§ Mr. O'Dwyer
rose to bring forward the charge which he had to make against the Irish Government and which was one of serious importance. It was in fact no less than that, in a case of the Crown against a subject, a jury had been empannelled in such a manner as to secure 792 a conviction contrary to justice. Serious as the charge was, he had no doubt but that he should be enabled to establish it to the satisfaction of the House. The case of which he complained arose out of a libel written when the Coercion Bill passed through Parliament, which was, of course, a period of great excitement, particularly amongst Irish Members, who might certainly be pardoned if they had indulged in very strong expressions in reference to that Bill. This libel was published, with the signature of an hon. and learned Member of that House attached to it, in the Pilot newspaper. The Coercion Bill received the royal assent on the 2nd, and the publication took place on the 8th, of April. A prosecution was commenced, and the panel was returned according to the worst manner of the ascendancy in that country, and under a jury law already condemned by the Government itself. Out of one hundred and seventy-four names on the panel, only seven were Catholics; and there were as few Protestants who were unconnected with the party opposed to the person to be tried. The Government in that case were opposed to the people, and they well knew that Tories in such a case were fit tools to work with; and they accordingly left all such upon the panel. During the first administration of Lord Wellesley in Ireland, and when that noble Lord commenced the good work of grappling with ascendancy in that country, he was an object of the most untiring vituperation. His public character was traduced; his administration maligned—nay, even his private life was held up to odium, contempt, and execration. One of the instruments of faction, a newspaper of that day, published a libel against the noble Marquess, so audacious, so foul, and so untrue, that it was most properly deemed to be a fit subject for a state prosecution, and it accordingly was prosecuted by the Attorney-General. That Attorney-General was the present Lord Plunkett; and he would quote the description of that libel, which was uttered by the eloquent individual who conducted the prosecution. Mr. Plunkett described the publication as one which contained "much political observation," and, said he, "Such I would rather suffer to pass unpunished, than to do any thing that would have a tendency to tie up public 793 discussion! But it contains malignant private calumnies—it bears the mark of the mercenary slanderer, who is ready to sell his venom for hire, and to invade indiscriminately the character of the private individual and public functionary." "The libeller," continued Mr. Plunkett, "charges the Marquess Wellesley with various distinct enormities. It charges him with an abandoned youth—with irreclaimable depravity—with contempt for the established religion—with inordinate lust of power—with immoralities practised within the walls of Dublin Castle, of so atrocious a character that it would violate public decency to disclose them in a newspaper. This man (the libeller) proceeded Mr. Plunkett, "has asserted the scenes of profligacy which prevailed at the Castle were such as to deter persons of respectability from attending the court—that females of any notions of delicacy or propriety could not appear there—and after including the charges of irreclaimable depravity, contempt of religion, hoarding avarice, and revolting immorality, the writer institutes a direct comparison between the profligate Lord Wharton and the Marquess Wellesley." This was a severe, but it was a just description of that libel. It was a mercenary and slanderous libel. The juries of that day, however, were constituted as the jury was, that tried the editor of the Pilot. They were selected by the sheriffs, who were themselves selected by the corporation of Dublin, that is now doomed to destruction for its mal-practices. The Government of that day was in favor with the people, and in disfavor with the ascendancy party; and, in conformity with ancient practice, the jury found a verdict of acquittal of the traverser, and sent him abroad (in triumph over the head of the Irish Government. Would it be believed that the jury that condemned Mr. Barrett the Editor of the Pilot, was composed of the same class of politicians as those who acquitted the private malignant libeller of Lord Wellesley; nay, that there were on both juries the same individuals? Let the House draw their inference. The trial of Mr. Barrett proceeded; there were, as well as he could remember, at least fourteen intents elaborately laid in the indictment. The jury could not have read the one-third of them, when they flippantly returned a verdict of guilty. They encumbered 794 their verdict with a despicable recommendation to mercy; and the court evinced their susceptibility of the gentle attribute of mercy, by sentencing the traverser to an imprisonment of six months, a fine, and the additional punishment of entering into heavy recognizances for a great many years. It was painful to draw the attention of the House to this fact, that it had been reserved for a government calling itself the friends of the people, to have instituted, in a time of profound quiet, of complete national repose—when the public peace incurred no danger of excitement—more prosecutions against the press than any of its predecessors. By a return laid before the House in 1830, of all prosecutions during the reign of their late Majesties, George 3rd, and 4th, either by ex-officio or indictment, under the direction of the Attorney-General for libels against the Government, embracing a period of sixty-eight years, ending in 1829, during which time scarcely a day passed in which there were not libels directed against Members of the Government, there were but forty prosecutions instituted in Great Britain. A Tory oppression, antipopular, press-prosecuting government, or series of governments, instituted forty prosecutions: whilst a Whig, liberal, popular, liberty-of-the-press-loving Ministry, had instituted, in three years, in a small portion of the empire—In Ireland—thirteen prosecutions for libel. The conduct of the Government, besides, had a most censurable originality in this respect, for they were not satisfied with the prosecution of the libeller; they prosecuted the mere machine, the instrument of publication,—they condescended to prosecute the printer as well as the author. In the case, too, of Mr. Barrett, the Government had pursued a course of vindictive conduct. When that individual was sent to prison, the public sympathy gathered about him. The sanction of the public did not ratify the verdict of the jury, and the general feeling declared that he who was a martyr to a principle should be sustained by the support of the country. The circulation of his newspaper increased, new friends came to his assistance, and the principles for which he was doomed to suffer were likely to obtain increased circulation. The Government then came down—the noble Lord and the Secretary for Ireland admitted that the Government 795 did come down—with an order to the Stamp Commissioners to enforce that section of the statute of 1815, which superadded to the punishment of imprisonment the aggravated penalty of ruin to the fortune of the individual—ruin to him and to his family, and to his creditors, if he had any, and to his dependents, many of whom the editor had. He had given notice that he would apply this night for leave to bring in a Bill to repeal that law, and the noble Lord came down there to intimate the intention of the Government to repeal it. He would not complain of the noble Lord doing that which he would have endeavoured humbly to accomplish; but he would say that he did not feel any gratitude for this intimation of the Government. He attributed this measure to the spirit of British indignation which had been aroused out of doors by the arbitrary use of this power, and which declared unequivocally that the law should be altered. He would conclude, by reminding the House, that every Catholic was excluded from the jury that tried Mr. Barrett—that every Protestant unconnected with party was excluded from that jury, and that the jury which was empannelled consisted of men of the most violent and anti-popular opinions on political subjects. Under such circumstances he felt that he did not ask the House to do more than was required by the case, to intimate, by a resolution, that which could not be denied—that such a practice was calculated to affect the public confidence in the administration of justice. The hon. Member concluded, by moving the following resolution. "That the exclusion of Roman Catholics from the special jury in the case of the King v. R. Barrett, and the subsequent suppression by the Government of the Pilot newspaper, of which the said Mr. R. Barrett is the proprietor deserves the condemnation of this House."
§ Mr. Littleton
said, that if he had suspended his judgment upon the present question until the conclusion of the hon. Gentleman's statement, he should have been entirely disappointed, for he had never heard a case more weakly supported. He would beg to call the attention of the House to the facts of the case. On the 11th day of May, notice was served that the Jury would be struck; that proceeding was, at the request of the traverser, postponed till the 15th of May, and 207 796 names were gone through before the forty-eight were agreed upon. The fact was, that the liberality exercised on the part of the Crown in striking the panel in this case was perfectly unparalleled. He defied the hon. and learned Gentleman to state a single objection that had been taken on the part of the Crown. The truth was, that the objections to the names on the panel had all proceeded from the counsel for the defendant. The Crown solicitor did not strike off a single individual until the list was reduced to forty-eight, when it became necessary for each party successively to strike off a certain number in order to reduce it to twenty-four, and the Crown solicitor, in exercising that part of his duty, did not strike off a single individual unless for good and sufficient reasons. Not one of the objections raised by the attorney for the traverser had been resisted by Mr. Kemmis, for, if there had, it would have been impossible to have obtained even forty-eight names out of 207. It was, no doubt, true, that the names of Mr. Guinness, and Sir Thomas M'Kenny had been struck out of the list, but against these Gentlemen no possible objection could have been made on the part of the Crown, for they were men not only of irreproachable character, but of independent fortunes. Mr. Kemmis had really performed only his duty in what he had done; and there was not, he could assure the House, the shadow of pretence for inflicting censure on that officer for the discretion which he had exercised in this case. The Jury had undoubtedly been struck according to the old system and before the new law came into operation; yet it should be recollected, that the grand panel from which it was taken, had been formed for every other purpose—for trials of every other description, and that, therefore, it could not with justice be said, that it had been prepared or packed with a view to the trial of this particular case. The hon. member for Drogheda had said, that duriug sixty-eight years of Tory Government, there had been only forty prosecutions against the press. Now, there was a strong impression in his (Mr. Littleton's) mind, that the return on the authority of which that hon. Gentleman professed to make that statement, must be a very erroneous one, and that impression was especially strengthened by an account which he held in his hand, of the number of such prosecutions that had been instituted 797 by the Government immediately preceding the Administration of Lord Grey. It appeared from that document, that no less than five such prosecutions had been instituted by Sir James Scarlett, the Attorney General under the Duke of Wellington's Government. He found, too, in looking at this return, that the number of counsel employed in each of those cases was about the same as in that now immediately before the House. In those cases, the number of counsel employed had been generally six. He was ready to admit, that eight counsel had been employed in the present case; but then there were peculiar circumstances connected with it which, as he believed, rendered the employment of a large bar necessary. The hon. Gentleman had said, that this publication had been sent forth during a period of great excitement, and that that fact went far to excuse the conduct of the defendant. Now, he (Mr. Littleton) would say, that the very circumstance of this libel having been written and published during a period of excitement, under the name of a member of Parliament, rendered it far less excusable than it otherwise would have been. It appeared to him, that the fact of this libel having been the production of an individual who was a Member of that House, who possessed there the full means and liberty of giving due expression to his feelings and opinions, but who, instead of taking that legitimate channel of conveying his sentiments to the world, went out of doors, and sought, in the manner this writer did, to excite the public mind—it appeared to him, he repeated, that that fact went far to aggravate the guilt of the libel. He was sorry, that an individual so circumstanced, finding himself unable to give free and unchecked vent within those walls to such sentiments as that libel contained, should have gone out of doors and in such a manner endeavoured to excite and agitate the public mind of Ireland. He regretted, that any Member of that House should have been the author of a publication, the object of which every fair and impartial man that read it must admit was unadulterated mischief—a production in which it was stated, that so great, so mortal, so deadly, was the hatred which the people of England bore to the people of Ireland, that there was no longer any security for the lives, the fortunes, or the liberties of the latter; that, so prejudiced was a British Legislature, so destitute of 798 every feeling of humanity or justice, that there was not the slightest chance of the people of Ireland obtaining justice at their hands when any question affecting that country came before them; and that any one that should say, that a British Parliament would do justice to Ireland would deserve the name of an audacious slave. Such was the character—he believed that he had accurately stated it—of the publication in question. He would conscientiously declare, that if he had been on the Jury, he would have found it as they had found it—a libel; and he would fearlessly assert, that any Jury of honest, conscientious, and well-meaning men, whether in Ireland, England, or any other part of the King's dominions, if they had been empanelled on the case, would have returned the same verdict. The Jury did no more than common justice in finding that verdict, and, as honest men, they could not possibly have found any other. He repeated that, if he had been on the Jury, he would have concurred in it, and he need scarcely, therefore, inform the House, that he should certainly resist the present Motion.
said, that the right hon. Gentleman had told them, that if he had been on this Jury, he would have concurred in their verdict. He was sure that the right hon. Gentleman would not have done so, as he knew that he was incapable of violating his oath. This he would assert, that no man could have found such a verdict in such a case without violating his oath from party principles and political motives. It was said, that any honest Jury would have found a similar verdict. Why, then, were the names of such respectable men as Mr. Guinness, and Sir T. M'Kenny struck off' the panel from which that Jury had been selected? One of those individuals was Governor of the Bank of I Ireland, and they were both of unimpeached integrity and respectability. Was it intended to have an honest Jury or a fair verdict when such men were struck off the list? Did the House require stronger evidence to prove the efforts of the Crown to obtain a partial verdict in its own favor? If it did, that evidence was to be found in the striking off the names of every Catholic on the list. One of them was Mr. William Murphy, a gentleman who possessed more property than the whole twelve who sat upon the Jury. When they wished to convince the people of Ireland that a 799 British Parliament would do justice, were I they to stifle an inquiry which the circum-Stances of the case so strongly called for? The names of the other two Catholics were Mr. John O'Brien, and Mr. Stephen Grehan; all three most respectable gentlemen, and all three, he might remark, who had, in many instances, and in many respects, dissented from his (Mr. O'Connell's) line of politics. Thus the Government struck off four or five of the most respectable and independent men on the panel, and then they were to be told, that the Jury had been fairly selected. Now who, he would ask, was the foreman of that Jury? Mr. Long, the coachmaker, a gentleman whose name had been heard of before in that House—a bitter opponent of the Government, who had taken a most active part in a not very distant election against the Government candidates, Perrin and Harty, and who had succeeded in turning them out. Such was the foreman. Who was the next upon the Jury? Mr. Isaac Hynes, a gentleman who acquitted the Morning star of a most frightful and atrocious private libel upon the Marquess Wellesley. This Mr. Isaac Hynes must either have believed the truth of that libel, or he must have violated his oath, and yet such were the first names on this honest and honourable Jury, as it was called. There were eight other persons upon it, all of whom were corporators; and he need not appeal further than to what had taken place in the course of that evening, to show the House, that the corporation of Dublin and he had been uniformly and strongly opposed to each other. He had come in as member for Dublin in spite of them, and, from the most melancholy incident in his life to that of the most satisfactory and triumphant—namely, his return for Dublin—there had not been an occurrence between him and the corporation of Dublin in which he had not been opposed to them; yet it was out of such a corporation the Jury had been selected to try whether the letter published under his name had been a libel! There were two Scotchmen on the Jury, certainly respectable gentlemen; but why should individuals, unconnected with the country, be on such an occasion elected for such a purpose? One of them, he bad "to remark, was a member of the Kildare-street Society, to which he and his friends had been always opposed; and yet these were the men selected to try this question, 800 and, in support of their verdict, they heard an English gentleman of high character stand up and pledge his honour for its correctness! He would fearlessly assert, that if there had been a fair Jury, they would never have found that publication a libel. The right hon. Gentleman had rather inaccurately stated the tenor of it to the House; there was only one passage in it that resembled what the right hon. Gentleman had represented as its purport to the House. He was ready to admit, that there was a passage in the letter, in which it was stated, that that man would deserve the tille of a slave who should say—because he would not believe it if he said it—that justice could be done to Ireland until she had a parliament of her own. He would adhere to that statement. Ireland never would have substantial justice done her until she recovered her domestic legislature. In the letter in question he had called on the Whitefeet to abandon their miscreant outrages; assuring them that it was only by peaceable and constitutional means they could have justice done to themselves, and their unfortunate country. Was it libellous to give them such advice? He had in vain endeavoured to extract from the King's Bench what portion of this publication was deemed libellous by the court. He had asked the Judges there, by making a Motion for an arrest of judgment, to lay down their opinion as to what part of the publication was deemed a libel by them. He had already stated what were the two great features of the publication in question—namely, to show the people of Ireland that they had nothing to expect but from a domestic legislature, and to convince them that it was only by legal, peaceable, and constitutional union they could achieve that object. Now, though he would admit that some of the expressions in the letter might be considered to be harsh, yet he would maintain, that there was nothing in it that could be construed into a libel. He had just said, he had endeavoured to obtain the opinion of the Judges of the King's Bench on the point as to what part of the letter was libellous; but they would give him no answer. They merely said, that the Jury found the publication a libel, and that they were satisfied with the verdict. He knew, when he was writing that letter, as well as any man, that it would be prosecuted if the Government could find the means of subjecting 801 it to prosecution; and, with the knowledge which he possessed on the subject, and fully aware as he was of the extreme latitude of the law of libel, he was sure, at the time he wrote that letter, that no Government could possibly have the hardihood to prosecute it This was his conviction at that time. There was, besides, just at that period a prospect of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Stanley), the then Secretary for Ireland—under whose Government, he would remark, there had been more prosecutions against the press than under any preceding one—being removed from that office. He, therefore, thought at the time that the chances were against the Government subjecting that publication to prosecution. He had already stated to the House the composition of the Jury that had tried it. There was his (Mr. O'Connell's) letter tried by a Jury of his personal enemies—tried by a Jury every man of whom had been all their lives opposed to him. The Jury was selected from the panel after the most respectable men had been struck off it. The individual who struck the Jury on this occasion was, be it remembered, an officer of the Crown, removable at pleasure. Who was the officer that struck the grand panel from which that Jury had been taken? The High Sheriff of the city of Dublin. Hon. Gentlemen must know, that no man could be High Sheriff in the city of Dublin who did not pledge himself to uncompromising opposition to his Catholic countrymen. In the 207 names on the grand panel, there were to be found only three Catholics. Now, when the Catholic wealth and respectability that existed in Dublin were taken into account, was that a fair representation of it? There was a large host of corporators in the panel—many of them had been discharged as insolvents, and many of them had been bankrupts. If, as the right hon. Gentleman had told them, the publication in question was calculated to promote sedition and disturbance, he certainly was not the person that would have written it. He had written it, certainly, not under any strong feelings of delicacy on the subject to which it referred, for he had no right to feel them. He had written that letter in the conscientious discharge of a duty which he owed to his country. He felt at the time the madness of slavery on him, and he had said so. He felt that that House, in passing the Coercion Bill—in founding a measure 802 that deprived Ireland of the benefits of the constitution upon the tittle-tattle of the right hon. Gentleman, and upon statements adduced by him without his allowing them the benefits of a Committee to investigate and to refute them—he felt, he repeated, that the House, in taking everything at the mere word of the right hon. Gentleman, and passing such an infamous measure, had perpetrated a gross and crying injustice to Ireland. He should not deserve to be a Member of that House, or a subject of a constitutional Government, if he did not feel indignant at such conduct. He would appeal to every English Gentleman who valued the liberties of his country, to say what would be his feelings, if an Irish Parliament, with five-sixths of it composed of Irishmen, had passed such a law for England? Would not his blood boil within him at the passing of such a measure? He wrote and published that letter under a full conviction of its truth. It was published in both countries. It was said, that it was first published in England, but such was not the fact. He was now sorry that he had not taken that precaution, for, of this he was sure, that no man would have dreamt of prosecuting such a publication in England. It was first published in Ireland. Was it just, then, when it was prosecuted there, that the very men opposed to him should have been put upon the Jury—the very men, some of whom were violent opponents of the policy of the present Government, were selected for that Jury—the very men who opposed them in the elections, and who now had sent a deputation over here to endeavour to obtain from the Sovereign a reversal of their order for the dismissal of Colonel Blacker from the commission of the peace? Did they imagine that carrying the Coercion Bill—that indulging in taunts against the people of Ireland—tended to convince them of the benefit and utility of the connexion of the two countries? His own opinion was, that if those who wished to preserve the connexion between the two countries had not done their duty in giving advice to the people of Ireland, that House would be compelling them, at the moment he was speaking, to seek a separation. They might have a majority against this Motion, as no doubt they would; but let them not suppose that by such a decision the public would be satisfied with a verdict dis- 803 creditable to the Government, and disgraceful to the administration of justice.
Mr. Secretary Stanley
I agree with the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite, the member for Drogheda, that Mr. Barrett is an ill-used man; he is an ill-used man; but by whom has he been ill-used? Not by the Government, but by those—[Mr. O'Connell to those around him "Let him alone."] I presume that I am to be "let alone" in this House.
I say, Sir, that the disorderly interruption of the hon. and learned Gentleman does not become him in the House, in which that hon. and learned Gentleman has the honour to sit. I say that, when I am discharging my duty in the face of the House and the country; and when I am speaking before the hon. and learned Gentleman and the country, as I trust I shall always speak, without fear or hesitation, before his face, I need not the permission of the hon. and learned Gentleman, nor his audible exclamation that I should be "let alone," to obtain a hearing for any observations which I may consider it my duty to make.
I rise, Sir, to order. If I am out of order in what I am about to state, you, Sir, will at once correct me. I rise to explain the reason of the observation which the right hon. Gentleman has attributed to me. It was addressed to two Members near me. In consequence of both of them speaking to me at the same time, I was obliged to raise my voice to them to say, "Let him alone." If I used any other expression, I call on the right hon. Gentleman to state it. If I addressed any observation to him, I call on him to state what it was. My observation was solely intended as a private communication to two Gentlemen near me, and from the cause I have mentioned, I was obliged to raise my voice in order to enable them to hear me.
If the House is satisfied, I am sure I am. I have heard the hon. and learned Gentleman in his address to the House, with patience. I only ask the Gentlemen opposite to extend to me a similar degree of patience for the few words which I shall have occasion to address to the House. I say again. Sir, that Mr. Barrett is an ill-used man—but I say again that if he has been ill-used, it is not by his Majesty's Government. It is 804 by those who, fully aware of the legal consequences that would follow their acts, leave him to suffer them—who, fully conscious, as the hon. and learned Gentleman was, that a verdict of a jury awaited such a violation of the law, leaves the unfortunate publisher in that predicament from which one word of that avowal he has made to-night would have relieved him, while he sagaciously secures himself from sharing that vengeance of the law which he had himself originally provoked. The hon. and learned Gentleman has this night proved that he clearly anticipated the punishment which awaited Mr. Barrett, for he has endeavoured to make the House believe that the nature of the tribunal before which he was tried was such that he could not possibly escape, and yet, with characteristic prudence, he has allowed Mr. Barrett to undergo a punishment from which, by simply giving the notice he has given here to-night—"I am the author and publisher of the letter,"—he would have saved him. Mr. Barrett, I repeat, has certainly been an ill-used man, but it is by the hon. and learned Gentleman that he has been ill-used. The hon. and learned Gentleman apologizes for his want of caution in this case; he regrets that he had not sufficient caution to have this publication first made in England. I will ask the House and the country, now that another man is suffering in prison for that which the hon. and learned Gentleman has done, whether, of all the accusations that may be brought against the hon. and learned Gentleman, he can be justly upbraided with a want of caution in this case? The hon. and learned Gentleman tells us, that this case came for trial before a jury of corporators; and he adds—"You know that they have been always opposed to me." Why did he not add, that they were corporators whom he had, by joining with them in pledging "the glorious and immortal memory," thought to conciliate for the basest and lowest of political purposes? I know nothing of the negotiations that may have gone on between him and other parties; I have felt it my duty at all times to watch the hon. and learned Gentleman in all his public steps; but his private political intrigues of this description I did not deem it necessary to mind. The hon. and learned Gentleman says, that the libel was not published in England first, and that it was published in both countries. I now 805 learn, for the first time, from the hon. and learned Gentleman, that the libel did not appear first in England, for I really believed, up to this moment, that its first appearance had been in this country. I will just state' the grounds why the Government, with such an impression on its mind, did not institute a prosecution for the publication of this libel in England. We felt that its publication here was so utterly insignificant and destitute of the power of mischief—that it was so incapable of making any impression on the minds of the people of England, and that owing to the paper which the hon. and learned Member had selected as the vehicle for its publication being of such trifling circulation, its diffusion must have been so extremely slight, that there was no necessity for prosecuting it, and that the consequence of instituting a prosecution for libel against it would only be to bring it into that note which it would never otherwise have attained in this country. But, on the other side of the water, the case was widely different. There, as every man knows, the influence, most unfortunately for the country, which the hon. and learned Gentleman possesses over the passions and feelings of the people, rendered this publication, comparatively innocuous as it was in England, pregnant with immense mischief in Ireland. For, though there was no legal proof that the hon. and learned Gentleman was the author and publisher of the letter in question, yet it was known by every man in Ireland who read it, that the advice and the suggestions in it proceeded from the hon. and learned Gentleman, whose dictates were as implicitly obeyed in Ireland as he would seek to have them obeyed in this House and in this country. He says, that the trial took place shortly after I ceased to have any connexion with that country, and he appears to complain of the delay. Now it was not the fault of the Government that that trial was not brought to a speedy issue. No man knows better than the hon. and learned Gentleman that every impediment was thrown by the defendant in the way of bringing the question to trial, and that every possible legal quibble was resorted to by the hon. and learned Gentleman and those concerned with him in the case, in order to postpone the trial. The hon. and learned Gentleman charges the Government distinctly with having packed the jury in this case 806 for the purpose of convicting him—no, not for convicting him—I beg his pardon, for the purpose of convicting the person whom he left to bear the punishment of his faults. Now, my right hon. friend has clearly shown that no such charge is sustainable against the Government. There were originally 207 names on the panel. On the part of the Crown not a single name was objected to until the list was reduced by 159, leaving only forty-eight. Then each party struck off a name alternately, in order to reduce the list to the requisite number. It was done precisely in the same manner that an Election Committee is selected in this House. The hon. and learned Gentleman complained that some names that he wished to retain on the list were struck off, but, in the same manner, might an election agent complain, and with just as much right, that some names he wished to have on a Committee up-stairs had been struck off. No one would think of making such a complaint, still less would any Gentleman come down to this House and endeavour for such a reason to cast a stain upon a Committee up-stairs, asserting that it would not fairly and honestly investigate the subject to come before it. Twelve names in this case were struck off by each party, in order to reduce the list to twenty-four, and then because some names that he wished to retain were struck off, the learned Gentleman makes that circumstance a ground for attacking the conduct of the Government, and impeaching the verdict of the jury. Now I ask the House of Commons in its fairness—I ask the people of England in their candour—to say whether this is an accusation that deserves, I will not say to be considered, but even to be entertained for a moment. The hon. and learned Gentleman says that this letter was no libel, and he tells us that he wrote it in the positive discharge of a conscientious duty. The point as to libel or no libel was cautiously and calmly considered by the law officers of the Crown, not only in Ireland, but in England. The case was brought under their deliberate consideration. They were desired to look at it in all its bearings, with an intimation not to select for prosecution any thing with regard to which there would be the slightest doubt as to the verdict of a jury. With these instructions this letter was referred to the law officers of the Crown for their con- 807 sideration, and it was the opinion of every one of those so consulted that a grosser or more disgraceful libel never polluted the pages of the public press. The hon. and learned Gentleman says, that no honest man would convict for this publication as a libel. He admits, however, that there were certain passages rather harsh in it—those passages, I suppose, in which he describes this House, though I recollect his having employed still less courteous terms in painting us on another occasion. He tells the people of Ireland in this letter, that this House is animated with an intense hatred to Ireland—that England and Englishmen entertain a deadly hostility to that country, and that it is idle to expect justice from such a Parliament. To be sure the hon. and learned Gentleman introduces the usual advice about peace and obedience to the law and good order, which so frequently, in the learned Gentleman's addresses, accompanies the most exciting provocatives to mischief, He calls upon "his good friends," his "sweet friends," and begs them not to be stirred up—"To such a sudden flood of mutiny.He tells them to bear with the yoke, though it galls them to the neck—to submit to the injustice, though it is crying and apparent—to bear with the oppression, though it is most grievous and burthensome, but in no case to violate the law. Such are the recommendations, and so accompanied, which the hon. Gentleman gives to his countrymen in this letter—recommendations which he has so often addressed to them with similar accompaniments. Now, I put it to any man of common sense in the country, whether he believes that the object of such a production was to enforce obedience to the law or to the Government? The right hon. Gentleman proceeded to observe that it was said, that this letter was well calculated to inculcate obedience to the laws, though it might be harsh in some of its terms; but he (Mr. Stanley) hesitated not to say, that no man—no honest man—could lay his hand upon his heart, and deny that it was a libel on the institutions of the country. The hon. and learned Gentleman had complained of the Jury, and particularly that upon it were two Scotchmen—men who it was urged were unconnected with the country, but who, he must add, were not imbued with Irish prejudices, to the exclusion of two 808 Roman Catholics; and the hon. and learned Gentleman had asked the House whether it could conceive so gross a case of injustice, so gross an instance of partiality, or so complete a violation of every fair principle, as to have on the Jury two Scotch Presbyterians, without one Roman Catholic, to try him, Mr. Daniel O'Connell—no, he begged pardon—to try Mr. Barrett, for this libellous publication? In the first instance, the hon. and learned Gentleman, in November last, while endeavouring before the Court to obtain a postponement of the trial, had then also complained of the manner in which the Jury had been selected; and the question had been solemnly argued before the Court of King's Bench, and the objection raised was set aside by the Court, on the ground that no legal objection had been offered; that the charge of partiality, made merely on belief and suggestion on the part of the hon. and learned Gentleman, was completely refuted, and that, on the affidavits before the Court, the Crown solicitor stood fully exculpated. Such, in common with the full bench, was the decision of the learned Chief Justice, on whom the hon. and learned member for Dublin had passed so glowing an eulogium the other day, and admitted that, against that learned individual, no exception could be taken. The hon. and learned member for Dublin had said, that no honest man could have found the publication in question to have been a libel. He (Mr. Stanley) must, however, remind the House, that the Court upon the trial pronounced no opinion upon the publication, but left it to the Jury to draw then-own inference; but when the question as to the matter being a libel or not was raised before the full bench, and when it became the duty of the Court to pronounce an opinion upon it, that opinion, without a doubt in the mind of any one member of the court, was, that not only was the publication a libel, but also that they concurred fully in the verdict of the Jury. Nay, he was convinced, that a very few passages of the publication (with which he most assuredly should not trouble the House) would, on perusal, satisfy every unbiassed and impartial mind, that the Jury and the Court had come to a just and proper conclusion, and that the letter in question was, as alleged in the information, a wicked and seditious libel, calculated to produce the mischievous ef- 809 fects which were attributed to it. Whatever was the character of the publication, the hon. and learned Gentleman had now avowed himself the author, though he allowed another individual to bear the punishment. The hon. and learned Member had declaimed against the unfairness of the trial, but it did not mark much generosity in the hon. and learned Gentleman, that he permitted another person to bear the responsibility. As to the fairness of the trial, he would add, that on the part of the Crown, not a single objection had been taken on striking the Jury, to any name upon the panel, whilst, on the part of the defendant, 160 names were objected to before the list of 48 jurors was completed. Notwithstanding the declaration of the hon. and learned Gentleman, that no honest man could concur in the opinion that the publication was libellous in its character, he (Mr. Stanley) had shown to the House, that not only the law officers of the Crown in Ireland, but also of England, the Jury who had tried the case, and the Judges who had passed sentence, all agreed in the opinion that no man could read the letter and not feel that it was a wicked and seditious libel. He himself had no doubt upon the subject—the only doubt he entertained was, whether the party now suffering the punishment was the individual who ought to be imprisoned.
§ Mr. Sheil
said, that the question here was, not as to whether this publication was a libel, but whether the Government had resorted to the proper means of procuring a conviction. He asked, why was it that recourse had been bad to means which reflected so much discredit on the Government, and against which the members of the Government professed to be so decidedly opposed when they sat upon the Opposition side of the House? On the present occasion they had not endeavoured to show that the Jury was not packed. This question was not to be decided by the enthusiastic ejaculations of hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House. No, it was to be decided by facts, and by facts alone. How was the question put—he would not say by the Secretary for the Colonies—but by the ex-Secretary for Ireland? That right hon. Gentleman had not attempted to show the House that the Jury was not packed. He began with an attack upon the hon. and learned member for Dublin; and with an 810 attack upon that hon. and learned Member the right hon. Gentleman concluded. He began by saying, that Mr. Barrett was ill-used; certainly he had been ill-used, but by whom? He found he must here be permitted to adopt what had become an aphorism in the Government of Ireland, and say, "Wait awhile." Had not the Government disinterred a Statute, which had lain buried from 1815, and for no other purpose than of bringing it to bear upon the dearest interests of Mr. Barrett? Had not the Government of Ireland sent an intimation to the Chief Commissioner of Stamps to put it in full force? The Chief Secretary for Ireland wrote to the Stamp-office, not immediately upon the conviction of Mr. Barrett, but three weeks afterwards. The right hon. Gentleman either did this himself, or got some one to do it for him. Well, what was the consequence? Why, Ministers and their agents put into force a law, the extreme tyranny of which they recognised by the admission, that it was a law which ought to be repealed. He happened to have been one of the counsel engaged for Mr. Barrett, and could state, from his own knowledge, that once, twice, or thrice, the party so often alluded to to-night, had offered to avow himself as the author, but Mr. Barrett would not allow him. He could assure the ex-Secretary for Ireland, and his colleagues, that they could not escape from this question by attacking another individual. It was a question which would produce much matter. He did not despair of recalling to the recollection of the ex-member for Limerick (Mr. Spring Rice) those expressions which he had uttered, with so much eloquence, while sitting on this side of the House. It was not by the sympathetic acclamations of a few on the Opposition side, nor (he would not say by the uproar, for that was a discourteous word) by the disinterested assent of the many on the other side, that this question was to be set at rest. He was not surprised that the ex-Secretary for Ireland had taken up so strong a position, as he knew that this charge was, in a great measure, brought against himself. He was willing to give credit to the present right hon. Secretary for Ireland for a desire to do justice to that country; but, as he was not a member of the Cabinet, and could only advise, and not adopt, measures, he must not be looked to as responsible for the policy pursued. Dur- 811 ing the official career of the right hon. ex-Secretary, a charge, very similar to the present, was made against the Government, in the case of Byrne and Welsh. No Catholic was found on the Jury in that case; and, in 1832, when the Special Commission was appointed, it was alleged, that no Catholics were allowed to sit on Juries in the Queen's County. Upon that occasion, three trials upon tithe questions took place at Clonmel; and, though there were thirty-six Catholics upon the Grand Panel, every one of them was struck oft". The charge, therefore, of packing Juries was not new, at all events to the right hon. ex-Secretary, for it was made repeatedly while he was in office in Ireland. In 1833 it was charged against the Jury which sat in the case of the King v. Welsh that not a single Catholic was permitted to be upon that Jury. The same charge was now made in the case of the King v. Barrett, and he had a right to assert, and did assert, that in that case the Jury was packed. In the first place, out of a list containing forty-eight names, only four were Roman Catholics. This fact had neither been explained, nor denied, by the right hon. Gentleman who had spoken last. He held in his hand the original panel, from which the list of forty-eight names was selected, containing 714 names of individuals, the majority of whom were Roman Catholics; and of these it had been stated, by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, that the officer of the Court went through 207, and no objection had been made on the part of the Crown. He presumed that the right hon. Gentleman was not unacquainted with the manner in which Juries were struck; but to this point he begged to call the attention of the House. The Clerk of the Crown selected the list of forty-eight names, and, this being done, the right hon. Secretary for the Colonies, with a plausibility of manner unmatched in the records of candour, had stated, as a proof of fairness, that no objection had been made by the Crown Solicitor to the list so selected by the Clerk of the Crown. He trusted the House would not be carried away, or influenced, by warm eulogiums upon individuals, from whatever quarter they might emanate; for he was satisfied, when the House came to a sober and impartial consideration of the question, there would be found in the facts ample grounds for demanding redress. He had already stated, that, out of 207 names, the Clerk of the 812 Crown had selected forty-eight names, of which only four were Roman Catholics. He had stopped at the number 207 of the panel, when, if he had proceeded further, he would have found that the names of no less than ten Roman Catholics followed. It should not be forgotten, that the original panel, from which the selection was made, commenced with the names of Members of Parliament, followed by those of the Aldermen and Common Council of the city of Dublin; and it was returned by the Sheriffs, arranged according to civic rank; and from this list the Jury was to be selected, by the Clerk of the Crown, according to the orders issued by the Castle authorities. Such was the panel, the formation of which ought to go to a Committee of Inquiry; and, if this was ventured upon, it would be seen, that the fallacies of previous Governments had been adopted by the present Administration. The list thus formed, then, in course, was subjected to a convenient system of filtration, by the Crown Solicitor, after it had passed from the hands of the Clerk of the Crown. He was sure that the course thus pursued was unknown to the right hon. Secretary for Ireland, who understood the potteries much better than the existing state of Ireland. But, to proceed,—from this list the names of the only Roman Catholics returned (four in number) were struck off by the Crown Solicitor; and, putting all declamation aside, was this just,—was this candid on the part of the Government? The House would judge of the justice and candour manifested, when it was informed, that one of the four names thus expunged was that of a bank-director, who had signed resolutions against the proposition for a Repeal of the Union. It was true, that, during the agitation of the Catholic Question, this mode was pursued as to the impannelling of Juries; but, when that question was settled, the then Attorney-General, under a Conservative Government, Mr. Joy, issued his injunctions upon the subject in terms which he would read to the House. These injunctions were contained in a letter, dated the 2nd of March, 1830, by Mr. Joy, to the High Sheriff of Fermanagh, and were to the following effect:—"As several trials of considerable importance are to take place at the next assizes for your county, and as it is very desirable that no pretence for complaint should arise, the Attorney-General particularly wishes, that you 813 should cause to be summoned a panel of respectable freeholders in your county, Catholic as well as Protestant, without distinction of religious creed or persuasion." Such were the instructions of Mr. Joy, acting under a Conservative Administration; and he begged to contrast them with the course pursued in the present instance, when, out of a list of forty-eight names, returned by the Clerk of the Crown, those of four Roman Catholics had been struck out by the Crown Solicitor. Was this just in a case where the subject matter for adjudication was a publication bearing the signature of Daniel O'Connell, and when such an antagonist was to be overthrown? In conclusion, he would ask,—would the Government be prosecutors and judges in Parliament, and, at the same time, the packers of a Jury in the Court of King's Bench?
§ Lord Althorp
said, that he held in his hand the affidavit of Mr. Kemmis, the Crown solicitor, referring to the mode in which the Jury had been selected, and which having been seen by the counsel for the defendant (Mr. Barrett) and used in Court on the occasion, when the Judges had given a decision to the effect stated by his right hon. friend (Mr. Stanley), he would read to the House. Mr. Kemmis, in his affidavit, and of course upon oath, stated, 'That deponent attended on the 11th of May before the proper officer for the purpose of striking the Jury in the cause, when an adjournment took place, at the instance of the attorney for the traverser, to the 28th of May, on which day deponent again attended, and forty-eight names were selected, upon reading each of which, the Clerk of the Crown inquired if there was any objection on either side to the names proposed. The deponent further stated that, to the best of his recollection, he did not make any objection, though the attorney for the traverser made various and numerous objections, insomuch that 207 names were called by the officer, before the list of forty-eight names was completed. And the deponent further stated, that although many objections were raised by the attorney for the traverser, he (the deponent) did not insist upon the retention of any name upon the list to which any objection was made by the attorney for the traverser.' That affidavit which he had lead, must be presumed to be a correct statement of what 814 bad taken place, and he apprehended that the proceeding which it detailed, could not be called anything like packing the Jury. He had thought it right to read this affidavit, in order that the House; might see how far the statement as to the packing of a Jury by the Crown was correct.
said, that the affidavit; did not state whether the objections made on behalf of the traverser were yielded to by the Crown. The affidavit, in this respect, was most carefully drawn, and studiously avoided such a statement.
§ Lord Althorp
said, that many of the objections were not valid or legal. The affidavit, however, stated that "the deponent did not insist that any names to which objections were taken should be retained." The affidavit proceeded further, and stated, that when such objections had been made by the attorney for the traverser and yielded to by the deponent, the consideration of the objections was postponed at the instance of the Crown." The House would therefore see that the Crown solicitor distinctly swore, that the objections raised by the attorney for the traverser were yielded to by him.
§ Mr. Roebuck
had a question to put to the right hon. Secretary for Ireland—namely, whether it was true, that, out of 207 names forty-eight were chosen within that number without any objection being made on the part of the accused? If such was the case, there was an end of the question.
§ Mr. Hume
said, it appeared to him extraordinary, if the list had been struck fairly, that out of a panel containing, as he understood, upwards of 700 names, the majority of which were those of Roman Catholics, so few of that persuasion should have been selected by the Clerk of the Crown. If that officer had selected only four Roman Catholics in a list of forty-eight, it required no reasoning or argument to disprove the fact of existing partiality and corruption. It might certainly so happen that some names might have been passed over by the officer, but he must confess, that after the personalities which had been indulged in upon the present occasion, with the view, apparently, to conceal facts and avoid the real question before the House, it 815 seemed to him the subject was fitting for an inquiry. It was the duty of the Government to see that justice was done; and the question was, had justice been fairly done in this instance? It did appear to him that the very circumstance that there had not been on the Jury a single Catholic, though the majority of the names in the original panel were those of individuals of that persuasion, was amply sufficient to demand an inquiry before a Committee. He knew no other way by which the Government could clear themselves of the charge made against them.
§ Mr. Littleton
, in explanation, repeated that it was clear the attorney for the traverser had continued making objections, until the forty-eight names had been obtained, and without any objection being raised to any name on the part of the Crown.
§ Mr. Feargus O'Connor
concurred with the hon. member for Middlesex in what he had said respecting personalities; and he thought that the right hon. Secretary for the Colonics had gone away from the whole question, in order to indulge in declamation. The right hon. Secretary for the Colonies had totally-lost sight of the question before the House, in his eagerness to heap abuse and calumny on the head of his hon. and learned friend, the member for Dublin. For his own part, he must at once express his conviction, that Mr. Barrett had not a fair Jury; if he had had an impartial instead of a packed Jury, he would not have been convicted. And what had the noble Lord (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) said the other evening with reference to the proceedings, which had since been adopted towards Mr. Barrett? The noble Lord declared the law to be a monstrous one, and one which ought not to exist. What course did he recommend to be taken? Why, he said, there could be no difficulty in evading the law; and this suggestion came from the head of the Government in the House of Commons. He admitted, and he admitted with regret, that the mode in which the question had been met, was anything but fair on the part of Government. The Ministers were careless who suffered, provided they were not to be placed in a wrong light, or their agents called to account for their misconduct. The right hon. Gentleman, the Secretary for the Colonies, had thrown his powerful mantle over the proceedings 816 of the Court of King's Bench in Dublin; he admitted that the right hon. Gentleman was perhaps the most successful defender the Government could have; he admitted, and he deplored the fact, that there was not, perhaps, such another debater in the whole world as the right hon. Gentleman—but he lamented this. Yes, he lamented it, because, whenever the right hon. Gentleman found his argument fail him, and that his facts were deficient, he had recourse to his stores of eloquence, and by their power he drew the consideration of the House away from the subject matter of debate, and threw a gloss over his view of the matter, which often prevailed to their delusion. There was no one stuck more closely to his arguments than did the right hon. Gentleman, when he found that course suited his purpose; but, on the present occasion, he had totally failed, either to make out a case for refusing the Committee, or in making a successful defence for the conduct of the Irish Government. The hon. Member concluded by moving, as an amendment to the original Motion, "That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into the way in which the Jurors in the case of the King v. Barrett were originally appointed, and that they report their observations thereon to the House."
objected to the Amendment which had just been read, because the hon. Member who proposed the motion having come down to the House with a determination to press for a vote of censure on the conduct of the Government, finding his evidence and his facts far short of the mark to which he had hoped to raise the House, and finding also how utterly unable those who sided with him were to make out any case for censure but that the whole accusation in Mr. Barrett's prosecution fell through—No, no, and loud cheers.]—No, no! Then why alter the original motion?—He repeated, that the hon. Member finding that the accusation would fall through, wished to place the question in the hands of a Committee, and came again to the attack with the amendment now before the House. The Government were ready to meet the original Motion, and he called upon the House to proceed at once to the question.
said, that, after all that had passed that evening, the public would be the best judge between them. There 817 had been a great deal of flippancy of assertion during the debate, and, in particular, great flippancy on the part of the right hon. Secretary, in the few words he said for the purpose of avoiding inquiry. No reliance was to be placed on what was gleaned from Mr. Kemmis's affidavit. Why, that very man was an accused party in the transaction, and it was not true to assert, that if Mr. Barrett's attorney had objected to any of the forty-eight Jurors, he would not have been allowed to be upon the Jury. If that had been the case—if Mr. Barrett could have objected with any probability of success—he was ready to prove to demonstration, that if Mr. Barrett could have struck off one of the forty-four Jurors that remained after the four Catholics had been struck off" by the Crown, he would have done so. He would not have allowed that violent Corporator Long to have remained on the Jury. He should like to know, whether those who defended the composition of this Jury had pointed out any persons on it by whose characters they would stand or fall. For his own part he had pointed out two Scotchmen; but the right hon. Secretary opposite, the admirable debater, as he had been called that evening, taunted him with pointing out those two persons merely because they were Scotchmen. Now, it was not for that reason; it was because one of these Scotchmen was a great bigot and a Tory, and had belonged to the Kildare-street Society, and to Societies of a like description all his life; the other Scotchman was also a Tory, though he was not so great a bigot as the first. It was for these reasons that he pointed out these two Scotchmen as improper to be on the Jury. The right hon. Gentleman had alluded to another question, and had taunted him with his conduct towards Mr. Barrett. Now, the truth was, that he was the first, after he heard of a prosecution about to be commenced, to write to Mr. Barrett, telling that gentleman to substitute him (Mr. O'Connell) at once in his place, and stating, that his friendship would not be diminished by such substitution. Mr. Barrett's answer was, that he would deliberate. He wrote a second time, and told Mr. Barrett, that the only question to consider was, which of the two was to be prosecuted. Mr. Barrett, in answer to this letter, wrote, that his mind was made up; that the newspaper in question was his property; and, that 818 that property had been increased by his (Mr. O'Connell's) writings in it. Mr. Barrett, in this letter, moreover added, "If they catch you, they will be sure to convict you, and send you to jail for three years, and Ireland can't afford that. Therefore I'll substitute myself for you, and go to jail." Yet, after that, he was taunted by the right hon. Gentleman with being guilty of libel—though he (Mr. O'Connell) could state, that there was no libel in the letter, which a man feeling for his country, and seeing the oppression it suffered, would pronounce to be a crime. He did not mean to say, however, that it was not a libel according to the present state of the law. The right hon. Gentleman was always disposed to make him his victim in that House; the right hon. Gentleman never spared him. But he would tell the right hon. Gentleman, that no one spoke words more like calumny, than those used by the right hon. Gentleman towards him within the walls of the House. He did not exactly know what reason the right hon. Gentleman had for his hostility, but he believed he could guess. With regard to the statements made by the right hon. Gentleman, as having been made by him, he denied their truth. If he had made an address in the language used by the right hon. Gentleman, no Jury would have said but that it was intended to create a difficulty. But the right hon. Gentleman's own note-taker—the note-taker of the Government—was present, and had followed him wherever he went. Yet the right hon. Gentleman came down to that House, and stated what was untrue. If an inquiry were granted, and it bore the right hon. Gentleman, out in his assertions, good and well; but if the Government refused the inquiry, he would leave the right hon. Gentleman and his assertions, to the cheers of that House, satisfied that the country would believe, that he was accused wrongfully. This he would say, that to the present moment, the right hon. Gentleman had pursued him (Mr. O'Connell) on every occasion, in and out of the House, with the most unrelenting, bitter, and persevering hostility—a hostility, he was sorry to say, which was too much shared by the right hon. Gentleman's colleagues. With regard to the packing of the Jury, and the assertion made, that Mr. Barrett might have objected to more if he had thought proper, 819 he could say, that he had never addressed twelve men less determined to do justice, than the twelve men who formed that Jury. The impression was so strong in Dublin against the fairness of the Jury, that if any person were to say, that it was a fair Jury, he would be laughed at. He (Mr. O'Connell) admitted, that there were some fair, honest, and upright men upon the panel. There was Mr. Graham, Mr. O'Bryen, Mr. Thomas Farrell, and three others. Mr. Graham was admitted by all to be a highly-respectable man, and he was accordingly the first Catholic ever chosen to be a Bank Director. Mr. Farrell, though not so intelligent as the others, yet was respectable, and he was rich. Yet all these respectable gentlemen were struck out by Mr. Kemmis. If the Government would grant a Committee of Inquiry, as was now asked, he pledged himself to prove this. But that they would not do. He knew they would content themselves with appealing to the passions of the House. He hoped, however, they would consider, that it was a question of importance. It related to the packing of a Jury; and he warned the Government, that by refusing an inquiry into it, they would lead the public into the foregone conclusion, that they already knew what would be the result, and dreaded it. As to the letter itself, he would not say, that some passages in it, taken separately, might not be construed into a libel, but he was convinced, that, taking it together, and as a whole, no honest man would pronounce it to be one.
§ Mr. O'Ferrall
regretted the personality with which the discussion had been conducted. If the appointment of a Committee of Inquiry were to be considered as a censure on the Government, he would not agree to it; but if it were merely intended by the appointment of the Committee, to ascertain the truth of the facts stated by the hon. Members who supported the inquiry, he should vote for the affirmation of that proposition. He was in conscience convinced, that if the election of the Jury had been by ballot, and that the six gentlemen whose rejection was complained of, had been members of the Jury, that circumstance would in no measure have altered the verdict of the Jury. He could not, however, but admit, that Juries in Ireland were not generally fairly chosen. In Queen's County, for instance, 820 Catholics were universally rejected. He did not believe, that the Government encouraged such practices, or had any intention that Catholics should be excluded; but he must say, that they appeared remiss in allowing their officers to exercise such a prejudicial and dangerous power. He regretted the temper in which the Motion had been received, and thought, that the question should be decided on its own merits, and without regard to party feeling.
§ Mr. Aglionby
said, that the statements on both sides were so contradictory, as to render it utterly impossible to come to a fair and rational conclusion without further information. The only document which could at all enable them to come to a conclusion, was the affidavit produced by the noble Lord, which went to show, that there was nothing unfair in the choice of the panel. Now, was that affidavit conclusive, and did it altogether debar the inquiry which was demanded? But, even though this document was perfectly correct and unquestioned, it still appeared to be somewhat inconsistent and ambiguous. It would seem, that 207 names were called before forty-eight were retained, though it did not appear in what manner that number was retained. If he was to understand, that the traverser's attorney had the unlimited discretion and power to object, without assigning any reason, to any of the names on the panel, and that these forty-eight were called over without his offering any objection, then he would say there was no ground for demanding that inquiry. If the contrary were the fact, was it not right, that the Crown should be freed from all imputation of being parties to such conduct? He owned it appeared to him curious, that out of 207 names there should be only seven Catholics. Was not that a fit-subject for inquiry? It was rather extraordinary, that out of the 207 names, the traverser should not, if he had the power, object to more; and he could not help suspecting, that there should be something in the mode of striking off persons from the list with which the House was not yet made acquainted. He had no personal feelings to gratify in the question; he was altogether unacquainted with Ireland, as well as with the hon. Members on the Ministerial side; and he must say, that he was only anxious, that the facts of the case should be distinctly 821 ascertained, and the difficulties with which it was encumbered removed.
§ Mr. Lambert
had never shrunk from expressing his sentiments in that House, and on this occasion he must say, that he agreed with the hon. Gentleman who brought forward the Motion, that the practice of excluding Roman Catholics from Juries in Ireland had prevailed to a great and shameful extent; but the question was, not whether that evil had prevailed, or whether that reprehensible practice had been continued, but whether it had actually occurred in the case before the House. He must say, that, regarding the question in a calm and dispassionate manner, he had not heard sufficient evidence to induce him to think, that the House ought to grant a Committee of Inquiry. It was perfectly true, that Committees of Inquiry had lately been granted for all sorts of things; but he really thought, that such concessions did not always add to the respectability of that House, or promote the objects of those who sought for those Committees of Inquiry. In the absence of any facts that would enable him to come to a conclusion on that subject, he was obliged to consider what probable motives the Crown could have for the conduct which had been attributed to it. Would any man tell him, that if any officer of the Crown so far violated his duty as to make a partial selection of Jurors, he would select Orangemen as the most favourable to the Government? If a Government agent were to commit such an act, all he would say, was, that he must be the greatest blunderer in existence. But, admitting that they were not indisposed towards the Government, was it natural that the Law Officers of the Crown should afford them an opportunity of being addressed in one of the most eloquent appeals to the passions and prejudices of party spirit, that was ever delivered in any assembly? The learned Gentleman, on that occasion, departed from his usual practice; he gave up both the case and his client, and made an appeal solely and entirely to the passions of the Jury. But so strong were the facts, so undeniable was the charge, that though he addressed the feelings of the Jury in every possible way, though he wrung every fibre of their hearts, yet their sense of duty prevailed, and they instantly returned a verdict against him. Would any hon. Member 822 say, that Catholics alone would be insensible to the merits of this case, and that they would have returned a verdict of acquittal, on the same proof as that which instantly convinced a Jury of Protestants? He was bound, from what he had observed, being in absolute ignorance of the minute details connected with this question, to say, that it was in vain for the hon. and learned Member to hope to punish the Government in Parliament, because they obtained a verdict against him in Ireland. Was it to be said, that the people of Ireland were so demoralized, that no paper published in that country had a chance of succeeding, of being read and circulated, unless it was constantly filled with sedition against the State, and slander against individuals? He knew perfectly well, that there was a certain portion of the Press in Ireland with which nothing was sacred—which did not regard the most revered institution; and if, from political resentment, it thought fit to attack private life, or hurt the feelings of individuals, it did not hesitate to commit such mischief, and inflict such wounds. He knew, that if such a Press were not checked, it would revolutionize the country from one end to the other. He was not the advocate for curtailing the just privileges of the Press; but he could not help referring, in strong and indignant terms, to that part of it which had poured upon himself, within the last twelve months, every species of calumny, every species of insult and injustice—not for any crime, nor on account of any personal quarrel, for he had none—nor for any moral guilt—but because he presumed to differ in political sentiments from a certain party in Ireland. Those expressions to which he had alluded, those insults, and this gross abuse, conveyed to the minds of all educated men, no other impression than, that they proceeded from the most despicable and miserable malignity. Such a Press so abused, was an intolerable nuisance which must be abated.
§ Mr. Lynch
agreed with the hon. Member who spoke last, that the main question before the House was entirely lost sight of; but this he would add, by no one more than the hon. Member himself. The House had nothing to do with the personal quarrels of the hon. Member with the Press of Ireland; the subject was totally irrelevant. In like manner, what had the House to do with the question, 823 whether the hon. and learned member for Dublin ought not to have surrendered himself, and stood in the place of Mr. Barrett. That was a question between him and Mr. Barrett,—between him and Mr. Barrett alone. If Mr. Barrett did not complain, who had a right to complain? At all events it was not a question for the House; and he must deprecate the personalities that had been introduced. They were not finding fault with the Judges who tried Mr. Barrett, or the verdict of the Jury by which he was convicted. The question was, whether Government, having instituted a prosecution, undue means were not taken to procure a conviction. As to the question itself, it consisted of two parts:—first, as to the manner in which the forty-eight names were selected; secondly, as to the manner in which the list had been reduced. The first was the act of the Clerk of the Crown; the second, the act of the Crown Solicitor. The hon. member for Wexford had admitted, that Catholics were excluded from Juries in Ireland, and in the county of Wexford, but would not allow that they were in this instance, although the Clerk of the Crown and the Crown Solicitor were, in both cases, the same. Then, as to the forty-eight names returned, it was notorious, that the Clerk of the Crown was the person to make the selection, and return such number. It was his act, and his act alone. He did make the return, and he included in that return but four Catholics; and he made that return out of a panel of 714, the greater part of whom were Catholics. The question therefore, arose, how did it happen that out of the first 207 names upon the list, there were only seven Catholics to be found? There was, at least, some management in this. The affair was endeavoured to be mystified; and it was said, that the Clerk of the Crown had read over the 207 names in the presence of the Solicitor of the Traverser, and allowed objections; but what sort of objections were they? Mere legal objections; the same objections which the Clerk of the Crown was bound himself to take in selecting the forty-eight names. In fact, he did that in the presence of the Solicitor of the traverser, which he might have done in his closet. The selection of the forty-eight was his act, and his act alone. Was it possible to suppose, that, if Mr. Barrett had the control over, the 824 panel as suggested, he would have allowed the names of Mr. Long or Mr. Hines to have remained? They had now done with the Clerk of the Crown. The forty-eight names were to be reduced to twenty-four,—twelve to be struck off by the Crown Solicitor, and twelve by the Solicitor for the traverser. The Crown Solicitor exercised his right by striking off the four Roman Catholics, and two most unexceptionable individuals; the one, he believed, was the Governor of the Bank of Ireland, and the other made a baronet by the present Ministers, but who happened to be liberal men,—men who had espoused the Catholic cause previously to emancipation. And who were the four Catholics rejected? Four individuals of great wealth, great respectability, quiet men,—no agitators. One of them admitted into the close Corporation of the Bank of Ireland. There could have been no personal objection to these men; they must have been excluded because they were Catholics. This, therefore, was an insult upon the Catholic body which he could not but resent. He asked if a Jury so selected could be considered as unimpeachable on the ground of political bias? He did not mean to question the individual integrity of each member of that Jury; but he put it to the Ministers, and he put it also to the House, whether Mr. Barrett, or the people of Ireland, could have confidence in the decision of such a Jury? He regretted extremely that the administration of the right hon. Gentleman, the Secretary for Ireland, in whose good intentions he placed the greatest confidence, should have been clouded by a proceeding so impolitic and unwise; impolitic and unwise in itself, but rendered still more so by the manner in which it was conducted. It was not originally a religious question; it was unfortunately made so by the manner in which it was conducted. For his own part, he looked upon it as one of the most unfortunate and unpopular steps that could have been taken by Government. It would, he feared, interpose a new and formidable barrier to the healing principle intended by the Catholic Relief Act, the true spirit of which, he was sure, it was the anxious wish of the right hon. Gentleman to infuse into his Government of Ireland. He had fondly expected that; after the Emancipation Bill passed, all religious distinctions would have been forgotten in Ireland; that the pernicious 825 System of setting up one party against another would have been exploded; that Ireland would have been suffered to enjoy the blessings and advantages of religious concord. Five years had now elapsed since that Bill had passed, and he was sorry to say, that religious discord still prevailed, fomented and kept alive by the party opposed to Catholics; for this he would assert, that never was there so great an achievement—he would not call it victory—gained by any people, which was enjoyed with greater forbearance. He still more regretted that advantage should have been taken of that party spirit by a set of men who had hitherto, and at all times, and in the worst of times, to their great honour, voted for its extinction, for the purpose of obtaining the conviction of Mr. Barrett. This prosecution was commenced previously to the accession to office of the right hon. Gentleman. It was a legacy left to him. He wished that the right hon. Gentleman had repudiated the bequest.
§ Mr. Littleton
begged to repeat what he had said before, that, although the officers of the Crown had a right to go through the forty-eight names one by one, they had not exercised that privilege on the present occasion. Resistance had been offered by the traverser's Solicitor in many instances, but not by the Solicitor for the Crown. Nay, more; in proof of the liberal conduct of the Government, he would state, upon the authority of an affidavit, by an officer of the Crown, in this prosecution, that, after the forty-eight names had been reduced to twenty-four, and that the Jury had been selected from them, the Attorney for the traverser objected to the name of Mr. J. Blacquiere, upon which the Clerk of the Crown consented to withdraw that gentleman, and substitute Mr. Armstrong in his stead.
§ Mr. Barron
acquitted the Government of any unfair intentions in the present case. Certain it was, that parties of the highest respectability had been struck off the Jury lists in Ireland; so much so, that, in the North, not a single Catholic was ever permitted to sit on a Jury. He repeated, that he did not believe the heads of Government had willingly lent themselves to this unfair system; but that their underling dependents were undermining them, and bringing them into disrepute, by their political interference in these matters.
would not detain the House longer than to express his opinion, that, consistently with his feelings of justice, he could not vote either for the Motion or the Amendment before the House. The Clerk of the Crown had but exercised the discretionary power with which the law had invested him; and had, doubtless, acted conscientiously in the rejection of the four Catholics, as alleged. If Committees were to be continually appointed to inquire into the motives of every discretionary act of public functionaries, that House would be degraded into a species of inquisition revolting to all feelings of honour and independence.
§ Lord Althorp
wished merely to say a word with regard to the vote which he was about to give on this question. His determination was to vote, in the first place, against the Amendment, and afterwards against the original Motion, in case it should be put. He did not think there was any ground for appointing a Committee in this case; and, after the affidavits which had been read to the House, the correctness of which could not be doubted, the conduct of the Government officers in this prosecution appeared clear from all suspicion.
§ Mr. O'Dwyer
said, that an hon. Member had stated that, if the Clerk of the Crown had reasonable grounds to suspect the four Catholics on the Jury List of being violent partisans, he was perfectly justified in striking off their names. It so happened, however, that such was not the case; for all the individuals, both Catholics and Protestants, whom the Clerk of the Crown had objected to were remarkable for having abstained from politics. On the other hand, two persons, who were suffered to remain were known to have been violent politicians, and even to have themselves published a libel upon that House and Government, when, at a meeting of the Corporation, it was suggested by them to present a petition to the King, at St. James's, instead of to Parliament, who would not bestow attention upon them. This was a libel to the same extent as the very libel upon which they were called, as Jurors, to pass judgment. As to the question, whether Mr. Barrett had been ill-used, he would beg to read a letter which he had received from that gentleman. [The hon. Gentleman read a letter, in which Mr. Barrett stated, that he felt convinced that the 827 prosecution to which he had been subjected was an unjust and partial proceeding, the work of Tory treachery; that the author of the libel had offered to take his place, and stand the brunt of the charge, but that he (Mr. Barrett), considering that that hon. and learned Gentleman's presence in his place in Parliament was necessary to the salvation and preservation of his country, would not permit him to risk his liberty even to protect his own.] This was a noble instance of voluntary martyrdom on the part of Mr. Barrett. He entreated the right hon. Secretary for Ireland, if he was not afraid of inquiry, to support the Amendment before the House.
§ The House divided on Mr. Feargus O'Connor's Amendment.—Ayes 32; Noes 130: Majority 98.
|List of the AYES.|
|ENGLAND.||Lynch, A. H.|
|Aglionby, H A.||O'Connell, D.|
|Attwood, T.||O'Connell, Morgan|
|Faithfull, G.||O'Connell, M;|
|Hume, J.||O'Connell, J.|
|Kennedy, J.||O'Connor, F.|
|Potter, R;||O'Dwyer, C. A.|
|Roebuck, J. A.||O'Ferrall, R. M.|
|Barron, H. W.||Roche, W.|
|Barry, J. S.||Roche, D.|
|Bellew, R. M.||Ruthven, E.|
|Blake, M. J.||Ruthven, E. S.|
|Finn, W.||Sheil, R. L.|
|Fitzgerald, T.||Talbot, J. H.|
|Fitzsimon, C.||Vigors, N. A.|
|Lalor, P.||Walker, L. R.|