§ Lord Eliot
said, in proposing the second reading of the Arms (Ireland) Bill, he thought it necessary to explain to the House the circumstances under which it was now brought forward. The scope of the measure was to amend, to consolidate, and to continue laws which were now in existence, but which were about to cease. The possession of arms, and the importation of arms and ammunitions into Ireland, had been regulated by law for a period of nearly fifty years; they had been made the subject of different enactments; that was to say, the same 997 enactments had not applied to the two subjects of the importation of arms and their possession. The first enactment which related to the importation of arms into Ire-Ireland was the 83rd Geo. 3rd, c. 2. That was renewed by the 35th Geo. 3rd, c. 24; by the 36th Geo. 3rd, c. 42; by the 39th Geo, 3rd, c. 37; and by the 40th Geo. 3rd, c. 96— all acts of the Irish Parliament. The latter act of the 40th Geo. 3rd, renewed a previous law for the period of 7 years, namely to the year 1807, when it was renewed by the 54th Geo. 3rd, c. 111, which was now, with some modifications, the existing law on the subject of the importation of arms. It was altered to a certain degree by the acts of the 1st and 2nd Geo, 4th, and 1st William 4th, and he might, perhaps, with more precision, say, that it was now the act 1st Will. 4th, c. 44, which regulated the importation of arms into Ireland. The registration of arms in that country had been the subject of the following acts: — 36th Geo. 3rd, c. 26th: 38th Geo. 3rd, c. 82; 40 Geo. 3rd, c. 96; which was the last act of the Irish Parliament, renewing it for a, term of seven years, when the 47th Geo. 3rd. c. 54, was passed, which, with some modifications, had been renewed from time to time, and was now the law of the land. He did not (think it necessary to go into the details of the particular provisions of these various enactments. Before alluding to the circumstances under which the 47th Geo. 3rd was passed, he ought to mention that her Majesty's late Government, in the year 1838, brought in a bill which bore the names of his noble Predecessor, Lord Morpeth, and of the noble Lord, the Member for the city of London, which had precisely the same object in view as the bill of which he had now the honour to propose the second reading—rto amend, consolidate, and continue, the laws relating to the importation of arms, and their registration in Ireland, The 47th Geo. 3rd, was introduced into that House by the Duke of Wellington, then Sir Arthur Wellesley, who was at the time Chief Secretary to the Lord-lieutenant of Ireland. He stated, in introducing the bill to the notice of the House, that it was a measure prepared by his predecessor, a namesake of his (Lord Eliot's) own, but, as he had no doubt the noble Lord was well aware, a very good Whig—Mr. Elliott. He freely confessed, that the grounds on which that bill was recommended to the adoption of the House depended on a very different state of things 998 from that which now existed. A great authority, Mr. Grattan, who was very much relied on by both sides of the House, was a supporter of that bill, and founded his support of it on the menacing attitude which France at that time had taken, and the danger of invasion from that country. He willingly admitted that; but he might observe that Sheridan, who objected to the bill, made a somewhat remarkable declaration. It was not in opposing that bill (though he did oppose it), but in a subsequent discussion on the state of Ireland, in which he animadverted on the bill, and in the course of his speech he made use of this remarkable expression:—There is not, perhaps, a man more strongly convinced than I am, that the very existence of the two islands depends on the continuance of their connection.
§ Mr. Grattan,
in supporting the bill, defended the vote he had given, and stated, that the remedies he proposed for Ireland were—a general education for the people, the abolition of tithes, and Catholic emancipation. But Mr. Grattan, while he proposed these three remedies defended the Arms Bill, proposed by the then Chief Secretary for Ireland, which was passed into a law. The provisions of the 47th Geo. 3rd, were in great measure those which had been continued from time to time ever since, and which were embodied in the bill of which he had now to propose the second reading. He had already observed, that the noble Lord, the Member for the city of London, and his noble Predecessor, Lord Morpeth, thought it expedient to propose for the adoption of that House a bill to consolidate and continue the laws relating to the registration of arms, and their importation into Ireland. He believed it, would be found, on comparing these two bills, that their provisions were in a great measure alike. He was quite willing to admit that this might be said to be an argumentum ad hominem, which could only be conclusive against those who formed the late Government, and against the hon. Gentlemen who supported them; and he was bound to show to the House that the necessity for continuing these acts still subsisted. Now, he did hope and believe, that no party spirit would so far blind Gentlemen as to induce them to take a different course on the present occasion, from that which they had taken when the bill was brought forward by the Ministers whom they supported. Unless they could show that the circumstances of the country 999 were entirely different, he appealed with confidence to them for their support of the measure which her Majesty's Government had now brought forward. He fully admitted that the law he proposed was a restriction on the liberty of the subject. He wished not to conceal his honest opinion on that point; but at the same time he thought the extent of this had been somewhat overstated; because he found the great authorities on those subjects had always distinctly laid it down that the right to carry arms was only for the purpose of self-defence, and that where the state of society was such that justice was to be attained by persons aggrieved, any reasonable restraints might be laid by positive laws on the right to carry arms. There was another circumstance to be noted with respect to the restriction he sought to impose on the carrying of arms in Ireland, which was, that from the time of William 3rd, to the year 1783, no man professing the Roman Catholic religion was entitled to carry arms. In 1783, the restriction was to a certain degree relaxed, and men possessed of a certain amount of property were allowed to bear arms. Thus the common-law right of carrying arms, which every subject possessed, has long been limited in a very great degree in Ireland; and he believed it would be found there were very considerable doubts at the present moment whether a Roman Catholic who did not possess a certain amount of property had, even by the Emancipation Act, been placed on the same footing as the Protestant. He had said, that some misconception existed as to the character and objects of this measure. Perhaps the House would permit him, in the first place, to quote the authority of a gentleman who, he was sure, possessed the confidence of the noble Lord opposite, and those Gentlemen who acted with him—he spoke of Colonel M'Gregor, the head of the constabulary, a gentleman appointed by the late Government, an officer of the highest character, and well known to many Members of that House as a man entirely unbiassed by his political opinions, whatever these might be. Colonel M'Gregor wrote thus:I have forwarded to the Irish Office, according to your wish, numerous constabulary reports connected with the illegal possession of arms; and I may embrace this opportunity of expressing my conviction that an amendment of the present Arms Act is imperatively called for. There can be no question, from the information I have received, that vast numbers of unregistered arms are in the hands 1000 of the people, and are frequently applied as the reports of crime will show, to the worst purposes. Few of the parties engaged in house attacks, or in visiting houses by night either for objects of revenge or intimidation, go unarmed; and I conceive that the possession of arms by all such tends, in many instances, to stimulate them to outrages of a character which they might not venture to perpetrate were they not thereby inspired with additional confidence. Though it be highly creditable to the Irish peasantry, that amidst their extreme poverty and destitution they rarely are guilty of robbery in its usual form; yet, such is their vehement desire for the possession of fire-arms, that there is no risk to which they will not expose themselves for the sake of obtaining them. Hence the frequent robberies and demands of arms, and the violent struggles and assaults that are the consequences. Besides, it is supposed, and I fear with reason, that some of the most murderous deeds are carried into effect by means of registered arms that have been lent from fear or favour, or even more questionable motives. Yet, the present enactment makes no provision for identifying such arms, A man, indeed, may be detected with an unregistered gun, and be made to suffer the penalty due to such un offence; but, unless the arms be branded, it seems impossible to trace them to their owners, and thereby discover whether they have been either improperly lent or stolen. Under the present act a constable may meet the greatest ruffian in his county with a gun in his hand, which he is morally certain is not registered, at least in his own name, yet he has no power to detain him, nor to summon him with a reasonable prospect of procuring a conviction. Searches, too, for arms are rendered comparatively so ineffectual by the circuitous, and, in some parts of the country, the almost impracticable process required by the act, that the chief advantage of undertaking them seems to consist in the expectation that the arms in the district so visited will be secreted, for some time, in bogs and similar places of concealment, where they will become unserviceable. Without entering, however, into the details of the proposed bill, which I have seen, I may confidently express an opinion, in which I am persuaded the resident magistrates generally, as well as the officers of the force, will concur, that unless greater difficulties be opposed to persons of bad character manufacturing, vending, or otherwise disposing of or obtaining arms; and greater facilities be prevented for tracing the ownership of all arms, it will be quite impossible for the constabulary, with their utmost exertions, effectually to prevent, or even materially to diminish, the evils arising from the unlawful multiplication of arms in the country.He should not trouble the House with more than one other extract of this description. It was from Colonel Millar, 1001 the officer who was second in command of the force to which he had alluded. It was as follows:—For more than fifteen years it has been my almost daily duty to read and class the special reports of crime forwarded from the interior for the information of Government; and although during a large portion of that period I had to deal with such cases merely as occurred in the province of Munster, including of course the county of Tipperary, yet for the last seven years, that is, since a central constabulary office has been established in Dublin, the reports of all serious outrages throughout Ireland have generally passed through my hands. In furnishing these reports, it is the duty of the district officer to ascertain and set forth in his statement of each case, in addition to other particulars, the supposed motive which induced the perpetration of the offence; so that the perusal of such details for a term of years, while calculated to afford to any attentive reader much insight into the character, temper, and habits of the rural population of the country, could not fail, at the same time, to enable him to form tolerably just notions as to the mode in which, and the means whereby, the outrages which afflict the country are effected; and as to the motives which may have led to their perpetration. The police reports bear upon a variety of subjects, for, besides the numerous cases of agrarian outrages, such as homicides, robbing for arms, attacking and burning houses, maiming of cattle, and other acts of malicious injury, the public peace is frequently disturbed by illegal combinations to resist legal process, to regulate the wages of labour, to assert right of turbary or commonage, or to seize and carry off seaweed, &c. In all such cases, illegal combination is readily formed, and, when necessary, arms are sure to be forthcoming. There is, I regret to say, an unhappy propensity among the Irish peasantry to effect their ends, whatever those ends may be, by intimidation and violence; and even in cases of real injury occurring among themselves, where a legal remedy might doubtless be obtained, our police reports show that they are often prone to redress such wrongs by some cruel acts of retaliation, rather than proceed by course of law. To this spirit, and to the sinister means employed to inflame it, may be referred all the formidable combinations which have at different times endangered the public peace in Ireland. Of late years, we have seen vast numbers illegally banded together to resist the payment of tithes and church-rates, when much bloodshed ensued; more recently, the levying of the poor-rate has been forcibly resisted, and lives have been lost in the conflict; and we have just had very menacing movements in certain counties for the declared purpose of curtailing the dues of the Roman Catholic clergy. In the districts of Ireland where the agrarian and other disorders are 1002 most prevalent, the progress of disturbance is marked invariably by the same characteristics. The system of intimidation is traced by the pillaging of arms, the posting of threatening notices, and the firing of shots, the administering of unlawful oaths, to compel the reluctant to enter into the combination, the firing into dwellings, &c. Hence the thirst for the possession of arms, which is a ruling passion among so many of the peasantry. Each locality, probably, has a few desperate characters, who, when occasion requires, seek to exert an influence over the rest of the population by a system of terror. These men, it may be presumed, have concealed arms to be produced when necessary; but as unlawful combination extends, a larger supply being required, the timid farmer who may have registered arms is coerced to lend them; and the householders, who are not to be so intimidated, must lay their account with having their habitations attacked and ransacked solely for the sake of their arms. I have long felt, and often represented to Government, the evils which this thirst for arms brings upon not merely the better and middle classes of society, but especially on the rural population of Ireland. It loads to rapine and murder, and I believe myself warranted in stating, that almost all the experienced stipendiary magistrates and officers of constabulary concur in thinking—apart from all merely political considerations, and looking only to what is of daily occurrence—that the existing statutory enactments are inadequate, and that more efficient legislative provisions to regulate the possession of arms are urgently required; and, as a means of preventing the lending of registered arms, of tracing and recovering arms which have been stolen, and of detecting the unlicensed holder of arms, the proposed system of branding them seems to me the only efficacious regulation which can be adopted. In furnishing this hasty report at your Lord ship's desire, I trust I shall not be supposed to have formed a harsh estimate of the Irish peasantry. The course of my duties has made me familiar with all parts of Ireland, and no one can regard more highly the many admirable qualities which the rural population of the country possess—their cheerful endurance of privation and toil, their joyous gaiety of heart, and their kindliness of disposition; and no one can more sincerely deplore the errors and failings by which many of them are disgraced.These were the opinions of men who were well acquainted with the state of the rural population of Ireland, and with the nature of those atrocities which were often committed. He was unwilling to trouble the House with many returns, but, perhaps, he might be permitted to quote a short extract from the police reports, as a sort of sample of the crimes committed in Ireland, and of which Gentlemen who are 1003 unconnected with that country could not form an idea. The following was the extract:—Limerick, June 24, 1842.—A party of ten men, well armed, entered the house of Mr. Lindsay, and took a musket and 'gun, threatening to shoot one of the inmates if the fire arms were not given up. Banshe, Tipperary, July 22, 1842.—A party of seven armed men entered the house of Mr. Holmes, severely assaulted the inmates, and carried off five fire arms. Rathkeale, Limerick, November 28, 1842.—A party armed with pistols, entered the house of the Rev. Mr. Coughlan, threatened to shoot him, and carried off a pistol. The same party went on to two other houses, and took away from each two muskets. Rathkeale, Limerick, December 7,1842.—A party of twenty, of whom eighteen were armed, some with guns and others with pistols, entered the house of Gerald Conners, beat some of the inmates, and carried off a blunderbuss and a case of pistols. Newport, Tipperary, March 17, 1843.— A party of six men, four armed with pistols, entered the house of Samuel Young, assaulted the inmates, and carried off a gun. Ballinamore, Leitrim, April 22, 1843. —An armed party, thirty or forty in number, broke into six dwelling-houses, succeeded in obtaining four guns, and maltreated some of those in whose houses they were unable to find arms. Kilbeggan, County of Westmeath, May 16, 1843.—A party of six men, four of whom were armed with pistols, entered the house of David Carey, and carried off a gun and a pistol. Strokestown, Roscommon, May 24, 1843.—A party of four men, two being armed with pistols, entered the house of Mar-tin Grady, and carried off two guns and two pistols. Carrick-on-Shannon, Leitrim, January 17, 1843.—In a search for unregistered arms, there were seized five guns, one sword, &c, ' They were concealed in most difficult places; it almost amounts to an impossibility to discover where they are hid.' Sligo, March 11, 1842.—In a search for unregistered arms made by magistrates in three parties, each aided by twenty police, there were seized nine guns, two pistols, and two swords. Kilaloe, county of Clare.—An armed party fired three shots (slugs and bullets) into the house of P. Mulqueeny, and posted a threatening notice on his door. Dunleer, county of Louth.—A party of forty, some being armed, entered Patrick Marron's house, and threatened that they would return and shoot him if he proceeded with an ejectment against a tenant of his, T. Leonard. Roscommon, May 10th, 1843.— A party of fifteen men, of whom six were armed, one with a pistol, and five with guns, assaulted John Leonard, threatened to shoot him, and administered an oath to him to leave his place the following morning.He thought that extract showed the nature of the outrages committed in Ireland, 1004 the desire for arms felt by his peasantry, and the various modes in which arms were obtained by them. He had also a return of the seizure of arms— of which the number was considerable. He had also a return of the number of murders in Ireland committed by means of fire-arms, beginning with that of Lord Norbury, on the 1st of January, 1839. That noble Lord was walking with his steward past a plantation that skirted the road from Kilbeggan to Tullamore, in the King's County, when he was shot from behind a hedge, and died two days after from the effects of the wound. He mentioned these facts because probably it might be said, that if they took away fire-arms they could not put an end to assassination, but murders were more easily committed by fire-arms, and more difficult of detection as to the offenders, than if they were committed in any other manner. But to proceed with the return of persons murdered:—Borriskane, Tipperary, May 10th, 1841.— Mr. Hall, a gentleman, upwards of seventy years old, was shot dead on his own land at noon-day. King's County, April 17th, 1842.— Mr. Roberts was returning from Cloughjordan, where he had been attending divine service, when he was shot dead from behind a hedge. County Tipperary, November 26th, 1842.—Mr. Scully was returning from duck-shooting, when he was waylaid and shot dead. Tipperary, November 30th, 1842.—Michael Hauly was shot dead at his own door by a man, who called on pretence of asking the way to a neighbouring place. Clonbullock, King's County, May 5th, 1843.—Mr. Gatchell was driving in his gig near Clonbullock, when he was shot dead from behind a hedge.These were instances which, in his mind, showed conclusively that the interposition of new obstacles to the possession of firearms in Ireland was absolutely required for the protection of life and property. The hon. Member for Montrose had questioned the accuracy of some statements he had made with respect to the number of homicides committed in Ireland, compared with the number committed in England. It was difficult to institute a comparison, because no return was published in England of offences which were not brought to justice, although there was a return of committals and conviction. There was no force in England, as there was in Ireland, called upon, as part of its duty, to make a return of the number of outrages and murders which might come within its knowledge. It was satisfactory to observe, that the number of murders was rather inclined 1005 to decrease than otherwise. In 1838 the number reported as having been committed was 247; in 1839, 190; in 1840, 125; in 1841, 105; in 1842, 106. It was to be observed, that several offences were frequently committed by the same party; but he found that the returns gave the following numbers, under the heads of shooting, stabbing, with intent to kill, assault with intent to murder, conspiracy to murder, robbery of arms, administering unlawful oaths, &c. In 1838, 1,600; in 1889, 1,500; in 1840, 1,120; in 1841, 1,300; in 1842, 1,300; showing a considerable decrease between 1838 and 1842, although leaving a sufficiently frightful amount of crime, arising, in his belief, in a great measure out of the possession of arms. There had also been laid on the Table of the House a comparative statement of committals and convictions for murder in England and Wales, and in Ireland. In 1888 the number of committals in England and Wales had been 75, in 25 of which the criminals were convicted; in Ireland in the same year, 169 were committed, and 8 convicted; in 1839, the committals were 46 in England, and 286 in Ireland, with 13 convictions in England, and 32 in Ireland; in 1840, 54 committals and 18 convictions in England, 125 committals and 15 convictions in Ireland; in 1841, 66 committals and 20 convictions in England, 120 committals and 18 convictions in Ireland; in 1842, 67 committals and 16 convictions in England, 159 committals and 11 convictions in Ireland. The number of acquittals in England and Wales was 23 percent; in Ireland, 53 per cent. He might assume that he had proved from these tables, that a very considerable number of the crimes committed in Ireland were the consequence of the possession of fire-arms. There was a note appended to one of these statements from the officers of the constabulary, in which they said:—The cases enumerated in the foregoing table (cases of demands or robberies of arms, appearing armed, firing at the person, and firing into dwellings) convey a very inadequate view of the extent to which the possession of arms by improper persons in Ireland is carried. The rule observed in the Constabulary-office in characterizing crime is to record each outrage as one offence, without reference to the several incidents of the case. If an armed party forcibly enter into a house, and beat the inmates, or swear them to do, or not to do, some particular act, the offence would, according to our usage, be characterized either as a 'house attack,' or as 'unlawfully ad- 1006 ministering an oath,'—the fact of the party being in arms is not put upon the record. The cases returned under the heading of ' appearing armed,' are cases in which armed men have been seen, or have visited houses without effecting an entrance, or have discharged shots without 'firing into the dwelling.'He thought he need not do more on that occasion. He had said enough, as he conceived, to satisfy the House of the necessity of re-enacting measures relative to the possession of arms in Ireland-—measures which had been recognized and supported for a period of fifty years by successive Governments of different political opinions and by Parliament. And further than that, he should be prepared when the proper time came, to compare the clauses of the bill now proposed by the Government with the clauses of the bill of the noble Lord opposite. He would, however, just advert to some of the principal provisions in the present bill as compared with those of the existing law. He believed he had already said, that very considerable doubts had been entertained as to whether Roman Catholics who were not possessed of a certain amount of property had a right to bear arms in Ireland—whether the magistrates had a legal right to grant such persons a licence. He understood that the hon. and learned Member for Cork, for whose legal opinions he had every respect, considered that the acs for Catholic emancipation had removed that disability, and that now there was no longer a reason why Roman Catholics possessed of property should be deprived of carrying arms: but, on the other hand, he had seen an opinion of Mr. Justice Cramp-ton, that the disability still existed. In the affidavit of the party applying for a licence, ha said that he was qualified by law, and he (Lord Eliot) could not therefore understand how it could be otherwise construed than that the disability still existed. It was proposed, therefore, to remove that disability altogether; the affidavit was no longer to be made; a man would only be required to produce the certificate of two householders that he was a proper person to be entrusted with arms; and there was a clause in that bill which stated, that Roman Catholics should be placed on the same footing in this respect as members of the Established Protestant Church. The only remaining clause of importance, to which it was necessary for him to call the attention of the House, was the "branding" clause. The Government had been assured by the officers of constabulary, and 1007 by the stipendiary magistrates throughout the country, that it was impossible to place a restriction upon the possession of arms so long as there was a want of means of identifying them. Now, such articles as watches or plate, might be traced because they were numbered, or had arms or names engraved on them, but, at present, it was impracticable to trace arms, for the want of some distinctive marks. There was also another defect in the law. In its present state an individual, not being licensed to carry arms, might have the arms of some licensed person in his possession; and if a constable, who knew the person having the gun in his possession to be a suspicious character, met him, that constable had no power to detain or even to summon him for the purpose of ascertainining how he became possessed of the weapon. Now, by the present bill, it was proposed to make it a punishable offence for a man to bear arms without being himself licensed, or to possess arms, unless they were properly registered and branded. The only means which could be devised of ascertaining whether the arms were or not properly registered, was to insist upon their bearing some peculiar distinguishing mark. In this provision there was to be no distinction made between the arms of the rich and the poor— all guns whatsoever, whether for the purpose of sporting or not, were to be subject to the same process of branding. Now, he thought when hon. Members considered this part of the subject calmly and dispassionately, if they were satisfied that the circumstances of the country required that some restriction should be placed upon the possession of arms, they would not object to the provision being made general, without which it could not be effectual. He had understood—and had seen some remarks upon the subject in the newspapers —that great exception had been taken to that part of the bill which provided a punishment for the possession—not of fire arms, for the possession of unlicensed fire arms merely subjected the offender to a fine; but for the possession of unlawful weapons, such as pikes, daggers, spear heads, or instruments which could only be used for an unlawful purpose. Under the existing law, a party having such things in his possession, was subject for the first offence to an imprisonment for twelve months, and for the second offence the punishment was transportation, without giving the court the discretionary power of remitting it. Now it was proposed, that 1008 the punishment, subject to the judgment and discretion of the court, should be transportation or imprisonment. It had been objected to this provision, that malicious persons might conceal arms in the premises of those to whom they wished to do an injury, and then give information, by which means an innocent person might undergo an unjust punishment. But it should be recollected, that that also was the case at present in regard to the stolen goods. One man might conceal stolen property in the house of another, and then inform against him. Words, however, had been introduced into the present bill, which were not to be found in the law as it stood, and which provided, that if it could be shown to the court, that the weapon was in the possession of the accused person for some lawful purpose, or without his knowledge, privity, or consent, he should not be liable to punishment. As the law stood at present, the court had no discretion, and the party for the second offence was ordered to be transported; whereas, in the bill it was proposed to give the court a discretionary power to sentence him to imprisonment or transportation. By the 47th George 3rd it was provided, that one magistrate might himself institute a search for unregistered or unlawful arms, or might delegate to another his power of search. That right, however, was restricted by the 50th George 3rd, which required that the authority to search should be signed by two magistrates, or that the justices themselves, upon the information on oath, should make the search. The police of Ireland, however, had informed the Government, that the greatest difficulty and inconvenience arose from this state of the law. It had been found, that when information was given of arms being concealed in a particular spot, it was not difficult to obtain the signature of one magistrate; but in many parts of Ireland, when the magistrates resided at considerable distances from each other, it was found impossible to procure the signatures of two, in time to prevent the removal of the arms. It was proposed, therefore, to give one magistrate the power of granting, upon sworn information, a warrant for search; such warrant, however, to be intrusted to members of the constabulary force to be therein nominated. There was another point connected with this branch of the subject to which he wished to draw the attention of the House. The present law gave to the Lord-lieutenant the right, upon information from two 1009 justices that arms were concealed, to grant a warrant for searching a district; and it was a matter of doubt whether or not a magistrate, should be present at each house whilst undergoing a search. It was obviously impossible in a large district that that could be done, and it was therefore proposed to give to the Lord-lieutenant, upon information from two justices of the peace, power to issue his warrant to certain members of the constabulary force, of sufficient rank to make them responsible for the proper execution of the warrant—that was to say, that such members of the constabulary force should not hold a lower rank than that of a sub-inspector, which was a rank equal to that of an officer in her Majesty's service. There were some alterations in the law with respect to the importation of gunpowder. According to the present law, the restrictions in force relative to gunpowder did not extend to retail dealers; and it was clear, that more danger was to be apprehended of the powder falling into the hands of improper persons through the retail dealers, than through the wholesale merchants and manufacturers of the article. It was therefore proposed, that the same restrictions be now laid upon the retail dealers as upon the merchants and manufacturers. By the present law it was provided, that no person should purchase more than 2 lbs. of gunpowder at one time; but there was nothing to prevent the law being evaded by the party buying whatever quantity of gunpowder he chose at short intervals or from different persons. It was therefore proposed, by the present bill, that any licensed person might purchase any quantity of powder he pleased, but that the dealer should be. subject to a penalty if he sold the article to any but a licensed person. A great many restrictions in force by the present law upon the removal of arms had been taken off. At present he believed it was almost impossible to comply strictly with the law, and that a gentleman sending a gun from Dublin to another part of the country, would be liable to a penalty. It would be found, he believed, that the regulations which it was proposed to substitute were less vexatious than those which at present existed. The imprisonment for non-payment of fine was moderate under the existing law— from one to four months; but it was proposed to reduce it in every case to a term extending from one to three months. The House had a right to be satisfied that the provisions of the 1010 bill were necessary, but he wished to impress upon the minds of hon. Members, that they were not now called upon to express an opinion upon the clauses of the bill, but that their vote of that night amounted to this—that the possession of arms, and the importation of arms into Ireland, ought not to be without restriction. He must also remind the House, that the laws upon the subject were about to expire. If any hon. Members entertained objections to any particular clause or clauses of the bill, they might propound them at the fitting period; but he thought that the House would incur a heavy responsibility, if, after the statements he had made, not upon his own authority, but upon the authority of persons whose opinions were of greater weight with that House, and whose qualifications for judging were better than his own, they took upon themselves to allow the possession of arms in Ireland to be altogether unrestricted. For his own part, he should not shrink from the responsibility of proposing a measure, which in his conscience he believed to be necessary for the maintenance of law and order in Ireland.
§ Mr. Sharman Crawford
said, that in rising to oppose the second reading of the bill he was bound to award his testimony to the moderate tone and temper in which it had been moved by the noble Lord. He trusted, however, he should be able to show that the measure was not called for by the circumstances of the case, and that it was one which ought not to pass. Considering the bill as one of great importance, he still viewed it, not as an insulated measure, but as part of a system by which Ireland had been governed— and he feared but ill governed— for a long period of years. He objected, then, to the bill upon principle, for he objected to the system by which Ireland had been governed, and on those grounds he opposed the measure. The question, he considered, that was raised upon the present bill was, whether Ireland was to be governed by means of justice and good legislation, or whether that country was to be kept under coercion and force, or if force was to be applied to put Ireland in that position in which she ought to be placed by good and just laws. It might be objected against him, as opposing the bill, that he did not represent an Irish constituency, but he did not conceive that that circumstance could militate against his taking an interest in the country to which he particularly belonged. Moreover, he considered that any attempt to violate the 1011 rights of Ireland was an inroad upon the rights of England, and that England never could be great if Ireland were enslaved. There were, it was true, innumerable precedents for arbitrary acts. Measures worse than this had been passed, but with reference to particular districts, and he considered one of the clauses of this bill to be most extraordinary. The first clause provided that any person desirous of obtaining a licence for arms must obtain and produce to the justices a certificate from two householders, rated at 20l. or upwards. Now, he had never before heard of such a provision as that. What Would be the consequence? That in a district which, for the sake of distinction, he would call an Orange district, where the Roman Catholics were of the poorer classes, and few in number, they would not be able to command the required certificates; to them the Orange party would refuse the certificates, while they would grant them to the lowest of their own class. He was anxious for Protestant security to be founded on measures of justice and equity, but he would not attempt to maintain it by such measures as that now proposed. The attendances rendered necessary by the eighth, or branding clause, were most vexatious. The seventeenth clause also was vexatious, enacting that if a person licensed to bear arms died, no penalty should be incurred for fourteen days by those who retained the arms of the deceased, but that, within that time, the arms must be sold, or deposited with the police, unless the license be assigned within the prescribed period, to some inmate of the dwelling of the deceased person. So that, however a man might be distressed or encumbered with debts, he must be put to an expense for this purpose. The penalty for having unlicensed arms was, for the first offence, 10l., and for the second, 20l. There was a most oppressive provision in the 48th clause, by which a justice was empowered to imprison a man for the space of seven days, until the return to the warrant of distress upon the offenders' chattels for the penalty could be made. But there was another provision in the bill. Justices or police officers might enter by force into the house of a man even at night to make search for arms; and if any person above the age of sixteen years should, upon being interrogated by the person authorised to make such search, deny that any arms, weapons, bullets, or ammunition were upon the premises, and afterwards such matters should be found therein, that person should 1012 be liable to a penalty of 20l. It was true, that there was a provision that a person should not be liable to the penalties unless he had a guilty knowledge; but how was the guilty knowledge to be ascertained? Then, by the 14th clause, a person carrying arms might be called upon by a constable to deliver them up; he was then called upon to show that he had a licence, so that a person must always carry his licence in his pocket, he must then give his name and place of abode, and if the constable chooses to consider the description untrue, he could take the person and keep him in custody for twenty-four hours before he took him before a magistrate. The magistrate might then demand security for his appearance at the petty sessions, and if the prisoner failed in obtaining such security he might be committed to gaol. The hon. Member proceeded to comment upon various clauses of the bill, but in so low a tone that we are unable to give the purport of his observations accurately. He then proceeded to say that the noble Lord had attributed the present state of Ireland to the possession of arms by the people. If the noble Lord thought that, he took but a superficial view of the state of the people. The noble Lord had spoken of the desire of the people for arms. But what was the cause of that desire? He would request the noble Lord to look at all the circumstances, and not to forget the seat and cause of the disease while he dealt with the symptoms. He did not deny that there had been disgraceful and distressing scenes in Ireland, nor did he deny that means should be taken to prevent the recurrence of them. But he did deny that the mode of preventing them was by such measures as the Arms Bill. They must look to the condition of the people, and the means of improving it. A great cause of the agrarian offences in Ireland arose from circumstances connected with the possession of land, and as was seen by the reports on the Table of the House, from the relationship between landlord and tenant. That was little understood in this country by the country gentleman, it was the system of oppression by Irish landlords which caused the disposition among the people to agrarian outrages. They could get no justice from the law, and they were compelled to make a law for themselves; and they said, we must protect ourselves or starve. The way to remedy the existing evils was by improving the condition of the people. The Arms Bill would not prevent the pro- 1013 ceedings which had taken place. There was no employment for the labouring man, and he must keep his land or starve. The hon. Member proceeded to point out Several alterations which he considered ought to be made in the tenure of land and the relationship between landlord and tenant, some of which had been recommended by Mr. Lynch. Many suggestions, the hon. Member proceeded to observe, had been made for the improvement of Ireland, but nothing had been done, except by such bills as this, which in his opinion would not have the effect which was anticipated by its promoters to arise from it. Another excuse for the present measure would be the existing repeal agitation; but he begged to ask whether the conduct of Parliament had not caused that agitation? In 1834 the House had voted an Address to the Crown on the then prevailing repeal agitation, and expressing its determination to apply its best attention to the removal of all grievances and just causes of complaint. What had been done since? Had the House removed any of the grievances or just causes of complaint? Certainly not. What was the first great grievance of the Irish people? The law-church, the church as by law established, contrary to the wishes and faith of the vast majority. Some measures indeed had been proposed, but they had been rejected by the House of Lords; and although the burthen for the support of the law-church had been apparently thrown upon the landlord, the tenant knew well that sooner or later it came out of his pocket. In fact the whole cost of a church for one-tenth of the population was thrown upon the whole body of the nation. What just grievance then had been redressed? It might be said that a Poor-law had been passed for Ireland; but what sort of a Poor-law was it? It was a Poor-law that gave satisfaction to no class of the community; it was a Poor-law that pretended to relieve, and gave no relief— that instead of providing for the necessitous, shut up a portion of the people in prison houses. Upon what a Poor-law ought to be, he referred the House to a speech of the right hon. Secretary for the Home Department, and then inquired whether the Irish Poor-law answered that description? The Irish Poor-law provided no means for employing the poor, a point that had been entirely neglected, although it had been so strongly recommended by the Poor-law Commissioners. Thus, in fact, Ireland had been mocked by the pre- 1014 tence of a law for the relief of the poor. In consequence of the Address to the Crown in 1834, promising redrew of grievances, repeal agitation had been discontinued in Ireland for six years; recently it had been revived, and now the reply to the claim was the production of an Arms Bill. Such was the treatment Ireland had received in consequence of the agitation which the House itself, by its bad legislation, had excited. The Arms Bill was to be imposed upon the whole of Ireland for the delinquency, or supposed delinquency, of four or five counties. Was it fit that Ireland should be so visited? What would have been said in England if an Arms Bill had been proposed in consequence of the Manchester riots? Ministers would not have dared to introduce it: England would not have submitted to it. Why, then, was Ireland to be legislated for on different principles? This was the circumstance that justified the call for repeal. No man was more desirous than he was to maintain the British connection —no man valued it more highly; but it might be purchased at too dear a rate if slavery were to be the price of it. True it was, that there was a kind of saving clause in the bill upon the Table, by which Roman Catholics were to be made to believe that they were to be put on a par with their Protestant brethren; but that was a mere delusion, and the Roman Catholics would instantly discover that it was meant to deceive them. It seemed strange that the gentry of Ireland were willing to degrade themselves by submitting to this law. Was it no degradation to the magistracy that such a bill should be imposed upon them? Magistrates, sheriffs, and the gentry at large were told that they were not fit to have arms in their possession. Would they submit to the degradation of being thus branded for the sake of enslaving their fellow-countrymen? As to the assertion that former governments had resorted to this measure, that fact made no difference in his estimate of it. When it was formerly before the House he had given it his most strenuous opposition, and he was therefore perfectly free to resist it to the utmost on the present occasion. The true mode of governing Ireland was to reduce her to submission by kindness and impartiality, by passing good laws, and by assimilating her situation to that of England. According to the present mode of legislating the connection between England and Ireland 1015 might indeed be maintained; but it would only be maintained by force, by binding Ireland to England with hoops of steel, while she would eat into the vitals of her more powerful neighbour, and require an enormous annual outlay of the revenues of the State. Ireland would continue in a state of discontent which nothing could repress but military domination. He moved that the bill be read a second time on this day six months.
cordially seconded the amendment; and had to express his regret that his hon. Friend had not proposed an amendment in stronger terms; for had it been that the Serjeant-at-Arms be directed to kick the bill out of the door, he would have gladly supported the proposition. Thanks were certainly due to the noble Lord the Secretary for Ireland, for the gentle and yet straightforward manner in which he had introduced the monster into the House; but now he was here it was fit to meet it and grapple with it in a mode becoming its strength and hideousness. Former arms bills had not been brought forward under similar circumstances; they had been reserved to a late period of the session, and generally consisted of a comparatively few lines, and were thus smuggled through the House. If, on the present occasion, the opponents of the bill should not be able to throw it out, at least they would have an opportunity of considering its details, and of ascertaining the precise nature of the intended law. At the same time it was to be regretted that the noble Lord had not given the House more information as to the necessity for such a monstrous infringement on the rights and liberties of the Irish. All the noble Lord had in fact done, was to direct the attention of Members to the small piece of paper that had this morning been distributed. [A return of outrages reported to the constabulary office]. He regretted also to see the name of the noble Lord at the back of such a bill. How much better would it have appeared on the back of some measure which had for its object the real and practical amelioration of the condition of Ireland. Why had the noble Lord not introduced a bill to regulate tolls and customs in Ireland, regarding which and their legality, contentions arose in almost every fair and market in Ireland? It was most melancholy to behold a Government recommending a Coercion Bill, and neglecting its duty by refraining from producing a measure to regulate tolls and customs in 1016 Ireland. Then again, why was not some enactment proposed to amend the grand jury laws in Ireland, under which the public money was jobbed and scandalously misapplied. The Government must be aware of the abuse, and why had it not proposed a remedy? A registration bill had also been promised to Ireland, but what had become of it, and of the Petty Sessions Act, which it was known had been prepared many years ago? The Charitable Loan Fund Act too required important amendments, but none of those much needed and useful measures had been introduced to the notice of the House, although, as in the former instance, measures for the purpose was among the neglected archives of Dublin Castle. Why, too, had the Irish Government done nothing respecting Manor Courts in Ireland? Was it not disgraceful that in the nineteenth century such things as manor courts, so injurious to the interests of the country, should exist in any part of the United Kingdom? Such, however, must ever be the neglect of wholesome legislation for Ireland, as long as matters were left to the assistants in Dublin Castle. It might be noticed as an extraordinary fact, that the House had not yet seen the last census of the population of Ireland; nothing more than an abstract had been as yet laid upon the table, while the census for England had been long before the whole country. In fact, everything relating to the interests of Ireland was postponed, and if an Arms Bill were not introduced at the end of the session, it was brought under consideration during the Epsom week. How, then, was it possible that discontent should not prevail in Ireland On a former day he had asked the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) whether he considered the Arms Bill a measure for the amelioration of the condition of Ireland; and what had been the answer?I think that measure is calculated to insure the safety of a large portion of her Majesty's subjects in Ireland; and when I consider the nature and extent of the outrages committed in various parts of that country within the last two years, I do look upon it as a measure calculated to improve the condition of Ireland.The fact indisputably was, that outrages in Ireland had been for some years considerably on the decrease; and he felt himself quite as secure in Ireland as in England. In England outrages were by no means unfrequent; people had been shot in the very streets of London. Let hon. Members consider what had happened not 1017 long ago in Manchester. Only the other day, he had heard of a clergyman having been shot at while retiring to bed in his own House, within a few miles of the metropolis; the late unfortunate Mr. Drummond had been shot within a few yards of this House. It was monstrous to talk of outrages in Ireland as surpassing in flagrancy the outrages in England. Let hon. Gentlemen call to mind the several outrages upon the person of her Majesty. ["Oh."] It was well to groan, for the act deserved a groan. What was the enactment passed last year for, the preservation of the person of her Majesty? Was it a measure of the kind now upon the table? Was it required that all the guns and pistols in the country should be branded because some boys or madmen had made attacks upon the life of her Majesty? It seemed as if all the murders and outrages in England were to be put down to the account of madness, while those in Ireland were attributed to the Roman Catholics; but what was the punishment to be inflicted in future upon a person offering an outrage to the Queen? Whipping at the cart's tail. ["No."]Was it not so? In certain cases the punishment was transportation, but the principal infliction was only whipping; yet now it appeared as if the life of a squireen of the county of Tipperary was of more consequence than that of her Majesty? If it were not so, why was this bill introduced? The right hon. Baronet had admitted, when he was formerly in office, that Ireland was his difficulty; and, on the 27th of May, 1841, a short time before he again came into office, he had used the following expressions:—If her Majesty's ministers do not possess the confidence of the House of Commons, then, I say, that their continuance in office is at variance with the principles and' spirit of the Constitution.' I do not speak of those theories which refer to some combination of the opposing elements of monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy, each armed with defensive and offensive instruments, by which they keep each other in check. I speak only of that system of Parliamentary government which has prevailed in this country since the accession of the House of Hanover. I speak of that system which implies that the Ministers of the Crown shall have the confidence of the House of Commons. I speak of that system which has prevailed during the period when, according to the expression—the just expression of the noble Lord, whom I now see opposite to me, in his able and dispassionate Essay on the English Constitution—' the centre of gravity of the State has been placed in the House of Commons.' When I use the phrase, 'spirit 1018 of the Constitution,' I speak of the system of Government which has maintained the equilibrium between monarchy and democracy— of that system of government which has harmonised those apparently conflicting elements —of that system of government which, by the constant, yet almost unfelt interposition of slight checks, has prevented the necessity of recurring to the use of extreme instruments, in the collision of antagonist powers."*He looked upon this bill as an extreme instrument, and where, he would inquire, was "the centre of gravity?"The right hon. Baronet must be well aware that the centre of gravity for Ireland was on the Opposition side of the House. If any measures of coercion were passed, it would be against the wishes, feelings, and convictions of the majority of the representatives of Ireland. How could it be expected that Ireland could be happy or peaceable as long as their representatives were so utterly useless in Parliament, that their wishes were disregarded, their warnings not listened to, and their representations treated with contempt. As the right hon. Baronet was a party to this measure, and was in all probability about to speak in support of it, he might remind the right hon. Baronet of what he had said on the subject of coercion when he was out of office. On the 7th February, 1833, in answer to the speech from the Throne, the right hon. Baronet had said, that,He had never taunted his Majesty's Ministers for not proposing at an earlier period the measures of coercion which they now demanded. When others said that they ought to have applied for coercive measures, he had been no party to the complaint. His language had always been, try the ordinary laws— there is great evil in coercive measures; you cannot rely on them for any permanent good, but there is great risk that they will relax the energy of the ordinary law, and that they will widen the breach between the richer classes, for whose protection, and the poorer classes, for whose punishment, they appear to be intended."†He perfectly agreed with these sentiments, and he was convinced that the bill now before the House would widen the breach between the richer and the poor classes. But the right hon. Baronet had not been singular in his opinion, for in 1822, Mr. Charles Grant had spoken of the manner in which the laws might be carried out:—I would mention (he said) the case of the* Hansard, vol. lviii. Third Series, p. 809.† Ibid. vol. xv p. 371.1019county of Longford, which was a few years ago so disturbed, that it was on the eve of being placed under the Peace Preservation Act. At that time my noble Friend (Lord Forbes), one of the Members for the county, desirous to avert this disgrace, as he deemed it, from his county, resolved to make an experiment, whether it was not possible to preserve tranquillity under the present mode of appointing constables. At his request, the application of the Peace Preservation Act was withheld; by his own exertions and influence, with the assistance of his brother magistrates, he formed under the existing laws a baronial police, which has now for five years been in operation, and the result has been the complete tranquillity of the county during the time in question, without any resort to extraordinary means."*In 1832, the noble Lord now Secretary for the Colonies, when Colonel Rochfort presented a petition from the Lord-lieutenant and magistrates of Westmeath, praying for additional powers to the executive, had expressed much the same opinion:—It was (he said) one of the most mischievous courses that could be pursued, for the magistrates, upon every occasion where particular disturbances might exist, instead of looking to the general execution of the laws, and relying firmly upon the authority with which they were invested, to ask Government for the passing of a measure so strong and harsh as that which was meant to be suggested in this petition—the renewal of the Insurrection Act."
"When the magistrates and gentry of the county of Clare found that they could not look to the adoption of additional severe laws, and to the being investigated with extraordinary powers, they applied themselves vigilantly to the discharge of their duties, and suppressed the disturbances which had induced them to apply for the proclamation of the Insurrection Act."† The noble Lord had used somewhat similar terms, on the motion of Sir H. Parnell, for a committee on the state of Queen's county. He said that,Unhappily, since he had been connected with the Government of Ireland, the state of that country had given him frequent opportunities of stating his determination, and that of the Government to which he belonged, to adhere, so long as it was at all likely to prove effective, to the ordinary administration of the law, and to repel that extraordinary application of the powers of Government, which, however it might put down an evil at the moment, was calculated ultimately to increase* Hansard, New Series, vol. vii. p. 866.† Ibid. Third Series, vol. xi, p. 248.1020that evil tenfold, and which put down a weed, to raise a stronger and more noxious produce from its root."*He had little doubt that, where magistrates acted with energy and determination, putting in force the existing laws, they would be found sufficient for the emergency. He had never heard of a people more easily managed than his fellow-countrymen: he lived in a district where there were very few country gentlemen; where many of the people suffered extreme poverty, and where considerable excitement prevailed from the cruel and injudicious system of extermination which had unfornately prevailed. Upon Lord Roden's Committee in 1839, Mr. Howley had given the following evidence:—The mode in which arms were registered at first when I went to the county was, that any person wishing to get arms registered went to the office of the clerk of the peace, and it was, I understood, a matter of course that he should receive his license or certificate to keep arms. It struck me that such a practice led necessarily to this result, that arms got into the hands of a large number of improper persons, who, either from character or from their condition in life, or from the means, or the want of means rather, they had of safely keeping arms, were not persons to whom arms ought to be intrusted; and 1 recollect proving the necessity of a strict scrutiny with respect to arms, by keeping upon one occasion a number of applications during a sessions, which were made to me as chairman, for the registration of arms. I had all the persons called upon the table, we had a personal inspection of them. To judge of their appearance, certainly the appearance of some did not indicate that they were such persons as would be wisely intrusted with arms. Secondly; I examined as to what kind of houses they lived in, whether thatched houses, because I think it an object that the parties having arms should not live in thatched houses. If a house is attacked they can be more easily set fire to; they are more liable to have the arms taken in that way. Then with regard to the mode of keeping arms; frequently if any person had but an open kitchen, a single place where he would leave his gun all day, and he out, he could not be the guardian of his arms. I thought that a ground for refusal, and we refused, upon that ground, such persons as came forward and were liable to the objection. Having gone through the different applications, I refused licenses, I think, to keep arms, to the amount of about thirty stand. I remember one man, a man in rather humble condition of life, applied for three guns and a sword. I examined each applicant as to his fitness and circumstances in open court, to * Hansard, vol, xiii. p. 272.1021exemplify what I had been stating to the magistrates before, bow necessary it was that that branch of the jurisdiction of the court should not be delegated to an irresponsible officer.He mentioned these facts to show that there was no necessity for a bill so stringent as that before the House, and that a mild and well-considered enactment would answer the purpose a thousand times better. He could inform the House that when he had in some instances made application for the surrender of arms in his neighbourhood, they had at once been given up to him; and he wished to ask hon. Gentlemen opposite whether, if they required the poachers on their preserves to give up their arms, they would comply with such a request. The Earl of Donoughmore, on Lord Roden's Committee on Crime, in 1889, gave this evidence: —Is your Lordship of opinion that there are unregistered arms in the hands of the peasantry of Tipperary?"—"I am convinced of that.Have you yourself found a considerable number?"—"I have received reports of a certain number of my tenants who had unregistered arms; I sent for them, and told them that I understood that was the case, and that if they did not send in their arms I would get them punished for having them; and ten out of seventeen stand of arms were brought in in one day.He would put it to the gentlemen of England whether, if they made a similar requirement, ten out of seventeen poachers in their neighbourhoods would give up their arms? If, then, his countrymen were so easily dealt with—if they were so prompt in complying with such a requisition, why adopt such a gross and oppressive enactment as that now under consideration. They were told that this was the same bill which had existed for years; but it had fallen into such disuse that, though he had acted for many years as a magistrate, he was not aware of many of its provisions. When this bill was brought forward he was led to make some inquiry as to the state of the law relating to arms in Ireland, with much of which he was previously unacquainted. If the noble Lord had laid before the House the information which he ought to have produced on the subject, it would have shown that the existing law had been for many years in a great measure obsolete. By the' bill of 1796 all blacksmiths were required to have their forges registered, but he would venture to say that there was not a blacksmith in most of the counties in Ireland at this moment who had 1022 his forge registered. If, then, it had not been requisite for many years past to carry such enactments into effect, why revive them now? The original of the present bill was to be found in that of 1796. It was almost unnecessary that he should remind the House of the circumstances existing in 1796— of the state of Europe at that period, and of the degradation which was then awaiting Ireland. Need he remind the House of the corruption which at that time was infused into Ireland from this country? But in 1796 it was not considered necessary to adopt a measure so coercive in its nature as that now before the House. Two acts were adopted in that year; one of them an arms bill, and the other relating to the importation of arms, gunpowder, and ammunition into Ireland, the object of the latter measure being evidently to prevent the introduction into Ireland of arms and ammunition from France. Now, he would put it to the House whether there was any analogy between the state of affairs which existed n 1796 and that which now prevailed in 1843? If they had not at this time any apprehension of the importation of arms and ammunition into Ireland from foreign countries, why revive the odious enactments of these two measures? Even in 1796 the law was thought to be so odious, that it was only passed for one year, and till the end of the following Session. The Importation Act expired with the Union. The Arms Act was first re-enacted after the Union in the year 1807, when it was strongly opposed. Lord Milton opposed it in the strongest terms. He said:—He could not agree, without any inquiry into the state of Ireland, to give his assent to the passing such an arbitrary act as this. At the time of the Union, the Irish were promised a full and fair participation of the rights of Englishmen; at that moment, after a lapse of seven years, they were called upon to pass an act than which nothing could be more arbitrary and oppressive, and which would not be borne with in England but in cases of the most imperious necessity, and after the fullest inquiry."*And in 1843 he was able to repeat the same words as Lord Milton used in 1807, and to say that it was a disgrace to the Legislature of the United Kingdom that in 1843 they should come again to re-enact these odious laws in even stronger terms than were thought necessary in 1807 or 1796. Mr. Whitbread also opposed the bill. He said:—* Hansard, vol, ix, p 10871023This bill differed materially from the other; the other was to operate in a particular part only, and that under peculiar circumstances; but this was to act universally throughout the whole country, and under any circumstances. What was that in effect but stating that, generally speaking, you cannot trust the whole of the population of Ireland, and proclaiming to the enemy, that in that place there is to be found a large portion of his Majesty's subjects who are ready to accept of their arms if they will send them there."*
Sir Arthur Piggott
also opposed the bill on that occasion, and he said:—Since my Lord Hardwick, the Duke of Bedford had been some time Lord-lieutenant; and there were some partial disturbances in different parts of the country. Applications had been made to his grace to put in force the provisions of this act; but he refused. He proceeded against the culprits in a legal way; and the law was found sufficient to subdue the insurrection, and to punish the offenders. Here the House had the evidence of two lords-lieutenant, that in the course of six or seven years, there was no necessity for such provisions. It must be a necessity made apparent to Parliament, and not allowed to go on in respect to any assertion of any individual, to put the whole people of Ireland out of the law, and authorise these nocturnal domiciliary visits."†He could say that from 1835 to the present time there had been no necessity for any coercive measure, and there had been no period of such length since 1792 when Ireland was totally without coercive enactments. The bill was in 1807 limited to a duration of two years. It was again brought forward in 1810, but the secretary for Ireland of that day introduced it in the same speech with which he moved the repeal of the Insurrection Act. On that occasion the secretary made use of this remarkable expression. He said:—It appeared to him, that this act might be so modified as to remove these objections, and to prevent its trenching upon the liberty of the subject more than the absolute necessity of the case required. He should propose that no magistrate or number of magistrates should have the power to search except upon information on oath, or in a case that they had such ground of suspicion as might make it desirable to search a district for arms; and that in that case, they should send their information to Government, in order that it might determine whether the search should be made or not. If Government should determine that a search ought to be made, then he should propose that a warrant should be sent*Hansard, p.1089† Ibid. 10901024by the Lord-lieutenant authorising and directing such search. This provision would, in his opinion, be sufficient to guard the subject from any wanton exercise of authority."*This act made two justices necessary instead of one. It was under this act of 1810 that the magistrates usually acted, and he believed that few were aware that they had now the power to act under the old law of 1807. In 1813, the act was again renewed, and at that time the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) was Secretary for Ireland, and heMoved for leave to bring in a bill to continue the acts of 47 and 50 of his present Majesty, to prevent improper persons from having fire-arms in their custody. The bill he meant to introduce would even go further towards protecting the liberty of the subject than the acts it was intended to revive; as it was meant to enact that no search for firearms should take place but in presence of two magistrates. Under those circumstances, he did not expect any opposition but from the right hon. Baronet opposite, and he would reserve his further observations for the future stages of the bill."†The most extraordinary part of the proceeding was, that the act thus introduced contained only two or three lines renewing the former acts. It was evident, however, that it was the right hon. Baronet's intention to introduce a milder act. He asked him to explain, therefore, why in 1843 he came down to the House and asked for a more coercive power than he asked for in 1813. But the most extraordinary thing was, that this wonderful act, which was said to be so important for the preservation of life and property in Ireland, was allowed to expire in 1815, and was not renewed till 1817, when it was re-enacted for two years, and to the end of the next Session of Parliament. Then again it was allowed to expire in 1819. What ensued? All Ireland were not shot. It was surprising that some great insurrection did not take place! In 1820 the act was revived. In 1822, for the first time since the Union, there was a re-enactment of the act, preventing the importation of arms and ammunition. (But this bill was totally at variance with the old arms' act; and the importation of arms and ammunition act, though it professed to be a consolidation of those two acts, indeed there was no more similarity between this bill and the act of 1807, than between a horse chesnut and a chesnut horse.) It was passed, however,* Hansard, vol. vii. p. 204.†Ibid. vol. xxvi. p. 369.1025 for seven years. In 1823 the Arms' Act was again renewed, as also in 1829; but it was again mitigated by giving a power to the Lord-Lieutenant to mitigate the penalty of 10l. How did the act at present work? What were the cases in which the penalties were enforced? Scarcely any. The arms were seized, the fine was imposed, but the magistrates almost universally recommended a memorial to the Lord-lieutenant to remit the penalty. He believed that the magistrates were perfectly satisfied to get the arms without enforcing the penalty, He asked the Government how they could expect the magistrates to go along with them in this bill? The magistrates of Ireland did not want coercive measures though some of them might use those measures, to annoy an individual; but if this bill should pass into a law, they might depend upon it; the magistrates of Ireland. as a body, would not act upon it. It would only bring the law into disrepute. The gentlemen of Ireland were getting more and more enlightened every day. [A laugh.] That laugh would resound well on the other side of the water, coming from a person connected with Ireland; but perhaps the noble Lord did not think that the Members on his own side of the House were becoming more enlightened. To those who wished for revenge this act would be acceptable; to them it would be a boon, but justice needed it not. If they gave the people of Ireland justice, if they upheld their rights, if they listened to their complaints, if they ameliorated their condition, the Irish would be as peaceable, as well inclined, and as well disposed to industry as any people under the sun; if those things were done he would defy hon. Gentlemen to produce in any part of the world a people better in all respects than the poorest of the Irish. In 1830 the Importation of Arms and Ammunition Bill was renewed for one year. He then came to the year 1831, a period when a bill which it is supposed closely resembled the present, was brought forward by the noble Lord opposite (Lord Stanley) who was then Secretary for Ireland. Ireland had had a variety of secretaries from the opposite benches. Alas! he wished they had learnt their business better. In that year Lord Stanley brought forward his Arms Bill, without the knowledge, advice, or sanction of his colleagues. He brought it into the House, and it lived just a few minutes, it enacted that arms were to be branded, and having unregistered arms to 1026 be punished by transportation. Mr Wyse opposed it in these eloquent terms: —Was Ireland, (den, on the eve of a national insurrection? Had misrule reached its climax, and was the House called upon by some instant, general convulsion, to take precautions which nothing but such appalling circumstances could for a moment justify? If such events were to be apprehended, no measure could more tend to hasten them. It would ripen the very discontent and revolt it was intended to check.And he then went on to say:—The spirit of discontent, arising from the misery and misgovernment of centuries, was stalking forward; and if this evil and malignant genius was to be exorcised from our shores, it was not by coercive and distrustful legislation that it could be done. And this, too, was to be a permanent measure, as it Ireland were doomed to irremediable disturbance, and it was an element of her being to be ever discontented. Let Government subdue Ireland by other means than force—conquer her with such measures as reform—redress her grievances, and then trust arms without peril to her hands,"*And on July 8, upon the question being put by Mr. Goulburn, Mr. Stanley stated that he did not intend to persevere with his bill. Mr. Wyse was evidently right, and the noble Lord was as evidently wrong. The bill, however, which was then thrown out with contempt, was now resuscitated by the noble Lord (the present Secretary of Ireland), who then sat on the opposite side of the House to the noble Lord. On September 23, 1831, however, Mr. Stanley moved for the discharge of the order for the adjourned debate on the Importation of Arms and the Keeping of Arms (Ireland) Bill, with a view of bringing in another bill to revive for one year the Acts 47th and 50th Geo. 3, which had now expired. Sir R. Peel, having taunted Mr. Stanley with some degree of levity in bringing forward a I measure of unusual severity, Mr. Stanley, in reply,Admitted that he withdrew the measure submitted to the House in consequence of the decided opposition to his motion of those hon. Members to whose opinions he was in the habit, of looking with deference and respect.In the year 1831, the same noble Lord for the first time united the Arms' Bill and the Ammunition Bill into one measure. In 1834, these acts were again renewed for one year, without any debate, as the House had expended its eloquence* Hansard. Third Series, vol, iv p. 619,6201027 on the Coercion Act. Thus, from 1831 to the present time, were the Arms Acts for Ireland run through the House, merely continuing in a few lines, the former enactments and attracting little attention, being brought in at the end of the Session; or perhaps, as in this present Session, in the race week, when hon. Gentlemen thought more of their pleasure at Epsom, than of their legislative duties. Thus were the laws framed for Ireland, and thus were the Irish made aware of the laws which existed. If the former Arms' Bills had been printed as this had been, for which he gave the noble Lord credit, the House would have known what the acts contained. He would give the House a specimen of the coercive measures which had existed in that unfortunate country. The Insurrection Act was in force from 1796 to 1802, six years; the Martial Law was in force from 1803 to 1805, two years; the Insurrection Act was in force from 1807 to 1810, three years; the Insurrection Act was in force from 1814 to 1818, four years; the Insurrection Act was in force from 1822 to 1823, one year; and the Insurrection Act was in force from 1823 to 1825 (August), two years. The Associations Act, 1829, was in force one year; Party Processions, 1832, five years; Coercion Act, with courts martial, from 1833 to 1834, one year; Coercion Act mitigated, from 1834 to 1835, one year. But here they stopped. The noble Lord left office, and they stopped; the Habeas Corpus Act was suspended from 1797 to 1802, six years; again suspended from 1803 to 1806, four years; again suspended in 1822, one year; White Boy Act, 1831, and Party Processions Act, 1838, five years. There had been no Coercion Act since 1835, he thanked God; but if the noble Lord the Secretary for the Colonies had been in office, there would no doubt have been plenty. They had received sufficient evidence since 1835 that stringent enactments were of no use in governing the Irish people. In no period of the history of the country had the people been so amenable to the laws as since the year 1834; and it was, therefore, with regret that he now saw, in 1843, the House again asked to pass a bill to restrain the liberty of the Irish people. He was surprised that the noble Lord the Secretary for Ireland should bring in a bill of this nature without taking away the arms from that portion of the Irish people whose possession of arms had been repeatedly 1028 shown to have done infinite mischief; he meant the arms in the hands of the yeomanry. The noble Lord had not laid on the Table the papers respecting these arms, and he feared that Government would rather avoid taking up the arms formerly in the hands of the Irish yeomanry. In July, 1831, Mr. O'Connell objected to the grant of 189,803l., for defraying the charge of the yeomanry corps, &c.; when Mr. Stanley said,In one respect he had only done justice to the Government of Ireland, in stating that it had done everything in its power to prevent the yeomanry force from becoming a party force. If it had not succeeded to the extent it could wish, it was not the fault of the Government.And no doubt this was true, Lord Althorp said,The use of such a force was, he admitted, only a choice of evils.In August, 1831, Sir Richard Musgrave presented a petition from the city of Waterford, signed by a great number of highly respectable persons, praying for an inquiry into the late affair at Newton Barry, and also praying the House to adopt measures to disarm the Irish yeomanry. He heartily concurred in the prayer of the petition, the compliance with which was absolutely necessary to preserve the peace of Ireland. The House received the petition, but refused to print it on account of the strong language contained in the petition upon the yeomanry generally. A strong feeling, however, existed in the House, that the yeomanry was an improper force. Such was the evidence of the nature of the yeomanry that it was the bounden duty of the Government to take the arms out of their hands as soon as possible. What was the evidence with respect to them taken before the Orange Committee of 1834? Colonel Verner was asked—Have you any Catholics in your corps?— None.Are they all Orangemen?—They are not.Are there any labourers in the corps to your recollection — that is, mere labourers, men who have no farm?—There are some.Do you recollect that there are?—There are some persons residing in the lodges at my gates who work and labour for me, who are yeoman in the corps.Are there any Roman Catholics holding comfortable small farms in that part of the country?—There are some, but not many.There is no man of that description in 1029 your corps, is there?—No, there are no Roman Catholics.Colonel Blacker was asked—Were not those Orange lodges, to your knowledge, established in many of the regiments of militia?—I have no doubt of the fact.Are not most of the yeomen in the north of Ireland Orangemen?—I should think and hope that they all hold Orange principles, though I do not know whether they belong to Orange lodges.
Mr. P. M'Connell
said—Is the Tanderaga corps exclusively Protestants? — I believe so—exclusively Orangemen. I believe no one would be admitted into the corps, unless they were Orangemen.You state, that in 1835 there were a number of yeomen who appeared regularly in the Orange processions on the 13th of July? — Yes; but they did not appear as yeomen, but as individual Orangemen, marching in procession. I knew them to be yeomen before.
§ Captain David Duff
gave evidence to the same effect.Do you think there is an equal number amongst the lower order of Protestants unregistered?—I do not think there are, because many of the lower order of Protestants in the north of Ireland are yeomen; and I believe, under the act they can hold yeomanry arms, without reference to a register.Do you believe that the majority of the Protestants in the north of Ireland are yeomen?—I believe they are.
was asked—Your lordship stated, that the yeomanry are generally Orangemen?—That is my impression.If the yeomanry are in fact Orangemen, they must have conducted themselves so as not to have caused any complaints against their conduct in the opinion of Lord Grey's government?—I cannot tell what opportunities they may have had: the yeomanry have been little known. The corps are not called out, I know, at all in my neighbourhood, and I believe there are very few corps; they are so very seldom assembled and brought together, one hears little of them.
Sir Frederick Stovin,
speaking of the Orangeman at Dungannon and of the procession, said—Ten of them were armed with yeomanry muskets. … It was reported to the Lord-lieutenant, and the Lord-lieutenant ordered the yeomanry corps to be disarmed.Are the Protestant gun-clubs appendages to the Orange body?—I do not know; but from what 1 have heard, not. There is no occasion for it, because I should say that the yeomanry are almost all Orangemen.1030Do not you consider that the yeomanry, notwithstanding their being almost entirely Protestants are an useful institution?—They were an useful institution.Within the last ten years?—Quite useless; and more than useless, in my opinion. I think think are dangerous.He would refer the House to the great number of petitions that were presented a few years ago, praying for the disembodying and disarming the Irish Yeomanry. On referring to the Journals, he found that on the 18th of August, 1831, Mr. O'Connell presented a petition from the inhabitants of Carrick-on-Suir, to disband the yeomanry of Ireland. On the 26th of August, 1831, Mr. Lambert presented two petitions from the Protestant and Catholic inhabitants of New Ross, in the county of Wexford, praying the House to adopt measures for disarming and disbanding the Irish yeomanry. The hon. Member said,That from the inquiries he had made relative to the unfortunate affair at Newtown Barry, he was of opinion that it was a wanton, unprovoked, and, be had much reason to fear, a deliberate, premeditated massacre.On the 27th of August, 1831, Mr. Blackney presented a petition from the inhabitants of Paulstown, for disarming the yeomanry in Ireland, On the 6th of September, 1831, Sir John M. Doyle presented a petition from the inhabitants of Leighton Bridge, in the county of Carlow, praying that the yeomanry of Ireland might be disarmed, in which prayer he cordially concurred. On September 7, 1831, Lord Killeen presented a petition from the inhabitants of the parish of Navan, in the county of Meath, praying that the yeomanry might be disarmed. He agreed with the prayer of the petition, which stated that the yeomanry, instead of protecting the people, committed all sorts of outrages. He hoped all the corps would be gradually abolished, although he was free to admit, that some of them were well-disciplined, and did not deserve the censure which had been heaped indiscriminately upon them. Sir Francis Burdett, on that occasion, said it was ridiculous to attempt to keep the peace of a country by the aid of a force which was in itself obnoxious. If a force was necessary, let it be a regular body under proper discipline, and not a local body imbued with party feeling, &c. On September 9, 1831, Mr. Blackney presented a petition from the inhabitants of (allow, of all persuasions, to disarm the yeomanry. On the same day, Mr, Lam- 1031 bert also presented six petitions from places in Wexford, praying that the yeomanry might be disarmed; the petitioners referred to the affray at Newtownbarry, by some denominated a massacre, and by others a sad transaction, and prayed that the Government would visit with its censure the conduct of the corps which had been there employed. On September 26, 1831, Mr. O'Connell presented a petition from Belfast, praying for inquiry into the conduct of the yeomanry in Ireland, particularly with reference to the Newtonbarry affair. On the 3d October, 1831, Mr. Lambert presented petitions from Gorey, Templeshamber, Adamstown, and other places in Ireland, praying the House to adopt measures to disband the yeomanry corps in that country. A great variety of other petitions, with the same prayer for disbanding the yeomanry, were also presented from many other districts; but he would not weary the House with going through the returns. Perhaps hon. Gentlemen were not aware, that the yeomanry corps in Ireland were very differently constituted bodies from the yeomanry corps in England— indeed, they were as different as they possibly could be. The Irish yeomanry were not constituted of men of wealth, or large farmers, or persons who had any stake is the country. No such persons were to be found in an Irish yeomanry corps, but they were for the most part constituted of labourers, who lived on the domains of the officers of the respective corps. [No, no.] He contended that it was so, and that this was proved by the evidence taken before the Orange committee. [A cry of "Question.''] This was the question; there was a clause in the bill, having reference to the arms of the yeomanry, which enacted that they should be registered and branded. Now it was a matter of notoriety, that their arms did not belong to them, but to the Crown. These loyal corps, as they used to be called, were disbanded by the noble Lord, the present Secretary for the Colonies; and on orders being issued to this effect, they refused to give up their arms, and many of them still kept them in their possession. Others of them had sold or raffled their arms; and some, he had been informed, had bequeathed them to their children as heir looms. Such was the effect of Tory legislation in Ireland, that they never proceeded to adopt any measures without exciting one class of the people against the other, and creating the most improper and obnoxious distinctions. He would ask the 1032 noble Lord the Secretary for Ireland whether, if he put arms belonging to the Crown into the hands of the inhabitants of one side of Piccadilly, and refused the people on the other side permission to keep arms in defence of their persons and property, whether Piccadilly would be in a peaceable state. If such a state of things existed, and the House proceeded to legislate for Piccadilly, the noble Lord might depend upon it, that he would find it in a much worse state than Ireland had been described to be. It must be clear to any one who would reflect on the subject, that it would be impossible by branding the arms and leaving them in the hands of the disbanded yeomanry, or by any such means, that they could preserve the peace of the country. To show the state of neglect that arose with respect to the arms of the yeomanry, he would mention a circumstance which came within his own knowledge. It came to his ears that a great quantity of ammunition were secreted in a small inn in a town in the county of Lei trim. He happened to have some influence with the proprietor of the house, and he recommended him to give it up to the constabulary or to the magistrates. He did not know the exact quantity of arms that were found, but there was a very considerable number of bayonets, and there was also found three casks of ball cartridges. The individual he alluded to at once assented to his suggestion, and surrendered all the arms and ammunition to the next ordnance dépôt. Her Majesty's Government had been pleased to approve of what he had done, and he received the following letter:—
§ "Dublin Castle, Dec. 19, 1842.
§ "My Lord,—I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 17th instant, and am directed by the Lord-lieutenant to acquaint your lordship that his Excellency quite concurs in the propriety of the directions given to provide for the immediate security of the gunpowder, &c, which the constabulary will he instructed to forward to the Ordnance depot at Enniskillen.
§ "I have the honour to be, my Lord,
§ "Your Lordship's obedient servant,
§ "E. LUCAS.
§ "The Viscount Clements, Mohill."
§ After such an expression of approbation of his conduct he had a right to suppose that the Government would adopt a similar course upon another occasion, but such was not the case. A warrant being issued by the Lord-lieutenant to search for 1033 arms in the same county, the magistrates acted upon it with the greatest impartiality, taking the arms that were not registered out of the possession of persons of all parties; but hearing that it was proposed to return the arms to the yeomen, he wrote to the Lord-lieutenant the following letter:—
§ "Lough Rynn, Mohill, Jan. 22, 1843,
§ "My Lord,—I have been informed that divers representations have been made to her Majesty's Government that in the late search for arms in this county, arms have been taken from ' the yeomanry' by the police.
§ "I, therefore, have the honour to request that your Excellency will have the goodness to institute an inquiry into the facts of the ease.
§ "It is true that a vast number of arms have been taken that did formerly belong to the yeomanry; but they have, I believe, long ceased to be in the hands of yeomen, and have in most instances been sold, raffled for, or left as heir-looms to the persons who at present have them, or have had possession of them, and they have borne a higher value, on account of the supposed impunity with which they could be held, which is dangerous to the peace of the country.
§ "At the very last petty sessions in Mohill, there was a man charged with bringing a gun to the door of this house, and threatening to blow out another man's brains with it.
§ "The magistrates sent for the gun—it was a yeomanry musket.
§ "On the very same day a man was punished for being out shooting on a Sunday. He has since brought his gun to me—it is a yeomanry musket.
§ "Thus the arms which were formerly given into hands who were no doubt at that time considered trustworthy, have now fallen, in most instances, into those of persons who ought not to be allowed to possess arms of any kind, much less those which belong to the Crown.
§ "It would be advisable, if your Excellency should think proper, to ask, who are 'the yeomen?' Who are their officers and non-commissioued officers? If they have any muster-rolls, or if they know in whose hands the arms and appointments are now to be found?
§ "I can assure your Excellency that you need not expect to find ' the yeomanry' what you have been accustomed to understand by that word.
§ "There is no such body in this county."
§ "I have the honour to be, my Lord,
§ "Your Lordship's obedient servant,
§ His Excellency the Earl De Grey."
To this he received an answer stating that inquiry had already been directed to be made into the circumstance therein re-
ferred to. But no proper enquiry was ever made. He could not help expressing his satisfaction at the conduct of the stipendiary magistrate who was sent down to Leitrim, in 1840. He alone had done more to preserve the peace of the country than half-a-dozen Dublin Castles. That gentleman was called upon to act at a period when that locality was much disturbed, and in that part of Leitrim nearly all the magistrates were away, and even the clerk of sessions had disappeared, and the officer of police was on leave of absence. At that period Sir William Lynar came down to the county and worked day and night to preserve the peace, in which he was eminently successful. That gentleman obtained the highest respect in the county, and when he left it thanks were voted to him by the magistrates. He held in his hand a resolution recently agreed to by a number of magistrates in Leitrim, on the subject of the arms now in the possession of the yeomanry.
We, the undersigned magistrates of the county of Leitrim, are of opinion that aquantity of yeomanry arms are in the hands of persons not being originally in that service, and not duly registered, and constantly used in poaching and other improper purposes. We are of opinion that such lately taken up, should not be returned; and that arms belonging to disbanded corps of yeomanry ought to be taken into store. And further, that officers in command of corps be requested to furnish muster rolls, in order that the magistrates should be informed of such persons as are entitled to have yeomanry arms in their possession. 26th January, 1843.
This document was signed by twelve magistrates. Yet notwithstanding their recommendation, the yeomanry arms that had been taken up were returned to the persons from whom they had been taken. Under these circumstances, when he saw a bill of this kind brought forward, he had a right to complain of the conduct of the Government. He was totally unable to comprehend the wisdom or the policy of arming one part of the population against the other, which is to be deprived of all arms. He could not tell how it was, but it happened that the Government for Ireland was always working against itself. Such was the feeling of distrust entertained by the chief government of the local government in the several counties, that it was always trying to create jealousy between the magistrates and the police. At present, however badly a policeman behaved, a magistrate could not discharge him, or
even remove him from the district. He had known instances of this kind, where the men had been guilty of the greatest impropriety of conduct. He would not trouble the House further, but would merely second the amendment that this bill be read this day six months.
said, that the noble Lord who had just sat down, probably imagined that he, as an Irishman, must rise with great reluctance to support the Government in carrying into law this "abomination, brought forth in a monstrous way,"as the noble Lord termed the bill before the House; but he could assure him, that the only reluctance he felt was in rising to address the House in support of the bill, after the speech delivered by the noble Lord—a speech which, if it proved anything, proved the great necessity there was for a measure of this nature. But leaving the noble Lord to carry into practice his theory of "giving arms to both sides of Piccadilly,"he would revert to the present unhappy state of Ireland, as his great reason for supporting the present bill. He saw that agitation and discord were being scattered through a large portion of the land—that inflammatory appeals were being daily made to the populace by those in whom they trusted—that resistance and separation from England were the common topics of discussion, even in the public papers; and that fire and the sword, if not absolutely recommended, were, at least, spoken of (as at Cork and Cashel) as means, which it might be necessary for the people to employ. When he perceived this state of affairs, and heard the counsels which had been given, he considered he was no enemy to liberty, but merely a foe to anarchy and licence, when he expressed his thanks to her Majesty's Government for having brought forward a measure for the registration of arms. He could not, like the Noble Lord, conceive this to be a coercion bill. In fact, he was no admirer of coercion bills— no advocate for penal laws. He was not of opinion, as many were, that it was expedient to pass some legislative enactment to put down repeal discussion. The actual laws, if carried into effect, were at present sufficient, and a fresh enactment would only give to it an importance which it really did not now possess. He would deprecate any such new legislation to put down free discussion; for he conceived it would only be adding fuel to that flame, which, though it apparently burned brightly at present, would 1036 soon, he was convinced, greatly die away, as it was encouraged by neither the rank, the wealth, the intelligence, the respectability of either Protestantism or Roman Catholicism. But though he conceived on the one hand that no new law was necessary to fetter public discussion; yet one was required to disarm the disaffected, whose minds had been poisoned by seditious counsels— though with reference to repeal meetings the actual laws, and the powers which the constitution gave the executive were, in his opinion, amply sufficient to meet the exigencies of the moment. But this bill did not fetter public discussion— it did not infringe that right, while it protected the life of the subject. He should, indeed, regret if it were necessary to do so; for he preferred that the wound, if there were one, should rather bleed outwardly than fester inwardly. But, unfortunately, it was not always those "who sow the storm, who reap the whirlwind."No, the penalties of violated justice too often fall, not on the instigators of crime, but upon their poor deluded ignorant followers: who, excited by hopes and promises, which, they who hold them out, know cannot by any possibility be realised, blindly and enthusiastically follow the lawless commands of their leaders, who, though they speak daggers, and talk of fire and blood, have not the courage themselves to cast away the scabbard, or to touch even the handle of their sword. When such, then, was the state of Ireland, and such the counsels given to his countrymen, he conceived it was imperative on the Government to come forward as they had done, and take steps for the protection of life and property. And what course can be so prudent— what so merciful, as thus preventing the commission of crime, by disarming those who can have no legitimate use' for weapons, and by taking it out of the power of revenge, or political or religious fanaticism, to execute their dark designs? It had been called a coercion bill; but he said it was in truth a merciful and necessary proposition. It had been stated, that it would create disaffection, but those who were opposed to it, were, he feared, hopelessly incurable in their disaffection at this present time. He trusted he would ever be an advocate for conciliation, when it was not repugnant to justice; but he would never allow the fear of making an enemy to bias his sense of what was right. With regard to this bill creating disaffection, he would beg to call the attention of the 1037 House to this fact— that no measure, however conciliatory— no concession, however great, made by a Government to a political party opposed to it, can put an end to their opposition, if that party believes that the root of the evil is, not in the acts, but in the very existence of the Government itself; and the House might depend upon it that such was now the case with those who cried out so loudly against this bill. He would tell her Majesty's Government that it was not their acts, it was not this or that bill, this or that official appointment, but it was their political being, which that party deprecated On that principle they had acted, and would continue to act. The repeal press had publicly stated that it mattered not whether the Government should act impartially, without respect to religion or party. "If, therefore, you follow their wishes, they will conceive it to arise from weakness or fear—if you thwart them, and carry the law into execution, you, like your predecessors opposite, will be called 'base, brutal, and bloody.'"He hoped this Arms Bill was not the only measure in reference to Ireland which the Government intended proposing. Yes, he trusted it was only a preliminary measure. If hon. Gentlemen opposite would listen they would find they were mistaken as to the purport of what he was about to say. He was going to state, that the patient after the present fever and excitement were allayed, would require care, attention, and nourishment. He meant that attention should be given to the improvement of the natural resources of Ireland—to the protection of her agriculture and manufacture of provisions—to the discouragement of absenteeism—to the employment of the poor, for there was an old but true adage— "The devil tempts all other men, but idle men tempt the devil"—and to the amelioration of the habits and condition of the lower orders. It would be by such measures, and not by any political changes, such as reform bills, municipal acts, that Ireland would become what nature destined her to be, a rich, flourishing portion of this mighty empire, and its right arm of defence in times of trouble. He felt full confidence that her Majesty's Government would not neglect her vital interests, which he was sorry to confess had never been properly attended to even by Irishmen themselves. Would that those who are daily declaring their willingness to die for her— would that they would follow the far 1038 easier course of trying to live for her, and not only for themselves. He should sup. port the second reading of the bill, and trusted that all who were not blinded by party prejudice would join him in so doing.
§ Mr. Sheil
then rose. He said: If I were convinced that the Arms Bill, even in its present most obnoxious shape, was necessary for the repression of crime, I should reluctantly indeed, but strenuously sustain it; but of its utter inefficiency for the attainment of that legitimate purpose, in which it is obligatory upon us all to concur, I am thoroughly persuaded. It is not to the want of an Arms Bill, such as this, it is to the imperfect, I am almost justified in calling it the impotent administration of justice, that the atrocities, by which certain districts in Ireland are unfortunately characterised, are to be ascribed. In the county of Tipperary the prosecutions at the assizes are begun, conducted, and terminated in such a manner as to secure impunity to crime. How has it come to pass, that the offences which fall within the jurisdiction of the assistant barrister, and are prosecuted by the local solicitor, have so signally diminished, I attribute that remarkable decrease to two causes; first, to the high judicial qualities, the talent, the firmness, the impartiality which has won the confidence of all parties, by which Mr. Howley, the assistant barrister is distinguished; and in the next place, to the signal usefulness of the local solicitor for the Crown (Mr. Cahill), who unites with great ability a perfect knowledge of the country; has the best opportunities of ascertaining every incident connected with the cases in which he is concerned; is well acquainted with the character of every witness for the prosecution and the defence; never puts innocence in peril; and never permits ruffianism to escape. But while minor violations of the law are prosecuted with so much effect, what course is taken at the assizes? I beg most distinctly to state that nothing can be more remote from my intention than to speak in the language of personal depreciation of Mr. Kemmis, the Crown solicitor for the Leinster circuit, or to suggest that a local solicitor should be employed in his place, without adding, that he should receive for any loss he may sustain the most ample compensation. But granting him to possess the highest professional qualifications, I have no hesitation at the same time in stating that the 1039 business of the Crown cannot be efficiently carried on by a legal absentee, who knows nothing of the county, is utterly ignorant of the witnesses produced for or against the Crown, is utterly unable, not from any want of capacity, but from his position, to suggest or advise the means by which truth can be substantiated, and falsehood can be confuted, is hurried from one azzize town to another, and must get up his briefs with inevitable precipitation, for the information of counsel, who are opposed by the most skilful advocates, aided by a local solicitor for the defence, by whom every imaginable expedient for the frustration of the Crown is employed. It is obvious that, under this system, you give to crime advantages incalculably great. Another suggestion I shall, from a sense of duty—from my solicitude for the public tranquillity—venture to make. You resort to informers, and you pay them largely for their corrupt contribution to the enforcement of the law, but to honest witnesses adequate protection is not given. Some years ago the house of a person of the name of Crawford was attacked, and he was beaten almost to death. He was afraid to prosecute. He lived in my neighbourhood. I obtained from the Government an undertaking that he and his family should be sent to one of the colonies and should be provided for. He was prevailed on to prosecute, and justice was done, and a most useful example made. If you will pledge yourselves to protect the witnesses for the Crown, by enabling them to emigrate, and by compensating them for the loss of their country, you will effect much more than by the unconstitutional proceeding which I am aware your high partisans invite you to adopt. It would be far more befitting in the landed proprietors to attend at the assizes, and perform their duty on criminal trials, than to call for a violation of a great public right. If there is a special commission got up with parade, and attended by the Attorney-general, with a retinue of counsel, the chief gentlemen of the county do not think it inconsistent with their dignity to act on the petty jury; but at the assizes, though the crimes to be prosecuted are of the same class, the juries are wholly different. The petty jury is considered an ungenteel and low concern; the balance in which human life is trembling is committed to coarser and less aristocratic sustainments, and complaints are afterwards made of the 1040 constitution of juries by the very men who vote it what they call, in their familiar parlance, "a bore"to attend. There is nothing which I more strongly deprecate than the setting aside of juries by the Crown, except for the clearest and most indisputable reasons, but, on the other hand, I do think that the attendance of Roman Catholics and Protestants, of station and influence, on the criminal jury should be enforced, and that, if necessary, fines of 500l. or 600l. should be imposed upon them. The utmost care should of course be taken that [the juries should not be exclusive, and that no ground for imputation should be afforded; but that precaution being adopted, it is clear that the verdicts found by that class of men, whether of acquittal or of condemnation, would meet the general sanction. I am very well aware that the gentry of the country will be very adverse to this proposition; but they should bear in mind how large a stake they have in the tranquillity of the country, which will be far better promoted by these means than by an Arms Bill, which will take from honest men the means of defence, and will not deprive the turbulent and the lawless of the means of aggression. When murder becomes lucrative, it is not easy to deprive the assassin of the tools of his profitable trade. If you could succeed in depriving him of his more noisy implements of death, you would but teach him to substitute a more silent but not less efficacious weapon: but you cannot frame a law which he will not readily evade. The wretch who is not appalled at murder, will not tremble at an Arms Bill — your penalties of ten or twenty pounds will be scorned by men who put existence into habitual peril. These are among my reasons for thinking that the Arms Bill will not be in any degree conducive to the purpose it has ostensibly in view, while by its enactment, without obtaining any countervailing benefit, you commit a manifest trespass upon one of the chief constitutional rights which the bill, deriving its designation from those rights, has received. But my main objection to this bill is founded upon the distinction which it establishes between England and Ireland. "Repeal the union— restore the Heptarchy!" Thus exclaimed George Canning, and stamped on the floor of this House as he gave utterance to a comparison in absurdity which has been often cited. But that exclamation may 1041 be turned to an account different from that to which it is applied. Restore the heptarchy— repeal the union. Good. But take up the map of England, and mark the subdivisions into which this your noble island was once distributed, and then suppose that in this assembly of wise men —this Imperial Parliament—you were to ordain that there should be one law in what once was the kingdom of Kent, and another in what once was the kingdom of Mercia—that in Essex there should be one municipal franchise, and in Sussex there should be another; that among the East Angles there should be one Parliamentary franchise, and in Wessex there should be another; and that while through the rest of the island the Bill of Rights should be regarded as the inviolate and inviolable charter of British liberty, in the kingdom of Northumberland, an Arms Bill, by which the elementary principles of British freedom should be set at nought, should be enacted—would you not say that the restoration of the Heptarchy could scarcely be more preposterous? What a mockery it is, what an offence it is to our feelings, what an insult to the understanding it is to expatiate upon the advantages of the union, and bid us rejoice that we are admitted to the great imperial copartnership in power, while you are every day making the most odious distinctions between the two countries, establishing discriminating rights which are infinitely worse than discriminating duties, and furnishing the champions of repeal with pretences more than plausible, for insisting that if for England and Ireland different laws are requisite, for Ireland and for England different lawgivers are required. My chief, my great objection to this measure is, that it is founded upon the fatal policy to which Englishmen have so long adhered, and from which it is so difficult to detach them, of treating Ireland as a mere provincial appurtenance, instead of regarding her as part and parcel of the realm. You are influenced by a kind of instinct of domination, which it requires no ordinary-effort of your reason to overcome. I do not thing that by Englishmen an Arms Bill like this would be endured. That observation does not rest on mere conjecture; in the year 1819 this country was in a most perilous condition. It appeared from a report made by a secret committee of which the present Lord Derby was the chairman, that large bodies of men were 1042 trained to the use of arms in the dead of the night, in sequestered places; that a revolutionary movement, to be accomplished by disciplined insurrection, was contemplated and that revolt was organised for war. In this state of things an English Arms Bill, one of the Six Acts, was proposed. Lord Castlereagh was then the leader of the House of Commons, but although he had served his apprenticeship in Ireland— although he had dissected in Ireland before he attempted to operate in England; and although his hand was peculiarly steady, and he was admitted on all hands not to be destitute of determination, still he did not think it prudent to propose for England such a bill as for Ireland you have thought it judicious to introduce. There is the English Arms Bill of 1819. It is comprised in a single page, look at it; the ocular comparison will not be inappropriate; here is the Irish Arms Bill, a whole volume of (coercion, in which tyranny is elaborated in every possible diversity of form which it was possible to impart to it. In the English Arms Bill no penalty whatever was inflicted for the possession of arms: in your Arms Bill, an Irishman can be transported for seven years for having arms in his possession. But although the English Arms Bill was moderate when compared with the Irish, yet Lord Grey denounced it in the House of Lords. [Here Mr. Sheil read the protest of Lord Grey, couched in very strong language, against one of the six acts, in 1819.] Such was the language employed by Lord Grey in reference to the English Arms Bill in the House of Lords. In the House of Commons, H. Brougham exclaimed: "Am I an Englishman, for I begin to doubt it, when measures so utterly abhorrent from the first principles of British liberty are audaciously propounded to us?"That great orator then proceeded to offer up an aspiration that the people would rise up in a simultaneous revolt and sweep away the government by which a great sacrilege upon the constitution had been perpetrated. What would he have said— how would Lord Castlereagh have been blasted by the lightning and appalled by the thunder of his eloquence if a bill had been brought forward, under which the blacksmiths of England should be licensed, under which the registry of arms was made dependent on a bench of capricious magisterial partisans, under which an Englishman might be transported for 1043 seven years, for exercising the privilege secured to him by the Bill of Rights; and every pistol, gun, and blunderbuss was to be put through that process of branding, the very motion of which, in 1831, made by the noble Lord opposite, the Secretary for the Colonies, the then Secretary for Ireland, produced an outburst of indignation. It is said that this bill has nothing new. That is a mistake — it contains many novelties in despotism, many curiosities in domination. My friend the Member for Rochdale has pointed them out. But supposing that everything was old in this bill, does not your defence rest on a perseverance in oppression, on that fatal tenacity with which you cling to a system, to which your experience should tell you that it is folly to adhere. This bill, it was observed by the noble Lord the Secretary for Ireland, was found, in 1807, in the portfolio of the Whig Secretary. The Whigs had prepared a measure of coercion and of relief. The Tories turned them out on the measure of relief, and of the measure of coercion took a Conservative care. The Secretary for Ireland stated that the first Arms Bill was introduced in 1807 by Sir Arthur Wellesley. Sir Arthur Wellesley! The transition which has taken place from Sir Arthur Wellesley— from the official of Dublin Castle to the warrior, by whose fame the world is filled — is not greater than the transition of the country which gave him birth, from enslaved and degraded to enfranchised and liberated Ireland, who has grown too gigantic for your chains, and dilated to dimensions, which your fetters will no longer fit. But although the project of an Arms Bill was unfortunately found in the Whig portfolio, that measure was condemned at the time by some of the most distinguished members of that great party. Hear what Sir Samuel Romilly says of the measure in his diary. In speaking of the Insurrection Act and the Arms Bill, which he regarded as near akin, he says (vol. 6 p. 214),The measure appeared to me so impolitic, so unjust, and likely to produce so much mischief, that I determined, if any person divided the House, to vote against it. I did not speak against the bill: that it would pass, whatever might be said against it, I could not doubt; and therefore thought that to state my objections against it, could have no other effect, than to increase the mischief, which I wished to prevent. What triumphant arguments will this bill, and that which is depending in the 1044 House for preventing the people having arms, furnish the disaffected with in Ireland? What laws more tyrannical could they have to dread, if the French yoke were imposed on them? To adopt such a measure at a moment like the present, appears to me to be little short of madness. Unfortunately the measure had been in the contemplation of the late Ministry. They had left a draft of the bill in the Secretary of State's office, and they were now ashamed to oppose, what some of themselves had thought of proposing. The Attorney and Solicitor of Ireland had approved of the bill, but Pigott and myself had never heard that such a matter was in agitation, till it was brought into the House, by the present Ministers.Such was the opinion of Sir Samuel Romilly: in the judgment of the majority of this House, as it is at present constituted, that opinion may have no weight, but I am able to refer to the authority of a distinguished Statesman, who is at this moment in the full fruition of the confidence of Parliament. That eminent person stated thatThe speaker asked what was the melancholy fact? That scarcely one year had at any period elapsed since the Union during which Ireland was governed by the ordinary course of law; that in 1800 we found the Habeas Corpus Act suspended, and an act for the suppression of rebellion in force; that in 1801 it was continued; in 1802 it expired; in 1803 disturbances occurred, and Lord Kilwarden was murdered by a savage mob; that in 1804 the act was renewed; in 1806 disorders arose, and the Insurrection Act was introduced in consequence; in 1810 and 1815 the Insurrection Act was renewed; and in 1825 an act was passed for the suppression of dangerous associations, and particularly of the Catholic Association; in 1826 the act was continued, and in 1827 it expired; and after this enumeration of acts of impolicy and injustice, he asked, "Shall this state of things continue without an effort to remedy it?Who was it that spoke these words? Were they spoken by Henry Brougham? Were they spoken by Lord John Russell? No:—the man that gave utterance to these words was no less a person than the First Lord of the Treasury, the ruler in some sort of this great and majestic empire; it was by him that the policy, with which this very measure is connected, was virtuously and vehemently denounced. The speech to which I have referred was spoken in 1839, before Catholic emancipation was actually passed, it was, indeed, the speech in which the whole plan of emancipation was propounded. But if the policy, thus strenuously con- 1045 demned by the Prime Minister, was deserving of censure before the great measure of Catholic enfranchisement, is it not in the highest degree incongruous, is it not indeed monstrous on the part of the Government, of which that right hon. Gentleman is the head, to propound the very measure which had been the object of his almost unqualified condemnation. But I shall be told, that the predictions made by the Roman Catholic leaders have been falsified, and that they have themselves done their utmost to prevent the fulfilment of their prophecies. [Hear, hear.] You say hear, hear, but your derisive cheering is inappropriate. If Roman Catholic emancipation had been carried, when the Catholic clergy could have been connected with what Mr. O'Conncll called a golden link, with the State, those predictions would, in all likelihood, have been fulfilled, but when you yourselves permitted emancipation to be, I will not say, extorted, but won from you by the means, through which it was obtained, what results would you have reasonably anticipated, but those, to which you have yourselves, most essentially contributed? How could you expect, that 7,000,000 of your fellow-citizens could by possibility acquiesce, in an institution, against which reason and justice concurrently revolt? How could it be expected, that after emancipation, when England was agitated by the Reform question, Ireland should remain passive and apathetic, and should not demand a redress of those grievances, which pressed upon her far more heavily than any abuse connected with your former parliamentary system And now, when from morn till night, and from night till morn, Englishmen cry out, that the union must be maintained, how can any one of you imagine that we shall not insist that the principle upon which the union was founded, should be carried into effect, and that all odious distinctions between the two countries shall be abolished? You think that, the repealers of Ireland are conspicuously in the wrong— are you sure that you are yourselves conspicuously in the right? Passing over the questions connected with the Established Church, questions which are dormant, but not dead, and which I have not the slightest doubt that your impolicy will revive, I ask you, whether in the course pursued in the Municipal Bill, you have evinced a just desire to place Eng- 1046 land and Ireland upon a level? Was the language employed by the noble and learned Lord, who has the conscience of the Sovereign in his keeping, and which is fresh in the memory of the Irish people, calculated to reconcile us, to the legislative dominion of this country? You withheld the Municipal Bill as long as with safety you could deny it to us, and when at last you were forced to yield, you still adhered to your old habit of distinction, you created a different franchise for the two countries, and although you gained nothing whatever for your party in the result, and were completely baffled, as I told you, you would beyond all doubt be, you left in the Municipal Bill an envenomed sting behind. But let us turn to the other instances, in which your dispositions towards Ireland are too faithfully exemplified. Let us turn to the registration of votes, from the registration of arms. Where is your Registration Bill? I am putting to you, the question, which, three years ago, was put again and again to the Whig Government, by their antagonists. "Where is the Registration Bill?"cried Mr. Baron Lefroy. "Where is the Registration Bill? "cried Mr. Jackson, now a judge of the Common Pleas. "Where is the Registration Bill? cried Mr. Litton, now a master in Chancery. But more loudly and more vehemently than all the rest, "Where, where is the Registration Bill?"cried the noble Lord the Secretary for the Colonies. Not a month, not a week, not a day, was to be lost in the judgment of the anxiously impatient Lord. The Whigs brought in a bill, and gave a liberal definition of the franchise, their object was to establish a constituency commensurate with the wealth, and the intelligence, and in some degree with the numbers of the Irish people. That measure was defeated, and the noble Lord, who was possessed at the time with a passion for legislating for the Irish people, provided a bill at the close of the year 1841, by which the independence of the people of Ireland would have been totally unprotected, and of which the bare proposal has done more to advance the cause of repeal than all the speeches which the member for Cork had ever delivered upon the subject. Parliament was dissolved—a new Parliament was elected, and a Tory Ministry was the result. As soon as the Tories were fully installed in office, it was but natural 1047 to ask them, the question which they had put so often, "where is the Registration Bill? Some vague intimation was given that the Government would bring forward a measure in the course of the Session. In the course of the Session, the Longford committee excluded Mr. White from Parliament, but at the same time reported, that the law was so doubtful, had led to more contrary decisions, and had been the subject of so much contention among the Irish Judges, that it was incumbent on the Government to settle the question, and to bring in a declaratory act, still nothing was done in 1842. At the commencement of the present Session, the Secretary for the Home Department was asked, what he meant to do, in reference to the Registration Bill, the eternal Registration Bill. He answered "Oh, we will first proceed with the English Registration Bill."But for the English Registration Bill was there no urgent necessity— there was no pretence whatever for giving the English precedence over the Irish measure. Well, the English Registration Bill is brought in and passed, and then the question is renewed, "where is the Irish Registration Bill? And to that question what reply was given? Oh, we must first bring in the Irish Arms Bill. Thus, notwithstanding the reiterated demand for the Irish Registration Bill, made by the Tories themselves when out of office, notwithstanding the report of the Longford election committee, notwithstanding the repeated engagement to bring the measure forward, not only is not that measure produced, but to the Arms Bill, to this outrage upon the just principles of liberty, the Bill declaratory of the Parliamentary franchise of the people of Ireland, is postponed. And on what ground has this precedence of the Arms Bill been maintained? wherefore is it that everything is to be postponed to an Arms Bill? The Secretary for Ireland tells us, that order must be asserted, before freedom is conferred, that crime must be repressed, and that the "thirst for Arms, "that was his expression, must be repressed. The thirst for arms! There is another thirst, which you have taken care to provide. Have you, who profess yourselves to be the guardians of the national morality, manifested an uniform and undeviating solicitude for the virtue of the people, over whom you are appointed to watch? Despite of every re- 1048 monstrance, notwithstanding the most ear-nest expostulation, did you not persist in the enactment of a financial measure, which has given the strongest stimulant to crime, and has already produced some of the most deleterious effects which, it was foretold, would be inevitably derived from it. You know full well, that the most frightful crimes which have been perpetrated in Ireland, have had their origin in those habits of intoxication, which the evangelist of temperance, if I may so call him, had so effectually restrained, until the Chancellor of the Exchequer had determined to counteract his noble efforts. Every private still is a hot-spring, from which atrocity gushes up, and supplies those draughts of fire, with which ferocious men madden themselves to murder, and drive every sentiment of humanity, and of remorse, and surrender themselves to the demon, that takes possession of their hearts. And yet you talk to us of the necessity of repressing crime being paramount to every other consideration, and of the "thirst for arms,"and deal in all that false sentimentality, with which the real purpose by which you are actuated, is so thinly and imperfectly disguised. It is not wonderful, that when such is the spirit in which you legislate for Ireland, that the people of Ireland, weary of, and disgusted with your unfairness, and your incapacity, should demand the restitution of their Parliament, and insist upon their right of governing themselves. And how has the First Lord of the Treasury met the requisition for self-government, which the Irish people had preferred to him? He came down to the House with a well meditated reply to the question put to him by the noble Lord (Lord Jocelyn), and referring to the answer of King William the 4th, in which that monarch expressed himself opposed to the Repeal of the Union; stated her Majesty's coincidence with that opinion, but omitted the conciliatory assurances with which that opinion was accompanied. I am very far from believing that the right hon. Baronet, as has been imputed to him, intended by a reference to his Sovereign, to produce any refrigeration in the feelings of warm attachment which the people of Ireland entertain towards their beloved Sovereign; I think, that as he appealed in the name of the Parliament to the fears, he appealed in the name of their Sovereign to 1049 the affections, of the Irish people. For ray own part, as long as I shall be permitted to refer to a document which has become a part of history, I never shall object to any reference to the opinions of my Sovereign with regard to Ireland. I hold in my hand a letter written by Lord John Russell to Lord Normanby, by the command of his Sovereign, on her accession to the Throne. That letter is in the following words:—
§ Whitehall, July 18, 1837.
§ "My Lord,—In confiding again to your Excellency the important charge of administering the affairs of Ireland in her Majesty's name, the Queen has commanded me to express to your excellency her Majesty's entire approbation of your past conduct, and her desire that you should continue to be guided by the same principles on which you have hitherto acted.
§ "The Queen willingly recognizes in her Irish subjects a spirit of loyalty and devotion to her person and Government.
§ "Her Majesty is desirous to see them in the full enjoyment of that civil and political equality which, by a recent statute, they are fully entitled to, and her Majesty is persuaded that when invidious distinctions are altogether obliterated, her Throne will be more secure and her people more truly united.
§ "The Queen has seen with satisfaction the tranquillity which has lately prevailed in Ireland, and has learned with pleasure that the general habits of the people are in a state of progressive improvement, arising from their confidence in the just administration of the power of Government.
§ "I am commanded by her Majesty to express to you her Majesty's cordial wishes for the continued success of your administration; and your Excellency may be assured that your efforts will meet with firm support from her Majesty.
§ "The Queen further desires that you will assure her Irish subjects of her impartial protection.
§ "JOHN RUSSELL."
§ Such was the language dictated by the young Queen of England to her Minister. She had read the history of Ireland — she had perused, and in the perusal was not, I am sure, unmoved, the narrative of oppression and of woe—she knew that for great wrongs a great compensation was due to us—she felt more than joy at witnessing the blessed fruits which had resulted from the first experiment in justice, and she charged her Minister to express her deep solicitude for the welfare of the people of Ireland. Never did a sovereign impose upon a 1050 Minister a more pleasurable office— with | what admiration, with what a sentiment of respectful and reverential admiration must he have looked upon that young and imperial lady, when, in the fine morning of her life, and in the dawn of her resplendent royalty, he beheld her! with the most brilliant diadem in the world glittering upon her smooth and | unruffled forehead, with her countenance beaming with dignified emotion, and heard her, with that voice which seems to have been given to her for the utterance of no other language than that of gentleness and of mercy, giving expression to her affectionate and lofty sympathy for an unfortunate, but a brave, a chivalrous, and, for her, enthusiastically loyal and unalterably devoted people. How different a spectacle does Ireland now present from that which it then presented to the contemplation of her Sovereign ! She cannot be insensible to the change. In return for your stern advice to your Sovereign, did you not receive a reciprocal admonition; and did she not tell you, or did not your own conscience tell you to look on Ireland, and to compare her condition under a Whig and Conservative administration. But it is not with Whig policy alone that your policy should be compared; — your own policy in a country more fortunate than ours furnishes almost an appropriate matter of adjuration. Why do you tell me, in the name of common consistency and plain sense, wherefore do you adopt in Canada a policy so utterly opposite from that which in Ireland it is your and our misfortune that you should pursue? From a system so diametrically opposed, how can the same results be expected to follow? In Canada, under the old colonial rule, there prevailed a strong addiction to democracy, a leaning towards the great republic in their vicinage, a deep hatred of England, and a spirit which broke, at last, into a sanguinary and exceedingly costly rebellion. You had the sound feeling and the sound sense to open your eyes at last to the series of mistakes, which successive Governments had committed with regard to Canada — your policy was not only changed but revolutionised—you abandoned the "Family Compact"—you placed the Government in sympathy with the people, and you raised to office, men who had been pursued to the death, and conferred honours upon those to whom decapitation, had they been 1051 arrested, would at one period have been awarded. The result has been, what all wise men had anticipated, and what all good men had desired. In a late debate I heard the Prime Minister expatiate upon the necessity of dealing in reference to Canada, in the most liberal and conciliatory spirit, and when I heard him, I could not refrain from exclaiming, "Oh ! that for Ireland, for unhappy Ireland—Oh ! that for my country, he would feel as he does towards Canada, and in its regard act the same generous part!"That prayer which rose involuntarily from my lips, I now— yes, I now venture to address to you. The part, which in Canada you have had the wisdom and the virtue to act, have in Ireland, (but oh ! without a civil war!) have the virtue and the wisdom to follow. Rid, rid yourself in Ireland of "the Family Compact."Banish Orangeism from the Castle, put yourselves into contact in place of putting yourselves into collision with the people. Reform the Protestant Church, conciliate the Catholic priesthood, disarm us, but not of the weapons against which this measure is directed —strip us of that triple panoply, with which he, who hath his quarrel just, is invested—do this, and if you will do this, you will do far more for the tranquillization of Ireland, for the consolidation of the empire, and for your own renown, than, if you were by Arms Bills, and by coercion acts, and by a whole chain of despotic enactments, to succeed in inflicting upon Ireland, that bad, that false, that deceptive, that desolate tranquillity which the history of the world, which all the philosophy that teaches by example, which the experience of every British statesman, which, above all, your own experience should teach you, is more to be followed by calamities greater than any, by which it was preceded.
Mr. T. B. C. Smith
(Attorney-general for Ireland) having, in connection with the noble Lord the Secretary for Ireland, brought in the bill, trusted this House would permit him to state the grounds on which it had been founded. His right hon. Friend who had last addressed the House stated, that this bill was a violation of the principles of the British constitution, and that it was calculated to draw an unjust distinction between England and Ireland, and in describing the character of such a measure he called in to his aid the opinions of Lord Grey in the House of 1052 Lords, and Mr. Brougham in the House of Commons, in order to uphold the view which he took of the measure. He would not refer to the opinions of Lord Grey or of Mr. Brougham, or of Sir Samuel Romilly, in order to show whether or not a bill of that nature were opposed to the constitution, or fraught with injury to Ireland; hut he would refer to the opinions of the right hon. Gentleman himself, and he would show, that when that right hon. Gentleman was a Member of the late Government, he was in favour of a measure similar to that which he now described as unconstitutional, and fraught with injury to Ireland. In 1838, the several statutes which regulate the keeping of arms and the sale of gunpowder in Ireland, and the importation of arms and ammunition to that country, were about to expire, and it became necessary to renew them, so that those who considered those statutes as opposed to the constitutional rights of the Irish people, and as calculated to draw an unjust distinction between England and Ireland, had an opportunity of opposing their renewal. What course did the right hon. Gentleman take when the bill for the purpose of renewing those provisions were introduced by Lord Morpeth? The bill was read a first and second time, and it was then withdrawn for the purpose of making way for another bill consolidating the laws on the subject, which bill was also read a first and second time. That bill was eventually withdrawn in consequence of the late period of the Session, and the original bill, which had before, at an earlier period of the Session, been introduced, was again brought in, and went through all its stages; during which progress the right hon. Gentleman who had last spoken never opened his lips. Yet the right hon. Gentleman said that the measure now brought forward was a violation of the British constitution— that it was a measure fraught with injustice to Ireland. Yet, notwithstanding that the right hon. Gentleman had permitted a similar measure to pass in former years without a word of opposition, he had now the assurance—he used the word in a parliamentary sense—to charge the present Government with bringing forward an Arms Bill. He would remind the right hon. Gentleman of other facts which would astonish the House. At the time to which he (Mr. Smith) had referred the right hon. Gentleman was not a member of the Government. But, in 1839, the right hon. Gentleman became the President of the 1053 Board of Trade— in 1840 this bill was brought in expressly by Lord Morpeth. It was read a second and third time, and yet the right hon. Gentleman never opened his lips against it. He might be told that the right hon. Gentleman did not know what were the existing provisions of this law in Ireland with respect to fire-arms; but the right hon. Gentleman was not singular in the course which he pursued, for there was not a single Member from Ireland who, in 1838 or 1840, ever opened his lips against any of these Arms Bills, in any stage of their progress. He now came to dates of greater importance, namely, 1841, when the late Government were in office. Lord Morpeth brought in a bill in 1840, not simply to continue the existing law, but to make it more stringent in some important particulars. By the statute passed in 1807, any person seeking to register firearms must give a notification respecting the fire-arms he was desirous to keep, and his application was to be decided on by the magistrates at the quarter sessions. Now, the law of 1807 was considered defective in respect of exercising sufficient control to prevent improper persons from the possession of fire-arms. Accordingly, his right hon. Friend the Member for Clonmel, the late Attorney-general for Ireland, brought in, conjunction with Lord Morpeth, a bill to amend the law in those particulars. By that bill it was required that ten days' notice should be served previous to the commencement of the quarter sessions, by every person applying for a licence to keep arms. This notice was to be served on the clerk of the peace, who was required to prepare a list of those applicants seven clear days before the quarter sessions, and a copy of which list was to be furnished to every justice of the peace applying for the same. It was also provided, for the purpose of more effectual control, that no notice should be served by the person applying to register arms, unless in that division of the county in which he resided; and it was provided that the assistant-barrister should specify the several days on which notices respecting the registration of fire-arms would be gone on with. These provisions were made for the purpose of establishing additional checks, and affording the magistrates the opportunity of making strict inquiry with respect to persons seeking to register fire-arms; and this act also contained provisions providing for the continuance of all former enactments, down to the close of the present Session.
1054 The right hon. Gentleman opposite was then Vice-president of the Board of Trade, and this bill, brought in by the late Attorney-general for Ireland and Lord Morpeth, was suffered by the right hon. Gentleman to pass through every stage, from its original introduction to its final sanction by the House, without either he or any other Irish Member uttering one syllable against the measure. What made this more remarkable was, that the hon. Member for Montrose made some observations against the bill, but he was not supported by any Irish Member; so that if the hon. Member for Rochdale had been in the House at that time he would have been, so far as the Irish Members were concerned, without a seconder to his motion, that the bill be read a second time that day six months. At that late hour he would not trouble the House by going into any lengthened detail of crime in Ireland. The returns were on the Table of the House, and looking at those crimes usually resulting from the use of fire-arms, it would be found that in 1837 the number of these crimes was 1,304; in 1841 it was 832, and the amount exceeded this in a small degree for a similar period in the present year. [Lord Clements: " Are these returns furnished by the police?"] They were the returns furnished by the constabulary of offences of the description he had stated, and he thought it more satisfactory to refer to them than to the returns of committals and convictions. Those returns were signed by Colonel Macgregor, and were vouched for by him, and he was sure that the House would require something more than a mere statement to falsify those returns. Now, with respect to crimes recently committed: in the month of January last, a Mr. R. Murphy, a land steward, was murdered in the county of Kilkenny. In the Queen's County a man named G. White was murdered by a gun shot wound. In another place a man named Slattery was murdered; and another murder was committed of a young man named M. Burke, who was only seventeen years of age, and was murdered because his father had taken some land from which the previous tenant had been ejected. It would be unnecessary for him to advert to the murders of Mr. Scully and of Mr. Gatchell, which had been alluded to by his noble Friend, the Secretary for Ireland. Now, these returns afforded no ground for saying that there was such a change in the state of Ireland, as that they should per- 1055 mit this law which had been in force for nearly half a century to cease to be in the statute book. The hon. Member for Rochdale referred to several provisions of this bill, but he thought it would have been a more just and proper course to reserve the objection to the details until the bill should be in committee. He should be able to satisfy the hon. Member with respect to the main principles and provisions of this bill, that, with the exception of two clauses, it was founded on the statute now in force in Ireland, and passed through that House with the unanimous concurrence of all the Irish Members on the two occasions to which he had already referred. But there was one of those clauses adverted to by the hon. Member for Rochdale and the right hon. Member for Dungarvan. By the 47th of George 3rd, it was provided, that every person making a pike, or any instrument to be used as a pike, without a licence from the Master-general of the Ordnance, should be liable, if convicted, to imprisonment for twelve months, or to transportation for seven years. Now he freely admitted, that in the present bill, instead of making the punishment as it was in the former bill, they had provided, that the punishment should be transportation for seven years, or imprisonment for three years, at the discretion of the judge. There was one portion of the measure which had been particularly objected to. But this portion of the measure was recommended in the evidence given by three police magistrates, who were examined before a Parliamentary committee in 1839. Mr. Tabiteau, being asked what alteration of the law he would propose, said he thought it would be very desirable to have a registry of all the arms of the different districts, in order that the chief constables should know what arms were in the several districts, and he proposed that the registered arms should be stamped. Captain Warburton and Captain Despard, also stipendiary magistrates, gave evidence to the same effect, and recommended a general registry of arms. The question which the House had to deal with now, was not as to the details of the bill, but whether it were right or not, that there should be an Arms Act in Ireland at all? If it was right, to pass an act to prevent improper persons from having possession of arms, it was also right to make the act effectual for the proposed object. If there was a necessity, arising out of the peculiar circumstances of Ireland, to control what was called the 1056 common law right, and if this necessity was recognised by that House, it was right that the bill should be made effectual folks objects. The right hon. Member for Dungarvan had stated, that the necessity for this legislation had arisen from the course pursued by the present Government, and the right hon. Gentleman had suggested, that if what he called justice was done to Ireland, any measure of this kind would be unnecessary. It was easy to call for measures of justice, but before they entered into an argument of the question, the right hon. Gentleman should first have defined to them what he meant by justice to Ireland. Now, he could not help observing, that the year after that in which the letter of her Majesty's Government— referred to by the right hon. Gentleman— had been written, the Precursor Association had been established in Dublin. Now, what was meant by "Justice to Ireland "by those individuals who were supposed to speak the sentiments of the popular party in Ireland? They would first deprive the Established Church of the provision made for its maintenance. [Mr. Shell: No, no.] He was glad to hear the right hon. Gentleman deny it, for if he thought otherwise, it would be at variance with the evidence. But it was to be considered what were the opinions of those who were striving to effect the Repeal of the Union, and what did they consider to be "Justice to Ireland?"First, the entire abolition of the tithe rent charge— next universal suffrage, so that every man unconvicted of crime, or not suffering under mental aberration, should be entitled to the franchise. The right hon. Gentleman had asked the Government where was the Registration Bill for Ireland? But if it was brought forward, he should be glad to hear the right hon. Gentleman declare to what extent he was willing to confer the franchise. The next measure in the list of those measures which were called for as measures of justice to Ireland, was "fixity of tenure,"and which, under that name, meant nothing else than a transfer of the fee simple of the landed property of Ireland from the landlord to the occupying tenant; and it was because it was so understood by the people, that the agitation was raised to the degree it had reached. The noble Lord the Member for Leitrim had asked the Government to amend the grand jury law, but the next measure called for as justice to Ireland, was the entire abolition of 1057 grand jury cess. Another measure in the catalogue of justice to Ireland was vote by ballot and the shortening of the duration of Parliaments: and the last, he believed, was the confiscation of the property of the absentees. The noble Lord the Member for Leitrim had adverted to some other matters which he considered necessary to attain justice for Ireland. The noble Lord had asked why the House did not deal with the question of tolls and customs. If the noble Lord considered a measure of the kind proper to be introduced, why did he not lay it on the Table of the House, and as he supposed he would propose to abolish them, he would be glad to hear the noble Lord explain how he was to provide compensation to those who would be deprived of their legal rights? The noble Lord proposed also that some measure should be introduced for the regulation of manorial rights; but if the noble Lord abolished every manorial court in Ireland, he would like to know where he was to find compensation to the Lords of manors and their seneschals, who would be deprived of their rights? He would not, at that hour, further trespass on the House. He trusted that the House, considering that the law now before them had been in force in Ireland for nearly half a century, and recollecting that it had, on many occasions, received the sanction of every representative from Ireland, from the conviction that such a law was essential to the preservation of life and property in that country—he trusted, that recollecting all this, the House would concur in allowing this bill to be read a second time. He would be prepared to go through the bill, clause by clause, and to satisfy the House in committee that the main provisions of the bill ought to receive their approbation. This bill would tend to the security and protection of the lives and property of the well-disposed and well conducted, and he was sure it would be received with satisfaction by many, who would not like to say so, as a measure contributing to their protection by placing a proper restriction on the possession of fire-arms, and providing that they should not be in the hands of improper persons. On these grounds he now asked the House to give his bill a second reading.
§ Lord John Russell;
After the speech of the right hon. and learned Gentleman opposite, who has replied to that of my right hon. Friend, and who has based that reply upon what was done by the late Govern- 1058 ment, and very little indeed upon the merits of this bill, very little on its adaptation to the present state of the country. I trust the House will forgive me if I endeavour to set myself right, so far as I was a Member of the late Government, with respect to the part which I took, both as to this law and the general Irish policy of the late administration. No doubt it is true that in 1838 a bill was introduced, similar in many respects to that now before the House—no doubt it is true that in 1840 and in 1841 continuing bills were introduced, which maintained in force and effect the laws with respect to the possession of arms in Ireland. But, Sir, the whole policy with which these bills were connected was of a totally different aspect from that which is now being pursued. Sir, the late Government had to deal with a country which had long been misgoverned, in which not only the laws, but the habits and opinions of their administrators were at variance with the maintenance of order, and with the social happiness of the people. The change which was to be produced was to be a change inducing the people of that country to rest their confidence in the law, and in the administrators of the law—to induce them to rest satisfied that any injuries which they might receive would be redressed or punished by the due and impartial intervention of the law. Such a change—a change the most desirable in itself—was not to be effected by any single act of the Legislature, or by one or two, or three years of administration. It must be the work of various measures— of a considerable lapse of time— of the greatest caution, and I must add, of the kindest disposition of those who were entrusted with the administration of the law in Ireland. And in the mean time, after considering the best authorities upon the subject, my noble Friends the Marquess of Norman by and Lord Morpeth— with no dislike to constitutional proceedings—with no dislike to that just popularity which follows measures of confidence and conciliation—still deemed it their duty, and deemed it proper, to continue from time to time the laws which were in force with respect to the possession of arms in Ireland. Did they deem these laws constitutional? Far from it. They looked upon them as violations of the constitution. But they did not think that it was consistent with their duty, that while more beneficial changes were going on, those who were dishonest, those who were ac- 1059 customed to disregard the law, should be allowed to continue active in assaults upon life and property, until the ultimate effects of these changes should have been realized. But what did the late Irish Government do? At this time of the night of course I cannot go into the particulars of our administration with respect to Ireland. Some of our measures were begun by my late lamented Friend Sir Michael O'Loghlen, a man whose name is now justly revered, but who at that time was the object of all kinds of virtuperation. His views were directed to the enforcing a constitutional and effectual execution of the law, but not by unconstitutional means to deprive the people professing any religion, or belonging to any party of the right of serving on the jury by which the wrongs of their fellow-subjects were to be redressed. This was one change to be effected. Another was the placing in the commission of the peace men who had the confidence of their countrymen. I have heard repeatedly the testimony of Irishmen, and Englishmen who had lived in Ireland, with respect to the disposition of the people if an outrage was committed— if even the life of one of a family was taken away by a barbarous and bloody assault— rather to trust to revenge than to look to and repose on the power of the law. I consider, Sir, that this unhappy state of things arose from the alienation between different classes of society. The Marquess of Normanby thought so too, and he considered that the placing in the commission of the peace of men who enjoyed the confidence of the people would directly lead them more and more to repose confidence in the law, and to abstain from their faction fights, and habits of personal revenge. But beyond this—with respect to the general administration of the law in Ireland, the Marquess of Normanby has, by command of her Majesty, governed in such a manner as to win the good feelings and sympathies of Ireland. Why, Sir, by such methods we might gradually but surely induce the Irish people to confide in the ordinary administration of the law, as it is usually administered in England, until from time to time you could let go and part with these extraordinary measures, which must be a reproach to this country, and which must be an ungrateful task to any person— I am sure it is to the present Government to bring forward. But when the right hon. Gentleman, the Attorney-General for Ireland, takes the Arms Act, and talks of it as a measure of the late 1060 Government, I ask whether, with reference to the general condition of Ireland, have the majority of the measures begun by the last Government been persisted in? I ask whether or not, the sympathies of the people of Ireland have been gained. Whether in the choice of persons you have made to place upon the bench of justice, you have selected those who have felt with and for the great majority, and for the preservation of their liberties; or only those who have felt with a bare minority, and wished for the curtailment of the people's liberties. I ask, with respect to the magistracy, whether even now you are not pressing on measures the most dangerous in their tendency, calculated, which I know you do not wish to add to that feeling of alienation which at least did something to do away with? If you deprive some men of their power as magistrates because they have attended meetings, which the highest law authority in Ireland seems to declare not to be illegal—if you thereby invite martyrdom upon the part of others for similar acts— if you place the popularity of men known to the people upon being deprived of the commission of the peace—you will again alienate all those who have to administer justice from the people, amongst whom it is to be administered. Don't tell me that the Arms Act rests entirely upon any precedent afforded by the late Government. If you imitate the one proceeding of the late Government, I wish you would imitate them in other respects. When the right hon. Gentleman opposite first made his appointments with respect to Ireland— wishing, as I did, to further all feasible means to tranquillize the country—and fearing, as I did, a change from a party favourable to the great majority of the people, to one adverse to the great majority. I took the earliest opportunity of expressing the satisfaction I felt at the appointment of the noble Lord as Chief Secretary for Ireland. I knew less of the noble Lord, the Lord-lieutenant, but from what 1 did know, I believed that he would act upon the principles of justice. But with respect to the noble Lord, the Secretary for Ireland, all that I have seen of him induces me to believe that his wishes are to govern Ireland upon principles of justice and conciliation. What he declared at his election at Cornwall, I have every reason to believe was his sincere wish; — but, I know not how it is—or from whence it proceeds—but, while from certain mea- 1061 sures of the late Government, there has been no departure—yet, with respect to the great mass of the administration, I ask whether the Government is, or is it not the Government of a small minority, from which the great majority of the people are excluded. My right hon. Friend has quoted, and quoted with great propriety the example of Canada— there you had people who were suspected, perhaps most unjustly, of having tampered with rebellion. Yet you did not make that an objection to place in their hands the executive power of Canada. Well, is it not natural that Irishmen, men who have worked their way to the head of the bar by their energy and talents, should feel that they have not a Government equally impartial as that of Canada? Must not this be at once admitted to be a grievance and a wrong? I have mentioned Sir Michael O'Loghlen. I can speak of him with praise, for, alas! he is no more; but if be were now alive, would he have the least chance of being promoted to the judgment seat? Then, I ask, is this a just and wise Government? And, above all, is it wise, though you may establish a necessity for the introduction of an Arms Bill, that you should bring forward an Arms Bill, and no other measure, in this Session of Parliament? For my part, I can say, that as I was looking to-day over one of the drafts of the bill, I saw objections I made to many clauses, but that they were over-ruled by the evidence of many well-informed persons as to the condition of Ireland, and that the necessity for some such measure was made out. Well, seeing that that necessity continues, and not being aware what serious mischiefs may arise from the refusal, I cannot give my vote against the second reading of this bill, But really if we are told, that it is the intention of the executive Government to propose such plans, and such plans alone —if we are told that this is a sample of the measures by which Ireland is to be governed, I think before long that this House should address the Crown, or take some mode or other of expressing their opinion as to the Government of Ireland. I should be ready in any way to meet the attempts made to repeal the Union. I think, if brought forward constitutionally, and by petition, that the arguments are so strong in favour of a maintenance of the Union, that I should have no fear of discussing the motion made in this House. I think the Union may be fully maintained, not alone 1062 as a benefit to England, but it may he shown, that it would be a serious misfortune to Ireland herself if that Union were dissolved. If it be attempted to repeal it by force, why then it must be maintained by the force and authority of the law and of the executive Government. But as long as those seeking the Repeal of the Union appeal to the sentiments and feelings of their own countrymen, so long I think should you forbear from adding to the irritation of the moment, and from adding to excitement amongst a people already too greatly excited; so long should you not attempt by deprivations and dismissions which, as effectual measures of discouragement are nothing—but which as a means of excitement and irritation, and an encouragement to others to court such notoriety, answer such an end perfectly, and have a directly opposite effect from that of putting an end to the agitation for the repeal of the Union. Sir, let me, before I sit down, allude to what I think was the unfair treatment which the late Government met with, with respect to the outrages which took place in Ireland. I have stated our general policy; but, owing to the social disorders of Ireland, which date so far back as 1760, which have now lasted for the greater part of a century— there are outrages with respect to the possession of the land—there are murders committed in some parts of the country, which are the most serious misfortune and calamity to that country. It was the custom of those in opposition in our time to lay all those outrages to the account of the Government, and at their party meetings and their dinners they hailed with a sort of cheer the arrival of the news of any fresh horrible outrage or murder. Sir, I believe it is now confessed, when no party purpose is to be gained; and the right hon. Gentleman who has spoken last has given us some proofs of it— that these murders, horrible as they are, occurring one after another in the course of a month, and two or three at a time, are not the effect of any political or party movement, but arise from the social condition of Ireland. Those who have spoken to-night have said, and said most truly, that it ought to be the object of this House to endeavour by every means in their power to improve the condition of that people. Sir, although the methods which the late Government adopted may not have been the best which could be adopted. I am not speaking in defence of their wisdom, but this I will 1063 say, that of all the parts of their Government there was none which occupied so much of their serious and constant attention as the state of Ireland,—I still think the opposition we then met with from the party that attacked our conduct was most unfairly directed both against our measures and against our administration of Irish affairs at that time. But it is a consolation to me, and it ever will be a consolation to me, that on more than one occasion that generous and warm-hearted people, believing that we really did wish their prosperity, rewarded us with an unusual, perhaps an undeserved degree of confidence. I was often doubtful whether, finding our measures were so often defeated in this House, and that we could not even prevail on it to grant the same municipal franchises extended to the other parts of the empire, whether, finding that we could not carry the measures to which they and we were attached—I have often wondered that they continued such a degree of confidence as they gave us, and whether it were not our duty to lay before them the whole state of the case, and to say that we were no longer entitled to their confidence; but I do think it a remarkable proof of the generous disposition of that people, that although our legislative measures were defeated, yet by means of our administration—by the novelty of a fair and impartial administration of affairs in Ireland, that confidence and support were never withdrawn from us while we remained in power. I do believe that in the course of a considerable period those reforms which we begun did much to improve the social condition of the people; and most disappointed I shall be if I find that the present Government show not only a disposition to refuse the measures which they consider inconsistent with their principles, but if I find that, beside this, they are going back towards the point from which we commenced, and that without any fear (for I have no fear) of civil war or of insurrection, the result of their Government is, that the people of Ireland and England are more than ever alienated from each other, and that the Union which by acts of Parliament is established, is not established in the hearts of the people.
§ Debate adjourned.
§ House adjourned at one o'clock.