Mr. secretary Yorke
moved the order of the day, 90 for the second reading of the Irish martial law bill. On the question being put, that the bill be read a second time,
§ Mr. William Elliot
rose, and spoke as follows:—Sir; the observations, which I am about to offer, will be comprised within a very narrow compass. Indeed, I should not have intruded myself at all upon the patience of the house, if I could, compatibly with the view I entertain of my duty towards the country, to which this bill immediately relates, have permitted a measure of such moment to pass in a silence, that might have the appearance of a listless indifference. The affairs of Ireland must be universally admitted to merit the serious attention and earnest solicitude of every member of Parliament; but there are several among us, who are under more peculiar and indispensable obligations to watch over its concerns. I mean, Sir, those who gave their voles for the legislative union of the two countries. It does especially be hove such of us as were instrumental in the extinction of the local parliament of Ireland, to shew to die people of that country, so far at least as may depend I upon our individual exertions, that we have substituted in its place a legislature adequate, not only in means, but in zeal, diligence, and constancy, for the discharge of the trust confided to it. The local Parliament, Sir, had indisputably one eminent advantage. Being. from the very circumstance of its locality, more intimately mixed with the transactions of the country, it had a shorter and more easy access to information in respect to I its internal state than a more remote legislature can possess, This inconvenience attached to the united Parliament, the friends of the union believed, would be far over-balanced by the numerous and solid benefits likely to accrue from that measure; but no one can contend, that it is not an additional call on this Parliament, for its most active vigilance and assiduous application with regard to the interests of Ireland. The inquisitorial power of Parliament, Sir, is the very vital principle of ail its privileges and functions, and I trust this authority will ever be exercised fairly, faithfully, and impartially, throughout every part of the united kingdom. Before, we frame laws for Ireland, it is incumbent on us to have before us, an accurate state of the country for which we are about to legislate. Under these impressions, Sir, I come to the matter before us, which every one must feel to be of the most grave and critical importance. It is a demand upon us, for continuing to the executive government of Ireland, the power of depriving, at its discretion, a very large de- 91 scription of our fellow subjects of those rights of liberties, to which, by the ordinary principles of the constitution, they are entitled. The measure, Sir, has certainly been often adopted. That it has been too frequently necessary, and that in many instances even the preservation of the country has been attributable to it, is a position I shall be the last man in this house to deny, and should be at variance with all my past conduct, if I were disposed to dispute it. But I should feel myself acting in direct contradiction to the motives, which have on former occasions impelled me to vote for the measure, if I were not to expect such parliamentary information as might enable every gentleman to form a clear and satisfactory judgment in respect to its present necessity. I was a member, Sir, in the Irish parliament, at the period in which the first martial law bill was introduced, and if I am inaccurate in my recollection of the grounds upon which it was originally founded, I am in the presence of several gentlemen, who are well able to correct me. On the commencement of the rebellion in the year l798, the lord lieutenant, with the advice of the privy council, issued orders (notified by proclamation) to the officers commanding his Majesty's forces to employ the troops under their command with the utmost vigour and decision for the suppression of the rebellion; the rebellion, however, extending itself insomuch that several very daring attacks and outrages were committed both on the troops and on the persons and properties of many loyal persons, the lord lieutenant, by the advice of the privy council, directed all the general officers commanding his Majesty's fortes, to punish all rebellious offenders according to martial Jaw. This order was likewise notified by a proclamation, which, together with the former order and proclamation, was communicated to parliament; and the houses of lords and commons by their addresses, expressed their entire approbation of those measures, with assurances to his excellency of their cordial support. Nevertheless the rebellion continued so late as the year 1799 in several parts of the country, and the ordinary course of justice and of the common law was in many places interrupted, in consequence of which the martial law bill was enacted. All these particulars, Sir, are set forth in the preamble to that act, which will be found among the Irish statutes now before you; and I cannot omit to remark that, when the bill was introduced, there were on the 92 table of the Irish house of commons two reports of two secret committees, which contained a very minute and detailed history both of the system and extent of the treason connected with the rebellion, and the last of the reports had been presented so late as the end of the preceding session. In the year 1800 the law was revived, but in fact it was to be considered as a continuance of the former act passed upon the grounds I have stated; and it is to be observed too, that at the opening of the session the lord lieutenant had stated in his speech from the throne, that, though public tranquillity had been in a great measure restored, there still continued in several districts a disposition to outrage and conspiracy. In the year 1801 the act of the former year was, about the period of the King's recovery, continued for a very short time, by the united parliament, without an enquiry and it was in the course of the same session renewed a second time; but upon what pr needing did the house then adopt the measure? On a report from a secret committee actually recommending it.—And you, Sir, then chief secretary to the lord lieutenant of Ireland, brought in the bill upon that specific ground. Now, Sir, let me ask, whether the house possesses such information in the present instance, as that to which both the Irish and the united parliament were thought entitled, when on former occasions they have passed this measure? From the introduction of the law, which this bill is intended to continue, to this moment we only know that there was a rebellious insurrection in Dublin, on the 23d of July last, in which Lord Kilwarden and his nephew were murdered. The extent of the conspiracy, whether there were any correspondent movements in the North or South of Ireland, whether any papers were found developping the object of the treason, are points of which parliament has been kept in a state of the most profound and humiliating ignorance. When the message communicating the insurrection was delivered I was absent from town, but I have on a former occasion declared, that, if I had been in the house, I should have given my vole for the existing law, partly on a temporary and coerced confidence in the assertions of his Majesty's ministers, that prompt and vigorous measures were absolutely necessary, and partly on the intelligence contained in private letters, which several of my acquaintance in London had received. But, Sir, I protest I 93 should have voted for it under a clear conviction that his Majesty's ministers would, so soon as they could have arranged and digested it, laid before Parliament a farther detailed communication not only in respect to the conspiracy but to the general stale of the country, and on this ground gave my most cordial and zealous support to a motion, which was made at the close of this last session for procuring such information. The Parliament however was prorogued without one ray of light on the situation of Ireland, and in this slate of darkness we are now called upon to continue these extraordinary powers to the Irish government. Sir, I do for one declare with the most genuine sincerity, that in the present dearth of our information, I do not feel able to form a decisive judgment upon this question, for it is impossible even to estimate the real magnitude of the late conspiracy, which seems always to expand or contract in conformity to the views of those who describe it. I am therefore not prepared to negative the bill, but I must express my hope that the progress of it will be suspended until some parliamentary ground is laid for its necessity. Ireland may be in such a state as to render the measure absolutely requisite, but surely, Sir, it is not too much to ask for some document, some evidence, some information on the subject. It may be said that this bill is only the continuance of an existing law, and that in one or two instances the martial law bill has been renewed without any previous specific communication from government; but, Sir, the present proposition is for the continuance of an act, which pissed, as it were, by acclamation, in the exigency of the moment, and which itself, as I contend, stands, in a constitutional view, upon a defective title. It will probably be alleged too that we ought to vote this measure upon confidence in his Majesty's ministers, who will be responsible for the execution of it. Now, Sir, I aver it is a case, in which there is no pretence for confidence. On a subject of such magnitude and importance I cannot consent to act on the principle of implicit faith in any government. Much information may clearly be given to us, which care be divulged without a possibility of detriment to the state, and that class of intelligence, which may require more caution and reserve in the communication of it, may be afforded to us through the medium of a secret committee. No injury can result from the delay as the existing law will not expire for some weeks. But perhaps, his 94 Majesty's ministers may tell me that they cannot argue with me on the point of confidence, as I profess a general want of confidence in them; and concur with those who think them incompetent to the trust they have assumed. But such, Sir, is the whimsical dilemma in which ministers have placed themselves, that I defy any man, who gives implicit faith to the scanty information they have furnished to us, to vote for this measure. I relied upon the little intelligence they have afforded us, I must, on the plain principles of common sense and justice, meet this bill with my unqualified negative. The only parliamentary information before the house in respect to the state of Ireland is contained in the King's speech, for the trials, to which we have been referred, do not come within the description of parliamentary documents. Now, Sir, in the King's speech the conspiracy is alluded to as a past event. We are told "that the public tranquillity has experienced no further interruption, and that a hope is indulged, that such of his Majesty's deluded subjects as have swerved from their allegiance are now convinced of their error; and that having compared the advantages they derive from the protection of a free constitution, with the condition of those countries which are under the dominion of the French government, they will cordially and zealously concur in resisting any attempt that may be made against the security and independence of the united kingdom." We have generally, Sir, been accustomed to hear the advantages of the British constitution described as positive benefits, and I cannot help remarking, that this is the first instance within my recollection, in which they have been in a state paper exemplified by a mere comparison with the miseries of surrounding nations. Bat to proceed, Sir, the only other source of information is the report of the proceedings of the special commission in Dublin for the trial of the conspirators. This, however, I must again deny to be a parliamentary document; bat I have recourse to it, partly for want of other intelligence, and partly because I understand his Majesty's ministers have in a former discussion on this subject recommended us to resort to it. In making this reference, I naturally look to the opinion of the first law-officer of the crown, who must be supposed to have the best means of information, and I shall therefore take the liberty of reading to the house two or three passages from different parts of the speech 95 of the attorney general to the jury, on the first trial that took place under the special commission, from which gentlemen will be able to collect his sentiments, both with respect to the general state of the country, and to the magnitude of the late conspiracy.—Speaking of the disastrous transactions of the 23d of July, he says: "Certainly it is matter of some consolation to know, that the conspiracy which broke out into open insurrection on the 23d of July last, was confined within much narrower limits than the promoters of it are willing to inculcate. Whether we consider the numbers who have embarked in the enterprise, their wealth or their character, it will appear contemptible in the extreme. So far as it had for its odious object the subversion of the government and constitution of this country, it was absurd and romantick,it was idle, and visionary even in the opinion of many of those who embraced it.—Again, notwithstanding the horrors of that night (23d July) which no man can regret more than I do, yet I think they furnish some ground for reflection, that the people, who had been worked into arms from one end of the country to the other in. 1798, could not be roused beyond the assemblage of a DESPERATE MOB, as contemptible in number as it was atrocious in disposition. After avowing their object to be to overset the government of the country, and to break the connexion with England, they state that 19 counties will come forward with promptitude to effect it. But five weeks have since elapsed, and not one single county has come forward at their call. THE CONSPIRACY SEEMS ALMOST ENDED WHERE IT BEGAN. And in another passage the learned gentleman observes, though from the abandoned profligacy of those who were employed in the execution of it (the conspiracy), we have to lament many private calamities and disgusting horrors; yet perhaps they should be considered as the visitations of Providence to confound the devices of our enemies, and to rouse the loyal energies of the nation." This last remark, however, does not, I confess, appear to be quite consistent with the learned gentleman's general impression of the improved disposition of die country, for we cannot entertain a very favourable idea of the meliorated temper of a people, who require the massacre of a chief magistrate and the less of several lives, in order to rouse their loyal energies. But, Sir, I believe I shall be allowed accurately to sum Up the information we have received, by stating the amount to be, that the late con- 96 spiracy was contemptible both in numbers and character, and seems almost to have ended where it began, that there has been no further interruption of the public tranquillity, and that the hope is indulged that the deluded are now convinced of their error, and that they will cordially and zealously concur in the defence of the kingdom against the common enemy. And what is the inference, which his Majesty's ministers require us to draw from this statement? The continuance of the martial law bill!! Now, Sir, I ask whether such a conclusion from such premises would be reconcilable to any principle of common reason and equity? I have not had an opportunity of looking into the preamble of this bill, but I should imagine that the drawing of it must have exposed the reasoning faculties of the crown lawyers (and no one can rate their talents higher than I do) to great embarrassment. It it folly describes the parliamentary ground of the measure it must, I apprehend, run thus. "Whereas the late contemptible and insignificant conspiracy in the city of Dublin, was so speedily and effectually suppressed, that it seems almost to have ended where it began, and whereas the public tranquility has experienced no further interruption, and there is reason to indulge the hope, that the deluded are convinced of their error, and tint they will cordially and zealously concur in resisting any attempt that may he made against the security and independence of the united kingdom; be it enacted, that the lord-lieutenant of Ireland be invested with the power of declaring martial law, &c. &c." Now, Sir, this I apprehend, will not be thought sound logic, and yet such must be the language of this bill, if it is framed on the only information his Majesty's ministers have afforded to parliament, and thus, I trust I have proved myself justified in asserting, that those who reposed with implicit confidence On the representations of the king's servants, must, as it appears to me, on every principle of consistency and justice, give this measure their most decided opposition. But I, Sir, profess myself to have no such confidence. I have long since remarked with deep regret, that his Majesty's minieters are apt to lake very false and erroneous views of the situation of the affairs intrusted to their direction. We all remember the expectation, which they seemed to indulge themselves, and which they certainly permitted the public to indulge, until almost the very day, en which the chancellor of the exchequer annonced the menacing preparations of the enemy. But Ireland, Sir, itself furnishes a most illustrious instance of this sort 97 of self delusion on the part of his Majesty's ministers. The flattering descriptions of the State of that country, which were given 5at various times by several gentlemen, in the coarse of the last session, cannot have been forgot by any member of this house. The speech of the right hon. gent, opposite to me (the Chancellor of the Exchequer), on one of these occasions, in answer to ray right hon. friend near me (Mr. Windham), will not easily be effaced from my memory. He told us that there were in this war, none of the odious restrictions on the liberties of the people, which it had been necessary to impose in the last. No suspension of the habeas corpus act. No martial law bill. Loyalty, harmony, and zeal for the public service, prevailed universally throughout the united kingdom, and all these benefits he described as the result of the peace of Amiens; and yet within a week afterwards, I assert positively, within a week afterwards, the same hon. gent, came to this house, announcing an insurrection in Dublin, and bringing in his hand two bills, one for the suspension of the habeas corpus act, and the other for the declaration of martial law. And here, Sir, I trust, will terminate their vaunting encomiums on the peace of Amiens; for I protest, from past experience, I never hear such exalting and ostentatious statements from the treasury bench, without a sort of superstitious apprehension of some approaching calamity. But, Sir, I must maintain, that the mysterious circumstances of this very transaction of the 23d of July, which is the basis of the present measure, furnishes an additional reason why the house should not proceed without further information. It now appears, that, while his Majesty's ministers were accumulating eulogies on the treaty of Amiens, the rebels in Dublin were collecting military stores; and that a large magazine was actually formed, without, as I have good foundation for believing, even a suspicion of it on the part of the Irish government. The government of Ireland, however, was not without pretty urgent intimations of some treasonable confederacy. The explosion of a secret gunpowder-mill, the detection of the conveyance of prepared ammunition in the streets of Dublin, and the intelligence, given by several most respectable individuals, of sure indications of approaching commotion, were formidable warning nevertheless the government seems to have been surprised. But when this suggestion was made by my right hon. friend near me (Mr. Windham), his Ma- 98 jesty's ministers denied the imputation with indignation. "Why," said my hon. friend, "it was not unnatural for me to suppose it a surprise; because, a few days only have intervened, since you gave this house the most captivating description of the internal tranquillity and loyalty of Ireland." Still the answer from his Majesty's ministers was, "that the government in Ireland had been prepared." "What precaution did you take, except strengthening two or three guards in the vicinity of Dublin," asked my hon. friend? "Did you make any previous communication to the privy council? No. To the lord mayor? No: the Mansion-house was robbed of a considerable quantity of arms. To the chief justice? No: he fell a victim to his ignorance of the information government possessed." Nevertheless his Majesty's ministers persevere in asserting, that proper provision was made against impending danger, and that the conduct of the Irish government was full of energy and alertness. The fact may have been so, Sir, but I honestly acknowledge I have my doubts of it; and f do in my conscience believe that a majority of this house, and of the public, doubt it. Sir, I criminate no man, for I know not, supposing there is ground for censure, to whom the blame a teaches. There is no one who entertains more personal respect and esteem for the individual at the head of the administration of Ireland than I do, and for several members of the different departments of that government I have the most cordial friendship: but the very interest that I take in their fame, increases my anxiety for an investigation of the mystery, in which this whole transaction is enveloped. Sir, I beseech gentlemen for a moment to mike this case their own: suppose, that while his Majesty's ministers were exhausting their eloquence in expatiating on the internal harmony and loyalty attributed to a peace which lasted but a twelvemonth, and in the course of which the enemy was detected in devices for sending military spies into the country, a traitorous plot should have suddenly burst on this metropolis, and that, in the exigency of the occasion, the parliament had vested in the crown, the same powers it his given to the lord lieutenant of Ireland: suppose it should have afterwards appeared, that, though a secret powder mill, and a quantity of prepared ammunition, had been previously detected, and the government warned of the danger, by several most respectable persons, yet that no communication should have been 99 made to the privy council, to any of the great officers of state, or to the Lord Mayor, and that the chief justice of the King's Bench should have been murdered, and the mansion house robbed of arms Imagine, too. that the session should have been permitted to close without any detailed informal ion to Parliament; that during the recess the attorney general should declare on the trials of the persons concerned in the treason, that the conspiracy was contemptible both n respect to numbers and character, and that it had terminated almost where it began; and that the ensuing session should have been opened by a speech from the throne, acquainting Parliament, that the public tranquillity had experienced no further interruption, and that his Majesty indulged the hope that the deluded were convinced of their error and were returned to their allegiance: let it be imagined, I day, that, under such circumstances, a minister without the production of a single document, should demand from Parliament a renewal of a martial law bill, I solemnly put it to the honour of every member who hears me, whether he believes this house would adopt such a measure without even asking a question. Sir, it is my firm and honest conviction, that no minister would presume even to make such a proposition. If then we should not pass this bill in our own case without due proof of its necessity, what can be the sentiment of Ireland, if, in the instance of that part of the united kingdom, we should adopt if with the facility, which his Majesty's ministers seem to recommend to us. Here, Sir, is a source to me of very painful and anxious apprehensions. If we do treat the business of Ireland lightly and superficially if we do appear to act negligently towards her interests, we shall at the same time act offensively to her feelings. The people of that country may begin to draw very unpleasant contrasts, they may say "in our local Parliament our affairs would have experienced a more grave and serious attention, our antient legislature would not have suspended our rights and privileges without adequate evidence of the urgency of the measure;" and thus, Sir, do I dread that the substantial benefits of the union may tie frustrated, and that if his Majesty's servants persevere in their present deportment towards the affairs of Ireland, I may live to repent the vote I gave for the accomplishment of that great object. I perceive, by the gestures of the gentleman opposite to me, that they mean to accuse me of a course of argument injurious to the public welfare but they will do well to recollect, that 100 the mischief will be in their conduct; and not in my statement, and I have felt it my peculiar duty to seize this opportunity of expressing my sense of the danger of their system, because we are still in time to anticipate it. For the reasons I have assigned, Sir, I shall not negative the bill; I but I do most earnestly exhort and conjure his Majesty's ministers, for the dignity and character of our proceedings, for the sake of constitutional precedent, and injustice, as, well as policy towards Ireland, to defer its further stager., until sufficient parliamentary information, in respect to the situation of that part of the united kingdom, shall be furnished to the house.
Mr. Secretary Yorke
considered the greater part of the speech of the right hon. gent, to be directed more against the general conduct of the Irish government, than against (he bill now before the House. The hon. member had thought proper to assert, that the affairs of Ireland did not occupy so great a share of the attention of government, or of the house, as their vast importance required. This was a very strong charge, but of the facts on which it was to be supported he professed himself to be totally ignorant. When the hon. member thought proper to give notice of a motion respecting the affairs of Ireland, and that motion came regularly before the house, he should be ready to meet any charges which were brought forward. Till this was done, he must content himself with giving the assertion a general denial. A charge of so important a kind would require strong evidence to support it, and he did not see the propriety of bringing it forward in a loose, unsupported manner. The hon. member had said, that it was particularly the duty of those who had voted for the union, to pay the utmost attention to the affairs of Ireland. For himself, he thought it equally the duty of all members to pay every possible degree of attention to this subject whenever it came to be fairly discussed, and he had no doubt that it would at all times receive the gravest and most mature consideration, such as its high importance was entitled to. A great deal had been said in the hon. gentleman's speech about additional information. He wished to know of what description the information was which was required. The information before the house was, that the rebellion in Ireland had been suppressed, that measures of precaution were, however, indispensably necessary, more especially when it was considered that the enemy had avowed his de- 101 termination to avail himself of the insurrection of die disaffected to aid his designs of invasion both against this country and Ireland. These appeared to him simple, clear, and satisfactory grounds for the renewal of the bill, as the best measure of precaution which could be adopted. The hon. member, in reference to the late rebellion which broke out in the capital of Ireland, had thought proper to assert that the government was surprized, and that sufficient measures had not been adopted to pre vent this desperate attempt of a few enthusiastic individuals. He must now, and on every occasion where such an assertion was made, distinctly deny that the government of Ireland was in any degree surprized. It was equally remote from the truth, that proper measures of precaution find not been adopted. The measures of precaution consisted in a numerous and well appointed garrison. When he stated to the house, that there were on the night of the insurrection in Dublin four veteran regiments, besides the l6th reg. of light dragoons, one of the best appointed regiments in the service, making a total of betwixt 3 and4.00O men, it could not be pretended with the smallest justice that the government had been wanting in measures of precaution for the defence of the capital. He would venture to affirm, and he would defy any gentleman to disprove his observation, that the force in Dublin on the 23d day of July, in the evening of which the insurrection had broken out, was adequate to the suppression, not only of the miserable mob of infatuated individuals then engaged, but of a number more than ten times their amount. With equal confidence he would assert, that the safety of Dublin was never, even for one moment, in danger. The best proof of this was, that after the military were brought to act, an hour had not elapsed before the rebels had dispersed and tranquillity was restored. It could not be seriously pretended, that the wretched mob of the 23d of July could ever have put the capital of Ireland in a state of the smallest-danger. Their number, according to the confession of their own leaders, did not exceed SO, and their progress commencing in Dirty Lane, had been terminated in Cutpurse Row. They had not dared to approach any of the principal parts of the town, and, as to the idea of their ever marching to the attack of the Castle, it really was altogether ridiculous. This appeared by the conduct of their principal leader. When he found the contemptible state of his followers, either in point of numbers or of discipline, he had taken his 102 road down a street leading to the country, where he threw off his rebel uniform, re gardless of the fate of his deluded partners in rebellion. Much stress was laid by those; who blamed the conduct of ministers, on the circumstance that they ware not aware of the existence of the rebel magazine in the heart of Dublin. True it was, that this circumstance had not been discovered previous to the insurrection of the 23d of July. Ministers, however, were apprised, that a rising was intended on that day, and such precautions were adopted, as left Dublin fully protected from all danger. True it was, that a respected magistrate: had fallen a sacrifice to the fury of the rebels; but this atrocity was, in no degree whatever, imputable to the negligence of ministers. From certain circumstances, that nobleman had heard of an intended insurrection in Dublin, and he was in consequence induced to proceed to town at a late hour. Perhaps it would have been more prudent if he had not thought of entering Dublin that night, or at legist that he had not entered it at that particular part of the town, where individuals ready for acts of atrocities could always be without difficulty collected. Much as the atrocity was to be lamented, it was it no degree brought on by the misconduct of the Irish government. Bui, to return more directly to the question before the house, though the hon. member appeared to consider it but of secondary importance. It was argued, that it was contrary to practice, to pass such a bill without previous information. He begged leave to recal the honourable member's recollection to the. case of 1801, when it was passed without any detailed information being communicated. He wished to ask the hon. member, if he felt himself authorised, without further in formation, to give his negative to the bill? He wished to ask, if he would insist on delay, even at the risk of leaving the government destitute of powers adequate to meet any emergency which might occur? As to the general charge against ministers for with holding information; this was a question quite different from the motion for the renewal of the bill.—If the hon. gent had any distinct charge to make against the government of Ireland; if he could produce any facts to prove that they had been deficient in foresight and energy, he should at all times be ready to meet and to repel that charge. As far as he knew any thing of the proceedings of the Irish government, there was no deficiency of precautions. These precautions were carried to an extent capable of defeating, not the abortive ac- 103 tempt of the 23d of July alone, but a force of even twenty times the amount, led on with talents, system and consistency of a far superior nature.
was adverse to the renewal of the bill without obtaining some information of its necessity, of which there was at present nothing before the house. The sum of this information, if it could be called such, was, that the rebellion was supersede, and that expectations of the continuance, of tranquillity were entertained. This, surely, was a very strange kind of information to offer to the house, as an inducement to pass a bill, which could not be characterised as any other than a measure of severity. The extraordinary negligence of the government of Ireland had been the subject of animadversion this evening, and with the sentiments expressed by his right hon. friend who began the discussion, he most heartily concurred. The hon. secretary of state had endeavoured to shew that such charges were unfounded, and lie had rested his argument chiefly on the strength of the garrison, and the facility with which the rebellion had been suppressed. But how did this representation accord with facts, at least with representations which had been given as such to the world. He had been informed, that in die evening on which the insurrection burst forth, the lord lieutenant had gone quietly to his country house as if no danger had been apprehended. The lord chief justice of the King's Bench, though necessarily in the confidence of government, was not at all aware of any insurrection, till the afternoon of the very day on which it exhibited itself in acts of public atrocity. But, this evening the right hon. the secretary of state had in his place declared, that government were aware of the projected insurrection that very day. How this declaration was consistent with the statement now made, he professed himself unable to discover. Credit was taken for the accurate information of ministers respecting the designs of the rebels, but it was admitted that the existence of their powder magazine was a profound secret. It certainly could not be pretended that the government, ignorant of this very important piece of information, could be able to form an estimate, at least a correct one, of the force sufficient for the preservation of the tranquillity of the capital. Bus, still, ministers were indignant at any charge of negligence or want of sufficiently accurate information. How far they were entitled to be so, he left it for the house to decide. He had been informed of another circumstance, which was certainly 104 no evidence of the foresight or information of the Irish government. It was very generally reported, that, so accurately were ministers informed of the intended rising of the rebels on the 23d of July, the regiments forming the garrison were provided with only three rounds of ball cartridge, and the yeomanry corps could not get a supply till after an interval of two hours! He had heard also a report, which if true, still more forcibly demonstrated the shameful ignorance of the Irish government respecting the designs of the rebels. It was roundly asserted, that, with the knowledge on the part of ministers of the intended rising on the evening of the 23d, a certain proportion from each company of the regiments forming the garrison, had a few days before been allowed to go to the country to assist in different species of work. Nothing could, in his opinion, more strongly discover a want of foresight; yet ministers look fire at the idea of the conduct of their colleagues in Ireland being censured for a flagrant deficiency of vigilance or talent.—So far was he from agreeing with those who thought that this was not the time for discussing the affairs of Ireland, that he could not help lamenting the fact, that not a single expression had dropped from ministers, expressive of their intention to adopt any measure for the conciliation of the unfortunate inhabitants of that country. The expression, in his Majesty's speech, alluding to the contrast between their situation and the situation of nations under the dominion of France, afforded him, and he was sure it would afford the inhabitants of Ireland, no. great degree of satisfaction. He had hoped for acts of leniency, instead of the renewal of measures of rigour, which could only keep alive feelings of animosity, instead of inducing the Irish people to return to that cordial allegiance, which could alone render them the bulwarks of the empire. The hon. gent, sat down with saying, that he should give his vote against the bill, unless further information of its necessity were produced.
§ Mr. Francis
said, that he could not let a measure of such great importance pass without staling his opinion of it. If his Majesty's ministers have grounds sufficient to support so strong an act against a great portion of onr fellow-subjects in Ireland, and so alarming to every other part of the empire, they ought to state those grounds to Parliament. In fact, we are called upon to proceed, without evidence, in a manner which nothing but the clearest evidence can justify; that is, to put the kingdom of Ire- 105 land under martial law. I do not mean, said the hon. gent., to bring any charge against the government of Ireland. Until I know the contrary to be true, I must presume, that they have furnished his Majesty's ministers with facts and proofs adequate to the measure now recommended. What I complain of is, that ministers have not communicated those facts and that evidence, nor even the smallest part of it to the House of Commons. Necessity, I know, supersedes all argument. Let the case be ever so doubtful or questionable, or even criminal, it may find a justification in extreme necessity: but then, I say, prove it. You have no right to avail yourself of the plea until you have established the fact. All the evidence I have seen or heard of goes in the opposite direction. The only parliamentary document on his subject that has b en laid before the house, is that passage in his Majesty's speech which describes, in terms of the highest satisfaction, a general change in the disposition of his deluded subjects in Ireland, and his gracious confidence in the corrected judgment of those who had been misled. Out of doors, and even within these few days, I have heard no other language among persons most disposed to favour the present government. But, when I come into tins house, I find the case totally reversed. The measure now proposed indicates that Ireland is in such a state, and the occasion so pressing, that nothing less than extreme courses can save it.—If the case be as violent as the remedy supposes, undoubtedly his Majesty's ministers have a right to the remedy. If not, they call upon us to trust them with a dangerous power, which is not wanted, and by the very act of calling for it, run the risk of doing mischief in other senses, and counteracting their own purpose. By empowering the government of Ireland to proclaim martial law, they alienate the affections of the people whom they ought to conciliate, and, in effect, they invite and encourage the enemy to invade the empire in that quarter. For what does the proclamation of martial law in effect say to Buonapartá and to all the world, but that in Ireland we are vulnerable, and that there he may invade us with a certainty of cooperation, and a reasonable prospect of success?
rose to reply to the two last speakers. He began by adverting to the charge of want of proper attention being paid by ministers, or the house, to the situation of Ireland. He really was not aware on what grounds it was that such a charge was adduced. If it was because subjects of a 106 delicate nature were avoided, and topics of dicussion which could only be productive of dissention among a people too often hurried away by their feeling0, instead of being guided by their cooler judgment, were abstained from, that the charge of inattention to Irish affairs and Irish interests were supported, he must take the earliest opportunity of protesting against such a doctrine. If any member conceived that any practicable measure could be brought forward for the advantage of Ireland, or any other part of the empire, it was his bounden duty to submit such a measure to the consideration of the house,; and it would then be for the wisdom of the legislature to decide on its expediency or its policy. Neglect was not, however, to be imputed to ministers, because they did not feel it their ditty to bring circumstances before parliament, to the removal of which they did not imagine any immediate measures to be applicable. Because government did not see the policy of originating some of I those measures, which to some hon. members might appear expedient and salutary, I that surely was no argument to prove that the essential interests of Ireland, as far as ministers understood them, were for a single moment overlooked. It would not be argued, that, because comparative unanimity at present prevailed, when the affairs of Ireland were considered, that there was, on the part of the house or ministers, any negligence or inattention to a subject which all admitted to be deeply interesting and important. It was not presuming too much to infer, that this unanimity on this subject, arose from a conviction of the indisputable and imperious necessity of the measures which ministers proposed. He was sure that his right hon. friend did not hold such an opinion. He possessed an understanding too great, and feelings too liberal, to allow him to entertain such an idea for a moment. As to the facts adduced by the hon. officer, he was ready at all time' to meet an investigation, and satisfactorily to vindicate the conduct of the government of Ireland. If there was any thing in their conduct at all deserving of censure, let it be fairly stated, and let them be candidly allowed to produce their defence. He took this opportunity, however, of deprecating the discussion of this important subject by a side wind. Let facts be fully and honourably brought forward, and not frittered away and distorted. Let the whole conduct of the government of Ireland be considered, combined, and arranged in all its bearings and relations, and then he should be ready to prove, that, instead of censure it was de- 107 serving of approbation; instead of a charge of weakness, a confidence of foresight and energy. He had made these observations with the view of preventing an idea from going abroad, that assertions made with the greatest confidence were true, merely because they might sometimes happen to pass uncontradicted. Leaving these extraneous matters out of further consideration, the house had only to consider the question of the necessity of the renewal of the biil.—The speech of his right hon. friend did not seem to torn so much on this question as on the conduct of the Irish government, a subject which was clearly uppermost in his hon. friend's mind. Re begged the attention of the house while he stated what had been the grounds of the previous renewal of the bill. At its first introduction it was supported on the ground of the notoriety of the rebellion, and on that its necessity was admitted. It was renewed in 1799, when, though the rebellion was put down, there were partial insurrections in different parts of the country. At that period he allowed that two reports of a secret committee had been adduced, to prove the necessity of the measure. He must, however, now be permitted to remark, that the expediency of such reports depended a good deal on circumstances. This was a mode of presenting in-formation to the legislature and the public, often highly advantageous. Occasions might occur, however, when to resort to it would be highly impolitic, and even dangerous. In such circumstances he thought that ministers now were placed, as to the propriety of presenting such information as the report of a secret committee would afford, It would be recollected that government was, even at this moment, actively, and he was happy to add, successfully employed in tracing out even the remotest ramifications of the insurrection. While such inquiries were going forward, it would be a matter of peculiar difficulty to frame such a report as would net disclose facts, the disclosure of which would not defeat the views of the government, and, at the same time, prove satisfactory to the legislature and the country. If a report were prematurely brought forward, government might be interrupted in its exertions to trace out the ramifications of rebellion. On the other hand, if the report was not detailed in its nature, it could not afford any criterion for judging of the necessity of a legislative measure, originating out of circumstances of peculiar emergency. To avoid the necessity of such a dilemma, it became necessary to resort to certain general principles, which while they 108 were consistent with the greatest attachment to the constitution, were not incompatible with the idea of investing the executive government with extraordinary powers, applicable to an extraordinary contingent crisis. He would not deny that the bill flow to be renewed, had never formerly been renewed where there was less actual or visible danger. He had no hesitation in applying this observation to all the periods of the renewal of the bill from the time of its original introduction. On this part of the subject, the noble lord took a review of the various; renewals of the bill. Though, however, he admitted that there was less visible danger, though he was happy to be able to state with truth, that the cause of loyally had received a vast augmentation, while the numbers of the disaffected had materially decreased still, however, there were traitors and malignant spirits tin Ireland, bent on projects of the most atrocious nature. It was to counteract their views, it was to defeat their designs, that he thought the bill, as a wise measure of precautionary power, both expedient and politic. There was one other circumstance which materially strengthened his argument on this subject. He meant to allude to the menaced invasion of the enemy. In former times and in former wars invasion had been often threatened, and perhaps at a certain period of the late war that threat was, to a certain degree, formidable. In no former period, however, had the threat of invasion assumed the same degree of consistency, and never had we to encounter an enemy at once so malignant, and so well prepared for carrying his hostile designs into'effect.—He had already adverted to the improved state of Ireland; but past experience demonstrated the imprudence of too flattering expectations of the continuance of this spirit. He wished in no case to depart from constitutional principles, where they could be adhered to with safety; but the safety of the state was a consideration paramount to every other idea. This safety could best be secured by the renewal of the bill. The liberties of the people were as far as possible in every case to be respected; and it was his decided opinion that the renewal of the bill, while it was the most consistent with liberty, was the best pledge for the continuance of tranquillity.—With respect to the observation made by the hon. gent. (Mr. Francis), that the adoption of the present measure would tend to inspirit Buonapartá to make an attempt upon Ireland, as holding out to him the prospect of co-operation in that quarter, he entertained no dread on that subject. 109 He was convinced, that a consciousness in the mind of that man of the odium which uniformly accompanied his footsteps, would point out to him the futility of such an expectation. The inhabitants of Ireland, when they joined their fate with Great-Britain, and he among the rest, anticipated the blessings which would result from that connection; they were convinced that they enjoyed more happiness than even when they had a legislature of their own. They rested with firm confidence on the vigour of this assembly, and all the loyal inhabitants of Ireland were convinced that it had acted nobly by them.
in explanation, stated that his charge, as to the want of preparation on the part of the Irish government at the breaking out of the insurrection in Dublin, was, that the military were provided only with three rounds of ammunition, and that the yeomanry had none at all for the space of two hours.
§ Mr. Pole
did not Wish to trouble the house with any observations on the present question He only meant to set the hon. gent, who had just sat down, right as to the circumstance which he had last mentioned. The hon. gent, had attempted to deceive the house and the public. The fact was, that, previous to the 23d of July, all the troops in Ireland had been provided with 6o rounds of ammunition each. The Castle of Dublin was no depot for military stores, but there had been lodged there 8000 rounds, for serving such regiments as might have occasion to apply, and, on the first application, ample provision was made and within less than two hours, more ammunition was supplied than was required to be used during the whole course of the rebellion. He stated this from his own personal knowledge, and pledged himself to the truth of it. He had been employed by the master of the ordnance to make the inquiry, who had been alarmed by a report similar to that stated by the hon. gent.
called upon the hon. gent, to say, whether it was parliamentary language, or language which ought to be used by one gentleman to another in that house, to accuse him of an attempt to deceive the house or the public?
§ Mr. Windham
said, it did not seem to him that the hon. gent. (Mr. Pole) had met the charge of his hon. friend (Colonel Craufurd), who did not say, that there was 110 not ammunition here and there, but spoke respecting the ammunition in the cartouch boxes of the soldiers. That part of the remark had not been answered. When he recurred to the observations of the noble lord, he had not so much to state arguments on the one side, as to speak of the want of them on the other. They were now about to renew martial law in Ireland, without having heard one single word to justify the measure. To vote the reestablishment of martial law seemed to be so much a matter of course, that it required no argument to support it. They stopped the constitution as a miller would stop a wind or a water-mill, and with as little consideration. The constitution was stop and set a going, was commanded to march or to halt, with as little ceremony as a colonel would use towards his battalion. He would not say this was wrong, but he wanted to know why it was right. It had been said that notoriety had been considered a good ground for voting a measure of this nature; this might be very true when rebellion was at the doors of those who voted such a measure, but no such reason existed now, and no other was given for it. They had been told of a danger which was at present invisible; this put him in mind of a dancer, who was described as turning round so quick, that he could not be seen to turn; which led somebody to observe, that perhaps he did not turn round at all; so as to this invisible danger: people might suspect, as nothing could be seen, that there was, perhaps, no danger at all. In the present instance, however, the difficulty was greater. He might discover from the mere light of nature, for to that he was left, the necessity of the present measure; but how was he to collect it from what ministers said? The whole of the inference that was to be drawn from their representations discountenanced the measure. He wished that ministers would tell them, when they should have made up their minds upon the subject, whether the late insurrection was really a contemptible riot; a mere effervescence of the moment, and confined to the spot on which it originated, or whether it spread to greater extent, and had taken deep root in the country? He wished that the hon. gentlemen on the other side of the house would deal fairly with them in that respect, and not, as at present, play fast and loose; seeking to have the benefit of suppositions both of which could not be true, like the student at one of the universities, who, upon being asked whether the sun went 111 round the earth, or the earth round the sun, answered, sometimes one and sometimes the other. So in the present case, sometimes ministers said the insurrection was a contemptible riot; at others, it was of such magnitude as to require a martial law bill. How could the house act? If they voted for the bill, they must vote for it in spite of the arguments of the ministers who supported it, and whose description of the event, which made the basis of their measure, was at one time a figure of stature to reach the skies, and at another, shrunk, like (he spirits in Pandemonium, to a pigmy size hardly capable of being discerned. The vigour of the measure might, according to the opinion of a noble lord (Lord Castlereagh), be a recommendation, and serve better to fulfil that assurance, which he mentioned himself to have given (and which no one could deny, was fully made good in the present instance), viz. that there would be no want of vigorous legislation in respect to the affairs of Ireland. But whatever might be said of the vigour of this proceeding, which, without a moment's consideration or a particle of evidence, put a great portion of the empire out of the protection of the constitution, he was afraid that much would not be said, or felt, of its kindness. It would be no great proof, either of our respect or sympathy for the people of Ireland, no good illustration of the advantages of the union, that we should be willing to exclude them for the time from the constitution, and put them under martial law, in circumstances of proof, in which no man would have ventured to hint at such a thing in respect to this country. Ministers might perhaps be satisfied with the panegyrics bestowed on these measures; great powers must be applied to great occasions, and on this ground the principle of arbitrary power might do good: despotism was neither good nor bad in itself, and if angels were always to rule, there would be no objection to it; but as this could not be the case, men were content to forego the advantages which a more direct and arbitrary use of power might confer, and to take up with the safer and slower operation of laws and free governments. In these measures they must look to the ministers who proposed them, and who were not entitled to confidence at all. If the statements of ministers were to be taken, these measures were not necessary. Here let the house recollect what took place in last July. Previous to the insurrection, they were told by ministers that Ireland was in a continual state 112 of improvement, and it was to be inferred, that every danger ought to be thrown oft their minds. Had any one at that time, proposed a martial law bill, what would have been thought of his conduct? Yet, why not? What had happened since, to change the determination of the house, or to render that necessary which was not necessary at the period above-mentioned? Up to the moment of the 23d of July, the house bad been told that all was tranquil in Ireland, and the country in a state of daily improvement. A few days subsequent to that date, news arrives, that an insurrection had broken out that the lord chief justice had been murdered, and the capital been within an ace of being taken. In the first paroxysm of their fears, ministers speak out, describe the proceeding as a dangerous rebellion, and call for an instant suspension of the habeas corpus, and for a martial law bill. As neither of these measures were wanted, for any object at that moment depending, as one of them was a mere measure of general precaution, and the other (the martial law bill) could not be applied to the trials of those already apprehended, with respect to all of whom, it was an ex post facto law, there seemed to be no reason, why, according to the ordinary practice of Parliament, the delay of a day should not be allowed for deliberation; a delay which would be nothing with respect to the measure, but was a great deal with respect to the better understanding the event, on which the measure was to be founded. On some subjects, an additional four-and-twenty hours could add nothing to our knowledge, nor be expected to make much change in our opinion. On the subject of the late peace, for instance, or of the French revolution, a man was not likely to think at the end of any four-and-twenty hours now taken, differently from what he had done at the beginning. It would be useless therefore to delay a decision, with a view to what such an interval might produce. But, in the present case, four-and-twenty hours was nearly equal to the whole period that the event had been known to us, an event too, on which the letters of every pest, were giving us further and better information. On these ideas he had urged, that after an assurance to his Majesty, of the determination of the house to support his Majesty against all dangers, and to adopt whatever measures should be necessary for that purpose, they should have paused till the next day, to determine what those measures ought to be. This proposal was over-ruled, and he was treated as little less than a person disaffected, who, before 113 a bill was pased, such as the martial law bill, could suggest the propriety of a moment's delay, till his Majesty's ministers should have settled in their own minds, whether the event in question was a serious rebellion, or only an accidental riot. The decision was now made for an accidental riot. And it was declared, that from some causes or other, from the security necessarily exercised, and which, it seems, have had the effect, not only of intimidating and cutting off the usual effects of severity, but even of conciliating the disaffected, Ireland was in a better state than ever, less filled with a disposition to mischief, and with better means of resisting, should any be attempted. The consequence of all this would seem to be, that a suspension of the habeas corpus, and a martial law bill, which were not necessary before the 23d of July, must be still further from being necessary now. And this inference was further confirmed, by the circumstance so much insisted upon by ministers, that the powers granted at the period alluded to, had never been acted upon, but in one instance. He was the farthest from meaning to contend, that a power not acted upon, and a power not possessed, were one and the same thing; or, that a power known to be possessed, might not produce great effects, even though it should never be called forth into action. But, at least, it must be admitted, that a power so circumstanced, that is to say, which in the course of many months had never been wanted, or never used, was not one, which required such hasty proceedings, as those which took place at the period above referred to, or which could claim to be renewed, without one single fact or argument adduced to shew that it was necessary. If no facts or arguments were adduced, as little could it be said, that the house had any authority to act upon. The authority, if any, must be that of his Majesty's ministers; and what must their authority be held to be, whose total ignorance or criminal neglect, had exposed the capitad of part of the empire to be within an ace of being surprised, (he was glad to repeat the expression) at a moment when they were preaching every where the tranquil state of the country. This topic, the hon. gentleman wished to get rid of, by a new kind of doctrine, namely, that nothing should be said of the conduct of ministers, unless produced in the shape of a distinct charge. He had no objection to distinct charges, wherever the magnitude of the object, the circumstances of the case, and the time of the house would admit of them; which latter consideration alone might, in 114 the multitude of charges liable to be made against the hon. gentlemen, be a reason against that course. But however this might be, it would be a whimsical rule to lay down, that unless these charges, or until these charges were brought, no observations were to be made upon the conduct of men in public stations, even where their conduct furnished, as in the case before them, an argument essentially interwoven with the subject in discussions The authority of ministers constituted, in the present instance, ail the public and parliamentary grounds which the house had to stand upon. It was of some consequence, therefore, to ascertain what that authority was 5 and no single instance could better illustrate it, than that which was afforded by the 23d of July. He was amazed at the account which government had finally resolved to give of that transaction. They had to chase between neglect and surprise. If they knew nothing or what was coming on, if they were really in the opinions, which they thought proper to profess, that all was tranquil in Ireland, and nothing meditating against the government, then they were surprized, and must I take the shame which belongs to that confession. It, on the contrary, they chose to disclaim this ignorance of the state of the country, and this want of information as to what was passing under their noses, then they must confess 3 degree of neglect, not merely disgraceful, but such as was in the strictest sense criminal To his utter astonihment they made their election for the neglect. Having the choice of two interpretations, being returned, as it were, for two places, the one which they chose, the one for which they finally took their seat, was that which put them in the situation of declaring, that knowing the mischief to be coming on, knowing that an insurrection was likely to take place, they calmly and advisedly suffered it to take its course, neglecting those precautions, which would hale said the life of; the chief justice, and have put the city in a state of perfect security; instead of leaving it, as they did, to be preserved by the merest chance from falling into do hands of the rebels. This account of the transaction, as I given by the hon. gentleman, was striking in the first instance, from the utter impossibility of reconciling it with known and acknowledged facts it was not very easy to understand, how that could be otherwise than a surprize, which found the lord mayor without notice; the commander in chief without instructions, at least without permission. feely to act upon his instructions; the troops, in part, without ammunition; and 115 the lord lieutenant absent from the castle, He was prepared to say, that much of the ammunition supplied to the yeomanry (troops that had their full share in what was done) was not brought to them till after the action had commenced, and when there was the most imminent risk, that both the ammunition itself, as well as those who escorted it, would have been intercepted by the rebels. If this was not a surprize, he should be glad to know, what in the ministerial vocabulary was to be so denominated. But the account was not less singular, if adopted by the hon. gentleman, on any principle of choice. On what possible supposition was the lord lieutenant's absence from the castle to be accounted for, it not on that of surprize, and of his being ignorant of the explosion which was about to take place? What the lord lieutenant absent at his country house, at a moment when he knew that an insurrection was likely to break out in the city! And this the statement made by his friends! He could only say, in the words of Hamlet, 'I would not hear thine enemy say so. He would not have so shocked the ears of a right hon. gentleman opposite to him (Mr. Yorke) or have so isolated his own convictions, as to have advanced an opinion, pregnant with such injurious reflexions, to the noble lord at the head of the Irish government. But, in whatever way the fact was to be accounted for, to whichever change the government would choose is plead guilty, their authority upon the subject of Irish affairs was at an end. If the measure proposed was to be adopted, it must be, not in consequence of the representations made by government, but in spite of them. They had described the proceedings of the 23d of July as a contemptible riot: that had declared the state of the country to have been improved by those proceedings, instead of being made worse. The best plea which they could urge, and one certainly which they would be able to make cut, was that they knew nothing of the matter. Yet, in this state of things, the house was called upon to voie a martial law bill, without a single proof adduced of the necessity of it, and upon grounds too that would equally serve for any other time as well as the present. For if this measure was to as a noble lord had declared, precautionary, and that that precaution was to be founded upon the mere fact of an insurrection having broken out, this tact would continue to be true to the end of time; and whenever it could be coupled with a war, might be made the foundation of a measure such as was then proposed. It was impossible to say, bow long, according to the pre- 116 sent mode of reasoning, its influence in that respect might last.—Upon the whole, the measure as now proposed, was utterly without foundation to stand on. What it might I be in itself, was not so properly the object of inquiry. He could very well conceive, judging from views the very reverse of those commonly held out by the hon. gentlemen, that the course proposed, desperate as it was, might be necessary. He was afraid, at least, in so critical a case, to say that it was not so. Contrary, therefore, to the general rule, which would direct in every case, and still more in one like the present, the rejection of every measure, of which no strong reason had been' urged for the support, he should acquiesce in the one now proposed, protesting against the manner in which it had been brought forward, and begging to have it understood, that so far as he might concur in it, it was for reasons wholly different from those which could be derived from the language or conduct of the hon. gentlemen.
The Chancellsr of the Exchequer.
—Sir; in the observations which I feel it my duty to other to the house, it is my intention to follow the example set me by my noble friend near me (lord Castlereagh) and to sever the consideration of the conduct of die Irish government, respecting the insurrection of the 23d of July, from the merits of the measure now before the house; and to make that conduct, whatever it may have been, the subject of a distinct charge. However, as it has been, in this instance, brought into view, I think it necessary most distinctly to declare my opinion, that the proceedings of the high characters, to whom the management of Irish affairs are entrusted, will be found to have been, in the instance alluded to, perfectly justifiable; that they acted with the most laudable judgment; that they had procured full information of the plan of the insurrection, and had provided means amply adequate to defeat its object. That the lord lieutenant, after having taken every necessary precaution, thought proper to retire to his seat in the Phœnix-park, I am ready to admit; but that such retirement betrayed any degree of inattention to the wants or security of the state and the city of Dublin, I do most decidedly contradict, because I am satisfied, that every measure was taken, that the most deliberate investigation, and the most active vigilance could suggest. The civil power was prepared, and the army, as was seen by the result of the insurrection, was in a complete state of readiness. The superintendant magistrate of Dublin, was, at an early period of the day on which the insurrection took place, apprised by the Irish government, that 117 such an event was expected, arid the police of Dublin was in consequence prepared. The right hon. gentleman who has just sat down is, therefore, unfounded in the assertion, that no communication whatever was made of the design of the rebels to the civil power, until the very moment the rebellion broke out. The lord-lieutenant of Ireland having taken every proper step of preparation for the public security, there was one oilier important object to which it was the duty of his excellency to attend, namely, to guard against popular alarm, by avoiding any ostentations proceeding that might betray exaggerated fear; for such a conduct, he must be aware, would tend to encourage the rebels, by inducing them to think more highly of their own powers, and perhaps to throw the city of Dublin into a state of consternation that might weaken their power, and diminish their competency to resist the danger. Such effects would have very probably arisen, had the lord lieutenant declined going, according to his usual habit, to his seat in the park. I, therefore, am warranted in contending, that it was wise in the lord lieutenant to return to his country house, and not to remain in the metropolis, which would have given rise to reports and conjectures, dangerous in their nature and consequences. But having made these statements, in answer to the assertions of the right hon. gentleman, I must once more remark, that they have no connexion whatever with the question before the house, which is simply this, whether it is expedient to continue the act under consideration without the preliminary proceeding of an inquiry before a committee, as to the necessity which calls for it. To the appointment of such a committee, I must object, because the necessity is obvious, and because the same measure of precaution, which this bill proposes, has, in many instances, been adopted without any previous inquiry. It was so on the first suspension of the habeas corpus act, at the commencement of the last war, and on several other occasions, which must be within the recollection of the hon. gentleman on the other side, and in most of which, the right hon. gentleman, who last addressed the house, took a very active part; and his hon. friend, who sat near him (Mr. Elliot) was not less active, in similar cases, as a member of the Irish parliament. From such gentlemen, therefore, the loud call for inquiry into the grounds of necessity which pressed for this measure, which are notorious, and certainly much stronger than at any of the various periods when a like proceeding was resorted to, comes with a very ill grace, and must excite some astonishment on the score 118 of consistency. When the martial law bill was continued immediately after the union, no inquiry such as that now demanded took place. Parliament acceded to the bill then, on the assurance of the representatives of Ireland, that it was proper and necessary. The right hon. gent. (Mr. Windham) was then in office, and joined in resisting the proposition of inquiry, and indeed one's surprize at his present recommendations is aggravated by the recollection of the arguments he then employed to justify his opposition to inquiry; arguments founded entirely on the known circumstances of the times and of the Irish nation; and can the right hon. gent. I will ask, pretend to maintain, that those circumstances were by any means so strong as the present time offered, a time when invasion is impending and disaffection is actually existing in Ireland? Why then, in such a state of our affairs, should the right hon. gent, persist in arguing, that no such measure as that which he himself supported upon much less ground of necessity, ought to be introduced to the hon. I without the preliminary of a committee of inquiry? In July, the house assented to the enactment of this law, upon the authority of a message from the throne, and the lord-lieutenant's proclamation respecting the rebellion, which referred to the massacre of Lord Kilwarden. Since then the details of the several trials had furnished the house and the country with the most satisfactory evidence of the necessity of the proceedings. But the hon. gent. (Mr. Elliot) argued as if no rebellion or disaffection of any magnitude, sufficient to justify the grant of such extraordinary powers to the Irish government, did really exist, because the Irish attorney general thought proper, in the course of his address to the jury on a particular trial, to describe the insurrection of the 23d of July as the desperate effort of a few turbulent men: but it cannot be admitted that such a description from any man, however respectable, should exclude all reference to the nature of the evidence. If such a doctrine were to obtain credit, it would lead to conclusions at once absurd and mischievous. If such language as that of the hon. gentlemen respecting the preference of the authority of the attorney generals statement on the occasion alluded to, that of the witnesses examined on the several trials, was used by the judge on any of these trials: if, for instance, his lordship were to any to the jury, "You are to attend to and form your judgment on the address of the attorney-general, putting entirely out of your minds the statements of the evidence," what, I 119 beg to know from the honourable gentlemen themselves, would be their sentiments upon such a singular recommendation from the bench? Ant yet their language in the course of the debate was of precisely a similar import. I make these observations merely to shew he sort of argument which the hon. gentlemen are apt to use, when it this their pleasure to oppose the propositions of his majesty's ministers. With respect to the expression in his Majesty's speech, that tranquillity is happily restored in Ireland, I will say, that the justice of that statement is perfectly maintainable, without impairing in any degree, the force of the arguments now relied on for the re-enactment of the measure under discussion. It is known hat the rebellion was put down, that its leaders and the greater part of its principal agents have been brought to justice, and that although much of disaffection is understood to pervade the Irish nation, yet tranquillity nevertheless exists; but is not die existence of that tranquillity to be secured by precisely the same means to which the country was indebted for its attainment, by the precautionary measures which formed the subject of the present debate? And surely it is not unfair or irrational to say, that best measure have contributed a large share in restoring peace to Ireland, and that they will materially tend to preserve that peace we have the strongest reasons to believe. These is nothing in his Majesty's speech that implies an opinion that disaffection did not exist in Ireland; or that it was not necessary to invest the Irish government with the extraordinary powers of the bill before the house; on the contrary, such powers were deemed essentially necessary, to enable that government effectually to repel an invading enemy, and to repress domestic treason. In announcing the restoration of tranquility in Ireland, it was very natural for the paternal mind of his Majesty to feel, and benevolently to express a hope that, not with standing the disaffection that unhappily prevailed, his deluded subjects would return to their allegiance; and this hope was, in a great degree, justified by the improvement which was known to have taken place in the public mind in Ireland; but this improvement was not such as to induce ministers to believe that it would as yet be sate to relax the power, of the Irish government, for I am still of opening in that a much greater share of disaffection at present exists in Ireland, than ever did in this country at any of the various periods when precautionary measures, said are to that under debate, were very properly enacted, and particularly du- 120 ring the right hon. gentleman's connexion with the cabinet. That nothing has been conveyed by his Majesty's speech, so often referred to, and so unjustly commented upon, and that nothing lien in any manner come from his Majesty's ministers to contravene the opinion that a great deal of disaffection is to be found in Ireland, which renders it necessary to arm the Irish government with extraordinary powers, I will most decidedly maintain; yet the right hon. gent, has charged ministers with holding one kind of language at the commencement of the session, and another kind to support the measure under consideration, with, accordsng to the right hon. gentleman's own phrase, "riding fast and loose." But in reply to the remark accusing ministers of inconsistency with respect to the statement of the rebellion, I must observe, that it is greatly exaggerated by the right hon. gentleman; that it is by no means so formidable as this discussion would imply, although it is of such a size and magnitude as to justify the proceedings of the Irish government, and to call on a wise legislature for the assent so promptly given to the grant of powers which that government thought necessary for the public safety, and to enable them to prevent an evil which, co-operating with the attacks and stratagems of an invading enemy, might be productive of incalculable mischief. With respect then to the amount and extent of the Irish rebellion, I repeat that it is very far short of the description of the right hon. gentleman, but yet sufficient to render it the duty of government to bring forward the measure before the house. I will seriously ask any man, whether the insurrection of the 23d of Jul)', was not the symptom of such a disposition, as might break forth, if not closely watched and guarded against, by the provisions of such a measure, as the right hon. gentleman opposes? To remove ail doubts of the necessity which he has questioned, it is enough to refer the right hon. gentleman to the evidence upon the several trials, which display so clearly the temper of the insutgents, to these facts, that are quite notorious to the country, and to the peculiar circumstances in which it is at present placed. After such a review, who can entertain a doubt of the propriety of taking immediate and vigorous measures to avert the calamities which the state of things menace. Such indeed was the influence of those circumstances upon the minds of those to whom the government of Ireland was committed, combined with the knowledge they had of the disposition of the Irish people, that I can assure the house it 121 was matter of doubt with many of those respectable personages, even before the insurrection of the 23d of July, whether they should not stale to government here, the propriety of recommending to Parliament the adoption of precisely the same powers and provisions which that insurrection rendered so essentially necessary, and which it is the object of the bill before the house to re-enact. I know that the expediency of proposing the suspension of the habeas corpus act, previous to the unfortunate event in July, was in the contemplation of the noble lord who held the seals in that country, who had full opportunity of judging of the site of the public mind, and who cannot be suspected of any inclination to adopt a measure which would abridge the liberty of the subject, without the conviction of strong necessity—a necessity which now exists too notoriously to be denied. The hon. gentlemen do not indeed directly deny it, but they call for the formality of evidence to prove it. What, can it be said, that at this crisis it is not necessary to give every possible strength to the executive government in Ireland, when it is recollected that an enemy, who is ever active in his exertions to annoy us, and who meditates an invasion, which, if he msan3 at all to execute, Ireland is his object, and the season is now come when he will probably make the attempt Under such circumstances, I will put it to the good sense of the House, whether there can be any excuse for hesitating to accede to the motion in debate, and to give to the government of Ireland all the strength that is requisite to enable it to encounter with effect the danger with which that country is threatened? I again call upon gentlemen to separate in their minds the question as to the conduct of the Irish government in July, and the policy of assenting to the present measure; and in reply to the calls for a preliminary inquiry into the grounds of necessity, I answer, that notoriety, connected with the enemy's preparations and avowed objects, furnish sufficient grounds to sustain the assertion, that circumstances imperiously demand such measures as ministers have on this occasion submitted to Parliament; and I can shew, from a retrospect of the conduct of the legislature for the last ten years, that notoriety was held in several instances as a sufficient ground to justify the introduction of bills to suspend the Habeas Corpus Act, and that too in cases which were defended by the right hon. gentleman who spoke last, and where the notoriety was far from being as strong as that which exists at present. As to the principle of appointing a Commit- 122 tee of Inquiry, I perfectly agree in the opinion of my noble friend (Lord Castlereagh), that such appointments should not be made on light grounds. The House is bound to avoid it, unless the necessity should be urgent, and unless the result of such inquiry should promise to be satisfactory, by fully gratifying the just curiosity of the House. But, if in the present case a committee of, inquiry were appointed, it must be a confidential committee, and it would be quite competent to ministers, although with some difficulty, to lay before such a committee, such materials as would be sufficient to convince their minds of the necessity which called for the measures under consideration; but still the report could not afford to the hon. gentlemen, who were so anxious for the committee, the satisfaction they seemed to desire; for such a report must necessarily be general as to the necessity, before it could go into such a specification as the hon. gentlemen demanded, without revealing the communication confidentially made to the committee; a communication which would lead to the most serious mischief. There is in fact no detailed information upon this point, which it would not be injurious to publish: therefore, there is nothing which, consistently with prudence, the hon. gentlemen could obtain from the report of a committee, which they have not already; namely, a. statement in general terms of that necessity, the pressure of which is quite manifest, and from these considerations I shall resist the preliminary which the hon. gentle-men wish for previous to giving their assent to die motion of my right hon. friend—With regard to the allusions made to the peace of Amiens, as at all tending to produce the present state of things, I will ever continue to repel the charge which upon that ground has so often been levelled at his Majesty's ministers, and contend that very different consequences are deducible from that treaty to this which the right hon. gentleman who has just sat down, and his friends, are in the habit of ascribing to it. Ministers, I am confident, have never had reason to feel any regret for the advice which, upon the occasion of that treaty, they thought it their duty to offer to his Majesty.—With respect to the proposition before the House, I contend, that none of the objections advanced against it are tenable upon sound principles of reasoning, or upon precedent; particularly upon the precedents of late years, when the melancholy necessity for similar measures has so often occurred.—There is one circumstance I have yet to mention, which, in my mind, is worthy of great attention. It 123 is rather singular, that in the last session of parliament, most of the gentlemen in this House belonging to Ireland, gave strong assurances, that the mind and disposition of the great mass of the Irish people were much improved and alienated from discontent and disaffection. From that opinion, however, one gentleman, and one gentleman only, dissented; and it is now but three days ago, that the gentleman to whom I allude, (Mr. J. C. Beresford) took the opportunity of correcting his mistake, and declaring that his opinion had undergone a complete change; and notwithstanding that alteration of sentiment, his observations strongly tended to enforce the necessity of the present bill. For although he says he is convinced of the improvement which has taken place in the public mind, yet he urges the adoption of this measure, as absolutely necessary to preserve the tranquillity of all the loyal people of property in Ireland. I beg pardon, Sir, for having detained the House so long upon a subject, which I could not imagine would have experienced so serious an opposition; and I have only to state my conscientious conviction, that it is indispensably requisite for the present safety of that part of the United Kingdom.
§ Mr. Wilberforce
expressed his opinion upon the grand distinction which should be made between the civil and military code: that there was no ground of doubt why the measure should not be carried into effect. In the organization, breaking out, and progress of post insurrection, he found a complete justification for voting in the affirmative. With respect to the argument set up by a right hon. gentleman, that some grounds should be stated to the House, it was only necessary for him to remark, that the bill was supported by the same constitutional system which enabled his Majesty to proclaim martial law, and to call for the aid of all his subjects in case of the enemy's landing. He did not coincide in the sentiments of the right hon. gentleman, who had argued, that a despotic government would be the best of all governments, if administered by angels. For his own part, he was convinced that the nature of despotism was so bad, and tended so much to corruption, that he preferred the British constitution, administered even as it was, to the despotic government of angels. He thought the House was called upon to bestow the most serious consideration upon the state of Ireland: for it was a melancholy reflection, that a country which had been connected fur several hundred years with this, enjoying the same benefits, and in possession of the same constitution;, should be afflicted 124 with such evils and calamities. The causes of its distresses were certainly well worthy of the mature consideration of the British Parliament. He felt himself called upon to say, that the wisdom, benevolence, and justice of Parliament, could not be more urgently required. Fie hoped no temporary expedients would be resorted to, but that a wise, liberal, and enlarged system of policy would be adopted, which might make the people of that country permanently happy.
§ Dr. Laurence,
after expressing his agreement with the concluding sentiments of the last speaker, vindicated his right hon. friend (Mr. Windham) from the charge of inconsistency. With regard to the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, it was a measure of a very different nature from the present. That was a measure of precaution, this of punishment, and of punishment in a manner which was looked upon by the constitution with peculiar jealousy. It was barely tolerated, never praised. An assertion had been made that similar bills had been passed by the United Parliament without enquiry. This assertion w as not borne out by the fact. He had himself on a former occasion voted for the measure, because, from the proclamation, he was led to believe that a necessity existed But, what document was there before the House to prove the existence of any such necessity at this moment? The evidence, such as it was, led to a contrary conclusion. It was now acknowledged that the murder of Lord Kilwarden was not the effect of a premeditated plan, but had taken place from his being the first person who was presented to the fury of the mob. But it was on the ground of the law being more directly struck at in the person of one of its chief administrators, that he had voted for the Martial Law Bill. On the other side, a hope had been expressed by his Majesty, that his deluded subjects were returning to a state of obedience. By one gentleman the notoriety of the necessity had been urged by another it had been stated, that an invisible necessity existed. (Lord Castlereagh here said, that he had not called it an invisible necessity, he had said, that there was a necessity though not visible.) The hon. member then proceeded, to say, that he would leave the noble lord to explain to the House the distinction, and, in compliment to him, would use the term non-visible, instead of invisible. The necessity was not visible, and the notoriety which had been mentioned was, he supposed, not audible. The law, it was acknowledged, had never been acted upon, but in one solitary instance, and in that one instance he would assert, that it had been 125 misapplied. It had been directed to the punishment of a man who had attempted to seduce the soldiers from their allegiance; an act, which, though perhaps, even more criminal than open violence, did not come within the meaning of the statute. The hon. member noticed the assertion made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that it had been in the contemplation of some members of the Irish government to propose the enactment of Martial Law previous to the 23d of July, and he contrasted it with the declaration of the right hon. gent, only live days before the insurrection, that there was more loyalty in Ireland than ever, and that tranquillity was perfectly secure. Should a distinct enquiry into the business of the 23d of July ever take place, he hoped the right hon. gentleman would take for his defence, ground a little more tenable than that on which he stood at present. With respect to the measure now before the House, he wished the House to consider what had been the policy of our ancestors, when called upon for extraordinary powers, even under circumstances of great danger. In the reign of Edward III. ministers came to the House for advice, and stated, that in divers counties, cities, and towns, ill-disposed men had leagued together, and sworn, when they should receive news agreeable to their desires, to rise, to rob and murder their neighbours, and procure a general insurrection throughout the land. This was at a period when die King was with his army in France, and the news, which was desired by the ill-disposed, was no less than the ruin of that army, at the head of which was the Sovereign. In this situation what was done by the House of Commons? Did it declare martial law? No. It answered, that if the guardians of the peace were not capable of performing their duty, they must be reinforced by ethers more sufficient, and that no persons arrested must be released on bail till they were delivered by persons of sufficiency, and she most respectable of the country, such as knights and Serjeants. This last clause was in effect a mitigated suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act. Such was the wisdom of our ancestors. Here was no recourse to martial law, a sort of law, which, even in its best form, was alien to the constitution. But, the mania] law they were now called on to sanction, was of an aggravated nature. It had none of those checks which had been carefully introduced into the old martial law to modify and correct the virulence of its operation. The learned member then entered into a view of martial law. It took its rise, he said, from the ancient 126 Courts of Chivalry, and the administration of it was originally presided over by a person professing the law. Under the Mutiny Bill, courts martial were to consist of thirteen officers, and one of them was to be a field-officer; thus preserving the appearance of a judge and jury. The culprit too, was entitled to a copy of the proceedings and the sentence. In short, there had been always an endeavour to make the martial law as like the constitutional law as possible. In the present instance all these ideas were abandoned. Courts martial were allowed to be formed by a smaller number of officers, than, under the Mutiny Bill, was allowed in any port of the British dominions, with the exception only of the slave coast and Botany Bay, where, from circumstances, it was impossible to apply the general rule. From the first of these places, he was sure one hon. member (Mr. Wilberforce,) would not be ready to draw any precedent; and he was himself, and he believed the House would be, as little disposed to take one from the second. It was utterly impossible to assign any reason why, in a country like Ireland where so large an army was stationed, so small a number of offices was allowed to forma court martial. A want of officers could certainly not be pleaded. The learned member then urged the impolicy of suffering martial law to remain in existence a moment longer than was absolutely necessary. To shorten the dominion of the sword, and to bring back society to its original state, had always been the wish of every wise legislator. In the opinion of mankind no disgrace attached to the memory of those who fell in a state of warfare. But very different was the case of those who suffered by the operation of the laws. A solemn verdict of persons, who perhaps, were their neighbours, of men without passion or prejudice, established their guilt, and their guilt were for ever branded with ignominy. This was felt by one of the leaders of the late insurrection (Emmet) when he was taken, and an apology was made for his being hurt in the struggle, he replied, that every thing was fair in war; but when he was sentenced by a jury of his countrymen, his feelings ware very different: conscious of the shame that was incurred by his end, he desired that no man might write his epitaph. Having enforced, at considerable length, the various heads of argument, the hon. member concluded by expressing his disapprobation of the measure now before the House.
§ General Loftus
considered the bill before the House merely as a measure of precaution, and by no means one upon which the 127 noble lord at the head of the administration in Ireland would be disposed to act without the most urgent and indispensable necessity. He knew that noble lord, and was convinced of his disposition. He was a member of the Irish parliament when a similar measure was originally enacted. He; had the honour also of serving a; a general on the staff in that country, when the noble lord opposite to him was chief secretary (Lord Castlereagh); and he could assure the House, that even then, when the country was very generally agitated by a rebellious disposition, martial law was only resorted to in those counties or districts where the King's judges were prevented by insurrection from going their regular circuits, to carry into effect the common law of the land. The government of Ireland, he was well assured, would not resort to it but when it was found absolutely necessary for the preservation of the state.
The Attorney General
observed, that the whole of she hon. and learned gentleman's arguments were directed against the bill, as if it were intended to be carried into adoption permanently and universally throughout Ireland: whereas it was merely intended to be temporary, and only to be acted on in such places as those wherein the ordinary process of the law should be impeded; so far, however, from its being a measure subversive of the common law, or tending to supersede generally the ordinary course of justice, it was in fact solely intended as a measure auxiliary to the common Jaw, and tending to protect its administration by proceeding in the summary process of martial Jaw in districts where rebellion or insurrection should render the process of the ordinary law impracticable. He could not avoid Considering the arguments this night offered against the adoption of this bill, as very extraordinary, considering the. persons at which, and the persons from whom, they came, and more especially front the right hon. gentleman opposite to him, (Mr. Windham,) who was a member of his Majesty's government, when a measure exactly similar to the present was first introduced, and was himself can of its most strenuous advocates and defenders. The right hon. gentleman, this night, was loud and vehement in his reprobation of this bill, and in his declaration, that it most undoubtedly was a measure which violated the constitution, and ought not to pass in the present posture of affairs. He remembered, however, when a similar measure was proposed during the administration of the right hon. gentleman; and when it was resisted by the opposition of that day, as one calculated to exasperate the people of Ireland, and to dispose them still atom to re- 128 bellion, the right hon. gentleman's language was—"who is it we are to conciliate? Is it those who are conspiring in rebellion against us, and against those whom we know to be the loyal supporters and friends of government? In favour of whom is it that we are called on to relax, in exercising the powers of government? Is it in favour of traitors, to the abandonment of our loyal fellow subjects?" From this language of the right hon. gentleman, upon a former occasion, he begged leave to furnish himself with arguments this night in support of this bill; and he would ask if there was a loyal man this night in Ireland, who could conceive, from the passing of this bill, the most slight cause to abate in his loyalty and attachment to government; and if, on the contrary, it would not be received as an additional pledge to every loyal subject, of the care and protection of the government. He was clearly of opinion that the people of Ireland would not be satisfied that parliament had done its duty, if it were to separate without passing the measure.
§ Mr. Windham
wished the honourable and learned gentleman to consider, that if he meant to expose the opinions of any one, he must take care to state them correctly: for that otherwise the triumph which he would obtain, would be a triumph only over himself. He (Mr. W) had never said, that the measure in question, though proper in itself, ought to be rejected, because it would be complained of by those, on whom it was likely to operate. He had never said, as a foundation for such an opinion, that the measure in question was proper. On the other hand, he was as little inclined to say, that it was improper. What he complained of was, that proper or otherwise, the house was adopting it without proof.
The Hon. C. Hely Hutchinson.
—Sir, while I highly admire the display of talent which has characterized this debate, I cannot but be of opinion, that many of the observations which have been made, might have been well spared. I confess, Sir, that I felt during a great part of the discussion, as a parent who had been just deprived of a beloved child, with the physician seated by me, detailing the circumstance, and reminding me of the agonies under which my child had perished: whilst I eagerly watched the opportunity to exclaim, "spare me, Sir, this torturing and now unavailing narrative; my child is gone—Hat loss is irretrievable: but, in the same of God, try and avert the ravages of a cruel disease from the rest of my family;" and in the same manner should I be inclined to address the gentlemen of this House, "no more of the 129 severity of this measure, of which happily for you, you cannot judge of the necessity by a reference to any thing which passes here. No more of the useless detail of the outrages and atrocities which have lately disgraced that unhappy country; for her crimes and her sufferings she has much to mourn; but the past cannot be recalled: in the name of mercy then, save her from again plunging into the guilt of rebellion, and incurring its heavy penalties."—I perfectly agree with those who consider the re-enactment of the present bills as a most extraordinary exertion of legislative power; such a one, as in the judgment of a Briton may almost appear unconstitutional; but, Sir, the hon. gent. (Mr. Wilberforce) under the gallery, has given the true reason, why a measure, which in this country would be exclaimed against as most severe, becomes unfortunately necessary for Ireland; namely, that its state is not like that of England: no, Sir, there exists between the conditions of the two countries a melancholy dissimilitude, and it is only because I fear that the sad necessity exists for thus strengthening the hands of the executive in that country, that I am induced to give my consent to the passing of the bills before the House; I do so in the hope, however, in the sanguine expectation, that the wisdom and justice of the United Parliament towards Ireland, will, at length, confer upon her those blessings to which she anxiously, and I must be allowed to add, justly looks; and that, by devising for her a system of extensive and harmonized polity, such as will ensure for the future the happiness and tranquillity of that people, a recurrence to such measures as these before us, will be rendered unnecessary at any future period.—I will not rake up the ashes of the dead, for the purpose of accusing your ancestors of cruelty and impolicy in the system they had adopted towards Ireland; I am ready with my countrymen to forget cur sufferings, and to forgive our oppressors; and I do most solemnly declare, that in looking wistfully to the future, I have no object but the prosperity of my country, and the consolidated strength of the empire.—The proper subject for the consideration of Parliament is speedily to inquire as to what ought to be done to ameliorate the situation of Ireland. It has been observed during the debate, that "an improvement had taken place in the public mind, and that a better disposition was rapidly growing up there;" but I caution gentlemen not to allow themselves to be deceived as to the nature of that disposition: true, indeed; it was an increasing and im- 130 proving dispotition as against Buonapartéé and his accursed satellites; but it did not, therefore, incline the more favourably to wards a system truly vicious and defective, and approved by no honest, thinking man. The inhabitants of Ireland, when by the Union they joined their fate with that of Britain, were, indeed, taught to anticipate the blessings, as a noble lord (Castlereagh) has justly observed, which would result front such a connexion; but I positively deny, that in these their expectations, they have been satisfied: on the contrary, they have not advanced one step towards their accomplishment; it would, therefore, be preposterous to suppose, and most wicked to attempt to induce the House to believe, that there was a growing disposition of content and satisfaction, when there was every ground for the reverse; and I implore gentlemen not to be persuaded into any such most dangerous opinion.—We who are deputed on the part of Ireland to assert her rights, to uphold her interests, and to enforce her claims, appear amongst you in consequence of the most solemn engagements made to us on the part of your King and of the Nation.—I complain of the neglect and duplicity of the present ministers, which, if not calculated to alienate the affections, have, at least, marred the hopes; but I trust not irrevocably destroyed the confidence of the Irish people. I trust it is not in the power of those who have proffered Union to be the cause of separation, and having sworn to uphold the throne of their Sovereign and Master, they will not, I hope, be suffered by their conduct to endanger the integrity of his empire. The responsibility they have incurred is possibly more than they are aware of. They are not to compare themselves with any other minister who had ever had to advise as to the management of Ireland: and should they persevere m their neglect and indifference to the interests of that country, he should hope to see them one day at the bar of another house, where the penalties, however heavy, which they might incur, would be but a poor and inadequate atonement for the mischiefs which the prosecution of their present system is likely to entail upon the United Empire.—I venture to hope, that as so many gentlemen have so humanely adverted to Ireland, and have manifested a generous interest in her fate, that the House will speedily consider the means of relieving her; that while they give additional strength to the executive, they will, at the same time, think of administering some comfort to the people; for surely it is not 131 unbecoming the dignity of any government, or the wisdom of any legislature, to prove that it combines the power to repress rebellion, with the determined disposition to remove all ground of complaint and dissatisfaction. Such is the course which any good government would gladly pursue, and which ministers, were they actuated by the principles of humanity, and an un narrowed attachment to the entire of the empire, they would not fail immediately to adopt—The question was then put and carried; the bill was read a second time, and ordered to be committed to a Committee of the whole House to-morrow.