the tenants that by October 17 the greater number of those who had bought in their interests or had paid their rent had made their submission to the National League, and, finally (I wish to tell your Lordships the story as shortly as I can), all the conditions imposed by that body were accepted, and those tenants were replaced in the good favour of the National League. The local branch of the National League thereupon passed the following resolution:—That, having read with satisfaction the apology of those tenants who purchased their holdings at Thurles on September 4, and 1416 their pledge to act in the future in complete unison with the general body of their fellow-tenants, we suggest to them that as the next gale of rent becomes due on November 1, on that date they should notify formally and publicly to Mr. Smith-Barry their determination, as now expressed to us, not to pay their rents and to allow their holdings to be sold unless he has by that time retired from the Ponsonby Syndicate and granted his Tipperary tenants an abatement of 25 per cent., and we hereby resolve that upon their doing so the past shall be forgiven, and they shall be admitted into the ranks of the combination.That was the condition of things on the Smith-Barry Estate at the end of October; and since that time many further outrages have been perpetrated upon this estate, an account of some of which was read to your Lordships the other night, and with regard to which I shall have one or two further remarks to make. The representatives of the National League in the other House of Parliament have stated over and over again that no intimidation has been practised upon the tenants, but that what has been done by the tenants of the Smith-Barry Estate has been done by them of their own free will, and they have protested that the National League is simply carrying out the will of the whole united country. I will ask your Lordships to listen to one or two cases of intimidation which I have before mg. The noble Lord the other night, among the instances he gave in reply to my request for information, referred to the case of Mr. Holmes, a Presbyterian minister, who was boycotted for dealing with a boycotted trader; his daughters went into the town of Tipperary to purchase some goods and they were insulted, and, I think, stoned. Another case was that of Mr. O'Neill, a draper, who had the finest shop in the whole town of Tipperary; was compelled to close his premises after two months' boycotting, and his business, the goodwill of which was stated to be worth at least £10,000, has been entirely destroyed, and he has been obliged to remove, leaving his shop in a ruined and ruinous state, and go into an old butter store. Another case is that of a man named Duggan, an ironmonger, who for a long time stood out and refused to comply with the demands of the National League until about 10 days ago, when he at length surrendered on a bomb being thrown at his door, which exploded, fortunately 1417 without doing very much damage, but which so much alarmed him that he sent in his submission to the National League. And now I will call your Lordships' attention to a meeting which took place in Tipperary on the Sunday before the 4th of the present month of July on which date a report of it appeared in the Tipperary People. I think it is the very best evidence that your Lordships can have of the manner in which this agitation is conducted, because it is the report of a meeting of the Tipperary National League, Father Humphreys, the parish curate, of whom we have heard a good deal, was in the chair, and Mr. John Cullinane, who is, I believe, the local organiser of the Land League, was present with a very large number of other members of the League. I wish to read to your Lordships what Father Humphreys said as bearing upon this question of intimidation. He said—It is my pleasant duty to absolve from public censure three of our Tipperary tenants. One is Mr. McCurtin, of Killane. His offence has been going into a boycotted shop. He has expressed the most sincere sorrow for having done so, and he has promised not to repeat the offence, and we take that as a sufficient guarantee for his good conduct in the future. The other is Mr. Hogan, in the main street. He incurred public censure—mark the term, "incurred public censure," my Lords. And for what? For sending a messenger to buy sugar at a boycotted shop.He says he did not know the shop in which he got it, but still public opinion pounced down very promptly on him, and on the very day that he became aware he had incurred public displeasure, he closed his shop and gave it up.That is an instance of a man who, having sent a messenger for sugar, who happened to buy it at a boycotted shop, thought it necessary not only to repent of having done so, but to close his own shop and leave it.The next is the case of Mr. Joseph Duggan. He has sent us this note addressed to the Secretary of the Irish National League in Tipperary, pledging himself to fulfil the conditions.The following is the letter:—Dear Sir,—I wish to fall into line with my fellow tenants on the Smith-Barry Estate, and to do so, first, by proceeding against Mr. Smith-Barry for an account due by him to me. Secondly, by clearing my farms—that is, by clearing all the cattle off them—before July 20, and serving notice of surrender before November I by taking immediate steps to 1418 procure premises, and removing from these in which I am at present carrying on business. Trusting that this will meet approval,I am, dear Sir,Yours faithfully,JOSEPH F. DCGGJIN.Observe what Mr. Duggan has thought it necessary to do. Not merely does he leave his shop, but he also surrenders his farm, and he promises further to procure other premises. That is an expression which your Lordships may not understand, but which becomes plain from what is stated a little later. Mr. Humphreys says—There is one point in the surrender of Mr. Duggan, to which I specially call attention. He pledges himself to provide at his own expense accommodation for himself and his family in New Tipperary. The outlay of the tenants has been very heavy in the past, but this circumstance shows that the outlay is coming to a close.Therefore, Mr. Duggan is to be compelled to purchase premises in New Tipperary; which means that he is to be obliged to pay part of the expenses which the National League have gone to in erecting these new buildings in the place which they call New Tipperary. Then Mr. Humphreys concludes his speech with this—I think we should now accept these conditions and remove the public censure from this gentleman. We should never exercise any form of coercion upon our fellow-countrymen except when it is a bsolutely necessary.Out of Father Humphreys' own mouth the case of coercion and intimidation is demonstrated in direct opposition to what has been said elsewhere. In fact, his testimony was in direct contradiction to what was said on this subject by members of the National League in the House of Commons. Then Mr. Cullinanaddressed the meeting, and so on. I need not detain your Lordships further with that. But I have a report of another meeting of the same sort, which took place on Sunday last. I will only detain your Lordships one moment by reading a sentence from it. Father Humphreys said—I have to announce to you to-day two more surrenders. We are most happy to receive these surrenders.And then he puts the coercion question a little clearer. He said again—We do not wish to exercise coercion over anybody excepting as far as is necessary.1419 Therefore, wherever it is necessary, the National League are prepared to coerce any tenant who chooses not to fall in with their behests. Now, my Lords, that is the state of things existing at present on the Tipperary Estate. It is bad enough, but still I do not suppose that we can expect anything much bettor from the National League. What I do regret very much, and what I do think is a matter of much more serious importance, is that in this country one of the two great Parties of the State have associated themselves with the National League and supported it both in and out of Parliament. The Liberal Party at this moment, I regret to say, consider every question which comes up for discussion, every such matter as this Smith-Barry case, and other similar cases, only from the National League point of view. For instance, when a meeting is suppressed, as was the case a short time ago, on the 23rd May last, in Tipperary, they do not inquire who are the people who called the meeting, or what are their antecedents, whether they are such as would lead the Government to suppose that they are likely to induce the tenants to commit themselves to acts which are illegal and wrong; what they do is to take very much the same line as the Nationalist leaders themselves, and say, "Why is this meeting stopped; why are Members not allowed to address their constituents?" If Father Humphreys is "shadowed," the priest whose speeches I read to you just now, the Liberal Party do not consider what Father Humphreys has said or done; whether he is, or is not, declaring that he will exercise coercion over the residents in Tipperary; but what they say is that "It is a monstrous outrage to "shadow" Father Humphreys, and that on no account ought he to be interfered with." I regret to say that Mr. Gladstone, in considering this Tipperary matter, was most struck with the position which Mr. Smith-Barry has taken up. There was a letter written to him lately, in which it was pointed out that a widow lady who held a farm under Mr. Smith-Barry had her windows smashed and her whole staff of labourers and dairywomen frightened out of her service without notice, so that if the agent of Mr. Smith-Barry had not come to her help she could not have milked her 40 cows. 1420 Mr. Gladstone, in reply, when his attention was called to this, said—I am afraid your views and mine are widely apart on this subject. I could not enter into the matter without entering into the deplorable and exasperating conduct of Mr. Smith-Barry in resisting the settlement of the Ponsonby Estate; but if the windows were broken that was an unfeeling outrage which I should be glad to see punished.But what Mr. Gladstone put in the forefront of the case was Mr. Smith-Barry's conduct in this matter. That is what strikes him most. But is it true that Mr. Smith-Barry has resisted a settlement on the Ponsonby Estate? The Nationalist Members have said so; but is it true in fact? It can be proved by letters and documents that he did nothing of the kind; that the difference between Mr. Ponsonby and his tenants was the large difference of £20,000, and that at the time when Mr. Smith-Barry interfered there was no prospect or possibility of a settlement at all. I wish I could stop there, but there is another matter to which I feel I must call your Lordships' attention. As I regard Mr. Gladstone as the leader of the Home Rule Liberals in the other House, so I regard Lord Spencer as the leader of the Liberal Home Rule Party in this House, and I regret to see that Lord Spencer, in the last speech of his which I have read with regard to the National League, used language which appears to me to deserve notice in this House. He was speaking at Wolverton on the 1st March, and he said—I do not say for a moment that the Land League and the National League have always carried out their agitation in a legitimate way; they may have gone too far and followed illegal paths. I deplore that, and always have deplored it; but I maintain that they had some justification for their agitation, on the ground of the serious gnienvances which existed not only in regard to the Land Laws, but also in regard to the Government of the country. It is not for us, therefore, to criticise too minutely the methods which have been followed, although we may deplore some of the results which have followed their action.Now, my Lords, I must say that I cannot conceive any language more likely to encourage the National League in the courses they have taken than language of that kind. Ah! my Lords, is there any use in deploring outrages if you say at the same time, "We ought not to examine too minutely or closely into the 1421 methods which are followed by the National League?" On the contrary; is it not a distinct encouragement to them? It is not as if these things were said by one of their own members; it is not as if they were said by Mr. Dillon or Mr. O'Brien or gentlemen of that kind, but coming from the noble Earl who has been Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, at a most important time, and under most important circumstances, I must confess that I, for one, at all events deeply regret the use of language of that description. My Lords, I gladly turn away from that. There is another argument which has been used in this matter, and which, I think, requires an answer. There are many persons belonging to the Liberal Party who point to Tipperary, and say, "How much does the position of affairs in Tipperary speak in favour of the present administration of law and order? If Tipperary were the whole of Ireland, there might be something in that argument; but I will appeal to any Irishman—and there are many Irishmen present—to the declarations which have been made by public men, and by public men who are not on the Unionist side—I appeal to all who know Ireland, and who are interested in Ireland, whether the general condition of things in that country, in spite of what has occurred in Tipperary, is not much more favourable than it was two years or even one year ago. I have mentioned to your Lordships a few facts; I have restricted myself to facts and to speeches which I hope your Lordships will duly note, and which I hope will be duly noted throughout the country; and I am quite confident that if the public will only consider things as they are, if they will look at the existing facts, and will not be led away by rhetorical statements and figures of speech, the administration of Ireland and the people of Ireland will never be handed over to such a body as the National League.
§ *THE MARQUESS OF LONDONDERRY
My Lords, my experience of your Lordships' House has led me to believe that noble Lords on the Front Opposition Bench are singularly reluctant to discuss Irish affairs in this House. On the contrary, my experience leads me to believe that they unfortunately prefer 1422 proceeding to country towns and there addressing packed audiences, who are ready to cheer to the echo any sentiments submitted to them, than to bring those sentiments forward in your Lordships' House when face to face with Members of the Irish Executive, anxiously waiting—indeed, I may say, almost courting—inquiry into their administration of Irish affairs. Consequently, my Lords, it is with no surprise that, on the present occasion, I see no noble Lord on the Front Opposition Bench rising to express any opinion either with regard to the present state of Tipperary, which has been so fully discussed by the noble Earl opposite who has just sat down, or with regard to the action of Her Majesty's Irish Executive in recently suppressing the meetings proposed to be held in both Tipperary and Cashel. I confess, however, that I had expected from the noble Earl, who, on two occasions, had the great honour of representing Her Majesty in Ireland, some expression of opinion. The right hon. Baronet, who occupied the position of Chief Secretary to the noble Earl during two years of his second term of Vice-royalty, displayed no such reticence in another place. On the contrary, ho lost no time in bounding to his feet and denouncing the action of the Irish Executive Government in the severest and strongest terms, in suppressing what he was pleased to term, as "liberty and freedom of speech in Ireland." I can only characterise that performance of Sir George Trevelyan as one of consummate audacity; for this was the man who, during the two years that he occupied the post of Chief Secretary to the noble Earl, had suppressed no less than 45 meetings in Ireland; and he justified his action in suppressing those meetings in a speech delivered to his constituents during the time he occupied the post of Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant, in which a passage occurs which I shall take the liberty of quoting to your Lordships. He justified his action by declaring that those speeches, which were made for the purpose of denunciation, were "just as much a part of the machinery of murder as the sword-cane and the pistol." This was the same man who, about three years ago, declared— 1423He was not going to leave the Liberal Party because a certain number of people told him he must use fair words regarding the violent utterances and lawless actions of those who are conducting the Plan of Campaign in Ireland.Now, I am fully aware that for suppressing those meetings, as I have said, Sir George Trevelyan suppressed them, the noble Earl opposite was primarily responsible. [Earl SPENCER: Hear, hear!] I consider the noble Earl was fully justified in his action in suppressing those meetings, because he knew full well that meetings held in disturbed districts, where violent and incendiary speeches were made, were invariably followed by disastrous results to the peaceable inhabitants of that part of the country; and I say the present Irish Executive would be unworthy the name of an Executive Government, let alone a responsible Government, if they had allowed those meetings to be held in Tipperary and Cashel when precedent and experience had taught them that such meetings were invariably followed by misery, discomfort, and on frequent occasions, I regret to say, outrage and danger to the peaceful and law-abiding inhabitants of the district, whose only fault was that they declined to subscribe to the unwritten law of the League; that they wished to pay their just debts, and enjoy those legal rights which are open to every one of Her Majesty's subjects in every part of the United Kingdom. I should like to ask the noble Earl has he forgotten the crime and cruelty that followed the speech—now a very famous one—delivered by his friend Mr. Parnell at Ennis some years ago, when he called upon the people of Ireland "to shun as a leper" anyone who "dared to break the unwritten law of the League?" and, if the noble Earl will allow me to refresh his memory as to the effect of such expressions as "making a man's life not a happy one," and that "wherever he goes his lot shall not be a happy one," I would refer him to the Report of the Judges of the Special Commission, which the noble Earl has alluded to, and from which I notice, by-the-way, he, in his speeches in the country, draws some curious deductions, but which he is exceedingly reticent in referring to in your Lordships' House, where he will find it declared that outrage and crime have followed the speeches of members of the 1424 League. To quote the words of no less a person than Mr. Gladstone, they have left their marks indelibly traced in blood." And now, my Lords, let me ask you, Who are the people who deliver these speeches and preach these doctrines? They are the former bitter foes.—at the present time, I regret to say, the intimate friends—of the noble Earl opposite. They are men who have promulgated illegalities, who have promoted sedition, who have advocated intimidation, and whose violent language has invariably been followed by crime and outrage of the worst description. I read, some months ago in a newspaper, a parody of a song which had been nightly sung in one of the most popular of the London theatres, which, describes so accurately the characteristics-of those men, the friends of the noble Earl opposite, that I will ask your-Lordships to allow me to quote from it—The Irish World and such like slime They all disseminated;They never denounced the scoundrels prime:They caused the causes that caused the crimeAnd knew they were doing it all the time Whenever they agitated.Such, my Lords, are the men—and it is indeed a pitiable thing to see—with, whom the noble Earl and his Colleagues are at present hand-in-glove, and by whom, I think I may venture to use the expression, they are led by the nose; and let me remind you that this body of men have by no means forgotten the treatment, the very proper and just treatment, they received at the hands of the noble Earl and the Members of the present Opposition; but are secretly laughing in their sleeves at them and glorying in the knowledge that they have-reduced to a state of abject subjection a fragment of the once great Liberal Party. In the course of the Debate which took place on the Irish Land Purchase Bill, introduced in March last in the House of Commons by my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary, I noticed that Mr. Gladstone applied the epithet "chivalrous" to Mr. Parnell. Now, the Irish may be said to have many faults, though I do not admit it, particularly in the North; but I think if there is one characteristic of Irishmen it is that they possess a very keen sense of humour, and I think it must have been with a grim sense of humour that Mr. Parnell heard 1425 himself described as "chivalrous" by Mr. Gladstone, the man who but a few years ago, at Leeds, described him in the following terms:—For nearly the first time in the history of Christendom a body of men has arisen who are not ashamed to preach in Ireland the doctrine of public plunder… I will frankly take the case of Mr. Parnell as exhibiting what I mean when I say the state of things in Ireland is coming to a question between law on one hand and sheer lawlessness on the other… Mr. Parnell says if the Crown of Eng-land is to be the link between the two countries it must be the only link; but whether it is to be the link at all is a matter on which he has not, I believe, given any opinion whatever‖ Mr. Parnell is very copious in his references to America, but in all his references to America he has never found time to utter one word of disapproval of or misgiving about what is known as the assassination literature of that country.My Lords, when I read that expression "chivalrous" as applied to Mr. Parnell by Mr. Gladstone I could not prevent my mind reverting to a paragraph I saw in one of the public journals some few months before, which informed the public and the world that Mr. Parnell had paid a visit to Mr. Gladstone at Hawarden Castle. I could not help imagining what must have been Mr. Parnell's feelings on that occasion. When he crossed the threshold of Hawarden he must insensibly have been reminded that the last threshold he crossed—I will not say at the invitation, but rather at the bidding, of Mr. Gladstone—was the threshold of Kilmainham; and when a short time later, he enjoyed, as I suppose he enjoyed, the hospitality of his host in the shape of dinner, he must have been insensibly reminded of that banquet held not far from this spot when Mr. Gladstone, amidst the enthusiastic cheers of his audience, announced that he had that very morning arrested Mr. Parnell and sent his a prisoner to Kilmainham Gaol. But, my Lords, if such were the feelings of Mr. Parnell with regard to Mr. Gladstone, what must have been the feelings of Mr. Parnell when he found himself taken, in every sense of the word, by the hand by the noble Earl opposite—the noble Earl, whom Mr. Parnell had not hesitated to accuse of "conspiring with informers for the purpose of obtaining victims to what he called law and justice, by any and every means, whether they 1426 were innocent or not"—the noble Earl, whom Mr. Parnell's followers did not hesitate to denounce in the most vehement, violent, and malignant manner, and who even went so far as to attempt to blacken his unspotted character by allegations of so horrible and disgusting a nature that I am somewhat reluctant to allude to them in your Lordships' House? I confess it was with considerable surprise that I read the denial of the then Chief Secretary (Sir G. Trevelyan) to the statement of the hon. Member for Tyrone when that hon. Member asserted that charges of a horrible character had been brought against him, for I shall never forget, if I live to the age of 100, that day in the House of Commons when Sir G Trevelyan, stung to the quick by a more than ordinarily insulting and disgusting epithet from one of his now friends, his then greatest foes, turned upon those foes, and, with a face livid with passion and a voice trembling with rage, declared, amidst the enthusiastic cheers of every part of the House, except that part occupied by the Nationalist Members—"I may be Chief Secretary for Ireland, but I am an English gentleman." I would ask the noble Earl, will he corroborate the statement of his Chief Secretary, and deny that charges of a grave and horrible character were brought against him? Will the noble Earl follow Sir G. Trevelyan's example and contradict me when I say he was charged also by his Parnellite friends—With having struck murderous blows at the people under his charge, with having stopped at nothing—not at secret torture, not at subsidising red-handed murderers, not at sheltering black official villainy with coat of darkness, not at police quartering, blood taxes, the bludgeoning of peaceful meetings, the clapping of handcuffs and convict jackets upon Members of Parliament, Mayors, and editors, not at wholesale battues of hangings and transportations by hook or crook, not at burying the proofs of his victims' innocence in their graves.Those charges were made in United. Ireland on June 13, 1885. Will the noble Earl deny that? Will he deny that even more horrible charges than those were brought against him by the Nationalist Party? The noble Earl will not. His temperament is either less forgiving or his memory more accurate than that of his Chief Secretary. Before I resume my seat there is one point on which I should like 1427 to say a few words. It is not altogether directly connected with the present question, but I shall perhaps be allowed your Lordships' indulgence for a few moments. When, four years ago, Mr. Gladstone flashed upon an astounded country his suddenly-devised scheme of Home Rule, the answer invariably given to us Unionists by our political opponents was that "Home Rule is necessary for Ire land, for Lord Spencer says so, and Lord Spencer has had nine years' experience of Ireland." With that argument I at once join issue. It is impossible—nay, I go further, and say it is absurd—to maintain that the noble Earl's present advocacy of Home Rule is derived from his practical experience of Ireland during the two occasions on which he was Lord Lieutenant of that country. Daring the whole of that time the noble Earl was diametrically opposed to Home Rule of any kind; and in support of this statement I will quote from a speech delivered by him at Bristol on November 14, some few months before he assumed the office of Lord Lieutenant for the second time, a passage which, I think, accurately expresses his then opinions with regard to the Home Rule question:—We must tell the Irish plainly that no Party in England, whether Conservative or Liberal, will put up with anatchy; and what is more, that they are heating the air if they agitate for repeal of the Union. We hold that the continued union of Ireland with this country is of vital importance to us. We feel like the Americans, when the integrity of their country was threatened, and if necessary we must shed blood to maintain the strength and integrity of this country.[Earl SPENCER: Hear, hear.] On entering upon his second term of office in Ireland the noble Earl succeeded to extraordinary powers of the most severe and stringent character. So severe and stringent were those powers that they enabled him to arrest on suspicion, and without trial, and to commit to prison, powers which remind me more of the lettres de cachet of the days of the Bastille than anything else in modern history. It was while in the enjoyment of extraordinary powers that the noble Earl, together with his Colleagues, went out of Office in June, 1885; but that he still held that extraordinary powers were necessary for the government of Ireland was shown by a speech which he 1428 delivered in your Lordships' House in January, 1886, when he denounced the Government of the noble Marquess, which had only been in office for a very short time, for not renewing some of the most important provisions of the Act of 1882. We now find the noble Earl advocating Home Rule for Ireland, though I believe I am correct in saying that from the moment he left Ireland in June, 1885, he has never again set foot in that country. Therefore, though I admit that the practical experience of the noble Earl in regard to Ireland, which is always, if I may use the expression, rammed down our throats, as to the strengthening of the law for the purpose of repressing crime and outrage, is great and invaluable, yet I equally maintain that the practical experience of the noble Earl with regard to Home Rule is worthless. I thank your Lordships for the indulgence which you have granted me. I do not address your Lordships as the late Lord Lieutenant of Ireland or as an Irish landlord, but as one of the Loyalists of Ireland—a body of men whom I regard as true and loyal supporters of the Crown and the Constitution in Ireland, but whom the noble Earl opposite has not hesitated to designate and describe as a miserable and despicable minority. I will not say behind the noble Earl's back, when addressing an Ulster audience, what I will say to his face in your Lordships' House; that I would infinitely prefer to be the most humble and lowly member of that loyal and patriotic body of men than occupy the present political position of the noble Earl opposite, who has renounced and repudiated every opinion he held during the time of his Lord Lieutenancy in Ireland; who has torn from his bosom those feelings which prompted and directed him to discharge his arduous and difficult duties so ably, so firmly, and so nobly, and who would now sacrifice—indeed, I should be justified in using a far stronger term with regard to the noble Earl's proposal—to hand over that loyal minority to be dealt with at the tender mercies of a disloyal majority. He would sacrifice those to whom he looked in times of difficulty and trouble, and to whom he knows very well he never looked in vain. The noble Earl is now subservient to the mandate of a 1429 body of men who were truly described by the Attorney General of his day as being steeped to the lips in treason, and by his own Prime Minister as marching through rapine and plunder to the dismemberment of the Empire.
§ *EARL SPENCER
My Lords, I am afraid that I shall not be able, nor should I desire, to deliver so exciting an oration as that which we have just heard from the noble Marquess the late Viceroy of Ireland; but I feel it necessary to rise on this occasion to answer some of the appeals that have been made to me in exceedingly strong language by the noble Marquess and by the noble Earl behind me. The noble Marquess found fault with me for not bounding to my feet at once at the conclusion of the speech of the noble Earl who has brought this matter forward. I will tell the noble Marquess why I did not rise to speak. I did not rise to speak because the noble Marquess was good enough, with the courtesy which belongs to him, to inform me before the Debate began that he intended to make an attack upon me. I, therefore, thought it was only right and necessary that I should wait until after the noble Marquess had spoken. I think he will himself see that I should not otherwise have had an opportunity of answering. I confess, however, that I did not intend to take part in this Debate, having another engagement. I came down to your Lordships' House in order to ascertain whether any personal attack was going to be made upon me, and, hearing that such was to he the case, I remained, at considerable inconvenience, and sent a message to say that I could not fulfil the engagement I had made. This is not the first time that the Front Opposition Bench in this House has been attacked for not raising or meeting discussions on the Irish question. I confess I think it would be very unwise of us in many ways to start discussions on the subject, because my belief is that such discussions would lead to no good result, and, therefore, we have not followed that course. Particularly, on one occasion, we were twitted for not having answered a noble Duke whom I am sorry not to see in his place to-night; but on that occasion it was thought better, as we were able to agree to the Resolution 1430 which the noble Duke proposed to your Lordships, that we should not take part in the Debate. On that occasion I came down perfectly ready to speak; but as that was decided, I had no opportunity of doing so. The noble Marquess has attacked the for not having raised discussions and made statements here, which, he says, I have made in other places. With regard to remarks which I have made in other places on the policy of the Government, I may say that, with very rare exceptions, I have studiously avoided attacking the Executive action of the Government. I am not aware that I have ever attacked their action in suppressing meetings, and I am sure I have never alluded to this subject of Tipperary or the Ponsonby Instate. I have studiously avoided doing that, because I have felt a certain delicacy in approaching those subjects which I had myself dealt with when I was in Ireland. If I were sometimes to indulge in discussions of the Executive action of the Government, I freely and at once admit that I should frequently have to differ ab initio from the action taken by the Chief Secretary in Ireland. I do not know whether the noble Marquess or anybody else considers they have been attacked by me; it is probably a matter of indifference to them whether I attacked them or not. But my own feeling has been that though I might have a strong opinion upon the subject, it would be better not to make an attack in regard to subjects of this nature. The noble Earl referred to a speech which I made in Wolverton, and criticised it very severely. I adhere absolutely to every word I said on that occasion. I believe the passage quoted is correct—he had the advantage of me in having the speech before him, as I did not know that I was going to be attacked, and could not refer to any reports—and I am not in the slightest degree ashamed of what I then said. I referred to the action of the Land League and the National League, and I said, as the noble Earl quoted, that I often deplored the action of those bodies. I adhere to that view. I have never defended the action of the National League, but I have always thought it right on those occasions to say what was just and fair, and I certainly did think, 1431 and I do think still, that there was occasion and justification for combination of a lawful kind in Ireland with respect to various matters. I believe there have been great grievances with regard to the government of that country. I believe there have been great grievances with regard to the Land Laws of that country. And in passing I may point to this: that no greater proof of the existence of grievances with respect to the Land Laws of Ireland could be found than by turning to the Report of the Land Commissioners, which shows what enormous reductions have been made in the rents by the official Judges in Ireland. That is a grievance which, I think, everyone must admit; and I, for one, consider that the Irish were perfectly justified, in a legal way, in combining, and in trying to secure justice with regard to rents. Certainly, I did not approve—on the contrary, I have always deplored—a great deal of the action of the Land League and the National League. I have deplored the action they have taken, and I have often had deeply to regret the consequences of what they have done; but I do not think we must hold those who took part in a union of this kind directly responsible for crimes that may have arisen from what they have legally done. I am quite aware that those who take part in an agitation, especially when a country is disturbed, ought to be doubly careful how they speak to an excitable people, but agitation and excitement afford no ground for saying that those who take part in a legal agitation should be accused of criminality or of participation in crimes which may arise; because it often happens in Ireland, as in this and other countries, that during periods of excitement the evil-disposed take the opportunity of committing crime, and there is no doubt that often very serious crime results from those conditions. Under those circumstances, I was justified in what I said at Wolverton, and again I say I adhere to what I stated on that occasion; and I think, when anybody who has any pretension to knowing anything of the subject, has the opportunity he should speak candidly and freely, admitting blame where blame should be attached, while admitting any justification for action that has taken 1432 place. Now, I will come to what the noble Marquess has said. He asks me whether I adhere to the policy which I was instrumental in carrying out in Ireland, and he referred to the suppression of meetings. He also referred to Sir G. Trevelyan's statement in the House of Commons with regard to that. I cannot at this moment exactly recollect what were the words used. I quite admit that a great many meetings—it may be, though I do not recollect, as many as the noble Marquess stated—perhaps he is right in saying 45—were put down by me under the special provisions of the Crimes Act of 1882. I admit that a great many meetings were suppressed under the special powers which then existed, and which do not exist now, as the noble Marquess knows. But I venture to say that I never stopped a meeting except in a district where violent crimes and outrage existed, or where the state of feeling was such that I was perfectly sure that crime would follow a meeting. I quite admit that at that time, when the country was in a very violent state of crime, when murders and murderous outrages were rife in the country, when they were perpetually being plotted and taking place, I was compelled to stop meetings. I had no hesitation in stopping meetings which I felt sure would, or thought were likely to, give rise to murder and outrage. But when Ireland became more quiet, in 1882 and 1883, I stopped fewer meetings as time went on, and at last I very rarely stopped any; and I am quite sure of this, that I never stopped meetings merely for the discussion of political matters or of general matters which might interest the people in the neighbourhood. I only stopped them when I was certain that violent crime and outrage, and probably murder, would arise from the exeited state of feeling of the people. I know this: that I frequently discussed the question whether a meeting should be suppressed or not, and I never remember a single case where, having, after some doubt, allowed a meeting to go forward, I afterwards regretted that I had done so. Except in cases where murder or outrage are likely to follow, I am sure it is much more prudent to allow the fullest discussion of opinion in a locality than to cause the irritation and 1433 excitement which stopping a meeting causes. I say that at once, because that is the point upon which the noble Marquess challenged me, and that is the point—I have never said this before—whore I think the policy of the noble Marquess and of the present Government of Ireland has been so radically and essentially wrong, I venture to say there is a very marked difference between the condition of Ireland now and the condition of Ireland when I had to suppress so many meetings. [Cheers.] The noble Marquess and others cheer that statement, and I know what that cheer means. It means that they believe they have been successful in their policy in Ireland. I might argue against that and bring forward proofs that it has not been so successful as they choose to say. The very fact of the necessity for bringing forward this Motion which my noble Friend has made proves that it has not been so successful, and it is plain that the condition of Ireland is not so eminently happy and satisfactory, when you find so powerful a League as the noble Earl has described defying, as it were, Her Majesty's Government in that country. But to return to what I was about to say. There is a vast difference between the condition of things when murders and outrages were rampant, and when no juries would convict, and that which now exists. I say that matters are not satisfactory even now in a great many places. From the cheers of noble Lords opposite one would suppose that the state of Ireland was eminently satisfactory, but the terms of the Motion itself show that is not the case. Speaking for myself, I have a very great dislike to this boycotting and intimidation, and I am afraid that a great amount of that kind of coercion still exists. I do not pretend that I have gone minutely into this subject of the Ponsonby Estate or into the action taken in Tipperary. I have myself a very great regard and warm friendship for Mr. Smith-Barry, and I can hardly conceive it possible that he would do anything unjust in any way. But, at the same time, if I were challenged to it, I should express the opinion that the course he has followed has not been wise or expedient, though it was perfectly within the law. Then we come to Tipperary. I do 1434 not myself like violent or extreme methods. The action taken by the National League in Tipperary is, no doubt, violent. I do not like the measures which have been adopted there. But, at the same time, if we except outrages such as the throwing of tin bombs, or whatever they are called, and actual intimidation, I doubt whether it can be shown that the mere action of Mr. Smith-Barry's tenants in Tipperary and the establishment of New Tipperary is actually illegal. Certainly I have not noticed any action on the part of Her Majesty's Government to make me think that that state of things is illegal. The noble Marquess referred to a great many matters, and he certainly went a long way beyond the terms of the question brought forward by the noble Lord. The noble Lord only called attention t} the action on the Ponsonby Estate and to the action of the National League; but the noble Marquess certainly took a very wide latitude, and wandered over the whole condition of Ireland, and even alluded to a speech made by Mr. Parnell at Ennis long before I went to Ireland. It is not for me to defend Mr. Parnell or to defend Mr. Gladstone; but when the noble Marquess says that the Irish Members never denounced crime, he is going rather far, for, if my recollection is correct, that is one of the points which the Royal Commission gave in favour of the Irish Members. Well, now, I come to another fact. The noble Marquess quoted some Words of Mr. Parnell's in which he accused me of having connived at or practically been guilty of something like murder, by allowing innocent men to be hung. That was a very terrible charge and was language perfectly unjustifiable. I cannot recollect whether my attention was called to it when the accusation was made; but when I heard it alluded to first in the House of Commons, when I was listening to the De bate, I was struck by its extreme unfairness. But what occurred? At the very moment it was made Mr. Parnell got up and withdrew what had been said, and stated that it had been made under a misapprehension. Practically, he made an apology for it. I think it only right to say that, as the noble Marquess has thought fit to allude to it. Then the noble Marquess 1435 alluded to other matters, paragraphs couched in the most violent language. I should have thought that the noble Marquess had got accustomed in Ireland to rhetorical statements and phrases; and many of the phrases which were used were rhetorical and very violent. I should have thought, also, he would have known how largely such statements ought to be discoanted, though there are some statements which cannot be discounted, I admit. But some of those paragraphs contained assertions which I should look upon as rhetorical and attach no importance to. The noble Marquess alluded to another matter, which is one of a very painful kind. It is one that I rarely, if ever, allude to, either in private or in public; but it is one on which I confess I have very strong feelings. The noble Marquess states that I was accused, and Sir G. Trevelyan was accused, of something worse than ordinary crime, and I should quite admit that that would be more than a rhetorical phrase like most of those which appeared in the Nationalist papers. My Lords, I have always resented most deeply the words that were used with regard to a painful matter which I had to deal with when I was in Ireland. But it is only fair for me to say, though I have often seen vague references in newspapers, I cannot recollect that I was actually accused, or Sir George Trevelyan, of a certain crime. That I cannot recollect. But what I was actually accused of, and what I resented in the strongest possible manner, was that I connived at the crime and shielded those who were guilty of it. There is some difference between the two things. I dislike extremely alluding to this painful subject, and I very much regret that the noble Marquess thought fit to allude to it here. As he has done so, I have felt bound to say what I have said. My Lords, I have really been rather led into this discussion by the manner in which the noble Marquess has spoken. Instead of confining himself to the subject of the Motion, he has, as I have said, travelled over the whole ground of disaffection and crime in Ireland, and even into the question of Home Rule. I must apologise to your Lordships for having gone at such length into these matters, because it is rather irregular to wander so far from the 1436 original Motion. But I wish to refer to one other matter. The noble Marquess attacked me for advocating Home Rule. I accept fully the responsibility which may belong to me for having done so. The noble Marquess says that my opinion upon that subject is worthless. Very likely it is. I do not for a moment pretend, myself, that my opinion on a matter of that sort is paramount, or should be listened to by my countrymen beyond what is right and reasonable. But I will venture to tell your Lordships why I hold my opinion. I do not for a moment say that I advocated Home Rule when I was in Ireland. I did not. I was not then of opinion that Home Rule was possible, and I had not seen my way to it. I endorse now every single word which I said in the quotation which the noble Marquess made from a speech of mine made at Bristol. I disliked and still dislike anarchy, and I say wherever it is in the British Empire it must be put down. I never advocated, and never could advocate, repeal of the Union. I maintain that what we propose would be to strengthen the Union and not to repeal it. Therefore, I do not shrink from one single word that the noble Marquess read from my speech at Bristol. Then, my Lords, with regard to why I adopted Home Rule. It is going into very old and stale arguments, but they are true, and therefore I think I may put them very shortly. I maintain that we have exhausted the present system and principles of Government, as shown by the present administration: that these methods have failed, and that we were bound to find some other methods which would restore Ireland to a condition of tranquillity, and make it a safe instead of a dangerous part of Her Majesty's dominions. It is because I dislike anarchy, because I dislike crime, because I dislike outrage, and because I dislike boycotting, and things of that sort, that I wish to bring a real and permanent remedy for all these evils to Ireland. You will never do it as long as yon go on with exceptional laws and coercion; you will only be irritating-afresh the Irish people; and I maintain that the only chance is to throw upon the Irish people, as I am sure you can do, under safeguards, with perfect safety, the responsibility for the government of their own country.
THE LORD CHANCELLOR OF IRELAND (Lord ASHBOORNE)
My Lords, I cannot but think that your Lordships are under much obligation to the noble Earl opposite and to my noble Friend behind me, the late Viceroy of Ireland, for having induced the noble Earl, Lord Spencer, who has just sat down, at last to take part in your Lordships' deliberations. Because over and over again the attention of the noble Earl has been directed to these matters, and to the way in which they struck many Members of your Lordships' House; but in vain have attempts been made to induce him to rise in his place in Parliament, vindicate his action, and express his opinion upon the present state of affairs in Ireland. Therefore, it is, I think, that much gratitude is due to those who have, on the present occasion, practically compelled the noble Earl to rise and to rive his views on the events which are now going on in that country. It is very difficult for any man, no matter what his ability, or however high his character, to defend startling incidents in his political life. From what the noble Earl has said he must be about the most forgiving and the most forgetful man in the community, for certainly there has never been a man in public life who has had so much to forgive, and who has apparently taken upon himself to forgive so freely. As to his powers of forgetting, they are unrivalled and marvellous, because he pretends that he has been converted to the principles of Home Rule, forgetful of the entire action of his life up to the moment of that conversion, and he asks your Lordships to credit—as, of course, your-Lordships will—the extraordinary statement, that the whole time he was in Ireland, a man of strong speech, resolute action, and clear and decided policy, he was wavering in his Mind—
§ *EAEL SPENCER
No; I never said I was wavering in my mind. I said that I had not at that time seen any possibility of any proposal for Home Rule.
§ LORD ASHBOURNE
That will suit me a good deal better. Then it appears that the noble Earl, during two Viceroyalties, spread over many years—this man of strong speech and resolute action, not seeing any other policy possible that was worthy of a statesman, except that which 1438 he was pursuing, suddenly, after Mr. Gladstone had announced his change, gives up all the policy he had previously observed, suddenly finds out that the old policy was wrong, and that the new policy was alone feasible and possible, and so lets all his past life go to the winds. I ask your Lordships to believe that he was wrong when he turned his back upon that old policy, and that he was not right in the insidious conversion which he now finds it so difficult to explain. The noble Earl said that he felt a certain delicacy—very appropriate words I daresay—about starting discussions in this House—
§ *EARL SPENCER
I did not say that. I am sorry to interrupt my noble Friend. What I said was that I had a certain delicacy about directly attacking the action of the Executive Government in Ireland.
§ LORD ASHBOURNE
Of course, I accept the noble Earl's correction. I accept anything he tells us; but I have myself a tolerably clear memory. Still, to prevent any possible mistake, I jotted down a couple of words from the noble Earl as he proceeded, and I certainly took down the expression that he did not like to "start discussion," I appreciate that. There are many reasons why the noble Earl would not like to start discussion. No one ever asked the noble Earl to start a discussion on these matters, or thought it possible or reasonable that he would care voluntarily to invite criticism of his position and attitude. The point of criticism to which we have directed ourselves, and which we have always insisted on is, that when the noble Earl's-attention has been called by others to these subjects, he has been silent to the criticisms of those who addressed him, that he has sat silently listening to the charges made, with all the force and authority of those who addressed them, not explaining his attitude or conduct. He has offered no explanation, and he has left your Lordships under the impression that he preferred to remain misunderstood rather than to rise in his place and to take part in this House in discussions on subjects which he spoke of on many platforms in every part of the country where he chose to get anaudience. That is a matter which I think of some importance. On one occasion—the 12th of July, 1888, as nearly as possible two 1439 years ago—the Duke of Argyll obtained your Lordships' assent to a Resolution, and I invite your Lordships to remember that Earl Spencer has explained to-day his attitude of silence on that occasion by saying the reason was that he and his Friends then saw their way to agree to the Resolution of the noble Duke. The Resolution, which was agreed to by the House nemine contradicente, was as follows:—That in the opinion of this House Her Majesty's Government deserves the support of Parliament in securing to the subjects of the Queen in Ireland the full enjoyment of personal freedom in their lawful transactions, and in protecting them from the coercion of unlawful combinations.It is very singular that that Resolution, proposed only two years ago, when your Lordships had ample experience of the system pursued by the present Government, was such that the noble Earl could agree to. But that is the explanation which he gives to day for not then rising and taking part in his place in this House in the discussion then proceeding upon the Resolution proposed by the noble Duke. His attention has been pointed to-day, and not unreasonably, to a not unimportant phase of Irish life at the present time. The noble Earl who inaugurated this discussion, the Earl of Camperdown, has cited some important matters at present going on in Ireland, and your Lordships had a right to expect that the noble Earl would express himself in clear language with reference to them, for they are matters which should command the unqualified disapproval of all who consider them. There can be no doubt about that. But I noticed that when the noble Earl came to deal with these questions he picked his words with the most extreme caution, in order that he may not be quoted as an authority who disapproves of what is now going on in the localities referred to by the Earl of Camperdown. The noble Earl said he thought "the measures or the methods were extreme," which is a very limited kind of reprobation. That is not the strong vigorous language he would have used when Viceroy, in describing the same state of facts. I venture to say, also, that is not the language which a man would use who desired to characterise intimidation, as it deserves to be chai'acterised, in the language of resolute denunciation. The 1440 noble Earl also used this qualification, that though the action was extreme, he was not prepared to say that, excepting in as far as it was connected with outrage and intimidation, he had much to say against it. What does that mean? Why, the whole case made by the Earl of Camperdown was that intimidation was the head and front and centre of the whole thing, that if you take out the intimidation you leave nothing. Therefore, I venture to think it would have been much more worthy of the best traditions of the noble Earl's life, and most consonant with that period of his career when he showed that he knew how to govern and rule, if he had expressed himself with greater clearness and directness on this important matter. But he let slip a sentence which really went a long way towards explaining the state of things brought forward by Lord Camperdown. He said, in one part of his speech, that "There is a powerful League defying Her Majesty's Government." If that had taken place—if that state of things had existed under the Viceroyalty of the noble Earl, if any one could have said there was then a powerful League defying Her Majesty's Government, what would he have thought was the duty of Her Majesty's Government in the matter? The noble Earl has given some explanation of his attitude in reference to the suppression of meetings. I will put this question to him. Did he ever, in either of his Vice-royalties, hesitate to suppress meetings when he was satisfied that such meetings would lead to intimidation in the neighbourhood, and to a disturbance of those who desired to fulfil their vocations peaceably, or that they might lead to outrage? I venture to say that he never did, and that in the case of every single one of the meetings he suppressed he was satisfied they would have led to intimidation, disturbance, and outrage, if permitted to be held. I hear the noble Earl apparently commenting upon what I am saying, but I do not quite follow. I would much prefer if the noble Earl thinks I am not accurately representing him that he would get up and tell me where I am wrong. I will put the proposition again, that in the case of every one of the meetings he suppressed he must have been satisfied, and was satisfied, that if 1441 permitted they would have led to intimidation, disturbance, and outrage. That, I think, is a state of things to be deprecated and prevented, if possible, by every one who desires to see order prevailing in the community. The noble Earl says that he never sought to interfere with meetings, save under exceptional circumstances. There was certainly a meeting in the County Down, I cannot recall the name of the place at the moment, which was interfered with by the noble Earl opposite. I do not at all criticise his action in reference to it, but that was a case where he did interfere to prevent a discussion that was sought to be carried on. As to the attacks upon the noble Earl, he said, in the closing part of his speech, that he regarded them all as rhetorical.
§ LORD ASHBOURNE
I do not press the point at all. I am quite aware that any one at all who holds such an important office, and who fulfils such important duties in a country, must be subject to a certain amount of criticism which is disagreeable. The criticism of the noble Earl in Ireland was certainly intensely disagreeable, and could hardly be covered by the mild expression "rhetorical." It accused him of almost every crime that was possible or conceivable in administration, or that could be committed by one placed in his high position. The attitude which the noble Earl now chooses to assume in relation to those who made the criticisms is a matter entirely for himself, and I will pass that by, but I think it would have been more satisfactory if the noble Earl, when his attention was invited to certain matters now going on in Ireland, and when ho was asked to express an opinion with reference to them, would have expressed an opinion with clearness, force, and a freedom from ambiguity, which would have prevented the possibility of his words being used as the words of one who had not a clear view antagonistic to those who were practising methods of intimidation, which ought 1442 to be reprobated as leading to results both deplorable and disastrous.
*THE EARL OF KIMBERLEY
My Lords, I must say I think this Debate has been one of the most extraordinary I have ever heard in this House. One would have supposed my noble Friend Earl Spencer was on his trial before your Lordships for what he did many years ago, but the only ground that I can find on which he has been so violently attacked is that he has not expressed an opinion on certain matters at a certain time. I have yet to learn that any noble Lord in this House is to be called upon to take part in any Debate, or that, if he thinks fit not to do so, he is liable to attack upon that ground. But I must congratulate the noble Earl on what has taken place, because evidently the most extraordinary importance is attached to his opinion, and it would seem that unless Her Majesty's Government can obtain an expression of that opinion their position is one that is not altogether confortable or satisfactory. That seems to me to be the general result of the discussion. The noble Marquess opposite told us that he did not speak as an ex-Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, but in his character of an individual Peer, and evidently as an Orangeman from the north, and I was very glad to hear it, because I certainly cannot congratulate him, as an ex-Lord Lieutenant, either upon the tone, temper, or matter of the speech he has delivered. I cannot conceive anything more unfortunate than that a noble Lord who was recently Viceroy of Ireland should make an inflammatory speech against a large portion of the Irish people. The full explanation was given by the noble Marquess himself that he did not speak as late Lord Lieutenant, but that he spoke as an Ulsterman. Much as I admire the sterling qualities of the population of the north of Ireland, there is one thing I do not admire in them, and that is their Orange faction, which, I believe, has done as much harm as any other faction has ever done to that country. The language the noble Marquess used was exactly the kind of language I should expect to hear from an excited Orange landlord of the north of Ireland. Now, there has been a good deal said about Mr. Gladstone, but I think we may consider that Mr. Gladstone is 1443 perfectly well able to take care of himself, and it is not necessary now to refer to what has been said about him to-night. In the first place, as to the Motion of the Duke of Argyll, two years ago, which was alluded to by the noble and learned Lord who has just sat down, and who commented upon the fact that noble Lords on this Front Bench had not spoken, my noble Friend has already explained that that was because there was nothing in the Resolution in which we could not acquiesce. I entirely share with my noble Friend Earl Spencer whatever may have been the responsibility of our acquiescence in that Motion, expressing, as it did, a simple truism, which no one can question, as to the duty of Her Majesty's Government at all times. I acquiesced in it then, and I should acquiesce in it now. What was expressed there is, I hope, the duty of every loyal subject of the Queen, that is to support Her Majesty's Government in all measures necessary to be taken for the purposes indicated in that Motion. But what is sought to be inferred from the Motion is a totally different thing, that is, that we approved of the particular policy of Her Majesty's present Government. That, no doubt, was what was intended by the noble Duke, but we looked to the words of the Motion, and we considered that in assenting to the Resolution we were simply assenting to what it was impossible for anybody to deny. Now, the conclusion I draw from this discussion, and especially from the speech of my noble Friend who opened the Debate, is, that there is a powerful League in Ireland formed for the purpose of defying Her Majesty's Government. If that is the case, I think the success of the policy of Her Majesty's present Government in Ireland must be exceedingly doubtful. I have, of course, no means of judging what takes place in that country, except by what I read in the newspapers; but I have no doubt, from what I have now heard from my noble Friend, who is a supporter of the Government, that there is a state of things in one part of that country, at all events, which is in a very high degree unsatisfactory. If that be the result of the policy of Her Majesty's Government, it seems to me it justifies the position we have taken. Our position is very simple. We have ceased to believe in a policy of 1444 coercion, and we assert that it will fail in the effect desired from it, however ably it may be carried out; and we certainly do not acquiesce in the mode in which the coercive policy of the Government has been carried into effect. As the discussion has been extended over the general subject by the noble Lords who have spoken, I may for a moment venture to say that I cannot conceive a system more detestable—I believe it has been called "damnable" in another place—than that of the "shadowing" pursued by the present Government in Ireland. I deny entirely that, as has been said, it corresponds with the ordinary watching of a suspected criminal by a detective. I deny that it is the same thing, and I say that if the system of shadowing or sending constables to spy upon and overhear what is said by a man who may be suspected of boycotting or something of that kind were pursued in this country no Government depending on a system so unjustifiable could exist for a week. If I were to go further on the present occasion I should say that the whole demeanour of Her Majesty's Government, as represented by the Chief Secretary, towards a large portion of the Irish people, is in the highest degree impolitic. Nothing could be more contrary to the interests of this country than constantly to insult a large portion of our fellowcountrymen—the people of Ireland. Not very long ago I had occasion myself to take part in the carrying out of coercive measures, though in a state of things very different from the present; but at all events, while carrying out strong and severe measures, because I considered it my duty to do so, I cannot reproach myself with ever having addressed one offensive word even against those whom I believed to be guilty of conspiracy against the Crown. And I did not do so because I do not believe it is in the interests of this country to provoke the Irish people against us, and I did not consider it my duty to aggravate the hostility which, unfortunately! has so long prevailed among the Irish people towards the Government of this country. Reference has been made to my noble Friend's policy in regard to the suppression of public meetings. What I understood the noble Earl beside me to say was that he did not interfere with meetings unless he thought it was 1445 likely they would lead to murder or murderous outrage. The noble Lord (Ashbourne) added intimidation, but the noble Karl did not say he interfered with them simply to prevent intimidation, but when they would be likely to 4ead to murder.
*THE EARL OF KIMBERLEY
At all events he did not say intimidation also. That was the correction I desired to make. Then to return for a moment to the immediate subject of this discussion from which we have wandered so much, the immediate occurrences and present state of circumstances at Tipperary. I am free to confess that my sources of information are not such as to enable me to form a very definite opinion as to what is taking place there. I suppose it is one of the episodes, and a very unfortunate one, no doubt, in the long war which has gone on between landlords and tenants in Ireland. In the event of a controversy arising between a landlord and his tenants I should think for a neighbouring landlord to interfere as Mr. Smith-Barry seems to have done with what did not concern him is very unwise and is likely to lead to disagreeable consequences. Then as regards what my noble Friend said in his speech at Wolverton. I, of course, do not defend violent intimidation or outrage upon inoffensive persons, and what Earl Spencer said in his speech at Wolverton was simply that we must make allowance for causes which lead to agitation, and for occurrences which may be the consequences of an agitation otherwise not criminal in itself. Here I would make this observation, that that remark is applicable fully to Trades Unionism in this country. We do not, any of us, in this country now think that Trades Unions are to be condemned as bad in themselves; but I am quite certain that nobody who has followed their action can have failed to see that there have been many things done which we must blame. On the occasions of strikes taking place many things are done which we must strongly and entirely condemn. But it is not that we condemn the whole system of Trades Unionism and strikes, but only those particular occurrences. I do not compare Trades Unionism as we have it in this country with such com- 1446 binations as we see in Ireland; neither do I compare such action as sometimes follows Trades Unionism with the outrages which arise out of the action of the National League in Ireland. What I say is that in both cases you must bear in mind that there may be agitations which may be perfectly lawful in themselves which yet lead to occurrences which all must condemn and deplore. My Lords, I will return to what I begun by saying. The whole moral of this discussion seems to me to be that there is a state of things in parts of Ireland which is most unsatisfactory, and Her Majesty's Government must feel that their policy in that country is far from having been successful. My noble Friend behind me was taunted with his change of opinion; he admits that change of opinion; and I admit a change in my opinion. The noble Lord says the change in the case of my noble Friend has been sudden and extraordinary. Well, I suppose all such changes are sudden and extraordinary in the view of those who condemn them, but that does not prove that the change of opinion may not have been wise. There are occasions when it is very unwise to persevere in a course of action which is proved to have failed, and when much more courage and wisdom are shown in changing to another set of opinions. Then we heard from the noble Marquess the old stale assertions about our acting in concert with Mr. Parnell. I am really quite ashamed to give the very obvious answer that when it was convenient to the noble Lords a few years ago to act with Mr. Parnell for the purpose of turning us out of office they did not stop to ask themselves whether Mr. Parnell and his friends were persons with whom they would like to associate themselves in political life, and I think for that matter the whole of that subject might very well be dismissed. The question now is not what may have been Mr. Parnell's opinions in time past, not what may have been Mr. Parnell's relations with this or that Party in time past, not those matters which formed the subject of inquiry before the Parnell Commission, but whether or not the policy which is advocated by the Opposition or the policy which Her Majesty's Government have pursued is the wise one. I heard a noble Lord make reference to 1447 "the fragment of the Liberal Party." I think that "fragment" is a very large and solid one; and I venture to tell the noble Marquess opposite that it is not likely to be very long before that fragment will have grown so large as to carry some measure of Home Rule into effect.
§ THE LORD PRIVY SEAL (Earl CADOGAN)
I can assure your Lordships that I had no intention of taking part in this discussion, and I shall not do so at any length. In my opinion the Debate will add something to the delicacy of which we have heard so much, which noble Lords opposite entertain in either originating or taking part in discussions which are originated in this House. I rise chiefly for the purpose of alluding to one remark which fell from the noble Earl who has just sat down, who found fault with the noble Marquess behind me because he said that the noble Earl, Lord Spencer, did not use his authority sufficiently either in this House or in the country to denounce the outrages and malpractices to which Lord Camperdown has referred. The noble Earl opposite (Lord Kimberley) went on to say that noble Lords who sit opposite ought to be very much nattered at finding that the authority of Lord Spencer is so high in this House that so much value should be attached to his opinion. It is natural, however, that value should be attached to the opinion of anyone who has occupied the position of Lord Lieutenant of Ireland for so long, as Lord Spencer has done, I believe eight years, and that he should expect to find that his utterances in public should be treated with extreme attention on this side of the House. But what we complain of is that the noble Earl is not reticent when he goes about the country making speeches in small towns before picked audiences of a particular political complexion, and makes statements before those Radical audiences, but when he comes down to this House and hears his sentences quoted against him, and his opinions canvassed, he has hitherto foreborne to rise in his place and offer any explanation or denial of the sentiments he is accused of having uttered. I am happy to say that tonight he has, by the energy of my noble Friend, if I may be excused for using a some- 1448 what vulgar term, been "drawn" at last. I will, however, venture to say that the answers which he has given to the accusations of my noble Friend behind me are not such as will carry conviction to the minds of his doubting countrymen. The real object of the discussion which has arisen to-night has been not only to explain to us the circumstances of the Tipperary case, because that was done sufficiently by the noble Lord opposite, who opened this Debates but to demand, as I think we have a right to do, that the noble Lords opposite, and5 those with whom they are accustomed to-act in political life, should do something which shall discourage the operations of the members of the National League, among whom they number so many intimate friends and colleagues, politically speaking, in order to mitigate those horrors which are perpetrated by the National League in Ireland. In the long history of misdeeds and acts for which it is difficult to find an adequate epithet, I know none more worthy the consideration of the country than the story which has been so clearly unfolded by my noble Friend. We have here the-case of a landlord who is, it is admitted even by his opponents, of the most benevolent and liberal character, and who had lived ever since he became possessed of his property on the most friendly terms with his tenants, who had spent large sums of money on improvements for the advantage of his tenants, and who generally speaking, it has been admitted alike by his advocates and by his political opponents, was a model of what a landlord should be in any part of Her Majesty's Dominions. This is the man who has been fastened upon by the National League, simply because he chose to adopt a course which certainly will not, I think, meet with disfavour from my noble Friend opposite or of any of his friends, that is to say, to join the Landlords' League, to go to the assistance of a landlord in his immediate neighbourhood who he thought required such countenance at his hands. What followed, the noble Earl has described. I need not say I am not going to repeat all the sickening details of the outrages which followed, and of the state of things which supervened. It is sufficient to say here is a once flourishing town which has had its trade destroyed, its buildings 1449 emptied, its markets ruined, and its inhabitants driven out of its borders. All this disorder has been eaused by action of the National League, of a character which has been described to-night, but which we cannot induce noble Lords opposite openly and honestly to denounce. I venture to think that a great deal of what has happened in Tipperary could by the perpetrators be directly justified by the speeches of the noble Lord opposite and his friends. I consider that we owe a debt of gratitude to the noble Lord opposite and also to the noble Marquess behind me for originating this discussion, and for giving us an opportunity of stating publicly, which I venture to do not only as a Member of the Government but as a Member of your Lordships' House, the abhorrence with which we view the action of the National League and the disappointment we feel at the want of success of the repeated attempts we have made to induce noble Lords opposite to dissociate themselves from those with whom they are allied, and who pursue that action for political purposes. At all events, I am glad we have had an opportunity of making clear to the public to-night that we, on our part, are determined to uphold law and order, and to do our best to prevent the recurrence, if possible, of those acts which have been animadverted upon, and that in the future, as in the past, we shall continue, in spite of the speeches of the noble Lords opposite, to endeavour to the utmost of our power to destroy the baneful influence of the National League.
§ *EARL FORTESCUE
My Lords, I do mot wish to detain your Lordships for many moments, but I desire to protest against the assumption of my noble Friend Lord Spencer, that the rents determined by the Land Commissioners, and above all by the Sub-Commissioners, are to be taken as fair. The appointment of the Sub-Commissioners, and I say now what I have repeatedly stated both in public and in private, considering their antecedents and the language they had used about landlords and rents in Ireland, and I speak as an Irish landowner—the nomination of those men by the Irish Government of the day was enough to intimidate all landowners, and to lead to their apprehending what was 1450 in the result only too well verified, most unfair decisions on a very large scale by the Sub-Commissioners. The Land Commissioners' names were submitted to this House and to the other House of Parliament, but the Sub-Commissioners were appointed solely on the authority of the then Irish Government, and the great majority of the apportionments of rents which were so triumphantly alluded to by my noble Friend Lord Spencer were practically made by the Sub-Commissioners, in whom, for the reason I have given as to the majority of them, or certainly a large number of them, no Irish landowner could feel the slightest confidence. While I am addressing your Lordships I think I may venture to say that the rebuke administered by the noble Earl to the noble Marquess for using inflammatory language was rather misplaced. The most inflammatory and severe language that he could use fell far short of the quotations that he gave from the language of the noble Earl's own colleagues. The "Gospel of Plunder," and "drifting through rapine to the dismemberment of the Empire," are words, I think, stronger than any that the noble Marquess in his admirable speech uttered on his own behalf. I rejoice that at last we have had some members of the Home Rule Party open their lips in this House, and I quite agree with the noble Lord Privy Seal that the reply of my noble Friend Lord Spencer to the attack of the noble Marquess was singularly inconclusive and unsatisfactory.