§ Mr. W. Smith O'Brien
spoke as follows.* I rise, Sir, to move,—That this House will resolve itself into a committee, for the purpose of taking into consideration the causes of the discontent at pre-I have undertaken, perhaps somewhat presumptuously, to set forth the causes of the excitement by which Ireland is at present agitated, and to invite the House to the consideration of those measures of redresss by which alone, that agitation can, in my opinion, be effectually suppressed. I do not intend to make a party speech—much that I have to say will not be acceptable to either side of the House. I cannot, therefore, expect a favourable audience; but I shall feel deeply obliged, if a fair and patient hearing should be accorded tome by your kind indulgence. I stand here to-night, to arraign the British Government and the British Parliament, for having misgoverned the country to which I belong. I make this charge not on the part of those who delight in agitation. Were Ito speak in their name, I should render to you their most hearty thanks for having, by the course which you have pursued, effectually promoted the objects which they have in view. I appear, on this occasion, on behalf of the class to which I myself belong—on behalf of those who cherish no other desire than to lead a tranquil life in their native land, (I will repeat the sentiment, although it was derided when I used it on a former occasion,) surrounded by a happy and contented population, in the full enjoyment of the free institutions of Great Britain, If I had brought forward this motion two months since, as I then intended, I might have had some difficulty in awakening the House to a sense of the irritated state of feeling which at present prevails throughout Ireland, The course' of events has rendered superfluous this, part of the task. The House and the public of England are now fully alive to the formidable character which the Repeal agitation has assumed. They have seen the perfect organization which exists amongst the people of Ireland—they have seen, that in three provinces, fifty thousand men can be called together on a notice of forty-eight hours, at any appointed spot—they have seen the receipts of the Repeal treasury rising from 500l. to 3,000l. per week—they are aware that not only are the poorer and less instructed masses of the population involved in this movement, but, that it also embraces 632 nearly the whole body of the middle classes of the Roman Catholic persuasion, as well as a large number of Protestants; and, that the Roman Catholic clergy, with only a few individual cases of exception, take part in or countenance its progress. It is true, that the aristocracy and landed proprietors, Catholic as well as Protestant, still, for the most part, stand aloof from this agitation; but, be assured, that unless your policy be speedily changed, they will not long consent to re' main as units, divested of influence in the midst of the population by whom they are surrounded. It is true also, that the majority of the Protestants have hitherto forborne to co-operate in this movement; but, as there no longer exists any cause for dissension with their fellow-country-men, no one can tell how soon the moment may arrive when they will make common cause for the restoration of the national Parliament of Ireland. The first question, then, which, under such circumstances, naturally presents itself, is —to what cause may he attributed the present attitude of affairs in Ireland? I know, that there are some superficial observers, who imagine, that this mighty confederation is solely the work of one man. I am the last person who would depreciate the power of Mr. O'Connell. I admit the matchless energy of his character, I acknowledge the influence which he has obtained over his countrymen by his long services, and by his perfect mastery of every chord which can touch their feelings, or govern their conduct; but, were he possessed of superhuman faculties, they would but little avail to produce such gigantic results, unless he were aided by the conviction of the national mind, as well as by the peculiar circumstances of the social condition of Ireland. To an English audience, Mr. O'Connell might for ever harangue upon the expediency of dissolving the Union, without producing a desire for its repeal; because he would be unable to convince them, that it has been productive of injury to this country, On the other hand, many of those who are now embarked in this great enterprize, are men as calm in their judgment, as capable of discovering the true interest of their country, as little disposed to revolutionary excesses, as any Member whom I now address. I do not know, that I can better illustrate the tone of feeling which prevails amongst a large portion of the 633 intelligent classes in Ireland, than by reading to the House a letter, upon which amongst many others of a similar character, my attention has happened to rest. It is written by the Roman Catholic bishop of the diocese of Ossory, in reply to a communication by which he was invited to attend a meeting for promoting the Repeal of the Union:—*From a corrected report published as a pamphlet by J. Brown, Dublin.631 sent prevailing in Ireland, with a view to the redress of grievances, and to the establishment of a system of just and impartial government in that part of the United Kingdom.Dear Sir—I was just leaving Kilkenny when I received your letter, requesting me to attach my name to a requisition for a Repeal meeting. The matter was too important for me to decide at the moment.I have always felt, that the very serious and onerous duties of my profession, left me but little time for matters of a nature purely political; and I have still so much reluctance to embark in political agitation, that I must beg most respectfully to decline signing the requisition you have sent me.But I hope my feelings on the present subject will not he mistaken. I have always believed that domestic legislation must, of its own nature, be the best means of promoting the happiness of a nation; and daily experience convinces me, that the serious evils under which Ireland labours, cannot be so easily removed by those who are ignorant of their causes, or indifferent to their results. Besides, I cannot but feel, that Ireland is not fully represented in the Imperial Parliament. It is to be deplored, that when the enthusiastic exertions of the Irish people, and the patriotic firmness of the Irish representatives, carried the Reform Bill against English majorities, Ireland did not receive her fair share of the advantages then obtained.It does not appear to me, that she has her due proportion of representatives in Parliament. She certainly has not a Parliamentary franchise equal in all respects to the English franchise; and, of course, she has not any thing like a proportionate number of Parliamentary electors.Under such circumstances, we cannot wonder, that the wants and wishes of the Irish people, even when made known by a large majority of Irish Members, are frequently treated with neglect, if not with contempt; and while such a system is pursued, it would be vain to expect that a loyal and high-minded people would abstain from seeking, by legal and constitutional means, that equality of civil rights which has been so often professed and promised, but not yet fully granted to this country.I have the honour to be, dear Sir,Very truly yours,ઠW M. KINSELLA.JOSEPH H ACK ETT, ESQ.Is there anything in that letter which is unworthy of a Christian Bishop, or of a sincere lover of his country? Yet its 634 writer arrives at the conclusion, that the interests of Ireland. require the restitution of its domestic legislature. I would further ask, those who believe that the agitation for the Repeal of the Union owes its vitality solely to the influence of Mr. O'Connell, how they account for the universal sympathy which prevails amongst foreign nations throughout the civilized world, all of whom, without exception, regard Ireland as suffering under oppression, and applaud every indication of a disposition to recover its national independence. For my own part, I am deeply convinced that the present demand for a Repeal of the Union is not a mere unreasoning clamour, raised to serve the purposes of Mr. O'Connell, or of any knot of individuals, but, that it results from the deliberate opinion of thousands of intelligent men, who have sunk into a feeling of settled despair of obtaining good government for their country through the instrumentality of British legislation. I am persuaded, that an increasing conviction has gradually obtained possession of the public mind in Ireland, which leads many to believe, that the interests and happiness of their country would be promoted by the restitution of self-government under the British Crown, in friendly connexion with the remainder of the empire. In arriving at this conclusion many natural feelings must be overcome—many objects of legitimate ambition must be surrendered. There is scarcely a family in the kingdom which is not united with this country by domestic ties? and the people of Ireland may well feel a pride in the greatness of your empire, when they reflect how much they have contributed to its extension. What then are the causes of that universal discontent which has found its expression in the present agitation for the Repeal of the Union? In seeking to develope these causes, I must content myself with merely adverting, in a summary manner, to the various elements which contribute to the general result. In endeavouring to penetrate the feelings of a people so sensitive as the Irish, it is not enough to consider whether the last act of injustice of which they complain is sufficient to produce the dissatisfaction which we witness. As they have been perhaps too I hasty in their disposition to bury in oblivion the memory of past injuries, when they have perceived a disposition on your 635 part to resort to a kindly and generous policy; so, when they view indications of a return to that system of misgovernment, under which they have suffered so much and so long, the accumulated wrongs of centuries recur to their recollection and inflame their discontent. The philosophic enquirer, who desires to trace national antipathies to their origin, would be compelled in order to estimate justly the feelings of the Irish people, to search the ancient records of our history. The necessity of compression requires me to dismiss in a few sentences every thing which occurred previous to the Union. The characteristic features of Irish history may be thus briefly described:—Our nation has unhappily been at all times prone to internal dissension. By taking advantage of those dissensions, the English power first obtained a footing in Ireland. By their promotion, conquest was extended. By stimulating and fostering successive rebellions, a pretext was obtained for continued confiscation, until nearly the whole soil of Ireland had been subjected to repeated forfeiture. These confiscations continued until the reign of William and Mary, and were followed by the atrocities of the penal code—a code worthy of the ingenious malice of a demon. The mass of the nation was placed in cruel bondage under the feet of the minority. At length the dominant party found that the interests of the country were sacrificed to their own ascendancy—that England was enabled, by thus dividing the Irish people, to oppress her trade and trample upon her independence, The American war called the nation to arms, and in 1782 the Irish people stood united as one man, presenting to England a demand for their national rights. All their requests, before contumeliously rejected, were now hastily conceded, and Ireland appeared in all the majesty of union and national greatness. Unhappily the same patriotic energy which had wrung from England freedom of trade and Parliamentary independence, was not applied to internal reforms. The nation relapsed into apathy; a rebellion the seeds of which were sown by the principles of the French revolution, acting upon a diseased condition of society, and which rebellion there is too much reason for believing to have been fomented by England, afforded a pretext for the Union. Still the Union could not have been ac- 636 complished without the basest corruption Every one knows that the Irish parliament consisted for the most part of nominees of an oligarchy. Two-thirds of the members of the Irish house of commons were named by individuals. That oligarchy Mr. Pitt bought by titles, by places, and by money. He deceived the Catholics by the promise of emancipation, and thus neutralized, to a certain extent, their opposition. In the mean time the people were prevented by armed force from assembling to petition, and the national voice was stifled in the utterance of its remonstrance. Thus, by the united influence of corruption, fraud, and force, an union was imposed upon Ireland, which has never been recognized by the Irish people as a national compact. Its terms were unjust and offensive, and accordingly they have produced in the continued discontent of the Irish nation, that retribution which always follows injustice. In passing under review some of the consequences of the union, we shall have no difficulty in discovering whence arises the desire for its abrogation. The first topic to which I shall advert, is its effect upon the financial relations between Great Britain and Ireland. Upon this point the most extraordinary difference of opinion prevails in the two countries. One can scarcely meet a person in society in England who does not consider it a great hardship, that Ireland should be exempted from any of the taxes borne by England. The first Lord of the Treasury, Sir R. Peel, tells us that Ireland is treated in regard to taxation with peculiar indulgence. Yet in Ireland it is generally believed that grievous financial injustice is one of the consequences of the union. The light in which this question is regarded in Ireland may be stated as follows. At the time of the union, the debts of the two countries were respectively—
Debt. Ann, Charge. Funded debt of Britain in the year ended Jan. 5, 1801 £420,305,944 £15,800,106 Unfunded debt of Britain in the year ended Jan. 5, 1801 Exchequer Bills 26,080,100 766,480 £446,386,044 £16,566,586 Funded debtor Ireland, debt of Britain in the year ended Jan. 5, 1801 Exchequer Bills £26,841,219 £1,150,284 Unfunded debt of Britain in the year ended Jan. 5, 1801 Treasury Bills 1,703,915 43,722 £28,545,134 £1,194,006 (Par. Paper, No, 256, Sess. 1824.)
Assuming that Ireland has been taxed in proportion to its resources equally with Great Britain since the union, there ought still to be this difference of taxation; otherwise, the poorer country is called upon to pay the debt incurred by the richer previous to the partnership. But instead of a separate taxation on Great Britain exceeding fifteen millions, the produce of all the taxes to which Great Britain is liable, and from which Ireland is still exempt, exclusive of the property-tax, does not now amount to much more than seven millions. The property tax will produce about five millions, of which a portion is derived from the tax on the incomes of Irish absentees. In order to show that Ireland contributed, to the extent of its resources, equally with Great Britain during the war, I will quote an extract from the report of the select committee of 1815, on the public income and expenditure of Ireland:—
Total annual charge for debt incurred by Great Britain previous to the Union £16,566,586 Total annual charge for debt incurred, by Ireland 1,194,005 Difference, being the amount of separate taxation to which Great Britain is fairly liable on account of debt incurred previous to the Union £15,572,580Your committee cannot but remark, that for several years Ireland has advanced in permanent taxation more rapidly than Great Britain itself, notwithstanding the immense exertions of the latter country, and including the extraordinary and war taxes. The permanent revenue of Great Britain having increased from the year 1801, when the amounts were first made to correspond in the proportion of 16½; to 10. The whole revenue of Great Britain (including war taxes), in the proportion of 21¼ to 10, and the revenues of Ireland in the proportion of 23 to 10. But in the twenty-four years referred to by your committee, the increase of Irish revenue has been in the proportion of 46¾ to 10.The above statement was made by a Parliamentary committee at the close of the war. But it may be said, that in the remission of taxes since that time, greater indulgence has been shown to Ireland than to England. I have moved for a return of the amount of taxes affecting each kingdom, which have been repealed since 1814. That return has not yet been presented. I must therefore rely upon secondary authority, and quote the statement made by Mr. O'Connell, in the debate in the Corporation of Dublin, upon the Repeal of the Union, in which he computed that the produce of taxes 638 affecting Great Britain which have been repealed, amounts to 47,214,338l.; whilst during the same period the taxes repealed which affected Ireland, amounted only to 1,57.5,940l., being one-thirtieth. Whereas in the imposition of taxes, it was computed that Ireland ought to be subjected to a burthen proportionate to that of Great Britain in the ratio of 2 to 15, or 7½ to 1. The financial jugglery by which Ireland has been brought in as a debtor to Great Britain, has been as follows. Mr. Pitt, in dictating the terms of the Union, assumed that Ireland could pay towards the general expenses of the United Kingdom a contribution in the proportion of 2–17ths, or 1 to 7½, although the previous revenue of Ireland had borne to the revenue of Great Britain the proportion of less than 1 to 12. Separate accounts were kept for each kingdom. Loan was added to loan, and placed to the account of Ireland, although over such loans Ireland had no control until at length the Irish revenue was unable to meet the interest on the nominal debt so accumulated against it. In the mean time taxation had been carried in Ireland to that point at which increased taxation produced a diminution instead of an increase of revenue. At length in 1816, the exchequers of the two countries were consolidated, and since that period successive attempts have been made to assimilate the taxation of Ireland to that of Great Britain, until the Irish people will have the privilege of contributing equally with the English towards the payment of the charge on the debt incurred by Great Britain previously to the Union. The people of Ireland are unable to perceive the justice of these financial arrangements; and they feel indignant when they are told upon every occasion on which a grant of 10,000l. may be required for Irish objects, that they do not contribute in their fair proportion to the taxation of the United Kingdom, and that England ought not for ever to be made a "milchcow" to Ireland. Those who desire a Repeal of the Union contend, that if that measure were to take place, the financial relations of the two countries would be adjusted on a footing more favourable to Ireland than that on which they at present stand, and that either the taxes upon the principal articles of consumption, such as tea, sugar, malt, tobacco, &c., would be reduced to the standard which prevailed previous to the Union, or that 639 the surplus revenue of Ireland would be applied to the promotion of local improvements. For my own part I am fully aware that is a subject of great intricacy, and although upon the whole, I am inclined to think that the Irish view of this question is founded on justice, yet undoubtedly much may be said on the part of England, which would lead to a different conclusion. All that I have to ask, therefore, in reference to this branch of my subject, is, that a committee of intelligent and impartial men should be appointed, who may listen to the statements of those who consider that Ireland has sustained a wrong in consequence of the Union, and that the financial relations of the two countries may, for the future, be placed upon some defined and well-understood basis, so that we may not be for ever taunted with endeavouring to escape our fair share of taxation, at the very time at which those who have given most consideration to the subject, are of opinion that Ireland has been unjustly dealt with in regard to matters of finance. Next in the train of consequences which followed the Union, is to be noticed the increase of absenteeism. There are two classes of absentees. One class consists of great English proprietors who have obtained by confiscation large tracts of territory in Ireland. As an instance I may mention, that the greater part of one county, Londonderry, belongs to the London companies. This class is almost of necessity permanently non-resident. It is scarcely to be expected that the Duke of Devonshire, Lord Fitzwilliam, Lord Lansdowne should live continually in Ireland, whilst they have superior inducements to reside in this country. The other class of absentees consists of the nobility and gentry of Ireland, who were in the habit of resorting to Dublin previous to the Union, but who are now naturally attracted to the seat of Government, and whose views and associations become gradually interwoven with English rather than with Irish interests. It is believed, that this latter class would be immediately brought back to Ireland by a Repeal of the Union, and with respect to the permanent absentees, it is conceived that a moderate tax, which would be imposed by the Irish Parliament upon non-residence, would compel them either to sell their estates, or to reside in Ireland for a portion of the year, or to yield a pecuniary contribution towards those useful 640 objects which would be promoted without such contribution by their residence. It is only an act of justice to the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel), to acknowledge, that to a trifling extent he has conferred a boon upon Ireland, by his imposition of a tax upon absentees, in connection with the Property-tax. He would now do well to act upon the suggestion thrown out a few evenings since by the noble Lord the Member for Newark, (Lord John Manners) and apply to the purposes of local improvement in Ireland the proceeds of the tax upon Irish absentees. Such a measure is the more justifiable, because in estimating the revenue to be derived from Ireland by the imposition of new taxes as her equivalent for the Income-tax, he did not place to its credit the amount derivable from this source. Not only did Ireland lose by the Union the advantages resulting from the residence and expenditure of a large portion of the wealthier classes, but the drain upon her resources has been still further augmented by the gradual abstraction of all her public establishments. Upon grounds of economy and general policy, I am far from objecting to any consolidation of the public departments which may be attended with diminution of expense, and greater uniformity and vigour of administration; but in withdrawing from Ireland the various fiscal establishments which existed previous to the Union, an attempt ought to have been made to compensate in some other manner the pecuniary loss sustained by such withdrawal. Many opportunities of making such compensation have been neglected. As an instance, let us see how Parliament has dealt with Ireland in regard to the naval expenditure of the United Kingdom. None of the harbours of England can rival those which we possess. How advantageously some of them are situated for naval expeditions, is proved by the recent rendezvous at Cork, of a fleet destined for some peculiar service, which appears to have a reference to the affairs of the Peninsula; yet there does not exist in Ireland a single naval dockyard. In this country there are nine—Deptford, Woolwich, Chatham, Sheerness, Portsmouth, Plymouth, Pembroke, Deal, North Yarmouth. In Ireland there is only a small victualling establishment at Cove. I asked a short time since for a return which would have shown the proportion of the amount voted on the navy 641 estimates, which, during the last twenty years, has been expended in Ireland. That return having been refused, I have been compelled to make the computation for myself. The results are not placed before the House in so authentic a form as if they had emanated from the department, but I believe that the following statement will be found quite accurate. I have carefully examined the navy estimates for the current year 1843–44, and I find that out of a gross expenditure of 6,579,960l., not more than 10,000l. will be expended in Ireland, exclusive of the small amount of provisions now purchased there. If it be said that this comparison of the aggregate expenditure, with the amount expended in Ireland, is fallacious, because the naval service of Great Britain is carried on in every quarter of the world; this remark does not at least apply to those heads of the naval expenditure which are of a local character. Let the comparison then be confined to those heads:—
for conveyance of mails between Kingstown and Liverpool—half of which amount ought to be placed to the account of England. With respect to the army the case is different. I admit that Ireland enjoys a fair proportion of the expenditure of the army, but it has never been insinuated, that any portion of the British army has been stationed in Ireland with a view to give to that country the advantages resulting from its expenditure. The motive which has led to its being placed there is, that the public tranquillity may be secured; and in proportion as that end has been attained by other means, the military force has been withdrawn. Those who argue against a Repeal of the Union, talk largely of the advantages which must result to a poor country from being associated with one wealthier than itself. If 642 such language has any meaning, it must be, that there is a constant tendency which attracts the surplus wealth from the richer to the poorer country. We had already seen what has been the result of the Union with reference to the expenditure of the incomes of private individuals. Let us now see whether the financial intercourse of a public nature between the two countries, in any degree compensates for the drain upon the resources of Ireland which arises from absenteeism. I find by a parliamentary paper which was laid on the Table during the Session of 1842, No. 305, that the balance of remittances between the exchequers of the two kingdoms for a specified period, stands as follows:
Gross estimate for 1843–44. To be expended in Ireland. Admiralty Office £125,459 none. Establishments at home 126,813 about £500 Wages to artificers in establishments at home 591,951 about 500 Naval stores 1,117,895 none. New works and repairs in yards 234,868 none 118 Packet service for the Post-office 430,702 noun 9,000
Now, those who seek for a Repeal of the Union, believe that instead of such an annual tribute being sent out of their country, the supplies voted by an Irish Parliament would be expended in Ireland, by Irishmen, for the benefit of Ireland. Is it wise to allow the Irish people to feel, that in regard to the financial connection between the two countries, the condition of Ireland is worse under the Legislative Union, than it would be if the Irish Parliament were restored? During the twenty-eight years which immediately followed the Union, all the energies of the Irish nation were concentrated upon the struggle of the Catholics for emancipation, 643 either in resistance to or in support of their claims. I presume it will not be contended that the conduct of Parliament with reference to this question, was calculated to create any very strong feeling in the minds of the Irish nation in favour of British legislation. The Catholics considered that they had been betrayed by Mr. Pitt, when they saw him return to power without stipulating for the fulfilment of the promises which he had held out to them. Their just rights were withheld by the Anti-catholic prejudices of the English people, so long as they could be denied with safety; and at length when they were conceded, not to a sense of justice, but to apprehensions of a civil war, they were granted in a jealous spirit, and accompanied by offensive conditions. For six years the Catholic Relief Bill remained a dead fetter in regard to appointments to office. It had, indeed, given to the Roman Catholics increased power, but although it declared their eligibility to official station, yet, with the exception of a few individuals, they remained practically excluded. At length, under Lord Normanby's Government, the principle of perfect equality was Carried into full effect. He endeared himself to the Catholic population of Ireland, by having been the first viceroy since the Revolution of 1688, who did not make the profession of the national faith a ground of exclusion from office. Nor can it be said, that he showed an undue preference for Catholics, for it has been repeatedly stated, that of the persons appointed to situations under his Government, a majority were Protestants. I charge the present Government. with having returned to the former system of exclusion, and I undertake to show, that though the Catholics are nominally admissible to every situation, yet that practically they have been all but proscribed. The right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) has refused me a return which would have shewn the religious persuasion of every person who has been appointed to any situation under Government since his accession to office; but I have reason to think that the following list is nearly perfect as regards the principal appointments made under his administration. It shows the proportion of Roman Catholics advanced to office in a country of which above four-fifths of the population profess the Roman Catholic faith. 644
Remitted from the Irish Exchequer to the British Exchequer between 1795 and 5th Jan. 1842 £25,995,453 Remitted from the British Exchequer to the Irish during the same period 8,331,274 Balance remitted from the Irish to the British Exchequer 17,664,179 In order to show that the causes which have produced this result are still in operation, I may mention that of the above amount of 25,995,453l., the portion remitted from the Irish to the British Exchequer during the nine years ended 5th January, 1842, was £6,355,000 Whilst during the same period there was remitted from the British to the Irish Exchequer only 80,000 Balance of remittance from the Irish to the British Exchequer. 6,275,000 Being upon an average an annual remittance of about 700,000
The above are all Protestants. Now compare the list of Catholics appointed to office:—
Lord de Grey Lord Lieutenant Protestant. Lord Eliot Chief Secretary Protestant. Mr. Lucas Under Secretary Protestant. Sir Edward Sugden Lord Chancellor Protestant. Pennefather Chief Justice Protestant. Blackburne Master of the Rolls Protestant. Lefroy Baron of the Exchqr. Protestant. Jackson Justice of the Com. Pleas Protestant. T. C. Smith Attorney-General Protestant. Greene Solicitor-General Protestant. Brewster Advising Counsel to the Castle Protestant. Litton Master in Chancery Protestant. Mr. Long Register to the Court of Chancery Protestant. Mr. Kemmis Chairman of Kilmainham Protestant. Messrs. Tombe, Jebb, and O'Dwyer. Counsel to the Excise.. Protestant. Mr. A. Bate Clerk of the Crown for Co. Galway Protestant. Mr. Seed Clerk of the Crown for the Co. Limerick Protestant. Mr. Starkey Account-Gen. to Ct. of Chancery Protestant. Mr. Welsh Dep. Keeper of the Rolls Protestant. Major Cottingham Inspector of Convicts., Protestant. Mr. Shaw Stipendiary Magistrate Protestant. Mr. Brereton Stipendiary Magistrate Protestant. Mr. Butler Crown Prosecutor of Carlow Protestant.
Three Catholics appointed to subordinate situations, against which are to be placed two dismissals of Catholics without cause—those of Mr. O'Brien, stipendiary magistrate, and of Dr. Phelan, assistant Poor-law Commissioner—for whose removal from office no reasonable ground has yet been assigned. The House, from this statement, will be able to judge whether the present Government has been partial or impartial in its distribution of patronage between Protestants and Catholics. It is no sufficient answer to say, as has been said in justification of the Government, that they cannot be expected to appoint to office their political opponents. This answer involves the admission that they have forfeited the confidence of the whole Catholic population of Ireland. They first adopt a line of policy which calls forth the hostility of the Roman Catholics of Ireland, and then they make such hostility the ground of their perpetual exclusion from office. But the fact is, that in reality they were not reduced to such a dilemma. With regard to appointments of a political nature, I 645 quite agree that they could not with propriety have taken into their confidence men who had been active partisans of a rival Administration; but in regard to judicial station, it is very questionable, under the present circumstances of Ireland, whether a Government ought to declare, that none of those who peculiarly possess the confidence of the great body of the population, shall be selected for such situations. But even if I were to admit, that they could not be expected to raise to the bench such men as my right hon. Friend the Member for Clonmel (Mr. Pigott), still there are many other Roman Catholics in Ireland, whose moderation in politics would have permitted their appointment to office by the present Government. Amongst many whose names occur to me, I shall only mention one, and I select him chiefly because his name is familiar to the House, and because he has been often mentioned with commendation by Gentlemen of the Conservative party—I allude to Mr. Howley, the assistant barrister for Tipperary. I find that in regard to professional standing—a point insisted upon in a former debate by the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel)—he was admitted to the bar earlier than the present Attorney-general; and his other professional qualifications would have justified his nomination to some of those offices which have been filled with persons whose chief merit appears to have been hostility to the Roman Catholic population of Ireland. The next great legislative measure by which the interests of Ireland have been affected, was the Reform Act. It will be admitted, that the Reform Bill could not have been carried, if it had not been supported by the votes of a majority of the Irish representatives. Yet, in the adjustment of the representation, the claims of Ireland were overlooked. Previously to the Reform Act both Ireland and Scotland had reason to complain that they were not represented adequately in proportion to their population and resources, in comparison with England; but Scotland had less reason for complaint than Ireland. Yet Scotland obtained an addition of eight Members, whilst only five were given to Ireland. This injustice was the more flagrant, because even Lord Castlereagh, when computing, at the time of the Union, the number of Members to which Ireland was then entitled, could not, though he took the most unfavourable view of its 646 claim, reduce the number below 108. Notwithstanding such computation, the British Ministry gave to Ireland at the Union eight Members less than the number to which, by their own admission, it was entitled. It might have been expected therefore, that in re-constructing the representative system of the United Kingdom, this injustice would have been redressed. Let us now examine the claims of Ireland with reference to representation, The most natural foundation for representation is population. I believe, that in the formation of new states in the confederation of the United States, population is the sole basis on which the representative system is constructed. The whole population of the United Kingdom in 1841 was 26,717,091 persons, to which aggregate Ireland contributed 8,175,238 persons. The whole number of Members in the House of Commons being 658, if the number to be assigned to Ireland were proportionate to its population, Ireland would he entitled to more than 200 representatives. If other elements, such as revenue, exports and imports, rental, be made, conjointly with population, the basis of the computation, this number would be reduced, according to some calculations, to 170 Members—according to others, to a still lower number; but no calculation which Can be made on the part of Ireland, will reduce our claim to less than 125 Members, being twenty more than we now possess. The detail of the injustice which Ireland has suffered in reference to its representation, is even more striking than the general view here presented. The corrupt borough of Harwich, with its population of 3,829 persons, together with the nomination borough of Ripon, possess as much influence in the Legislature as the county of Tipperary (including the Members for Cashel and Clonmle), with its population of 435,553, and its rental of 886,439l. Again, compare the representation of Dorsetshire with that of the county of Galway. The area of Dorsetshire is 627,220 acres; its real property assessed to poor-rate in 1841, 735,234l.; its population in 1841, 174,743 persons; the number of its Members—County 3, Bridport 2, Dorchester 2, Poole 2, Lyme Regis 1, Shaftesbury 1, Wareham 1, Weymouth 2—total 11. The area of Galway is—county 1,485,533 acres, town 25,059 acres—total 1,510,592 acres; the rental, as estimated by Griffith—county 850,000l., 647 town (excluding the value of the houses) 18,894l.—total rental 868,894l.; and if the value of the houses in the town be included, not less than 900,000l. per annum. The population in 1841 was—county 422,923, town 17,275 — total 440,198. Members—county 2, town 2 —total Members 4. In each of the particulars of area, rental, and population, Galway greatly exceeds Dorsetshire. Yet Dorsetshire has 14 representatives, while Galway enjoys only 4. Though the claim of Ireland to increased representation is scarcely more acceptable to the party on this side of the House, than to that which sits on the opposite Benches, I am bound to say that 1 consider this claim as of primary importance, not only with reference to the interests of Ireland, but also in regard to the ease and satisfaction with which that country may be governed. I do not urge its importance on account of the opportunities of distinction which seats in Parliament afford to the active and ambitious minds of a community, nor on account of the patronage which naturally follows representation, nor even on account of the advantages which parliamentary influence carries with it in the competition of local interests. These considerations ought not indeed to be overlooked. Suppose, for instance, a question arises as to which is the most eligible harbour for a packet station—that of Falmouth or that of Cork—and that the advantages of each are nearly balanced, is it not obvious that the pressure made upon the administration by forty or fifty members connected with the west of England will overbear the representations of ten or twelve members connected with the south of Ireland. The most disadvantageous result, however, arising from inadequate representation, is the necessity which it creates for perpetual agitation. In England the Government bends at once to the voice of public opinion, as spoken by a majority of the English representatives; but it is enabled to defy the opinion of Ireland, as expressed by its Members in Parliament, in consequence of the paucity of their number. Hence arises the necessity for constant excitement in Ireland, to reinforce and give effect to the representations of the Irish Members. Thus the seeming advantage which England appears to possess over Ireland in regard to representation, is countervailed by an extraneous power 648 created by your injustice, which repairs by an action on the Government of a character by no means desirable in itself, the wrong committed towards Ireland. If the number of our representatives is inadequate, not less so is the constituency by whom they are elected. I shall not now accept the challenge offered by the noble Lord, the Member for Lancashire, (Lord Stanley,) to institute a comparison between the Parliamentary franchise of England and that of Ireland. It is scarcely possible to adjust the elements required for such a comparison, because there are some franchises in England to which we have in Ireland none analogous. The conclusion, however, to be drawn from a comparison of the number of persons qualified to vote in each country, sufficiently proves, that in proportion to its population and resources, Ireland does not possess an electoral body nearly as numerous as that of England. The population of Ireland in 1841 was 8,175,238 persons. The number of electors registered between the 1st February, 1835, and the 1st February, 1843, was as follows:—Counties, 63,389: Cities, 27,091; Boroughs, 19,465.—Total 109,945, being less by 14,332 than the number registered during the five years previous to the 1st of February, 1837. But, inasmuch as this registry extends over a period of eight years, a large deduction, probably not less than one-third, ought to be made for double registries, deaths, and expiration of title. After these deductions have been made, the actual number of persons qualified to vote, cannot be assumed to be more than 80,000, or say one per cent. on the population. If property be regarded as the legitimate basis of the franchise, the number of electors is almost equally inadequate in reference to this test. Assuming the rental of Ireland to be 15,000,000l. per annum, which is not far from the truth, there would not be more than one elector for every 187l. 10s. of rental. Now, in the first year after the Reform Act, the proportion of electors to population in England was, in Counties as 1 to 24, and in Boroughs and Cities as 1 to 17. The number of electors in England has since that time considerably increased. In Ireland the constituency is yearly diminishing. So much for the general view. Now look at the detail. Assuming first that the Parliamentary franchise ought to be commensurate with 649 population, let us compare the number of electors in two counties of Ireland and England in which the population is nearly the same—Mayo and Lincolnshire. In Mayo, which has only two representatives, the population in 1841 was 388,887 persons. The number of electors registered between the 1st February, 1835, and the 1st February, 1843, was 1494. This number is subject to a deduction of say one-third for double registries, deaths, and loss of title. In Lincolnshire, which is represented by eleven members, the population was in 1841, 362,717 persons, the number of electors qualified to vote in 1840 was, county electors, 18,876—town electors, 3,999—Total, 22,875. But if it be said that the franchise ought not to be proportionate to population, but to property, let us compare two counties in regard to rateable property. In Meath the population amounted in 1841 to 183,828 persons; the rateable rental according to the townland valuation, which is much below the actual rent, to 527,.5931.; the number of electors registered between the 1st of February, 1835, and 1st February, 1438, 1841, subject to deduction for double registries, deaths, and loss of qualifications. In Westmoreland the population was in 1841, 56,469 persons; the real property rated to poor rate in 1841 was 266,335l.; the number of electors qualified to vote in 1840 was, county, 4,480; town, (Kendal,) 351; total, 4,831. Now, if Meath had a constituency as large as that of Westmoreland, in proportion to the real property of each county, Meath would have about 9,000 electors instead of 1,481 upon the registry, of whom probably not more than 1,000 are qualified to vote. Will any one who has followed me in this comparison, contend that the Irish parliamentary franchise is more liberal than that of England? But it is not enough that the parliamentary franchise of Ireland is of so restricted a nature, as almost to deprive our representation of the character of popular election. It is not enough that the constituencies are year by year dwindling away. The conservative party of Great Britain have still further sought, by the most unjustifiable and unconstitutional expedients to frustrate the choice of the electors of Ireland in their selection of members who possess the confidence of the community. The people of Ireland have not forgotten the manner in which, at the time of the Spottiswoode 650 subscription, you raised a cry against their representatives, and endeavoured to expel them from their seats, by bringing the power of money into action against them, under favour of the partial constitution of election committees. Neither have they forgotten the attempt made by the noble Lord (Lord Stanley) to filch away their franchise under the cover of a registration bill. What is your present position with regard to this bill? When it was brought forward the people of Ireland denounced it as an insidious attempt to diminish the constituency. The noble Lord at that time vehemently protested that he had no such design, and that the bill would have no such effect; yet, the right hon. Baronet, the Secretary for the Home Department, (Sir J. Graham,) announced to the House a few nights since, that after careful consideration, he had found that it would be impossible for him to frame any registration bill which would not have the effect of diminishing the county electors of Ireland, and that, therefore, he was preparing to afford some compensation for this result of the measure which he was about to propose, by an enlargement of the franchise. With regard to the necessity of a registration bill, all parties have been unanimous. The liberal party have suffered from the want of such a measure even more than their antagonists. My hon. Friend, the Member for the county of Longford (Mr. Lefroy,) will permit me to say, that he owes his seat in this House to the defects of our registration system. His opponent was returned by a majority which considerably exceeded 100, (I forget the exact number,) but was displaced from his seat, because the present state of the law allowed the committee to take upon themselves the office of the revising barrister, and to remove from the poll persons whose right to vote ought to have been finally established at the time of their registration. Such being the case, if the noble Lord had been simply desirous to give to Ireland a good system of registration, and had referred his bill to a committee consisting of members from both sides of the House, a measure might have been agreed upon in a week, which would have accomplished the legitimate objects of registration, without annihilating the franchises of the Irish people. But such a course would not have served the purposes of party. The majorities obtained by the late opposition in the various stages 651 of this bill, were invaluable instruments of party warfare, and it became in fact the "cheval de bataille" upon which they rode into office. Whilst the conservative party was in opposition, this measure was one of paramount importance in their eyes. They could not brook the delay of a single night in their attempts to advance it in its different stages. The noble Lord (Lord Stanley) even volunteered to tell the House that he had left the bedside of a near relation in order to be present at its discussion. Yet, the same statesmen who were at that period eager to pass this bill with such breathless haste, in opposition to the remonstrances of the Irish people, have been now two years in power without even venturing to lay upon the table of the House, any bill for the registration of electors in Ireland. We who think that no measure which they could bring forward, would be framed in a spirit favourable to the rights of the Irish people, have, perhaps, reason to thank them for their forbearance; but I would appeal even to Irish Members on the opposite Benches, and ask them whether there is any party in Ireland which does not feel indignant, when they find their national interests thus made the stalking horse of English faction. In considering the constitutional representation of Ireland in the imperial legislature, I must not altogether omit to notice the injustice which was inflicted on the nobility of Ireland by the terms of the Union. The equivalent given to the Irish House of Peers, in compensation for their extinction as a separate branch of the Irish parliament, was the introduction into the British House of Lords of only twenty eight representative Peers. The position of the Irish nobility is marked by a degrading inferiority. The Irish peerage is a sort of hybrid dignity. An Irish Lord is something between a peer and a commoner, without the faculties of either. He is excluded from his natural place in the House of Lords, and yet cannot exercise many of the privileges of a commoner; he cannot sit on grand juries; he cannot vote at elections; he cannot sit in the House of Commons as the representative of an Irish constituency. I have often been surprised how any man of good family can consent to remain in so ambiguous a position. Perhaps it may be said, that as the majority of the Irish House of Lords were consenting parties to the Union, they 652 have, therefore, no reason to Complain; rut this remark does not apply to the dissenting minority and their descendants. So long, however, as they acquiesce without complaint in their degradation, the Parliament of Great Britain can scarcely be blamed for allowing it to be perpetuated. Let us now pass in review the principal measures relating to Ireland, which have been brought forward since the enactment of the Reform Bill. The first of these measures was the coercion bill. I cannot advert to this violation of the constitutional liberties of Ireland, without implicating in Censure many of the Friends who sit around me. I will, therefore, content myself with saying, that this measure at least was not calculated to inspire the people of Ireland with any great confidence in the British Legislature. The next Irish question to which the attention of Parliament was directed was that of the Irish Church. As no redress has yet been afforded with reference to this grievance, I am compelled to dwell upon this topic at more length. Let me first state the relative numbers of the several religious communities existing in Ireland, as ascertained in 1834 by the commissioners of public instruction.
Mr. Coppinger Assist. Barrister for Kildare R. Catholic, Mr. O'Leary An Officer in the Ct. of Chancery R. Catholic, Mr. Kernan Stipendiary Magistrate R. Catholic,
Now I would ask any man of common sense on either side of the House, whether it is possible that any nation could be contented with an ecclesiastical system which provides a religious establishment for the Church of so small a minority of the people, whilst the remainder of the population are excluded from similar advantages. Would the people of England tolerate such an arrangement, if it were possible to conceive the existence for a single hour of such an anomaly in England? What would be their opinion as to the chances of contentment in any foreign country in which they should find (if there be a ease parallel on the face of the globe) such a system in force? The answer is obvious. It can excite no surprise that the Roman Catholics of Ireland should make every effort in their power to extricate themselves from a position which necessarily impresses them with a sense of 653 inferiority. It might naturally be expected, that they should, through their representatives, apply to Parliament for relief from the encumbrance of an establishment from which they derive no benefit, and demand that the national property now in the possession of the Protestant Church, should be applied to uses of a national character, from which the whole people would derive benefit. They refrained from taking this course when the subject was under consideration. They only asked that the expenditure upon the Protestant Church should be brought down to the lowest point compatible with a due provision for the religious instruction of the Protestant Episcopalians of Ireland, and that the surplus revenue should be appropriated to purposes in which Catholic and Protestant have a common interest. This moderate request, urged during several successive years, was denied by the British Legislature. It might have at least been expected, that when Parliament expressed its determination to uphold the Protestant establishment in all its integrity, it would have said to the Roman Catholics of Ireland,—We disapprove of the voluntary principle, and cannot consent to reduce the revenues of the Protestant Church, which do not appear to us excessive in relation to the religious wants of the Protestant community; but recognising your clergy as de facto the religious ministers of the great majority of the Irish nation, we are prepared to offer to them every advantage which it is consistent with their sense of religious duty to accept. We are told by you, that you are averse to the establishment of an independent provision for the Roman Catholic clergy. We cannot therefore force it upon your acceptance—but if you can point out any other mode by which we may be enabled to shew that we are not desirous to establish an invidious distinction in favour of the Protestant clergy in the midst of a Roman Catholic population, or by which we can promote the comfort of your clergy to your satisfaction, we are most ready to entertain with favour such a proposal. It is possible that the Roman Catholics of Ireland might at that time have been willing to accept from the state, not a stipendiary provision, but advantages of a different kind. I have reason to know, for instance, that the greatest possible inconvenience is sustained by the Catholic clergy, 654 from the difficulty which they experience, particularly in Country parishes, in obtaining a place of residence upon their first induction to a living. Why should not the state, if it resolves to uphold a Protestant endowment, make provision also fur the purchase of glebe houses for the Catholic clergy. So also with regard to the erection of Roman Catholic churches. If you determine to apply out of a fund which belongs to the public at large, grants for the erection of Protestant churches, ought not a sense of justice to tell you, that similar contributions should be coffered in aid of the Construction of places of worship for the great body of the Irish population. But instead of thus treating the Catholic clergy with consideration and respect, and instead of making arrangements for the convenience of the Catholic population in regard to their religious worship, you have exasperated their feelings by the contumely with which they have been treated, not only by the press of this country, but also in discussions in Parliament. Even the miserable grant for Maynooth college cannot pass through this House, without furnishing topics for invective and insult against the Roman Catholic clergy. 1s it surprising then, that they should, almost without exception, strenuously advocate the Repeal of' the Union. For my own part, if I were au Irish Catholic clergyman, I would leave no efforts untried to obtain a dissolution of the Union. It is obvious, that in an Irish parliament their interests and feelings would be treated in a very different spirit. I do not say, that there would be a Catholic ascendancy, for I do not believe that the Catholic population of Ireland desire such an ascendancy, but they would at least be placed upon a footing of perfect equality with the other religious communities in regard to ecclesiastical arrangements. But it is not only the Roman Catholics who have reason to complain of the mode in which the present Government have dealt with the affairs of the Irish Church. Great abuses still exist in its internal system. The Protestant landlords, who now pay the tithes, are beginning to be very much discontented on finding themselves called upon to contribute considerable sums of money, for which neither they nor the community at large receive any value. I will not now take upon myself the invidious task of 655 enumerating, these abuses in detail. Their existence was frequently admitted by the present Ministry when the subject was formerly under discussion. Yet they have been two years in office, without having given even an indication of an intention to apply themselves to the correction of the acknowledged defects and abuses of the Irish Church. In treating the whole of this subject, I feel that there is, under present circumstances, great difficulty in offering any practical suggestion for its final settlement. The principle for which I am myself disposed to contend is, that in relation to Church affairs there should be perfect equality between the different sections of the population of Ireland. I will not conceal from the House, that the mode of producing such equality, which would be most acceptable to the Roman Catholics of Ireland, would be the adoption of the voluntary principle: but if Parliament is not prepared to resort to so extreme a measure let it recognize to the fullest extent such religious equality, by making whatever arrangements for the advantage of the Catholic population of Ireland in regard to their religious worship shall be found acceptable to them, and consistent with their conscientious views. I wish particularly to guard myself from the supposition that I desire that the tithes should be given to the landlords of Ireland. For my own part, having always, upon political grounds, (although in regard to the interests of religion I am not equally convinced of the inexpediency of the voluntary system,) inclined to the opinion that an endowment by the State for the religious ministers of the population is desirable, I think that instead of making so large an allowance to the landlords, it would have been a much wiser course to have superadded the 25 per cent. which was taken from the tithe property in Ireland, to whatever surplus might arise from a reduction of the Protestant establishment within its just limits, and to have appropriated the fund so created, to the religious purposes of the Roman Catholics of Ireland. Next in the catalogue of Irish measures is the Act of Reform of the Municipal Corporations. I fear that your conduct with reference to this question affords but too much justification for those who seek a Repeal of the Union. How was it treated by the British Parliament? When you passed, with the concurrence of both sides of the House, a 656 measure of corporate reform for England, it seemed to be a natural consequence that you should extend to Ireland a similar enactment. Instead of doing so, you refused for two years your assent to anything beyond the extinction of the former corporations. On what grounds? Simply because the people of Ireland professed the Roman Catholic faith. If there had been any doubt about your motives, these doubts were removed by the declaration of the person whom you have since made Lord Chancellor of England. He told the people of Ireland that they were not to enjoy the benefit of municipal institutions, because they were "aliens in blood, in language, and in religion." At length you found that your party interests would be injured if you persisted in resistance to the reform of our municipalities. You therefore consented to subject the corporations of Ireland to popular control, but you contrived to embarrass the measure with a variety of harassing restrictions, apparently with no other view than that of rendering it nugatory. Such conduct, founded on an unworthy distrust of the Irish people, has naturally called forth their resentment. Let me elucidate the difficulties with which corporate reform has been encumbered in Ireland, by referring to the case of Dublin. In order to qualify for the exercise of the municipal franchise in Dublin, it is necessary to pay sixteen local taxes. I will enumerate them as stated in a recent report from the corporation of Dublin:ߞ1. Poor-rate; 2. Parish-cess; 3. Minister's-money; 9. Grand Jury-cess; 5. Paving and Lighting-tax; 6. Wide-street-tax; 7. Police-tax; 8. Pipe-water-tax; 9. Borough-rate; 10. Stephen's-green-tax; 11. Poddle-tax; 12. Cholera-tax; 13. Mountjoysquare-tax; 14. George's-church-tax; 15. Quay-wall-tax; 16. Merrion squaretax. The claim for making out lists of the above taxes in 1841, amounted to 926l.; and the costs of printing the lists required by the Irish Municipal Act was, for Dublin, no less than 5,000l. Surely there is nothing unreasonable in the demand with which this statement is accompanied, that the corporate law of Ireland should be assimilated to that of England, and the refusal of this reasonable request, is one of the many causes which have induced the people of Ireland to seek for a Repeal of the Union. I now 657 come to the Irish Poor-law. Here again I have to complain of the overbearing spirit which has been evinced towards Ireland, both in the enactment and in the administration of this law. After long hesitation the public opinion of Ireland at length pronounced itself in favour of a provision for the poor. The principle and the details of such a measure were thoroughly canvassed by men of the highest intelligence in Ireland. A commission of enquiry composed, for the most part, of men perfectly acquainted with that country, was occupied for three years in investigating every circumstance which could form an element in the consideration of this question, and at length presented to Parliament a series of reports containing elaborate statements of their views. Their suggestions were cast aside, almost as if they had been unworthy of consideration; and to Mr. Nicholls, a perfect stranger to the country, was delegated the task of framing a Poor-law for Ireland. He has since been invested with powers almost absolute, in order to enable him to carry his own law into effect. What has been the result? The law which, in regard to many points, was originally defective and objectionable in its provisions has been so administered, as that the feelings of every class of the community have been wounded, and a general feeling of repugnance has been produced against the measure itself. Nor can we be surprised at such a result, when we are made sensible of the anti-national spirit in which it has been administered. It seems to have been established as a principle, that Irish- men were wholly disqualified for the task of carrying this law into effect, and that entire ignorance of the country to which it was applied, as well as of the feelings of its inhabitants, was to be the best recommendation of those who were called to take part in its administration. Let me place before the House a view of the composition of the Poor-law department in Ireland. There are six English assistant commissioners, and only four Irish!—Mr. Gulson, Mr. Power, Mr. Voules, Mr. Senior, Mr. Gilbert, Mr. Muggeridge— English. Mr. Hancock, Mr. O'Donoghue, Mr. Burke, Mr. Otway—Irish. In the chief clerk's department there are three Englishmen—none Irish. In the registry department, four English and four Irish. In the head cash-keeper's department, one English and one Irish. In the copying 658 department, one English and seven Irish. In the architect's department, (the architect himself being an Englishman,) five English and four Irish. Total—fifteen English — nineteen Irish. It thus appears that of the clerks in these offices, the majority are Irish, but it was only in April, 1843, that by the addition of six Irish clerks that majority was produced. The English, it is to be observed, are in the higher offices; the Irish in the lower, with lesser salaries. Universal dissatisfaction has been excited by the manner in which these officials, perhaps from ignorance of the country, have carried the Poor-law into effect. At the commencement of this year, a general desire for enquiry pervaded all classes of the community, with a view to the correction of the system. When an Irish Member in obedience to the wishes of his constituents, brought forward a motion for a committee of enquiry, an attempt was first made to stifle the discussion, by resorting to the expedient of counting the House, and when this attempt failed, the motion was rejected, on the plausible ground, that as the Government were prepared to bring forward a bill for the amendment of the Irish Poor-law, a committee of enquiry would rather impede than expedite the correction of its defects. At length the promised bill appears, and it is found to be so framed, as to lay the foundation for two new popular grievances, whilst its other enactments are of most doubtful expediency. Is it surprising that the people of Ireland, when they find their most important local concerns thus contemptuously and clumsily treated, should deduce from this experience the conclusion, that the British Parliament is incapable of properly legislating for a country with respect 'to whose feelings and interests it is so imperfectly informed. The last specimen of British legislation for Ireland is the Arms Bill—resistance to which has occupied so much of that time which ought to have been bestowed on the consideration of remedial measures. The conduct of the present ministry with regard to this bill, has been most offensive to the Irish people. They have collected together all the unconstitutional clauses of former Arms Bills, which having been enacted during periods of insurrection, had become obsolete after the emergency which justified their original introduction had passed away, They have called upon 659 us not only to give to these obnoxious clauses a new sanction by their formal reenactment, but they even propose to render them still more harsh and oppressive. In vain do the Irish Members who represent the wishes of the great body of the nation, remonstrate against this proceeding. Their voice is altogether unheeded, and this odious law is to be forced by English majorities upon a reluctant nation. How can you blame the Irish people for seeking to abstract themselves from a system of legislation which is thus regardless of their representations and remonstrances? So much for past legislation. If I were now to advert to all that has been left undone, I could make out a case perhaps even stronger on the ground of commission than of commission, against the British Government and Legislature. In order to avoid trespassing too much on your time, I must content myself with noticing only one or two instances. Let me advert to your proceedings with regard to the proposal to construct a system of railways in Ireland. Those who pay any attention to what passes on the other side of the channel, know that when an attempt was made in the early part of the year 1841, to elicit a declaration of opinion on the subject of railways, the requisition for a public meeting to be held in Dublin, with a view to their promotion, was signed by almost every influential person in Ireland of all ranks and of all parties. It may therefore be reasonably inferred, that if an Irish Parliament were in existence, measures would be immediately taken for giving to Ireland the advantages of a system of railways. Gentlemen must not apply to the consideration of this question the principles which are acted upon in this country. In England there is such a superabundance of capital seeking investment, that it would be considered a grievance by English capitalists, if the state were to interfere with this means of profitable investment, by taking upon itself the construction of railways. But in Ireland the case is different. Capital is there comparatively scanty. It would seem reasonable therefore to apply to Ireland, not the principle of non-interference acted upon in England, but rather that which has regulated the conduct of other nations of the world in which capital is not so abundant as in this country, almost all of whom have brought the assistance of the state to the aid of private enterprise in the 660 construction of public works. An attempt was made by the late Government to secure to Ireland the benefit of railways by means of such a combination. In 1838 Lord Morpeth proposed that the credit of the state should be employed in raising the capital required for such undertakings in Ireland, and that the counties interested should guarantee the payment of 4 per cent. as a minimum of interest, in case the receipts from the traffic did not secure this rate of profit. This proposal was effectually defeated by the party now in power, and the English capital which would have then been embarked in railways in Ireland, greatly to the advancement of the national interests of both countries, has since sought investment in foreign states, which have given to their population the advantages you have denied to Ireland. How differently have you acted towards Canada, although that colony does not contribute a fraction towards your revenue. During last Session this House, almost without an observation, consented to guarantee interest of 4 per cent. on a loan of 1,500,000l., about to be raised for the promotion of public works in Canada. During the very same year in which Parliament rejected the proposal to allow the Irish counties to borrow 2,500,000l. on their own security, with every prospect of a remunerative, return from the enterprise itself, the Government entered into a contract to allow 240,000l. per annum for the conveyance of the mails between Great Britain and the West Indies. An annuity of this amount would have enabled the Government to raise nearly as much money as would have been required to extend to every part of Ireland, north, south, and west—leading lines of railway. In the case of Ireland, internal communication by means of railways, which would probably have been a source of profit rather than of loss, would have brought into nearer approximation eight millions of your fellow-subjects. In the case of the West India contract, while the sacrifice of income is certain, the object of the undertaking is to facilitate your intercourse with colonies which do not contain a million and a half of inhabitants. Yet the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) tells us, that Ireland, is, upon all occasions, treated with peculiar indulgence with respect to concerns involving public expenditure. With regard to national education, the present Government take 661 to themselves great Credit for not having' overthrown the system established by the noble Lord (Lord Stanley). It is true that they have greatly offended some of their own partisans in Ireland, but I cannot perceive that they have established any legitimate claim upon our gratitude. There is scarcely a Protestant clergyman in Ireland who does not consider that he has been betrayed by the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) in regard to education; with what degree of justice I leave it to Gentlemen on the opposite benches to determine. For my own part, I think that they have some ground for complaint. There is no reason why the religious prejudices of the minority of the people should not be respected in the case of the Protestants of Ireland, as well as in the case of the Catholics of England. I greatly prefer as the basis of a national system the principle of mixed education, such as that established by the national board; but if there be sections of the population, either amongst the Catholics or amongst the Protestants, who entertain conscientious objections to any system of education which does not inculcate their own peculiar tenets, I am not prepared to say that they ought to be excluded from all participation in the benefits of a fund to which they contribute in common with the rest of the community. My hon. Friend the Member for Waterford (Mr. Wyse,) in his elaborate report from the committee of 1838, shewed how all these jarring views might be reconciled in a system of national education, without impairing its efficiency, and without violating the rights of conscience, or the principles of justice. That report still remains at once both a monument of his ability, and of the apathy of the British Government with reference to the instruction of the Irish people. When ministers claim our applause, because they have not interfered with the system of education which they found in existence, let me ask them what have they done for its extension? The funds at the command of the national board are altogether inadequate to provide for the due instruction of the population of Ireland. In their second report the commissioners estimate that an annual income of 200,000l. would be required to accomplish this object. Only one-fourth of this sum is now granted. So also with regard to provincial colleges, nothing has been done by the present Government. Though 662 above four-fifths of the population of Ireland are of the Roman Catholic persuasion, Catholics are excluded from all participation in the endowments of our only university. Nor is the academical instruction provided by Trinity College adequate to meet the requirements of so large a population as that of Ireland. Such being the case, my hon. Friend in his report recommended the establishment of a college in each province, with the understanding that the Belfast Institution should be considered as the college of the province of Ulster. The proposal to establish a provincial college in the south of Ireland, was received with great satisfaction by the Irish public. Many even of those who entertain conservative opinions, signified their approval of the intention. The late Government received it with favour, and requested my hon. Friend (Mr. Wyse) to submit to them a detailed report upon the subject, and there is every reason to believe, that they would have sanctioned the proposal if they bad continued in office. This was an opportunity of meeting the wants and satisfying the wishes of a great community, of which a wise Government would gladly have availed itself, more especially as the parties locally interested in the project, were prepared to co-operate in the effort with pecuniary contributions. By the present Government, nothing whatever has been done to promote so laudable an object. The report of 1838, the paper of my hon. Friend, the recorded indications of public support, all he unheeded on the shelves of the Irish office, and my hon. Friend has been deterred from submitting his project to Parliament, lest by the opposition of the Ministry its future success may be impeded. In like manner when an attempt was made by some disinterested members of the legal profession, to carry into effect the recommendation of another, portion of this report, with reference to legal education, Sir E. Sugden, our Lord Chancellor, bringing with him to Ireland his English prejudices, successfully used his influence to defeat the attempt, although it had received the sanction of; almost all the heads of the profession in Ireland, without distinction of party. A similar disregard of the educational interests of Ireland, has been evinced by the present Government, in their rejection of a proposal to establish a national museum seum in Dublin. Every one must feel 663 that the establishment of a good national museum would contribute greatly to the instruction as well as to the enjoyment of our community. The committee, of which I was chairman, appointed in 1836, to inquire into the proceedings of the Royal Dublin Society, suggested that in case the society should adopt certain recommendations contained in our report, it would be desirable to connect with that institution a national museum. The society having acceded to all our proposals, applied in the early part of this year to the Treasury, for means to fulfil that portion of the recommendations of this report which related to the enlargement of their museum. Their request has been denied upon pretexts altogether frivolous. Now, when Parliament grants, and in my opinion most wisely grants, large sums annually for the support of the British museum, amounting during several successive years to as much as 80,000l. per annum, is it not natural that the people of Ireland should expect that some effort should be made to give to Dublin the advantages of a similar institution. Can there be a doubt that an Irish Parliament would found such a museum? Upon what ground then is this disregard of the most legitimate claims of the Irish people to be justified? I have now to notice the characteristic features by which the administrative Government of Ireland has been distinguished, and I am compelled to designate it as eminently anti-national. In all free states the distribution of patronage forms an important element in the machinery of Government. Amongst the most recent examples of the mischievous consequences which may arise from an unwise employment of this engine of power, I may remind the House, that no cause was more efficient in producing the disruption of Belgium from Holland, than the systematic exclusion of the Catholics of Belgium from the administrative government of the Netherlands. In Canada discontents, which ended in rebellion, were excited chiefly by the exclusion from office of the native inhabitants of French origin. Now let us see how the people of Ireland have been treated in reference to the distribution of patronage. Look at every department of local or general administration in Ireland, and you will find that Irishmen are studiously excluded from all the superior offices of direction and control, I will quote in support of 664 this assertion the following extract from the Dublin Evening Mail, a conservative journal, which is conducted with much ability. Let me first observe, that the Lord-lieutenant of Ireland is an Englishman; the Chief Secretary is an Englishman; the Lord Chancellor is an Englishman. The writer in this journal proceeds, in answer to an article in the London Times relative to this topic of complaint.
Members of the Established Church 852,064 Presbyterians 642,356 Other Dissenters 21,808 Roman Catholics 6,427,712 7,943,940The Archbishop of Dublin is an Englishman; the Chief Administrator of the Irish Poor-law is an Englishman; the Paymaster of Irish Civil Services is a Scotchman; the Chief Commissioner of Irish Public Works is an Englishman; the 'Teller' of the Irish Exchequer is an Englishman; the Chief Officer of the Irish Constabulary is a Scotchman; the Chief Officer of the Irish Post-office is an Englishman; the Collector of Excise is a Scotch-man; the Head of the Revenue Police is an Englishman; the Second in Command is a Scotchman; the persons employed in the Collection of the Customs, &c., are English and Scotch in the proportion of thirty-five to one. But the Times may perhaps observe, true, but all this is only the elucidation of our plan for unbarring the gates of preferment unsparingly, impartially, and honestly.' Scotchmen and Englishmen are placed in office in Ireland, and Irishmen in return in Scotland and England, in order to draw closer the bonds of union between the three united nations. Again, let us see how facts actually stand: there are Cabinet Ministers, Englishmen 10, Scotchmen 3, Irish O.The Duke of Wellington is so much denationalized, that I believe he scarcely considers himself an Irishman, and certainly cannot be called a representative of Irish interests in the Cabinet.Lords of the Treasury, Englishmen 4, Scotchman 1, Irishman 1; Clerks of the Treasury, Englishmen or Scotchmen 112, Mr. Fitzgerald (query an Irishman) 1; Members of the Lord Steward's and Lord Chamberlain's departments of the Royal Household, Englishmen and Scotchmen 225, Irishmen 4; British Ministers to Foreign Courts, Englishmen and Scotchmen 131, Irishmen 4; Poor-law Commissioners, Englishmen 3, Irishmen O. We presume," (adds the editor) "that these facts show that the natives of the three kingdoms are all placed upon an equal footing, the chances of access to preferments to an Englishman or Scotchman in Ireland, being in the few instances that have occurred to us while writing at 6 to 0; while the probability of an Irishman obtaining place in England, appears from an analogous calculation, to be in the proportion of 491 to 10, or as 1 to 50. We could easily swell" (he adds) "this list, were it necessary. Ireland has been always used by English ministers as a means of pro- 665 viding for poor relations, dependents, and partisans. Our highest as well as our lowest offices have been prostituted for this purpose. What would be thought of an Irish lawyer being called over as Lord Chancellor of England? yet, we are forced to take English lawyers as our Lord Chancellors. So through all departments of the Government, injustice to Ireland everywhere meets us, and so will things continue, until we learn to think less about party, and more about our country.It is only just to the present Government to say, that they are not more exposed to the reproach of having excluded Irishmen from office than their predecessors. I am bound to tell my friends at this side of the House, that with respect to this topic of complaint, no act of the present Government has given more general dissatisfaction than was exhibited when an affront was offered to Lord Plunkett, one of our great historical characters, by forcing him to resign the office of Lord Chancellor, in order that an Anglo-Scotch common lawyer, for whom personally I entertain the greatest respect, might be enabled to fill for the space of a few weeks the situation of our first equity judge, previous to the abandonment of office by the late Government. Neither, indeed, do I blame the Government of England so much as ourselves, with reference to this cause of complaint. We have been so much in the habit, on both sides, of endeavouring to convince the world that our antagonists are unfit to be entrusted with power, that it is not surprising that we should have succeeded in convincing bystanders, that Irishmen are quite incapable of administering the affairs of their own country. I am sorry also to add, that in general the contending parties in Ireland appear to witness with more satisfaction the appointment of a stranger to office, than that of a native whose opinions are opposite to their own, and this feeling being mutual, the exclusion is perpetuated with a view to the satisfaction of the complaining party. It is singular, that what was said of us by Swift a century since, should still be true.The Irish had long made a deuce of a clatter, And wrangled and fought about mewn and tuum,'Till England stept in, and decided the matter, By kindly converting it all to a suum."Speaking seriously, however, I would ask, is it fair to native talent, thus to take away the prizes of every profession from those who have earned them by a life of 666 honourable toil? If, indeed, there were a fair reciprocity between the three kingdoms, there would be no ground for complaint. But I would ask, if a single instance can be named in which an Irish clergyman has been taken from the active exercise of his profession in Ireland, in order that he might be appointed as bishop in England. I might extend the question to the law and to other professions. It is true, that a few Irishmen occasionally force themselves by their talents into office in this country, in spite of the most adverse Circumstances, but before they can do so, they must become completely denationalized. They must cease to identify themselves with Irish feelings and interests, and dissociate themselves, as much as possible, from connection with their own country. I must not omit here to mention a complaint which I have heard repeatedly made by persons connected with trade. When the revenue establishments of Ireland were withdrawn and consolidated with those of England, a formal pledge was given, that a due proportion of the revenue officers to be thereafter appointed, should be always taken from among the natives of Ireland. I hold in my hand a printed statement prepared some years since by a person well acquainted with the excise department, in which it is shown that this pledge has been forgotten or violated, and that Irish men are systematically excluded from the superior offices of excise. This paper is too long to allow of its being read upon the present occasion; but the Government and Parliament are bound to enquire whether these allegations are well founded. The result is stated to be most unfavourable to the interests of those who ate connected with any trade in Ireland which is subjected to fiscal regulation. If a charge is to be made, or a defence to be offered to an unjust accusation, the Irish trader alleges that he is always encountered by a strong anti-national prejudice, which predisposes the public officer to whom he appeals, to take a view of his case unfavourable to his character and interests. Time will not allow me to elucidate this ground of complaint by a reference to particular instances. Indeed, if I were to make a statement of cases of injustice towards individuals, (of which the late mail coach contract, commonly called the Croal contract, is one of the most recent specimens,) I know not when 667 I should be able to bring to an end my observations upon the administration of Irish affairs. I turn therefore to an important question of public policy, and charge the Government with having acted in an anti-catholic as well as anti-national spirit in their distribution of patronage. Considering the known sagacity of the Premier—considering that he volunteered to tell the House upon a former occasion, that he knew how difficult was the task of governing Ireland, I am at a loss to understand how he could have shewn such fatuity in his conduct towards the majority of the Irish people. Never had a minister a fairer opportunity of conciliating the good will of a nation without making concessions of principle than that which was presented to the right hon. Baronet (Sir Robert Peel) upon his accession to office. After the results of the late general election had shewn that a change of ministry was unavoidable, the people of Ireland exhibited a marked disposition to give a fair trial to the new administration. For the first twelve months after their appointment, there was an extraordinary lull in agitation. Some might have even mistaken this tranquillity for apathy and indifference; but it was in truth a period of rational observation. The Irish Government was to be judged by its conduct, and not condemned by anticipation. Of Lord De Grey nothing was known, except that he was a man highly respected in his private character. Towards the noble Lord (Lord Eliot), the most favourable prepossessions were entertained. His conduct with respect to the municipal bill was remembered with kindly feelings, and the liberality of his declarations at the hustings in Cornwall, was calculated to raise the most favourable expectations. It is painful to me to tell him that these expectations have been disappointed. I know not whether he has failed to carry into effect the policy then avowed by him, from want of ability to realise his own views. He is, in truth, powerless. Not possessing a seat in the Cabinet, he is little more than under-secretary to the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham), who is in reality, the ruler of Ireland. It excites in me much surprise, that a person occupying the high station of the noble Lord, should consent to be held responsible for a policy which he does not himself direct. If, on the other hand, he really approves of the system of Govern- 668 ment now adopted towards Ireland, I know not what we gain by his reputed liberality. The general result of the principle which has been acted upon towards the Roman Catholics of Ireland, has been to leave no link of connection between the Government and the majority of the nation. Such a state of things is the more dangerous, because the tendency of all recent legislation has been to increase the political power of the Roman Catholics, and nothing can be more unwise than to give power to men, unless you are prepared to allow them to enjoy its fruits. The Emancipation Act—the Reform Bill —the Corporation Act—the Poor-law have given to the Irish people organs for the expression of the national will; yet no effort has been made to bring these powers into harmony with the Executive. When the Roman Catholic finds himself proscribed by a system of exclusion, is it not natural that he should assist in the restoration of a legislature to Ireland, the existence of which would compel the British Government to conduct the affairs of Ireland in a manner compatible with his own interests, and acceptable to the wishes of the nation? This feeling is strengthened by the contrast presented in the principles of government adopted towards Canada, and towards Ireland. There are many points of analogy between the circumstances of Canada and of Ireland. In Canada, as in Ireland, you endeavoured for many years to govern by means of a minority, for the benefit of a minority. The attempt led to perpetual contention between the Executive and the Legislature. These collisions terminated in a rebellion, which cost this country more than 3,000,000l., and very nearly involved it in a war with the United States. At length you felt that its possession on these terms was a burthen rather than a benefit, and you had recourse to a wiser policy; you sent out one of your ablest statesmen, Lord Durham, to examine personally into the causes of Canadian discontent. In the report which he made after his return from this mission, he told you that the continued difficulties which had arisen in the government of Canada, had sprung from the attempt which had been made to conduct the affairs of that colony through executive officers who did not possess the confidence of the Legislature and of the people. He recommended that in future the Executive should be 669 brought into harmony with the representative assembly, by the employment in official station, of those who enjoyed the respect and support of the majority of the people. This principle of government was partially adopted by the noble Lord the Member for London, (Lord J. Russell,) and has since been fully carried into effect by Sir Charles Bagot, under the sanction of the present administration. The people of Ireland are unable to understand why one system of government should be adopted in Canada, and another of a totally opposite character should, greatly to their disadvantage, be applied to Ireland. Will you leave yourselves open to the imputation of having given to Canada, through fear, advantages which you withhold from Ireland, because you imagine that you can oppress us with impunity? Having completed my review of the causes of discontent which are connected with legislative and administrative government, I have now to notice those which arise from the social condition of the country. Whatever might be the prosperity of the people, the causes to which I have already adverted would produce dissatisfaction, but undoubtedly the national discontent is aggravated by the pressure of distress upon the various classes of the community. A general complaint is heard throughout Ireland, that trade is less flourishing than before the Union. The population has increased by 3,000,000, and therefore the actual amount of consumption is probably greater; but it is much to be doubted whether command of the comforts of fife has increased in the same proportion as the population.* With regard to Dublin, this define of prosperity cannot be denied, and there is but too much reason to fear that similar complaints from other parts of the coun-* In answering this part of Mr. O'Brien's argument, Lord Eliot dwelt upon the increase of exports and imports since the Union as evidence of increased prosperity. When a country exports the surplus of its productions, after all its own population have been amply provided for, an increase of exports may be considered as a test of increasing prosperity; hut we must not rely upon such an increase as an infallible indication of improvement. If the ox which was formerly sent to Kilkenny, to he exchanged for Irish cloth, is now sent to Leeds, in exchange for English manufactures, the table of exports and imports would exhibit an increase concurrently with an actual define of trade in Ireland.—Note by Mr. O'Brien.670 try are equally well founded. In reference to the condition of the labouring classes, I am persuaded that at no period of the history of Ireland, did they experience equal difficulty in obtaining the means of subsistence; and this state of things is the more painful, because their moral habits are much improved, and because it can no longer be said, that their destitution is to be traced to intemperance, The great majority of the agricultural labourers of Ireland are unable, during several months in the year, to obtain the scanty pittance of 8d. for their day's toil. It is obvious therefore that life could not be supported, if the family of the labourer were to depend upon wages alone. He accordingly provides for their subsistence by taking each year a spot of ground, on which he grows as much potatoes as are sufficient for sustenance throughout the year. The difficulty of procuring such portions of land—called in Ireland conacre or quarter ground—increases every year. In like manner, the universal disposition which now prevails on the part of landlords to consolidate small tenements, presses very severely upon the poor farmer. In some instances the clearance system by which small holdings are depopulated, has operated most injuriously on the peace of the country. The unsatisfactory state of the relations between landlord and tenant, is the source of that cry for fixity of tenure, of which so much has been heard of late. The meaning of this expression does not appear as yet to be very well defined. As used by some of its advocates, it means that the tenant who happens to be in casual possession of land shall acquire a sort of feefarm right in it, subject only to a fixed rent to the landlord. The objection to this scheme is, first that it transfers the proprietary right from the landlord to the casual tenant, who may in many instances be a person little deserving of such an advantage; and next, that it makes no provision for the interests of the labourer, who under almost all circumstances is more an object of compassion than the tenant for whose benefit this plan has been devised. According to others, fixity of tenure, means that the tenant shall in all cases be entitled to obtain a lease for a certain term of years. This plan is open to the objection already stated, that it disregards the claim of the labourer. It is also obvious that unless it be accompa- 671 nied by some regulations to guard against the imposition of an excessive rent—regulations incompatible with freedom of contract—no real benefit is conferred upon the tenant; because the landlord will indemnify himself for compulsion to grant a lease, by exacting the highest possible rent. The third plan of fixity of tenure is that of my hon. Friend the Member for Rochdale, (Mr. S. Crawford,) who proposes that the occupying tenant shall be compensated by his landlord for whatever capital he may invest in substantial improvements. Though there is great difficulty in framing the details of such a measure, its principle is perfectly just, and well deserves the consideration of the House. I am fully sensible of all the difficulties which surround every proposal of this kind, but I am convinced, that if a bold attempt be made to grapple with these difficulties, much may be done to ameliorate the relations between landlord and tenant. Let a committee be appointed, first to ascertain facts connected with ejectment, about which the most contradictory assertions are made, and next to devise remedies. I am persuaded that even though it should be found impossible to meet existing evils by direct interference between landlord and tenant, much might be done by indirect legislation. Let it be remembered, that it is to collateral legislation that we chiefly owe the present condition of the tenantry of Ireland. The sub-division of farms was first greatly promoted by the efforts of the landlords to obtain political influence through their forty-shilling freeholders, and has subsequently been checked by their disfranchisement. The present undue tendency to depopulate small farms, has in like manner been augmented by the operation of the sub-letting act, and I much fear that it will be still further increased by the proposed enactments of the Bill for the amendment of the Irish Poor-law. As the interests of the tenantry have been already injuriously affected by indirect legislation, so it is to be hoped, that by a series of beneficial measures, counter-tendencies may be created, which will produce an advantageous change in their condition, as well as in that of the labouring classes. I have now completed this exposition of my views respecting the principal causes of the discontent which exists in Ireland. Whether I have traced it to its real sources or not, its existence 672 is unquestionable. A large part of the nation is impressed with a settled belief, that there is no hope of obtaining from the British Parliament a due consideration of the rights and interests of Ireland. They therefore seek good government through the instrumentality of a domestic legislature. I am most anxious to impress the House with the conviction which I myself sincerely entertain, that the cry for Repeal is not the voice of treason, but the language of despair. Of those who seek a dissolution of the Union, not one man in a thousand at present wishes for separation from this country. Nor does there at present exist the least perceptible desire for a republic. Still less is there any wish for a change in the person of the Monarch. The people of Ireland have no ground for complaint against their present Sovereign. They believe her to be animated by the most kindly feelings towards them, and accordingly they entertain towards her the most enthusiastic attachment. Is it not enough to excite indignation, that our gracious Queen should not be allowed to visit her Irish dominions, to receive there the acclamations of her loyal subjects, because her Ministers fear that with those acclamations will be mingled signs of disapprobation towards themselves. I have now to ask Parliament what course it will adopt in the present crisis of Irish affairs. A few weeks since I should have addressed this question to the Government, but from them we have now nothing to hope. They have pronounced their ultimatum. " Conciliation has been carried to the utmost," is the language of the Home-secretary, who now rules Ireland. "Arms' bills and measures of coercion, if necessary, are all that we have to offer you. Redress you need not expect from us." I appeal, therefore, to you, the representatives of the nation, and ask you, what course will you pursue? Will you recur to a mild and beneficent policy, and strive to suppress agitation by removing the grounds of national discontent? Or will you fold your arms in inaction, and wait the course of events, without endeavouring to guide them? Or will you attempt to stifle the national voice by measures of coercion? I do not think you have had much encouragement to proceed in such a course. Every indication which has been already made on this side of the channel, of such an intention, has been received with shouts of defiance on the other. It needs no political saga- 673 city to predict, that if any portion of the population of Ireland, whilst the country is d vided in opinion, should resort to force, a rebellion would be speedily crushed by the power of England, supported by a British minority. But, on the other hand, I will assert with equal confidence, that if the people of Ireland abstain from violence, and rely only upon moral organization, supported by the justice of their cause, and the sympathy of mankind, they will sooner or later compel you, either to accept the alternative of a Repeal of the Union, or to place the Government and institutions of that country on such a footing as shall be acceptable to its inhabitants. I listened with feelings of mingled regret and indignation to the right hon. Baronet, (Sir R. Peel,) when he de-dared, that under any circumstances, he would hazard the chances of a civil war, rather than concede a Repeal of the Union, even to the unanimous demand of the Irish nation. This ill-advised declaration, so offensive to our national pride, compels me to tell him, that if the people of Ireland were unanimous in desiring the restoration of their Parliament, they would obtain it without even striking a blow. There are numberless methods by which a nation of eight millions can give effect to their resolute determination. I will only mention one; I name it because I have seen you during the last twelvemonths prostrate your national dignity, suspend your legislation, derange your finances, and disturb an important branch of your trade, in the hope of obtaining from the kingdom of Portugal a treaty of commerce, which would enable you to sell to that country an additional amount of woollen goods to the value of a hundred thousand pounds. When I see you making such sacrifices, in order to obtain this mighty boon, I would remind the representatives of the manufacturing towns in England, that a non-intercourse resolution passed by the Irish people, would take from them a market for their goods to the value of eight or ten millions. Let it not be said, that self-interest would prevent them from depriving themselves of the benefits which arise to both countries from the mutual interchange of their productions. A nation which has voluntarily imposed upon itself abstinence from an indulgence to which it was addicted, by refraining from every intoxicating beverage, is capable of making greater sacrifices 674 than that of consuming at home its own agricultural produce, greatly to the advantage of tile domestic manufactures of Ireland. But if, at all hazards, the right hon. Baronet should determine to go to war with us, 1 would ask him, where are the forces at his command? In the British army there are 40,000 Irish soldiers, ever? one of whom is animated by sentiments as patriotic as those of the classes from which they were drawn. Let me tell him, that in such a struggle, the chances of failure are at least equal to those of success. If he should succeed, what is his gain? In Ireland— wide spread—universal desolation. To England, a countless cost. Should he fail, then indeed the glory of England will have departed for ever. History will tell of you, that at the moment when you had reached the summit of your power— when by peaceful colonization you had laid the foundations of mighty kingdoms at the Antipodes—when you had made the Ganges and the Indus your own streams—when by the combined prowess of British and Irish valour you had planted your standards upon the walls of the ancient capitals of China, heretofore unapproached by European arms you fell from the lofty pinnacle of your greatness, because you preferred to trample upon the rights of a sister kingdom, rather than to win its affections by kindness and justice. I do not envy the feelings of that Minister who shall go to his Sovereign and say—When I took office I found the people of Ireland tranquil and contented; I found them devotedly attached to your Majesty's person. By misgovernment I induced them to seek the restoration of their own Parliament, and after uniting them in an universal confederation to obtain it, I went to war with them, rather than yield to the national demand; and now, may it please your Majesty, I have to announce the melancholy truth, that you have lost one-third of your bravest and most attached subjects. I know that I shall be blamed for holding this language, but I should deem myself unworthy of the country to which I belong, if I were to listen in silence to such a declaration as that of the right hon. Baronet, without retorting the threat which it conveyed; and it is better you should hear in time the voice of friendly warning, than that you should too late deplore the results of your own blindness and injustice. Before I conclude, I shall 675 not, on this occasion, shrink from expressing my own opinions with reference to the Repeal of the Union. As regards personal motives, I have nothing to gain, and much to risk by the severance of the legislative connexion of the two countries. As regards convictions, I have always been of opinion, that a perfect incorporation of the three kingdoms, accompanied by a due consideration of the peculiar circumstances of Ireland, and an entire equality of civil rights, would be more advantageous to all, than the maintenance of separate Parliaments. Nor am I insensible to the difficulties which beset the attempt to dissolve the Union. But, at the same time, I am bound to declare, that such an incorporation has not yet been realized: and that looking back to the history of the last forty years, it is my conscientious conviction, that Ireland would be at this moment a more happy and more prosperous country than it now is, if the Union of 1800 had not taken place. I have now sat for nearly twelve years in the British House of Commons, and during that period have wasted as much time within its walls as any of my cotemporaries, and if I were asked honesty to state the result of my observations, I am afraid I should be compelled to say, that with Irish feelings this House has little sympathy—little knowledge of Irish wants, and still less disposition to provide for those wants. I have seen during Session after Session, measures which would have been hailed with enthusiasm by an Irish Parliament, though supported by a large majority of the Irish Members, yet by this House almost contemptuously rejected. I have seen even during the present Session, measures forced upon a reluctant nation by English majorities, notwithstanding the remonstrances of those who represent the majority of the Irish people. I have seen the laws, institutions, and customs of Great Britain pleaded against us, whenever we have asked for deviations from your system which would have been advantageous to Ireland; whilst at the same time, when we have sought a full participation in the benefits of your institutions, we have been told that the circumstances of the two countries are wholly different, and require separate legislation, With this experience, is it surprising that I should often doubt whether the abstract opinions which I have formed in favour of an Union, such as seems never about to 676 be realized, are consistent with the duty which I owe to the country possessing the first claim upon my devotion. What is it to me that the maintenance of the Union is essential to the strength and security of the empire, if it do not bring with it welfare and happiness to my native land? Still, however, I cling to the hope of good government from a British Parliament. When that hope is extinct, I shall not fear to contemplate the remaining alternative; nor, if I should be compelled to espouse the cause of Repeal, shall I be the least earnest of its advocates. I have satisfied myself that it is practicable—I have satisfied myself that it is consistent with the allegiance which I owe to my Sovereign. Looking to the future, rather than to the past, I am not yet fully satisfied that it is equally advantageous to Ireland, as such an union as I have described. Give to us then, who still cling to the legislative connexion, with the hope of obtaining justice at your hands, but with the determination that if it be withheld, our country shall command our services—give us, by your decision this night, something which we may present to our fellow-countrymen, as a pledge of your disposition to repair the many wrongs which have been inflicted upon Ireland — give us arguments which we may address to them, when they tell us of the many instances which prove that Ireland has lost much and gained little by the Union. Depend upon it, that though in making such atonement, your national pride may be hurt, your position among the nations of the world will be exalted. The same sympathy which you feel for oppressed Poland other nations bestow upon Ireland. A country which, if well governed, would be the right arm of your strength, is now a source of weakness; and if a French army should, at this juncture, cross the Pyrenees, it would do so because that nation believes that your military re, sources are required in Ireland. I speak not of more disastrous contingencies, nor will I use one word of menace, but the aspect of affairs around us, justifies me in assuring you, that you cannot more effectually Confirm the good will of those allies who wish you well, or defeat the ' machinations of foes who are jealous of our national glory, than by following the course which I now invite you to pursue, in resorting, to measures which shall soothe animosities, obliterate distinctions 677 founded upon differences of race and of religion, and consolidate the Union of the two kingdoms by the bonds Of equal laws, common rights, and of international justice. I now move,ߞThat this House will resolve itself into a committee, for the purpose of taking into consideration the causes of discontent at present prevailing in Ireland, with a view to the redress of grievances, and to the establishment of a system of just and impartial government in that part of the United Kingdom,',
§ Mr. Wyse
seconded the motion. He concurred entirely in the statements and sentiments of his hon. Friend. The proposition he had submitted to their consideration was a most reasonable one; it was a, just, a constitutional, a parliamentary proposition. It was within the strictest precedents, in accordance with the most usual practice of the House. It was not a resolution pledging them at an inopportune period to some future course of action, which, when called on to carry out, they might find impracticable, or at all events inconvenient: it was not an address to the Crown, requesting immediate proceedings, on questions, in which they were far front being generally agreed: it was not even a motion for leave to bring in a hill, which, from the little chance at this late period of the Session, of carrying through any contested measure, could not be introduced with any hope of proceeding beyond one or two stages. It was a motion for a committee of inquiry—of inquiry into grievances alleged, and more than alleged to exist, affecting many millions of their fellow subjects,—grievances stated to be many, enormous, unendurable—grievances, which it was the bounden duty of this House and of the Government to disprove, or failing in that, at once to proceed with their whole soul and strength to their investigation and correction. The question was not how parties might be affected by such a motion, or what might he the convenience of Members. It was of a far higher and vaster import. It concerned matters of the greatest moment, and embraced, he might truly say, a whole people. Were the allegations well founded? Were the grievances real? Was Ireland in the position represented? Were the causes of that position truly stated? Were there remedies to be found for these causes? Was this the time to apply them? Could they with justice, with safety be deferred? These were the questions, simple hut solemn questions, asked not by him, or by 678 his hon. Friend only, but by the whole country, and on the answers given to which depended, not merely the interests and happiness of Ireland, but the dignity, peace, prosperity, perhaps the security of the entire empire. What was the actual condition of Ireland? Was it one in which any Government or Legislature could justify itself, by the cheap trickery of kindly intentions, or afford to sit down with their arms crossed, in the absurd expectation, that the evil would by some necessary law of its nature, waste or burn itself out. Such was not the usual march of national wrongs or national' calamities; Statesmen had something more to do than to allow events to take care of themselves, and even the cleverest physician would admit, that if less brilliant, it was always wiser and safer to prevent, than to cure a malady. Ireland was, he much feared, in a condition, which if permitted to continue, would render prevention no longer possible; he much feared, that every day diminished even the chances of a cure. From north to south, and from east to west, she was either in a state of excitement or of anxiety. Irritated by recollections of the past, goaded by new stimulants to resistance in the present, dreading and yet looking with vague and wild hope to the future—everywhere exhibiting uneasiness and uncertainty—no wonder she caused in the minds of all thinking men, feelings and forebodings the most painful; and to which they who were entrusted with her destinies, ought of all others to be the most sensible, It was of little use to rebuke her for this or that proceeding; it was only in the ordinary course of human nature, that she should grasp at every expedient, risk every experiment, which offered rescue, or even relief from her present state of suffering and forced inferiority. Nor was it any answer to say that these efforts were futile, or these experiments destined never to be realised. It was a narrow and cruel view of the case. Hon. Members ought to know, that the very effort successful or riot was in itself an evil; defeat was sure to be followed by outbreak or despair, either by open resistance to the law, or what was scarcely less injurious, by that sullen hopelessness and despair, which strikes at the root of all progress and civilization. And were none even of these fatal consequences ultimately to arise, were some intervening providence to conjure away, when on the point of exploding this threatening storm—were there 679 to be no collision, no struggle, no catastrophe—was the present, he would ask, such a state of things, as to satisfy any man, who had at heart, the honour or interests of either country; was it such, as it became this empire for one hour to suffer, not in any outskirt of her distant dominions, not in a foreign dependency, or in a new conquest, but in her very heart, in one whole third of that very territory which constituted the strength and vitality of her moral and physical existence. Disease had seized one-third of her frame, and England consoling herself with the still continued soundness of the remainder, looked on with the most heroic or stupid tranquillity on the gradual advances of the malady. There was no ground that he could see to flatter themselves, that they would be able to put down the revolution, or prevent its arrival: the revolution had already arrived: this was a revolution: the worst of revolutions; diverting the public energies; wasting the public resources; eating into the public strength; stopping the road to every improvement; adjourning even the chances of every progress. These were evils, substantial evils, evils which no one attempted to deny which every one felt, and which could not be permitted to endure, without sooner or later involving this country also in them. It was no consolation to say they were caused by this or that circumstance, or by this or that individual. It is the ordinary course of blunderers, when some fatal mistake is committed, to attempt to shift the blame from themselves to others. But he denied the justice of these charges; he denied the adequacy of these causes. If they produced the present unhappy state of Ireland, he had a right to ask what produced them? Some hon. Members saw in Mr. O'Connell the whole "spring and origin of the evil;" others discovered in the Catholic Priests, acting under his directions, the chief spirits who directed the movement; others ascribed it to the inherent and indomitable tendency of Popery; others again, to the fatal error of conceding; should he say too soon or too late? Catholic Emancipation. Now these at best (giving them all the efficiency Claimed for their action or influence) were mere secondary agencies. He looked, as did every man, who thought an instant on the subject, somewhat farther. They were mere outward symptoms, mere results of causes, seated far deeper in the system. With Mr. O'Connell, this Government and Legislature, at least, had no 680 reason to quarrel. They had created him, educated him, taught him, encouraged him, rewarded him. From their own statute-book he had learned all; it was his book of power; thence drew he all his magic. If he were an agitator, they were agitators before him—greater than him, stronger than him, more censurable than him. Without them, as he himself most truly said, his power would not endure one hour. It was not the work of a day he admitted: they had laboured at it sedulously: it took many a right refused, many a wrong inflicted: oppression continued and justice (as it was now) adjourned to make him what he was. Such had been the usual consequences of such a process of Government in other times and countries, and he saw no reason why nature should be diverted from its course, for the pleasure of any man in these. The Catholic clergy were, as far this country would allow them to be, the peace-preservers of Ireland. Hon. Members had each their own type of a Catholic priest, and especially of an Irish Catholic priest. He was not disposed to rectify or reconcile these differences. But there was none of them but must know, that coming from the people, living with the people, supported by the people, and above all, teaching, comforting, and consoling the people, Irish Catholic priests, not by compulsion, but by sympathy, must necessarily, think, speak, and act with the people, whenever the people had good grounds to know and feel themselves aggrieved, and to call on them for their co-operation. By becoming priests they had not ceased to be Irishmen. And perhaps it was fortunate it was so. There were many cases, where whatever the Catholic might feel, the Irishman did not hesitate to oppose their dictates. They were often obliged to place themselves in the van of popular movements, more to keep back than to encourage onward. If they halted they would be left behind, or perhaps trampled on in the rush forward. Take away this influence, cut through this sympathy—what had they to substitute in its place—and what would a people be left to itself—left without such influences and sympathies—but an excitable mob, exposed to every random impulse, from its own ignorance, or the designs of those interested in their excitement. Of the tendencies of the Catholic religion, this he felt was not the place to speak: he left the question without apprehension to the verdict of history. Every religion in its intermixture with human 681 nature and human passions was, of course, liable to perversion; none were exempt from the imputation: but there were few that could not with success be defended from the charge of, by doctrine or influence, encouraging crime. He thought it, therefore, most unjust, to taunt, (as had been too often the practice in that House), the members of the Catholic religion with belonging to a faith which patronised sedition, violence or intolerance. If there were Philips the 2nd, there were also Catholics as willing as any Protestant to resist him and his intolerance. He could refer to examples still nearer, which would be enough to prove, that religious charity and liberality were not of any faith or party exclusively, but belonged to Christianity itself wherever it was rightly understood and practised. What Catholic but did not feel a pride in having it in his power in answer to these taunts, to point to the glorious example of Lord Baltimore, the truly great founder of the republic of Maryland.In the year 1636, the Catholics (he quoted the American historian) took possession of the little place, and religious liberty obtained a home, its only home in the wide world, at the humble village which bears the name of St. Mary's.In that colony Lord Baltimore— that same Lord Baltimore, be it remembered, who had been driven from Virginia, by the zeal of its Assembly, which had insisted on an oath, which no Catholic could take, the oath of supremacy,—Lord Baltimore, absolute lord and proprietor of Maryland, almost as his first step in taking possession of the new Government, in noble contrast to these Virginian legislators and the still more boasted pilgrim fathers, penned with his own hand, an oath—the only oath required to be taken in the freest representative body amongst the whole of the American colonists, to the following effeet:—That he would not, by himself, or ally other, directly or indirectly, molest any person professing to believe in Jesus Christ, for or in respect of religion.It was easy for present men, to boast of their liberality, with the influence and example of other countries around them, but to direct and stimulate them in that age, when every country, he might almost say every faith, was a persecutor, with the exception of this very Catholic state to which he had just adverted. The experiment succeeded as it would have succeeded in Ire- 682 land, as it would succeed in every country, where it should be allowed a fair trial. Under his mild administration, under these just equal laws, the wilderness became a garden, domestic factions were unknown, and even Protestants found a friendly asylum in the arms of Catholics, from the persecutions of fellow Protestants. Its history was the strongest eulogium on the wisdom as well as beneficence of religious freedom; no other colony surpassed Maryland in prosperity, as none had surpassed it in true religion, and in sound policy. Why was not this example followed in Ireland? Was it surprising, that from its not having been followed, Consequences precisely the reverse to those just noticed, had resulted? It was idle to trace to such a faith as the faith of Lord Baltimore and let him add the faith of 7-8ths of the Irish nation, grievances and calamities, which no other nation, professing to the same extent, the same religious creed, had ever yet experienced. The true causes lay beyond all this; such plea was a mere self-condemning, shallow pretext, to conceal from public inquiry and reprehension, the real origin and state of the malady. To those causes he would now address himself, not indeed in detail, which had fortunately been altogether rendered unnecessary by the searching and ample exposition of his hon. Friend, but in sufficient extent, at least, to justify him before the I louse in the course he was then adopting. He did not wish to charge the existing Government with the whole weight of this notional guilt: he well knew they had many participators; the history of Irish wrongs stretched through generations, not to speak of ministries, the misgovernment was of old standing, but this he would Charge them with, (and he knew not whether, taking into account their superior knowledge and augmented experience, it was not the greater delinquency of the two), he would charge them with the guilt of having continued that misgovernment, or if they liked the phrase better, allowing that misgovernment to continue without using, as men were bound to do who took upon themselves such sacred and awful responsibilities, measures the most effective, measures the most immediate, to put a stop, now and fur ever, to a system, which had not produced, and could not produce any other fruit but injustice and wrong to one portion, discord and insecurity to every portion of the community. He would first call their attention to the 683 condition of the agricultural population of Ireland. It was not surprising that in a country exclusively agricultural, there should be in reference to the population, a disproportionate competition for land. Whether this exclusiveness were as some thought salutary, whether it were unavoidable in the geographical position of Ireland, in the limitation of means and opportunities for manufacturing industry possessed in such great abundance by England, and especially in the difficulty of competing even if they did exist, with so near a neighbour, with so long established a system, already in possession of all the great markets, and above all with the immense capital, and the boundless credit which England possessed, were all questions of the highest importance, but the discussion of which he must for the present defer. The existence of the fact was sufficient for his argument; it was enough, that the competition of land in consequence was most active, in many instances most pernicious. From it arose the whole system of extravagant demands on, the part of the landlord, careless cultivation, and utmost misery on the part of the tenant. In this country the bidding for land, was file the bidding for any other description of property; failing in obtaining one, the bidder had always the chance, or rather choice of some other kind of investment for his capital. In Ireland, it was struggle for food or no food—a contest of life and death. But this evil was enhanced by another. In this country, the tenant had usually but one landlord—the landlord many tenants. In Ireland the case was often reversed; the landlord might have but one tenant, but there was many a tenant who had half dozen landlords. This was the Middleman system to which even in that House, be presumed few were strangers, a system more ingeniously calculated to exhaust, separate, and demorafise—to injure and corrupt all the relations between proprietor and occupier, he did not believe was to be found in any other country. At the same time, he was far from attributing all its evils much less its origin to existing parties. It was of some antiquity. It dated as high as Cromwell, if not higher. When Ireland was attacked by a succession of different armies—he would not Call them colonists—who were planted or who planted themselves as it was termed in the country—it was necessary in order to retains their fickle services, or reward if not fix their ambiguous loyalty, to confiscate a propor- 684 donate quantity of land from the actual inhabitants, (grounds for confiscation were always ready) and transfer it from these possessors, to the leaders of the invading hosts or hordes, and their rapacious followers. Soldiers as the majority were, it could not be expected they should so easily change their sword into the sickle, or evince much taste or knowledge of agricultural pursuits; they soon returned to their old vocation, and consigned their lots at a small profit, to some new adventurer. A succession of these transfers rapidly took place— at first in the shape of purchases, then of mortgages, finally of leasehold interests. The proprietor preferred receiving little, and punctually, than with the hope of receiving much, running the chance of receiving nothing. These arrangements generated that subordination of tenure, which not less than the excessive subdivision of land, high rents, and uncertainty of interest, have been the fruitful cause of the misery of Ireland,—a subordination of landlords—or rather a subordination of vultures, all preying in succession on the unfortunate cultivator. The Non-Subletting Act was the first measure of any efficiency directed against this system, but it may be doubted, if the distress of the times, which between proprietor and tenant, crushed many of these intermediate landlords, had not assisted, whether this like many other similar laws would not have been eluded. Nor was this remedy unaccompanied by a certain degree of injury. Where many of these leases had been got rid of, it was not so easy to get rid of what during their continuance these leases had produced. Estates were left covered with a generation of paupers, encouraged by Middlemen for their own profit, reckless of proprietor or occupier. Proprietors in many Cases attempted to apply an immediate remedy. The attempt was as impolitic as it was cruel. Clearances took place—they were met by agrarian outrages—outrages not directed against class, religion, or law, but against the man, often as much from a fear of what might take place, as from a spirit of revenge at what actually had. The "Fixity of Tenure" plan, which had been proposed as a means to check these evils—had neither in its extent, or nature, he thought, been sufficiently explained. Its importance for good or evil entirely depended on this explanation. Proprietorship, or such interest as Came nearest to proprietorship, he 685 had always thought a much greater stimulant to effective cultivation of a farm, than extent or situation of the farm, be it what it might. He had seen in various countries, holdings not larger than those occupied by the smallest farmers in Ireland, brought to a degree of fertility he might almost say garden nicety —through the cheerful, and so far cheap industry of the occupier, which he did not believe attainable by any other process. But the cultivator and the proprietor were, it must be observed, one. What he sowed he felt he was sure to reap. To attain this security, to inspire this conviction was indeed a matter of utmost moment, and worthy the attention of the greatest statesmen. It was obvious it was not compatible with a system, which exposed the cultivator at every turn to the caprices of a landlord, as ignorant of his own interests in many instances as of that of his tenants, at the same tune he doubted much whether in this more than in any other contract the arm of the legislature could be called in with advantage to either party duration of leases, amount of rent, periods of payment, with the thousand other particulars involved in the very nature of the relations between landlord and tenant were so much matters of circumstance, of place, time, individual feeling and object, that he feared they could be regulated by no other authority, than by the parties themselves, and any attempt to interfere with this freedom of action by laying down an uniform course of proceeding, whilst intended to protect against an abuse, might be opening the way to many others. But short of this there were many grievances to remedy, many gross oppressions to check, quite within the reach of ordinary legislative enactment. The clearances of estates might be controlled by a proper application of an emigration tax; fair remuneration determinable by certain recognised estimates, for outlay in improvements with the consent of the proprietor, might without any violence to the rights of ownership be efficiently guaranteed to the occupier, above all, the people themselves, by diligent attention to their wants moral and physical, on the part of their rulers, by furnishing them with fair opportunities for employment, by not merely recommending but encouraging industry, the people might be so raised in the social scale as to have the power themselves of exacting these equitable conditions, as he understood they were enabled to do already in the north of Ireland, by the force of sound public 686 opinion, without the intervention of any act of Parliament. But for this, as he had already said, the Government must afford the country opportunities, not indeed by a. lavish and profitless expenditure of the public money, but by doing what every other government in similar cases had done,— by stimulating the national energy and inviting the public capital. Ireland was amongst the few countries now in Europe, where no efforts on an extensive scale for railroad communication were carrying on. All preliminaries of survey and inquiry had been gone through—all that remained, but that was the essential, was the work itself. The Government thought this should be left to private enterprise, as in England, but Ireland was no more in the same position as England—than France or Belgium.—She was near England geographically—but not near her in socials improvement. She had been forcibly kept back by England—it was the duty of England now to atone for this crime and error—and by the exhibition of at feast equal force, to bring her onward, to bring her up to a level with herself. If ever there were a case where departure from the rigid rules of political economy would be sound policy this assuredly was that case. No private capitalist, no company could stand in the same position, or hope to reap the same advantages as a government. The Government not only had a right, to expect the same per centage on its outlay, but had beside to reckon, on the augmentation of the Customs and Excise, on the diminution of want and crime, consequently on the lowering of the expenditure for the army and police, which were the never failing results—of increased communication. These were matters, no doubt, of pounds, shillings and pence,—but he hoped the Government and Legislature of a free and enlightened countryߞif they set the least value on either distinction—looked somewhat higher than all this. A country which had in one night voted away twenty millions for the liberation of the blacks of the West; Indies, need not be told, that there was a greater glory, a loftier aim, for a great people, then the merely heaping up of gold, in the coffers of their Treasury. To redress wrongs, to conquer discord, to plant peace, for poverty and discontent to substitute justice, industry and prosperity, these were the acts which became her, who boasted the noble privilege of leading on the civilization of Europe. But he would at once be told, that this depended not on this country, but on Ireland itself—that as 687 long as agitation reigned, commerce would naturally keep aloof, capital would fly its shores, and industry no matter what efforts might be made to rouse her, continue as she now was palsied, and apathetic. It might be so, but this merely carried the question, only one or two steps farther. What was the cause of this agitation? The voice of a single man could not command it, there must be other voices to reecho his in the bosom of the nation, to give his voice effect. These voices were the expression of a real grievance, not of one only, but of many grievances—grievances felt generally, felt deeply. He need not look far fine such. He had already dwelt on the agrarian and physical position of Ireland—he turned now to its moral condition—and he was at once met at the very outset by the Protestant Church. It was now no time to shut their eyes to the importance, to the urgency, of this branch of the great Irish question. Indeed it was no longer in their power to do so—they might not wish to meet it, but it met them, at every turn. No one act of public policy which did not more or less take its colour. He did not at present intend to go into an elaborate discussion on its many bearings. There would be abundant opportunity, he was well assured, perhaps even before this session closed, but certainly in the next, for such considerations; nor was he unaware of the little favor which a Catholic member was likely to obtain, at any time, for such deliberations. He would content himself in consequence, with merely asking the House to remember and ponder well on sonic few facts. He would ask them, was it or was it not true, that in Ireland, a nation of no inconsiderable importance, containing eight millions of inhabitants, seven-eighths of the entire population were members of the Catholic religion, the remaining one-eighth of the Protestant. He would ask them, whether that one-eighth, were not in the exclusive enjoyment of the revenues originally destined for the education and religious instruction of the seven-eighths, as well as the one-eighth, that is of the whole nation: be would ask them could they point out a similar state of things in any other Country of the globe, in this nineteenth century, or indeed in any other former one, without its having been maintained by the strong arm of open tyranny, or resisted, and at fast triumphantly shaken off by an indignant people?—And with this voice of mankind, this communis sensus gentium, to instruct and rebuke them, he would there leave them and not press the 688 question farther, but merely warn them, after such and so clear a manifestation, not to tempt the Providence too far, that guides nations and chastises rulers, or expect miracles contrary to the invariable law of moral nature, to be worked he did not well see, on what pretension, for their special indulgence. Hon. Gentlemen on the opposite side said, that they had no choice—they must preserve the Protestant Church in Ireland in the full integrity of its power in order to maintain the Union; while others again told them they must support the Union in order to preserve the Protestant Church. Now this at the best was a very double-edged, a very dangerous argument. It might be turned the contrary way. Those who were opposed to the Protestant Church, might on this principle, be impelled to oppose the Union, in order to get rid of the Protestant Church; while those who were hostile to the Union, might think themselves justified, in order to effect its repeal, to begin first by getting rid of the Protestant Church. He did not admit the force of either argument, but he would not say how it might operate on the minds of two very powerful parties in Ireland. He would wish to place it, irrespective of all these circumstances on its own merits. He would therefore argue it, not as a question de facto but dejurc. He asked the House to suppose for an instant that the three countries—England, Ireland, and Scotland, were still separate nations; each with its peculiar laws, its special institutions, its particular faith. He asked them to proceed with him a step farther, and to imagine that after a series of idle and absurd struggles, certain losses and doubtful or fruitless victories they had at last come to the conclusion that it was not good for them to live alone, but that for their common benefit and mutual security, it was essential they should combine their hitherto hostile strength and wasted resources, not merely in a federal but an incorporated Government, and that each state had appointed their commissioners to arrange the terms of this junction and incorporation. There had been no conquest, no subjection, no submission the only condition therefore on which they could consent to meet — would, of course, be perfect and entire, equality—paribus si legibus ambæ invicla gentesfor reciprocal advantage, common laws and united support. Now, if in the course of these sittings, the English Commissioner were to say to the Irish, "we insist on establishing in. Ireland, our 689 Protestant Church: we know, it is not the religion of the majority of your nation: on the contrary, we believe it to be the faith of a very small minority: we know that if you shall continue separate it will not be suffered, it Can not be established: we know also that we have Come together, on the understanding of perfect equality, but then, as we are henceforth to be one united people; and that we are more powerful, more numerous, and above all have the good fortune to profess a faith in every way superior to yours, we do not see that by enforcing such demand we are imposing on you an unfair or unreasonable condition, but on the contrary, rendering you an essential service." He would not say what under such circumstances, would be the reply, or what ought to be the reply of the Irish Commissioner, but allowing for a moment the force of this English reasoning, allowing that it were, acquiesced in, by the Irish Commissioner, he did not sec why he in turn, should not be entitled to use every single word of the argument to the Scotch representative, and insist on precisely the same grounds on the establishment of his Catholic Church, in Scotland. Ireland was in reference to Scotland, what England was in reference to Ireland, of greater extent, larger population, more power, and had quite as strong a conviction of the superiority of the Catholic religion to the Presbyterian, as England could possibly have of the superiority of the Protestant to the Catholic. He did not think indeed an Irish Commissioner would be likely to make such a proposition—he saw no indication of it, in the history of the Irish Catholics, when in power—but he well knew, if he should, what would be the indignant answer of the Scotch. He would answer, and the whole people would with him, as their forefathers had more than once done before, "that they had taken their religion by solemn covenant for better or worse, that no earthly power should separate them from it, that betide what might they would abide by it, and that if such was to be the conditions of this pretended Union, but real subjection, live their religion, and perish the Union." Could Ireland blame them for such determination? Certainly not. Could England? He knew not—but this he knew, whether blaming such determination 'or not, England had before this been obliged to yield to a very similar answer. Scotland made such an answer to her pretensions, in the reign of William, and followed up her words, by a more powerful eloquence, an appeal to 690 her claymore. If it were a good answer to Ireland, and Irish Catholics; (and he did not deny it was), he did not see why Ireland and Irish Catholics had not just as good a right, and as much reason, to make a similar answer to Protestant England. It was no answer to say, that circumstances were different: unfortunately they were, but as he before said, he would argue the question "de jure," the question was not what was, but what ought to be, and when what ought to be did not coincide with what was, how could they in justice blame any people, for endeavouring by every means in their power to effect it. To talk of an union, founded or maintained on every other principle, was not merely folly but insult. if not resulting from attachment, and sustained by common interests and equal rights, it resulted from conquest, and was held together by force—in other words, give it what name they pleased, it was at best hut a virtual tyranny. He was not for going into the special merits or demerits of the Protestant Church still less of Protestant Churchmen; he had no doubt that many of its members were an honour to any community; he attacked, and in the interests of Protestants and Protestantism itself he would add, not the man, or his faith, but the system. He did not believe, as many would wish to insinuate, that the only motives for the wide spread hostility of the country to this institution arose from religious bigotry, or pecuniary rapacity. He saw less of either of these vices in the true uncorrupted character of the Irish people, than in that of most other nations. But action will produce re-action, and oppression resistance, and persecution intolerance. A people had a right to know what was done with their own, and it was no great stretch of parsimony to complain of the application of Catholic funds to purposes purely anti-Catholic. It was not the Catholic Church that was looking to the resumption of Protestant endowments, but it was the Irish people claiming the establishment and maintenance of British, equality. The English people were a mercantile people, but surely they would allow the operation of causes and motives quite as powerful as any which could originate from mere pounds, shillings, and pence. Money was not the all-absorbing passion, the all-in-all of Ireland. Was nothing to be allowed to the nobler springs of her nature, to wounded pride, insulted honor, the stinging sense of injustice, the deep seated conviction of truth and right? 691 The people of Ireland must be destitute of the commonest feelings not of Irish, but of human nature, if they could with patience look on, day after day, on the many scenes which they were condemned to witness. Why, they excited the astonishment of every traveller of every nation — even of Englishmen themselves; in this country, if by any possibility they could be exhibited, they would not be tolerated for four-and-twenty hours. Congregations of four or five thousand persons were to be seen kneeling in the rain round some miserable hovel, (there was no cover for them within), under the name of a parish chapel, probably built on the site, and often from the ruins of one of their own ancient churches, while not far distant they might perceive the handsome English-built, new raised, well lit, well ventilated, well warmed Protestant Church, with a lady-and-gentlemen congregation of four persons. It did not require a people to be very ignorant to feel excited at such a contrast. On the contrary, they must be ignorant indeed, if they did not feel it. Yet to ignorance, to an ignorant impatience of all religions but their own, were these feelings not of Irish nature but human nature as he had said, most ignorantly ascribed. The public prints of this country again and again asked their own bigotted public, far more bigotted and with far less cause, in many respects, than the Irish" what else could they expect from this brutal and ignorant people?" If this charge were true, a more severe impeachment could not be preferred against any people. Guilty, indeed, were those who allowed the immortal part of any nation thus to he in darkness and immorality. But on whom in this case lay the guilt? Who had the management of the Irish people? To whom was entrusted their education! or rather, who forced their education out of the hands of its natural and legitimate guardians? It could not, he thought, but be admitted by any one pretending to the least acquaintance with them, that the Irish people generally possessed from nature the highest intellectual dispositions. If these dispositions had not fructified to knowledge, the fault lay in the instructor, and not in the pupil. The English Government and Legislature, not content with merely neglecting, prohibited education; they made knowledge penal, they enacted ignorance, and with ignorance all its fatal consequences by act of Parliament. They hunted Catholic 692 priests not only from the chapel, but from the school-room, banished them from their functions, flocks and country, rendered education abroad a felony, and then penetrating the recesses of the domestic circle at home, rendered the demoralisation perfect, by forcing the child from the father and consigning, him, under a feigned name already an orphan during the lifetime of the parent to the cruelties and depravities of their own Charter schools. All this was written in large letters in their statute books and reports, they could then see that the evil became at last so monstrous as to work its own cure, it was declared in that House to be beyond reform and there was no remedy but suppression. The public indeed, had anticipated the verdict, and from the notorious demoralisation which prevailed in those chosen seats of vice, ignorance and proselytism had long held it a disgrace to have their families Contaminated by any apprentice who had incurred the misfortune and stain of receiving, could he call it, an education in their bosom. Yet was it the descendants of the men who did all this who gloried in having done all this, who now turned round and ventured to tax the Irish people with that very ignorance which their own forefathers had so sedulously and for a while so successfully, endeavoured to cultivate and extend. Every tree produced fruit alter its hind; not with the fruit ought they to quarrel but with the tree; nor with the tree, but with its planters and propagators. But the fact was, the people of Ireland were not ignorant, neither were they blind —that was not their crime; by their own efforts, despite of any obstacle, they had long since rescued themselves from that imputation; their fault, with this country, whatever they might assert to the contrary, was not the seeing too ill, but the seeing too well—not feeling too little, but too much. They knew their rights, they knew their wrongs, the most important of all knowledge for a nation; above all, they knew the means by which wrongs were to be redressed, and rights were to be attained. It was not ascendancy they aimed at, but equality they demanded; not to extinguish the Protestant Church, but to place their own by its side was their object. He feared, however, front the statements made by the right hon. Baronet opposite some nights ago, he could entertain no hope, that as far as he was concerned, this desire of the Irish people was likely to be speedily realised. The 693 right hon. Gentleman, if he understood him well went so far as to declare such event impossible. He reduced his doctrine on the subject to three very distinct propositions. He asserted that the ruin of Ireland would result from the extinction of the Protestant Church, that this extinction was sure to follow the severance of its temporalities, and the severance of any one portion of these temporalities, entailed the severance of the remainder, in other words, that any change in the application of the present endowments of the Protestant Church in Ireland, led inevitably to the ruin of that, not Protestant, but Catholic kingdom. He would be sorry to go with the right hon. Gentleman to the extent of so monstrous a proposition. He believed nations, and especially the Irish nation owed its vitality to very different, he might say opposite, Causes than those to which the right hon. Baronet ascribed it If it had any share of prosperity it was in a despite and not in consequence of its overgrown Church establishment. But the other steps of the proposition were just as untenable. Churches had lived without establishments, nay flourished, and religion had risen and grown up without churches. If it were upon such axioms as these, he based his opposition to all future adjustment, he must say he had as little chance of maintaining it as his former resistance to Catholic emancipation. It would be ludicrous if it were not painful to hear this, or any other measure, which did not come up to the full level of the wants and wishes of the times, denominated a final measure. Every measure of the kind had in turn been declared final, and undoubtedly so continued until another final measure in its turn took its place. He knew of no finality but that which was to be had through full-sufficing justice; hall justice was often worse than no justice—it continued to refuse rights, but gave additional motive and power to obtain them. The Catholic Emancipation of 1829, no more closed the question than the Catholic Emancipation of 1793. It was the last of a series but the beginning also of another. That was the natural progress of things; the history of Ireland, throughout, like every other history, bore evidence of it. If it were otherwise, history itself would be inexplicable, and Government a mere guesswork. That history could not have been read by the right hon. Baronet (the Secretary for the Home Department), or he would never have made the declaration he charitably presumed which they had heard 694 from him on a recent occasion, that concession had reached its ultimate point and could not be carried farther. Why, this was the very declaration made at every stage from 1776 down to the Catholic Emancipation, and where were the Catholics now? Did the right hon. Baronet mean that it would have been well in the Catholics to have taken such declarations when made for what they purported to be, and there have stopped, or did he not think that the men of that day had acted not only with more patriotism, but more wisdom, in disregarding these unalterable resolutions as they affected to e to grant no more, and confiding in a good cause their own exertions, and coming events, heedless of this man's hate or the other man's fears, until they had attained their present merited and rightful position, were right in pursuing as they had done their own resolute and victorious course. If it were good sense and sound policy then, it was good sense and sound policy now. He must know, that concession will produce more concession, until there be nothing which ought to be conceded; he must know that the constitution of England being an unwritten constitution admits of such Changes, more easily than any other; finally he must know that not one of these concessions, however long resisted, however strongly objected to at the time, but has turned out to be not less a boon to Protestantism than to Catholicism—not less a security for future concord and prosperity to England than it has been to Ireland. He had thus not disposed of, but touched on two of the principal points adverted to by his hon. Friend, there was one still remaining which he could not help noticing very briefly, before he sat down; he referred to the claim which Ireland made for a larger share in the management of her own domestic affairs. The House was aware not only of his opinions, but of the course he had adopted in maintenance of those opinions, on the question of Repeal, when it was first discussed in 1832. He had then men explicit with his constituents and the public, and had proved his sincerity by abiding by the consequences, which he was well convinced were sure to follow. He did not wish farther to advert to these events at present, or to argue the question on mere temporary or local circumstances. He would place it on broader grounds. He thought that these countries, so long as they continued under the same crown, and had to direct and discuss 695 the same imperial objects, would necessarily require for such purposes an imperial Legislature, the object of all legislation being to collect and combine as much as possible the scattered opinion of the community on matters common to them all, but it did not follow that for subjects purely domestic and local, this imperial or central Legislature was always the very best. Centralising too much and localising too much, were opposite but equal errors; it was not by suppressing either, but by balancing one with the other in fair proportion, that they could both be made of universal utility. He had heard the excessive centralization of despotic governments complained of, but he hardly knew of any instrument or institution legislative or administrative, of a more centralising, more monopolising, more absorbing character, from the very nature of its organization and functions than the Imperial Parliament itself. No object was too small for its eyes or arms. It saw everything, seized everything, wielded everything. It was an Argus and a Briareus. Writers not without reason had called it omnipotent. The course of imperial legislation was clogged and delayed Session after Session, by bills, committees, reports, returns referring to questions purely local and domestic. These local and domestic questions with great advantage, with great facility, might in his opinion have been confided to those best qualified and most interested to manage them judiciously and expeditiously at home, and the Imperial Parliament have thus been relieved from an immense mass of what he must term mere parish and vestry business. Arguing thus, he could not see why Ireland and Scotland also might not have their local bodies, for the management of their own local concerns, leaving to the Imperial Legislature the conducting of questions affecting the entire nation. He did not wish to repeal the Union, but to add to the Union, by giving in addition to the power they had in the Imperial Parliament, to every member of this mighty state, as far as it might be found consistent with the general harmony and safety of the whole, the management of their own particular affairs. Were this not practicable, there was at least an approximation to it which he thought quite so, and which he had more than once urged on the consideration of the Legislature, he referred to the extension of the Representative principle to the organization of bodies, employed in the fiscal 696 management of counties, under the name of County councils or County boards. If a representative organization were just, and advisable in towns, he could not s coin prehend by what course of reasoning, it could be shown to be unjust or unadvisable in the adjoining districts. It was a very important principle, and what had often been boasted of, as the essence of the British Constitution. He could not understand, why one portion of the community should in virtue of some arbitrary division of town wall or municipal boundary live under one constitution, and another under another. He would now conclude, but he implored them before he sat down, that if they really intended to act in a wise and just spirit towards Ireland, to act at once. It was true, the forces of the two countries were not equal, but neither was their position. The attention of England was directed to the multitudinous objects connected with an empire which stretched its arms over the entire globe. She had to rule in two hemispheres, and over many millions of men. The attention of Ireland was not fixed on Canada, the East Indies, or Turkey, or Spain, or France, it was fixed earnestly and unremittingly, and inevitably on England alone. Nor had Ireland allies only in her own ranks, she had others where they might least in the opinion of some be expected, in the very heart and conscience of England herself. Few even in that House, but in their cooler moments, when removed beyond the dust and glare of the party battle and momentary triumph, but admitted in their inward and better self that she was much wronged, was deeply suffering, and in the main was thoroughly right. Again, he implored them to let this better spirit speak out, and as it Ought to do prevail,—to give words as well as thoughts, and deeds better than either, and not to wait till the appeal, he would not say compulsion came from without. Ireland had always attracted the attention of the continent. The Spanish Armada was to have landed on her coast, Louis 14th had similar designs, which fortunately had not been fulfilled. Revolutionary France inheriting the same projects had also attempted a descent; even America was not insensible to the temptation which disorganization and discord must always naturally offer. He heartily hoped that his native shores might never be made the battle field for contending nations, and in that most earnest hope and desire be now appealed, not to men but to justice. The Irish people now asked no- 697 thing more than what they had been asking from the time of Henry 2nd to the present day, "Give us your own laws, govern us as you do yourselves." This is a reasonable demand, this demand they will not, they cannot, they ought not, for their character as a nation, and as long as there be an Union give up. It is for this House to say whether it shall be granted, and whether it shall be granted in time. Let not Ireland have still to say and to say with truth, that whenever concession had been made to her, it had been ever from a reluctant hand, and accompanied with restriction if not insult, that it was not until England had become apprehensive of a French fleet thundering on her shores, that she gave her her commercial rights; that it was not till she saw 100,000 volunteers with their eighty-three pieces of cannon, that England spoke of her as a free nation, that it was not until, as the Duke of Wellington said in the other House a civil war was irresistable, that Catholic Emancipation was conceded, "not to justice, but necessity." From 1776 to 1829, concession had followed concession. England had been forced onward from necessity to necessity. These necessities are not yet exhausted, other concessions remain yet behind. She must go on reluctantly or willingly. If justice be now done, it will be a pledge of future concord, if delayed it will be a triumph forced from her, though late at last by the moral sense more powerful than the sword of the whole civilized world.
§ Lord Eliot
said, that the questions to which the hon. Member had called the attention of the House in his very able speech were so multifarious and so important, that it was impossible for him to do more than cursorily to deal with some of them. The questions of Church-rates, repeal, reform, municipal corporation reform, the Poor-law, and others, had been treated by the hon. Gentleman, any one of which would furnish subject-matter for a whole evening. He, therefore, felt the difficulty of replying to the hon. Member, but he did not like to pass them all wholly by without notice. The resolution contained four propositions; first, that there was discontent in Ireland—that he readily but sorrowfully admitted. The second was, that there were grievances in Ireland; that he was not indisposed to admit; though he thought they were of a social rather than a political character, and not of a kind that Parliament could 698 remedy. That seemed to be, in part, admitted by hon. Members opposite, for the noble Lord had spoken the other night of the relations of landlord and tenant, and said, he saw no means of remedying the evil. The third proposition was, that the House could remedy the grievances of Ireland. Now, he could not think with the hon. Gentleman, that a committee at that period of the Session could possibly afford any remedy; and he was sure that no committee which spoke the feeling of the House could agree on any one remedy. Another proposition was, that an impartial Government did not exist in Ireland. That he did not admit. The hon. Member had not shown either, that the law was so different in Ireland and in England, that the Irish had any cause to complain, or that the law was so administered as to give them any such cause. With respect to the appointments of the Government, he thought it had been admitted by one hon. Gentleman, at least, on the opposite side, that a Government could not appoint their political opponents, and as the Roman Catholics, it was generally admitted, were, for the most part opposed to the Government, it followed, that the larger portion of those appointed must be Protestants. With respect to the assistant-barristers, the only one that had been appointed since the Government came into office was a Roman Catholic. One stipendiary magistrate had been appointed since they came in and another re-appointed, both being Roman Catholics. He only mentioned this in order to show that Roman Catholics were not proscribed by the Government, and that there was every disposition to consider their claims when not actually opposed to the Government in politics. The hon. Gentleman had asked the House to what the agitation in Ireland was to be attributed? He thought that was sufficiently answered by considering, that the labouring class was in a distressed condition; and they were told that a domestic Legislature would be the panacea for all their evils; that poor-rates and taxes would be abolished, and that it would be the revival of their domestic manufactures; let this be considered, and it could be no matter of astonishment, that the poor population on being told such agreeable tidings should go in masses to hear them; but he called on the hon. Gentleman to specify what acts of the Government justified this agitation. The 699 law appointments which had been so much cavilled at of late had been carried into effect upwards of a year ago, and no demonstration of dissatisfaction with them had then been made; political partisanship had never been considered a ground for excluding from promotion at the bar; and whatever had been the conduct of such partisans in Parliament there never had been any partiality on the bench. He was sure that no man could say, that either of those two gentlemen who had been elevated by the Government, had been swayed by any political bias whatever in their decisions on the bench. He did not question the good temper and moderate tone of Dr. Kinsella's letter, though he differed from the rev. Gentleman as to the question of Repeal, which he considered nothing short of a dismemberment of the empire; but the Repeal agitation at present going on in Ireland was not at all analogous to such expression of opinion as that given by Dr. Kinsella. The manner in which opinion was expressed at the large meetings portended danger; and as the hon. Gentleman who opened the debate had referred to the letter of Dr. Kinsella, he would call the attention of the House to the pastoral address issued by the Roman Catholic bishops of Ireland in 1830, after the passing of the Emancipation Bill:ߞOur gracious and beloved Sovereign, it said, commiserated the state of Ireland, and resolved to confer upon her the inestimable blessing of religious peace. This great boon became the more acceptable to this country, because among the counsellors of his Majesty there appeared conspicuous the most distinguished of Ireland's own sons, a hero and a legislator, a man selected by the Almighty to break the rod which had scourged Europe, a man raised up by Providence to confirm thrones, to re-establish altars, to direct the councils of England at a crisis the most difficult, and to staunch the blood and heal the wounds of the country which gave him birth. The storm which almost wrecked the country has subsided, whilst social order, with peace and justice in her train, prepares to establish her sway in this long-distracted country. And is not the King, whom by the few of God we are bound to honour, entitled now to all the honour, and all the obedience, and all the gratitude you can bestow? And do not his Ministers merit from you a confidence commensurate with the labours and zeal expended by them on your behalf? Labour, therefore, in all things to promote the end which the Legislature contemplated in passing this bill for your relief, to wit, the pacification and improvement of Ireland. Let religious discord cease, let party feuds and 700 civil dissensions be no more heard of; let rash, and unjust, and illegal oaths be not even named amongst you; and if sowers of discord or sedition should attempt to trouble your repose, seek for a safeguard against them in the protection afforded by the law Give way to anger rather than contend with an adversary, so that nothing on your part may be wanting to promote peace and goodwill among all classes and descriptions of the Irish people. We united our efforts with those of the laity in seeking to attain their just rights, a duty imposed on us by a state of things which has passed, but a duty which we have gladly relinquished, in the fervent hope, that by us or by our successors it may not be resumed. Let no wild fanaticism, alike injurious to the Church and to the State, find access to your families, or be blended with the education of your children.That was the language of the Roman Catholic bishops in 1830; but he regretted to say, that, a different spirit now prevailed amongst the majority of them. He regretted that, instead of affording that religious consolation to their flocks, which they were wont to do, they now employed themselves in furthering designs which he believed could only be accomplished through bloodshed. In four years after the publication of the pastoral letter, another address containing the following resolutions, was published by the archbishops and bishops of Ireland, and was as follows:ߞThat our chapels are not to be used in future for the purpose of holding therein any public meeting, except in cases connected with charity or religion; and that we do hereby pledge ourselves to carry this resolution into effect in our respective discusses." "That, while we do not intend to interfere with the civil rights of those intrusted to our care, yet, as guardians of religion, justly apprehending that its general interests as well as the honour of the priesthood would be compromised by a deviation from the line of conduct which we marked out for ourselves, and impressed upon the minds of our clergy in our pastoral address of the year 1830, we do hereby pledge ourselves, on our return to our respective dioceses, to remind our clergy of the instructions we then addressed to them, and to recommend to them most earnestly to avoid, in future, any allusions at their altars to political subjects, and carefully to refrain from connecting themselves with political clubs, acting as chairmen or secretaries at political meetings, or moving or seconding resolutions on such occasions, in order that we exhibit ourselves in all things in the character of our sacred calling, as ministers of Christ, and dispensers of the mysteries of God.How different was that address in tone and spirit from the language of the Ro- 701 man Catholic Archbishop of Tuam at a repeal meeting held at Mullingar, where the rev. Gentleman declared that he had reason to believe, and that he knew, all the Roman Catholics of Ireland were in favour of Repeal, at the same time defying the British Ministry to pat down the agitation, and adding that if they were prevented from meeting in the open day, and in the open air, all the chapels in his diocese should be used for the purpose, and that all other instruction in them should be suspended for the purpose of forwarding the Repeal cause). He referred to such a document more in sorrow than in anger. The two first addresses were creditable to those who put them forth, as evincing an admirable temper, replete with feelings of Christian charity, and he deeply regretted that any political excitement should lead t he bishops of Ireland to depart from such sentiments. The hon. Gentleman had referred to the history of Ireland, and it was to be regretted that such references were frequently made as a means of stirring the passions of the people of that country. He respected the motives and the talents of the hon. Gentleman, and he therefore the more regretted that the hon. Gentleman should have found it necessary to refer to bygone times. History should be read in a more philosophical spirit, and when Considered as a study from which to derive lessons for our future guidance as to what should be pursued or what avoided, no study could be more useful for the statesman or politician; but it should never be resorted to for the purpose of resuscitating jealous feelings or reviving old animosities. When thus used, the introduction of history was indeed to be lamented. It was worse than idle to incite the feelings of Protestants and Roman Catholics by reference to the penal laws and the atrocities of Cromwell, or to recall a period when toleration was not even recognized, and when persons of various sects imagined it to be a duty to evince their zeal for their religion by a persecution of all others. It would now be utterly impossible to revive the spirit of religious persecution or the intolerance which prevailed at former periods. He must be excused for not following the hon. Gentleman opposite through all the calculations into which he had gone with respect to the present and a former state of Ireland, as he had not by him the documents necessary for doing so, but he would at the same time venture to 702 advert to one or two points connected with the trade of Ireland, to disprove the hon. Gentleman's deductions. The hon. Gentleman stated that Ireland was now in a worse position as regarded her finances than she was at the period of the passing of the Act of Union. The hon. Gentleman should, however remember that by the act of Union, Ireland was enabled to partake of all the advantages which accrued to England from the increased extension of her commerce and her enlarged system of colonization. The noble Lord read the following tables:—
|1838-41, inclusive||1828-31. inclusive||1818-21. inclusive.|
|Imports(official value)||6,300,277||6,284,017||4,150,157||Exclusive of trade with Gt. Britain.|
|Vessels entered in||7,456,524||5,607,915||3,819,778||From & to all parts|
|Vessels cleared out||5,255,898||4,174,896||3,696,852|
|New vessels built||14,246||8,307||7,085|
|Years ending January 5, 1839, 1840, 1841, 1842.|
|Value of Imports into Ireland calculated at official rates.||Exports.||Total Exports calculated at official rate of value.||Value of Produce, &c. of United Kingdom, exported from Ireland, as computed at average current prices, exclusive of trade with Great Britain.|
|Produce of United Kingdom||Foreign and Colonial|
|Years ending January 5, 1829, 1830, 1831, 1832.|
|Value of Imports into Ireland, calculated official at rates.||Exports.||Total Exports, calculated at official rate of value.||Value of Produce, &c. of United Kingdom, exported from Ireland, as computed average current prices, exclusive of trade with Great Britain.|
|Produce of United Kingdm.||Foreign and Colonial.|
|Years ending January 5, 1819, 1820, 1821, 1822.|
|Value of Imports into Ireland, calculated at official rates.||Exports.||Total Exports, calculated at official rate of value.||Value of Produce, &c. of United Kingdom exported from, Ireland, as computed at average current prices, exclusive of trade with Great Britain.|
|Produce of United Kingdom.||Foreign and Colonial.|
|Years.||New Vessels built.||Vessels registered.|
|Years.||Vessels entered in from all parts.||Vessels cleared out to all parts.|
§ It was not to be denied, that during the last year there had been a falling-off when the influence of the general depression was felt by the empire at large, and, of course, it was not to be supposed, that Ireland should escape from its effects, more especially when the agricultural interests were, more than any other, subjected to the depression. The effects of that depression, however, were now beginning to pass away, and it was to be hoped, that society would soon present a new aspect. There was an indication of this in the savings-banks' returns, which were as follows:—
|Number of Depositors||43,755||63,183||79,553|
|Deposited to November 20||1,178,201||0||1,759,960||2,297,680||0||0|
|Average amount investedby each depositor||26||9||28||28||17||7¾|
|Deposits by charitable institutions||—||40,682||37,427|
|Deposits. by friendly societies||—||16,622||19,799|
This showed, that a more provident disposition was exhibiting itself amongst the poorer classes in Ireland, and, that their means were increasing to a considerable extent. The hon, Gentleman entered into a discussion respecting the Irish Reform Bill; but it was to be remembered that that bill had been brought under the consideration of the House by those with whom the noble Lord opposite had acted; and it was to be presumed, that in bringing forward the measure, they had entered into all the necessary calculations. At all events, the noble Lord the Member for North Lancashire had challenged discussion as to the nature of the franchise conferred by that bill, and stated, that he was prepared to show that it was as favourable to the voters in Ireland, as to those in this country. It was, however, sufficient for him (Lord Eliot) to say, that that act had not been the act of the present Government, but the act of the Government to which the noble Lord opposite had belonged, and which had, of course, availed itself of all
the means to acquire the information upon which the measure should be adjusted. It was urged by the hon. Gentleman, that population ought to be the basis upon which to found the franchise. Now, this had never been admitted as a principle by any Government, although it was always acknowledged to be an element of which they should never lose sight. It bad been said, that it was unjust not to give Ireland a greater number of representatives in that House. Why, of the 105 representatives of Ireland, in the House of Commons, not more than from ten to twelve had attended on the opposite side during the Session. [Cheers.] He could not understand what that cheer meant. the was not aware of any measure which had been brought into that House relative to Ireland which was calculated to provoke, or had provoked, resistance. It was said, that nothing had been done for Ireland. No less than twenty-three measures had been introduced in the course of last Session, and upon neither of those had there been any division. On the contrary, they had been passed with the unanimous assent of hon. Gentlemen opposite. He did not take any credit to the Government for those measures, but when it was insisted that no measure relative to Ireland had been introduced, he must call the attention of the House to two measures of great importance which had been passed in the course of last Session. The Drainage and Fisheries Acts had been fully discussed; they bad now become law, and they promised to prove most beneficial in their results to that country. There was another Irish bill passed, which proved that the attention of the Government was directed to Ireland—he meant the measure assimilating the law respecting the punishment of death to the law as it existed in this country. The measure attracted little or no attention at the time; but it was still one of no small importance as regarded the assimilating of the criminal laws of the two countries, and as serving to show that there was no indisposition on the part of the present Government to obviate every evil which was capable of a practical remedy. Again, when a difficulty arose with respect to Presbyterian marriages, Government did all in its power to settle the question, and though they could not say, whether or not they had succeeded in their endeavour to
do so, they had done enough to evince the disposition. Again, with respect to the Municipal Corporation Bill, it was found so clumsy—he did not mean any imputation upon those by whom it was passed—but it was found so clumsy as to be, in some instances inoperative for its own purposes, that great practical inconveniences arose out of it and in Limerick the old Corporation with its old officers was restored. The present Government, however, wishing to give practical effect to what had been the declared intention of the Legislature, brought in a bill to remedy the defect. This was done by the present Government, though they objected to the bill when it was under discussion. The hon. Gentleman found fault even with the Irish Municipal bill, though he must, and all must admit, that it was a measure making a transfer of power to the popular party. He had subjected himself to some obloquy with respect to the Irish Municipal Bill, and he much regretted that there should be occasion for it. He had confidently hoped, that the power proposed to be granted by the bill would not have been used for political purposes. He conceived, that all who were subjected to taxation for local purposes should have some control over the funds to which they contributed, and he regretted, that his prediction that the powers proposed to be given for others would not be diverted to political purposes. He, however, found, that the contrary was the case, and that in some instances whole corporate bodies in Ireland advocated the Repeal of the Union. Though they had thus deviated from this peculiar province, he did not regard the vote which he had given, and, if it were to do again, he would vote so again, even though aware of the facts which had since occurred. He would not blame trial by jury because of the return of an erroneous verdict, nor deny the principle of representation because of an unwise statute. The question of the Irish Poor-law had been touched on, but into that he would not then enter. The appointments under that act by the late Government had been animadverted on, but the defence of those appointments must be undertaken by the noble Lord opposite (Lord J. Russell), and not by him. He would not raise the subject on that occasion, but he would express it as his firm conviction that both the late Government and the House of
Commons in passing that act were influenced by a most sincere desire to alleviate the wants of the Irish people, and that the measure was promoted in the purest spirit of benevolence and humanity. Reference had been made to the Arms Bill; but there had been so many discussions on that measure that he did not wish to occupy the time of the house on the present occasion by adverting to it. He would only state his solemn assurance that nothing would have induced him to propose any restrictions on the rights of the people of Ireland if he had not been satisfied in his own conscience that such a measure was necessary for the protection of the lives and property of the people of that country. The hon. Gentleman proceeded to comment on the conduct of the Government in refusing to advance money for railways in Ireland. It was very well to say that all that was asked for was the credit of the country, and the Irish counties would have guaranteed the repayment of the money; but he would ask any Gentleman who had been in office whether it was not known that nothing was so difficult as to obtain the repayment of such advances? He believed, that a very great number of the railways in England did not pay; and he was given to understand that in Ireland one single railway alone—namely, that to Cork, would have cost to complete it, 5,000,000l. [" No, no!"] Well, supposing it would have only cost 2,000,000l. or 3,000,000l., it would have been totally impossible for the counties, burthened with the county cess, to repay the money; and if this money had been advanced, the Government must either have taken harsh measures to force the counties to repay, or the money must have been lost to the public. He had reason to believe, that some of the lines of railway in Ireland might be executed with British capital, if the present state of excitement did not deter the English capitalists from embarking their money in Ireland; and he knew that several speculations settled and determined on had been put a stop to by the apprehensions arising from what he might call the present outbreak in Ireland. Another matter referred to in the course of the present discussion was the education system in Ireland; and, considering the feeling entertained on that subject by many hon. Gentlemen on that (the Ministerial) side of the House, and by many of the clergy
of the Established Church, the hon. Gentleman made but a bad return for the course pursued by his right hon. Friend, when he taunted him with having acted in a cold manner. There would be no encouragement to make such concessions if they were to be met in such a spirit. Allusions had been made to a point of minor importance—the formation of a law society in Dublin; and the failure of that project had been attributed to the interference of the Lord Chancellor, but it was his impression that that project was defeated by the benchers and Members of the Queen's Inn. He was surprised to hear the hon. Gentleman advert to the Croal contract—the contract for the mails. Now, it happened that Mr. Purcell who had the mail-coach contract in Ireland before, was himself a bidder for the Scotch contract in a previous year; and out of nineteen competitors, he was the lowest but one. Supposing Mr. Purcell had been the successful competitor, would any Scotch gentleman have deemed his country insulted, because an Irish coach contractor had gained the contract for Scotland? It was quite clear, that these contracts must be open to the competition of the whole empire. The hon. Gentleman had furnished the House with a list of Englishmen who, he stated, held office in Ireland. He (Lord Eliot) believed that the present Government had not appointed, with the exception of the Irish Lord Chancellor, any Englishman to office in Ireland; and, therefore, if the reproach of the hon. Gentleman was merited, it should be directed against the noble Lord near him and his colleagues. But, he would ask, was there not a very fair proportion of Irishmen employed in the public departments in this country? The hon. Gentleman had adverted to some declaration made by him (Lord Eliot) on the hustings. He was not disposed to retract a single word of that declaration. The spirit of what he had said was, that the Government of Ireland would act t impartially and make no distinction in reference to the religious creed of any individuals; and he believed, that the Government had acted with impartiality. It had been said by an hon. and learned Gentleman on that (the Ministerial) side, that the Government in Ireland lied treated the Conservatives with coldness; and therefore he was entitled to say, that charges of such an opposite nature, proceeding from op-
posite parties, only proved, that the Government had endeavoured to steer a middle course, and no case of corruption or partiality had been established against the Government. The hon. Gentleman had called on the Government to say why they did not treat Ireland as they did Canada? Did the hon. Gentleman think, that any analogy could be established between Ireland, which was an integral part of the empire, and a distant country, having a separate legislature and which did not send representatives to the Imperial Parliament? Did the hon. Gentleman mean to assert that it was possible to have one set of Ministers for Ireland and another set for England? So long as there existed an Imperial Legislature, charged with the conduct of the affairs of the empire, the Ministers must be the representatives of the majority of the people of the United Kingdom, and not of the inhabitants of one portion of it merely. The hon. Gentleman had dismissed the subject of fixity of tenure in a few words—almost with contempt. The hon. Gentleman said, he had not heard of any plan on this point which he believed to be practical. It was not easy to understand what was meant by fixity of tenure; but the hon and learned Member for Cork had thus described it:
No landlord to be able to recover rent unless he made a lease for twenty-one years to the tenant, proof to be given on oath as to what a solvent tenant ought to give as rent for land, the amount to be decided on trial by jury. The tenant to be allowed annually to register the improvements he makes on his holding, and at the expiration of the lease, unless the landlord should have paid the full value of the improvements, it should not be competent to him to eject the tenant, who would be entitled to a new lease.
Now, it appeared that these questions were to be decided by a jury, but whether the jury was to be composed of the friends and co-tenants of the tenant was a point on which the hon. and learned Member for Cork had not thought proper to give any information. With respect to fixity of tenure, he must state his opinion, that he had seen no plan of that kind which did not strike at the root of property. He fully admitted that property had its duties as well as its rights, but these were moral duties, difficult, if not impossible, to be defined by the Legislature, and the interest of the community at large would be best consulted by religiously respecting
the rights of property. He Could conceive no plan which interfered with those rights, which, however it might benefit particular individuals, could not carry with it a much larger amount of evil. The hon. Gentleman had adverted to the tithe commutation, but had altogether undervalued the benefit conferred on the tenantry of Ireland by that measure. Since that act came into operation the tithe war had ceased; and he was satisfied, that, if the rent-charge were abolished, the amount would go into the pockets of the landlords, and the tenants would be no gainers. The House must recollect, too, that the Church Ireland was the church of the majority of the empire. [Oh! oh!] It was the Church of the great mass of the proprietors of land in Ireland, from whom the revenues of the church were derived. Mr. O'Connell stated, in 1825, before a committee of the Lords, that the Roman Catholics did not hold one-tenth of the fee-simple of land in Ireland. It was, therefore, clear that nine-tenths of the land belonged to Protestant Protestant properties; and out of the land the tithe rent-charge was derived. In 1833 Lord Althorp stated he revenues of the Irish church to be as follows.—
|Amount of the revenue of Bishops' sees||130,000|
|Revenue of Deans and Chapters, exclusive of the livings held by them as pre bends||2,200|
|Revenue of the other benefices in Ireland||600,000|
|Say in round numbers 750,000l.|
|This, by conversion of tithes to rent-charge in 1837, would have been reduced to||560,000|
|By the Church Temporalities Act, about 65,000l., the amount of parish cess, was taken way from the income of the church, which, after the substitution of rent-charge for tithe, might be laid at||495,|
|The number of the beneficed clergy in Ireland was stated by Lord Althorp to be 1,400. Excluding, therefore, the Bishop's revenues (i. e., 60,000l.), the average income of the working clergy was 435,000l ߞ1,400||310|
§ From this, moreover, was to be deducted he salary paid to curates, whose number dr. Lefroy, in April, 1833, laid at 662. 711 If then there were to be clergymen at all in Ireland the average income could not be said to be too high. The noble Lord concluded by opposing the appointment of the proposed committee, which at that period of the Session could only be productive of inconvenience. The motion was calculated to convey a censure on the Government, and to produce an impression that the affairs of Ireland had not been conducted on just and impartial principles; and for this reason, also, he opposed the motion; and he trusted that the House, looking to the present circumstances of Ireland, would strengthen the hands of Government by rejecting the motion by a large majority.
§ Mr. C. Wood
felt all the difficulty under which an English Member must labour in the present discussion, from want of accurate acquaintance with the country; but, on the other hand, he thought it would be extremely unfortunate, if the Members for England and for Scotland should appear to take no interest in the affairs of Ireland; and the present state of Ireland was such, that there was not one person in the remotest part of the empire, who might not find the danger brought home to his own door. He had listened, with great disappointment, to the speech of his noble Friend; for after the hon. Member for Limerick had pointed out, with too much truth, that the state of Ireland was fraught with danger, and the grievances under which she laboured, the noble Lord admitted the danger and admitted the grievances, but sat down without suggesting the views of the Government, or stating that they bad considered a single remedy for any one of the grievances which the noble Lord admitted to exist. Ireland was to be left in the situation in which it was, when its alarming state was first brought to their notice; and the Government who were responsible for the peace of the empire, did not state how they would deal with the dangers which existed, or whether they would apply any remedy for any of the evils. He was as anxious as any one to avoid personal matters, but the question of persons was one, which in relation to Irish affairs, could not be overlooked. Nobody denied the difficulty of applying legislative remedies to many of the evils which at present existed in Ireland, and, therefore, it was of primary importance That the Government should possess the confidence of the, 712 people of that country. According to the admission of the noble Lord himself, the present state of Ireland was in no small degree to be attributed to the want of confidence in the present Administration. [Ministerial cheers.] Did the Gentlemen who cheered mean to deny that? Did they mean to assert that the great majority of the people of Ireland had confidence in their present Government. [Cheers.] Those who cheered his remarks in that sense, appeared to him to show the most complete ignorance of what was occurring in that country. He did not stand there to defend all the measures of the late Administration with regard to Ireland; but it could not be denied that under their rule Ireland became quiet, and that they left it so. The present state of Ireland had not existed many years, it had arisen under the present Government. They might say what they pleased of the late Administration, they might say that it placed itself at the feet of Mr. O'Connell, that it truckled to agitation—but they could not deny the fact that Ireland was tranquil, and that she is disturbed. Even if it were as they supposed, but which he denied, the peace of Ireland would have been cheaply purchased; and unless measures were taken to restore peace in Ireland, the present system might be dearly paid for by the people of this country. It might be an answer to him in that House, though it would be so nowhere else, that at some meeting Mr. O'Connell had declared that Lord-Lieutenant Fortescue was as bad as Lord Chancellor Sugden but could anybody suppose this to be the real expression of the opinion of the people of Ireland. It was impossible to remember all the questions in which the people of Ireland had taken an interest, without knowing that one side of the House had been for them, and the other side against them. Catholic Emancipation was generally opposed by hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House, and generally supported by those on that (the Opposition) side. The same with the Irish Reform Bill, and the Municipal Reform. Even with respect to the distribution of patronage, it had been by one party bestowed upon those who sympathised with the majority of the people of Ireland, whilst it was admitted in the other case to be given to the minority. It was impossible for any Irishman who had paid any attention to past events in Ireland, to 713 entertain the same feeling for those who had opposed all their wishes, and for those by whom they had been always supported. The feeling did not arise from any disinclination to a particular individual, because he was not absurd enough to believe that the right hon. Baronet did not desire to pursue a conciliatory course, or that the noble Lord would not endeavour to act up to the declarations he had made on the hustings, and to his conduct in that House, where he had more than once separated himself from his party on Irish affairs: but for centuries Ireland had been governed upon a system, which, however, calculated it might be for former times, was not fit for the present; and the misfortune of the Government was, that they were identified to a considerable extent in the minds of the body of the people with the system under which they had so long suffered. As a modern historian had said, there had been in Ireland two people, one old, the other recent, one Catholic, the other Protestant, and the Protestant minority, by the aid of this country, had ruled the Catholic majority. The settlers in Ireland had frequently been called the Protestant garrison of that country. He must do them justice; they had gallantly performed their duty, but the times for such a course were gone. He did not believe it was the wish to revive them, but even if there were this wish it was impossible. If Ireland now were to be governed at all, she must be governed upon just principles the difficulty was, to know how the transition was to be accomplished from the former system to one in unison with the opinions and feelings of the present time. It was difficult enough for any Government, and more difficult for the present, from circumstances and conduct of their own, which has connected them with the former system of exclusive domination. The declaration of the right hon. Baronet (Sir James Graham) that "conciliation had been carried to the utmost in Ireland," was entirely in that spirit. "Concession after concession had been made," said the right hon. Baronet, "and there was no gratitude." He (Mr. Wood) very much regretted the use of such language. It was not calculated to allay excitement, or encourage hope amongst the Irish people. In the first place, he protested against the word "concession." If the exclusive possession of power by 714 the Protestants was their right, then everything they gave up to the other party must be regarded as concession; but if the fact was, that the majority of the people of Ireland had similar rights, which were withheld from them for a time, on account of their allegiance to an expelled race, then when the time came, that there was no longer a necessity for withholding them, it was not concession to give, it was injustice to withhold those rights, Nor, in fact, was there much gratitude due from the people in Ireland, considering the mode in which Catholic Emancipation was carried. It must be recollected, that at the time the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) declared that his opinions on the question were unchanged, but that he adopted the less of two dangers. If he (Mr. Wood) were asked to point out the main cause of the agitation in Ireland, he said fearlessly that he should attribute it to the manner in which Catholic Emancipation was carried, which taught the people of Ireland, and a large portion of the people of this country, that they might extort from the fears of the Government, that which they could not obtain from their justice. And now it was not so much the justice of what they required—that they had been taught not to regard—which urged the people on; but the Clare election had carried Catholic emancipation without reference to the justice of the question, and now, regardless of the justice of their demand, the people believed that a similar demonstration in favour of Repeal, would be equally attended with success. The right hon. Baronet called on them to declare, that they were prepared to resist the Repeal of the Union. He (Mr. C. Wood) would be willing to answer any call of that kind, and to agree to any declaration that the right hon. Baronet might think it prudent to propose on that subject. He admitted, that many good men had opposed the Union at the time it was passed, and that it had been carried by discreditable means, but he believed that a Repeal of the Union would be the destruction of the prosperity of this empire, and that it ought, by every possible means, to be resisted. But whilst they entertained this determination, he thought there was a great deal of force in such appeals as had been made that night by the hon. Member for Limerick, and on a former occasion by the hon. Member for Kildare, 715 who called on the Government to give them the means of telling the Repeaters, that everything that was possible would be done to remedy the evils of Ireland. He thought the appeal of the hon. Member for Limerick, calmly and temperately made as it had been, was irresistible, and how had it been met by his noble Friend? Why, not by one single sentence. He thought that the Government were bound to state that they were prepared to bring forward some measures to remedy the evils that existed in Ireland. The noble Secretary for Ireland had enumerated various minor measures passed by the Government, and said that their conduct had given no cause for the violent spirit of opposition; but they were, in truth, suffering the natural retribution for their former conduct in respect to Irish matters. The noble Lord had referred to the electoral franchise in Ireland, and the noble Lord, the Secretary for the Colonies, had told them, on a former night, that in the Registration Bill which he had introduced, three years ago, he had no intention of restricting the franchise. He (Mr. Wood) implicitly believed the noble Lord; he had voted with him at the time, believing that he was only anxious to apply a remedy to an admitted evil with which the late Government had declined to deal. But the noble Lord has truly said that his bill had been perverted into an instrument of party spirit. No doubt it was; and it was on that account that he (Mr. Wood) at the time, had proposed a course, the wisdom of which the Government would not now deny, for they had pursued it both in the last and present Session, of giving precedence to the English Registration Bill. The noble Lord then opposed it; his Friends, the hon. Gentlemen opposite, Careless of the evil and its remedy, sought only a party triumph, and forgot that in doing so, they were trifling with the feelings of the Irish people. But the Secretary for the Home Department now admitted that the noble Lord's bill would have reduced the numbers of the Irish Constituencies, already far too restricted. He was astonished to hear the noble Lord assert again, that the franchise in Ireland was on a popular and liberal basis. It might be so in words, but how was it in fact? The whole number of registered county electors in Ireland was about 63,000, whilst in the West "Riding of Yorkshire there were more than 716 33,000 registered electors, being more than hall of the entire number of electors registered in all Ireland. Should he be again told, then, that the Irish franchise was liberal and popular? It was a mockery to say so. Now, that was a grievance which the Government might remedy, and in remedying it, they would show, that they had the interest of Ireland at heart. The municipal franchise was not extended there as it was in England, upon the single ground that it would admit Roman Catholics. Was not this similar to a revival of the old penal laws against the Catholics? Did it not exclude persons from the possession of the franchise, which they would otherwise possess, merely on account of their religion? These evils were undisputed; the remedies were clear, and ought to be applied; but there were others of greater magnitude with which it was infinitely more difficult to deal. Amongst the first was the state of the Church. They had been told, that the maintenance of the Protestant Establishment in its undiminished proportions was essential to the union of the two kingdoms. The right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Shaw) had declared that the Protestants only sought to maintain the Union to preserve the Church, and that if the Church were gone, the Union would no longer be of any value. They had also been told that the Roman Catholics would not be satisfied unless they obtained the supremacy of their own Church. He did not advocate Roman Catholic supremacy, but if he placed himself in the situation of the Roman Catholics of Ireland, he should find little difficulty in coming to conclusions similar to those which the people of that country had arrived at. The Roman Catholics of that country might look through all the countries of Europe, but they would find that in none of them was such an Establishment maintained for the benefit of a small minority of the population. So strongly had this been felt that various attempts had been made, at least to palliate the anomaly. Mr. Pitt proposed to pay the Roman Catholic clergy; but the project failed. Another attempt, with the same object, was made in 1825, which also failed. He believed the time for any such purpose was now gone by. In 1835, an attempt was made to appropriate a portion of the revenues of the Church to purposes of religious education, 717 that the whole population might benefit, but that was rejected. The only practical result had been, that whilst the Church had been deprived of one-fourth of her revenues, the produce had been put into the pockets of parties who had no claim at all to it, that is, the Protestant landlords. He did not think that the statement of the noble Lord (Lord Eliot), that the tithes were paid by the Protestant landlords, was an answer to the objections against that Establishment. The Establishment was for the living people, and not for the land. He had always been a friend to the Established Church; but he trembled for the permanent prosperity or existence of a Church like that in Ireland, which was built upon a foundation of sand, in which the great majority of the people had no interest. He would not presume even to give an opinion on some suggestions which had been made on this subject. It was not for hon. Members on that (the Opposition) side of the House to propose a remedy. It was the duty of the Government, as the responsible parties, to originate a remedy for the evils which had been complained of. The question of fixity of tenure had been referred to. It certainly was a substantial grievance, that 200 or 300 persons might be turned out to starve at the will of a particular landed proprietor. Such a system was well calculated to produce a revolution in ally country, and if the ejectment had not been effected by piecemeal in Ireland, such consequences must have ensued. He thought that a measure might be proposed which would have the effect of putting a stop to that indiscriminate dismissal of tenantry which was at present unfortunately practised in Ireland. The misery produced by this grievance, and the existence of the grievance itself, he believed, afforded plain evidence of another evil in the social condition of Ireland; it proved the fact that the ejected tenants clung to the land not so much from any feelings of profit by their holding, as from the necessity which compelled them to depend upon it for their very existence. He believed it to be of the greatest importance to improve the material, and with it the social condition of the people of Ireland. With that view the late Government proposed a scheme of railroads throughout the country, which had been rejected by the opposite side of the House. One great object, of course, was to find employment for the 718 masses of unemployed people. The noble. Lord had referred with praise to the celebrated declaration of the late Irish Government, that "property had its duties as well as its rights;" but he remembered with what indignation that declaration bad been received, as a violation of the inherent claims of proprietors. He would not weary the House at that late hour, but he thought measures had been in progress, which were interrupted by the present state of that country, for creating in Ireland those classes, by which in England the country was almost self-governed, ߞmagistrates in whom the people had confidence;—landlords and tenants sympathising with each other; and persons of those independent classes who formed the local machinery of government in this country. Measures of this description he considered absolutely necessary, even if they could not grapple with the greater evils. He repeated, therefore, that he hoped her Majesty's Government would make some declaration of measures which they bad in contemplation. [An hon. Member: Suggest some.] No, it was not for him to point out the course they should pursue, the responsibility rested not with him, but with the advisers of the Crown. The right hon. Secretary for the Home Department had laid down the sound principle, that it was for Ministers, and not for Members on the Opposition, to propose measures. The Government admitted the evil, mid they were bound to find a remedy for it. They were not to come down to that House with the Arms Bill alone. It might be necessary if there was an outbreak in Ireland to repress it by some coercive measures stronger even than an Arms Bill, but he was a bad physician who would treat outward symptoms without considering the inward disease, and if we were to be left with Ireland a source of weakness by our side, he knew not whether the state of things would be much worse in the event of that absolute dismemberment which they all deprecated. He could not see how they could separate without hearing the Government make some statement. He knew the strength of that Government—he knew how powerfully they were supported—and he did hope, that relying upon that support, they would abandon their present policy, and adopt such measures as would conciliate to them those great masses of the Roman Catholic population of Ireland who were 719 now led by their prelates, formerly men of peace, and whose affection and attachment it ought to be the duty of the Government to secure.
§ Debate adjourned.
§ House adjourned at one o'clock.